Another LA councilmember indicted for bribery, Claremont clarifies apparent bike ban, and bike riders get Gavined again

My apologies for the recent unexcused absences. 

You know I’m having a bad night when I post an explanation for why I won’t be posting something that day.

A really bad night is when I don’t manage to post anything at all. 

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The beat goes on at LA City Hall, where yet another councilmember has been indicted for bribery.

Longtime LA-area politician Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted for allegedly bribing a former dean at USC to admit a family member into a graduate program while he was serving on the LA County Board of Supervisors, before getting elected to the city council after he was termed out by the county.

He is the third current or former councilmember to be indicted for bribery in recent years, although Mitch Englander was convicted of receiving bribes, and Jose Huizar charged with doing the same.

And that doesn’t include CD12 City Councilmember John Lee, who remains on the council, despite reportedly figuring prominently in the bribery charge and conviction of his predecessor.

Maybe that’s our problem.

Maybe we need to take up a collection to bribe a few councilmembers, so bikes can get their attention for a change.

Meanwhile, the New York Times looks at the redistricting controversy that could send recently elected CD4 Councilmember Nithya Raman to represent the San Fernando Valley, where no one voted for her, while disenfranchising  her current district and leaving them without the bike, pedestrian and transit-friendly representative they voted for.

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Claremont has apparently learned the error of their ways, correcting a badly worded draft ordinance that could have been read to ban bicycles on at least one street, in violation of state law.

Credit Erik Griswold with sounding the alarm.

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Evidently, we’ve been Gavined again.

Streetsblog reports Governor Newsom vetoed AB 1147, which would have required better data and analysis regarding greenhouse gas reductions, while calling on Caltrans to develop a pilot program of branded bicycle highways.

He apparently wielded his overactive veto pen out of spite because the bill’s author, Laura Friedman, blocked Newsom’s $7.6 billion transportation bill in a dispute over what segments of high speed rail to fund first.

And no, I don’t know what a “branded” bicycle highway is, either.

On the other hand, Newsom did sign AB 773, which will make it easier to make Slow Streets permanent, as well as partially or completely closing streets for al fresco dining.

He also signed Friedman’s AB 43, which will allow cities to lower speed limits, but not until July 1st, 2024.

And Newsom signed SB 69, which will shut down the state’s “the defunct and bankrupt North Coast Railroad Authority,” and transition it to the Great Redwood Trail Agency, which will be charged establishing a rail trail through the redwoods along California’s North Coast.

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We’ve been following the case of the coal-rolling, 16-year old Texas driver who slammed into six bicyclists on a training ride in Waller County, and trying to read through the lines to figure out why the kid wasn’t charged on the spot.

We don’t have to wonder anymore.

Erik Griswold forwarded a powerful blog post from the Houston lawyer representing the victims from earlier this month, which has somehow gone unreported in the media.

Our 6 clients are suffering from horrible injuries including broken vertebrae, cervical and lumbar spinal injuries, broken collar bones, hands, and wrists- many of which require surgical intervention- as well as multiple traumatic brain injuries, lacerations, soft tissue damage, road rash, and extensive bruising. And those are just the physical injuries.

The driver of the black F-250 that crushed our clients’ bodies and left them and their bikes splashed and scattered across the roadway is a 16 year old Waller, Texas male. Through our own investigation, we’ve learned his name, his address, the names of his parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors and family friends. We know the names of the businesses owned and operated by the driver’s family. We know where he was earlier in the day, prior to crashing into our clients while they were more than 70 miles into their USAT tri-club training ride. We know the identity of his passenger (a local 17 year old male from a neighboring town) and a pretty good idea about the role he may have played in causing the crash that sent ALL of our clients to the hospital; 2 by Life Flight, 2 by ambulance, 2 by personal transport…

The driver’s family’s connections in Waller are a legitimate reason for concern, but I know that Charlie and Peter are very well versed in handling the challenges that nepotism can create.

They go on to add this —

The backdrop of the Waller Bike Crash is one riddled with anti-bike bias. Charlie knows all too well as he has recent experiences with judges there, one who actually lamented to him that Waller, TX “doesn’t like [our] kind.” Charlie has formerly represented several cyclists who were targeted and ticketed by Waller police over the last couple of years…This advocacy includes exposing and fighting against those who choose to selectively enforce the law for only a select few.

Our clients are not only hostages to the truck driver’s behavior and their own broken bodies, but also to a criminal process that is supposed to help make them “whole” again in a place that “doesn’t like [their] kind.”

Which reads like a perfect example of saying something without saying it.

Without mentioning the names of the driver’s family members, or their social, financial and/or official positions, the post makes it very clear he’s part of, and protected by, a powerful family in the country.

And that achieving justice in the face of the county’s extreme anti-bike bias will be an uphill climb.

It’s definitely worth a click to read the whole thing.

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Streetsblog reports that Norwalk is beginning work on a bicycle master plan.

Thanks to Joe Linton for the heads-up.

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LADOT offers a quick look at last Sunday’s CicLAvia.

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That feeling when you win the Nobel, but have no use for the prime parking spot that comes with it.

Thanks to Megan Lynch for forwarding the tweets.

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Kermet is one of us, too.

But then, we already knew that.

And yes, that’s something to sing about.

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A UK bike advocacy group celebrates one of the country’s most celebrated bike illustrators.

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

No bias here. A British mayor complains he’s been abused for trying to stop “silly cyclists” from getting killed riding recklessly after dark.

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

A 41-year old man faces charges for running over a 12-year old girl with his bike as she was walking to school in Corona, then stripping naked and making lewd comments; he was arrested as he rode naked past students arriving for school.

Rome, New York police are looking for an ax-wielding, bike-riding robber who made off with a 14-year old boy’s bicycle after threatening to chop his head off.

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Local

LA is taking another step towards creating a continuous bikeway along the LA River, with plans to close a 2.9-mile gap in the San Fernando Valley.

A letter writer takes the LA Times to task for publishing an op-ed from a homeless advocate complaining about a bike rider who loudly objected to two men blocking the LA River bike path to comfort a homeless man, comparing it to a post on Nextdoor. Ouch.

Santa Monica-based Bird announced a new, integrated smart sidewalk protection technology designed to keep users from illegally riding the company’s e-scooters on sidewalks.

While Los Angeles tries to redefine what “Complete Streets” means to include sort-of, semi-complete streets, Culver City is busy building the real thing with a Complete Streets makeover of Washington Boulevard, including dedicated bike and bus lanes connecting downtown to the city’s E Line, nee Expo, station.

LA County Sheriff’s deputies disproportionately stop, search and handcuff Black people in the Antelope Valley, apparently for the crime of walking, biking or driving while Black.

 

State

Streetsblog complains about Gavin Newsom’s “deeply disappointing” vetos of bills to legalize Stop and Yield for bike riders and decriminalize jaywalking, saying the governor relied on flawed data.

A San Mateo letter writer complains about “confiscating” parking spaces from low income, working class neighborhoods, calling it callous and punitive. Evidently, she’s unaware that poor and working class people ride bicycles, too — many as their only form of transportation.

A letter writer from Northern California’s Plumas County makes the case for bike lanes, noting that he’s 60 year old and rides a bike 60 to 70 miles a week to stave off congestive heart failure. But we all know bike lanes only benefit young, healthy adults. Right?

 

National

America Walks will offer a webinar tomorrow on how to take on harmful jaywalking laws. Just a tad too late for those of us in California, though.

Now you, too, can build your own ebike with fat, low profile wheels intended for custom cars.

KC bike and pedestrian advocates called for safety improvements after a man was killed by two separate hit-and-run drivers while leaving Sunday’s Kansas City Chiefs game.

Kindhearted cops in Jasper, Texas raised funds to buy an adaptive bicycle for a 12-year old special needs girl.

Life is cheap in San Antonio, where a 70-year old woman will serve a lousy ten days behind bars and another hundred on house arrest for the drunk driving death of a bike rider.

Evidently, things are no better in Chicago than the Antelope Valley, where bike riders in predominantly Black neighborhoods are eight times more likely to be ticketed than riders in mostly white neighborhoods.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer promises to deliver for the Deliveristas, promising federal infrastructure funds to build rest areas for New York delivery riders, as they band together to protect their own safety.

A paralyzed former Army Ranger living in Virginia has made it his mission to provide adaptive bicycles for paralyzed and disabled children and veterans.

 

International

A British Columbia drunk driver was 2.5 times over the legal alcohol limit when he killed a bike rider, after texting a woman he was arguing with that he was going to get fucked up. And did, apparently.

The theft of high-end bikes continues in London’s Richmond Park, as machete-wielding thieves on motor scooters attacked a man and made off with his nearly $8,000 bike, the fourth such theft this week. Note to self: Don’t ride in Richmond Park.

Evidently, parking in bike lanes isn’t just an American thing, as a London bike rider snapped a photo showing at least seven drivers parked in one.

An English bike rider credits his helmet with saving his life — not from a collision, but when a brick wall collapsed on him as he was riding by. So always wear your helmet 24/7, on or off your bike, just in case.

After British bike riders ridicule a ridiculously short ten-foot bike lane, county officials contend it’s not really a bike lane, but just bike markings and parallel stripes on the pavement. Which is kind of what a bike lane is.

Does anyone really need the new Van Moof ebike that can do 37 mph? That would make it a motorcycle under California law, requiring a helmet, driver’s license and license plate.

A Turkish woman has taught 72 women to ride bikes in just the last five months, in an area where it’s not considered inappropriate for a woman to ride a bike. Which implies that there are places in the country where it is.

 

Competitive Cycling

A 31-year old woman is set to face charges of causing involuntary injuries and endangering others for causing a mass crash on the opening stage of this year’s Tour de France, by holding a handwritten sign reading Allez Opi-Omi — go grandma and grandpa — in front of the peloton.

Four-time Tour de France champ Chris Froome says he still dreams of getting a record-tying fifth win. Someone who shall not be named once won seven Tour de France titles, before unwinning them by doping.

Legendary cyclist Eddy Merckx says Slovenia’s Tadej Pogačar has the potential to do even better than he did. Which is saying something, since Merckx is generally considered the greatest of all time.

American Olympic bronze medalist Emma White announced her retirement at the ripe old age of 24, just days after winning this year’s Sea Otter Classic.

 

Finally…

That feeling when your neighborhood is closed to kids, because cars. Note to paramedics — don’t leave the damn keys in the ambulance.

And, um, well…

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

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