New bill requires speed governors on new California cars, LAPD Chief blames traffic victims, and LA bike deaths jump 41%

Stop what you’re doing and sign this petition demanding a public meeting with LA Mayor Karen Bass to hear the dangers we face just walking and biking on the mean streets of Los Angeles.

Then share it — and keep sharing it — with everyone you know, on every platform you can.

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San Francisco state Senator Scott Weiner introduced two bills to improve traffic safety, including requiring speed governors on all new cars, and side guards on trucks.

Here’s how Calbike, which sponsored the bills, explains them.

Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced the Speeding and Fatality Emergency Reduction on California Streets (SAFER California Streets) Package, Senate Bills 960 & 961, a first-in-the-nation effort to make California roads safe and accessible to all users. Senate Bill 961 requires changes to vehicles directly, including a first-in-the-nation requirement that all new vehicles sold in California install speed governors, smart devices that automatically limit the vehicle’s speed to 10 miles above the legal limit. SB 961 also requires side underride guards on trucks, to reduce the risk of cars and bikes being pulled underneath the truck during a crash.

Senate Bill 960 requires that Caltrans, the state transportation agency, make physical improvements like new crosswalks and curb extensions on state-owned surface streets to better accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, the disability community, and transit users.

These changes are a head-on attempt to tackle vehicle fatalities, which are surging across the U.S.—and especially in California—amid a rise in reckless driving since the onset of the pandemic. A recent report from TRIP, a national transportation research group, found that traffic fatalities in California have increased by 22% from 2019 to 2022, compared to 19% for the U.S. overall. In 2022, 4,400 Californians died in car crashes.

The speed governing requirement is probably unlikely to pass in its present form, as it will undoubted face stiff opposition from organizations defending California drivers’ God-given right to speed.

But it could be one of the biggest steps the state could take to ensure drivers follow speed laws, and save lives.

Sort of, anyway. Since it would still let them speed by the same 10 mph over the limit that most California drivers do now, anyway.

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Outgoing LAPD Chief Michael Moore caused an uproar by blaming the victims for the city’s climbing traffic deaths, placing responsibility on pedestrians for crossing streets outside of crosswalks, and bicyclists for riding on streets without bike lanes and not wearing reflective gear.

Not on, say, drivers for speeding or driving distracted or under the influence, or just generally not managing to avoid hitting other people. Or on his own officers for failing to enforce traffic laws.

Schmuck.

His misguided criticisms hardly explain LA’s rapid jump in bicycling deaths, since bike riders seem no less likely to use bike lanes or wear hi-viz and reflective gear than they were just three years ago.

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Meanwhile, Streets Are For Everyone, aka SAFE, is looking for volunteers to promote Saturday’s die-in at LA City Hall at tomorrow’s Critical Mass Ride.

SAFE is holding a Protest for safe streets on Saturday, January 27th, on the steps of City Hall in order to demand LA City leaders do something effective about safety in our roads. Our goal is to have at least 330 people in attendance to represent each life lost to traffic violence in 2023.

We will be at the LA Critical Mass ride on Friday, January 26th, to let the cycling community know about the protest and enlist their help. We need volunteers to join us and make our protest as big and loud as possible!

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Metro wants your input on how to reduce traffic.

Traffic Reduction Study (TRS) Survey closes Jan 31, 2024 
TRS is looking at how we can manage demand to reduce traffic through congestion pricing, and make it easier for everyone to travel, regardless of how they choose to travel. Following the conclusion of the survey, Metro staff will take the time necessary to assess and evaluate the feedback received countywide to include in the study’s technical analysis. We appreciate your assistance in helping us understand what your priorities and concerns are about traffic. Please take the survey here.

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I hope you weren’t planning to ride Orange County’s Mariposa Bridge anytime soon.

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That’s more like it.

An Arizona tow truck driver got 17 years behind bars for plowing into a group bike ride, killing one woman and injuring five other people, despite playing the universal Get Out Of Jail Free card by claiming the sun was in his eyes. Although part of that sentence is for the kiddie porn cops found on his phone.

A 19-year old New Mexico man got a little more than seven years for the drunken hit-and-run that killed a 63-year old man riding a bicycle, after prosecutors dropped an additional seven years from his sentence in a plea deal.

And the Florida drawbridge operator who walked with seven years probation for failing to check if anyone was on the bridge before opening it, killing a woman walking her bike across it at the time, could be headed for nine years behind bars after failing a urine test required as a condition of her probation.

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More proof that brilliant writers ride bikes.

I mean, besides me.

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It took me about two seconds to find the bike with no rider, for whatever that’s worth.

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It’s now 35 days since the California ebike incentive program’s latest failure to launch, which was promised no later than fall 2023. And 30 months since it was approved by the legislature and signed into law, and counting.

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

A British bicycling organization says the country’s addiction to ever bigger cars is driving bike riders off the roads, as car widths increase an average of one centimeter a year — a little less than half an inch.

A London bike rider filmed a motorist driving blissfully the wrong way down a bike lane, as bicyclists dodged out of his way.

 

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

New York’s self-appointed sidewalk vigilante has made over 5,000 documented reports to the city’s 311 systems, thanks to a personally-programmed camera aimed to capture people illegally riding bikes on the sidewalk.

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Local 

The Los Angeles Times suggests 13 out-of-the-mainstream bike shops to help discover the city’s thriving bicycle culture. Thanks to Keith Johnson for the link, who says his go-to shop Safety Cycle should have made the list, too.

Hollywood Progressive profiles Leon Comerre’s breathtaking 1903 painting Cycling at Vesinet.

 

State

A writer for Streetsblog says the California Transportation Commission needs to hit pause on highway projects to address the state’s massive budget shortfall, arguing that putting a potentially problematic $200 million highway expansion on hold was a step in the right direction.

Sad news from Livermore, where a 58-year old man died when he went over his handlebars after apparently suffering a mechanical problem with his bike.

San Francisco celebrity chef, restaurateur and philanthropist Chris Cosentino is one of us, riding his bike to help manage his mental health.

The City by the Bay is proposing a $9 million settlement after an infamous roadway bump resulting from a botched water pipe repair left a bike rider with life altering injuries; four other people have sued for under a million each for injuries suffered hitting the bump with their bikes. Which raises the obvious question of why not just fix the damn thing after the first person got hurt?

 

National

Oregon truckers are complaining that road diets and buffered bike lanes are making traffic lanes too narrow for their bigass trucks. Which is a better argument for making the trucks smaller than reducing bike lane buffers.

Separated bike lanes in Austin, Texas are paved with terra-cotta, making them more resistant to wear, and red instead of the usual green.

Streetsblog criticizes New York Mayor Eric Adams for once again failing to even mention bus or bike lanes in his annual State of the City address, in contrast to his vocal support as a candidate. But he does feel the need to regulate ebikes, proposing a new Department of Sustainable Delivery to regulate micro-mobility.

A DC website offers a step-by-step playbook for starting your own family biking group.

A Richmond, Virginia bike shop reopened after an unexplained closure left customers without the bikes they had ordered or had repaired, resulting in at least one customer lawsuit, as well as a suit filed by Giant Bicycles over an unpaid $144,000 tab.

 

International

A tech site says Europe’s bike industry is hitting bumps as the bicycling craze cools. Although other recent reports have suggested the opposite.

In a bizarre case, a British woman took her own life after learning her estranged husband had been riding a bicycle with another woman. Which hardly counts as infidelity, unless maybe they were sharing the same bike seat.

Travel site Lonely Planet explains how to plan a family bike trip around France’s Lake Annecy.

A 41-year old Sydney, Australia man says people make fun of him because he never learned to drive, but he’s better off riding a bike and taking transit when necessary. And so’s the planet.

 

Competitive Cycling

Mathieu van der Poel’s remarkable ten race unbeaten streak to start the ‘cross season finally came to an end, with a fifth-place finish in the Benidorm World Cup.

Canadian Cycling Magazine takes a deep dive into the relatively recent history of motor doping, including an unconfirmed accusation against American Sepp Kuss.

 

Finally…

Don’t look so surprised if you get popped for biking under the influence. The Bike Share Batman fights evildoers by stealing back stolen bikeshare bikes.

And why would you need more than one wheel to check out of a hotel, anyway?

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

Oh, and fuck Putin

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