Painful history of NY ghost bikes, Calbike unveils initiatives tonight, and Mexican shopper chains herself to Walmart scooter

It’s Day 7 of the 6th Annual BikinginLA Holiday Fund Drive!

Thanks to Diana R and SSK Press for their generous donations to help keep SoCal’s best source for bike news and advocacy coming your way every day! And for their kind words, which mean every bit as much to me as the donations. 

If you haven’t already, take a few minutes right now to join them in supporting this site!

I mean, seriously, who can resist that pretty face?

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Today’s must read is a beautiful piece recounting the first few ghost bikes in New York, and painful steps that go into one.

Writing for Bicycling, NY bike advocate Jessie Singer captured in a few words exactly how I feel writing about a fallen rider.

What I remember most was the sadness that wafted in with the white cloud of paint. Painting that first bike, I thought of a woman I knew nothing about except that, like me, she rode a bike. I imagined her life and horrible death. I pictured the people she left behind. In the act of making, I felt mournful about something that before, I might never have known.

Then there are the lessons to be learned, including who is most likely to be killed, and how.

Which again tracks with my own experience.

The more ghost bikes I built, the more I found even broader lessons. Across boroughs, for example, ghost bikes were needed at intersections and on streets without bike lanes, because those places were where most were killed. In this way, the ghost bikes mapped what needed to be done: Fix a street. Build a bike lane. Protect an intersection. Each death was a lesson, and by marking the dead, the lessons appeared stark.

But there were other patterns too, ones that a ghost bike offered nothing for. These emerged only after years of building ghost bikes, as I met the families of the dead. The people we built ghost bikes for were disproportionately Black, Latino, and Asian. Often they were immigrants; often they were killed on the job, or riding to and from work in the dim of late night and early morning…

In New York and across the United States, transportation access is a racial and economic barrier. Today more than a million unemployed people have stopped looking for work because family or transportation issues make returning to work impossible. While other markers of the economy have improved, this number has not. With public transit budgets being cut nationwide, and even the cheapest used car costing a few thousand dollars, the simplest and most affordable transportation option is a bike. For people who ride bikes because they have no other choice, a bike can bring transportation freedom, access to a paycheck, and also vulnerability to premature death.

And he sums it up this way.

What is the difference between a ghost bike for a person who chooses to ride a bike and a ghost bike for a person who must ride a bike? Nothing. And that is where the ghost bike falls short.

Take a few minutes to read it.

Because it will likely be the most moving, and challenging, thing you read today.

Then multiply that over 800 times every year, in cities and towns of every size throughout the US. And you’ll just be starting to understand the problem.

Like this one, for instance.

As usual, you can read it on Yahoo if Bicycling blocks you out.

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Calbike will unveil their top initiatives for 2021 in an online conversation this evening.

Let’s hope it includes tackling California’s hit-and-run epidemic and eliminating the deadly 85th Percentile Law that lets drivers set speed limits with their right foot.

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This is who we share the stores with.

A woman in Mexico chained herself to a motor scooter until Walmart agreed to honor the posted price of just 14.999 pesos — the equivalent of 75¢ — instead of the intended 14,999 pesos.

No word on whether she was successful, after the store agreed to sell it to just one person at that price.

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‘Tis the season.

Christmas came early for nine Kansas City kids, as a pair of nonprofits gave them bikes and taught them how to ride them.

A Pennsylvania man is hosting a bike drive to ensure local kids don’t feel the pain of finding nothing under their tree this year.

Georgia bike advocacy groups are working to get new bikes for kids throughout the state.

‘Tis not the season, in this pandemic plagued year. An annual bike giveaway sponsored by a Louisiana law firm is the latest casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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CD5 council candidate Scott Epstein will be the featured guest on this week’s Bike Talk.

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GCN considers how often you should lube your chain.

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

New York police are looking for a pair of grinning bikeshare-riding jerks who stole the hats off the heads of several Hasidic men.

A pair of Scottish teens punched a woman in the face as she walked on a pathway, apparently at random, before riding off on their bikes.

And at least one bike rider was a scofflaw villain nearly 120 years ago.

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Local

They get it. BikinginLA sponsor Cohen Law Partners writes we need more and better bike lanes.

 

State

San Francisco agreed to a $330,000 settlement with Lyft, after the city solicited bids for dockless bikeshares that would compete with the docked bikeshare system operated by a subsidiary of the company.

Davis police busted a pair of alleged bike thieves suspected in a bike shop burglary last month that resulted in the loss of several bicycles worth over $17,000.

 

National

Who needs an SUV when you can have a three-wheeled Dutch cargo bike for just six grand?

Now you, too, can get your very own official Gryffindor-themed Harry Potter bike at your neighborhood Walmart. Hopefully, you won’t have to chain yourself to it.

Wired says the pandemic gives us a chance to reconsider how we get around our cities.

No sexism here. Cycling News offers a Christmas gift guide for male bike riders. Even though most of the suggestions would work just as well for women.

Bike Portland critiques a questionable police report that blames the victim in a bicycling collision.

A Houston man was arrested for the hit-and-run death of a man riding a bicycle after he drove home, and family members told him to go back and turn himself in.

Speaking of ghost bikes, a new one was installed to mark the opening of a new curb-protected bike lane honoring a Boston University student killed on the street eight years ago. Which will hopefully save other lives, even if it comes too late for him.

Kindhearted deputies in New York’s Ulster County bought a boy a new bike after learning he’d had several bicycles stolen over the past year. Let’s hope they gave him a good lock to go with it.

The heartbroken mother of a bike rider killed in Mississippi two years ago while on a cross-country fundraising bike ride says she’ll finish the ride he started, beginning right where he died.

An Alabama website offers an affordable gift guide for the bike rider in your life. Even if that’s you.

 

International

Cycling News recommends several entry-level gravel bikes to get you started.

A 74-year old Quebec bicyclist has donated over $20,000 to cancer research at a Jewish hospital by selling his artwork, despite taking up painting just a few years ago — and he painted his bike club’s jersey.

Writing on a driving website, a Toronto writer explains that bike lanes won’t hurt you, and could save others. And wonders why some people have a problem with that.

The BBC examines whether there will be enough bikes to go around this Christmas. Short answer: Maybe not.

London police post a gallery of seized hot bikes in hopes of returning them to their owners.

The director of a London bike co-op explains how to properly maintain all those new — or new to you — bikes purchased during the pandemic.

He gets it. London’s mayor says the city’s road to recovery can’t be clogged with cars.

A French hunter will spend a year behind bars for killing a Welsh mountain biker as he rode down a popular cycling route, apparently mistaking him for a wild boar; he’ll also be banned from owning a gun for five years, and from hunting for ten.

 

Competitive Cycling

Former Canadian pro Alex Stieda says the rules have to be clarified, or it could be the end of traditional sprint finishes. Meanwhile, five-time world track champ and former WorldTour cyclist Theo Bos suggests adopting rules from track cycling to make final sprints safer. Thanks to JoninSoCal for the heads-up.

Cycling News looks back to the rise and fall of the late, great Tour of California.

After former team owner Rochelle Gilmore tweeted to blame Indigenous people for breaking into her car, Wiggle High5 cyclist Elinor Barker put her autographed team kit for sale on eBay, with the proceeds going to support Aboriginal rights.

 

Finally…

Who wouldn’t want a solar-powered ebike from a company that makes flying cars? Unless maybe you’d rather have a leather-wrapped bespoke Louis Vuitton model. Or a handcrafted bike inspired by a high-end purebred pony.

And this might be just a tad hard to do.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask, already. 

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