Tag Archive for bicycle boulevards

Morning Links: Unmaintained Long Beach bike lane, and riding the newly threatened Yucca Street bike boulevard

Richard Rosenthal notes one of my long standing complaints, accompanied by the photo on the left.

Cities construct protected bike lanes with great fanfare, then promptly lose interest in maintaining them.

There are brand-new bike lanes on Marina Drive at the 2nd & PCH Center in Long Beach. I ride down the center of that street with the cars rather than being in that debris-filled chute.

Simply put, it’s not enough for cities to build a bikeway, then forget all about it.

They have to be maintained on a regular basis, with particular attention paid to problems affecting that particular bike lane.

Like fallen palm fronds, for instance.

Even in a city as bike-friendly as Long Beach.

Because objects that would simply be a bump for someone on four wheels can be a major hazard to someone on two.

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CiclaValley’s Zachary Rynew takes a not-so coincidental ride along the newly threatened Yucca Street Bicycle Boulevard.

As we noted Monday, a motion before the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council would remove a key traffic diverter from Yucca Street in Hollywood, still LA’s lone bicycle boulevard.

You can voice your opinion at tonight’s board meeting starting at 6 pm at the Will and Ariel Durant Branch Library on Sunset Blvd just west of La Brea.

Or you can email your comments, though I’m told they will only be seen by the board president, and only be read at the meeting if there’s time remaining after the comments, which is pretty unlikely.

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The LACBC is pulling the plug on today’s bike light giveaway in Koreatown.

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Costa Mesa councilmember Arlis Reynolds invites you to bring your whole family to this Sunday’s Turkey Trot cyclocross race. Including the dog.

Even if you’re just ‘cross curious.

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Local

Westbound Rowena Ave through Los Feliz and Silver Lake will face partial closures through December 6th, then be closed entirely on December 7th for work on water pipes.

LAist says LA’s most DIY cafe meets in a small park along the LA River every Wednesday morning, with rocks for seating and BYO coffee and snacks.

Santa Monica-based Bird wants you to wear a helmet when you ride their scooters, so they’re offering free ride credits when you post a selfie wearing a helmet.

Long Beach is fighting the current docked bikeshare retrenchment with plans to expand into North Long Beach.

 

State

A recent landslide means a section of the San Clemente Trail in Orange County will be closed for the foreseeable future.

San Diego’s ambitious bike network is already a year behind schedule and $79 million over budget, with only nine of the planned 77 miles completed.

A San Luis Obispo developer is doubling the width of a bike path and replacing the asphalt with longer-lasting concrete, as a condition for building a new 580-unit housing and commercial development project.

Palo Alto is finally ready to start construction on a long delayed bike and pedestrian bridge, which has nearly doubled in cost over the past five years.

Sad news from San Mateo County, where a bike rider was killed in an apparent collision on Monday.

Streetsblog offers photos from the first day of the newly opened Richmond-San Rafael Bridge bike path, stretching six miles over the San Francisco Bay.

 

National

Australia’s Bolt Bikes is coming to the US, offering an ebike subscription model allowing you to start riding for $39 a week, with a rent-to-own option for $49. Though they may run into copyright problems with Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt’s Bolt Scooters

Lime’s head of sustainability says we need to rethink how we move around our cities — starting with using more pollution-free e-scooters, of course.

Bicycling says if you’re riding for fitness, you need to ride smarter, not more.

An Oregon website offers a surprisingly practical — and affordable — holiday price guide for the bike rider on your list, ranging from extra tubes and wool socks to a new WaveCel helmet. Or you could just buy them a subscription to BikinginLA.com. No, wait, it’s already free. But still. 

Las Vegas investigators are using DNA to search for a girl who disappeared while riding her bike in 1999 when she seven years old, which would make her 29 now.

A new study from Brigham Young University concludes that ped-assist ebikes allow you to ride faster and farther with less exertion, encouraging more people to ride a bike.

A second Chicago bike rider has been killed along a dangerous stretch of road where local aldermen have blocked long-standing plans for a bike lane because “the community” doesn’t want it. Sounds like Los Angeles, where councilmembers block bike lanes based on the whims of a handful of residents.

An editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times says the city needs to invest in making the streets safer for people on bikes.

Completing our Chicago triptych, the police walked back a victim-blaming statement, saying the death of a bike rider at the hands of an unlicensed and uninsured driver had nothing to do with where he was riding on the wide, high speed street.

New York’s mayor signs a bill authorizing 250 miles of protected bike lanes and 150 miles of bus lanes.

A New York news service says everyone wants safer streets, but no one wants to change the way they get around.

Apparently, DC isn’t Copenhagen, either.

That’s more like it. A South Carolina man gets 20 years behind bars for the drunken hit-and-run that killed a man on a bicycle, followed by a second DUI just a week later; his victim was a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing.

A Florida bike cop faces charges for allegedly smashing the windshield of a passing car with a two-by-four while on patrol duty.

 

International

Shimano’s trying to make your derailleur obsolete.

A Toronto shop owner says she’s looking forward to a protected bike lane being extended to her area, because she knows bikes are good for business.

London may be making major improvements in bicycling infrastructure, but Strava says it isn’t Britain’s leading bike city.

A “Mini Holland” pilot project in London’s Walthamstow neighborhood has reduced traffic in the surrounding area by 10,000 trips a day, with a big jump in people walking and bicycling.

Bike scribe and historian Carlton Reid says maybe building British bikeways out of wood chips isn’t so crazy after all.

Aussie food delivery riders are getting stiffed to the tune of up to $322 a week. Although that’s just $219 in US dollars.

A new Australian study show a typical Melbourne bike commuter is subjected to dangerous passes by drivers an average three times on their way to work.

 

Competitive Cycling

VeloNews examines how Gen Z cyclists like Remco Evenepoel and Egan Bernal are changing pro cycling.

Virginia’s Sika Henry intends to become the first African American female pro triathlete.

The New York Times attends the funeral of 83-year old French cycling legend Raymond Poulidor.

British pro cyclist Adam Kenway says he was very lucky to survive a crash with a van driver while he was riding his bike home from work.

 

Finally…

If you’re riding a stolen $3,000 mountain bike, probably not the best idea to tell strangers it’s hot. When you’re carrying a handful of stolen credit card numbers on your bike and already have an outstanding drug warrant, just stop for the damn stop sign, already.

And don’t wait 86 years for your first bike ride.

Seriously.

 

 

Morning Links: Motion to unprotect Yucca Street, more on the Great Helmet Debate, and Elizabeth Warren gets it

It’s hard to fight for safer streets when we have to keep fighting to protect what little we already have.

Case in point:

motion before the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council would remove a key traffic diverter from LA’s first — and shamefully, only — bicycle boulevard, on Yucca Street in Hollywood.

Also known as bicycle friendly street in LA bike plan parlance.

The motion would remove the diverter on Yucca Street at Las Palmas Ave that allows bicycle traffic to pass through while diverting motor vehicle traffic off the street, to create a low-stress environment for people on bicycles.

Something that’s desperately needed in high-stress Hollywood, which is virtually devoid of bicycling infrastructure.

Unless you consider sharrows more than just something to help drivers improve their aim.

The Yucca Street motion will be heard at the council’s 6 pm board meeting this Wednesday at the Will and Ariel Durant Branch Library on Sunset Blvd just west of La Brea.

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More on the seemingly endless Great Bike Helmet Debate.

A writer for Bicycling argues that mandatory helmet laws actually make riders less safe.

And Treehugger’s Lloyd Alter says he got it wrong, and Peter Flax got it right regarding the NTSB’s call for mandatory bike helmet laws, instead fixing the problems that are really killing bike riders.

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One presidential candidate gets it, anyway.

Elizabeth Warren marks World Remembrance Day for traffic victims with a call to end traffic violence. Thanks to Ms. Fast for the link.

Meanwhile, the transportation minister for Trinidad and Tobago marked World Remembrance Day by saying bike riders will be given more space on the roads in one of the island nation’s most developed areas; that follows the deaths of two bicyclists killed on a club ride last year. Thanks to Stormin’ Norman for the tip.

That compares to Los Angeles, where city officials said nothing to mark the day.

Let alone actually do something about it.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

Police in the UK are looking for the victim of a drive-by BB gun attack after witnesses saw him knocked off his bike and into a ditch by the shooting; the jackass behind the wheel also spooked the horses being ridden by a group of kids.

Now that’s a close pass. A group of British bike riders were lucky to avoid getting run down by a driver in a massive truck speeding down on a narrow country road, who missed them by mere inches as he blew by in the opposite direction.

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Local

LAist says yes, you can take your bike on Metro buses and trains. Even if the space reserved for bikes on trains is usually full of people without them.

Long Beach gets a $275,000 grant to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety through workshops on the importance of reflective armbands, bike lights, reflectors and helmets. If they really want to improve safety, skip the workshops and stand on any corner to pass out lights, and arm and ankle bands.

 

State

Calbike has a new policy director, promoting former Senior Policy Advocate Linda Khamoushian from inside the organization.

The Orange County Register takes a brief look at yesterday’s Meet on the Beach carfree festival through seven Orange County communities.

San Diego bike riders beware. The city’s police department will be cracking down on traffic violations that put bike riders and pedestrians at risk today, regardless of who commits them. So stop for stop signs, signal your turns and lane changes, and otherwise ride to the letter of the law until you pass the city limit lines.

More bad news from San Diego, where yet another bike rider has suffered life-threatening injuries when he was struck by a pickup driver while ghost riding another bicycle; neither bike had lights.

To complete today’s San Diego trifecta, a lawsuit filed against the city by a bike rider paralyzed in a meth-fueled crash with a wrong way driver on Fiesta Island is finally going to court after five years.

I want to be like them when I grow up. A group of Santa Barbara friends ranging in age from 83 to 91 are still riding together after nearly 60 years.

San Jose residents are complaining about a bicycle chop shop in a homeless camp along the Guadalupe River Trail. You can find countless others just like it down here in Southern California.

A San Jose site takes a deep dive into why the city’s quest for safer streets has failed, resulting in worsening rates for bicycling and pedestrian injuries. Thanks to Robert Leone for the heads-up.

The long-awaited protected bike and pedestrian lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge across the San Francisco Bay finally opened, drawing “hordes” of bike riders that opponents said wouldn’t show up.

 

National

A new study confirms what many of us have suspected — that subtle shifts in how news stories about crashes are reported can affect how readers assess the blame, and what should be done about it.

Who says you need a car to pick up a little extra cash?

Bike Snob’s Eben Weiss says if you actually look at the numbers, e-scooters aren’t very scary at all.

An Anchorage AK police officer faces charges for allegedly punching a bike rider and kicking him in the nuts in what began as a traffic stop for not having lights on his bike, after the man had sworn at and flipped off a line of police cars; the cop snatched the phone the victim was recording him with, but it continued to record audio of the assault.

A Seattle-area driver fled the scene of a crash at speeds of up to 60 mph after running down a man on a bicycle, dragging his bike under the car for nearly a mile, then covering the car with blankets to hide the damage; when investigators examined the car, they found it peppered with rice from the groceries the victim was carrying.

This is why I like Phil Gaimon. The LA-based former pro is using his new-found celebrity to support No Kid Hungry, stopping in Houston to talk cycling, charity and cookies as part of a nationwide fundraising tour for the group.

An Oklahoma man faces charges for using his car as a weapon to run down a bike rider following a drug deal gone bad.

Chicago bike riders respond to recent deaths by saying the city is falling behind in protecting bicyclists by failing to build more protected lanes and requiring side guards on trucks, along with keeping people and businesses from parking in bike lanes.

A New York State man has been sentenced to 28 months to seven years behind bars for killing a bike rider while driving drunk, then driving home, changing cars and coming back to the scene; he drove to the sheriff’s office to turn himself in after seeing the victim’s body lying in the street.

North Carolina’s Department of Transportation is complaining that local officials and residents don’t want their quiet country roads turned into virtual superhighways. Go figure.

Ben Affleck is one of us, riding his muddy bike through the streets of New Orleans.

I want to be like him when I grow up, too. A Florida pastor celebrates his birthday by riding his age with an 82-mile journey.

A Florida bike rider rolls through a stop sign on a bike path, and into the path of a driver who doesn’t bother to stop — neither before, or for very long after hitting him. And throws his hands up in frustration when he realizes going to get hit. The video captures the full crash, so be sure you really want to see that before clicking the link.

 

International

A Vancouver man is the latest bicyclist to ride every street in his own city.

She gets it. A Toronto op-ed writer says if we want people to give up their cars, we have to fix our streets first. Meanwhile, a writer for City Lab says it will take more than an app to get people out of their cars.

And we thought LA had bad streets. Over 250 people on bicycles have been injured or killed by potholes in the UK.

A English man broke a 133-year old record by riding a Penny Farthing 874 miles from one end of Britain to the other, breaking the old record by 13 hours. Of course, one reason the record stood so long is because it was set on a Penny Farthing.

A British police conduct board has concluded that officers aren’t responsible for the death of a 75-year old man pushing his bicycle up a hill, who was killed by a driver trying to escape the cops at speeds up to 80 mph.

An Irish senator accepted a challenge to get out on a bike himself after tweeting a complaint about bike riders last week, and concludes that maybe he should have seen the conditions bicyclists actually face on the streets before complaining.

They get it, too. Germany is planning to expand bicycling infrastructure and dedicate more road space to bike riders to protect them and fight climate change.

Bicycles are making a comeback in Calcutta, aka Kolkata, after being banned from 174 major streets until just 17 years ago.

A drunken hit-and-run driver talks about the emotional weight she carries after killing a 15-year old New Zealand boy riding his bike last year, and how hard she was slapped on the wrist by being confined to her home for a whole 11 months. Although it probably doesn’t compare to the emotional burden the kid’s parents will carry for the rest of their lives.

A trio of Kiwi brothers are making names for themselves throughout New Zealand for their mountain biking skills — even if the oldest is just 12-years old.

 

Competitive Cycling

Evidently, the pros feel the same way we do. Four months after Italian cyclist Alessandro de Marchi was seriously injured when he crashed out of the Tour de France, he was livid after a dangerously close pass on a training ride nearly put him back in the emergency room; naturally, the driver told him to go to hell when he complained.

America’s only remaining Tour de France winner looks over the crop of rising young American cyclists, and concludes there may be hope for us yet.

Every superhero has an origin story. British cyclist Katie Archibald relates how hanging out with the fixie crowd led to track racing in Edinburgh — and eventually an Olympic gold medal. A reminder that you never know where riding a bike could take you. Or the kids just starting out.

 

Finally…

Nothing like a romantic bike ride after getting dissed by Taylor Swift fans. Before stealing London’s longest bike, you might want to consider whether you can actually sell it.

And if you want to advertise bikes by showing a kid riding one on a beachfront pathway, maybe make sure bikes are even allowed there first.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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