NY Times misses the mark on ebike critique, witness refuses to report hit-and-run driver, and sharrows ain’t bike lanes

Before we start, I’ve received a secondhand report that someone riding a bicycle may have been killed in Mentone on Saturday.

It’s possible the report could have been referring to a fatal crash in nearby Highland on Friday, which the police were quick to blame on the bike-riding victim crossing the street outside of a crosswalk.

Even though there is no requirement or expectation that bike riders use one, and many police agencies mistakenly interpret state law as banning bikes from crosswalks.

But whether it refers to the same crash, or a second crash a dozen or so mile way, it’s yet another tragic reminder to always ride defensively, and stay safe out there.

Because you can watch out for dangerous drivers, but there’s no guarantee they’re watching for you.

Thanks to Jeffrey Rusk for the heads-up.

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No bias here.

The New York Times, which should really know better, published an exceptionally one-sided screed on the dangers of ebikes for teenaged users.

But somehow forgot to mention that the real danger didn’t come from the bikes the victim’s were riding, but from the drivers and motor vehicles that killed and maimed them.

The e-bike industry is booming, but the summer of 2023 has brought sharp questions about how safe e-bikes are, especially for teenagers. Many e-bikes can exceed the 20-mile-per-hour speed limit that is legal for teenagers in most states; some can exceed 55 miles per hour. But even when ridden at legal speeds, there are risks, especially for young, inexperienced riders merging into complex traffic with fast-moving cars and sometimes distracted drivers.

“The speed they are going is too fast for sidewalks, but it’s too slow to be in traffic,” said Jeremy Collis, a sergeant at the North Coastal Station of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating Brodee’s accident. The investigation is ongoing pending a medical examiner’s finding.

The Brodee in that reference was 15-year old Brodee Braxton Champlain-Kingman, who was killed when he was rear-ended by a driver while changing lanes on his ebike.

Something that could have just as easily happened if he’d been riding a regular bike, and may have had nothing to do with the ebike he was riding. And never mind that he’d still be here if not for the driver who ran him down, regardless of his judgment, or the lack thereof, in changing lanes.

Even though it resulted in nearly universal knee-jerk condemnation of teenagers on ebikes, if not ebikes in general — including a proposed law to ban younger ebike riders and possibly require a license to ride one, regardless of age.

The Times follows it up with a second article discussing just what an ebike is, while considering how safe they are.

Or in their eyes, aren’t.

Here’s how Electrek responded to the stories.

The article even explicitly lists the biggest danger that played a role in that crash, explaining that the boy’s bike “had a top speed of 20 miles per hour, but his route took him on a busy road with a 55-mile-per-hour limit.” And yet the article seems to imply that the e-bike’s presence was the compounding issue, instead of reading into the author’s very own sentence to realize that the true problem was that the road didn’t have anywhere safe for cyclists to ride. There was no protected bike lane.

By all accounts, the e-bike rider was correctly and legally using the roadway in the only way he could. In fact, according to eye-witnesses of the car crash that killed the e-bike rider, he “did everything right,” including signaling his turn…

As Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School David Zipper pointed out, every single e-bike crash listed in the article was a collision between a car and e-bike. None were simply e-bike crashes without the added of a car. “All could’ve been avoided if e-bike riders were protected from cars (or if there were no cars)”, Zipper explained on Twitter.“Fight the real enemy.”

The Electrek article goes on to add this about the second Times story.

Amazingly, the article uses a statistic pointing out how dangerous cars are, but flips it around to imply that because studies have proven that faster moving cars are dangerous, that means e-bikes shouldn’t travel too fast, presumably to also reduce the danger of these small and lightweight machines.

It’s right there. The answer is literally in the body of the NYT article. Unprotected road users (pedestrians and cyclists) are much more likely to be severely injured by cars as the car speed increases. And yet this statistic is used to imply that e-bikes shouldn’t be used at speeds of over 20 mph.

Thanks to Yves Dawtur for the heads-up. 

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Marcello Calicchio forwards news of a (insert negative descriptor here) Nextdoor user who claims to have witnessed a hit-and-run by an aged driver, but refuses to contact the police, somehow thinking a Nextdoor post is good enough.

Um, sure.

And somehow thinks she’s a victim, because commenters piled on telling her to fulfill her legal and moral duty to report what she saw to the police.

So if you were the victim of a hit-and-run on San Diego’s Highway 76 on Saturday, you know who to contact.

Or better yet, who to have your lawyer contact.

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Speaking of those new bike lanes/sharrows on Doheny in Beverly Hills, as we were last week —

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Make it safe and convenient to ride a bike, and people will.

In droves.

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More than once I’ve found myself singing “The harder they come, the harder they fall,” as I scraped myself off the pavement.

Those times I’ve still been able to sing, that is.

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That feeling when a mountain biking god, and one of your lifelong biking heroes, is having dinner with his family just walking distance from your Hollywood apartment.

And yes, I would have dropped everything if he’d said to c’mon over.

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

No bias here, either. A Minneapolis cop used his loud speaker to order a group of bicyclists to ride in single file — in a public park.

Once again, someone has tried to sabotage a bikeway, this time dumping screws and nails on a controversial new bike lane in Victoria, British Columbia. This should be treated as terrorism, since it’s a deliberate attempt to kill or injure innocent people for political ends. But won’t be. 

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Local 

LADOT wants your opinion on bikeshare, and is willing to give you a shot at a $100 gift card to get it. Thanks to Steven Hallett for the tip.

 

State

A Fullerton writer asks if the city’s bike plan is in danger of being nibbled to death. Although that may be better than simply ignoring it, like a certain megalopolis to the the north.

The Newport Beach Police Department is using mounted cops to crack down on illegal ebikes.

Some residents of San Diego’s Serra Mesa neighborhood are upset about new lane reductions and buffered bike lanes, accusing them of causing traffic congestion and frustrated drivers, even as the traffic in the background continues to move smoothly.

Sad news from the Bay Area, where a 51-year old Santa Rosa man was killed when a pickup driver crashed into his bicycle leaving a parking lot in Rohnert Park.

 

National

Bicycling reports that a new survey shows the Congressional E-BIKE Act, which would cover 30 percent of the cost of a new ebike, is supported by 70% of Americans living in major cities, and nearly half would be extremely likely to buy one if the bill passes. As usual, read it on Yahoo if the magazine blocks you. 

Even bikes that don’t move can cause dangerous falls, as Peloton recalls more than two million of their popular exercise bikes.

Auto Evolution says the new European-style ebike from America’s last remaining Tour de France winner fits perfectly with the Barbenheimer zeitgeist.

Life is cheap in Arizona, where the “driver” who was behind the wheel watching videos on her phone when a self-driving Uber test car ran down Elaine Herzberg as she crossed a Tempe road with her bike walked without a day behind bars, after copping a plea to just three lousy years of supervised probation. Which is three years more than Uber got, while Herzberg got the death penalty just for crossing the damn street.

Tragic news from Colorado, where a motorcyclist was killed, and a couple riding a tandem bike were seriously injured — the man severely — when the motorcyclist crossed the centerline in a winding canyon, and slammed into their bike before sliding off the roadway; a Boulder paper suggests the motorcyclist was attempting to flee the scene when he crashed a second time.

The Associated Press says the massive RAGBRAI bike ride across Iowa puts small town America into focus.

An op-ed from the advocacy director of a Chicago active transportation group says the city may be near the bottom of PeopleForBikes ratings for bikeability, but public support could help make it the nation’s best city for bicycling. Then again, we could say the same about Los Angeles. 

Gothamist says last week’s bloody scooter crash on the Manhattan Bridge bike path has left four people injured and the cycling community shaken, as riders of traditional bicycles compete for space with motor-scooter riders illegally using it.

A Virginia man’s dream European cycling vacation was saved when his stolen bike was recovered by using an AirTag, as well as bugging the hell out of the airline. Thanks to David Drexler for the link.

 

International

Momentum offers a beginner’s guide to learning to ride a bicycle later in life.

A 48-year old Welsh driver has been charged in the death of triathlete Rebecca Comins as she was taking part in a bicycle time trial last year.

London’s Daily Mail describes how a deaf and endearingly daft bike-riding cat became an instant Instagram star.

A retired French school teacher has created his own job, riding his recumbent bike across the country personally delivering handwritten letters “to friends of friends and soon-to-be new ones.”

NPR reports that Berlin bike riders are standing up to the city’s new conservative mayor, forcing him to backpedal on a campaign pledge to standup for the city’s poor, downtrodden drivers.

Life is cheap in India, where an Army doctor got a single year behind bars, seven years after the speeding crash that killed the father of a young child while he was riding his bike.

A nine-year old Guyana junior cycling “prodigy” made waves in her bike racing debut, following in the footsteps of her late father, three years after the former national cycling team member was killed by a drunk driver on a training ride.

This is who we share the road with. After a Singaporean school bus full of kids nearly ran over a bicyclist before smashing into three cars, the bike rider realized there was no one driving the bus, because the driver had apparently fallen out.

 

Competitive Cycling

Gut-wrenching news from Boulder, Colorado, where 17-year old rising cyclist Magnus White, a member of the US Junior Men’s National Team and the 2021 Junior 17-18 Cyclocross National Champ, was killed when he was struck by a driver while training for the world junior championships in Scotland next week; a crowdfunding campaign in his memory has raised nearly $60,000 of the $70,000 goal. We’ve got to stop murdering our children. Let alone so many of our best and brightest.

Dutch cyclist Demi Vollering won the second edition of the revived women’s Tour de France on Sunday, after demolishing her competitors on Saturday’s Tourmalet climb.

Rising American cyclist Veronica Ewers was sent home with a broken collarbone after crashing hard and flying into a ditch on Friday’s stage of the Tour.

The Los Angeles-based Bahati foundation is sponsoring the Ghana Cycling Federation to help groom young cyclists to compete in major international events.

 

Finally…

Forget carb loading and chug a bicarb, instead. Bicycles get blamed for crashes, even when no one is riding them.

And who needs a moving van when you’ve got a bicycle?

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

Oh, and fuck Putin

3 comments

  1. GregW says:

    I was a first hand witness to the fatal crash in Mentone on Saturday. An SUV struck the cyclist head-on after entering into their oncoming left turn lane. I was with the cyclist until emergency services arrived. If anyone has more information regarding the man’s identity I’d like to get in contact with his family to give my condolences.

  2. Greg, can we please connect. We (Bruce’s family) have just a few questions that only someone there could answer.

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