Morning Links: Tuskegee Airman — and bike rider — Robert Friend dies at 99; and minding a Duarte bike shop at 101

Let’s start with the passing of a real American hero.

LA’s own Robert Friend, one of the last surviving members of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, died on Friday, just months away from his 100th birthday.

The 99-year old Lt. Colonel flew 142 missions over Europe and North Africa during World War II as a fighter pilot in the all-black squadron, before going on to serve in Korea and Vietnam. He was later attached to NASA as an Air Force liaison, working on the Titan, Atlas and Delta rockets and the Space Shuttle program.

Not to mention overseeing the infamous Project Blue Book for five years, as the once top secret program investigated over 12,000 reports of flying saucers and other mysterious airborne objects.

Here’s what the Washington Post had to say about his flying career.

Although Col. Friend occasionally discussed Project Blue Book in interviews, he was far better known for his record as a Tuskegee Airman, notably for a two-week stretch when he twice averted disaster.

Striking an oil barge in Germany on Dec. 14, 1944, he unleashed a barrage of 50-caliber bullets that triggered an enormous, mushroom-shaped explosion, nearly taking down his aircraft. “The flame completely engulfed the diving ship,” the Pittsburgh Courier reported at the time. “Friend said it was sort of like being in hell. He managed to pull his ship out at the last moment.”

Days later, he faced bad weather and mechanical difficulties while flying over Italy. Disoriented in the darkness, praying to avoid crashing into a mountain or ejecting over the water, he took his chances and bailed out — and recalled in a 2006 lecture that he found himself parachuting toward a mountain.

“I hit the side of the mountain, slid down to the ground and saw a woman running to me with a knife in her hand,” he said, according to a Washington Post report. An alarmed Col. Friend soon found that she was no Nazi sympathizer. In an act of wartime desperation, he said, she simply “wanted the silk from my parachute.”

Robert Friend was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism, as well as the Congressional Gold Medal given to the entire unit.

The Tuskegee Airmen had to battle racism and discrimination, both in the military and in the Jim Crow South surrounding their Alabama base, before being allowed to face the Nazis.

Yet they quickly earned a reputation as some of the finest fliers on either side, their success in the air eventually leading to the full-integration of the US military.

And eventually, the United States itself.

If that’s not enough, Friend was also one of us, a supporter of Ride 2 Recovery well into his 90s, riding with wounded vets on the seven-day, 465-mile UnitedHealhcare Ride 2 Recovery California Challenge from San Francisco to Los Angeles when he was 94.

Robert Friend will be buried with full military honors over the fourth of July weekend.

He leaves this world a little poorer and smaller than it was just a few days ago.

And so is the Southern California bicycling community.

Photo shows Robert Friend as a young officer, from the CAF Red Tail Squadron website

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Somehow, we missed this one earlier this month.

Duarte’s Loyd’s Custom Bicycle Shop is back in business, nine months after 101-year old owner Gordon Loyd Gibbons left to have cataract surgery.

The shop, which specializes in restoring classic Schwinn bicycles, has been in business for 50 years. And Gibbons says he’ll keep running it “until the good Lord takes me.”

Speaking of Schwinn, reading that story led me down a rabbit hole to the discovery of my first bike, a hand-me-down, hand-me-down, hand-me-down that passed through all three of my siblings before it got to me.

And had been repainted so many times there wasn’t a hint of its original ID beyond the Schwinn badge.

So I had no idea just what it was until recognizing it in a 1960s Schwinn catalog.

Although if I ever make it out to Lloyd’s shop, I may look for that classic 10 peed Schwinn Varsity I’ve always wanted, instead.

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CyclingSavvy instructor Gary Cziko sets out to ride his bike on each of the streets in LA’s Vision Zero High Injury Network at rush hour, recording the results on a nausea-inducing 360° bike cam — starting with Lincoln Blvd in Venice.

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Breathe LA is teaming with SCAG — the Southern California Association of Governments — to host a panel discussion of key mobility and transportation issues facing the greater Los Angeles community in DTLA this evening.

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No bias here.

In yet another example of biking while black, a black bike rider was stopped and handcuffed by police in Michigan for the crime of not having a light on his bike as he rode to his second job in the next town over — even though he was holding a flashlight to fulfill the requirement for a light.

And was incorrectly told he had to have an ID just to ride a bicycle.

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This is who we share the roads with.

Seven motorcyclists were killed, and three injured, when a pickup driver pulling a flatbed trailer slammed head-on into a motorcycle club comprised of active duty and veteran marines.

Witnesses reported the truck was swerving uncontrollably across the roadway prior to the crash.

Thanks to J. Patrick Lynch for the tip, who also notes the prevalence of reporting without an apparent driver involved, or anyone else who might be responsible, other than the victims.

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Local

Yes, there are more bike riders and pedestrians on LA freeways.

A group of bike riders led by UCLA climate scientist Alex Hall are riding from Oakland to Los Angeles on the 550-mile California Climate Expedition to witness the effects of climate change firsthand, while raising funds for the UCLA Center for Climate Science.

E-scooters haven’t made their way to many economically challenged parts of the San Fernando Valley yet — if they ever do.

Some residents of the San Fernando Valley say don’t expand the LA River bike path when some segments are littered with trash and needles. Not to mention throwaway people who have nowhere else to go, right?

A bighearted real estate agent donated 50 bicycles to Pasadena’s Elizabeth House, for the kids of pregnant women who’ve suffered from homelessness and abuse. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the link.

You could win the new Stranger Things BMX bike at next weekend’s popup event to promote the show at the Santa Monica pier.

About damn time. Santa Monica will spend $3 million to improve the beachfront Marvin Braude bike trail north of the Santa Monica pier, including widening the path to create separate walking and biking paths. Now we just have to get Los Angeles on board for their section, as well.

 

State

A San Diego teenager suffered a broken leg when he crashed into the side of a pickup whose driver cut him off while he was riding lightless.

Two San Diego boys who disappeared while on a 1993 bike ride were honored with a new plaque on an existing memorial in the San Diego South Bay National Wildlife Refuge, 26 years after they were found murdered in a riverbed.

The Coachella Valley will add another 15 miles to the planned 50-mile CV Link bike and pedestrian path encircling the Valley. Thanks to Richard Fox, who was interviewed extensively for the story, for the heads-up.

A Ventura letter writer complains about the newly installed bollards along a protected bike lane on Telephone Road, calling on the city to get rid of the ugly “white plastic picket fence posts.”

An 82-year old San Luis Obispo man is suing the local airport after a gust of jet blast knocked him off his bicycle. Seriously, who could possibly have foreseen jet blast at an airport?

A bike-riding Fremont man was charged with a hate crime for throwing rocks at several Muslim men and threatening them with a large stick; he already has a lengthy criminal record for violent behavior.

Sad news, as a survivor of the Paradise Fire, and the town’s unofficial ambassador, has died of a heart attack suffered during a 39-mile bike ride through Mendocino County.

 

National

A Eugene OR letter writer says bicyclists need to be licensed, insured and pay for their own bike lanes. And stay the hell off major roads when there’s a parallel bike route. Because apparently, the taxes bike riders already pay just aren’t good enough. And people on bikes never, ever need to take the most direct route to where they’re going, unlike motorists.

A pair of Denver bike advocates relate the lessons they learned on a conference junket visiting Copenhagen, one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities.

Boise, Idaho has opened a new state-of-the-art bicycle parking facility with room for 42 bikes in an existing parking garage. Even if it does look more like they’re preparing for a steel cage death match.

Four Houston teenagers are under arrest for allegedly testing out their laser gunsight on an apparently random bike rider in a drive-by shooting; the victim saw the green dot on himself just before they shot him in the arm.

A Dallas pastor is trying to bring America together by riding a bike across the country and striking up conversations with strangers about life and spiritual matters.

Apparently, Arkansas horse and mule riders don’t need to stop for stop signs anymore, either.

Chicago residents have embraced the new 606 bike and pedestrian trail, even as it has contributed to gentrification in the former low-income and industrial neighborhoods it passes through.

Even the Twin Cities has a gender gap, with twice as many men riding to work as women.

Once again, a dangerous motorist is able to stay on the roads until it’s too late, this time in Ohio, where a 15-year old bike rider was killed by a speeding motorcyclist riding with a suspended license and two outstanding traffic warrants.

A Nashville columnist says this scooter madness must end, because it’s not the micromobility revolution we need. Meanwhile, an e-scooter rider who was killed in a collision shortly after the devices were introduced to the city, sparking calls for a scooter ban, was riding at twice the legal alcohol limit at the time of the crash.

No bias here, either. A new study shows that nearly 25% of New York bike riders fail to stop for red lights — which means that 75% do. Half of all riders came to a full stop, while another 25% stopped, then proceeded when they thought it was safe.

An injured bikeshare rider says the NYPD ignore reckless driver behavior that victimizes bike riders.

Kindhearted New York Yankees players dug into their own pockets to buy a new adaptive bicycle for a 14-year old boy with a rare seizure disorder. I’ve never been a Yankees fan, but I may cut them a break after this.

The Wall Street Journal asks if you should trade in your car for an ebike. Short answer, yes. Even if most of the story is hidden behind a paywall.

Three Florida police officers were honored for saving the life of a 41-year old man after he went into cardiac arrest while riding his bicycle.

A Florida man has undergone over 60 hours of surgery, and run up countless medical bills, after a hit-and-run driver dragged him over half a mile under his pickup as he fled. A crowdfunding page has raised nearly $7,500 of the modest $10,000 goal after eight days.

 

International

The CBC wonders if it’s rude to blast Bon Jovi from the speakers on your bike. It should at least be a Canadian artist like Bryan Adams or Alanis Morissette, let alone someone from this century. 

Nice move. A Canadian bikeshare adds an adult tricycle, enabling people with disabilities to ride, as well.

Royal-in-law James Middleton, younger brother of Kate, says his five therapy dogs are devastated after someone stole the bakfiets he uses to cart them through the streets of London. Though someone should tell People that the “unique bike” “with a cart upfront” is just an everyday cargo bike. 

The parents of a 21-year old woman who was killed in the London Bridge terrorist attack have founded a London to Paris fundraising bike ride.

A British cyclist who hold the record for the London to Paris crossing now sets his sights on a new record for crossing China’s Desert of Death. Call me crazy, but I’d assume they call it the Desert of Death for a reason.

Brit bicyclists have set up a crowdfunding campaign to help pay expenses for the bike rider who was ordered to pay up to £100,000 — the equivalent of over $127,000 — in damages after colliding with a distracted pedestrian who stepped off a curb in front of him, even though he had the green light, had honked his horn to warn her, and had swerved to try to avoid her. The page has already raised well over 100% more than the original £21,300 goal in just three days. 

I want to be like her when I grow up. An 81-year old Scottish grandmother has set a new record as the oldest person to ride the full length of the Great Britain.

Evidently, Copenhagen hasn’t always been bike friendly. After former INXS frontman Michael Hutchence suffered a serious head injury when he was the victim of a road raging cab driver in the Danish city, it changed his personality and set him on the path to his eventual suicide in an Australian hotel room.

Thailand’s new king is one of us, as he goes for an incognito bike ride with his wife and massive entourage in Lucerne, Switzerland. Although his fashion choices leave something to be desired.

Madrid’s pollution-fighting ban on motor vehicles could be in jeopardy as a new conservative government moves in.

A Bangladeshi midwife in her 70s still rides a bicycle around the countryside delivering medications.

Tres shock! Aussie drivers are stunned and appalled to learn that bicyclists not only are allowed to ride two abreast, but actually encouraged to do so. Which says a lot less about people on bikes than it does about drivers who don’t know the law.

Thousands of Malaysian children will get recycled bicycles after a Mandalay entrepreneur bought up 10,000 bikeshare bikes that were abandoned when the companies pulled out of Singapore and Malaysia.

 

Competitive Cycling

Geraint Thomas explains what it’s like to experience a high speed bike crash — without actually having to go through all the pain and stuff.

Cyclist questions why so many pro teams are failing to make the podium.

Don’t look for American Tejay Van Garderen to challenge for the podium in next month’s Tour de France, after he was assigned to ride in support of team leader Rigoberto Uran.

Annapolis, Maryland welcomed the finishers of this year’s RAAM, aka the Race Across America, including six-time champ Christoph Strasser.

Must be in the genes. Milwaukee’s Nick Reistad spent five years as a pro cyclist, including stints with the US National and Jelly Belly teams; now his six-year old daughter is about ride in her first race.

A British ultracyclist learns the hard way that you can’t set a new 24-hour record if you don’t stay on your bike. And you can’t do that if you spill water on the track.

Apparently, women’s cycling has the same problems the men do with massive crushes of fans crowding the peloton.

 

Finally…

Nothing says 2019 like a bikeshare-by shooting. Who needs an ebike when you’ve got an electric unicycle?

And when you’re carrying over a pound of weed, maybe try not to call attention to yourself by stealing a bicycle.

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Thanks to David Erickson for his generous donation to help support this site. Your support to help keep SoCal’s best bike news coming your way every day is always appreciated. 

6 comments

  1. Matt S says:

    Metro Bike Share has added three stations near the Vermont/Sunset station! I haven’t found a press release but I spotted them walking around and on the map.

    https://bikeshare.metro.net/stations/

  2. John Cinatl says:

    There was another bike fatality in Oxnard last week – let me know how/where I can send info to you

  3. Ralph Durham says:

    Was just in Paris, France to watch a women’s world cup match. I noticed 3 different bike share bikes around. Also there are at least 2 dockless scooters to choose from. Many were in use. A good number were carrying 2 people. That included youth who might have been on dates.

    They also have motorsport sharing. Saw some parked and in use.

    No scooter use on the sidewalks,, narrow and bumpy off the main boulevards.

  4. Ralph Durham says:

    It always pains me to here about victims in motor vehicle collisions that need to use a giving me page to help cover costs that the party at fault needed to cover. Be that uninsured, underinsured, or unidentified driver. Something is wrong with our system when the innocent need to pay for other’s extreme negligence.

    In light of not having universal insurance i have another idea. Put a $5 or $10 charge on all driver’s licences. This would create a fund to cover medical costs due to uninsured, underinsured and hit and run. Money paid out could be potentially be reimbursed through insurance later.

    Any ideas on who would be the best people to contact to push for this. I will start with my state reps and senator.

    • bikinginla says:

      Not a bad idea. However, I suspect it would take a lot more than that to build a big enough pool to cover everyone. Another option is no-fault insurance, but that would only cover people who have auto insurance. I’d like to see optional insurance policies to cover bicyclists and pedestrians, as well.

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