Hit-and-run Ventura County bus driver, US bicycling up — or maybe down, and LA could consider ebike rebate program

Thank you everyone for the kind words for a rough week.

Not to mention the surprising donations in honor of my birthday and/or eye problems last week (see the end of this post). 

I’m still having problems with distance vision, and struggle to see clearly up close. But my eyesight has improved enough to get back to work, so let’s get on with it. 

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover. 

………

Let’s start by catching up on some of the big stories we missed the past week.

***

A hit-and-run Ventura County bus driver faces charges after knocking down a man riding bicycle in a close pass, then running over him and continuing without stopping; the victim somehow survived, but suffered serious lower body injuries.

***

Prosecutors in Las Vegas filled additional charges against the teenagers accused of deliberately running down and killing former Bell, California police chief Andreas Probst; charges against the 18-year old driver include attempted murder, battery with a weapon, leaving the scene of a crash and possession of a stolen vehicle, while the 16-year old who filmed the crash faces murder, attempted murder, and battery with a weapon charge. They both continue to be held without bail.

***

Heartbreaking news from Colorado, where investigators finally found the remains of Suzanne Morphew, who disappeared after going for a Mother’s Day bike ride three years ago; her body was found about 40 to 50 miles from where she was reported missing. There’s no word yet on a cause of death or who may have been responsible. Her husband was originally charged with her murder, but prosecutors dropped the charges after a judge barred most of their witnesses for the DA’s failure to turn over exculpatory evidence.

***

More heartbreak, this time from New York’s Moreau State Park, where an Amber Alert was declared when a nine-year old girl disappeared without a trace while riding her bike alone in the campground, after taking a few laps with some close friends. Her bicycle was later found abandoned where she’d been riding, but there was no sign of the little girl.

***

Life is cheap in Maryland, where the driver who killed American diplomat and mother Sarah Langenkamp as she rode her bicycle shortly after returning from her post in Ukraine walked without a single day behind bars, after the judge imposed the maximum penalty under Maryland law — a lousy $2,000 fine and 150 hours of community service. Meanwhile, the painfully low sentence is putting a spotlight on the leniency of Maryland driving laws. Gee, ya think?

***

A Georgia man is accused of lying in wait for a cycling group to ride past his home and intentionally ramming his car into the bicyclists; the 66-year old driver faces charges of aggravated assault, criminal damage to property, aggressive driving, reckless conduct and terrorist threats.

***

The hit-and-run driver accused of killing 25-year old college cycling champ and Florida State University PhD student Jake Boykin as he was training for Georgia’s Six Gap Century race last month was arrested a short time later, with Boykin’s bicycle still embedded in the grill of his truck.

***

There’s a special place in hell for the hit-and-run driver who left an 86-year old North Carolina man to die alone in the street after running him down on his bike, despite his orange safety vest. The same goes for a Florida hit-and-run driver who killed a nine-year old kid who was riding his bike to a friend’s house.

………

Bicycling is up in the US. Or maybe it’s down.

Or just getting more dangerous.

Inverse argues that the electric vehicle revolution is already here, and looks a lot like an ebike, while PBS discusses the regulatory challenges created by the soaring popularity of ebikes.

Yet despite the ebike boom, the Census Bureau reports that bike commuting rates are down nationwide from pre-pandemic levels, and down nearly 25% from the peak level of 2014.

At the same time, Bicycling cites a different report to argue that more people are riding than ever before, with every metro area of 5 million or more people seeing a 25% increase in ridership over the last four years. Don’t fret if the magazine blocks you, just read it on Yahoo instead

And the Associated Press reports that more bicyclists and pedestrians are dying on American roads than ever before, even though cars and trucks are ostensibly safer. The problem is they keep getting safer for people inside the vehicles, while getting ever deadlier for anyone outside of them.

Meanwhile, bicycling deaths fell to the lowest level on record in the UK, even as traffic deaths jumped 10%.

………

Los Angeles could, maybe, see its own ebike rebate program in the not-too-distant future.

………

CicLAvia returns to the Heart of LA a week from this coming Sunday, for the next to last CicLAvia of the year.

This year’s 7.8-mile route runs through LA’s historic core from South Park to Chinatown, then through Little Tokyo across the 6th Street Viaduct to Boyle Heights.

As Urbanize reminds us,

In case you’ve forgotten, CicLAvia is for people-powered vehicles only. That means no electric scooters, electric skateboards, hoverboards, electric unicycles, or motocycles. If you’re on a Class 1 e-bike pedal-assist or a Class 2 e-bike with the throttle powered off, you’re okay. Likewise, Class 3 e-bikes are allowed when pedal-assist is powered off, as are motorized wheelchairs. Learn more here.

Meanwhile, the Pasadena Star-News looks forward to the upcoming ArroyoFest 2.0 at the end of this month, allowing people to walk and bike on a carfree Pasadena freeway for just the second time in 20 years.

………

Camp Pendleton announced a number of roadway closures for maintenance and construction through October 20th, and will close the base bike path from the Las Pulgas Gate to the southern edge of San Onofre Beach State Park between 6 am to 6 pm from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1.

They will also be blowing things up for the next week, so wear your helmet and keep your head down.

………

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

LA-based former pro Phil Gaimon ran into a road raging schmuck driver while riding on Decker Canyon. Or more precisely, was lucky he didn’t.

No bias here. A columnist for the comically conservative New York Post argues that ebikes are “faster, heavier and more deadly” than other bikes, and that’s it’s time to put an end to them. Aside from the utter impossibility of shoving the genie back into the bottle, there’s currently no data to support that last statement about ebikes being any deadlier. And just wait until someone tells her about the 40,000 people killed by cars every year. 

A Florida driver “reeking of alcohol” accused a bike-riding man of being in the CIA, then made several threateningly close passes before aiming his car at the bicyclist, who managed to jump out of the way just before the driver smashed his bicycle. The man also head-butted a cop as they tried to take him into custody.

No bias here, either. A new bikeway project in an English town has some residents bringing out the torches and pitchforks, with one business owner calling it “woke” and insisting that “proper cyclists don’t need cycle lanes,” while others say it’s creating “mayhem” and “chaos” that makes it difficult for rugby fans to attend matches.

A British road safety group is accused of victim blaming for a new campaign that says “Don’t be like Ted, wear a helmet on your head!”; bike advocates argued they’d be better off campaigning for safer streets. Or maybe be like Ted, because I always have one on my head when I ride; even if I doubt their efficacy in a collision, they come in handy in a fall. 

A self-professed bicyclist writing for The Spectator asks why bicyclists insist on making drivers furious, in column hidden behind the paper’s paywall. As if our mere presence on the plant doesn’t anger some motorists. 

But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

Police in the UK are looking for a pair of road-raging, balaclava-wearing ebike riders who slapped and punched a driver who had stopped short to avoid another car, leaving the man with facial fractures; they also stole a cellphone belonging to the driver’s wife when she tried to take their pictures, and smashed one of the car’s windows. But other than that, they were charming chaps, right?

………

Local 

Writing for Streetsblog, Wes Reutimann argues that California’s Active Transportation Program shows the City of Los Angeles is far more successful at applying for grant funding than the county, with bike riders and pedestrians in unincorporated areas paying the price.

BikeLA, the former Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, added UCLA Transportation Planner Emily Han and Transportation and Mobility Communications Practice Manager Reed Alvarado to the nonprofit’s board of directors.

This is who we share the road with. The Santa Monica Daily Press reports a “belligerent,” allegedly drunk — and actively drinking — transient drove onto the Venice boardwalk, traveling several blocks on the ostensibly carfree walkway before striking a pedestrian.

Metro will give 200 households in Santa Monica who own multiple vehicles up to $119.80 per week for five weeks — a total of $599 per household — not to drive one of their cars.

Long Beach will begin rolling out a program to loan free ebikes to 35 local residents for up to three months at a time. The city is also looking for volunteers for its annual bike and pedestrian count.

 

State

Caltrans readies guidance on Complete Streets — as long as you don’t consider highway interchanges part of the street.

Your next ebike could have built-in AI to “enhance the riding experience,” as Taiwan’s Smalo makes its US debut here in California.

Costa Mesa cops busted a bike thief after the bicycle’s owner tracked his own ebike down, and police found it hidden in some bushes.

Despite near-constant reports in San Diego media that no one is using the city’s new bike lanes, a new report shows the city has experienced a 71% increase in bicycling rates over the past four years.

Police in Riverside are looking for the hit-and-run driver who rear-ended a 53-year old man as he was riding his bike to work, knocking him unconscious and leaving him with a fractured cheekbone, wrist injuries and numerous lacerations, including one to his head.

San Luis Obispo is looking at ways to redesign what was supposed to be a trail to the sea, after at least one home owner refused to sell a key piece of land, and a pair of county supervisors opposed using eminent domain to seize it.

The Bay Area’s BART rail system will now allow bikes on almost any car, and allow riders to take their bicycles on station escalators.

Oakland has committed to building a protected bike lane on Lakeshore Ave on the east side of Lake Merritt, though Streetsblog observes it took the dooring death of a four-year old girl to get them to act. Sadly, it usually does. Too much needed bike infrastructure only gets built after it’s already too late.

Sad news from Stockton, where a 60-year old man riding a bicycle was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

 

National

Forbes reports there are now more than 1,450 Bicycle Friendly Businesses in the US.

Trek will now allow you to trade in your old Trek bicycles on the purchase of a new one, in an effort to cut the company’s carbon footprint. And you might need a trade-in to afford the company’s “pricy but feature-rich” new cargo bike.

More sad news, as longtime ABC and General Hospital promo photographer Craig Sjodin was killed by a driver while riding his bike, just one month after retiring; the soap opera ended an episode last week with a memorial slide honoring him. 

A new bike and pedestrian plan for Alaska’s fastest growing area calls for 130 miles of bike/walk paths in the Matanuska-Susitna region — if supporters can find a way to pay for it.

Portland officials backed off a plan to rip out a popular protected bike lane, even if the city’s transportation director has no idea how it was funded.

The 21-year old hit-and-run driver who killed a 63-year old Seattle man as he rode home from work on his ebike last year was sentenced to spend the next four years behind bars. Although most inmates spend considerably less time in jail than what they’re sentenced to.

Colorado Public Radio asks if drivers of larger, more dangerous vehicles should be charged more to pay for new safety projects. Short answer, yes. Longer answer, hell yes. 

There’s not a pit deep enough for the schmuck who stole an 89-year old North Dakota woman’s three-wheeled bike.

Once again, a cross-country bike rider has been killed in Texas, when a 62-year old man riding to raise money for injured bicyclists was struck by a driver after allegedly veering from the highway shoulder into the traffic lane. Even though nowhere in the entire article does it even mention that the truck that hit him even had a driver.

Minnesota’s MinnPost looks back at what’s changed in the five decades since the 1970’s oil embargo-fueled bike boom.

Bill and Hillary Clinton donated ten thousand dollars to a crowdfunding campaign for the former chief of staff to a Manhattan state senator, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a collision while riding a bikeshare bike last month. Jacob Priley had worked on Hillary’s presidential campaign in 2016; he remains in a coma nine days after the September 22nd crash.

A longtime New York bike advocate is riding an ebike towing signs calling for banning mopeds from the city’s bike lanes.

A New York Streetsblog op-ed insists bicyclists have to throw our own bad apples under the bus, while calling for the return of the city’s Give Respect/Get Respect safety campaign.

The new series The Road Less Eaten follows a pro chef and an indie pop drummer as they ride their bikes through Nashville.

The mother of a five-year old girl killed by a driver while riding her bike through a DC crosswalk with her dad has convinced thousands of people to sign a petition demanding that pedestrian deaths be included in car safety ratings.

A Georgia woman is on a one-mom crusade to build the longest continuously paved bike trail in the US, which would stretch 211 miles from Athens to Savannah.

 

International

Momentum takes a look at the world’s most unique bicycling infrastructure innovations. None of which are in Los Angeles. Or North America, for that matter. 

A writer for Bike Radar says a collision with a driver who was blocking a bike lane has left him angrier than ever about the bicycling culture wars, arguing that we need better infrastructure for bicycling because we don’t have what’s needed to keep us safe.

A Glasgow architecture firm has launched a campaign to gather near-miss data that could lead to rethinking road designs, after a French-American architecture student who worked for the firm was killed riding her bike, less than six months after moving to the city.

London bicycling rates have dropped to near pre-pandemic levels after booming during the Covid lockdowns; advocates blame a return of car traffic, poorly designed bikeways and a lack of government funding.

Former Olympic champion cyclist Sir Chris Boardman called on the government to keep its word, and stick with plans to boost walking and bicycling, after the country’s prime minister complained that drivers feel oppressed.

Bicycle thefts are so bad at one English train station, bike riders are being advised not to use bike racks at the nearly half-million dollar Bike Hub.

A “prolific” British bike thief was convicted after a mother protested outside his home for three days with signs demanding her son’s stolen bicycle back.

A 90-year old man became the oldest person to complete the 1,100-mile ride the length of Britain from Land’s End to John O’Groats; he also finished the ride when he was 75, 80 and 85, so presumably he’ll do it again in another five years.

Formerly car-choked Paris is now experiencing bicycle traffic jams as the mayor’s emphasis on the 15-minute city and expanded bikeways are getting more Parisians out on bicycles. Which should be a hint to both the US and Britain. But probably won’t. 

The Netherlands redesigned a highway to make it safer and greener, including three new 3D-printed bike bridges.

A Berlin, Germany website says the city’s car-centric government has begun rolling back bike infrastructure, as bicyclists fear they’ll be driven off the roads, literally and figuratively.

Ebike sales are booming in Germany, where even automakers are embracing their role in the future of transportation.

Bike Radar looks at Germany’s StVZO bike light regulations, which require bike lights to remain steady and unblinking, and focused downward to avoid blinding other road users.

That’s more like it. Thousands of protestors shut down four key intersections in Milan, Italy, effectively bringing the city to a halt to demand safer conditions for cyclists and pedestrians. Meanwhile, Milan is now requiring blind spot sensors on buses and large trucks in an effort to reduce bicycling and pedestrian deaths.

Hyderabad, India has opened the country’s first solar panel-topped cycle track, with three covered bike lanes covering more than 14 miles.

Once again, the observance of Yom Kippur turned Israel’s roadways into the world’s largest open streets event.

An 84-year old Indian man built his own ebike using discarded laptop batteries, charged by solar panels on his roof, to ride the 19 miles to his parents home.

A writer for China Daily says the country is looking forward to becoming a safer, faster kingdom of bicycles, harking back to its not-too-distant bicycling past.

 

Competitive Cycling

Rumors are flying that Apple will be the next title sponsor of the Jumbo-Visma cycling team. Or maybe Amazon.

In a shameful report from the pro peloton, a quarter of female professional cyclists don’t receive any income.

 

Finally…

Apparently, royalty is no protection from dangerous drivers. That feeling when you find a bicycle carved into an ancient temple built 2,000 years before they were invented.

And when you’re riding your bike holding an open Natty Light in one hand, try to avoid hitting the side of a moving Home Depot truck.

………

A special thanks to Matthew R, Janice H, Steve F, Diane T and our anonymous correspondent for their generous donations to mark my birthday last month, and/or offer support for my vision and diabetic issues, all while helping to bring all the best bike news your way today. 

Normally, I’d add “and every day,” but considering my recent track record, we’ll let that slide for now. 

………

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

Oh, and fuck Putin

Comments are closed.

%d