Biking responsibly in the age of Covid-19, returning streets to the people, and 1,000 days of biking to (now closed) school

Last week we brought you the bad news that two of the last remaining LACBC staffers, including coalition’s longest-service employee, were let go as the organization faces serious financial problems exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.

Today, we’re reposting a letter sent out to members by Executive Director Eli Akira Kaufman, as he addresses both the state of the organization, and advice on whether to ride your bike for the time being.

Because this matters. All of it.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to worsen, we have been listening closely to our public health officials and our community leaders about what we can do to help flatten the curve and reduce the spread of the virus. The health of the bicycling community and our pedestrian and transit riding friends is our top priority. So we are asking you to do your part by exercising an abundance of caution in everything you do, especially when you take to the street on your bicycle for an essential ride.

What qualifies as essential? We are hearing a range of opinions on this topic, from staying in your neighborhood within a reasonable distance from your home, to avoiding more challenging and/or longer rides with increased exposure to risk of injury, to riding in smaller groups of fewer than 5 or just with members of your household to maintain recommended social (physical) distancing of at least 6 feet. Of course, each of us is different in terms of our level of comfort and fitness on a bike so it really comes down to using common sense and following the very clear guidelines that our civic leaders and public health officials have been sharing for weeks now. At the end of the day, the last thing we want is to end up needing medical attention when our first-responders and healthcare providers are working overtime to handle the pandemic which has been made all the more challenging by the fact that medical resources they need are in such short supply. Once again we believe that all of us need to do our part for the safety of our families and our communities. The more we can avoid non-essential trips, the more we can limit the spread of the disease.

I recognize that hearing this from your Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition may feel off message from our normal advocacy in support bicycle culture and improved infrastructure but that is precisely the point. The COVID-19 pandemic is a new normal that we must adjust to by responsibly advocating for biking as one of the best ways to maintain our physical, mental and community health within our new reality.

In fact we are looking beyond the current surge in COVID-19 cases to the period of months, if not longer, when the virus is still with us but under control enough for Los Angeles County to reopen. How our region reopens is an important question, but we anticipate there will be guidelines for Angelinos to maintain the practice of social (physical) distancing. We also anticipate that during this time non-essential workers and those who can use alternative modes of transportation will be asked to help lessen the crowds on our buses and subways by walking and bicycling. Which is why we anticipate an even greater need for everyone to join us in advocating for safer, healthy, more sustainable and equitable streets for a more livable Los Angeles for everyone.

One more note about our streets during this crisis: many of our fellow riders have jobs that are at essential businesses and many more are still riding as a part of their daily commutes. To support those riders, we ask that everyone take extra care when you are out and about, especially if you are driving. Due to the reduced traffic, many drivers are finding the empty streets a temptation to speed. As many of our fellow riders are still making essential trips, including people commuting and also traveling around their own neighborhoods, we ask all of you to exercise extra caution while you are outside your homes. Whether you are in the saddle or behind the wheel, please make sure to be extra aware of your surroundings, put away the distractions, and travel at safe speeds for your own safety and the safety of others. Again the last thing we need now is more people further burdening our increasingly already strained healthcare system.

Finally, I am sure some of you have heard that LACBC has had to make the difficult decision to reduce our staff for the second year in a row and permanently close down our offices in DTLA to work remotely. The current COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a significant loss of revenue for us this year, especially as spring is one of our most important seasons for our events and education programs. I want to close with a special note of gratitude to the two staffers who we had to let go last week. Colin Bogart and Kevin Claxton have been key members of the LACBC community and larger transportation justice movement for years and in Colin’s case for decades. It has been my privilege to work alongside and learn from Kevin and Colin. They will be deeply missed.

While the current situation is among the hardest we’ve had to endure at LACBC, I firmly believe that we will make it through this crisis and come back stronger than ever. We ask you for your positive thoughts as we prepare LACBC for its next chapter.

And if you are in a position to assist financially, please take a moment to send us a donation.

I’m not exactly rolling in money these days, especially after my wife was let go when her company shut down, perhaps permanently, because of LA County’s stay at home order.

Like far too many others out there.

But I’m going to find the money to renew my membership in the LACBC in the next few weeks.

It’s not going to lift them out of their current financial difficulties.

But we all need to do what can to save an organization that does so much for us.

………

One of the few positives to come out of all this whole pandemic mess is that cities across the US are taking entire streets away from cars and giving them to people to get outside and exercise.

Denver shut down four streets to make more room for pedestrians and people on bicycles; more streets may follow soon to allow people to get out while practicing social distancing.

St. Paul, Minnesota, shut down three streets, but only through this Friday, while City Lab maps how cities are reclaiming street space for people.

On the other hand, Los Angeles, which has closed virtually all popular parks and trails, still insists on reserving every inch of asphalt reserved for the cars and drivers that often aren’t there right now.

Rather than giving a little of it back to the people to get outside for awhile.

Thanks to Robert Leone for the links.

………

We can all use a smile these days.

Bicycling provides a good one, as they check in with eleven-year old Bodhi Linde, who’s been riding his bike to school every day since kindergarten.

But like schools everywhere, his Rapid City, South Dakota shut down due to the Covid-19 outbreak — just as he was approaching his 1,000th straight day.

So he kept riding the 2.1 miles to school every day anyway. Then turned around and rode back home to take his classes online.

And yes, he hit the mark.

………

Heartless bike thieves continue to plague medical workers in the UK, despite the current coronavirus crisis. Or maybe because of it.

There’s a special place in hell for whoever stole a British paramedic’s bicycle as she was working a 12-hour shift.

A Northern Irish pharmacist saw an outpouring of support after her bike was stolen from her car as she worked, before it was replaced by a local bike shop.

Pro cyclist Luke Rowe came to the rescue after someone stole a bike from a Welsh intensive care medic while he was treating patients; Rowe was having a new bike delivered today.

Speaking of Britain’s National Health Service, this tweet pretty much puts things in perspective.

………

On a related subject, today’s common theme is a return of the sort of kindhearted people we usually only see around the holidays.

A pair of Fontana cops dug into their own pockets to buy a new bike for a seven-year old boy after someone cut the lock to steal his.

A seven-year old Illinois girl ended up with two bicycles, after a Good Samaritan replaced her stolen bike, just hours before police recovered it.

Kindhearted strangers pitched in to buy a new bike for a 12-year old British Columbia boy after the one he got for his birthday was stolen.

After a Malaysian man chased down an aid van from a non-government organization on his bicycle to beg for food for his family when the factory he worked for was shut down because of Covid-19, not only did they respond the next day, but a number of generous people reached out to help.

………

Police immediately seized the license of an 81-year old woman who nearly ran people down while speeding along a Rhode Island bike path.

Don’t get me started on the need for elderly drivers to give up their keys when they can’t drive safely anymore.

Instead of driving them everywhere, hop in the passenger seat and let your older relatives drive. And see if they’re still the safe drivers you remember.

If they ever were, that is.

………

Now that the hockey season is on hiatus, NHL players have time for the little things.

Like spending time with their kids. And teaching ’em to ride bikes.

https://twitter.com/Capitals/status/1246814061721006083?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1246814061721006083&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcsports.com%2Fwashington%2Fcapitals%2Fwatch-tj-oshie-teach-his-daughter-lyla-how-ride-bike

………

Sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly. 

Security has been tightened at a San Anselmo CA school after a group of teens on mountain bikes harassed a security guard, allegedly coughing in his face while making jokes about the pandemic.

A Columbian bike rider was shot to death after opening fire on two cops who stopped him for violating the country’s coronavirus curfew; one of the officers was wounded in the shoulder.

British police are looking for a trio of bike-riding teenagers who attacked a radiographer with the National Health Service in an apparent attempt to steal his headphones; one will need a new bike seat after using it as a weapon during the attack.

………

Local

Lyft scooters are now free for health and transit workers for the remainder of the month, here in Los Angeles and in cities around the US; the company is also bolstering their supply of e-scooters around hospitals.

The Wall Street Journal drops their paywall for a photo essay of mask-wearing Angelenos, including Midnight Wilder from Manny’s Bike Shop in Venice.

The coronavirus has given Angelenos a glimpse of what’s possible with fewer cars, as the city enjoys its cleanest air in four decades.

The rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills is one of us. And barely survived coronavirus, anyway.

Andy Garcia is one of us, too, as he takes a casual ride on his cruiser bike through the streets of LA.

Isla Fisher takes a “spirited” bike ride with husband Sacha Baron Cohen through Los Angeles.

Simon Cowell went for an ebike ride with his family through the ‘Bu.

 

State

Millennials say don’t blame them for jerks on San Jose trails.

The CHP has released a very blurry photo of the truck driven by the suspect who allegedly killed a Patterson bike rider in a hit-and-run last week.

The annual America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride scheduled for June has been pushed back, and will be combined with September’s annual Tour de Tahoe.

 

National

An industrial engineering writer says light yourself up and wear reflective clothing, because it’s better to be uncomfortably conspicuous than be a fatality statistic.

Essential workers around the US are getting to work by bike. Meanwhile, Bicycling talks with five bicyclists on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.

Shades of Burma Shave, as Kansas residents post jokes along a local bike path.

Wisconsin bike riders will have to keep their clothes on for another year, as Madison’s annual World Naked Bike Ride has been cancelled due to Covid-19.

The coronavirus bike boom seems to be having a different effect in different places; while bike shops in some areas can’t keep up with the demand, Chicago shops are seeing a big drop in business.

The Chicago Tribune recommends their top picks for the best ebike conversion kits.

A writer for the New York Times says go outside, but maintain social distancing on the sidewalk. And don’t ride your bike there.

A New York writer says things are worse than you think for the city’s food delivery riders, while bike-riding volunteers are delivering desperately needed  parts for face masks and ventilators. A Medium piece examines how you can support bicycle delivery workers right now. Here’s a tip: Tip.

Writing for the Daily News, a New York college professor says the problem isn’t the cars, it’s the coronavirus; meanwhile, an economic publication calls the pandemic a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the way we travel.

The celebrity bike craze jumps to the East Coast, as CNN’s Anderson Cooper rides through New York sans helmet and face mask while balancing an iced coffee on his handlebars.

Tragic news from Tampa Florida, where a man on a bike and a motorcycle rider were both killed in a collision as the bicycle rider was attempting to cross street a major in a crosswalk.

 

International

Road.cc considers what a fixie is good for, and whether you should get one. Unless maybe you’d prefer riding with a stoker in back.

Cyclist examines the best masks to protect urban bike riders from pollution. And hopefully, coronavirus.

Bike Radar recommends ten cheap hybrid bikes that won’t break the bank.

Quebec is just the latest province or state to conclude that bike shops provide an essential service; New York State fell in line after initially leaving bike shops off the approved list.

London’s Daily Mail visits the world’s largest bicycle garage in the Netherlands, which offers room for 12,500 bikes.

Megan Lynch forwards a great Spanish language piece about Britain’s Clarion Cycling Club, which sent members down to Spain to fight a losing battle against the fascists in the Spanish civil war. If, like me, you don’t read Spanish, just copy the text and dump the whole thing in Google Translate.

A wheelchair-bound Polish man rode his hand-bike over 371 mile across Iceland to raise money for an orphanage. In winter.

An Indian bicycle delivery rider is covering the length and breadth of Delhi delivering food to people who can’t get out — mostly doctors busy battling Covid-19.

Seriously? After a five-year old Taiwanese kid crashed his bike into a parked Tesla, police gave him a breathalyzer test.

The worldwide lockdowns are putting the squeeze on Taiwan’s bikemakers.

New Zealanders are debating whether bike riders are abiding by the country’s lockdown rules, which limits bicyclists to local rides.

 

Competitive Cycling

The Tour of Utah pulls the plug.

VeloNews talks with former women’s pro cyclist Allison Tetrick, now the queen of the Dirty Kanza gravel race, which will now be held in September.

Cycling gazes into its crystal ball to predict the future of pro cycling, while French cyclists request permission to train outside during the country’s lockdown.

Now you can ride just like Lance in his prime; doping optional.

Who says there’s no bike racing this year? Pro cyclists took part in the cancelled Tour of Flanders as the race went virtual; Belgian Greg Van Avermaet won in a virtual breakaway.

The annual Race Across America, aka RAAM, has been cancelled for this year in favor of a virtual race across the country.

One advantage of virtual cycling — the crashes don’t hurt as much. On the other hand, you can’t win if your bike is unplugged.

 

Finally…

Your next bike could be made from used plastic bottle caps. Create a preschool indoor trainer with training wheels and a pair of shoes.

And even the Easter Bunny is practicing social distancing on his bike.

………

Be safe, and stay healthy.

 

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