It’s Bike to Work Day, LA Times talks with seven bike-riding Angelenos, and how the press blames crash victims

Happy Bike to Work Day.

But just between us, feel free to bike anywhere.

I won’t tell.

While it’s not the bicycling equivalent of Trick or Treat that it used to be, Spectrum News 1 reports several LACBC chapters will be operating pit stops, including in West Hollywood, Culver City and Santa Monica.

Metro is hosting a Bike to Work Day celebration at Union Station until noon today.

Bike to Work Day Celebration

  • May 19 @ 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Union Station, 800 N Alameda St
  • Los Angeles, CA 90012 United States

Ride Metro Bike Share to work on Bike to Work Day! Stop by our booth in Union Station West for free coffee, pastries, and passes for FREE 30-minute rides.

The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition is teaming with Pasadena nonprofit Day One for a Bike to Work Day stop at City Hall.

That will be followed by a Handlebar Happy Hour this evening.

It’s a good day for a multimodal commute, with free transit for bike riders throughout the LA area.

Saturday’s daylight Ride of Silence has been moved from the Rose Bowl to Memorial Park in Old Pasadena.

……….

Nice piece from the LA Times, which talks with a broad cross-section Angelenos who love riding their bikes, despite the obvious obstacles.

“The concern is very simple,” bike activist Michael Schneider said. “People feel like they’re gonna die if they bike in L.A.”

Over the past five years, 96 cyclists have been killed on Los Angeles roads, an average of 18 a year, according to LAPD data. So far this year, six have died, including Andrew Jelmert, a 77-year-old real estate agent struck by a driver in Griffith Park in April, and days later, Leonidas Accip Serech who was killed in a hit-and-run crash in Koreatown. That same week, a third cyclist, John Hermoso, was killed while riding near Santa Clarita, outside Los Angeles city limits.

And yet a hardy 3% of L.A. residents, about 120,000 people, through wit, will, joy or necessity, carve out their daily commutes and other trips on two wheels.

The riders range from Schneider and legendary Bike Kitchen founder Jimmy Lizama, to Cal State LA assistant professor Michael Runnels and Lena Williams of People for Mobility Justice.

Most focus on the surprising convenience and sheer joy of riding a bike, despite the built-in inconvenience and inequity of LA-area streets.

Here’s just a portion of what Runnels had to say, in response to the question “What’s the most fun you can have on a bike in L.A.?”

Descending down a hill from Griffith Park. Los Angeles is an unfurling gorgeous flower that has no center — continuous gorgeous petals. And the only way that I began to see how this beautiful city is tied together is on the saddle of a bike. I mean you could see, in a poor neighborhood, you’ll tend to go slower because the roads are maintained less effectively. If you bike to Beverly Hills, the pavement turns smooth. You can see the theory of a city: where the money goes, where the money does not go. The views of the city that’s nestled in the mountains right next to the ocean — it’s stunning. So riding your bikes with friends, in this staggering natural beauty, you’re earning this beauty. You’re getting exercise, you have a zeroed out carbon footprint, and you’re making bonds with your community in ways you could never do with a car.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

It’s today’s must read piece. So take a few minutes and read the whole thing.

We’ll wait.

………

In the day’s other must-read, Slate takes a deep dive into how news organizations cover car collisions when the victim is on foot, or otherwise outside the vehicle.

Subtly — or not so subtly — blaming the victim by parroting police reports, without taking an objective look at what really happened.

Across the country, media outlets consistently employ practices that traffic safety experts and advocates object to—writing headlines about pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in the passive voice and highlighting the vehicle instead of the driver (i.e., “pedestrian struck by car” instead “driver strikes pedestrian”). Research suggests that American reporting is much more likely to focus on the pedestrian or cyclist who is struck, rather than the driver behind the wheel. Recognizing the problem, a 2018 Columbia Journalism Review article offered guidance to reporters and editors: “When covering car crashes, be careful not to blame the victim.”

Because most people learn about these incidents from the press, reporting habits around roadway deaths have attracted more scrutiny as pedestrian and cyclist fatalities rise, surging 46 percent and 36 percent, respectively, from 2010 to 2019. Roadways have grown even more dangerous during the pandemic, with more than 42,000 people dying on American roadways in 2021, a 10.5 percent annual increase, the highest on record. Meanwhile, traffic fatalities have fallen steadily across most of Europe and East Asia…

The media’s role in this conversation matters. Public pressure can help push transportation agencies to revise their approaches to road safety, something that the growing death toll suggests is overdue. Media coverage can be instrumental in shaping such pressure, but only if newsrooms dig deeper in their crash reporting and guard against blaming the very people who are getting killed.

Unlike the Times story, this one won’t make you smile. But it’s every bit as important a read.

………

Streetsblog reports that a Metro committee has recommended pulling the plug on the $6 billion plan to widen the 710 Freeway, which would require demolishing hundreds of homes and businesses.

Let’s hope that means they’re finally getting it, recognizing that we can’t keep building traffic-inducing highways when the world is literally on fire.

Or maybe not.

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GCN explains how to recycle old bike tires.

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Local

Streets For All is endorsing Bryant Odega to replace outgoing LA councilmember Joe Buscaino in CD15, noting he’s the only candidate for the post who has endorsed the 25×25 plan to return 25% of LA street space to human use.

 

State 

Bike to Work Day returns to San Diego after a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, with 100 pit stops scattered around the city.

A Los Angeles expat has turned his high-end Sonoma home into a bike-centric clubhouse for his friends.

 

National

Seriously? House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy slammed Speaker Nancy Pelosi over a proposal to give House staffers free Peloton memberships, when families are struggling to find baby formula — then joined 191 other Republicans to vote against funding to address the formula shortage.

Garmin’s new $400 bike tail light comes complete with a rear-facing, hi-def bike cam and built-in radar to warn you about oncoming vehicles.

Bicycling says Coldplay wants you to help provide the pedal power to power their shows. As usual, read it on Yahoo if the magazine blocks you.

An Idaho man celebrates riding 200,000 miles over 36 years. Something I was on track for before diabetes and other associated health problems knocked me off my bike.

A Denver weekly says the city’s rating as one of the nation’s safest cities for bike commuters doesn’t jibe with its rising traffic death toll, six years after adopting a five-year Vision Zero plan.

Denver riders who missed out on one of the city’s ebike rebate vouchers will get a second chance in 60 days, when any unused vouchers go back on the market.

An Illinois woman was sentenced to five years behind bars for the hit-and-run death of a Wisconsin man who was riding his bicycle against traffic.

That’s more like it. Philadelphia is adding bicycle parking patrols to target drivers who park in bike lanes.

 

International

Police in Liverpool, England caused an uproar when they tweeted bicyclists should ride with courtesy and care, with bike riders angrily noting they’re not the ones who are killing people.

Undefeated English UFC featherweight Lerone Murphy reports he nearly died after he was struck by a careless driver while riding his bike, and nearl bled out when it took 45 minutes for an ambulance to get there.

Speed cams work. A speed camera installed to enforce a British city’s new 20 mph speed limit caught 1,100 drivers in just the first 24 hours — and a whopping 23,500 speeding drivers before it was officially turned on. So what the hell is California waiting for?

The wife of the inventor of Haribo gummy bears was one of us, riding her bike to make deliveries of the then new confection around Bonn, Germany in the 1920s.

Ukrainian soldiers are turning to local ebike maker Delfast, mounting bikes with anti-armor rocket launchers to turn them into stealth tank killers.

 

Competitive Cycling

Spanish pro Juan Pedro López held on to the pink leader’s jersey in Wednesday’s 11th stage of the Giro, as Italy’s Alberto Dainese won the stage, becoming the first Italian to win at this year’s race.

Disappointing news, as Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay was forced to withdraw from the Giro hours after becoming the first Black African to win a Grand Tour stage, due to a hemorrhage suffered in his left eye when he popped a bottle of prosecco to celebrate his victory, and was struck by the cork.

Thirty-nine-year old Italian cyclist Domenico Pozzovivo is fighting through pain from a horrific head-on crash by a driver two years ago to compete in the Giro, assuming the sole leadership of the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert after Girmay was forced to drop out.

 

Finally…

Your next carbon frame could be virtually unbreakable. A pair of exercise bikes went down with the Titanic 110 years ago.

And Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is one of us. Or at least, the fictional president he played was.

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

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

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