Tag Archive for bicycle boulevards

Morning Links: Koretz gets bike-friendly on La Brea, protected lanes make everyone safer, and good news for an injured cyclist

Turns out Paul Koretz can still support bicycling after all.

According to the Beverly Press, the CD5 councilmember was the inspiration for a new pedestrian and bicycle traffic light on Rosewood Ave at La Brea, after seeing a group of kids struggle to get across the busy boulevard.

The traffic light is the first step in a planned neighborhood greenway — a reduced calorie version of bicycle boulevard — on Rosewood stretching from La Cienega to La Brea.

The street will also feature a traffic diverter to force drivers to turn right onto La Brea, to keep Rosewood from becoming yet another cut-through street swamped with motor vehicles.

This is what we could have had on 4th Street if former councilmember Tom La Bonge hadn’t riled up Larchmont area residents by failing to explain how a bike boulevard would benefit them, while promising not to install a red light that was never planned for the street to begin with.

So thanks off to Koretz, who hasn’t exactly been a friend to bike riders in Westwood and West LA, for doing the right thing here.

………

Forget safety in numbers.

A new study from the University of Colorado Denver and the University of New Mexico shows that what really makes bicycling safer is installing bike lanes — especially separated and protected lanes.

Originally, researchers believed that more bike lanes and the increase in cyclists would lead to a “safety-in-numbers” effect: the more cyclists on the road, the more likely drivers would slow down and be aware of their surroundings. Instead, they found that safer cities aren’t due to the increase in cyclists, but the infrastructure built for them – specifically, separated and protected bike lanes. They found that bicycling infrastructure is significantly associated with fewer fatalities and better road-safety outcomes.

And like previous studies have demonstrated, it shows that protected bike lanes don’t just improve safety for people on bikes, but for everyone on the roadway.

Researchers found that like the grid blocks found in cities with higher intersection density, bike facilities act as “calming” mechanisms on traffic, slowing cars and reducing fatalities.

“The U.S. is killing 40,000 people a year on roads, and we treat it as the cost of doing business,” Marshall said. “A lot of the existing research focuses on bicycle safety; with this study, we’re interested in everyone’s safety.”

The study also concludes that slowing traffic through bike lanes and other improvements can result in more minor crashes, but fewer deaths — which is the exact purpose of Vision Zero.

And refutes the arguments used by groups like Keep LA Moving, who have used a slight increase in car crashes to argue against the road diet on Venice Blvd.

………

How about some good news for a change?

Three years ago, Lauren De Crescenzo nearly lost the use of her legs — if not her life — when she suffered a serious brain injury after a bad fall during Southern California’s San Dimas Stage Race.

The brain damage was so bad she couldn’t even recognize her own parents after the crash, let alone her own teammates.

That’s the bad news.

Fast forward to 2019, and De Crescenzo is the proud recipient of a newly minted masters degree in Public Health from the University of Colorado, with plans to focus on concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

She’s even racing — and winning — again, taking the time trial title at the US collegiate national championship earlier this month.

And if that’s not good news, I don’t know what is.

………

On a similar note, if you want to ride your bike for a good cause this weekend, you could do a lot worse than participating in Saturday’s Third Annual Paper Route Ride, to help LA area athletes Jenna Rollman and Sam Bosco with training expenses to get to the Tokyo Paralympics.

That also leaves you free for Sunday, when you can head over to the LA Grange Grand Prix in Carson.

Thanks to Michael for the heads-up. And if you don’t already read his great blog CLR Effect, today would be a good day to start.

………

Apparently, the new and improved Ottolock Hexband bike lock is a little harder to bust.

But only a little.

The company’s response is that the lock is only intended for quick errands, and should be used in combination with heavier locks whenever possible.

………

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

A London bike rider was the victim of a road raging driver who used his car as a weapon to deliberately slam into him before speeding off, after the two had exchanged words.

Someone has been tossing pins on an English roadway in an apparently attempt to harm people on bicycles on at least three separate occasions.

………

Local

On Sunday, an HIV positive Los Angeles woman will roll out with thousands of other riders for her 6th AIDS LifeCycle Ride, which ends a week from Saturday at LA’s Fairfax High School after 545 miles down the coast.

That’s more like it. Santa Clarita’s Memorial Day crackdown on traffic violations that endanger bike riders and pedestrians yielded a total of 30 tickets, at least 26 of which went to the people in the big, dangerous machines; no word on whether any bicyclists were ticketed.

City Traffic Engineer Eric Widstrand, who oversaw much of Long Beach’s recent transformation into a bike friendly city, is stepping down from his job for undisclosed reasons.

Long Beach has renewed the $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the two hit-and-run drivers who killed Cole Micek while he was riding his bike in March, 2018.

 

State

One more thing Strava is good for. Former NFL star Kellen Winslow II was busted for a string of sex crimes in part because Strava put his bike at the scene where he allegedly exposed himself to one of his victims.

A 66-year old British man was the victim of Thursday’s bicycling crash on the coast highway in Santa Cruz. So once again, a foreign tourist visiting the US will go home in a coffin simply because he rode a bicycle on our deadly streets.

Streetsblog San Francisco examines the promise from the city’s mayor to build 20 miles of protected bike lanes over the next two years, concluding that it really will double the amount of protected lanes.

San Francisco bikeshare users are getting slammed with hefty $1,200 fines for missing ebikes that they swear they returned and docked properly.

Forbes says the female executives of Bay Area bag maker Timbuk2 are turning the 30-year old company into a lifestyle powerhouse.

 

National

A new study shows every bit of movement helps your health, even if it’s not an actual workout. Or on a bike, for that matter.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning parents and bike riders about the dangers of counterfeit bike helmets. Meanwhile, a viral photo of a crushed bike helmet posted by a pediatrician is convincing parents across the US to make sure their kids where one when they ride their bikes.

It’s 9,000 to one in Portland, where a man is on a one-person crusade to halt the city’s hugely popular edition of the World Naked Bike Ride, which consistently draws 9,000 semi-nude riders.

Colorado now has a vulnerable users law, which increases penalties for drivers that seriously injure or kill bike riders and pedestrians.

Missoula, Montana rolls out new rules for ebikes and e-scooters, saying they’re not just for Lycra-clad racers. Because so many racers ride scooters in their skin-tight Lycra kits, evidently.

A Kansas woman is upcycling trashed bike parts, combining them with stained glass to create unique works of art.

Even Texas is getting on the Vision Zero bandwagon.

After a bighearted Little Rock cop tried to help a kid fix his too small bike, he ended up buying the kid a new one that actually fit.

A Chicago bike rider says banning bikes from the city’s new Riverwalk after promoting it as a bike & pedestrian pathway in order to get a $99 million loan to build it is bait-and-switch, even as an alderman promises to pass the ban.

Vice says New York Mayor, and presidential candidate for reasons only he understands, Bill de Blasio claims to be environmentally friendly, while overseeing a city that’s openly antagonistic to people on bikes.

A teenage bike crew in Philadelphia is all about safety.

A DC kids bikemaker is about to feel the full effect of Trump’s China tariffs.

Miami Beach’s top cop was out on bike patrol over the weekend when he lunged from his bike in a failed attempt to drag a reckless teenager off his own bicycle; the young man wrestled his bike away and rode off, but was stopped before he got too far.

Congratulations to Florida on retaining its title as the nation’s most dangerous state for people on bicycles.

 

International

An Ottawa letter writer says banning right turns on red lights next to bike lanes is a bad idea, because drivers are more likely to right hook a rider when the light is green. Which would make sense if most drivers bothered to look right before they turn right on a red. But they don’t.

The frontman for Papa Roach is one of us, as Jacoby Shaddix rides his bike around London in the metal band’s latest video.

An English language Moscow paper says 1,500 people turned out for Russia’s four-year old gran fondo, even though many of the country’s cities are still unsafe for people on bicycles.

Is anyone surprised that commuters in the Netherlands turn to their bikes in the face of a transit strike? I didn’t think so.

An Aussie woman tells her bike-riding husband that if he insists on shaving his legs, she’ll stop shaving hers. And everything else.

Taiwan-based Tern is out with a new top-secret foldie designed to take anywhere, featuring an all new type of patented folding system, starting at around $1,300.

Beijing will open the city’s first bike-only roadway tomorrow; the 4-mile bikeway promises to cut 14 minutes from commute times to a nearby job center, even with a 9 mph speed limit — and no ebikes.

 

Competitive Cycling

Austrian road cyclist and mountain bike racer Christina Kollmann-Forstner is just the latest pro cyclist to be suspended for suspicion of doping. Good thing the era of doping is over though, right?

 

Finally…

Who needs e-scooters when you can rent a dockless e-moped? Would you give your bike to a cop to chase down a criminal?

And if LA really wants to improve safety, they should use the 70 grand to build bike lanes, not look for the city’s safest drivers.

It’s like War Games. The only way to win is not to play.

And now, a not-so-simple adjustment in biking infrastructure

Let’s take a look at something a little more involved that just changing signage.

Like changing attitudes, to start.

As Joe Linton noted in a recent comment, a bike boulevard can be a pretty hard sell. The name alone is enough to enflame rampant NIMBY-ism among local homeowners. And leave city officials reluctant to take on a similarly enraged mob ever again.

The simple fact is, not many people want a bike boulevard on their street. At least, not until they understand what it actually means.

And that’s our fault. As I’ve noted before, cyclists don’t have to be sold on the concept. The name alone tells us everything we need to know. Problem is, we expect everyone else to be as excited about it as we are.

It just doesn’t work that way.

On the other hand, the solution is simple. Instead of speaking in terms of our interests, we need to look at it in terms of what’s in it for people who don’t bike.

And there’s a lot in it for local homeowners.

By diverting traffic onto other streets, local residents can finally free themselves from the headaches of high-speed traffic in front of their homes. No more heavy trucks or hot-rodding hooligans in the middle of the night. And no more commuters taking a shortcut through a quiet residential neighborhood to bypass congested boulevards, turning a formerly peaceful street into a mini-throughway.

Eliminating through traffic can give residents a quieter, more livable neighborhood, where children can play outside and families stroll along peaceful sidewalks. It can also mean a more attractive place to live, as homeowners take advantage of the opportunity to clean up their streets, and the barriers themselves provide opportunities for beautification projects.

After all, nothing says barriers have to be k-rails; they can just as easily be planters, artwork, fountains or any number of similarly property-value enhancing enhancements. And that’s another key, because property values often go up as the newly peaceful neighborhood becomes more desirable to home buyers.

Then you tell them the best part. It won’t cost them a dime. Because one feature of this wonderful new street plan is something called a bike boulevard — a gap in those barriers that allows bikes and pedestrians to pass through — the DOT will pick up the entire tab.

They don’t even have to make a commitment. The whole thing can be installed on a temporary basis to prove how well it works before they agree to a permanent installation.

Now how many homeowners wouldn’t beg for something like that? And once people in other neighborhoods see it, chances are, they’ll beg for one of their own.

All you have to do is identify a street where homeowners are already fed up with traffic. Which pretty much means any street with speed bumps.

Military Ave. looking north from National Blvd.

Military Ave. looking north from National Blvd.

Like Military Avenue, for instance, which runs between Pico and Palms just a few blocks east of the 405 Freeway.

Since the street parallels busy Sepulveda and Westwood Boulevards, it’s often used by drivers looking for an easy way to bypass traffic. At least two rounds of speed bumps have already been installed to reduce and slow traffic; when the first didn’t have the desired effect, the response was to install more and larger humps — with little or no apparent decrease in traffic.

Which means they’d probably jump at the chance to block their street to through traffic, while providing full access to local residents. Even if it meant putting up with more of those damn cyclists.

And Military would make an ideal bike boulevard.

Military between National and Palms

Military between National and Palms

It’s straight and flat for most of the way, other than a small hill on the south end. The northern section is more than wide enough for bikes, cars and parking on each side, while the narrower southern section is lightly traveled and easily shared.

A bikeway on Military could also be extended south to connect with the existing bike paths on Venice Blvd. And it would only require a few new stop lights on Butler Avenue at Pico and Olympic to provide an easy link from Venice to Santa Monica Blvd.

Evidently, I’m not the only one to notice this.

The new bike plan shows Military as a “Bike Friendly Street” from Pico to Venice (page 67) — whatever that eventually ends up meaning.

Maybe that means they’re planning to make it a bike boulevard, but don’t want to use that name; maybe it means nothing more than sticking up a few signs indicating it as a preferred route for bikes. Or maybe they have no idea what they’re going to do there, but recognize that it’s an ideal place to do… something.

Then again it could just be a line on a map. One that never results in anything on the street, like so much of the previous bike plan.

That would be a lost opportunity for everyone.

Including homeowners.

………

More on bike racks, or the lack thereof: good and bad placement in West Hollywood; LAPD ignores Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. The next Dim Sum Ride rolls through Old Town Pasadena this weekend. A proposed new development in the Valley straddles the Tujunga Wash and could interface better with transit and a proposed bikeway. Burbank cyclists will get a new route connecting with the popular Chandler Bikeway. Cynergy Cycles offers a free lecture on Heart Rate Specific Training tomorrow night. The LA Times discovers Critical Mass — in Chicago. Tips on how to lead your own themed ride. A NY pedicab driver gets into an altercation with an impatient cabbie. Dave Moulton finishes his look at the history of frame design. Actor/musician Jared Leto leads fans on a bike ride through an unnamed city. Proof that not all drivers hate cyclists. Finally, as if cyclists don’t have enough to worry about, Alaska riders have to watch out for bear attacks.

Imagine a great city: A Wilshire pipedream

I’ve always liked Wilshire Boulevard.

With the exception of my first few months crashing on the floor of my oldest friend’s apartment — in terms of years known, not age — I’ve spent my entire time in this city living, and usually working, within a few blocks of it.

For most of the 20th Century, once the city spread west from downtown, it was L.A.’s Main Street, home to virtually every important bank, business and department store in the city. It was also the epicenter of West Coast advertising; at least until Chiat/Day started the industry’s westward migration by moving to Venice.

Now though, it’s a faded version of its former self, a street so choked with traffic and stop lights that some sections are virtually impassible most of the day. A street most Angelenos try to avoid by taking parallel streets such as 6th or Olympic; cyclists have their own bypass routes.

As Yogi Berra once said, “No one goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”

Yet it is a street with infinite possibilities, drawing a nearly straight line from downtown to the coast. And soon, with luck, it will soon be home to the long-delayed and much debated Subway to the Sea — making it a perfect platform for a bold reinvention that goes far beyond anything this city has yet contemplated.

Imagine a Wilshire without traffic.

A Wilshire where the subway doesn’t just take a little pressure off vehicular traffic, but replaces it entirely. Where people aren’t just encouraged to take mass transit, but where it becomes the most viable and efficient means of transportation.

It’s possible.

A Wilshire Boulevard so completely reinvented, from Ocean to Grand, that alternative transportation becomes the mainstream.

Picture this:

On the far right side of the roadway in each direction, you’d have a row of parking next to the curb, flanked by a single lane of traffic. Every few blocks, a barrier would force drivers to turn right, preventing through traffic. This would allow drivers to use the boulevard to get to shops and offices, just as they do now, yet eliminate any other traffic.

Next to that would be a single through-lane in each direction for bus traffic. This would allow riders to get off the subway at the nearest stop, then transfer to a bus to get to their final destination.

Finally, the center of the roadway would be a bike boulevard — an entire traffic lane in each direction devoted strictly to non-motorized traffic and physically separated from motorized vehicles. This lane would also be free from barriers, allowing cyclists to safely travel the entire length of the boulevard, from downtown to the coast.

By placing it inside the car and bus lanes, rather than near the curb, buses could easily reach the curb to pick up or let off passengers, and cars could turn right into parking lots or pull into a parking space without crossing the bike lanes — eliminating the risk of right-cross collisions.

This could also be combined with a series of bike stations located in key employment centers, offering secure bike parking, showers and simple repair services, making bike commuting a viable alternative for many workers.

On either side of the boulevard, wide sidewalks — now free from the overwhelming noise and choking exhaust of passing vehicles — would entice strollers and shoppers with sidewalk cafes and open air markets.

It will never happen, of course.

It’s a lovely pipedream; just an exercise in possibilities.

Because something like that would take an enormous amount of money, which seems to be in very short supply these days. And it would take leaders with the genuine vision and courage to see the possibilities and turn away from the exclusively car-centric mentality this city is built on.

And that seems to be in even shorter supply.

 

Gary gets my vote for the best April Fool joke for a post so impossible it almost had to be real. Ubrayj comments on the Ponzi Scheme that is transportation planning. Metro plans an interactive chat this Friday; good place to ask why complaints seem to disappear into the void. Like the rest of us, cyclists in Long Beach want more. An older blog by my favorite Scottish bike blogger explains why London cyclists are tempted to run red lights. A Texas cyclist and custom bike builder tracks bike collisions, including a despicable hit & run in Utah and a Houston cyclist crushed by a fire truck; he also relates a harrowing story of his own recovery after being hit by a city-owned pickup truck. And finally, as if they didn’t have enough reasons to hate us, now we have a bicycling hit man.

%d bloggers like this: