Archive for Roadway Courtesy

A little human interaction turns a bad day into a good ride — one even the worst driver can’t ruin

This day did not start well.

Monday morning meant back to our regular routine after the long holiday weekend. Which meant walking my wife down to her car, then taking the dog out for its morning walk.

The dog has her own routine, too.

She insists on walking out front and waiting for my wife’s car to exit the garage. Then stands and barks a few times as my wife drives off to work.

And then — and only then — will she acquiesce to begin our daily constitutional around the block.

Today was different.

This time, she heard the garage gate open and took off running, jerking the leash out of my hand. And planted herself squarely in front of my wife’s car, hidden below her field of vision, in an apparent attempt to keep her from leaving.

Nice gesture. Bad execution.

Fortunately, my wife is a careful driver, and was exiting the garage slowly enough to hear my shouts of warning. She jammed on the brakes and stopped just short of turning our Corgi into road kill.

So I collected the dog, and after giving her a good talking to — which she seemed to clearly understand despite the language barrier — we finished our walk, my stomach churning the whole way over what might have been and almost was.

A few hours later I was still shaken, so I did what I usually when I’m upset.

I got my bike and went for a ride.

I was about three miles from home when the light at a busy intersection turned yellow. I noticed a driver facing the opposite direction, waiting to make her left and unsure what I was going to do. So I gave a quick nod for her to go ahead while I braked to a stop.

She smiled in response and waved her thanks as she turned just before the light changed to red.

A few moments later, as I waited at the light to turn green, a car pulled up behind me with its right turn signal on. I moved my bike slightly to the right so he could pull up to the intersection, nodding his thanks as he moved up next to me.

But instead of stopping, he continued to edge forward. So I pointed to the No Right on Red sign, unsure if he could still see me. Yet shortly afterwards, the car’s forward stance visibly relaxed as he took his foot off the gas, then turned around to give me a thumbs up for saving him from a possible ticket.

And suddenly, my mood brightened, the day’s near disaster finally behind me.

Throughout my ride, I found myself interacting with drivers and pedestrians in countless little ways. For once, it wasn’t drivers versus cyclists, but human beings recognizing the humanity in one another, and finding ways to share the road in peace and safety.

I even got the chance to express some thanks of my own, as a driver prepared to enter his car in a busy area where dooring is always a distinct possibility. He looked up and saw me, though, and somehow managed to squeeze himself into his car while barely holding the door open to allow himself the smallest possible entryway. And leaving me plenty of room to ride past as I thanked him for the courtesy.

Just one stranger looking out for another.

It was a day when courtesy and compassion seemed to override the usual stress on the streets. And a reminder that we’re not really cyclists or drivers, but just people trying to get from here to there and return to our loved ones in peace.

And in one piece.

Although that came into serious question when I encountered a woman who may just be one of the worst drivers in human history. Or at least one of the worst I’ve ever seen.

I was making my way home, taking my usual shortcut through the VA hospital grounds, when I was passed by a massive white SUV.

As we both neared a stop sign, she edged over to the right in an obvious attempt to block my path. So I rode around her anyway, only to have her lurch towards me in what I could only interpret as an unprovoked threat, coming less than a foot from hitting me before straightening her wheel and continuing down the road.

She didn’t get far, though. An ambulance coming from the opposite direction with red lights and siren blaring caused the car ahead of her to pull to the right and stop, blocking her path.

I pulled out my camera phone, intending to take a photo of her license plate while she was stopped.

Then watched in horror as she hesitated for a few moments before cutting sharply to the left, driving head-on into the path of the ambulance to get around the stopped car. And forcing the ambulance driver into a full panic stop, less than a block from the ER entrance, to let the dangerously aggressive driver pass without causing a wreck.


And never mind that every second counts in an emergency situation, and that her idiotic stunt could have put the patient in jeopardy. Let alone everyone else on the road who could have been collateral damage to her need to get where she’s going just a few seconds faster.

Wherever the hell there might be.

Once the ambulance passed, I kicked it up into my smallest gears to catch up to her.

Unfortunately, shift change at the hospital flooded the street with cars, cutting me off before I could catch her. And letting her get away to threaten other cyclists and risk the lives of other people another day.

Yet even that couldn’t kill my upbeat mood.

It would take more than one dangerous, threatening jerk to outweigh all the safe, positive and friendly interactions that came before.

And that’s what I call a very good ride.

And a good day.

Even if the jerk got away.

Update: Taco Tuesday cyclists cited for bad behavior; anti-bike DWP employee a fake

In a story that seemed important at the time, police responded to complaints about the popular Taco Tuesday ride in Playa del Rey Tuesday night.

Upwards of 100 — or maybe 200 — riders were reportedly engaging in drunken, unruly behavior at the intersection of Culver Blvd and Vista del Mar.

At least six riders were cited for various traffic infractions, while four others were ticketed for curfew violations; a white van accompanying the riders was impounded after stopping briefly in a tow-away zone.

However, despite numerous reports that the riders were intoxicated and drinking in public, no arrests were made for liquor violations or biking under the influence, which is illegal under California law.

In the end, it was nothing more than a bike ride that may have gotten out of hand. A few hundred — or maybe just a few out of a few hundred — engaged in exactly the kind of two-wheeled boorish behavior that gives every other cyclist a bad name. And encourages the sort of bike hatred we all face in online forums and on the streets.

But it was not the near traffic riot some might suggest.

However, if this comment from the Daily News story about the event really is from a city employee, it may not be bad behavior from cyclists that we have to worry about.

Michael Walter · Sr. Purchasing Clerk at Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power

Cyclists are highway vermin. Run ’em down with your Hummer.

Surely a city employee isn’t dumb enough to post a threat — even one which he would undoubtedly claim to be a badly failed attempt at humor — under his own name and title.


Update: Good news. I just received a phone call from LAPD Sgt. David Krumer, who said he contacted DWP to followup on this comment, and was informed that no one by that name works for DWP and that position does not exist within the company. Evidently, someone with a grudge against DWP created the Michael Walter Facebook account and made the comment in order to make them look bad.

Somehow, it’s comforting to know that this is just the work of a random psycho, rather than a city employee.


I’m told that charges have been filed against Glenn Michael Moore and Michael Dennis Roach, who were allegedly street racing on PCH when a collision sent Moore’s Accord sailing onto a nearby bike path, where it struck and critically injured cyclist Richard Lauwers.

Both are charged with a misdemeanor count of engaging in a speed contest; Moore is also charged with felony DUI causing great bodily injury and felony DUI with a BAC over .08% causing great bodily injury — despite the fact that the collision occurred around 8 am on a Sunday morning.

Fortunately, reports are that Lauwers has recovered from his injuries and continues to ride his bike.


Late calendar additions:

Metro is holding a roundtable discussion to talk about operator training, bicycle outreach and education on Monday, August 22nd from 6 to 8 pm. Anyone whose ever been buzzed by a bus — which means just about every cyclist in L.A. — may want to attend.

The LACBC is co-sponsoring a bike tour of historic Glendale this weekend, and co-hosting a weekend-long training program for bicycle and pedestrian advocates with the Alliance for Biking and Walking in October. Meanwhile, the Coalition is forming a new West Hollywood affiliate chapter at 7 pm on Friday, August 19th at Poinsettia Park.

And C.I.C.L.E. and the Santa Monica Museum of Art co-host the Cause for Creativity: Tour da Arts on Saturday, August 21 from noon to 7 pm; pre-registration is advised since it usually fills up.


Bob Mionske says congratulations to Los Angeles for passing the first-of-its-kind anti-harassment ordinance. And in a must read, he looks at the tendency of police and the media to blame the victim in cycling collisions.

In one of the cases he mentions, anti-bike bias rears its ugly head as a Kelowna, British Columbia rider is blamed for riding too fast in a bike lane after she’s right hooked by a driver.


In bike racing news, American racing prodigy Taylor Phinney loses 35 seconds to drop to 8th place in the Eneco Tour after holding the leader’s jersey; and no, I never heard of that race before this year, either. But I have heard of the Tour of the Netherlands.

Tour de France champ Cadel Evans heads a strong line-up for the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado later this month. SoCal Cycling looks at last weekend’s Brentwood Grand Prix (scroll down), as does the Claremont Cyclist. A Tahoe cyclist relates life as a Category 1 racer; how to make the jump from Cat 4 to Cat 3. And a 15-year old Manhattan Beach bicyclist is invited to train in Europe by USA Cycling.


The city releases its first quarterly report on the Bike Plan Implementation Team (BPIT); thanks to George Wolfberg for forwarding the link. But when cyclists were offered a chance to set the BPIT agenda, only two people bothered to respond.

Even so, Bikeside insists there’s no way to achieve progress on implementing the bike plan, while Alex Thompson considers the whole thing a complete and utter failure.

Meanwhile, Santa Monica cyclists applaud the city’s newly unveiled bike plan, while the Santa Monica Spoke applauds the process and city staff behind it. The Spoke offers a link to the plan and an email address to offer comments,


Damien Newton blames the poor design of De Soto Ave for contributing to the death of Alex Romero by encouraging drivers to speed. L.A. attorney and cyclist Howard Krepack says it’s past time to invest in Safe Routes to Schools. The biking black hole of Beverly Hills bars transparency by banning search engines; what ever happened to the idea of open government? KPCC looks at how to start cycling in the city. Turns out triple bike racks on buses could be against the law. KCET asks if L.A. needs a bike share program. A memorial grows for Jeremy Perez, the 7-year old cyclist killed in Redondo Beach on Saturday. The West San Gabriel Valley Bicycle Coalition — an LACBC affiliate — is working to make Alhambra bike friendlier. The Claremont Cyclist reports on local riders behaving, in some cases very, badly.

A San Francisco pedestrian has died after being struck by a red light-running rider last month. No DUI charges in the death of a cyclist walking his bike on PCH in Ventura as prosecutors apparently misplace the blood alcohol results. Here’s your chance to go downhill in Death Valley. A state grant has been awarded to close a gap in a Thousand Oaks bike lane. A mountain biker is rescued after being injured on a Laguna wilderness trail. An arrest has been made in the hit-and-run death of a Santa Cruz area cyclist; unlike the father of Dominique Rush in the Alex Romero case, the driver’s parents urged her to turn herself in and co-operated in the investigation. The owner of a Humboldt County trucking company clearly gets it in a look at the proposed three-foot passing law. San Francisco’s Rapha Cycle Club is a new kind of biker bar. A cyclist breaks into — not out of — Folsom prison. The Navy Seabee who saved the life of triathlete Jordon Rapp following a cycling collision last year receives a well-deserved honor for his efforts.

Broken Sidewalk looks at the problem of bicycle infrastructure designed by drivers — definitely worth reading. Transportation as a civil rights issue. The hidden perils of urban bike paths. Advice on how to wash your bike, and how to refresh your legs fast; personally, I use two hard boiled eggs and a café mocha — to bounce back, not wash. A Wisconsin rider says it’s time for all of us to take the pledge to make our streets a little safer, one driver and cyclist at a time. The Green Bay Packers are role models for cycling. Cyclists are rude, drivers are ruder. Rolling out the bike rides to commemorate 9/11. Bike lanes are used for everything but bikes. A well thought-out response to the typical complaint about cyclists not paying taxes. An Irish poet pedals across the U.S.

Tijuana sets the example in showing how bicyclists and motorists can co-exist peacefully. Building bike lanes pays dividends, despite perceptions of local merchants; meanwhile, Toronto’s mayor declares war on bikes. Bikes as looting lookouts and the subjects of violence on the streets of Hackney. The UK has seen a more than 10% jump in annual cycling casualties, defined as death or serious injury. Seeing Beijing in a whole new light after buying a bike.

Finally, a personal injury attorney with offices throughout L.A., O.C. and the Bay Area talks about L.A.’s new anti-harassment ordinance, and repeatedly insists there are only 13,000 cyclists in Los Angeles — missing the mark by roughly 587,000 monthly riders, according to estimates in the new bike plan.

And in the wake of the Dominique Rush case, a couple of readers remind us of another case where a father actively assisted in a cover-up after his son killed a cyclist; thanks to maggie and Jim Lucas for the heads-up.

Oroville driver “humorously” admits to assaulting cyclists with a deadly weapon.

In a recent newspaper column, an Oroville driver unwittingly confesses to assault with a deadly weapon after deliberately running riders off the road.

Except from her windshield-warped perspective, it’s their own damn fault for being in her way.

And for wearing spandex, evidently.

As Kyra Gottesman relates the story, she came upon the sight of the hideous and seemingly suicidal cyclists as she rounded a blind corner, only to spot them riding in the road ahead of her. And then takes offense when they politely signal for her to pass, rather getting the hell off the road as she assumes any sane person would do.

I was towing my horse trailer uphill with absolutely no way to see around the corner for oncoming traffic when I came upon a cyclist herd (six in all) whose clothing and rear ends were equally horrifying.

Note to Ms Gottesman: As someone who grew up driving the narrow winding roads and blind corners of the Rocky Mountains, I would suggest that if you can’t see what’s in the road directly ahead of you, it’s time to slow the hell down for chrissakes.

While the affront of their appearance was distressing what was even more disturbing was their absolute lack of concern for their lives or mine. They neither pulled over nor stopped. Rather, they imperiously waved me around them.

So she proceeds to respond as she disturbingly assumes any sensible person would do. And runs them off the road.

Then blows kisses as they flip her off.

I didn’t have time to ask any of these questions in person, though I would have been curious to hear their answers. Instead I continued with the only option I had — upward and onward. This forced them to swerve to the side, stop their bikes and give their poor tired legs a rest, though most of them decided to exercise their middle fingers. I smiled, blew kisses and gave them the Princess Di wave and continued on my way.

Seriously, the audacity of those people. Why on earth would bike riders be so rude as to make crude gestures just because someone deliberately violated the vehicle code and threatened their lives and safety?

And never mind that she didn’t have time to slow down or stop, but had plenty of time to observe their reactions and wave as she passed/

Then she discovers that at least two serious bike-related injuries or fatalities occur in that area every month. But instead of placing the blame on dangerous, self-entitled drivers like herself, she blames the riders for insisting on getting in the way of people like her.

Or possibly for being on the planet in the first place.

And God forbid that any cyclist should wear attire designed for the purpose if it offends her sensitive sensibilities while she’s in the process of running them off the road.

Clearly, though, she’s right about one thing — it’s neither smart nor safe to ride the roads whenever people like that are on the road.

Frankly, her column doesn’t read so much as a meager attempt at wit as it does a confession to assault with a deadly weapon.

Because what she did, in apparent certainty of her God-given right to the road and the precept that might — or in this case, mass —  makes right, was no less a crime than what L.A.’s own bike boogeyman is currently serving five years for doing.

And he was no less sure of the rightness of his actions than Ms. Gottesman seems to be.

She’s absolutely right. People are crazy.

Just not the ones she thinks.


The LAPD is searching for a hit-and-run driver who injured a cyclist on Los Feliz Blvd on Wednesday night. According to the Daily News, the vehicle was described as a gray Nissan Infiniti G37 with a license plate number beginning 6PIC. Thanks to Steve Herbert for the tip.

And an 83-year old Riverside man is seriously injured when a driver plows into his bike after the light changed as he was legally riding through an intersection.


LADOT concludes their sharrows pilot study by concluding that sharrows are good, but should be used in conjunction with Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs; here’s their methodology.

And it’s time for a shift change at LADOT Bike Blog, as Christopher Kidd makes way for Jojo Pewsawang; Chris has been an amazing resource for L.A. cyclists and will be sorely missed. Not to put more pressure on Jojo or anything.


The bikelash begins against the 4th Street Bike Boulevard as local motorists attempt to block plans for improved street crossings by pushing a highly biased and leading poll in the guise of asking opinions. You might want to vote in the poll just to show there’s another side to the story.


In what could be great news for PCH cyclists — and anyone else who rides, drives, walks or resides along SoCal’s highway from hell — Malibu has received a $300,000 Caltrans grant to study safety and analyze potential improvements along the highway; thanks to Eric Bruins for the link. Here’s your chance to party with the police on National Night Out. Councilmember Bill Rosendahl discovers riding a bike is as easy as, well, riding a bike. L.A. urban cycling apparel maker Swrve moves into a new Glassell Park headquarters. An overview of the state of biking in Los Angeles. A look at this month’s L.A. Critical Mass. PLACE Grant recipients explain how the grants made a difference for cyclists in their communities. San Dimas plans for a bike friendly future.

A deaf driver who killed a cyclist in a La Quinta hit-and-run last December is deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial. Solana Beach state assemblyman Martin Garrick  pleads no contest to DUI charges after getting stopped by CHP bike cops. Cyclegeddon hits Santa Barbara when a busy bike path shuts down. A San Francisco Chronicle columnist says bikes are the future, so deal with it; this is the same writer who previously thought anyone crossing the street when he was behind the wheel was asking for it. Evidently, you don’t have to ride fast all the time after all. Davis CA tops the list of bike-friendly small cities, though someone should tell Bicycling that anything north of the Bay Area is not in Southern California. Dave Moulton takes NorCal AAA to task for opposing California’s three-foot passing law.

Competing — and winning — in the master national track championships despite overcoming MS and a traumatic brain injury. Historical videos show legendary bike fails, such as attempting to ride a rocket powered bike. Pedal-powered velomobiles tour the U.S; now that’s what I call a strange bike. Cars kill more people than guns every year. Not surprisingly, a local municipal judge upholds the Black Hawk Co bike ban; the result may be different when it reaches a more objective court. Newly crowned Tour de France champ Cadel Evans plans to ride in next month’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. Bike touring through Texas with a wrist broken in three places. Anderson Cooper rides helmetless through the streets of New York to promote his new talk show. An NYPD sting operation entices bike delivery people to buy purportedly hot bikes, while NYPD officers browbeat a cyclist after dooring him. Maryland approves the same Bicycles May Use Full Lane sign that LADOT now recommends.

Bicycling’s Joe Lindsey offers some thoughts to wrap up this year’s TdF. A writer for the Vancouver Sun asks if anyone observes the speed limit any more. Guinness cancels their Youngest category while two young cyclists set a record for traversing the Americas by bike, and neglects to tell them. Readers of the respected British Medical Journal say helmet use shouldn’t be made mandatory. Two years and seven months for killing a cyclist while driving at twice the speed limit. Up to 1,000 cyclists ride in protest of plans to raise the speed limit on a busy London bridge. Irritation at dawdling Brit drivers leads to calls for slow speed cameras to force them to speed up.

Finally, Toyota works on a new bike you can shift with your mind. And a Seattle cyclist is stopped by police for speeding at 42 mph, and let off with a warning suitable for framing; Lord knows I would.

Note to readers: I’m posting this well after midnight, so let me apologize in advance for whatever screw-ups my sleep deprived — or perhaps depraved — little mind may have inadvertently conjured.

Random thoughts on last Sunday’s River Ride; simple new rules for rude River Riders

Now that life has finally settled down a little, let’s talk about last Sunday’s successful L.A. River Ride.


Just a few of the riders resting at the Long Beach pit stop, turnaround point for the 70-mile ride.

First off, a huge thanks to everyone who made this ride possible.

It never fails to amaze me that a largely volunteer organization can pull off an event like this every year. And do it well enough that riders not only come back year after year, but that it keeps growing.

In fact, the one comment I heard more than anything else during and after the ride was how well organized it was.

Credit for that goes to the relative handful of LACBC staffers, as well as the many volunteers who put in countless hours in the weeks leading up to the event. Without them, it wouldn’t have happened — let alone been the success that it was.

So if you had anything to do with it, there are over 2500 cyclists who owe you a round of thanks.

And a special thanks to JJ Hoffman, who once again did the impossible as River Ride Coordinator, along with Volunteer Coordinators Martin Lopez-Iu and Erik Alcaraz.

Update: I inadvertently left Erik Alcaraz’s name out of the sentence above when I first posted; my apologies to Eric, and thanks to Carol Feucht for calling that to my attention.


Several people gave up their Saturday so we could enjoy a clearly defined route.

I was particularly grateful to the people who sacrificed their Saturday to mark the route and keep us all from riding off the rails.

It took me awhile to catch on to how the riders ahead of me invariably knew just where to turn. And yes, I confess that I can be a little slow sometimes.

Once I finally spotted those little tags on the pavement, I was never again in danger of being lost. Even in parts of town where the route strayed far from the river and on which I had never before set foot or tire.

Anytime I started to get confused, I just cast my eyes down to the pavement, and within a few minutes I’d know exactly where to go and what to do.

Now, if someone could just provide the same service for my life.


As we neared Long Beach, concrete and graffiti gave way to beautiful wetlands.

I do have one criticism, though.

The one part of the ride that wasn’t so successful was the exit from the bike path back to the finish at the Autry Museum at the end of the ride, where cyclists leaving the bike path were thrown into bumper-to-bumper traffic with little or no idea where to go.

And while it’s one thing to expect experienced riders to contend with crowded streets, it’s another to ask little kids and parents returning from the family ride to know how to navigate between traffic lanes jammed with frustrated drivers.

More attention needs be paid to the end of the ride next year, including the possibility of arranging for traffic cops to rein in motorists and direct riders safely back to their destination.


After the ride, I had the privilege of talking with biking attorney Howard Krepack, who had allowed me to ride as his guest — and for which I remain extremely grateful.

Part of our discussion centered on the dangers posed by thoughtless road design and construction work that fails to consider the safety of cyclists.

Discussing bike safety with GEK Law's Howard Krepack; I'm the one in full bike drag.

Krepack has spent the last year or so dealing with exactly that problem, resulting from construction work on PCH that left an open trench and loose gravel on the side of the road where countless riders usually pass safely every day. Yet in this case, the lack of consideration given to the needs of all road users left a dangerous situation uncorrected for a full weekend, resulting in a number of riders being seriously injured.

I saw a similar sort of thoughtlessness on the lower section of the L.A. River Bike path below Vernon — which this time, fortunately, only posed a potential danger.

It was at a section where the southbound path forked, with the left fork continuing downriver by passing under a bridge, while the right fork led up to the roadway.

In between was a white concrete retaining wall, with the butt end facing directly towards oncoming riders. And no signs or painted warning of any kind to alert riders to the dangerous obstruction placed directly in the center of the pathway leading up to it.

A moment of indecision or distraction — or getting crowded off the path, which was a distinct possibility at times on Sunday — could easily have resulted in serious injuries.

Cyclists in Long Beach, with the legendary Queen Mary in the background on right.

Of course, since it’s a permanent part of the pathway, it’s a danger riders will continue to confront on a daily basis until it’s fixed.

Or until someone is seriously injured, or worse.

All because someone failed to think about the safety of cyclists on a pathway intended for our use.

And because of a quirk in state law, no one will ever face any liability for such a dangerous obstruction, or have any legal obligation to fix it.


Speaking of getting crowded off the pathway, there was an ongoing problem throughout the ride of a handful of bikers behaving badly.

To be fair, the overwhelming majority of cyclists seemed to be very considerate, as riders of widely varying types and abilities went out of their way to make room for one another and ride safely.

Unfortunately, though, a few riders seemed to think they had no obligation to ride safely around their fellow cyclists. Time and again, I found myself or other riders passed by mini-pacelines with no warning and just inches of clearance, or in some cases, even grazing other riders as they rode by.

In one particular case, I was amazed to watch a slower rider being passed on both sides simultaneously, with no warning whatsoever and just inches to spare on either side — and an unprotected drop of over 30 feet to the concrete riverbed below.

A very bored paramedic, one of the best signs of a successful ride.

Had he been startled by the unexpected pass, all three could have found themselves tumbling down the steep embankment. And they could have easily taken a number of other riders with them, myself included.

So for anyone unclear on the concept, here are a few rules to remember for next year’s River Ride.

Or any other ride, for that matter.

  • Don’t pass unless you can do so safely. That means don’t start a pass if you can’t get back before oncoming riders get in the way, or if there’s not sufficient room to do it without interfering with the safe movement of other riders.
  • Always pass on the left. Cyclists will instinctively move to their right when startled or if they feel a need to avoid objects or other riders, and won’t expect to find you there.
  • Don’t pass closer than an arms-length distance to another rider. While you may be used to passing shoulder to shoulder in the peloton, it’s guaranteed to startle, threaten and/or piss off most riders. Like me, for instance.
  • Never try to pass a rider who is already in the process passing someone else. That’s just begging for trouble, even under the best of circumstances.
  • Call it out before you pass. A simple “On your left” or “Passing left” will avoid the overwhelming majority of collisions — let alone altercations — between cyclists.
  • That said, shouting “Left! Left! Left!” is not French for “Get the hell out of my way.” Other riders are under no more obligation to get out of the way of jerks on two wheels than they are the ones on four.
  • Speaking of jerks, calling out “Rolling” does not give you a free pass to run red lights; particularly when there is cross traffic waiting for the green — and especially when a few dozen of your fellow riders are already stopping.
  • Never put other riders at risk. Save your aggressive riding tatics for race day, when you’re riding with people who are presumably willing to assume the same risks, rather than people who are just out for a good ride on a nice day.
  • Show a little respect to everyone you pass. It’s entirely possible that the rider you just cut off could run you down and drop you like freshman English if the mood strikes. Or that the plump girl or guy struggling to finish the 30-miler could end up being the hottie on the century who won’t give you the time of day in another year or two.


One thing seldom comes up in the seeming endless conflict between cyclists and equestrians over who should have the right to ride off-road trails.

Undoubtedly, some riders could show more consideration to other trail users. But I’ve never seen a bike leave a massive, steaming and slippery pile of crap in the middle of a heavily used pathway.

I am legally required to clean-up after my dog — and do so gladly — even though she does her business out of the way, where no one is likely to step or slip in it.

Yet horse owners seem to feel no similar obligation to clean-up after their animals. And left several mounds of manure in the middle of the river bike path on the busiest day of the year, where it posed a health and safety danger to everyone that passed.

Thanks again to Howard Krepack, Lisa Waring and the entire GEK Law team for the chance to ride with them on Sunday.

Attention cyclists: just share the damn sidewalk, already. And don’t get killed in KY after dark.

KCET reports on rude cyclists unwilling to share the road — or the sidewalk, for that matter — with pedestrians. Even though we expect other people to share the streets with us.

But let’s face it. There will always be jerks on two wheels, just as there are countless jerks on four. And anyone who hasn’t encountered bipedal jerks on L.A.’s sidewalks hasn’t spent much time walking in this fair city. Or trying, with more or less success, to navigate around the pedestrians who sometimes clog the various off-road bike paths that bisect L.A.

But whatever mode of transportation and/or recreation we choose, we all have a responsibility to share common spaces safely and courteously, whether or not we think the other party belongs there.

As the most vulnerable users, pedestrians should be given the same sort of space we expect from passing drivers, regardless of how careless and clueless they may seem at times. Especially on the sidewalk, where they have every right to be safe from the rampages of rude, careless and barely under control riders.

Lord knows, I’ve come close to punching a few myself for riding close enough and fast enough to put my wife and I at risk while we walk.

And God help anyone who endangers my dog.

Not to mention that you’re significantly safer on the street — despite how it may seem — where you’re more visible and less likely to get right hooked or hit by drivers barreling out of driveways.

On the other hand, complaining about cyclists on a bike path is like complaining about all those damn cars on the 405.

Then again, it doesn’t seem to be a new problem.


Instead of focusing on why the driver hit and killed a cyclist, Kentucky authorities question why he was riding his bike on a rural road at 9:15 pm.

How about because he wanted to, and had every right to be there?

Fortunately for the driver, he claims he just didn’t see Illinois Institute of Technology student Yishi Wei, which of course absolves him of any and all responsibility to operate his vehicle in a safe manner, or avoid people directly in front of him.

Police also question why Wei had a hand-drawn map listing distances between towns, yet had no change of clothes to indicate he was planning to stay overnight; clearly, they’re unaware that some cyclists actually enjoy long distance rides. Let alone ever heard of randonneuring.

An earlier article notes that he was wearing dark, non-reflective clothing, and that the bike had reflectors, but apparently not lights. Police make a point of mentioning that Wei wasn’t wearing a helmet.

While any non-distracted driver should have been easily able to spot a rear reflector, there is a reason why smart cyclists wear bright clothing and light themselves up like Christmas trees after dark.

And even then, it’s not always enough.

And for all those police spokespersons and reporters who seem to be endlessly unclear on the concept, there’s not a single bike helmet made anywhere on the planet that can protect the rider from a rear-end collision at highway speeds.

None. Nada. Zero. Zip.

Got it?


AG2R’s John Gadret reeled in Katusha’s Daniel Moreno, the last survivor of the day’s breakaway, to win Stage 11 of the Giro. Cavendish wins the final sprint stage and goes home, while Contador holds almost a one-minute lead overall. And t-shirts sales have raised $22,000 so far for the family of fallen Giro rider Wouter Waylandt, who was laid to rest on Thursday with a eulogy from friend Tyler Farrar.

On the other side of the Atlantic, 39-year old Chris Horner of the RadioShack team won an impressive victory in Stage 4 of the AToC; he feels under appreciated after 17 years as a pro cyclist, and thinks he can win it all. A spectator is hit by a car and seriously injured near the end of the race.

Horner holds onto the leader’s jersey in Stage 5, won by 21-year old Slovakian cyclist Peter Sagan. The Amgen Tour of California heads to a big finish in Thousand Oaks, where a local cyclist will be honored as a cancer survivor two years after doctors gave her six months to live. A look at the man behind Team Type 1, established to call attention to the battle against diabetes.

And Just Another Cyclist considers what’s in a multi-hyphenated  name when it comes to AToC teams.


Walk Eagle Rock takes an in-depth and insightful look at the many problems facing Eagle Rock Blvd. KCET offers eight off-road routes to celebrate Bike Week, which kind of defeats the purpose of Bike Week seeking to normalize cycling on city streets, doesn’t it? Streetsblog’s Bike to Work series continues with Michelle Chavez writing about the challenges of biking in the Antelope Valley. Will Campbell accompanies his wife on her first Bike to Work Day. Better Bike Beverly Hills’ Mark Elliot casts his insightful eye on Bob Mionske’s Bicycling and the Law. Streetsblog’s Damien Newton wants your stories, photos and videos of Bike to Work Day. The Times briefly covers Wednesday’s Downtown Ride for Bike Week; the Source offers a little more detail while LADOT Bike Blog offers the best coverage, as usual. Metro rewards bike commuters with their Human Powered Commuter Awards. Reimagining San Fernando Road as a more pleasant place to walk and bike; than again, anything would be an improvement. Flying Pigeon says L.A. is surrounded by cities that are trying a lot harder. LA Brakeless will have a public opening party on Saturday the 20th to celebrate their new pop-up location. Santa Monica Museum of Art offers a Cycle Chic Saturday to conclude Bike Week. The Beach Cities Cycling Club offers free bike corrals for events throughout the South Bay. Art of the Group Ride looks at the history of the Blessing of the Bicycles.

People for Bikes wishes you a happy Bike to Work Week. Five tips for bike commuting. New data on the economic benefits of cycling, which could be the forgotten answer to energy policy, as well. Turning your bike into a basket case. Tucson Velo visits Los Angeles. There’s finally a settlement in Portland’s infamous case of the disappearing bike lane, despite the ruling of an apparently incompetent judge. A St. Louis cyclist brushes off a close call. After receiving a Purple Heart as a result of an Iraqi IED, an Ohio veteran fights for his life after his bike is hit by a car. The NYPD backs off their heavy handed crackdown on Central Park cyclists.

A human life is worth about the price of a mid-sized TV in Ontario. How to tell when it’s time to find a new bike shop. Despite last year’s rash of bike deaths, London streets are the safest overall since records have been kept; a British MP calls for sensors that could spot a cyclist in a truck’s blind spot. London cyclists are getting mugged for their bikes. A Brit driver gets a whopping 100 hours of community service for the hit-and-run death of a 17-year old cyclist. An investigative journalist is out to eliminate Scotland’s popular Etape Calendonia because it closes local roads for three hours once a year — never mind that the roads are open the other 8757 hours every year. A third-tier Aussie cyclist faces a two-year ban after being caught using recreational drugs.

Finally, more former friends and teammates turn against Lance Armstrong, as Tyler Hamilton says he witnessed Lance taking EPO.

Unsafe at any speed

Just one day after I got back in the saddle, I found myself sitting in an L.A. courthouse, a winner — or loser, depending on your perspective — in the annual jury duty lottery.

It quickly became clear I wouldn’t be serving on the case for which I was called.

It was a simple traffic case, resulting in injury. And I was just a little too knowledgeable about traffic issues, and too open in expressing my opinions, for the comfort of either attorney.

What struck me, though, was when the judge asked if anyone in the jury pool, or a close friend or relative, had ever been involved in a collision resulting in significant injury. Almost every hand shot up; the only one that didn’t belonged to the only person in the room who had never held a drivers license.

What followed was a litany of auto-involved mayhem. A grandfather killed while bicycling, a neighbor who died behind the wheel just last week. Others spoke of undergoing years of physical therapy, while some were still undergoing treatment.

I told about the time my car was rear-ended while waiting at a red light, resulting in recurring back problems that continue two decades later. Yet somehow, I forgot about the injuries from the road rage incident that happened while I was riding.

I purposely left out the childhood case in which my cousin fell, or tried to escape, a car driven by her intoxicated father, landing in directly in front of the rear wheel and resulting in a death no one in her family ever recovered from.

Or another incident my senior year of high school, when a lifelong friend was killed after a drunk driver crossed a 20’ wide highway median to hit his car head on.

As a cyclist, I’ve never been anti-car. The truth is, I love to drive; the only thing that approaches the joy I feel on a good ride is cruising down an open road in the middle of the night with the radio playing and the dark filled with endless possibilities.

Yet yesterday’s experience drove home, once and for all, just how extensive the harm caused by cars truly is, touching virtually everyone in our society.

We’ve spent half a century making safety improvements that increase the survivability of the auto occupants, yet have done virtually nothing to reduce the frequency of collisions or the risk to those outside the vehicle.

The focus always seems to be on making the car safer, even though the overwhelming majority of collisions are caused, as my dad liked to say, by the loose nut behind the wheel.

As a society, we’ve become far too comfortable in our cars, losing the sense that the vehicles we rely on every day are dangerous machines.

We text and talk on cell phones, believing we can still drive safely even while acknowledging that others can’t. And routinely ignore laws designed for everyone’s safety — including our own — to the point that a gas company decides it’s a good marketing position to insist they’re on the drivers’ side by creating an app to get out of tickets.

Yes, it’s a joke.

But the problem is that violating the law is so commonplace that we’re all in on the joke.

And did you notice the disclaimer — in white on a light colored background — that says the best way to avoid a ticket is not to speed? I didn’t until I watched it online several times, despite seeing this same spot on TV countless times each day.

The problem is, as traffic-meister Tom Vanderbilt noted the other day, that a drivers license is too easy to get and too hard to lose.

Yet stiffer penalties that would get bad drivers off the road — or cause most drivers to change their behavior behind the wheel — are unlikely to pass anytime soon because most people don’t see a problem, or any viable alternatives to driving.

And instead of focusing on the harm caused by dangerous drivers, auto organizations have a knee-jerk reaction to any loss of pavement that creates space for other road users.

But we have to do something.

Because we’ve reached the point where 40,000 +/- deaths each year is considered an acceptable cost just to get from here to there.


I’m really starting to like the idea of DIY group rides; after all, you need something to do while you wait for next month’s River Ride. Next up is Will Campbell’s Watts Happening Ride, while L.A. Cycle Chic plans the Moms Ride for May 16.


Writing for CicLAvia, Joe Linton follows Janette Sadik-Khan’s comments by suggesting 12 cheap bike projects L.A. could do right now, and note also that Bikes Belong has written CicLAvia a nice big check — literally. Meanwhile, Joe also takes a spin up Orange County’s Aliso Creek. Enci Box suggests adequate bike parking would make L.A. a more bike friendly city. L.A.’s best guide to hometown tourism reminds us the Amgen Tour of California will be coming to town May 22nd. Courtesy of my friend at Altadenablog comes word that a mountain biker fell 50 feet from a Mt. Lowe trail over the weekend. The Glendale Narrows Riverwalk project is finally going to happen, including a multipurpose walk and bike trail. Bicycling tells you how to avoid five common cycling collisions; that’s just a normal ride in L.A. They take away a lane in Milwaukee, and the world doesn’t come to an end. Evidently, Germans don’t need cycle tracks, and neither do the women of Chester County, PA. A fund has been set up for a woman rider seriously injured during a Critical Mass in South Florida. Navigating New Orleans by bike. Cincinnati plans to double the number of cyclists by 2015, while L.A. has no idea how many cyclists we have now. London cyclists offer an 8-point plan to Beat the Thief.

Finally, it has nothing to do with bicycling — other than being my favorite epithet for rude drivers — but this article from the Yale Law Review, by way of LA Observed, is one of the funniest things I’ve read in years.

Yesterday’s ride, after which I attend a meeting

Hi, I’m BikingIn…

Sorry, we only use first names here.

Oh. Okay. I’m, uh…Biking, and I’m a middle-finger-holic.

Hi Biking.

I promised myself I was going to quit. Really, I was. And I was doing okay. I hadn’t made a single obscene gesture or swore at anyone for over a month, no matter how much they deserved it.

Until today, that is. (blushing in shame)

Go on.

Well, there I was, riding up San Vicente on the way home from today’s ride, when two cars right-hooked me within just a couple blocks.

See, that surprised me, because most drivers there seem to be used to cyclists. And just look at me. Six feet tall and 180 pounds, bright yellow, black and white jersey. I mean, I’m pretty hard to miss.

But sure enough, some woman in a black Mercedes zipped by on my left, then cut across right my path to make a right turn. So I jammed on my brakes to avoid a collision, and next thing I know, I’m sending a one-fingered solute her way.


Then couple blocks later, bam! It happens again. This time an older guy in a ‘70s era rolling junkyard. He zooms by, cuts right in front of me to make his turn, then casually glances my way as I panic stop to avoid him. And yeah, the bird flew once again.

Five weeks of middle-finger sobriety down the drain.

Why’d they do it? Who knows.

Maybe they don’t know how dangerous it is, or maybe they didn’t know I had the right of way — same way a car in the left lane can’t cut off a car in the right lane. Could be they wanted to send a message, like the good doctor did last year, or didn’t think my life was worth the few seconds of inconvenience it would have taken to let me pass safely.

Or maybe they just didn’t care.

Worst part is, it’s not like those gestures did any good. Even if they saw it, it’s not going to convince the drivers that they did anything wrong. It just confirms that cyclists are rude a**holes, so they feel justified driving like that again next time.

Which is why I’m really, really trying to quit.

On the other hand, I could’ve flipped off the driver in Brentwood shortly after that. But I didn’t. No matter how much he deserved.

See, he was cruising along looking for a parking space. And not only was he clogging the whole right lane, he was also driving with two wheels in the parking lane, blocking my path, as well.

I checked to make sure there were no other cars coming, and swung around to pass him on the left. Then he sped up again, with no idea that I was riding right next to his driver’s side window.

The cars ahead of us were stopped at a traffic light, and there wasn’t anyone behind us. And I was going at least as fast as he was, so that meant I was moving at the speed of traffic.

And I could ride anywhere I wanted.

You see, section 21202 of the California Vehicle Code clearly states:

Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway…

But since I was moving at the speed of traffic — in fact, I’d picked up my pace a little, making me, at that moment at least, the fastest vehicle on the roadway — I took the lane.

The left lane.

Then once I was safely ahead of him, I signaled my lane change, and crossed back over to my usual position on the side of the road. Leaving one very surprised driver in my wake.

But I didn’t say one word, or make a single gesture. I mean, that’s got to be worth something, right?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to call my sponsor. And get back on the road to middle-finger sobriety.


Metro finally considers lifting their ban on bikes at rush hour – hey, a radical idea like that could actually encourage people to leave their cars at home! Metblogs comments on all the non-cyclists clogging the beach bike path. A tourist in San Diego is killed after falling from a pedicab. In a truly heartbreaking report, a 90-year old Visalia cyclist is in critical condition after being struck while turning by a driver “who could not avoid the bicyclist.” Right. The NY Times asks if bicycling is bad for your bones; based on personal experience, I’d say it is if you fall. Popular Mechanics note that le Tour is a proving ground for innovations that could filter down to your level, including the new electronic shifters. A writer in the Hamptons argues for shared roadways. Finally, if you can’t find Will this morning, he’s at the Jackopalooza saying his farewells to Michael.

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