A bike rider’s rant about bad drivers, rethinking traffic enforcement, and Bonin signs on to LA’s 25×25

Let’s start with an email I received earlier this week, which succinctly  captures what too many of us are feeling these days.

Here’s what Steven had to say.

Pardon my rant, but it’s just infuriating out there! While I agree with you that being seen is VITALLY important. Every “encounter” I have had with a car or truck has been with someone that definitely saw me or had no excuse for not seeing me! I am paranoidedly cautious doing my best to anticipate possible situations. I have lights, steady and blinking, I wear bright, colorful clothes, I ride the bike lane where I can and fully take the lane when there is no bike lane.  I have been ‘right hooked’ so many times I can’t count! So far the worst result of a right hook has been some minor scrapes to my bike and some minor ‘road rash’. (However, I did dent the passenger door of a car once!)  There have been a few that I have yelled at and they responded — the most common was “You were going faster than I thought” or just “Sorry” and one woman unbelievably said “Didn’t you see my turn indicator?” The only time I got sent to the hospital was when I was clipped by a side mirror and thanks be to God, released the same day with some major hematoma! The guy, to his credit, did stop. But he did say that “I thought I had enough room” AND THAT IS ON THE POLICE REPORT!!!! It’s getting to the point that I feel like I should start randomly swing a baseball bat and justify it by saying “Well, I didn’t hit anybody”

And just for completeness, I have been left hooked, brake checked, purposely cut off (both from the left and the right!), and have had things thrown at me. The urge to physically fight back is almost overwhelming!

I know that feeling all too well, when the urge to smash someone’s windshield — if not their face — becomes overwhelming.

It’s a natural, and perfectly understandable, reaction to having your life needlessly threatened.

But not exactly helpful.

I have a mantra I save for such situations, repeating over and over The world will not conform to my expectations, until the rage finally passes.

Because, too often, it won’t.

People will continue drive dangerously, despite my expectations that they should drive in a safe and responsible manner. Yet they will somehow blame me for almost getting killed. Or just for being on the road.

Or maybe the planet.

Meanwhile, bad street designs and poor maintenance can be aggravating at best, life threatening at worst. And too often the latter.

And I can’t do a damn thing about any of that.

All I can do is try to control my own reaction to it, and not let the jerks of the world ruin a good ride.

………

Cal Berkeley grad student Ethan Ebinger was honored by the university for his paper on rethinking traffic enforcement, offering a number of interesting proposals challenging current orthodoxy, including —

  • Decriminalize violations unrelated to traffic safety
  • Ban stops of non-vehicular road users
  • Rely on automated technologies
  • Improve data collection of crashes and stops, test for disparities
  • Balance downstream effects
  • Reframe traffic enforcement within Vision Zero
  • Move traffic enforcement operations to the transportation department

Whether or not you agree with him, it’s worth taking a few minutes to read the full paper to challenge your own beliefs, and maybe even start to see it in a whole new way.

………

Two down, 13 to go.

Although you can probably add whoever gets elected in CD5, where all of the announced candidates have endorsed the LA 25×25 plan.

LA 25×25 is an “aspirational yet actionable vision” to return 25% of LA’s street space to human uses, rather than motor vehicles, by 2025, and endorsed by a wide range of advocacy and public service groups .

Not surprisingly, while many progressive challengers have signed on to support it, most of the sitting councilmembers up for re-election this year have failed to respond, as have most of the leading candidates for mayor.

CD3’s Bob Blumenfield is a no, as is current city attorney and mayoral candidate Michael Feuer.

………

Bike lanes are coming to Yosemite Drive in Eagle Rock.

………

It looks like the host of SiriusXM’s The Stephanie Miller Show is one of us.

………

That feeling when riding a bike is a bad idea because of all the other people out there who don’t.

………

Local

Leah Shahum, the founder and executive director of the Vision Zero Network, writes to the LA Times to say Los Angeles, and the entire nation, needs to move past the outdated “Five E’s” approach to Vision Zero, and have the political will to create an effective and equitable Vision Zero effort built on proactive strategies such as designing streets and managing speeds for safety. Let’s hope the mayor reads it while he’s packing for India. Or the new interim mayor, anyway. 

The good news is, Metro Bike is expanding their docked bikeshare system in North Hollywood. The bad, they’ll be shutting NoHo Metro Bike locations down during the upgrade work, starting Monday.

Santa Monica has unveiled new bollard-protected bike lanes on 23rd Street. And for a change, they’re the kind of substantial bollards that might actually keep someone out, as opposed to the flimsy, car-tickler plastic bendy posts usually used in LA.

 

State

This is the cost of traffic violence. The Fresno Bee remembers the much-loved, 61-year old retired high school English teacher who was killed by a truck driver while riding his recumbent Wednesday afternoon.

A San Francisco paper says the debate over the city’s Slow Streets and street closures have become a political minefield.

 

National

Denver demonstrates what a city can do with a little commitment, as they reach the halfway point in a five year, 125-mile bike lane building program, with 73% of city residents now within a quarter mile of a protected bike lane.

A writer for D Magazine applauds the new Vision Zero plan for Dallas, Texas, but questions whether it will actually save lives. Only if the city’s leaders have the political courage to make substantial changes to the streets, unlike the spineless wonders in charge of a certain Left Coast megalopolis we could name.

Northwest Arkansas is upping their offer to recruit tech workers to move to the area, providing recruits with a new bicycle and $10,000 in Bitcoin. Which will probably be $6,000 before you can get around to spending it.

What the hell is wrong with some people? A pair of Chicago gang members face murder charges for fatally shooting a mentally disabled man as he rode his bicycle last May, for no apparent reason; a third man was allegedly involved, but not charged.

 

International

Strava will now show points of interest within the app, including local landmarks, bike shops, cafes, start points and photo spots, as well as to get fresh water or a toilet break.

Treehugger’s Lloyd Alter discusses how to dress for winter ebike rides. You know, for people who live in places where that matters.

Good question. Cycling Weekly writes that 1,100 bicycles are stolen in the UK every day, so why isn’t bike theft a higher priority? I’d like to hear an answer to that one here, as well.

On a related note, a new bike sculpture was installed outside a London train station, made with parts from 45 different bicycles — the average number of bikes stolen in the country every hour.

A judge told a 76-year old Scottish driver to expect a “substantial” prison sentence next month, after he was convicted of killing a popular primary school teacher while attempting to pass two large vehicles at once, hitting the teacher’s bike head-on. Let’s just hope the judge meant what he said.

A news site names a 29-year old woman as the best mountain bike mechanic Lesotho, in case you find your self in need in the mountainous South African country.

 

Finally…

Now we’ll have to worry about getting buzzed by drivers from above, too. More evidence ‘cross is really hard.

And that feeling when your bicycle apparently goes out into the street of its own volition, and gets struck by a car that doesn’t seem to have a driver.

………

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

3 comments

  1. Barry says:

    Ebinger does himself a disservice by using the prhase, Rely on automated technologies.” He’s advocating for speed cameras (and probably the return of red light cameras). But when we hear about traffic safety automation, what usually is meant are self driving vehicles and beacon technology for pedestrians and cyclists. I have no problems with speed cameras, but technologies that make non-vehicle road users second class citizens should be a no-go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: