Morning Links: Eliminating car culture amid Vision Zero fail, and bike greenways at tonight’s Pasadena council meeting

Good essay by James Ramsey for Gothamist, questioning whether New York City should completely eliminate car culture.

It’s debatable whether New York City is a car town. On one hand, it’s obviously not — the majority of us take public transportation to work, cycling is at an all-time high, and there are people walking around at all hours of the day and night.

But the recent death of Jose Alzorriz, a 52-year-old cyclist from Park Slope, highlights a different reality about how the city is designed, and for whom…

But as economist and longtime cyclist Charles Komanoff wrote this week in an op-ed for Gothamist, the individual decisions of reckless drivers are merely the “proximate causes” of these tragedies.

“The wellspring of cycle fatalities lies deeper, in driving’s culture and sheer volume,” Komanoff writes.

Which is why he’s joining several prominent officials, most notably City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, in saying we need to “break the car culture.” That means making it far more expensive to drive in the city; less placating of reactionary community boards (see the cases of the 14th Street busway, or the Central Park West bike lane); and taking away huge chunks of space currently devoted to free or cheap parking.

Komanoff goes on to add that ending car culture also means “placing public transit, biking, and walking at the center of all city planning decisions.”

Incrementalism isn’t enough, he argues. Adding a few bike lanes won’t “change the cultural assumption that cars reign supreme” in New York.

The same holds true for Los Angeles.

When the city was looking for public input on Vision Zero, several of us argued for the urgent need to break attitude that LA streets are for cars and the people in them.

And that Vision Zero would never succeed as long as the city’s longtime philosophy of autos über alles was allowed to continue.

Which was quickly agreed with. And then, like most bold steps in the City of Angels, promptly forgotten.

Instead, we got a weak-kneed call for drivers to watch their speed from the punter for the Rams.

Evidently, the city concluded the best way to change driver attitudes was to bore them to death, and start over with the next generation.

Like New York, we’re long past the point where incremental changes will make a damn bit of difference.

It’s time for bold action and real change from a mayor and council who seem afraid of both. Or more accurately, afraid of angry windshield-biased NIMBY voters.

That’s where genuine leadership and political courage must come in. Elected leaders willing to stand up and take the heat for changes the city must make if we’re going to survive the coming decades.

And that’s exactly what the city lacks right now.

………

If you live or ride in the Pasadena area, drop whatever you were planning to do tonight and head to the meeting of the Pasadena city council, where officials will discuss proposals for four bicycle greenways, aka bike boulevards.

  • El Molino Ave between Atchison Street and Bonita Drive
  • Wilson Ave between Washington Blvd and California Blvd
  • Sierra Bonita Ave between Washington Blvd and Colorado Blvd
  • Craig Ave between Orange Grove Blvd and Del Mar Blvd

Unless you were already planning to be at the meeting.

In which case, carry on.

………

Over a hundred people turned out for yesterday’s march to demand safer streets in response to a hit-and-run that has left a 15-year old bike rider hospitalized for the past three weeks.

At least it now looks like he’s going to survive.

………

Not only is former NBA star Reggie Miller one of us, he got a new gravel grinder for his birthday.

View this post on Instagram

YAASSSSSS it’s my Birthday, thanks @santacruzbicycles for the best gift EVER, my Stigmata CC.. Here on my new Santa Cruz Stigmata I’m rocking the new Sram Red AXS with the power meter integration into the front chainrings and a Kogel bottom bracket to keep it spinning. The gearing is 46/33 in the front and 10/33 for the cassette to get me climbing up the hills. Now to keep me rolling I’m on the Santa Cruz Reserve carbon rims laced to some Industry Nine torch hubs. For the tires I’m using the @vittoriatires 700x37c Terreno Zeroes and orange sealant to keep me from getting flats. For the cockpit I have some Easton bars and stem to keep me upright, to allow me to go the distance I have my Selle SMP Dynamic seat with carbon rails. Thanks @dropdeadzep for being the best Producer/Director of this video and @browncastle for the best bike fit and acting cameo.. Big ups to @nitrothomas and @incyclebicycles for fine tuning my new everyday machine.. Watch whole video on my IGTV.. 🎶 @wizkhalifa #BlackAndYellow #NewBikeDay

A post shared by Reggie Miller (@reggiemillertnt) on

………

The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bike keeps on going.

Toronto bicyclists are turning to civil courts to confront road raging drivers after the criminal court system lets them down.

Three British teenagers have been charged with murder for ramming a popular, 18-year old taekwondo star and role model as he rode his bike in southwest London, then getting out and beating him as he lay on the ground.

Two Irish thieves rammed a rider to knock off his bicycle and into a ditch, then got out of their car and mugged him before taking off with his bike.

………

Local

The number of e-scooter riders ticketed by the LAPD is soaring, mostly for riding on the sidewalk — even before the Paul Koretz-inspired crackdown on sidewalk scooter riders began.

Santa Clarita sheriff’s deputies ticketed 74 people during their recent crackdown on traffic violations that endanger bicyclists and pedestrians, half of which were for distracted driving.

When Pomona police officers tried to return a young boy’s cellphone after it was stolen by older kids as he walked to school, they learned he was afraid to walk to class anymore. So the kindhearted cops surprised him a new bicycle, helmet and lock so he could ride to school, instead.

Active SGV considers LA County’s plans for protected bike lanes.

 

State

Yes, those cars with dark tinted windows are illegal in California. Which doesn’t mean they’re not out there threatening your life and safety on a daily basis.

Police are investigating a crash between a bicyclist and a motorcyclist in Rancho Santa Margarita that left one man dead; for a change, it was the man with the motor. Which does not make it any less tragic.

Sadly, a 48-year old San Diego man suffered life-threatening injuries when he crashed his motorized bicycle into the side of a car while attempting to ride across a street; no word on whether he was on an ebike or one with a gasoline engine.

A Clovis woman apparently broke both arms and legs when she allegedly ran a red light and was struck by a driver.

The San Francisco Chronicle accuses Caltrans of trying to steamroll SB127, the Complete Streets bill that would force the state agency to consider the needs of all street users.

 

National

After the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed claiming “new left urbanists” want to use infrastructure to “make the masses conform to one vision of how to live — which unfortunately is hidden behind their paywall — a writer for Jalopnik responds that he never knew an op-ed could be so stupid.

A writer for the LA Times takes an ebike-aided bike tour of the Oregon Cascades. Which just happens to be where my brother is now on his solo bike tour across the west, except he’s currently on the coast.

Police, fire and EMS personnel rode 650 miles across Texas in eight days to honor fallen first responders.

After a homeless man stole a $10,000 road bike off a car rack, Tulsa OK police quickly mobilized to track him down, busting him a few hours later riding the purloined bike while carrying bolt cutters.

A Michigan man with muscular dystrophy will have to start over after his coast-to-coast fundraising bike ride to fight the disease was interrupted when a careless driver slammed into him and his riding partner with just 800 miles to go, leaving both with several broken bones; the driver played the universal Get Out of Jail Free card, claiming he just didn’t see them. Which should be seen as a confession rather than an excuse, but seldom is.

A Maine man is suing Ford for $1 million over a crash when he was riding his bike with his son. Not over the gardening truck that passed them, but for the the 50-year old Ford lawn mower in the back whose blade came off and nearly severed his leg.

If you’re riding a bike in Boston with a loaded gun in your pocket, try not to act so damn suspicious.

Hundreds of New Yorkers rode to honor a fallen rider and demand safer streets. And called for the city’s mayor to stop running for president and come back to deal with the recent rash of bicycling deaths.

A Philadelphia op-ed says taking steps to hold drivers accountable signals a change in the city’s pervasive car culture.

Philly goes all out for the city’s annual naked bike ride, and they’ve got the photos to prove it.

A Palm Beach FL columnist inadvertently shows how windshield bias can determine who gets blamed for bike and motorcycle crashes, pointing out that drivers get most of the blame in one county, and people on two wheels in the next. Even though studies show drivers are to blame in the majority of crashes.

A Florida woman is under arrest after slamming into a bike rider during her morning commute, then driving to work to begin her shift; she called her husband and asked him to return to the crash scene for her, but never bothered to call the police.

Seriously? After an older person complained about bikes in a Florida park, a city department ordered signs from — from Amazon, no less — banning bicycles in the park, knowing they weren’t official and couldn’t be enforced.

 

International

A pair of British Columbia bike thieves broke into a parking garage and made off with an $11,000 Yeti mountain bike, as well as another as-yet unidentified bicycle.

A 73-year old Victoria BC letter writer says he just rode in a new bike lane, and contrary to the usual hysterical reports, didn’t crash into any pedestrians, get hit by wobbly bike riders or run over by cars coming from a parking lot.

After a drunk, half-naked man got tossed out of an English supermarket, he grabbed a bicycle and tried to smash his way back in through the glass.

A British couple are riding over 3,700 miles to draw a bicycle across the face of Europe to call attention to the environmental impact of traveling by motor vehicle.

The breathless UK media freaks out over a man riding his bicycle on a “busy” street carrying a baby in one arm. For a change, they’ve got a point; a kid should always be in a child’s seat or some other type of safe child carrier on a bike.

An Irish government committee calls on the country to legalize e-scooters. Which means you could soon take a Bird to the Blarney Stone, or a Lime to Limerick.

Cargo bikes are becoming status symbols in Deutschland, as Germans turn away from electric cars in the switch to greener transport.

A Taipei, Taiwan committee calls on the transport ministry to prevent bike crashes, which they mostly blame on the people on two wheels.

 

Competitive Cycling

Cycling News lists ten cyclists to keep your eye on in this year’s Vuelta, which kicked off on Saturday — including a rising young American rider for a change.

Twenty-two-year old American cyclist Chloe Dygert-Owen dominated the inaugural women’s Colorado Classic, winning all four stages, as her husband was 5,000 miles away in Spain competing in his first Grand Tour.

 

Finally…

Anyone can go biking on a mountain, but try riding a third of a mile under one. Are you a biker or a cyclist — or just someone who rides a bicycle?

And why ebikes burn like Jimi Hendrix’ guitar.

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