Archive for Roadway Courtesy

South Bay cyclist victim of a hit-and-walk

One of the primary arguments used to attack bicyclists lately has been the alleged carelessness — or aggressiveness — some bike riders show around pedestrians.

Never mind that a solid  collision between a cyclist and someone on foot is likely to result in injuries to both. And while people can point fingers at a handful of cases where careless riders have seriously injured — or even killed — pedestrians, it is a problem that goes both ways.

As just about anyone who has ever ridden any of Southern California’s beachfront bike paths can attest.

Case in point, this email I received yesterday from frequent South Bay contributor Jim Lyle.

Nine days ago, I was returning home from my morning ride up the coast.  As I navigated the bike path under the Redondo Beach pier, a woman ducked under the chain that separates the bike path from the pedestrian walkway directly in front of me.  I slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting her and went down, hard.  As I hit the pavement, I heard a “pop” and knew it wasn’t going to be a good thing.  I unclipped and tried to get up, but couldn’t bear any weight on my left leg due to the pain.

Here’s where it gets surreal.  The woman, with a bunch of her friends, did not offer to help me, did not ask if I was OK, or if I was hurt; they simply walked away as if nothing had happened.  Does that qualify as a “hit and walk?”

I was able to pull myself up using the bike to lean on and hobbled to an open area where I had cell phone coverage.  I called a friend who lives near the pier and asked her to come get me.  She arrived, put the bicycle in the truck bed, but I couldn’t get into the cab, it was too high and it hurt too much to move the leg.  I started to go into shock, tunnel vision and losing consciousness.  My friend called 911.  The EMTs arrived, put me on a gurney, and transported me to emergency.  X-rays revealed I had snapped a bone on my femur, but there was no displacement.  They gave me pain meds and crutches and sent me home.  I return to the orthopod in a couple of weeks to make sure there’s been no movement of the bone and I’m on the road to recovery. Otherwise, they’ll have to do surgery.  Meanwhile, I’m moping around the house feeling sorry for myself.  It could have been worse, much, much worse.

As you know, it is illegal (CVC and city ordinances) for pedestrians to use the beach bike path.  There are signs posted and “BIKES ONLY” is painted on the path every few yards.  Because these laws are not enforced, pedestrians, nannies, dog walkers, skaters, illiterates, and scofflaws use the bike path instead of the pedestrian walkway which is often within spitting range.  I always knew this created a dangerous situation for cyclists and pedestrians. And, now, I’m a victim.

In the past, a polite “on your left” or “bikes only, please” would be sufficient.  In future, when I’m back riding, I am no longer going to be very pleasant when I encounter the brain dead idiots who insist on endangering my health.  Police chiefs in the beach cities are going to know my name.  All it would take is a little public education and the occasional ticket to make the beach safe for all users, on two wheels or none.

I’m still fuming about the lack of humanity shown by people.  Surely, they’re in a minority, or are they?

Make no mistake.

Pedestrians are the only class of road users more vulnerable than we are. And we need to go out of our way to protect their safety, especially when riding on sidewalks and through crosswalks, where they should have unquestioned right-of-way.

And yes, I’ve seen cyclists plow through a crowded crosswalk, seemingly oblivious to the harm they may cause. And a Santa Monica cyclist was recently convicted, fairly or not, of assault with a deadly weapon for doing just that.

But as Jim’s email suggests, we aren’t always the problem. And we are just as vulnerable to their carelessness as they are to ours.

One other point.

Had he been able to stop the woman, she could have been held liable for his injuries, just as a bicyclist can be held legally liable for injuring a pedestrian. Or another bike rider, for that matter.

But whether she could be charged with leaving the scene of a collision is a question I can’t answer.

How to (usually) stop a charging dog in its tracks; Culver City Chamber President offers non-apology

Back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I found myself living in Baton Rouge, a couple hours north of New Orleans.

That’s where I bought my first adult bike from the local outlet of what was then the nation’s oldest continuously operated bike shop, thanks to a tax refund courtesy of a conservative president far too liberal for many of today’s conservative voters.

One of my favorite riding routes out into the Louisiana countryside required passing a ramshackle shack with the rusted hulk of a car in the front yard, and a massive Doberman on the front porch. An unleashed Doberman, I might add, who had no love of bike riders passing by on the road in front of his home.

Inevitably, the dog would sprint out of the yard, chasing me down the street snarling and snapping, and striving to bite anything he could get his teeth on.

Including me.

I tried everything I could think of to defuse the situation, from pedaling furiously to outrun his snapping canines to squirting him with my water bottle, and tossing dog treats behind my bike.

At best, I only managed to distract him long enough to sprint away. And he’d be waiting right there on my way back.

That changed the moment I finally remembered a lesson learned growing up in a house full of dogs.

So one day, as the dog was bearing down on me, instead of running away, I pulled up short and stopped in front of him carefully placing my bike between us, just in case. And as he prepared to lunge at me, I shouted out a single word.

“Sit!”

And to my everlasting surprise, he did.

The dog stopped on the spot and sat there in front of me, watching me intently and waiting for my next command.

So I said, as authoritatively as possible, “Go home!”

He did, sadly turning tail and slinking back to his own yard, apparently disappointed that I didn’t want to play anymore.

After that, I didn’t need to get off my bike any more; it was enough to shout “go home” as I rode by. Eventually, the dog didn’t even bother to chase me any more, accepting that it just wasn’t worth the effort.

That’s when it sank in through my sometimes dense brain matter that almost every dog know certain key commands. And they instinctively want to obey, even if they’ve never seen you before.

Since then, I’ve tried the same technique with countless other dogs. And it’s worked almost every time, almost without fail.

Some dogs are just incorrigible.

The key is to issue a command, not a request.

No matter how big or angry the dog may be, try not to show any fear. Then use your best drill sergeant voice to order it to sit or go home.

“Leave it” is also a popular command that works with a number of dogs these days, mine included; for some reason, “stop” doesn’t seem to work at all.

And not everyone can pull it off.

But if you can, it’s the most effective tool I know to stop a dog dead in its tracks.

………

He just doesn’t get it.

Yesterday, I linked to a letter written by Culver City Chamber of Commerce President Steve Rose, in which he criticized Metro’s “Every Lane is a Bike Lane” campaign, trotting out a number of the common fallacies typically employed by bike haters.

Wednesday afternoon, he offered a non-apology, professing to have been misunderstood, and that his comments reflected his personal opinion and did not represent the Culver City Chamber of Commerce.

Right.

The problem is, he cites his position to give gravitas to his opinions. But in doing so, he links them to the organization he represents, whether he wants to or not.

If he doesn’t want his comments to reflect on the Chamber, all he has to do is drop the title and identify himself simply as a Culver City businessman.

But the moment he identifies himself as Chamber president, he inevitably links his comments to the Chamber of Commerce, despite any protestations to the contrary. And rightly or wrongly, makes it appear the Chamber shares his opinions.

As for those opinions, he is correct that cyclists are required to obey the same traffic regulations motorists are. The problem comes when he suggests it is up to us to use extra caution when we ride, once again placing responsibility on cyclists for the actions of those we share the roads with.

Because the key to bike safety isn’t obeying the law, using reflectors or wearing helmets. It’s not getting hit by cars.

And we’re only part of that equation.

So I’ll say it again.

Collisions are hard to have. If you drive safely and obey the law, and I ride safely and obey the law, it’s almost impossible to have a collision.

Yes, many riders could show more courtesy to others on the roads. But placing the responsibility for safety on those of us on two wheels is just blaming the victims, and ignores the dangers posed by those who are far more capable of causing serious injury or death.

He may be a responsible driver.

But responsible observer of the situation on our streets is another matter.

When he wants to follow up his letter with one calling on drivers to share the road, pass safely, signal their turns, check their mirrors, obey the speed limit, look for riders before opening doors, and give cyclists the same right-of-way they would any other vehicle, then, and only then, will his comments be worth taking seriously.

And not reflect negatively on the organization he claims to represent, but not speak for.

………

Finally, a 73-year old spree killer faces charges in Mesa AZ.

The woman driver fled the scene after hitting and killing a bike rider, only to blow through a red light and kill another motorist just six minutes later.

Get a ticket for not signaling? Maybe you didn’t really break the law

Maybe you don’t have to signal your turns after all.

Turns out drivers don’t.

Like many Californians, I have long labored under the assumption that all road users — motorists and bicyclists alike — are required to signal every turn or lane change.

Something many, if not most, fail to do.

After all, there’s no point in tipping off total strangers about where you’re headed.

Still, it’s not uncommon for bike riders to be ticketed for failing to stick an arm out — preferably with multiple fingers extended — to let those around them know which way they’re going to go.

But as it turns out, it may not be illegal.

The section of the vehicle code that specifies our right to ride on the roadway, CVC 21200, clearly states “a person riding a bicycle… has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle….”

In other words, any law that applies to a driver applies to a bike rider. And drivers don’t have to signal their turns unless it affects other vehicles.

But don’t take my word for it. It says so right here in CVC 22107

22107.  No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.

So if your turn doesn’t interfere with the movement of other road users, a signal isn’t required.

For instance, if you’re making a left turn onto a street with no vehicle traffic, there should be no legal requirement to signal. The only exception would be if there were cars in front or behind you on the first street whose movement might be affected by knowing if you’re going to turn or go straight.

Or say you’re turning right onto a street with a designated bike lane. A turn signal shouldn’t be necessary, even if there are cars on the street you’re turning onto because they aren’t legally allowed to drive in a bike lane, and therefore shouldn’t be affected by your movement.

Of course, just because it’s legal doesn’t mean you won’t get a ticket for it.

But as bike lawyer Bob Mionske pointed out recently, if you get a ticket for something like that and you can afford to fight it, you probably should.

There’s a good chance that the officer who wrote the ticket won’t show up in court and the case will be dismissed. Or even if he or she does, the officer may not clearly remember the case — which is yet another reason to never argue with a cop so your case doesn’t stand out in his mind.

But assuming he does, ask the officer to diagram the location of every vehicle on the street at the time of the alleged infraction. And explain exactly which ones were affected by your failure to signal, and how.

If he can’t do it, the case should be dismissed.

Key words being, should be.

Because as we should all know by now, the courts don’t always bend over backwards to ensure justice for those of us on two wheels.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t signal your turns.

You should.

It’s smart. It’s courteous. And it’s usually safer, though there are times when prudence dictates keeping both hands on your handlebars.

And lord knows, you don’t want to argue with Prudence.

But you may not be breaking the law after all. Even if you don’t lift a finger.

Update: Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious points out that this law could be read to refer to movement of the vehicle, rather than a requirement to signal. The problem is, the law was written in the 1950s, evidently prior to the invention of punctuation, which could have clarified the meaning.

………

Then again, if you ride in Alhambra, you may be breaking the law.

But only if you live there.

That city is one of a rapidly dwindling list of towns that still requires registering your bike, even if does only cost a dollar to do so.

But despite what their city ordinance says, you can’t legally be ticked for riding your bike in Alhambra if you live in another city and haven’t licensed it in the city you live in. If your city even requires it.

That’s because their law is illegal.

The section of the state vehicle code that allows cities to require bike licenses, CVC 39002, clearly states that any such licensing requirement applies only to residents of that particular city. And therefore, may not be applied to anyone biking in or through that city who doesn’t actually live there.

So you live in Alhambra and get a ticket for not licensing your bike, pay it.

If not, once again, fight it.

………

Laemmle Theater president Greg Laemmle, your host for Team LACBC at Climate Ride

Laemmle Theater president Greg Laemmle, your host for Team LACBC at Climate Ride

Here’s your chance to take part in the upcoming Climate Ride for free.

And maybe even have your required fundraising done for you.

Laemmle Theaters invites you to ride along with company president and LACBC board member Greg Laemmle on the five-day fundraising ride through Northern California to benefit sustainable transit and green energy.

Four winners will have their entry fee paid as members of Team LACBC, and win a free pass for two at any Laemmle Theater for the remainder of this year.

And one of those four winners will receive the grand prize, meaning the company will contribute the minimum required fundraising amount of $2400 on your behalf.

Which means you’ll not only ride for free, but all your required fundraising will be done for you. Of course, you’re still welcome to raise more money on your own; it is a good cause, after all.

You just have to fill out the simple form on the link above, and explain why you want to ride with Greg.

Entries are due by April 5th.

………

Finally, after riding through the Biking Black Hole both ways on my way too and from a meeting in Downtown L.A. on Wednesday night, I have a suggestion for their new city motto:

Beverly Hills. Where the bike lane ends.

A brief observation on walking the dog, as it relates to dangerous drivers and surviving on two wheels

Let’s talk dog walking.

Or rather, walking the dog as it relates to dangerous drivers. And how that relates to riding a bike in the swirling cesspool of human interaction we call traffic.

Seriously, could you run over this smiling face?

Seriously, could you run over this smiling face?

Take what happened last week.

I was walking the Corgi a few blocks from our home, after dark, during rush hour traffic. The last building on the block we were on featured that 1960’s style covered parking in which the front of the building overhangs the parking spaces, with the sidewalk passing between the driveway apron and the parking spaces.

As we were strolling in front of the building, a car pulled up on the side street in front of us, barely paused at the stop sign, then suddenly pulled onto the wrong side of the busy street we were walking along and turned left, making a shallow U into a parking space just in front of us.

Fortunately, I was able to pull her back in time and took a quick step back myself, allowing the driver to zoom by without hitting either of us.

I was not, however, able to control my own reaction, calling him a jackass as we walked past and rounded the corner.

Moments later, though, the driver came running up after us on the dark side street we’d turned onto. As he approached, I moved the dog behind me and balled my fists, prepared to defend myself against the jerk who’d just threatened our safety.

Since we rescued the then four-year old Corgi a few years ago, we’ve developed an interesting dynamic. She’s taken it upon herself to protect my wife, and more than once has shown signs that she would fight to the death to defend her — even standing up to a coyote over twice her size that dared to walk through our urban neighborhood.

On the other hand, she’s also made it clear that she trusts me to protect her, lowering her guard when I walk her in a way she never does with my wife alone. And I take that trust very seriously.

Threaten my safety with your car and I’ll be pissed. But God help you if you endanger my dog.

What happened next caught me completely off guard, though.

He apologized.

He said he hadn’t seen us, and was sorry if he had frightened my dog. Never mind that he’d scared the crap out me.

No apologies for the dangerous stunt he had pulled — and probably not for the first time, since he appeared to live in the building. And no explanation how it was that he failed to see a grown man and a light colored dog on a well-lighted sidewalk.

I was still too angry to politely discuss the situation, so I simply accepted his apology, shook his hand and turned away to walk home, shaken by the close call.

The very next night, I was once again walking the Corgi when we ran into another, all-too-common situation.

We were alongside a large apartment building on a busy side street when a driver entering the parking lot paused to let us safely cross the driveway. However, that left the rear of his car extending out into the traffic lane, much to the chagrin of the driver behind him who was forced to briefly pause in his mad dash through the residential neighborhood.

So needless to say, that second driver leaned on his horn, blasting an angry rebuke that anyone might have the audacity to stop in his way, with no idea why it washappening.

In other words, he was more than willing to let someone else run us over if it meant he didn’t have to slow down for even a moment.

Never mind that he could have simply gone around the other car. Which is exactly what he did after treating us to his rage-filled car horn soliloquy.

And never mind that his honking could have startled the driver ahead of him, possibly leading to tragic results.

And there, in a nutshell, is the problem on our streets. Or one of them, anyway.

Too many of today’s drivers have lost any sense of the danger their vehicles pose to others. They feel entitled to their place on roadway, and have little or no fear of the reckless stunts they pull, having gotten away with them too many times in the past.

Even though getting away with it doesn’t mean it’s legal. Or safe, for that matter.

The problem is, you can only get away with something until you don’t. At which point, it’s too late for anything but the too-often tragic consequences.

Then there’s the sense of entitlement, to use that phrase again, that allows some — not all, but far too many — drivers to feel they have a right to move unimpeded along the streets. And that anyone in their way, be it other motorists legally slowing or stopping for a turn or to let a pedestrian pass, or a bicyclist in the lane in front of them, is committing some offense by delaying their progress by even a second or two.

I see it every day on the busy street in front of my building, as some speeding jerk lays on his horn because a car is stopped in the left lane, legally, to make a turn. Or slows down to safely make a right, rather than taking the corner at a dangerously high speed, as too many do.

Even though using a horn for any reason other than a safety warning is against the law.

And don’t get me started on the drivers who see a car stopped ahead of them, then whip around on the right or left without considering that there may be a reason why they stopped. Other than the other driver just felt like it, that is.

Like maybe a pedestrian or bicyclist crossing the street.

Which is why I politely refuse any invitation from a driver to cross an intersection in front of them unless I know for a fact that every other motorist in the shares their courtesy and inclination.

And yes, before you say it, there are countless reckless, self-entitled jerks on two wheels — and two feet — as well.

The difference being that a reckless cyclist or pedestrian poses a danger primarily to him or herself, while reckless drivers pose a danger to everyone around them.

There may be hope, though.

Some drivers get it when they see the potential consequences of their actions. Like the driver who apologized for nearly running down the Corgi and I.

Though whether that will keep him from pulling the same stunt next time remains to be seen.

Then there’s the valet driver I had a brief conversation with in Santa Monica last week.

I was riding past a large hotel on Ocean Ave when a car exited the parking garage right in front of me. And as too often happens, another car followed closely behind him, on a collision course with my bike.

So I yelled out a warning, and the driver came to a sudden stop just a few feet from my right.

He caught up to me at the next light, waiting to make a right as I sat on his left to go straight.

“Dude,” he called out, “I wasn’t going to hit you. I do this all day long, every day.”

“Yeah, but how do I know that?” I responded. “I don’t have any choice but to assume you don’t see me.”

“Oh.” He sat for a moment, letting it sink in.

“So, you’re just doing what you have to do to stay alive. Okay, I get that.”

The light changed and I rode on as he turned away, a little more hopeful than I’d been just a few moments before.

………

Speaking of Santa Monica, still no response seven days later to the complain I filed about being forced to share a bike lane with a Big Blue Bus.

And that’s frightening.

Motorists behaving badly — casually cutting off cyclists for no apparent reason

It never ceases to amaze me.

Cyclists are constantly criticized for cutting off drivers. And yes, some of it is justified.

On the other hand, many drivers don’t think twice about cutting off a cyclist, casually pulling out in front of a rider with the right-of-way, as if we don’t have any right to the road.

Or aren’t even there.

A recent ride last week seems to illustrate that perfectly.

In the course of a few short hours, I was cut off by four separate drivers in four separate incidents. And none seemed to think it was any big deal.

None drove aggressively. None seemed in a particular hurry, or even seemed to take much notice of my presence on the road.

No big deal, evidently.

First up was a driver who made a left turn across my path, without ever looking in my direction. And at the base of a hill where I usually reach 25 mph; fortunately, I began feathering my brakes as soon as I saw him, just in case he did something stupid.

Like not even noticing me until he was passing me.

Then exactly one block later, I was about to cross Westwood Blvd when one driver turned left in front of me, with plenty of time to clear the intersection before I entered.

Unlike the driver behind him, who casually followed the first through the intersection, even though I was already crossing it.

And this one definitely saw me.

You can see me point at her in an attempt to get her to wait; what you can’t see is the driver sarcastically pointing back at me.

In other words, she knew I was there. And just didn’t care.

An hour or so later, I was waiting on the light at Washington and Pacific, with cars in the lane behind me, and others lined up in the right turn lane next to me.

Yet when the light changed, the driver attempted to make a left directly in front of me. Or more precisely, through me, since I foolishly assumed I had the right-of-way once the light changed.

I have no idea whether he actually saw me before he turned directly towards me. But he had to have seen the cars behind me, and known it wasn’t his turn.

Or smart, for that matter.

Finally, there was the driver on Montana in Brentwood who passed me, then casually cut in front of me to wait for a parking space.

Never mind that I was riding at the edge of the traffic lane, just outside the door zone.

She clearly knew I was there, having just passed me. And clearly, my presence didn’t seem to make any impression on her.

Frankly, I don’t know which is worse.

The drivers who cut you off because they don’t see you. Or the ones who do, and do it anyway.

………

Then again, the other major complaint against cyclists is how casually we run stop signs.

………

While New York continues to crack down on scofflaw cyclists, a study shows 60% of cyclists and pedestrians killed in the city over a 15 year period resulted from motorists breaking traffic laws — most of which weren’t prosecuted.

………

Pasadena-based bicycle attorney Thomas Forsyth — you’ll find him over there on the right — has developed a new iPhone and Android app to help walk you through the steps to follow if you’re ever in a collision.

It wouldn’t hurt to download it just in case.

I’m not much of an app user myself; I still suffer from that antiquated notion that phones are annoying devices best used for making and receiving calls. But if anyone would like to try it out and write a review, I’ll be happy to post it on here.

………

Metro is sponsoring a free family bike ride on Saturday, September 8th. Don’t miss next week’s meeting to discuss a possible CicLAvia to the Sea. B.I.K.A.S. deconstructs the new US bicycling postage stamps. Flying Pigeon hosts the Spoke(n) Art Ride this Saturday. L.A.’s soon-to-be bike share provider now has a new blog; thanks to LADOT Bike Blog for the link. Better Bike takes a detailed look at Beverly Hills bike collisions. A Santa Monica cyclist is challenged to fight by a group of men who cut him off in a car, then steal his bike when he calls 911; if you know the victim, I know a lawyer who wants to help. KPCC looks at the non-Olympic sport of bike polo, and offers video of Wolfpack Hustle’s recent midnight drag race. Advice on riding in hot weather; my suggestion is to buy insulated water bottles, and put them in the freezer before you ride. Long Beach’s bicycling expats, who seem to have taken up at least semi-permanent residence in Portland, have published The Unauthorized Brompton Touring Guide, available as an ebook. Upcoming Calabasas bike-centric restaurant and coffee roaster Pedalers Fork introduces their new team kit.

OC bike advocate Frank Peters is interviewed for an online radio show, while Mrs. cdmcyclist walks away — or rather rides — from a tumble. Del Mar residents will vote on whether to make their downtown more livable, or keep it a gridlocked mess. An annual, but unofficial, bike ride gridlocks Santa Barbara when over 1,000 riders show up. A Corona teacher plans to give away 155 bikes to disadvantaged children. Cyclist survives a 40 mph hit-from-behind collision when a driver removed his shirt while driving to wipe sweat from his eyes; no, really, that’s what it says. Riverside County discusses a multi-use trail from Temecula to Idyllwild, featuring a 4,000 foot elevation gain. The Imperial Valley Press profiles the weekly Mexicali ride in Calexico, and a 78-year old cyclist who’s still going strong.

How to transport a small mammal by bike. As others have pointed out, roads were not built for cars; evidently, railroad tracks weren’t, either. Bicycling says coffee can help you bounce back from a hard ride, if you drink enough of it. A publication on governing says cities need to protect cyclists and pedestrians. A tossed beer can reminds the publisher of Tucson Velo just how vulnerable cyclists are. Chicago cyclists will get 34 miles of protected bike lanes before the end of the year; as far as I know, L.A. cyclists still don’t have any. A Minneapolis driver admits to running over a cyclist and fleeing the scene. A Vermont rider is injured in a left cross collision when a driver turns in front of four — yes, four — cyclists, but claims he never saw any of them. A writer for Reuters says the recent ethical case for running red lights is morally indefensible, while the Atlantic Cities looks at why riders do it. A volunteer Brooklyn bike patrol escorts women safely to their homes. New York bike thieves are stripping ghost bikes for parts. If this is all you have to say about ghost bikes, why bother? Chattanooga-based LiteSpeed Bicycles helped build the new Mars rover. A Virginia driver is indicted for felony hit-and-run in the death of cyclist last week; the driver claims he thought he hit a deer, though he has at least a dozen other moving violations over the last 10 years — so why did he still have a license? The Virginia Bicycling Federation looks at proper lane positioning; I like the way the LAPD puts it — ride where it’s right, not to the right. A Florida man is charged with two counts of first degree murder for running down two cyclists while trying to escape from police; his alleged accomplice has also been arrested.

The World Anti-Doping Agency tells the UCI to back off in the Lance Armstrong case; the current cat fight between doping agencies is more interesting than the case itself. It’s all about the bike in the UK right now, as the Royal Mail honors the country’s many, many gold metal winning cyclists. Evidently, cycling really is dangerous, as a superfan dies while watching track cycling at the Olympic velodrome. The UK’s Southampton Cycling Campaign calls for strict liability for drivers who hit cyclists. The Guardian calls for bicycling proficiency to be required to get a drivers license; best idea I’ve heard in a long time. A new book traces a mythical bike race through the streets of London in highly detailed illustrations. South Africa considers banning bike trailers for no apparent reason.

Finally, after a cyclist runs a stop sign, a road raging driver chases him down to yell at him, then uses her car as a weapon to cut him off. And brags about it online. Of course, it’s not the first time the bike-hating writer had taken all cyclists to task for the actions of a few. Or one.

And a London rider watches as a truck driver forces a cyclist off the road, then admits to doing it on purpose.

Breaking news — arrest made in hit-and-run death of 18-year old Rancho Sante Fe cyclist

San Diego news sites are reporting that an arrest has been made in the hit-and-run death of 18-year old cyclist Angel Bojorquez.

According to 10News, 19-year old San Diego resident Jin Hyuk Byun was arrested Sunday night after a neighbor reported seeing damage to Byun’s 2008 Chevy Avalanche. NBC San Diego reports that he initially refused to cooperate with CHP investigators, but confessed after officers obtained a search warrant and discovered the truck.

Contrary to initial reports, the night Bojorquez was killed was the first time he had attempted the 20-mile bike ride home to Escondido from his job in Del Mar. He was forced to make the ride because he was unable to share his usual drive with his brother, and the buses he would have needed didn’t run that late.

Investigators determined that he was killed approximately one hour before his body was discovered by private security around 2 am — which means Byun ran him down just minutes after Bojorquez was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy.

No word yet on what charges Byun may face.

Let’s hope authorities treat this case with the seriousness it deserves. Any chance Bojorquez may have had to survive his collision was lost when Byun chose to run away like a coward rather than stop and call for help.

Although San Diego courts aren’t exactly known for handing down stiff sentences in cases like this.

Meanwhile, friends and family members are attempting to raise funds to pay for the victim’s funeral.

Maybe Byun’s family could sell that truck to make a sizable contribution.

Update 3: Another San Diego tragedy — cyclist killed by motorcycle last night

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write about this one.

Late last night, news broke that a 59-year old male bike rider suffered severe injuries when he was hit from behind by a motorcycle in San Diego’s Mission Bay area. Now news reports say the victim, who has not been publicly identified, died sometime overnight.

The collision occurred on northbound Moreno Blvd near Sea World Drive; initial reports — which have since been overwritten following the death — indicated that the cyclist was somehow splitting lanes when the motorcyclist came over a hill near Knoxville Street and was unable to stop in time to avoid the rider.

The motorcycle would seem to have been moving an an extreme rate of speed to have been unable to see the cyclist and stop in time; it would take an exceptionally steep hill to block the vision of a rider traveling at normal traffic speeds.

This is the 31st bicycling fatality in Southern California so far this year, and the 7th in San Diego County, as they maintain a horrible one-a-month pace; it’s also the 5th this year in the City of San Diego.

My prayers go out for the victim and his family.

Update: Not surprisingly, no major news updates on this story yet, as local media seems to take weekends off these days. However, John forwarded this comment from one of the early news stories about this tragic collision.

“Witnessed this accident happen. The story is all wrong. Bicyclist was headed southeast across Morena in the right hand only turn lane–crossing the street–when the motorcyclist, heading north, was speeding after making the left hand turn from Tecolote onto Morena and could not stop in time and broadsided the bicyclist. The bicyclist had really bad head injuries and was unconscious at the scene and had to be revived with CPR. I hope he is able to recover. Awful to witness. There were at least 6 witnesses on scene that gave similar statements to police so I’m not sure why the police is releasing the wrong information. Also, there is absolutely no hill in this area on Morena–it is flat and straight.”

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the first time San Diego police have gotten the story wrong in their public statements. Or the first time they let a killer motorist off the hook.

Let’s hope they conduct a full and fair investigation into this collision — wherever the finger ends up pointing.

Update 2: It didn’t take long for San Diego police to blame the victim

Despite the apparent witness comment above that said the rider was crossing the street, the authorities now claim the victim was drunk and riding the wrong way on Moreno Blvd.

The location of the collision, which has jumped all over the map in earlier reports, is now placed on the 1400 block of Moreno Blvd near Knoxville Street. A satellite view shows what appears to be a relatively quiet four lane street between Knoxville and Tecolote Road, where the motorcyclist reportedly turned left onto Moreno; if the collision occurred near Knoxville, he had nearly an entire block to notice the victim and swerve or stop to avoid him, even if he was riding salmon.

Not unlike the recent incident in Santa Monica, the rider is accused of being drunk, yet no blood alcohol levels have been released to support that. And where on earth did that initial report come from that the motorcycle rider was blinded by a hill that clearly doesn’t exist at an intersection that appears to be flat as a pancake?

Maybe it’s true. 

However, given the ever-changing police story that initially attempted to blame cyclist David Ortiz for riding the wrong way on Balboa Blvd — when he was actually riding with traffic on his way to work — I’d suggest taking the updated version with a 10-pound bag of salt, let alone a grain.

 As I said above, all most of us want is a fair investigation, wherever it leads.

But until the police release more details to support such a dramatic turn in the semi-official story, it smells like they may once again be bending over backward to let a motorist off the hook.

And that stinks.

Update 3: I’ve just received the following comment from a witness suggesting that the motorcyclist was riding in a dangerous and aggressive manner just prior to the collision. And that the police didn’t seem very interested in what the witnesses had to say.

I saw this accident happen. The motorcyclist made a left turn onto Morena from Tecolote Road. He took off from the light at a very high speed, cut across a lane without signaling and collided head on with the bicyclist. The motorcyclist was going far too fast and did not even brake before slamming into the bicyclist at high speed. Had the motorcyclist not been driving recklessly and speeding, this accident would certainly have been avoided.

I, and the other witnesses who saw the accident and stopped, gave statements to the police on the scene. It’s fair to say the police weren’t very interested in listening to what the witnesses actually saw although they made some attempt to write them down. That was reflected in the incorrect news reports (citing incorrect/false police information) that surfaced on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The reports have been partly corrected but are still missing some pretty important (and obvious) details.  

Condolences to the family of the deceased.

It only takes a few seconds to spare a life. So why are so many drivers unwilling to wait?

A couple of seconds.

Two, maybe three tops.

That’s all it took, as a large truck stopped at the intersection across from me, waiting to make his left, and completely obscuring the vision of the driver behind him.

She could have waited for the few seconds it would have taken for the truck to move out of her way, giving her a clear view of the traffic in front of her. Instead, she blindly stomped on the gas and cut sharply to her right into the parking lane, in an attempt to blow through the intersection before the light changed.

Which just happened to be the intersection I was occupying at that exact moment, as I used the opportunity to make my own left.

Which made me a sitting duck.

At the speed she was going, there was nothing I could do to get out of her way; even so, I instinctively jammed on my brakes, knowing it would do little good and bracing for impact.

I remember an idle thought floating through my mind as I wondered just how far her car was going to throw me through the air. Or if the car behind me would be able to stop in time to avoid making me a bike sandwich.

Fortunately, she saw me directly ahead of her and hit her brakes hard, coming to a panic stop about four feet in front of me.

Thanks God for anti-lock brakes.

Without them, she likely would have left skid marks extending far beyond where I was stopped.

So only seconds after it all began, we found ourselves facing one another, her face completely impassive. Maybe that was because she blamed me for what almost happened. Maybe she didn’t care.

Or maybe she was still trying to process the prospect of nearly killing another human being because she was too damned impatient to wait until she could see where she was going.

You see it every day.

Drivers who blare on the horn if someone ahead of them has the audacity to slow down to make a turn or pull into a parking space. Who swerve to the right or left to zoom around cars stopped for a pedestrian — or a cyclist — in a crosswalk, with no idea why they’re stopped. And too often with tragic results.

Or the second or third driver in a left turn lane, who blindly follow the cars ahead even though their vision is obscured and they have no idea what’s in the road directly ahead of them.

And don’t get me started on the ones who seem unable to follow behind a cyclist for even a few seconds.

Like the woman who passed me on the wrong side of the road earlier in my ride, even though she was going up a hill that completely hid the car approaching from the other side. And ignored my shouted warnings until she had to cut back sharply to avoid a head-on collision. Or the driver who oddly insisted on zooming past and cutting in front of me even though we were only feet from a red light.

Even though there is absolutely nothing in the vehicle code that says you have the right to drive unimpeded by any other people or vehicles on the road.

It’s not just an L.A. problem, either.

I’ve always thought that distracted, drunk or overly aggressive motorists were the most dangerous drivers on the road.

But more and more, I’m starting to believe that it’s the ones who are simply impatient and unwilling to wait the few seconds it takes to drive safely who pose the greatest risk to everyone else on the road.

Today, an impatient driver nearly killed me.

Tomorrow, she may succeed with someone else.

………

A couple other quick notes.

David Proffer forwards news of a Los Olivos woman facing charges for plowing into a group of cyclists last March, leaving one with broken bones and putting another rider in a coma that’s lasted nearly two months.

Alicia Gilbert is charged with driving under the influence of a drug, causing bodily injury, failing to provide accurate information at the scene of a collision, providing a false identity and driving with a suspended license.

Oh, and child endangerment for driving with her 8-month old child while she was high. Not that they wanted to throw the book at her or anything.

She’s being held on $200,000 bail, which seems obscenely low given the circumstances.

Meanwhile, a fund has been set up for Gary Holmes, the cyclist suffering from a traumatic brain injury caused by his frontal lobe shifting back and forth within his skull, as well as two broken arms, both knees shattered and a collapsed lung.

And the milk of human kindness seems to have run dry with one subhuman jerk, who left the following comment:

Give this woman a medal! It irks the hell out of me when I come around a blind turn to discover 20 bicyclists riding in the middle of the road.

………

Donald Blunt sends news of a Sacramento cyclist injured by a hit-and-run driver who fled the scene despite being flagged down by a witness. Fortunately, the victim’s injuries aren’t life threatening — though that doesn’t preclude any number of life-altering injuries.

………

Finally, Erik Griswold passes along a letter from a Valley Assemblymember suggesting that changing state law to allow more triple bike racks on buses just isn’t politically viable at this time.

No, seriously.

A little this, a little that: a little bike courtesy goes a long way, NIMBY homeowners battle Expo bikeway

Once again, the issue of conflicts between fast riders, slow riders and pedestrians rears it’s ugly head on the L.A. River bike path.

A slower rider complains about cyclists he calls “speed racers” brushing past and cutting in too close, and wonders why they can’t just slow down.

The answer is not, as the story suggests, imposing speed limits on riders or taking other steps to slow faster cyclists. Or, as some riders have suggested, getting non-cyclists the hell off the bike path.

It’s a simple matter of showing other path users the same courtesy you expect them to show you.

Even though it often seems few things are less common than common courtesy these days.

But really, it’s very simple.

For slower riders and pedestrians, always be aware of your surroundings and other people on the path, keep to the right and leave room for faster riders to pass you.

For faster cyclists, remember that it’s a multi-use path, which means that other people have every bit as much right to be there as you do. Always slow down, announce your presence — ie, “on your left” or “passing on the left” — and pass carefully, waiting until the way is clear and it’s safe to do so. And whenever possible, give other path users the same three-foot passing distance you expect from drivers.

If you can’t manage that, find another place to ride or walk.

There are enough jerks on the roads without bringing that crap onto the paths we use to get away from it. And them.

And that goes for every other bike path, too.

Thanks to Mike for the heads-up.

………

In the most astounding example of bold-faced NIMBYism this side of Beverly Hills, a group of Westside homeowners have filed a federal environmental lawsuit attempting to block the bike path — yes, bike path — along the Expo Line extension into Santa Monica.

Because, evidently, we cause more harm to the environment than all those trains rushing past. Especially after filling up on Danger Dogs $1 burritos.

Of course, what they really fear is all us big, bad bike riders besmirching the safety and sanctity of their neighborhood. And are willing to ridiculously abuse existing environmental laws to stop us.

We can only hope the judge recognizes this for what it is, and tosses them out on their NIMBY ass. And sticks them with the court charges.

………

It Magazine invites you to celebrate the end of bike month with a panel discussion on Greening Your City: Biking Los Angeles, moderated by actor Ed Begley Jr. on Saturday, May 26th in Pasadena; panelists include LACBC Executive Director Jennifer Klausner, former LA District Attorney and Paris cycle chic photographer Gil Garcetti, C.I.C.L.E. Executive Director Dan Dabek and Bike San Gabriel Valley co-founder Wesley Reutimann.

And L.A.’s Council District 14 joins the LACBC, LADOT, and the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council to host a Downtown Bicycle Network Open House next Wednesday.

………

Despite the urging of GOP party leaders, Tea Party Congressional representatives once again target all federal bike and pedestrian funding in an attempt to force the socialistic funding of highways by people who may or may not use them.

………

No wonder American kids are so fat.

At least 60 Michigan high school seniors are suspended for — get this — riding their bikes to school, even though they were escorted by the city’s mayor and a police car. Something tells me it may have been one of the principal’s last official acts at that school.

Thanks to Erik Griswold and Matthew Gomez for the heads-up.

………

LACBC board member Steve Boyd talks about the new Tern folding bikes, which GOOD says could transform transit; GOOD also takes a look at L.A.’s lowrider bike club. LADOT offers a list of new bike rack locations, while the new Orange Line bike path extension is nearing completion; oddly, without having to content with an environmental lawsuit from over-privileged homeowners. New bike lanes appear in Boyle Heights. Nightingale Middle School students ask for bike lanes so no more kids will get hurt. Seems like there’s one in every crowd, as Will Campbell and another rider stop for a stop sign and let a crossing driver pass — who then has to jam on his brakes when a trailing jerk rider blows through the stop. A writer for the Daily Trojan says more bike lanes won’t solve USC’s problems, but fewer bikes would. The annual Bike Night at the Hammer Museum returns Thursday, June 7th. A look at bike polo in North Hollywood Park. Beverly Hills is surrounded with sharrows, but can’t seem to figure them out. Sunset magazine looks at a Glendale woman who embraced biking to take back the suburbs. Welcome to Mike Don, the newly hired director of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition.

The state Senate votes once again on whether California cyclists deserve a three-foot passing law; a nearly identical law passed both the Senate and House last year before being vetoed by our misguided governor. Meanwhile, the L.A. Times says the proposed three-foot law is sort of better than nothing. Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious has developed a statewide map showing the location of bike-involved collisions reported to the CHP; wrecks from the last 24 hours are shown in yellow, older ones in red. Grant Fisher, the cyclist critically injured in San Diego the same day Robert Marshall was killed, is now paralyzed from the waist down, but with a better attitude than most of us; heads-up courtesy of BikeSD. In better news, Baron Herdelin-Doherty, the cyclist seriously injured in the collision that killed cyclist Nick Venuto when a driver flew off a San Diego freeway and landed on the bike path they were riding, says he’s almost back to health almost a year later. Camarillo cyclists are about to get bike lanes over Highway 101.

George Wolfberg forwards a look at some unusual and artistic bike racks; something else Beverly Hills says they just can’t manage to do. Bicycling offers advice on how to avoid rookie roadie mistakes. GOOD looks at the history and psychology of sharing the road. A year later, Utah authorities are still looking for the hit-and-run driver who killed a 24-year old cyclist. Portland cyclists are going to get a new bike highway on the left side of the road to avoid buses; local Portland groups look to develop a crowd-sourced case for bike advocacy. Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club seeks to train grassroots bike activists. On the eve of the Exergy women’s stage race, a Bay Area women’s pro team has their bikes stolen; hats off to Boise police for getting them all back. A South Dakota drunk driver plows through three kids riding their bikes; link via Witch on a Bicycle. Whatever issues we have in here in L.A., at least you don’t have to worry about a deer jumping over your bike, though you may have to watch out for cougar killing SaMo police. Bicycling declares Dallas the worst bike city in America. Trial is starting in the case of the hit-and-run driver accused of killing a Maryland Senate candidate in 2010. A vigil is held for Mickey Shunick, the Lafayette LA woman who disappeared riding home from a night out; it couldn’t hurt to say a prayer if you’re so inclined. The six best cities to take a bike vacation.

A former Vancouver city councilor says the city’s bike share program will fail if riders are required to wear helmets. A Toronto cyclist was trying to walk away when he was deliberately run down by a cab driver. A London writer says Chicago gets it right and they don’t. London’s transportation department says six of the city’s most dangerous intersections are safe. One of the UK’s top teen cyclists battles back against meningitis. That inflatable bike helmet is about to hit the market overseas for the equivalent of $525; I think I’ll keep using my $65 Trek hard hat.

Finally, a British Member of Parliament is hit from behind by a minicab at a red light, then yelled at by the driver for not getting the hell out of his way. It may be worth noting that the cab belongs to the same Addison Lee cab company whose owner recently encouraged cabbies to drive illegally in bus only lanes, and said it’s cyclists’ own fault if we get hit.

Oops.

Zen and the art of road rage

For the second time in the last 10 days, I found myself dealing with a road raging driver Thursday.

I was making a left from Main Street in Venice, after enjoying the relative luxury of the newly installed bike lanes, onto the sharrowed pavement of Abbot Kinney.

For once, I found myself all alone in the turn lane. But after the light turned green, a car came up behind me as I waited for the oncoming traffic to clear so I could make my left.

As I waited, I allowed my bike to drift slowly forward to avoid clipping out of my pedals and putting my foot down. And once the last car passed, I made my turn.

Unfortunately, my forward drift had put me at the far side of the intersection, so my turn ended up on the far side of the roadway, just this side of the right curb. And giving the jerk behind me just enough space to make his turn at the same time, blowing past about a foot from my elbow.

Startled by such a dangerous, jackass move, I yelled out “Hey!”

I was just as startled by his instantaneous anger. “Fuck you!” he yelled. “Get off the road.”

And there it was.

A clear violation of the new anti-harassment ordinance — a threatening action with his car, followed by the verbal implied threat telling me to get off the road. And a dangerous jerk who needed to be taught that we have every bit as much right to the road as angry, auto-centric idiots like him.

All I needed was a license number and witnesses, which wouldn’t have been hard to find on such a busy intersection.

By the time I’d collected myself and regained full control of my bike, he was already 100 yards down the road. But what he didn’t count on was that a very pissed-off cyclist can easily outrun a car on a crowded city street.

So I stood on my pedals, kicked up my cadence and knocked it up a couple gears, and soon found myself steadily gaining on him; within a few blocks I was less than 20 feet off his back bumper as he watched me approach in his rear view mirror.

But just as I was readying my camera to snap a photo of his license plate, he gunned his engine and quickly cut onto the wrong side of the road to bypass the traffic ahead of him, before zipping left down the next side street and rounding left at the next corner.

And like that, he was gone.

I may have shouted a reference to his apparent lack of cajones as, like Monty Python’s Sir Robin, he bravely ran away.

At least I could take comfort in scaring the crap out of a cowardly jerk who’d rather run away after threatening someone than face up to what he’d done.

It was clear that any further attempt to chase him down would be a wasted effort in the tangled warren of narrow streets behind Abbot Kinney. So I rode on, mad as hell, replaying the events in an endless loop in my mind.

And letting that jerk ruin my ride on a perfectly sunny SoCal day.

And that’s when I heard it.

That little voice inside my head, asking “Why are you still carrying him?”

It was a barely remembered story, from a time in my life when I was a steady student of eastern philosophy; these days, I’m less of a student as it has become, simply, a part of me.

When I slow down long enough to remember, that is.

As the story goes, two monks were traveling together when they came to a roaring river, and found a young woman who asked if they could carry her across. Without hesitation, one of the monks lifted her up and carried her across the stream, setting her down on the other side before continuing on their way.

As they walked, though, his partner was troubled, and asked why the other man had carried the woman when their training forbade physical contact with the opposite sex.

“Brother,” the other man replied, “I set her down back at the river. Why are you still carrying her?”

Why indeed.

If I could have done something to fight back against his threatening actions, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it. But by then, there was nothing I could do.

He’d threatened me. And gotten away with it.

And there’s just not enough room on my bike to carry another man and the car he rode in on.

So in that moment, I chose to leave it behind and get on with my ride. And my life.

If I see him again, I may make another attempt to bring him to justice. But it was a beautiful day, and I had another 30 miles to go.

And life is too short to carry that anger with me.

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