A call to keep drivers out of SaMo bike lanes, drop in CA traffic deaths, and today-only deal on select CicLAvia merch

When is a bike lane not a bike lane?

When it becomes a parking lot. Or a traffic lane for motor vehicles.

A coalition of bike and safety advocacy groups has written an open letter to Santa Monica leaders praising their work building safer bikeways, but complaining about daily intrusions from motorists that put bike riders at needless risk.

To:  Santa Monica City Council, Santa Monica Planning Commission, City Manager David White, Mobility Manager Jason Kligier, Director of Public Works Rick Valte,  

Subject: Protecting our bikeways from motor vehicle incursions

Dear Council Members and City Leaders:

Santa Monica has become an exemplar of far-sighted bikeway design and implementation in our region.  Recent innovations seen on Ocean Ave. and 17th St. have raised the bar for creating protected bike facilities that provide the safety and comfort to allow many more people to bike for their everyday mobility. Additional protected bikeways planned in Santa Monica’s Bicycle Action Plan will bring us ever closer to realizing a citywide bikeway network that will be a game-changer for mobility, traffic reduction and meeting our Vision Zero and climate goals.   

Unfortunately, some motorists are undermining the benefits of recently-installed protected bike lanes (and standard, striped bike lanes) by parking in them and sometimes even driving in them. This behavior is photo-documented almost daily in social media posts (see examples: https://youtu.be/yYtqlHnEVVM). 

 

When motor vehicles block these lanes it forces cyclists to divert into traffic lanes, sabotaging the safety and utility of these facilities, spoiling their potential to provide safe, equitable mobility choices for greater numbers of people.  Further, when cyclists need to divert around vehicles blocking bikeways, this induces unsafe cycling behavior that might expose the city to liability as a result of negligence in maintaining proper bikeway access.

Therefore we, the undersigned organizations strongly urge the city to take steps to address this epidemic of bikeway incursions.  There appear to be several strategies that could be explored:

– Physical barriers where they are safe and appropriate to prevent or discourage drivers from entering bikeways, such as bollards at entrance points, concrete separators and modular curb elements (like seen on Broadway).

– Additional signage and pavement markings to make it blatantly clear that bikeways are off limits to cars at all times.

– Signs that stipulate substantial fines for violations.

– Enforcement by parking and traffic officers, especially where vehicles park on the sidewalk or driveway aprons. But as a general rule, officer enforcement is sporadic and therefore less effective than physical elements. 

– Perhaps photo enforcement, using something like the Automotus camera technology recently deployed in the Zero Emission Delivery Zone program.  

– A literature search to explore best practices being used by other municipalities.

Clearly, physical barriers that prevent motor vehicle incursions 24-7 without the need for enforcement personnel is the superior and likely most cost-effective choice.  And it makes sense to implement effective solutions to this problem before new bikeways are installed, so that this problem is not perpetuated and to save from having to make costly retrofits.  

Please direct staff to find effective solutions to this vexing problem so that we can fully realize the many benefits of our growing bikeway network, especially public safety, and prevent this critical investment from being compromised.

Thank you,

Kent Strumpell, Laurene von Klan, Co-chairs Climate Action Santa Monica  https://climateactionsantamonica.org/

Santa Monica Safe Streets Alliance  https://samosafestreets.org/

Santa Monica Spoke  https://www.smspoke.org/

Santa Monica Families for Safe Streets  https://www.santamonicafamilies.org/

Streets For All  https://www.streetsforall.org/

BikeLA (formerly Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition)  https://www.la-bike.org/

Santa Monica Forward  https://www.santamonicaforward.org/

Let’s hope they listen. And do something about it.

Video by Caro Vilain.

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The National Safety Council is out with preliminary stats on traffic deaths for the first six months of the year, showing a slight decline nationwide.

California is one of nine states where traffic fatalities decreased more than 15% compared to last year, with a 17% drop. Maine showed the greatest improvement, with a 48% decrease.

Nine states and the District of Columbia increased more than 10%, led by Rhode Island with a horrifying 164% increase.

Meanwhile, new research examines a public health approach to road safety, considering transportation engineers as part of the public health workforce, while arguing that they should emphasize strategies that reduce risk for greater proportions of the population.

Then again, if we can’t even get the country to agree that a deadly worldwide pandemic was a public health issue, I wouldn’t hold you breathe on finding any agreement on ending traffic violence.

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CicLAvia is offering a special deal today only on the unsold t-shirts and buttons from last weekend’s cancelled Koreatown Meets Hollywood event.

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There is nothing in California even close to this, despite having the perfect environment for lengthy bikeways.

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Local 

Bicycle centric Pedaler’s Fork restaurant in Calabasas is hosting Femmes en Motion, a “film & photo gallery honoring seven prolific female photographers at the forefront of capturing women’s professional cycling.”

 

State

San Francisco Streetsblog asks why unpaid advocates can install safety infrastructure faster than the city, concluding it’s a question of leadership. Actually, they can move faster because they are unpaid advocates, with no rules to follow and no one to answer to.

A Marin op-ed argues that officials need to learn the difference between ped-assist and throttle-controlled ebikes, with kids allowed to ride the latter everywhere, while adults on a former are banned from local fire roads. I agree. We need stricter regulation of throttle-controlled ebikes, without restricting ped-assist bikes. 

A Sacramento TV station recommends pedaling to bike-friendly Davis, aka Bike City USA, to visit the US Bicycling Hall of Fame.

 

National

The Consumer Products Safety Commission is recalling Ecnup all-purpose kid’s bike helmets sold only on Amazon for failing to meet minimum safety standards.

Cycling Weekly recommends the year’s best pannier racks and bags, while Bike Rumor rates the best road bike pedals.

Schwinn scion Richard Schwinn reflects on his family’s legendary history in the bike business after shutting down his Wisconsin-based Waterford Precision Cycles; the family lost their eponymous company in bankruptcy court back in the ’90s.

A Pittsburgh company is producing an AI-powered bicycle taillight that watches for motor vehicles coming from behind you, and calculates whether they pose a risk.

Bike riders in Somerville, Massachusetts, are calling a police crackdown on bicyclists riding through red lights misguided, arguing police resources could be better spent on other matters — and at least one city councilmember agrees.

Security cam video captured a frightening Staten Island hit-and-run crash, where a 22-year old man riding a bike was nearly run over by a 26-year old woman, who briefly got out of her car before fleeing the scene.

This is who we share the road with. A New York motorcyclist is dead after a plain clothes cop threw a loaded ice chest at him as he fled from a drug bust, knocking him off balance and into a metal barricade.

There’s a special place in hell for a New Jersey man who was arrested for trafficking in kiddie porn, two years after he was busted for a failed attempt to ride his bike up to a woman dining at an outdoor table and steal her wallet.

 

International

Writing for The Conversation, a group of European researchers and professors examine how social movements are leading to the return of child-friendly urban spaces.

London bicyclists complain about a new bike lane that ends suddenly, dumping riders into bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Scottish drivers who kill bike riders or pedestrians will now be subject to tougher sentences, with the death of a vulnerable road user considered an “aggravating factor,” along with additional penalties if the death resulted from aggressive driving, such as tailgating.

A British woman just completed an epic ride around the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland despite battling Multiple Sclerosis, while raising thousands of pounds to fight the disease.

An Irish coroner warns about the dangers of combining ebikes and booze.

Momentum talks with Rebecca Lowe, author of The Slow Road to Tehran, about her meandering solo bike ride from her home in the UK to the capital of Iran.

 

Competitive Cycling

Remco Evenepoel will begin his title defense as the Vuelta kicks off tomorrow, going up against the Jumbo-Visma juggernaut of two-time Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard and thee-time Vuelta champ Primoz Roglic.

Nineteen-year old Brit Joshua Tarling became the youngest cyclist to win a WorldTour race, capturing the time trial in the 115th running of the Renewi Tour, nee Eneco Tour, then the BinckBank Tour.

USA Cycling is investigating a crash involving L39ion of Los Angeles founder Justin Williams and AUTOMATIC Racing’s Thomas Gibbons in a Denver crit earlier this month, when Williams appeared to deviate from his line on a curve; Gibbons was investigated for appearing to cause a 2019 crash, while Williams was suspended last year following a fight with another cyclist.

Forget the Vuelta, the real action action takes place in Copenhagen, where the “historic and hilarious” annual Svajerløbet street cargo bike races will roll this weekend.

More on 22-year old Welsh transgender cyclist Emily Bridges vow to fight the UK’s ban on trans athletes competing in women’s cycling “in the courts and on the streets,” while some advocates for women’s sports complain there are “thousands of fabulous athletes Vogue could have chosen” to represent women athletes instead of Bridges.

 

Finally…

Why tour with a tent when you can tow your own cabin. You shouldn’t have to be told to treat other bike riders with courtesy and respect.

And they may have SUVs, but we have saxophones.

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

Oh, and fuck Putin

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