Metro bikewashes 605 freeway expansion, LA council considers safety measures, and CicLAvia heads to South LA

Sometimes, the explanation stinks as much as the project.

And the location.

Anyone who ever drove the 605 Freeway through Baldwin Park and the City of Industry in years past noticed the stench of the duck farm long before it came into sight.

And it lingered long after, making you wonder if the odor was still wafting through the air, or burned into your olfactory nerve.

It’s been 20 years since work began to turn the poultry farm into a park. Although you have to wonder if even that is long enough to get the stink off the land.

But now the stench is wafting from the Metro boardroom, instead.

Streetsblog’s Joe Linton reports the board Planning Committee unanimously approved a $35 million project to widen the freeway interchange at the 605 and Valley Blvd. And is greenwashing it with supposed benefits to bike riders and pedestrians.

What’s depressing is how inexorably these small freeway expansion projects continue to advance. And the Metro gaslighting that now promotes polluting auto-focused freeway expansion as good for equity and for active transportation.

He goes on to note that Caltrans bizarrely certified that the project would have no negative environmental impact.

Because apparently, induced demand isn’t a thing anymore.

The 605/Valley Blvd project was environmentally cleared via a negative declaration (asserting the project has no adverse environmental impacts) approved by Caltrans in May 2021. The environmental documents use discredited Level of Service metrics to show that widening roadways would “reduce congestion on Valley Boulevard” and “alleviate mobility constraints.” The project would widen roads, increasing car congestion and concomitant pollution burdens on the surrounding communities.

Equally bizarre, though, is Metro’s attempts at greenwashing the project by touting its extremely limited benefits to alternative transpiration.

Again, from Linton’s Streetsblog piece —

Caltrans and Metro tout the project as benefiting alternative transportation. The environmental documents assert that the project would “enhance bicyclist and pedestrian safety” and “help reduce GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions” by supporting alternative modes of transportation: biking and walking.

All of the non-car features of the project are:

  • Adding a sidewalk where it is currently missing on the north side of Valley Boulevard – including ADA-mandated features such as wheelchair ramps.
  • Adding “a widened shoulder to provide a future bike lane along Eastbound Valley Boulevard up to the northbound loop on-ramp.” Installing this 1,400-feet length of bike lanes does not appear to be actually included in the project, but the margin for potential future bike lanes is nonetheless noted as helping reduce GHG emissions.
  • Reducing the curve radius of the northbound loop on-ramp from eastbound Valley Boulevard; this “would be reduced to slow entering traffic to enhance safety for bicyclists and pedestrians and support use of these alternative modes.” Note that the reason the turning radius is being narrowed is to accommodate a second lane on the current one-lane on-ramp (without taking out the business next door). Caltrans asserts that an upcoming curve radius would slow Southern California drivers entering the on-ramp, and that this would encourage bicycling. Really.

All the extra bike riding this project would inspire wouldn’t begin to offset the environmental and climate damage it would cause.

Then again, it’s hard to offset anything when the bike and pedestrian side of the equation is virtually nil.

Unless you think a possible, noncommittal quarter-mile bike lane that may never be built is enough to offset what would undoubtedly be a major increase in traffic and emissions.

Or that safety for people on foot and bicycles can really be enhanced by adding a second onramp lane.

Admittedly, I’m not lawyer. But it seems like it wouldn’t take a very big cannon to shoot holes in the environmental report for this project.

Or a water pistol, for that matter.

So let’s be honest.

Every member of the Planning Committee who voted in favor of this project — which is all of them — should be ashamed.

Because whatever benefits this freeway widening project may or may not offer, their efforts to bikewash it with negligible benefits to bike riders and pedestrians stinks every bit as much as the duck farm did.

And it will take years to wash that stench off them, too.

………

Nice to see an effort by LA Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz to use newly signed state laws to improve safety on our streets.

Then again, Koretz has always been in favor of safety improvements, as long as they’re in someone else’s district.

………

CicLAvia has released details on December’s 5.3 mile open streets festival in South LA, connecting the neighborhoods of South Central, Exposition Park, Leimert Park and Crenshaw.

………

Today’s must read comes from an Associated Press story that only tangentially involves bicycles.

Instead, it’s about kids as young as six years old being handcuffed and arrested by police — including brutal use-of-force incidents — the overwhelming majority of whom are Black, brown or other people of color.

Here’s just one example they cite.

About 165 miles due south, in the rural hamlet of Paris, Illinois, 15-year-old Skyler Davis was riding his bike near his house when he ran afoul of a local ordinance that prohibited biking and skateboarding in the business district — a law that was rarely enforced, if ever.

But on that day, according to Skyler’s father, Aaron Davis, police officers followed his mentally disabled son in their squad car and chased his bike up over a curb and across the grass.

Officers pursued Skyler into his house and threw him to the floor, handcuffing him and slamming him against a wall, his father said. Davis arrived to see police pulling Skyler — 5 feet tall and barely 80 pounds, with a “pure look of terror” on his face — toward the squad car.

“He’s just a happy kid, riding his bike down the road,” Davis said, “And 30 to 45 seconds later, you see him basically pedaling for his life.”

Seriously, there’s no damn excuse for targeting kids like this, unless they somehow pose a direct threat.

And that’s pretty hard to imagine for a six-year old.

Or an unarmed 15-year old just out for a bike ride.

………

More evidence that motor vehicle exhaust lowers intelligence, as a Texas driver rolls coal into a Whataburger dining room.

@jaysonmanzanares0

Only in Texas #fypシ #smoke #funny #stupid #dumbass #viral #popular #outtaline #whataburger @Whataburger

♬ original sound – Jayson Manzanares

While it may seem like an obnoxious prank, it should be treated as an assault with a deadly weapon, which could have severe consequences for anyone with allergies or breathing problems.

………

Who needs a bike car in the train when you’ve got one in front of it?

Thanks to Keith Johnson for the forward.

………

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

No bias here. Instead of improving safety, Korea’s leading steel maker is banning bicycles from its mills.

Singapore is banning bicyclists from riding in groups of more than ten people riding abreast, or five riding single file.

 

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

Calabasas sheriff’s deputies are looking for a bike-riding cosmetics shoplifter who raided the local Sephora and Ulta Beauty stores on at least four separate occasions.

Police in my Colorado hometown are looking for a peeping Tom who fled by bicycle after he was spotted, firing several shots at a group of people who tried to confront him.

A bike-riding Florida teenager says he was trying to kill himself to avoid going back to jail when he fatally shot a cop he was wrestling with, who was trying to arrest him for attempting to break into several cars.

………

Local

No news is good news, right?

 

State

The New York Times explains why Newsom vetoed a handful of bills, including California’s proposed Stop As Yield law and one legalizing jaywalking. Meanwhile, SF Gate questions why Newsom vetoed the jaywalking bill, since everyone does it.

Here’s a chance to make some money while you ride your bike. Caltrans wants to pay you up to $250 a day to clean up trash along California highways.

Santa Barbara is hosting a pair of public meetings, virtual and otherwise, to discuss a possible bike/ped bridge over the 101 Freeway.

A Santa Cruz charity ride raised over $200,000 for local nonprofits. And no, it’s not named for conservative KFI shock jocks Jon and Ken.

Good news and bad news. Bay Area bike riders are happy to learn the hard-won bike lane on the Richmond-San Raphael Bridge won’t have to be closed for construction of a proposed water pipeline. But the approach leading to the bridge will be.

 

National

Seriously, who doesn’t need a limited edition Ozzy Osbourne bike jersey?

A climate website looks at the delivery riders on the front lines of the shakeup in sustainable transportation, and the price they pay with their own lives and bodies. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the link.

Outside offers advice on how to avoid low bone density, which has been linked to extensive bicycling.

Road Bike Action offers tips on how to be your own wrench.

Consumer Reports provides advice on how to keep your ebike running longer, while warning about the dangers of ebike battery fires.

A trio of Seattle physicians call on officials to reconsider a proposal to revoke the county’s mandatory bike helmet law, which has been used to unfairly target people of color.

Kindhearted Texas residents pitched in to buy a new ebike for a formerly homeless vet, after his homemade shoeshine cart and the jury-rigged ebike he built were stolen; he recovered the shoeshine cart, but his bike remains missing.

Hats off to a group of Rhode Island mountain bikers, who pitched in to scrub Nazi graffiti off state lands.

A former mountain biker from Seattle is in New York, replicating the Shadowman figures of 1980s street artist Richard Hambleton.

An op-ed from three New York teens calls on the city to develop The NYC Tube, a proposed inter-borough bicycle highway. We need something like that here in Los Angeles to connect at least some of the 88 cities in LA County. Let alone one crossing the City of LA itself.

Momentum Magazine talks with a stunt rider who calls himself Obloxkz, or O, about the Red Bull documentary NYC Bike Life and the ride-outs that continue to traumatize Long Island drivers.

Florida police are checking an abandoned bike for fingerprints, which may or may not have been the bike ridden by someone who may or may not have been Brian Laundrie, who may or may not be suspected in the death of Gabby Petito. Meanwhile, investigators are examining human remains found in a Florida nature reserve, which may or may not be Laundrie’s.

 

International

Intenet users teamed up to find a handicapped Vancouver man’s stolen handcycle, just 17 minutes after he posted a notice of the theft online.

An Italian ultracyclist is riding over 1,200 miles from Milan to Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference to spread the word about bicycling.

Once again, bike riders are heroes, as India’s Relief Riders earn a nomination for next year’s Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to deliver food and medicine to elderly, disabled and people isolating during the worst of the country’s pandemic.

An Indian man insists he loves his wife, despite running her down with his car as she rode her bicycle to work, then hacking her to death before attempting to cut her head off. Which makes you wonder what he would have done if he didn’t love her.

Malaysia threatens to jail people for up to three months for the crime of riding an e-scooter on public streets.

 

Competitive Cycling

Seems appropriate. Rising Belgian pro Remco Evenepoel will take part in the Kansas edition of the Belgian Waffle Ride, along with his Deceueninck-QuickStep teammate Mattia Cattaneo.

Seventeen top women’s teams have confirmed for next week’s inaugural Lion’s Den race in Sacramento, with a star-studded field including US Olympians Lily Williams and SoCal’s own Coryn Labecki, who was formerly known as Coryn Rivera before her recent marriage.

Cyclist looks forward to next year’s women’s Tour de France, calling it a week of brutal climbs and gravel.

A diabetes website talks with former Team Novo Nordisk cyclist Ezra Ward-Packard about the joys of competing with Type 1 diabetes. Thanks again to Keith Johnson. 

Cannondale is teaming with travel and language company EF Education First to sponsor new college cycling teams at one HBCU and two tribal colleges, with enough funding for three years.

Forty-seven-year old Natalie van Gogh is calling it a career after 15 years in the pro peloton, insisting she’s just Natalie, “not Natalie the transgender cyclist.”

 

Finally…

Probably not the best idea to ride your e-scooter on a highway, weaving in and out of traffic at up to 60 mph. Now you, too, can get your next bike from a haunted REI co-op.

And maybe it’s time we demanded a mandatory helmet law for deer.

Pretty impressive handspring as it tumbles offscreen, too.

………

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

One comment

  1. James says:

    I can’t think of a single example of a improved bicycle or pedestrian facilities near a widened freeway in California. All the intersections near my local stretch of the 405 widening remain bicycle facility free death traps despite the presence of bike lanes of both on either side of the freeway. Apparently caltrains thinks bicycle riders should all become fearless highspeed vehicular cyclists near any on or off ramps.

    I used to pass by freeway on/off ramps all the time in other parts of the world and I don’t recall it being a issue. It wasn’t until I had the misfortune of returning to CA that I had to start finding detours to avoid the worst bicycle riding experiences of my life when I cross caltrans designed freeways.

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