Nonprofit overseeing CA ebike voucher program under investigation, and Gordon Ramsay says “wear your helmet”

Just 198 days left until Los Angeles fails to meet its Vision Zero pledge to eliminate traffic deaths by 2025.

Image by Maxfoot from Pixabay.

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And that, my friends, is when it all went to hell.

As you may know, we’ve been tracking the moribund California ebike incentive program’s latest failure to launch, which has now reached 178 days since we were promised it would open in fall of last year.

Spoiler alert — it didn’t.

It’s also a full three years since the plan was approved by the state legislature and signed into law by the governor. And counting.

And just two weeks before they’re guaranteed to miss the most recent promised launch date in the second quarter of this year, which has now been pushed back to sometime this summer.

They’re not likely to meet that one, either.

Because the program charged with operating the California ebike incentive program, San Diego nonprofit Pedal Ahead, could end up facing charges themselves.

In fact, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Pedal Ahead is currently facing not one, not two, but three ongoing investigations. (Although the paper’s newly even more draconian paywall means you’ll have to register with your email if you want to read it.)

It’s a confusing and convoluted story. But the gist of it is that Pedal Ahead is accused of being delinquent in filing the required paperwork with various government agencies, leading to investigations by San Diego County, the California Air Resources Board, and the California Department of Justice.

Yet somehow, they’re supposed to handle the increasingly complicated statewide program, which has now been funded with a still-too-small $31 million to distribute, even though that’s up from the initial $10 million fund, which was reduced to just $7.5 million after overhead.

And even though they’ve been removed as operators of the low-income ebike loan-to-own program launched by the San Diego Association of Governments two years ago.

Yet it was that “expertise” that formed the basis of their selection to operate the statewide program.

But at least that part of the story is clear.

It gets more confusing when the paper tries to explain the numerous nonprofit and for-profit companies opened by Pedal Ahead chief executive Edward Clancy in recent years, many with nearly identical names.

And many, if not most, of which either ran into problems, or apparently never got beyond the naming stage.

Then there’s the fact that Clancy wore a wire for the FBI’s probe into illegal campaign financing involving his former boss and a Mexican businessman, while skating on any possible charges himself.

Clancy was appointed as “bike czar” by former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who resigned under a torrent of sexual misconduct accusations after less than a year in office.

According to the Union-Tribune,

Clancy was later reported to have been a confidential informant in an unrelated federal investigation into illegal campaign financing in San Diego County.

The Union-Tribune reported in 2014 that he wore a wire for the FBI, recording conversations with three people who were later charged with coordinating $500,000 in donations from Mexican businessman Jose Susumo Azano Matsura to Filner, then-District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and two Democratic political committees.

Clancy, who received qualified immunity from federal prosecutors and was never himself charged with any wrongdoing, maintained his political connections after he stopped consulting.

No problem, then.

It’s long past time that the state legislature conducted an open, public hearing into the problems with the state ebike incentive program that have led to its ongoing failure to launch, despite the clear intent of our elected leaders.

And shine a much-needed light on a program that has been utterly opaque up to this point.

Because something tells me what we’ve learned today is just the tip of an iceberg big enough to sink the Titanic all over again.

Thanks to Oceanside bike lawyer and BikinginLA sponsor Richard Duquette for the heads-up. 

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The common theme over the weekend, the one that sucked the air out of the news headlines, is Gordon’s Ramsay’s advice to wear your bike helmet.

Yes, the lovably irascible chef is one of us. Although “lovably” kind of depends on your perspective.

Ramsay revealed in a Father’s Day greeting that he had been the victim of a bad bicycling crash in Connecticut recently, lifting his traditional chef’s jacket to reveal a badly bruised torso. And crediting his shattered helmet and “those incredible trauma surgeons, doctors, nurses in the hospitals” that looked after him with saving his life.

Meanwhile, a writer for the Christian Science Monitor also says wear a helmet, and put front, and especially, rear lights on your bike, offering his own hard-won experience in Long Beach as proof.

Although he misses the mark in calling out bicyclists for riding “two, three or even four abreast.” forcing drivers to “swerve completely into the incoming traffic lane.”

Never mind that riding abreast helps prevent unsafe passing, and using the next lane to go around them is exactly what drivers are supposed to do.

Then again, even Dutch officials are calling for the country’s largely helmet averse population to change “because the brain is very vulnerable.”

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Nothing like have your bike stolen right in front of you on a Metro platform in broad daylight, as passengers look on.

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It’s not every day you actually see a positive report about new bike lanes on the local news.

Thanks to Megan Lynch 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 writer for an off-road racing website blames a group of Atlanta bike riders for complaining when a cop ignored the speeding BMW driver who zoomed around them on the wrong side of the road, only to lecture them for some undisclosed reason. “We’ve all encountered entitled, difficult cyclists before,” he writes. “Maybe they’re riding three or four abreast, not letting cars get by, and acting aggressive towards any driver who does try to pass.”

A UK paper complains about the mythical war on cars over plans to fine drivers who step out into London bike lanes, as if the real problem is the penalty, and not the reason for it.

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

Bavarian police observed over 11,500 bicycling infractions over a one-month period of heightened enforcement.

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Local 

Discover Los Angeles reminds us about this Sunday’s CicLAvia on Western Ave in South LA.

Here’s your chance to tell Glendale you want a permanent calmer, safer North Brand Boulevard, after the city’s successful pilot project.

Pasadena is implementing a quick build safety improvement program on Allen Ave between Colorado Blvd and Villa Street, offering enhanced crosswalks, curb extensions and new bicycle lanes.

Active SGV offers a recap on the recent Active Streets: Mission to Mission, including an appearance by the inimitable Gabe the Sasquatch.

Malibu releases details on the upcoming safety improvements on deadly PCH. All of which only offer a downpayment on what the killer highway really needs. 

 

State

Streets Are For Everyone, aka SAFE, says three speeding bills they support are moving forward in the state legislature, including bills to allow speed cams on PCH in Malibu, and increase penalties for speeding on highways.

Motor vehicle speeds aren’t the only concern for state legislators, however, as AB 1774 would prohibit the sale of any product or device that can modify the speed of an ebike.

The California Building Standards Commission wants your input to shape bike parking standards in the new state building code.

Just days after the heartbreaking death of a 17-year old San Diego boy killed by an Amtrak train while riding his bike across the tracks, comes news that California is the deadliest state for train collisions, with 38 fatal crashes last year, compared to just 21 in Florida, the next highest state.

The Orange County Power Authority is launching its own ebike voucher program, offering up to $1,500 for income-qualified buyers.

Beach cities aren’t the only ones freaking out about ebike safety, as cities in California’s Inland Empire attempt to rein in teenagers on electric bicycles. Although they often conflate ebikes and e-motorbikes.

The latest proposal to replace San Francisco’s widely loathed Valencia Street center-running bike lane would create a slalom course as the bike lane swerves around restaurant parklets.

 

National

A writer for Bike Magazine pens a Father’s Day ode to his favorite riding companion, and the man who gave him everything.

Despite the best efforts of rightwing culture warriors, the World Naked Bike Ride returned to Mad City, Wisconsin on Saturday.

There’s not a pit deep enough for the schmuck who stole an 11-year old boy’s lowrider bike he’d customized himself from a New Mexico museum display.

Hundreds of teenaged bike riders gathered in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley to call for nationwide bike safety improvements at the 10th annual national Youth Bike Summit.

In news that should surprise absolutely no one — but probably will — a new study from New Jersey’s Rutger’s University shows bike lanes calm roadways, improving safety for everyone.

There’s a special place in hell for whoever rode off after stealing a collection jar raising funds for a premature Florida baby.

 

International

The mayor of Quebec City offers a master class in how to respond to accusations that bicyclists don’t pay for the services we receive. Although you’ll need to read the subtitles if you don’t understand French. Thanks again to Megan Lynch. 

A neighborhood in Birmingham, England is now offering an e-cargo bikeshare service to help cut pollution.

The UK’s best bicycle-friendly homes, starting at just £225,000 — the equivalent of a little over $285,000. I’ll send y’all a postcard once I get settled.

 

Competitive Cycling

That’s Sir Mark Cavendish to you, now.

Twenty-year old Norwegian pro Johannes Kulset is demanding an apology from cycling’s governing body after he was banned from the Tour of Slovenia for using the ‘super tuck’ position, denying he used his chest or forearms for support.

A pair of best buds are hoping to set a new record for the fastest duo to cross the Atlantic City finish line for the Race Across America, aka RAAM.

 

Finally…

Now you, too, can own your very own Van Gogh bike. Ranking the Euro 2024 soccer teams based on how bike-friendly their cities are.

And there’s actually nothing funny about using laughing gas behind the wheel.

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

Oh, and fuck Putin

One comment

  1. Ralph says:

    Some notes on fines for cyclists in Germany it is 15€ for wrongway in a bike lane and the same for riding on the sidewalk. On the spot fine, cash or credit. Other charges are low also.

    Driving speeding fines, a long with points, are quite low, about €60 for base line speeding and one point. The rates go up along with mandatory license suspension for higher speeds.
    The fines aren’t draconian and there are no added fees like in CA.

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