Tag Archive for bicycing

LA pulls plug hours after approving Del Rey Slow Streets, San Diego shows how it’s done, and proof bikes mean business

My apologies if you got a premature draft of today’s post. Evidently, I somehow inadvertently posted this while I was still working on it.

Either that, or I’ve got a bad case of cyber gremlins. 

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In a dramatic reversal, Los Angeles approved plans to install the city’s first Slow Streets on several streets in the Del Rey neighborhood, which would have allowed people to get out to walk or bike while maintaining a safe social distance.

Then the city changed its mind, pulling the approval just hours before it was supposed to go into effect.

Never mind that any delay defeats the entire purpose of the program, which is intended to help people get out now for fresh air and exercise when they need it most to maintain their mental and physical health.

But even if it hadn’t been cancelled, this is exactly what’s wrong with Los Angeles.

One small area would have gotten desperately needed slow streets to allow for social distancing. But only because one neighborhood council asked for them, and one councilmember cared enough to — almost — get it done.

We need citywide leadership in a time of crisis, not 15 fiefdoms with widely varying commitments to safer streets.

As in, none at all in some cases.

Let’s hope LA city leaders get their figurative heads out of their collective asses, and start giving Angelenos safe places to get outside and move around, like the World Health Organization calls for.

Not in one small neighborhood, but in all of them.

And if it sounds like I’m pissed off, that’s only because I am.

Especially after Portland committed to 100 miles of slow streets.

Meanwhile, BIKAS — Bicycle Infrastructure Knowledge Activism and Safety — calls for an email campaign to demand quick-build safety improvements on LA’s Fourth Street during the Covid-19 pandemic.

And Streetsblog say LA’s new program to accelerate repaving during the coronavirus slowdown is ignoring the city’s previously approved Mobility Plan.

Photo by Athena from Pexels.

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San Diego continues to show LA how it’s done, closing part of four streets to motor vehicles to provide space to walk or bike while maintaining social distancing.

Meanwhile, San Diego County has reopened the SR-56 commuter bikeway between Solana Beach and Rancho Bernardo to pedestrians and bike riders.

As Robert Leone points out, it’s true that the pathway gets a lot of recreational use. But no one is stopping drivers to ask if their trips are necessary.

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Yet another study shows that bikes are good for business.

Researchers from Portland State University studied fourteen economic corridors in six cities with and without bike lanes.

And discovered that most businesses saw improvements in sales and employment as a result of bike lanes, with restaurants showing the greatest growth.

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PeopleForBikes is hosting a virtual Draft Meetup for San Diego-area bike riders this evening; you can RSVP here.

Thanks to Robert Leone for the heads-up.

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When you absolutely, positively have to pass the person on the bike, road dividers be damned.

Note: I missed the date on this before posting it. Not the date of the tweet, but the May 14, 2015 on the video itself. So either the bicyclist didn’t set the date properly, or I need to apologize for posting a five year old video. Thanks to Aurelio Jose Barrera for the catch.

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Phillip Young forwards a full-length film about the glory days of Detroit’s Wolverine Sports Club, dedicated, as their site says, to promoting cycling, speedskating and cross-country skiing at all levels.

And no, I haven’t had a chance to see it myself yet, so let us know what you think.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes goes on.

Police in the UK are looking for the motorcycle-riding schmuck who pushed a bicyclist off his bike for no apparent reason.

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

An Alabama man with an outstanding warrant for domestic abuse faces additional charges after leading police on a slow speed bike pursuit.

An “extremely intoxicated” Florida man faces multiple charges for attacking his former roommates while demanding to know where his bicycle was.

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Local

The LA County Sheriff’s Department says even though we’re all under safer at home orders, May is still Bicycle and Motorcycle Safety Month.

According to a new plan, LA County beaches could reopen on the 18th, but the beach bike path will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Good idea. An LA Times op-ed calls for turning streets in front of restaurants into expanded seating areas, allowing them to reopen while maintaining social distancing.

The owners of Pure Cycles have sold the Burbank-based bikemaker to Florida bicycle distributor J&B Importers; however, founders Michael Fishman and Jordan Schau will continue to operate it as a standalone company.

Against all evidence, Pasadena somehow decides yellow “traffic calming’ signs will get drivers to take their foot off the gas pedal, while a Pasadena writer explains why red lights don’t prioritize people and still make you push a button to cross. Hint: Older red lights are hard to reprogram, and cars matter more than people in the Rose City.

Lime has pulled up stakes and ridden their scooters out of Santa Monica for the last time.

After Ocean Drive was flooded with people exercising when the beachfront Strand pathway was closed, Manhattan Beach residents call for banning bikes and skateboards, and restricting it to residents only. Which is only slightly illegal, since bikes are legally allowed on any street cars are allowed on. 

Coldplay’s Chris Martin is one of us, as he goes for a mountain bike ride through the ‘Bu, while Ryan Phillppe rides his mountain bike in LA.

Prodigal Son actress Bellamy Young is one of us now, after she had two weeks to learn how to ride a racing bike for a part on Criminal Minds. And had to film the scene with a chipped a tooth from grinding her teeth out of fear of falling off.

 

State

Once again, the CHP accuses a bike rider of a SWSS,* insisting the victim swerved in front of a Fresno County driver and suffered “moderate to major” injuries. *For the uninitiated, SWSS refers to a single witness suicide swerve, which is a bike meme referring to the fact that bike riders usually get blamed for riding in front of drivers in the absence of independent witnesses, when it’s often the driver who doesn’t hold his or her lane.

Palo Alto transportation planners say we need to plan for more bicycling and walking after the pandemic, expecting both to be in greater demand.

Great idea. A UC Berkeley grad student is analyzing San Francisco blocked bike reports to determine where protected bike lanes should be installed.

A Stockton man was busted for violating his probation by towing a rifle hidden in a guitar case on his bike trailer.

 

National

Gear Patrol complains that Canyon’s new roadie ebike isn’t available in the US; service isn’t available here for the bike’s Fazua motor. They kinda like Rapha’s new lightweight summer jersey, too.

Pink Bike rates riding glasses. My personal recommendation remains giving San Diego’s Sport RX a call, and let them fix you up with prescription bike glasses, including progressive lenses.

A local website asks whether Denver has what it takes to be a great bike city.

Burglars stole over $35,000 worth of bicycles from a Colorado bike shop.

Chicago finally gets around to repainting faded bike lanes, six months too late to save the life of a bike-riding woman.

Michigan bike shops reopened Tuesday after the governor lifted the state’s strict coronavirus lockdown.

A kindhearted Niagara Falls nurse bought a 12-year old boy a new bike after reading about his stolen bike on Facebook.

A Brooklyn thief faces charges for punching a man in the face to steal his bicycle, then attacking him with it.

A writer for Forbes says ebikes are cooler than you think, praising a chunky looking 30 mph bike from a Boston startup. Even though the article says it’s suited for bike lanes, its speed makes it illegal to ride in one in many states, including California. And you’ll need a helmet and a driver’s license.

DC bike riders stage a rolling protest with a musical soundtrack to highlight inequality exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

A North Carolina high school principal is honoring her school’s graduating seniors by riding her bike around the campus ten times every day this week.

Take a virtual bike ride through the streets of Atlanta, without the inconvenience of actually going there.

Atlanta is getting serious about Vision Zero, cutting speed limits on most city streets to 25 mph.

 

International

Road.cc recounts ten brilliant inventions that changed the bicycle forever, including, yes, pedals.

Cyclist has advice on how to buy a gravel bike.

Regina, Saskatchewan city leaders overwhelmingly defeated a proposal to require bike helmets for all riders, instead opting for an education program to make them less needed.

An Ontario man set a new world record by riding 626 miles in 24 hours on his Zwift stationary bike.

The BBC questions whether we’re witnessing the death of the car, as cities around the world hope to keep many motor vehicles off the road long after the lockdowns end. Except in Los Angeles, of course, where city leaders seem committed to doing nothing.

Apparently, Los Angeles drivers aren’t the only ones taking advantage of empty streets by gluing their feet to the gas pedal. London has seen an eight fold increase in speeding compared to this time last year.

No bias here. A London writer describes bicyclists as irritating little wasps that you can’t run down without fear of maiming one, yet gives riding a try anyway, on an ebike the size of a small motorcycle. However, most of the article is hidden behind the damn paywall.

It’s two years behind bars for a pair of bike thieves who targeted workers at a Nottingham, England medical center.

The British tabloids clearly have celebrity chef and reality TV star Gordon Ramsey in their sights, accusing him of running a red light and nearly causing a crash on his latest ride from his Welsh home.

A Belgian bike path across a huge pond creates the illusion of riding through water.

I want to be like him when I grow up. A 79-year old Dutch man chased down a bike thief on his ebike — with a passenger on the back.

 

Competitive Cycling

Despite being rescheduled for August, the Tour de France is once again in jeopardy after the French prime minister extends a ban on sporting events through September. Am I the only one who says just pull the plug on 2020 and try again next year?

The Vuelta has nixed its planned Dutch start, and will cut back to just 18 stages this year. Assuming the race happens at all, of course.

The cancellation of the pro tour has put a crimp in anti-doping labs and testing. Not that anyone would take advantage of that, of course.

VeloNews talks with women’s cyclist Kasia Niewiadoma and recently retired cycling scion Taylor Phinney, who got stuck in Girona, Spain while on a bikepacking trip after the pro tours were cancelled.

Kiwi cyclist Ella Harris is spending her lockdown time baking bread and working on her degree in food marketing.

 

Finally…

Seriously, don’t ride your bike past a store and spit on the window — let alone five times. Yes, you’ll probably want a seat on your bike for long distance rides.

And watch out for gators on the bike path.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask, already. 

And in happier news, I beg, L.A. cyclists crash the marathon and bike activists crash Capitol Hill

Let me start with a personal note.

My nephew will be in town this weekend to visit film schools — I know, I know, but he’s actually pretty good — and would like to visit a production set while he’s here to see how it’s really done.

If anyone can get him and his parents backstage at a TV or film shoot between this Saturday and next Wednesday morning, I’d consider it a personal favor.

You can find my email address on the About page.

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The Atlantic Cities looks at last weekend’s Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash race, while Ride San Francisco offers a good play by play. Great photos and video from Predator Cycling. Or maybe you’d prefer a helmet cam perspective. Oh, and it was evidently followed by some sort of foot race, too.

Meanwhile, the Claremont Cyclist looks at a more official race that also took place over the weekend, the Men’s and Women’s San Dimas Stage Race. The 28th annual Redlands Bicycle Classic kicks off tomorrow, including the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series; not everyone is happy about it.

And pro cyclist Tom Boonen says modern sprinters are getting out of control.

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The first ever National Women’s Cycling Forum discusses how to get more women on bikes, as riders head to Capitol Hill for the annual National Bike Summit. Professional cyclists and CEOs ride from to the event from Boston to raise funds for the Bikes Belong Foundation.

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We now have a date for this year’s Blessing of the Bicycles, hosted by Good Samaritan Hospital on Tuesday, May 15th. The non-denominational event features blessings from representatives of virtually every faith found in L.A., as well as food and bike swag.

And now that I think about it, I don’t remember getting a flat since I got my bike blessed last year.

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LADOT commits to nearly 16 miles of new bike lanes. Streetsblog looks at the women of East L.A.’s Ovarian-Psychos Bicycle Brigade. If you’re looking for a good cause, the Bicycle Kitchen is raising funds to buy a new permanent home. Letter writers to the Times support the green Spring Street bike lane. Next month’s CicLAvia will coincide with Chinatown’s inaugural Springfest; you’ve got just two weeks left to support CicLAvia on Kickstarter. The biking black hole of Beverly Hills considers the city’s Western Gateway — excluding cyclists, of course; evidently, they don’t want any input from us, either. And Beverly Hills misses a chance to improve a dangerous street. Culver City already has wayfinding signage; L.A. is working on it. Walk Eagle Rock offers thoughts on outdated bikeway designs. KCET Departures picks the LACBC’s JJ Hoffman as one of their 31 Days of Extraordinary Women; couldn’t agree more. One of my favorite reporters picks up the story of the Woodland Hills bike shop that will work with the car dealer across the street to take your car in trade this week. School teachers stop a bike thief in Valinda; and no, I never heard of it either. The New York Times experiences 36 hours in bike-friendly Long Beach. The popular San Gabriel River bike path is undergoing resurfacing this week; if the weather cooperates, the work should be done next Monday.

The cdm Cyclist joins with Enrique Penalosa to rethink the automobile. The OC Weekly takes up the story of hand-sanitizer drinking former Long Beach fire captain and hit-and-run driver John David Hines. The Cal State Fullerton bike team hopes to be competitive this year. A San Diego cyclist is seriously injured after reportedly running a red light; and yes, that looks like blood on a sharrow. A San Francisco CEO bikes 525 miles to L.A., and offers a highly compressed bike video to prove it. A 67-year old San Francisco cyclist is found dead after going missing in Death Valley.

Bicycling offers advice on how to knock out knee pain. An Aspen thief returns the bike he stole with a note of apology, saying he was drunk. New York’s Central Park is going on a road diet. New York Senator Chuck Schumer is caught riding in the Prospect Park West bike lane his wife has been leading the fight against; can she make a sitting Senator sleep on the couch? A Boston writer suggests that all cyclists are jerks, or maybe just 99%. Drive drunk, kill a cyclist, get 6 months probation; evidently, life is cheap in PA. A Fairfax VA rider offers a first-person example of why the DC area needs a cyclist anti-harassment ordinance; then again, so does every other city. A Tennessee study says wider bike and walking paths can lead to skinnier kids. A former Atlanta cop gets a lousy $5,000 fine for beating the crap out of a cyclist in an off-duty road rage incident. An Alabama driver faces a misdemeanor homicide charge in the death of a cyclist touring the country for Habitat for Humanity last year. Still no justice for the cyclist killed by Miami pop singer and accused hit-and-run driver Carlos Bertonatti, as his trial is delayed for the ninth time.

A Canadian cyclist finds a baby left in a pile of leaves; that’s not something anyone would have noticed from a car. A writer with a severe case of windshield perspective says it’s up to pedestrians and cyclists to make themselves more visible, not drivers to notice them; funny how the solution to any problem always seems to require someone else to do something. Thunder Bay residents just can’t seem to get the hang of a recent road diet. Manitoba considers a mandatory helmet law, even as a pair of British physicians argue that bicycle helmets may not do any good. A Vancouver cyclist who wasn’t wearing one dies after colliding with a jogger. Great Britain considers privatizing the roads, at the possible expense of cyclists. A very good question, as a leading UK blog asks why can’t Londoners be given the option of not driving. Ten more arrests in Spain’s ongoing Vuelta scandal. The Cannibal rode his entire career with a potentially fatal heart condition. An opposition attack on the $40 million Aussie bike path program stalls when a member is shown opening one of the new paths. Oops.

Finally, in case you missed it, 25 pickup lines for cyclists. And the son of the world’s 7th richest man kills a cyclist while behind the wheel of his $450,000 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren outside Rio; father and son defend his actions on Twitter. Anyone want to give odds on whether he gets away with it? But at least he paid his victim’s funeral expenses, though the value of his car keep rising.

Does “Bike-friendly” Long Beach intentionally stomp on cyclists’ civil rights?

Long Beach has long proclaimed its intention to be America’s most bike friendly city.

And under the guidance of mobility coordinator Charlie Gandy, it’s gone far beyond any other city in Southern California in terms of building bicycle infrastructure and promoting cycling.

So it’s disappointing to find out that their bike-friendly attitude doesn’t extend to all cyclists. Or recognize the most basic rights guaranteed to all Americans.

As you may recall, controversy developed in October when the Long Beach police staged a heavy-handed crackdown on the city’s first official Critical Mass ride.

Police are accused of waving cyclists through a stop sign, then ticketing riders who obeyed their apparent instructions. They also attempted to enforce a bicycle licensing law that violates state law, which limits penalties for failing to license a bike to a maximum of $10 — and prohibits ticketing any riders from outside their jurisdiction for failing to register their bikes with Long Beach.

In addition, the police decided, with no apparent legal authority, that fixed gear bikes without separate brakes violate the state law requiring bikes be able to make one wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement — a standard most fixies can easily meet.

And the police enforced those so-called violations by seizing the bikes of the riders involved — again, without any apparent legal authority.

Now, a new story from the Long Beach Post reveals just how far the city is willing to go to violate the civil rights of American citizens, simply because they travel on two wheels and have chosen to practice their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly under the banner of Critical Mass.

According to the Post, despite official denials from the city, the organizers of the ride attempted to get a permit in advance, which Long Beach officials failed to issue. Yet they were found in violation of a requirement that any group of 75 or more is required to get a Special Events Permit — even though that law was legally unenforceable because parts of it had been declared unconstitutional.

Long Beach City Manager Patrick West — a serious cyclist for 18 years — chillingly explains that the city is in fact targeting Critical Mass, and that any other ride, by any other name, would not face the same heavy-handed enforcement.

“Long Beach has been a leader in [developing] bike infrastructure. When a group goes out there to violate traffic laws, it brings more [negative] attention to the money that we’re spending on infrastructure, and angers the average motorist.

“If it’s a Critical Mass ride,” West continued, “you can expect our police department to be there to to monitor that. A Critical Mass ride is something that is going to attract the attention of our police department to prevent cyclists from, you know, to maintain the vehicle code. And I’m just speaking of Critical Mass. I’m not speaking about any other ride in Long Beach at all, whenever, where-ever, whoever. I’m speaking about a Critical Mass ride.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that called selective enforcement?

His words were born out by another crackdown on a Christmas ride intended to raise funds to help cyclists fight the tickets from the October crackdown. Suspecting it was actually a super-secret Critical Mass ride under another name, the police arrived in force and halted the ride before it could even begin.

According to City Manager Patrick West, “we suspected that the second [ride] was a Critical Mass ride and, in hindsight, it was clear to us that it was not a Critical Mass ride. We communicated that to the group, then I talked to Jerome Podgajski [founder of MashLBC.com-ed] and I apologized.

“The second ride involved many of the same individuals,” said West, “and, at the end of the day, it turned out that no one had any intention of creating a Critical Mass ride, so we would have supported that ride. We’re learning as we go along, and we’re talking to event organizers to just be careful about billing things as a Critical Mass ride because we’re very very conscientious of that group.”

In other words, better to apologize afterwards than get the facts right first. And it’s okay to violate the rights of one group, as long as you support other groups who may do the same things, but under a different name.

The writer, Sander Wolff, got the perspective of a local attorney about the first incident:

I asked attorney Robert Thomas Hayes Link, Esq., who grew up in Long Beach, what he thought of the incident. “As described by (cyclist) Gerry Campos, the supposedly bicycle-friendly City of Long Beach, by way of the conduct of the Long Beach Police Department, would seem to have arranged for a sting operation designed to discourage future cycling awareness activities within its borders. Whether the City managed this in a fashion that shields them from civil rights liability remains to be seen.”

Read the full article.

It clearly drives home the fact that Long Beach may see itself as bike friendly.

But a bike-friendly attitude goes far beyond mere paint on the street.

Unless and until the city begins to observe the requirements of the California Vehicle Code — which supersedes city ordinances — and interprets the law in a fair and legal manner, treating all cyclists equally under the law, it will continue to put to lie their self-proclaimed vision as the country’s leading bike city.

And continue to be a city that cyclists  — Critical or otherwise — might be better off avoiding.

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Let me make one thing clear. I’m not a fan of Critical Mass; I tend to believe, like LB City Manager West, that it only serves to anger people who might otherwise support us.

But I am a big fan of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And I cannot support any person, city, jurisdiction or authority that willfully ignores the law to violate the rights of any cyclist.

As Emma Lazarus said, until we are all free, none of us is free.

Do we dare to declare victory?

“I declare the war is over; it’s over…” — Phil Ochs, The War Is Over

In case you missed it, L.A. cyclists scored a couple of big victories in the last few weeks.

As you may recall, following the outrage over LADOT’s plans to remove the bike lanes on Reseda Blvd in order to install peak hour lanes, LADOT denied they would ever consider such a thing. As part of that denial, LADOT explained that they were planning to repave a 1-mile section of Reseda, and that maybe that’s where the “misunderstanding” started.

Cyclists, of course, smelled opportunity.

Or maybe we just smelled blood in the water. And insisted that LADOT prove their sincerity by completing the long-delayed bike lanes along the full length of Reseda that we were promised in the old bike plan, starting with that one mile section.

Then, as cyclists continued to press their case at a meeting of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, Alan Willis, LADOT Principal Transportation Engineer for Valley Traffic Operations, announced that the promised bike lanes would be installed on the section to be repaved. And that the remaining gaps in the bikeway could — maybe — eventually be closed.

Of course, they never admitted their deception. Let alone offered an apology.

Then last week came news that after 5 long years, the city is finally moving forward with a Sharrow test project. Nine streets are under consideration, including one along the current Class 3 bike route on Westholme Ave, just blocks from my home.

This comes less than a year after an LADOT representative gave an update to the city council’s Transportation Committee, claiming that the delay was because they didn’t know what kind of paint to use so that cyclists wouldn’t slip on wet paint when it rained.

Maybe that was a legitimate concern in today’s highly litigious society. Although when I mentioned that to a respected transportation planner at the Bike Summit earlier this year, he just rolled his eyes.

Of course, cities from Pittsburgh to Long Beach — not to mention Portland, Denver, Minneapolis and Seattle, just to name a few — have already put sharrows to use on the streets. And to the best of my knowledge, there have been no rash of injured cyclists in those cities.

But maybe they don’t have wet streets in Seattle, Portland or San Francisco. Or maybe cyclists there don’t come out until the streets are completely dry after a storm.

Or maybe LADOT just forgot to call their counterparts in those soggy cities to ask what kind of paint they use.

Still, the commitment to move forward with a Sharrow pilot project is a major victory. And the LACBC deserves credit for hanging in there and refusing to let them delay it to death. Combined with the bike lanes on Reseda, those are the biggest wins for local cyclists in recent memory.

Of course, the bad news is that LADOT actually considered removing existing bike lanes to squeeze a few more cars onto the already overcrowded city streets. Which means that no bike lane, sharrow or bike route — existing or not — will ever be safe if it stands in the way of what they consider progress.

Which means that we need to remain vigilant, ready to defend what little biking infrastructure we have. Let alone fight for what we deserve.

Of course, there is another alternative.

The city — and LADOT in particular — could start working with cyclists, rather than seeming to fight us every step of the way. They could, finally, start focusing on how they can move more people, rather than just more cars.

And begin building complete, livable streets that work for all their users, as well as the people who live, work and shop along them.

They might just find that we could be the best friends that they — and this city — ever had.

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The Anonymous Cyclist spots new ex-parking meter bike racks in Westwood. No Whip discovers a wallride in Mammoth, and Stephen Box discovers a full-service bike station Down Under. Travelin’ Local presents five ways to use your bike while traveling on Metro. LADOT wins an Emmy for a PSA encouraging drivers to pay attention around kids. The Times much-missed transportation beat reporter is now pucking around online. Joe Linton details the latest controversy, this time over a SoCal Gas plan to “fix” the popular fat tire and hiking trail in Sullivan Canyon, while lining portions of the creek bed with rip rap and concrete matting. A writer on Bob Mionske’s Bicycle Law blog challenges car-centric news coverage of a driver arrested for intentionally striking a cyclist, while Bob discusses what “as far to the right as practical” means in real life. A DC cyclist is physically assaulted after pushing a car door to avoid being doored. Town Mouse outrides a herd of migrating Scottish cows. Controversy flares in Korea over a proposed mandatory helmet law. Finally, sex columnist Dan Savage dares drivers to show their contempt for the recent study showing they’re at fault for 90% of car/bike collisions — and they gladly oblige. Of course.

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