Tag Archive for Bicycle Friendly City

Another bike unfriendly ranking for Los Angeles, more on South LA’s RideWitUs LA shop, and a mea culpa from, uh, me

Another day, another ranking of the best — and worst — bike cities.

PeopleForBikes released their annual city ratings, adding 107 international cities in 12 countries to the 660 American cities.

Evidently, to show just how badly we’re doing on this side of the Atlantic, and how far we have to go.

Shockingly, one American city — Provincetown, Massachusetts — interrupted the expected list of cities from the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain and Belgium in the top ten.

As usual, though, the ratings often make little sense, like faux Dutch Solvang coming in ahead of more noteworthy bike cities like Davis CA and Boulder CO.

Santa Monica is the highest rated SoCal city with a score of 52; Los Angeles comes in at a lowly 33, tied with San Diego, Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks.

And bizarrely, one point above bike-friendly Long Beach.

But be prepared to be frustrated if you check out the site. The design is confusing, the search function is hidden in the upper right corner, and the links seem to freeze at random.

Or at least they did for me, regardless of browser.

As part of their survey, PeopleForBikes also examines how to build a bike city.

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A few weeks back, we told you about South LA’s Kellie Hart, and how the RideWitUs LA bike club she formed during the pandemic lockdown morphed into a brick and mortar bike shop.

Now the LA Times picks up the story, viewing it through the rising entrepreneurship in the Black community.

Researchers found that 440,000 Black business owners nationally shuttered their businesses between February and April 2020 — a 41% plunge. Those numbers represent a tremendous loss for Black communities, but they don’t paint the full picture. New data show there’s also been a surge in new businesses despite the pandemic, with Black communities experiencing the greatest increase in business registrations.

The paper explains how the club grew organically from a single woman out for a ride to a fixed schedule serving well over one hundred riders.

The rides became more frequent, and one by one, Hart’s crew got bigger. Friends brought friends, and sometimes people out biking alone saw the group of young, mostly Black and Latino cyclists and joined them. By April 2020, the informal bike rides had a schedule and the group had evolved into a club…

Members of the RideWitUs bike club are mostly in their 30s and 40s. Most are Black or Latino and hail from South L.A. neighborhoods. They number about 150 strong and ride between 12 and 25 miles three times a week including to Santa Monica, Redondo Beach and downtown L.A. Most did not see themselves becoming cyclists when they took their first rides, but they came back for the sense of community.

Then from that, to a thriving informal bike business.

Early on, Hart used her savings to buy three bikes and sold them within 24 hours. The next day, she bought five bikes and those sold immediately too.

“I haven’t stopped since that first day and the business has been booming,” she said.

From there, Hart grew into an actual bike shop.

And a Black-owned business was born, successfully riding the wave of the pandemic bike boom — one with big plans for future expansion into other services and events.

It’s worth taking a few minutes to read the whole story.

Then taking a few more to join the ride.

And shop the shop.

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Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

A few weeks back, I included a short link back to a group criticizing a code of conduct for a London Park to help bike riders and motorists get along.

Not that cars belong in parks to begin with, but still.

In doing so, I picked up Road.cc’s characterization of a bike group’s critical characterization of the code, writing ““A London park’s code of conduct tells bike riders not to scare the people in the big, dangerous machinesNo, really.”

Okay, I added the part about the big, dangerous machines. Because they are.

But Bryan Dotson wrote from Houston to tell me I missed the mark.

I followed the link and read the Code of Conduct.  It was on the website of a cycling group that had pushed for removing motor vehicles from the park.  It was 180 degrees from your short summary.

I tried to comment but it didn’t appear to go through.

Since then, there has been a fuller discussion of this on Road.cc:

Richmond Park Cyclists’ co-founder responds to critics of controversial Code of Conduct | road.cc

As I said, my read of their Code of Conduct is that it probably pretty reasonable.  (I’m not there and don’t know local conditions, so I would give them the benefit of the doubt on some items..)  Others may disagree on points,

I’m inclined more favorably to those who light a candle in the dark…

After following Bryan’s example and clicking through to the link he provided, I had to agree that the code of conduct does seem like a relatively reasonable attempt to keep the peace on sometimes contentious streets, and comes from the right place.

I’m the first to admit that I can be pretty flip, and quick with the snark; it’s both a reflection of my own personality, and a conscious effort to keep things light when I can, when so many of the stories we have to discuss can be so dark.

But sometimes I get it wrong.

And when I do, I count on you to help keep me honest.

Thanks to Bryan Dotson for doing exactly that.

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It was just a week ago that we learned about the death of Utah Jazz legend Mark Eaton, the 7’4″ shot blocking specialist who was found lying unresponsive in the roadway next to his bicycle, and died after being taken to a local hospital.

We still don’t know what caused Eaton’s death.

But Phillip Young writes to suggest that we all brush up on CPR in case a riding companion should suffer a similar collapse, or is involved in a crash during a ride.

Doctors with the University of Arizona have made a short, six-minute video explaining Continuous Chest Compression CPR, aka Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. 

It’s worth taking a few minutes out of your day to watch it, and take notes.

As Young reminds us, heart attacks can be induced by exercise, even in seemingly healthy people.

And you might be called on to save a fellow bike rider’s life on some future ride.

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Apparently, LA drivers already know how to use protected bike lanes.

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Okay, so it feels good to have a president and first lady who celebrate her 70th birthday with a bike ride.

Thanks to Keith Johnson for the heads-up.

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This is the New York edition of the dreaded Bike Life that is apparently terrorizing drivers in the Northeast.

No, really.

Thanks to Keith Johnson for the video.

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Here’s something else to worry about.

When your bike breaks, you may not be able to fix it.

Thanks to Megan Lynch for the forward.

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Streets For All is hosting another in their series of online virtual happy hours next week.

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

Two men intentionally crashed a motor scooter into a 63-year old bike-riding New York man for no apparent reason, as well as kicking him while he was down, in what appears to be a totally random attack.

There’s a special place in hell for the jerk who punched a British teenager in the face, and rode off with his bicycle.

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

Santa Maria cops busted a man for a fatal shooting, as well as trying — and failing — twice to kill another man, while he was riding a bicycle in the city.

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Local

The wife of fallen bicyclist Branden Findley wants the residents of their St. Andrews Square neighborhood — and the rest of us — to know about this past Tuesday’s arraignment of Ronald Earl Kenebrew, Jr, accused of killing Findley as he made his getaway in a carjacked van in DTLA, then simply walking away from the crash. Meanwhile, the gofundme for Findley’s daughters remains a little over a thousand dollars short of the $45,000 goal. Thanks again to Keith Johnson.

A Culver City man got his stolen ebikes back when police busted a serial burglar who was riding one of them, and had the other with him.

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Seth Davidson’s Cycling in the South Bay; today he announced he’s throwing in the towel and shutting down the popular bike blog after more than ten years and one highly entertaining book. Thanks to Mike Wilkinson for the link.

 

State

A San Jose bike rider says traffic is no worse after a recent road diet and didn’t spill over into side streets, as the local NIMBYs had predicted.

You’ve got to be kidding. Oakland is proposing ripping out one of the Bay Area’s first and most successful protected bike lanes, on iconic Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, and replacing the barriers with buffers.

Sacramento Magazine recommends what looks like a very pleasant and placid 42-mile loop ride from Maidu Park to Flower Farm.

 

National

Bicycling offers advice on how to ride bikes with kids. As usual, read it on Yahoo if Bicycling blocks you.

Cycling News offers a quick primer on the different classes of ebikes.

Um, no. Best Reviews recommends the best commuter bikes, with a very short list that is oddly heavy on Schwinns and all available on Amazon.

Portland’s citizen police review board says yes, twerking in a bike lane a protest is grounds for arrest.

After an Oregon man died of ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease, his wife is fulfilling his bucket list wish to ride a bike through all 50 states.

The bighearted owner of a Tucson burger stand donated 100% of their sales on Tuesday to support the bike-riding victims of a red light-running tow truck driver who killed one woman, and seriously injured four others.

Engineers at the University of Minnesota have developed a smart, if somewhat awkward, ebike that can calculate a car’s trajectory, and honk to warn drivers who pose a treat. Then again, I can do that myself. And add some choice words and a gesture or two to go with it.

A Harvard professor may have still won a Nobel Prize even if he wasn’t “a bicyclist of quite an extreme kind.” But it probably didn’t hurt.

A New York prosecutor says victims of a terrorist who used a rental truck as a weapon as he sped along a Hudson River bike path are agonizing over the infinite trial delays in the case.

No surprise here, as a New York report found 70% of the city’s drivers exceeded the speed limit. Although chances are, Los Angeles drivers could easily leave that figure in their rear view mirror.

The annual Remember the Removal Bike Ride is set to roll from Georgia through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, as six young members of the Cherokee Nation retrace the route their ancestors took in the infamous Trail of Tears, one of the most shameful events in American history.

Attorneys for the Georgia State House Whip are working to quash an indictment the Republican legislator earned for helping a friend cover up a hit-and-run by failing to report it to the authorities, in a test of political power versus any semblance of justice.

 

International

The UK’s Cyclist profiles America’s last remaining Tour de France winner.

A new bike taillight incorporates an alarm to keep your bike from being stolen, and a GPS to help find it if it is.

In an effort to boost ebike adoption, the UK is considering a plan to allow people to try out ebikes at various events and popular holiday locations.

Never ride without full body armor, as a Paris startup introduces an inflatable flack jacket that turns into a full torso airbag if it senses you come off your bike.

Portugal is expanding bicycle factories and hiring new workers as they work to meet the sudden increase in demand caused by the worldwide bike boom.

Thanks to a bad day with my diabetes on Wednesday, we missed the observance of yesterday’s World Bicycle Day, as Entrepreneur looks at four Indian bike startups that are changing the way the country commutes.

Gulf News offers a photographic look at World Bicycle Day in the Mid East.

Aussie university researchers took a look at speeding drivers. And found they usually just keep speeding, regardless of tickets, fines or crashes.

 

Competitive Cycling

Something to look forward to. An eight stage women’s Tour de France will return next year, kicking off on the last day of the men’s Tour; the women’s Giro will also return to the WorldTour calendar after being downgraded.

If you’re in the mood for a European cycling vacation next summer, the 2022 European cycling championships scheduled for Munich in August is looking for English speaking volunteers. And nothing says you can’t stick around for Octoberfest the following month. Thanks to Ralph Durham for the link.

 

Finally…

That feeling when n+1 = 1, at least when it comes to a combination road and gravel bike. Your next bike could be more vegan than you are — and yes, that’s really a thing.

And learn how to ride a bike with rapper A$AP Ferg.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask

And get vaccinated, already.

Morning Links: Writer claims Vision Zero is anti-driver plot, new CA bike friendly cities, and Gabe Klein at UCLA

Apparently tired of yelling at kids to get off his lawn, a writer for the Santa Monica Daily Press says the city’s Pedestrian Action Plan is all rhetoric. And insists Vision Zero is just an attempt slow traffic speeds, increase congestion and make motorists more frustrated.

But at least they’ll be alive to complain about it.

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Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo get a boost to the Gold level Bicycle Friendly Community status in the Bike League’s new rankings; Santa Rosa and Woodland get Bronze. And San Diego, Carlsbad and Oxnard get honorable mentions in Southern California.

Meanwhile, my hometown stayed Platinum. Of course, they didn’t bother getting bike friendly until long after I stopped riding there.

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Not many people can claim to have put two cities on a bike path; former DC and Chicago DOT director Gabe Klein will discuss his new book on how to get it done and have fun in the process at UCLA’s Luskin Center on Thursday.

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‘Tis the Season, already.

San Diego’s Old Mission Beach Athletic Club has started their eighth annual Holiday Toy and Bike Drive to aid families of junior enlisted personnel.

Members of the San Francisco 49ers build bikes for the team’s middle school student academy.

More than 500 bikes have been donated to children who lost theirs in the Valley fire earlier this year.

And a handful of outdoor companies and bike shops are joining REI in closing the day after Thanksgiving.

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It may have nothing to do with bicycling, but the Militant Angeleno — author of everyone’s favorite CicLAvia guides — has created a fascinating guide to the remaining Red Car remnants.

If he’d ever take that mask off, I see an epic bike tour in the making.

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Local

The latest Bike Talk podcast talks Equity and the Bike with the LACBC’s Tamika Butler, Rio Contreras of Multicultural Communities for Mobility and CSULA Professor Adonia Lugo.

The UCLA Bicycle Academy criticizes the marketing director of the UCLA Health System for missing an opportunity to promote greater health by sponsoring Santa Monica’s Breeze bikeshare system.

LA Curbed looks at people’s reactions to Breeze on Twitter, where the response seems to be universally positive.

 

State

A San Francisco cyclist and an 89-year old man both suffered head injuries when they collided while the man was crossing Market Street on Friday. It may  or may not have been the rider’s fault, but always ride carefully around pedestrians — especially kids and the elderly, who can be both fragile and unpredictable.

Bikeshare is central to the Bay Area’s better, faster and more flexible new mobility.

A road raging Dr. Thompson wannabe faces charges for brake-checking a group of cyclists after attempting to block their path in Marin County.

 

National

Maybe you’ll be able to watch bike racing on TV after all. NBCUniversal promises to pick up the events formerly broadcast on the now defunct Universal Sports Network.

A San Antonio man has been found guilty of murdering his roommate in a dispute over a bicycle and an unlocked gate.

A Minneapolis report concludes there are barriers keeping minorities from bicycling, including affordability, access and lack of education on rules of the road.

LA continues to fall further behind; while we’re just beginning to get bikeshare, Minnesota’s Twin Cities are already getting canoeshare.

An Ohio drunk driver gets nearly five years for killing a cyclist, while a Vermont woman gets probation and just 80 hours of community service for a similar crime. Maybe if the Ohio driver was married to a cop, he might have gotten away with it, too.

Hundreds of New Yorkers march to remember the victims of traffic violence, while joining the call to refer to them as crashes, not accidents.

Some good can come from even the worst tragedies, as a Mississippi firefighter badly disfigured by burns received the face of a New York bike messenger killed in a wreck. That’s why I signed up as an organ donor, although I doubt anyone would want this face when I’m done with it.

 

International

An Ottawa writer says forget the debate over ghost bikes and adopt Vision Zero instead.

British traffic calming efforts, including lowering speed limits to 20 mph, cut traffic fatalities in half over a 13 year period.

A Brit thief gets the bite on a bike shop owner who chased him down to recover a customer’s phone.

A British website looks at the unwritten rules of the pro peloton.

Caught on video: What it’s really like to bike in Belfast, where police get the law on riding abreast wrong. Not unlike some police and sheriff’s deputies right here in sunny SoCal.

Seriously? Irish cyclists face an on-the-spot 40 euro fine for riding with headphones, even though it’s not illegal.

One year later, that solar panel-paved Dutch bike path is a success, putting out enough energy to power three homes.

Interesting idea from a Danish company, as they have a new Kickstarter for wireless, frictionless generator bike lights.

Pakistan swears it won’t take part in Olympic track cycling qualifying in India due to internal issues, and not the ongoing enmity between the two countries. Sure, let’s go with that.

An Indian woman is encouraging others to bike to work just like she does, despite the country’s congested roads.

Call it Genghis’ revenge, as two Brit teenagers are forced to abandon a trip retracing the legendary Mongol leader’s longest invasion route when digestive issues set in near China.

 

Finally…

Bad enough that we have to dodge angry drivers, now the trees are out to get us. If at first you don’t succeed, steal the same bike again.

And if you’re going to steal a macaw to feed your drug habit, don’t try to make your getaway with the purloined parrot on your handlebars.

 

This WTF moment, courtesy of Santa Monica and the League of American Bicyclists

Don’t get me wrong.

I like riding in Santa Monica. It’s a genuine pleasure to ride in a city that has actual cycling infrastructure, let alone where bike routes actually connect with something and you can plot out a route to just about anywhere you want to go.

Coming from traffic-heavy Los Angeles, it’s a breath of fresh air. Literally.

Still, I was surprised when the League of American Bicyclists named SaMo a bicycle-friendly city. Even if it was just a bronze.

I know the state of cycling pretty well sucks in this country. But either they didn’t consult local riders before they made their award, or the bar is set so low we’ll have to be careful not to trip on it.

Because it takes more than just infrastructure and good intentions to truly be bicycle friendly. Even for a city of less than 90,000 people that offers 16 miles of bike lanes, 19 miles of bike routes and a 3 mile beachfront bikeway.

It takes a genuine commitment to work with cyclists to encourage riding. Not government officials who refuse to meet with them to work out a compromise that would allow Critical Mass to take place without a heavy-handed police crackdown, complete with bogus — and possibly illegal — tickets.

It takes a city where infrastructure doesn’t just exist, but was smartly planned to protect the safety of riders while preserving traffic flow. It also means a commitment to enforcing restrictions on that infrastructure — or to put it another way, keeping cars the hell out of the bike lane.

In fact, Santa Monica could balance their entire city budget by placing a couple of officers on northbound Ocean Avenue. Then just ticket the drivers who blithely cruise down the bike lane for nearly a full city block between Arizona and Wilshire. I usually see at least couple such idiots every time I ride through there — even though I’m the only one using it for its intended purpose.

And don’t get me started on the way the city allows movie crews to place cones blocking the bike lanes, for no other purpose than to keep cyclists from coming within three feet of their precious trucks.

Yeah, that’s worth risking a life for.

Then there’s the city’s crown jewel, which was mentioned prominently in their press release touting the LAB award — three miles of beach-front bikeway, part of the larger Marvin Braude Bike Path.

As the Times’ Steve Lopez pointed out recently, it’s nearly impossible to ride at times due to the sheer number of pedestrians, dogs, skaters and other assorted non-two-wheeled flotsam. A bikeway on which people are often surprised to encounter cyclists, despite the “Bikes Only” and “No Pedestrians” markings every few feet. And despite the presence of a parallel pedestrian walkway mere feet — or in some cases, inches — away.

Because just like with drivers on the street, if the city won’t enforce bikeway restrictions — let alone state laws that prohibit the blocking of any Class 1 bikeway — other users will take it over and claim it as their own.

Of course, it’s not just a problem in Santa Monica. L.A.’s segment of the bikeway along Venice Beach isn’t any better. And evidently, Long Beach — another recent bronze winner — has issues of its own.

Maybe the LAB thinks things like that are acceptable for a bike-friendly city. Or maybe they’re trying to encourage cities that have made a modest start to keep improving until bike-friendliness permeates the entire city culture.

Or maybe they just didn’t ask those of us who know those city streets best.

I’ll leave the last word to Gary Se7en, in a comment he made on LAist:

I live and work in Santa Monica, live car free and ride a bike every day. It’s not that bad here. It’s not that great either, although it beats most anywhere else in Los Angeles. Maybe SM should get a copper rating instead of bronze. Also bike routes should not count for anything. Lincoln Blvd. is a bike route, Lincoln is also one of the worst streets to ride a bike on in L.A. county.


LAist covers today’s press conference about AB 766, the Safe Streets Bill. The Orange Line Bike Path finally gets a much-needed makeover, while talk of sharrows surfaces yet again in L.A.; the LACBC asks you to beg our mayor to move forward. C.I.C.L.E. promotes Bike Week in Pasadena. Connecticut considers a bill that would set aside 1% of all state and federal transportation funds to improve bike and pedestrian access. A bike-hating deputy sheriff from hell assaults two cyclists in Ohio, and a bike riding cop from Florida explains why you should stop anyway. A writer in western Colorado asks why drivers can’t give cyclists as much space as they would a horse or cow. Finally, from across the pond, a new campaign says there’s safety in numbers, while the leader of the Conservatives in Parliament has his bike stolen. Again.

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