Better bike lanes beat hi-viz for safety, commuting 46 miles — each way — by ebike, and Sunset4All gaslit by O’Farrell

It’s Day 12 of the of the 9th Annual BikinginLA Holiday Fund Drive!

Which means you have just 19 days left to support SoCal’s best source for bike news and advocacy.

It was a slow weekend while I was out of town for my sister’s birthday, but the fund drive is still ahead of last year at this time.

Please join me in thanking Bonnie W, Patt M, Plurabelle Books and Damian K, who says he’s only here for the corgis, for their generous donations to keep all the freshest bike news and corgi pics coming your way every day. 

So take a moment and give now!

It’s okay, we’ll wait. 

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He gets it.

A writer for Velo says better bike lanes will stop bicyclists from getting hit by drivers — not lighting yourself up like a Christmas tree.

There is one proven way to lower the risk of cyclists being killed: adding quality bike lanes.

A quality bike lane works for cyclists of even the most novice of levels to help them feel comfortable moving around their community. Usually, they’re separated from the road, or at the very least partitioned in a way that provides freedom of movement and opportunity to get around.

Hi-viz and fluorescent gear won’t stop inattentive drivers from hitting cyclists. It won’t stop a driver angered by the mere inconvenience of having to share the road. Unfortunately, it won’t stop drivers who mean well but don’t see a cyclist either. It’s a bike lane. More specifically, it’s separated bike lanes that improve cyclist safety.

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

Because he’s right, even though I ride with enough lights to guide Santa’s sleigh these days.

Thanks to Joel Falter for the heads-up. 

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He gets it, too.

Los Angeles Times Letters Editor Paul Thornton shares his experience after buying an ebike to beat traffic on a commute between his Alhambra home and the Times offices El Segundo that can stretch to two hours or more.

Tell that to someone who says you can’t use a bicycle for LA’s long commutes.

That was until I bought an electric bike and just this week started using it to ride the 46-mile round trip between home and work.

On Tuesday morning, by which time L.A.’s rush-hour traffic had fully rebounded from its holiday break, getting from Alhambra to El Segundo by e-bike took 90 minutes. The electric motor flattened hills and helped with attaining traffic speed sooner.

The commute home lasted 80 minutes. That’s 46 rush-hour miles in less than three hours — typically what it takes in a car, and less than the same journey on Metro rail.

But as we’ve all learned by now, even the best bike commute isn’t all sunshine and roses.

Thornton says bicycle safety is dangerously backsliding due to a lack of safe bike infrastructure, even as cities rush to catch up.

Big SUVs and trucks, with front ends resembling battering rams, are outselling all other vehicle types and killing pedestrians and cyclists with greater ease than ever before. Even many of the “protected” bike lanes popping up around Los Angeles, which separate cyclists from vehicles with flimsy plastic bollards that collapse if hit by a car, offer barely any protection.

To L.A.’s everlasting shame, traffic deaths have ballooned to crisis proportions since then-Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the goal of eliminating them completely by adopting Vision Zero in 2015. That year, according to the group Streets Are for Everyone, 203 people died in L.A. traffic; in 2022, 312 were killed.

Once again, it’s worth taking a few minutes from your busy Tuesday to read it.

Because he succinctly captures both the risks and the opportunity ebikes present, on a personal level.

And gives me a nice shoutout in the process.

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The Guardian takes a look at the Sunset4All project to improve safety and livability along LA’s busy — and deadly — Sunset Blvd, led by LA Bike Dad Terence Heuston.

Heuston says that at the time his group formed, safety problems with the Sunset corridor were already on many radars. The section of Sunset made it on the LA department of transportation’s Vision Zero High Injury Network, a list of the most dangerous roadways in Los Angeles. And safer biking on Sunset fit with Los Angeles’ Mobility Plan 2035, a blueprint launched in 2015 to transform LA’s streets into “complete streets” – roadways that can be safely used by bikers, pedestrians, cars and mass transit alike – by the year 2035. Furthermore, in 2015 the LA Metro Active Transport (Mat) program identified the Sunset corridor as high priority for safety improvements because it would make a significant impact on resident use of active modes of transportation, as well as the Metro.

The clear solution was creating protected bike lanes along the corridor, which studies have shown can improve safety for everyone on the street.

With Heuston leading the charge, activists were buoyed by the idea that they were advocating for something so many agreed should be done. “We were hoping this could be a model project,” says Heuston. “Sunset is this iconic boulevard in the most iconic ‘car-centric’ city in North America. The idea was: if we can change it here, then we can change it anywhere.”

They had community buy-in thanks to countless events like the coffee walk gathering and long hours spent talking to various groups, lots of volunteers and the support of their city council – or so they thought.

Unfortunately, Heuston and the other volunteers were gaslighted by former CD13 Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who told them to hire expensive independent traffic engineers to create plans and renderings for the project.

So the plans and renderings crowdfunded by the group just ended up in the circular file.

Hugo Soto-Martinez, who defeated O’Farrell for District 13 in the 2022 general election, says his predecessor lied to the group. Studies conducted by third parties aren’t accepted by the city. O’Farrell was “just sitting on the project”, Soto-Martinez said.

And yes, once again, it’s worth taking the time from your busy day to read the whole thing.

If for no other reason than to fully grasp the frustrations bike and safety advocates experience dealing with our auto-addled city leaders.

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Dr. Grace Peng calls your attention to a proposal to improve bike-carrying bus service in the Bay Cities. And wants your support to put an actual ebike user on the Redondo Beach Ebike Task Force.

Preferably her.

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This is who we share the road with. A Bellevue, Washington driver turned a local restaurant into a drive thru, the easy way.

Thanks to Ralph Durham for the heads-up.

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

No bias here. A Claremont, California letter writer applauds himself for striking a nerve with the “bike lane fanatics,” then proceeds to say a recent survey showing overwhelming local support for bike lanes doesn’t pass the smell test. Which evidently, is the only proof he requires. Thanks to Erik Griswold for the link. 

A New York bike rider shares “infuriating” video of the city’s drivers blatantly ignoring bicycle infrastructure, with “numerous sizable vehicles obstructing an already small bike lane.”

No bias here, either, as London’s Daily Mail accuses the city’s mayor of chopping down a historic palm tree to make room for “yet another bike lane for his beloved cycling constituents,” before conceding that the tree was merely moved to another location.

Organizers of an Oxford, England Christmas market threatened to cancel the event because city officials demanded they maintain bicycle access, instead of blocking a bike lane.

French officials decided to celebrate the season by plopping a large Christmas tree in the middle of a trans-European bike path. Because why wouldn’t they?

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

Bakersfield police arrested one person and seized seven bicycles after a large group of bicyclists took over city streets on Saturday, allegedly causing traffic hazards and disturbing the peace, as well as engaging in thefts, vandalism and at least one assault with a deadly weapon.

The family of a 91-year old British Army veteran says the ebike rider who crashed into him will likely get off with a slap on the wrist because the country has failed to update its bike laws, after the man died of his injuries three months after he was struck.

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Local 

LA Weekly takes a long-delayed look at Mobility Plan 2035, which promised a transformation of Los Angeles streets when it was passed by the city council in 2015 — but fails to mention that it was promptly shelved and forgotten, in a story with the depth of something written by AI.

CD10 Councilmember Heather Hutt called for new protected bike lanes on a 3.1-mile stretch of Venice Blvd between Fairfax and Arlington avenues.

A coalition of South LA organizations is launching a new ebike library pilot called Power Up South Central, similar to an existing program in Pacoima.

Tomorrow is the last day to offer comments on the Glendale Bicycle Transportation Plan.

Santa Monica’s mayor proudly proclaims that the city will soon be the bicycling capital of the world, warning Amsterdam to watch out as she opens the new protected intersection on 17th Street. Correction: I originally misidentified the mayor of Santa Monica as a man, rather than a woman. But with a name like Gleam, I had a 50/50 shot. Thanks to Joe Linton for setting me straight. 

A Santa Monica letter writer says speed limits and road design must change if the city hopes to save lives.

 

State

The Orange County Bicycle Coalition has teamed with CABO and the American Bicycling Education Association to create a short video explaining CVC 21202, the basic law governing the operation of bicycles on the roadway. Thanks to Phillip Young for the link.

A Fullerton writer calls for safer bike and pedestrian detour around construction zones. Something that’s just as needed in Los Angeles, where construction work too often reminds us that people walking and biking barely enjoy second-class status.

 

National

Cycling Weekly offers a long list of reasons why roadies should ride in the dirt this winter.

A Wyoming website profiles one of the state’s most senior wildlife biologists, who is also a ninth-degree blackbelt in karate, the former mayor of Laramie, and a founder of the Tour de Wyoming cycling event.

A Houston magazine calls ghost bikes painful reminders of the city’s cyclist death problem, with over 100 such memorials dotting the city.

Bicycling says convicted killer Kaitlin Armstrong is appealing her 90-year sentence for fatally shooting gravel cycling champ Moriah “Mo” Willson, in a perceived love-triangle with pro cyclist Colin Strickland. As usual, read it on Yahoo if the magazine blocks you. 

A 30-year old Chicago woman faces charges for the drunken death of a 59-year old man riding a bicycle in October, while running three stop signs and driving in the bike lane, with a BAC two and a half times the legal limit.

The mayor of Anne Arbor, Michigan is one of us, urging others to join him in commuting by ebike.

 

International

Momentum tells Elon Musk’s vaunted Cybertruck to move over, because ebikes are the real sustainability game-changer, and considers the right and wrong way to lock your bike.

Bike riders continue to flock to Bolivia’s famed Death Road, despite the nearly three-mile high roadway claiming the lives of nearly 20 bicyclists every year.

Good question. The parents of a Newfoundland teenager want to know why the driver who hit him was able to get behind the wheel despite a lifetime ban on driving, after the man fled the scene after hitting the kid as he was riding his bike.

Forbes talks with a representative of the European Cycling Foundation attending the COP 28 climate conference about the role bicycling can play in confronting the climate crisis.

An angry driver tells British radio star Jeremy Vine to fuck off, after the bike-riding BBC presenter challenged him for blowing through a stop sign.

An Oxford, England city councilor responds to a challenge from a bicycling critic to post a photo of school bike racks on a cold wet December day by doing just that — showing the racks overflowing with bikes.

A French engineer is attempting to solve the problem of exploding lithium-ion ebike batteries by storing energy with a supercapacitor, instead.

A Kenyon newspaper looks at the nation through the eyes of a 24-year old woman who is riding solo over 8,000 miles across Africa.

A Pennsylvania man recreates a historic 900-mile trip from Nagasaki to Yokohama by Penny Farthing, 136 years after the original journey.

 

Competitive Cycling

Cycling News offers a comprehensive team-by-team look at next year’s WorldTour cycling teams.

 

Finally…

Seriously, why wouldn’t an elderly ghost want to watch a little kid learn how to ride a bike? Is it really a folding bike if the wheels don’t?

And why go around when you can go through?

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

Oh, and fuck Putin

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