Settling for sharrows in Beverly Hills, Times columnist gets that crashes don’t just happen, and parking on the bike path

My apologies for Friday’s unexcused absence. 

I’m still battling the same health issues I’ve been dealing with since before Halloween. Most nights I battle through it; last week I couldn’t. 

But after seeing four different doctors since this all began, we’ve reached a clear consensus is that it’s definitely a) an inner ear problem, or b) not an inner ear problem. 

Maybe the next four specialists I’m supposed to see can figure it out. 

Meanwhile, have happy Presidents Day! Go out and buy a mattress or something. 

And go for a ride, already.

The Sharrows Are Bullshit t-shirt modeled by yours truly in today’s photo can be purchased from our friend Peter Flax.

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Good news and bad from the former Biking Black Hole.

The good news is Beverly Hills, which has made a major turnaround in recent years, will be implementing a “minimum grid bikeway network.”

The bad news is, it’s just going to be signs and sharrows. In other words, it’s the least they can do.

Literally.

Hopefully, this is just the first step as the city implements its Complete Streets plan, with its promises of pursuing “parallel, longer-range efforts to expand and upgrade cycling infrastructure.”

Let’s hope so.

On the other hand, until the paint is on the ground, we’re always just one election — or uprising by angry drivers and/or overly privileged home or business owners — from a change of heart.

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Maybe she’s starting to get it.

It was only a week ago that we criticized the Los Angeles Times’ Robin Abcarian for concluding that Vision Zero was a worthy, but impossible goal, so “why go out on a limb with a big, bold promise that is so obviously doomed to fail?”

But yesterday found her reconsidering use of the word “accident,” after reading author Jessie Singer’s new book There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster — Who Profits and Who Pays the Price.

Although the AP’s change of heart on the word should have tipped her off long before now.

She quotes Singer saying that in virtually every case, there is a cause — often more than one — leading up to the cause of any unfortunate event.

“Never focus on the last causal factor,” Singer told me. “The thing we screw up about ‘accidents’ is looking at the last person who made a mistake. Accidents have layered causality. When you look toward the question of preventing harm, there are just so many answers, so many ways we can throw a pillow between us and our mistakes.”

Abcarian seems to take that message to heart, concluding,

Almost every day, I drive past the intersection on Venice Boulevard and Shell Avenue close to where the actor Orson Bean was struck and killed by two cars as he crossed the four-lane street one dark evening two years ago. There’s a new bright crosswalk, warning lights and signs now where before there were none.

I used to think his death was an unfortunate accident. I’m starting to think of it as inevitable.

Meanwhile, Singer, author of There Are No Accidents, says it’s time to stop yelling at drivers, and start expecting the government to demand safer cars.

After the founding of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the 1960s, the organization began requiring safety improvements to protect the occupants of cars, from seat belts and collapsable steering wheels to air bags.

The result was a steady decline in traffic deaths, resulting in as many as 600,000 lives saved, Singer says.

Until now.

But progress began to reverse even before the coronavirus pandemic. Speeding on pandemic-empty streets only exacerbated the threats posed by heavier, more powerful SUVs. The crisis of traffic safety has been particularly acute for people on foot. While traffic fatalities rose 5 percent in the past decade, pedestrian deaths rose by nearly half. For people living in povertyBlack people, and Indigenous people, the likelihood of traffic death, inside and outside a car, is even more acute.

The European Union and Japan have not seen a concurrent crisis. In those jurisdictions, regulators protect people both inside and outside of a vehicle; vehicle-safety ratings take pedestrian risk into account. More than a decade ago, EU and Japanese regulators required that automakers redesign bumpers, hoods, and detection systems to reduce the likelihood of death on impact. Putting the onus of survivability on the automaker spurred the development of new technology, such as airbags that inflate outside the vehicle. Pedestrian fatalities fell by more than a third in a decade in Europe and have fallen by more than half since 2000 in Japan.

Meanwhile, The Nation makes that case that cars kill twice as many people as guns, and disproportionately affect people of color.

And why.

We also need to change our roads, which often plow through Black and low-income communities with the goal of making it easier to drive farther and faster. Replacing intersections with roundabouts could reduce crashes by more than 50 percent. We can hem in streets with curbs. Removing lanes, adding shoulders, bike paths, and speed bumps, and creating turn lanes would all decrease speeding and crashes.

On the other hand, Fox News’ Laura Ingraham seems to come out in favor of traffic deaths in the name of freedom.

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Mark your calendar for March 5th, when the Taylor Yard Bridge officially opens.

Thanks to Joe Linton for the heads-up.

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It’s bad enough we have to deal with people parking in bike lanes.

But this is taking it too far.

https://twitter.com/EntitledCycling/status/1494378341465395202

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This is what we could have in Los Angeles, if our ex-Climate Mayor and future ambassador to India had even a fraction of the courage and commitment shown by the his predecessor, the mayor of Paris.

https://twitter.com/grescoe/status/1494326829305323521

And did I mention who else is following suit?

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Presenting the height of women’s bikewear fashion, circa 1897.

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I’m happy to say Trevor Noah is one of us.

https://twitter.com/CoolBikeArt1/status/1495261934999855115

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Your periodic reminder that this is not what bikes are for.

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This is who we share the road with.

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That feeling when what’s passing you on bike path isn’t a bicycle.

Let’s just hope there wasn’t someone inside.

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Former pro Ted King shares his experience on the annual 400-mile Coast Ride from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, including the invaluable direction finding advice to just keep the ocean on the right.

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The folks at GCN tackle the route of famed Paris-San Remo race.

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

No bias here. A writer complains that a 17-year old boy riding an ebike “could have been traveling upward of 20 mph” when he was critically injured in a collision with a truck driver, using that to justify a call to put the brakes on ebikes. Then again, the teen could have been doing just 12 mph. Or 17. Or any other number he wants to pull out of his ass.

Boston bike riders support a pilot program for widening a bike lane over a key bridge, even as video shows vandals tossing the orange cones off it.

Road.cc asks why asking drivers not to pass bike riders too closely causes so much irrational anger.

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Local

Mark your calendar for March 19th, when Walk ‘n Rollers will mark ten years of making a difference for kids on our streets.

To the surprise of virtually no one who lives here, most people in Los Angeles like living here, though there is a lot of room for improvement.

A writer for City Watch calls out councilmember and mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino for what he calls the “ill-conceived notion” to outlaw sidewalk bike repair. Meanwhile, Buscaino’s turn to the right in the mayor’s race has been outflanked by even more conservative billionaire Rick Caruso.

 

State 

California Assemblymember Phil Ting is taking another crack at making it legal to cross the street, reintroducing a bill that would legalize jaywalking, which disproportionately affects people of color.

Also back for another round is a proposal in the legislature to legalize a pilot speed cam program, while another bill would require Leading Pedestrian Intervals at all stop lights statewide. Let’s make sure the law explicitly allows bicycles to use LPIs, too.

A proposal from San Diego’s mayor would shift infrastructure spending, including bikeways, to lower income areas.

Kern County’s long awaited lake-to-lake Kern River Bike Trail has finally become a reality, with a 36.3-mile pathway connecting Lake Ming with the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area.

 

National

A Streetsblog op-ed makes the case for why Vision Zero is a human rights issue for the deaf community and other disabled people.

A new add-on battery promises to double the range of your ebike.

Ford is examining replacing warning alerts with the sounds of simulated, in-car footsteps and bike bells to get the driver’s attention.

Bicycle Retailer examines the role volunteers play in helping Bike Index return stolen and missing bikes to their rightful owners.

Peloton workers say the company sent out rusted stationary bikes to customers as it struggled to keep up with demand.

Shaq says he once bought a new bike for a random kid at a bike shop. Although the kid was probably too young to know who the hell his giant benefactor was.

After nearly 30 years, Seattle’s King County has finally pulled the plug on its well-intentioned but misguided mandatory bike helmet law, after belatedly discovering that it unfairly targets the homeless and people of color; repeal of the law also removes a contested pretext for traffic stops.

European countries offer hard-hitting traffic safety messages; in the US, we’re more likely to get messages like this one from Austin, Texas that says Life is Valuable, Please Drive Safe. Which isn’t likely to get anyone to take their foot off the gas long enough to read it.

Hoboken NJ offers proof that Vision Zero really can work if cities make a commitment to it, with no traffic deaths for the past two years, and a 35% and 11% drop in collisions involving pedestrians and bike riders, respectively.

She gets it. A Virginia columnist decries news coverage that blames and dehumanizes victims of traffic violence.

Our sympathy to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which now has the fourth-worst traffic congestion in the US, behind only eternal leader Los Angeles, New York and Miami.

A new Florida law allows group rides to proceed through stop signs ten riders at a time. But only after coming to a complete stop first.

 

International

Momentum highlights beautiful bike trails in national parks around the world. Which you could visit on your very own amphibious ebike camper.

That’s more like it. A skyscraping Toronto condo tower is being targeted to the bicycling community, complete with a bike repair room, secure bike lockers and a dedicated bicycle elevator.

Road.cc remembers Southern England’s classic handmade steel-frame bike builders of the last century.

You’ve got to be kidding. A prolific thief was given a “final, final chance” after he was convicted of stealing the equivalent of $1369 worth of parts from a British bike shop, which he claimed was to buy his daughter a birthday present — despite a whopping 126 previous convictions. Must have been a damn good present, too.

This is why people keep dying on our roads. A judge could give a convicted drunk driver his license back after a ruptured Achilles heel left him unable to walk or ride a bicycle. So they want to put him back in a big, dangerous machine and give him another chance to kill someone, since he wasn’t successful the first time.

Life and lies are cheap in the UK, where a woman walked without a single day behind bars for fleeing the scene after running down a nine-year old boy on a bicycle, then lying to police investigators, claiming she hadn’t been in a wreck.

Life is cheap in the UK, part II. A 76-year old British man will spend two years behind bars for the impatient pass and head-on crash that killed a man riding a bike, who was reportedly doing everything right. But at least he’s been banned from driving for seven years, even though it should have been life.

Life is cheap in Ireland, too, where a drunk, hit-and-run driver got a lousy two and a half years for killing a man on a bicycle, after leaving him lying in a field to die alone.

Your next French e-cargo foldie could glow in the dark.

After India’s prime minister tried to link the Samajwadi Party, which uses a bicycle as its symbol, to a 2008 terrorist bombing, an Indian paper relates the history of bike bombs around the world.

Longtime Bollywood actor and producer Anil Kapoor is one of us.

Bicycling Australia tackles the eternal question of whether or not to shave your legs.

 

Competitive Cycling

After 13 years, retired pro Ruth Winder discovers that unbecoming a pro cyclist isn’t much easier that becoming one.

Egan Bernal gives a first-person account of the harrowing 38 mph crash that nearly left him paralyzed, as he shares his hope of a return to racing.

Belgian pro Wout Van Aert had a one word response to Chris Froome’s suggestion that specialized time trial bikes should be banned from pro cycling: “Bullshit.”

Cycling Tips examines legendary Black cyclist Major Taylor’s 1903 singlespeed Peugeot track bike, complete with wooden rims.

 

Finally…

That feeling when you get away with seven grand worth of meth because the cops didn’t have probable cause to stop your bicycle. When you’re such a jerk your mom gives away your new birthday bike before you can even ride it.

And when you leave your bikes at the beach just a tad too long.

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

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