Riding a bike shouldn’t be so dangerous, a look at LA’s Vision Zero fail, and Garcetti cuts LA’s transportation budget

Happy Earth Day.

Or as Los Angeles officials call it, Friday.

LA’s elected leaders will undoubtedly pontificate and issue all kinds of public statements stressing the importance of protecting the earth and fighting climate change.

But won’t do a damn thing about it.

And if you happen to see outgoing CD5 Councilmember and current candidate for City Controller Paul Koretz, ask him how he can be a self-professed environmentalist while blocking bike lanes in his district.

………

He gets it.

In today’s must-read story, a columnist for the New York Times writes that riding a bicycle in the US shouldn’t be this dangerous.

Using the recent death of a 13-year old Mountain View boy as a starting point, Farhad Manjoo writes that the boy was right hooked by a truck driver who reportedly never saw the kind on his bike hidden in his blind spot.

And that Andre Retana and the man who killed him didn’t do anything. But Andre lost his life anyway, thanks to roads designed to prioritize automotive throughput over everything else.

Including human lives.

Manjoo goes on to say this —

The United States is in the midst of a traffic fatality crisis. Nearly 39,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes on American roadways in 2020, the most since 2007. American roads have grown especially dangerous to “nonoccupants” of vehicles — that is, bicyclists and pedestrians. In 2011, 16 percent of traffic deaths were of nonoccupants; in 2020 it was 20 percent. The trends are a major reversal — from the 1970s until the late 2000s, deaths on American roadways of bicyclists, pedestrians and people in cars had steadily declined. There are a number of potential reasons for rising deaths — among them that many more of our cars are big and deadly S.U.V.s, that states keep raising speed limits, that ride-sharing vehicles have made our roads more chaotic, and that people drove much more recklessly during the pandemic. But while many cities, states and the federal government have unveiled plans to mitigate the horror, progress has been elusive.

The intersection of El Camino and Grant Road illustrates a major part of the problem. A big reason our roads are unsafe is because they were designed that way — because, as the advocacy group Smart Growth America puts it, policymakers at nearly every level of government continue to prioritize the speedy movement of vehicles over the safety of everyone else on our streets. And even when the dangers of our bad roads become glaring, officials have limited options for fixing them.

Our roads are deadly because officials will still call the inevitable consequences of this ill-design a tragedy rather than a choice.

It’s more than worth taking a few minutes from your day to read the whole thing.

Go ahead, we’ll wait.

………

Call this one another must-read.

LAist’s Ryan Fonseca looks at the failure of LA’s Vision Zero and the city’s mobility plan, citing a lack of funding and political will that has led to a dramatic increase in traffic deaths, rather than eliminating traffic deaths by 2025 as we were promised.

Despite putting both plans in motion more than six years ago, L.A.’s streets are deadlier now than they were then, especially for people walking.

In 2015, 186 people were killed in crashes on city streets. Last year, the death toll was 294, according to city data. Pedestrians make up the largest share of victims, with 132 people killed by drivers while walking last year. That’s up 50% from 2015.

Fed up, a coalition of safety advocates and community groups is working to get a measure on the local ballot this November. The measure would compel the city to follow its mobility plan whenever it repaves a street. That’s rarely happening now, according to the group, called Healthy Streets LA.

Once again, it’s worth a few minutes of your day to read the entire piece.

Because, to paraphrase the NYT’s Manjoo, riding a bike — or walking, or even driving or riding in a car — shouldn’t be this dangerous.

Or deadly.

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Unfortunately, the mean streets of Los Angeles aren’t likely to get any safer anytime soon, as the mayor’s new budget cuts $14 million from the city’s already underfunded transportation budget, while pumping another $125 million into the LAPD’s bloated $3.2 billion budget.

Things like this are why both the LA Times and I have endorsed Kenneth Mejia for city controller, because he’s already doing the controller’s job of digging into the city’s finances to uncover what’s hidden there.

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Los Angeles filled in yet another missing chunk of the LA River bike path in the San Fernando Valley, as the city works to complete the entire 72-mile pathway in time for the 2028 LA Olympics.

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So tell me again how bicyclists don’t ride in the damn bike lane?

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The estimable Will Campbell offers a video love letter to the little known 4th Avenue bike and pedestrian bridge over the !0 Freeway.

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

More blowback for the coal-rolling Texas car tuner, as bike riders call for a boycott of the shop over the video of a driver enveloping a bicyclist in his truck’s exhaust, which was apparently posted by the shop owner, who somehow feels like he’s the victim the victim in the whole thing. Hint: He’s not.

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Local

A writer for the LA Times gets four of the five mayoral candidates on the record for their stands on environmental issues, including calls for better bike infrastructure; billionaire Rick Caruso evidently couldn’t be bothered to do more than email it in.

This, too, is the cost of traffic violence. A mountain lion was killed on the busy 405 Freeway just south of the Getty Center early Thursday morning, apparently trying to get across the massive billion dollar car sewer.

Over one hundred people turned out to honor fallen bike rider Andrew Jelmert with a ghost bike ceremony Wednesday night.

 

State 

Calbike credits their advocacy work for California’s 4th place ranking in the Bike League’s roster of bicycle-friendly states.

Costa Mesa opens a new bollard-protected bike lane on Bristol Street, while “enhancing” existing bike lanes on Baker Street. That protected lane is pretty much just separated bike lane marked by green plastid bollards that aren’t going to stop anyone.

La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation Board unanimously approved plans to repave and restripe the city’s deadly Via Capri to narrow traffic lanes and add buffered bike lanes, after a $1.32 million settlement over a man who was killed when his motorcycle hit one of the street’s many potholes.

Fontana has decided to abandon an undeveloped piece of property the city has owned for 25 years, while vowing to continue the bike races that often start and end there.

Cambria’s Eroica California vintage bike ride returns to San Luis Obispo County next weekend.

 

National

Bike Snob’s Eben Weiss says bike companies may not be perfect when it comes to protecting the environment, but they should keep doing what they’re doing.

Low-income resident’s of Corvallis and Eugene, Oregon can get a $1,200 rebate on the purchase of an ebike.

The wives of fallen bicyclists Adam and Matthew Bullard, the Whittier brothers killed while riding near St. George, Utah, thanked tlocal residents for honoring the men with a ghost bike; the city is also moving forward with plans for a permanent memorial near the site.

Indiana University’s legendary Little 500 is set to roll this afternoon; the race was made famous in Breaking Away.

There’s a special place in hell for whoever stole an adaptive tandem bike belonging to a Missouri special needs kid.

 

International

The City Fix calls out five ways to cut oil and gas use through clean transportation, including building safe bicycling and walking infrastructure, and prioritizing both in transportation budgets. Unlike, say, the budget presented by LA’s mayor this week.

The Belize cycling federation called on all bicyclists to don their team jerseys to ride along with the funeral procession honoring cycling coach and race organizer Edison “Vintage” Usher, who died just days before his 49th birthday when the motorcycle he was riding with another man exploded while on their way to livestream a women’s cross country race.

Canadian mountain bikers call for an apology after an Adidas marketing manager wrote a “willfully ignorant” blog post “steeped in white privilege,” which they say suggests the reason women of color don’t succeed in the sport is due to their own lack of hard work.

The president of a Malaysian road safety research institute says there’s no law banning bike riders from any road in the country, as long as they adhere to basic safety requirements.

 

Competitive Cycling

VeloNews says Dutch pro Mathieu van der Poel may be wiser and more dangerous than ever after bouncing back from a nagging back injury.

Paris-Roubaix really was the Hell of the North for France’s Florian Sénéchal, who claims a spectator doused him with urine during the race. Yet he still managed to finish 13th, despite an earlier crash.

VeloNews offers photos from the first stage of this year’s Redlands Classic.

 

Finally…

That feeling when you just want to go for a buck naked bike ride. Nothing like biking with a goggles and bowtie wearing kitty.

And answering the age old question of why do bicyclists shave their legs?

………

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

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

5 comments

  1. Ralph Durham says:

    Oh one addition.
    The driver didn’t know he had driven over a person and a bike. Didn’t notice he was killing someone. while trying to scurry around a corner.

  2. Rich says:

    Alessa, the four year old walking to school with her mom, killed bluntly by another mom transporting her kids to school without a license to drive but drving, is news to me, as the nyt is paywalled and her headline caught my eye before I could mess with browser settings.

    The other mom, looking at little time, did not goto court and had a warrant for however long.

    Both pedestrians where hit and it’s our fault to tolerate unlicensed drivers. Now she knows even more than before that even if you hit a family, keep driving unlicensed nobody cares! Drastically less driving will eliminate alessaslaughtering and requires only public will. IS it outside interests that overcome public will? History proves that.

  3. Rob X says:

    I’m a cyclist who’s way past tired of the “SO DANGEROUS!” whining. Bicycling seems to be the ONLY activity whose fans actively discourage others by claiming their favorite activity is dangerous. Or by claiming that it can’t be safe until all territory is redesigned with them in mind.

    So you beg for bike lanes. Those bike lanes fill with gravel, glass and junk because car tires never sweep them clean. You demand sweepers, then you demand posts or other barriers that prevent sweepers from fitting. You demand parked cars to hide the bikers from drivers then you complain when a turning car runs over an unseen biker – a biker who doesn’t bother to check for cars because, hey, she’s “protected!”

    Look, there are fewer than 1000 bike deaths in the U.S. every year. That’s not “dangerous.” Biking is way safer than even walking, whether you figure total deaths or deaths per mile. Biking is way safer than swimming or motorcycling. It’s safer than walking down stairs! But where are the calls stair walking helmets and elevators at all stairways?

    Half of biker deaths are the fault of the biker. Those people are too confused or ignorant to follow simple rules of the road. Complicating those rules things with special lanes, opposite-direction bike lanes, “mixing zones,” blind intersections and more won’t help.

    Bicycling is literally safer than NOT bicycling. It has health benefits WAY bigger than its risks. Quit scaring people into their noisy, polluting cars!

    • bikinginla says:

      Evidently, you haven’t spent much time on this site. Right up there, under Facts & Stats, it says this:

      How safe is bicycling? Cyclists suffered in an estimated 52,000 injuries in 2009; making your odds of returning home safely from any given ride nearly 77,000 to one; the chances of surviving any given ride were over 6.3 million to one in your favor.

      Sounds pretty safe to me.

      On the other hand, statically, an average of 2 – 3 people are killed riding bicycles in the US every day. So while your risk on any given ride is infinitesimal, you can count on it happening to someone, somewhere. And every one of those “less than 1000” deaths you deride are someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, friend or loved one.

      I often hear from the loved ones of people killed while riding their bikes. And I can assure you it’s not such a small matter to them. I also hear from riders all levels, from beginning bike riders to experienced cyclists, who have been frightened off their bikes by one too many close calls, or one trip too many to the emergency room.

      I’ve made four trips there myself, in 40 years of riding a bike.

      So should we just tell everyone bike riding is safe, and to get out there and ride, when their own experience tells them otherwise? Should we just say “oh well” when some innocent person gets sacrificed to the almighty automobile? Or should we fight like hell to make our streets safer for everyone?

      I know what my answer is, because I’ve been doing this for 14 years now. And I suspect you would disagree.

      But remember this. Bike infrastructure isn’t there for experienced vehicular cyclists who have no fear of mixing it up with traffic. It’s for all the little kids and older folks, all the timid riders who won’t ride without it, and all the people like my wife, who are tired of picking their loved ones up at the hospital, and demand they stay as safe possible on the roads.

      I’m glad you feel safe on your bike. But I hope you open your heart a little more to those who don’t, and those who haven’t been.

  4. Josh Cohen says:

    Hi Rob,
    The “statistics” you cite lack foundation or any basis in reality. They come from the source of “made up in my head.”

    Moreover, death is not the only metric whether an activity is safe or not. Plenty of injuries are life-changing. Feel free to call me at the office and will be happy to explain my law practice to you. Day in, day out, I deal with injured cyclists and their families. Most are hurt because of the lack of bicycle infrastructure. Maybe I’ll even introduce you to one who, for example, lost her leg, or maybe has six spinal fractures. Then we can discuss how vulnerable we really are. And I invite you to find me one driver who was hurt by a bicyclist.

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