Tag Archive for corruption

People For Bikes says sharrows suck, former CM Jose Huizar pleads to racketeering, and City Hall die-in tomorrow

If you’ve been reading this site for awhile, you probably know I’m not a fan of sharrows.

I’ve described them in the past as an attempt by city officials to thin the bicyclist herd, with the arrows there simply to help drivers improve their aim.

The only benefits I can ascribe to the damn things are a) they show bike riders where to position themselves to control the lane — if they’re positioned correctly — and b) as a wayfinding device to help guide people on bicycles to a given location.

But in terms of safety and protecting bicyclists’ right to the road, they’re less than worthless.

But don’t take my word for it. A 2016 study showed that sharrows are more dangerous than no bike infrastructure at all.

Now it looks like national advocacy group People For Bikes agrees.

Dave Snyder, PeopleForBikes’ senior director for infrastructure — and the former executive director of both Calbike and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition — writes that, like many of us, he fought for sharrows when they first came out.

But he became disillusioned when he saw how they worked — or rather, didn’t work — in practice.

I was wrong.

It turns out that motorists really don’t like to wait behind someone on a bike, regardless of the paint on the street. Even Oakland’s experiment with the so-called “super sharrow,” where the bicycle path of travel is painted solid green, isn’t enough to get people on bikes to comfortably “take the lane.” Sharrow or no sharrow, most people on bikes dangerously hug the edge of the roadway, squeezing themselves into the door zone to avoid blocking car traffic.

Simply put, sharrows don’t do what we hoped they would. Studies back up that claim.

It’s worth taking a few minutes to read the while thing.

Because maybe now we can finally drive a stake through the bike infrastructure from hell.

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After more than four years of loudly protesting his innocence, former CD14 Councilmember Jose Huizar has agreed to plead guilty to racketeering and tax evasion.

The LA Times reports Huizar is admitting to extorting at least $1.5 million in bribes from developers. He has agreed to a sentence of between nine and 13 years behind bars.

Huizar was a driving force behind many of the bike and safety improvements in Downtown Los Angeles, and was a favorite of the bicycling community before his downfall after his offices were raided by FBI agents in 2018.

The raid also caused his wife Richelle to drop out of the race to replace him once he was termed out of office in 2020.

In a sad irony, Huizar was replaced by Kevin de León, who is facing his own calls to resign after being caught participating in a racist and otherwise offensive recording.

But at least de León hasn’t been indicted.

Not yet, anyway.

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Don’t forget tomorrow’s die-in at City Hall! We need as many people as possible to make an impact and fight for an end to traffic violence.

And maybe protest the city’s penchant for corrupt and racist leaders while we’re at it.

No promises, but I’m going to do my best to be there.

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Nice to see the new CD13 councilmember taking traffic violence in the City of Angels seriously.

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A lousy parking permit is a small price to pay for the freedom of bike commuting.

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Norwalk Unides and the Happy City Coalition are hosting their first community bike ride tomorrow.

And the 11 am start means you can still get there after the die-in at LA City Hall.

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Italian filmmaking great Federico Fellini was one of us.

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

A Michigan website reports that a man riding a bicycle was killed in a collision with a motor home, which apparently didn’t have a driver since they don’t bother to mention one.

Life is cheap in New Zealand, where an off-duty cop who killed a man riding a bike in a drunken crash was sentenced to a nine-month vacation at home home detention. Although the website seems to think her real punishment will be a lifetime of shame and humiliation. Uh, sure. Let’s go with that.

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

Hermosa Beach plans barricades to force bike riders to walk near the pier, as speed data shows that people ignore the ridiculously low 8 mph speed limit on The Strand, riding at an average speed of 11 mph. I can attest that it’s difficult to ride that slowly through there on a road bike. And how do they expect people to obey the law if they don’t have speedometers on their bikes?

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Local 

More on West Hollywood’s proposal to extend the bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd and make at least a portion of them protected. Which would be a huge improvement over the painted car-double parking lanes we have now.

 

State

Streetsblog offers more details from Calbike on the status of California’s long-delayed ebike rebate program. Eligibility will be limited to 300% of the federal poverty level, which is based on taxable income; however, the ebike rebates appear to be based on gross income, instead.

Your new Ti touring bike from California’s District Vision could set you back a cool 30 grand. Yes, that’s $30,000.

Road Bike Action Magazine looks at the tragedy behind the 15-year old Mike Nosco Memorial Ride through the Santa Monica Mountains.

 

National

Ebike maker Velotric used WalkScore data to identify bikeable neighborhoods in not-so-bikeable US cities, including San Diego’s Gaslight District.

Bicycling asks if certified pre-owned bikes are worth the extra cost. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t appear to be available on Yahoo if the magazine blocks you. Which it probably will unless you’re a subscriber.

Cycling News offers tips to make traveling with your bike cheaper and easier. Although the cheapest and easiest way to travel with a bike is still just to ride it.

Great idea. Chicago’s RideReel encourages bicyclists to submit video of close calls and hostile infrastructure, in hopes that weekly reports to city officials will bring about real change.

Inspired by motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel, a then 13-year Indianapolis boy managed to set a new record by jumping ten trash cans on his balloon-tired bicycle in 1976; he’d be a 60-year old man now.

New York is also hosting a die-in this morning at the site where a young woman was killed by a truck driver while riding her bike last week, on a street that should have been fixed by now.

 

International

Road.cc takes a look at the iconic yet bizarre Flying Gate bike frame, with its upright stay post and severed seat post; the British-made steel frame has been in continuous production for nearly 90 years.

A new study from the UK shows the rising popularity of e-mountain bikes; nine out of ten people said cost was the primary barrier to participation.

Who needs pedals? A British bikemaker is introducing a road bike that you row, instead of pedal, even though the country’s Shark Tank equivalent passed on it.

An Irish website tests how long it takes for a locked-up midrange ebike to be stolen on the streets of Dublin. Short answer, about an hour.

Parisians are taking advantage of the city’s new bicycling network to bypass crippling transit strikes. Hopefully a sizable percentage will discover they like bike commuting and stick with it.

 

Competitive Cycling

Australian Michael Matthews and American Magnus Sheffield cleared the air following a “finish-line flareup” at the end of Thursday’s second stage, after jostling in the peloton caused the Aussie to drop his chain.

Australian Rohan Dennis’ brief stay as overall leader came to a quick end when his derailleur stopped working 21 miles from the end of Friday’s third stage, which ended before you got up this morning.

Australian ultracycling pro Jack Thompson set a record for riding the elevation of Mt. Everest once a week for 52 straight weeks, topping the old record of 42 successful efforts in a calendar year.

 

Finally…

Now you, too, can turn an old bicycle into a 75 mph e-motorbike. When you’re riding with a semiautomatic handgun, large quantities of meth and fentanyl, and ten grand in cash on your bike in broad daylight, maybe try obeying the damn vehicle code, already.

And oddly, this is still just as true 83 years later.

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Happy Lunar New Year, whatever language you celebrate in!

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

 

Martinez resigns as council president, but not from council, after racist remarks; and Streets For All happy hour with Mike Bonin

Following up on yesterday’s lead item, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez resigned her position, but insisted on remaining on the council in the wake of racist and otherwise offensive comments on a leaked audio recording.

For now, anyway.

Also refusing to take responsibility are the other councilmembers included in the conversation, Kevin De León and “Roadkill” Gil Cedillo.

Although the only non-councilmember heard on the recording, LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, showed enough integrity to resign his position.

Now if the others would just follow his example, as the list of people calling for their resignations keeps growing.

Here’s a short sample posted by the LA Times.

The list of political figures and organizations issuing those calls took in Mayor Eric Garcetti, former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), Tony Cárdenas (D-Pacoima) and Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), an array of labor unions and two mayoral candidates — Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and developer Rick Caruso.

Not to be left out, Streets For All joined the clamor — even though the loss of Martinez and De León could threaten hard-fought wins like adoption of a modified version of the Healthy Streets LA ballot measure and the Complete Streets makeover of Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock.

But sometimes, integrity has to matter more.

By my count, we’ve already seen three councilmembers convicted or currently facing bribery charges, with another — CD12’s John Lee — implicated but not charged in the bribery scandal that brought down his predecessor.

Meanwhile, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s bid to become ambassador to India went down in flames amid allegations he turned a blind eye to a top aide’s open sexual harassment of male coworkers.

Now three more elected leaders have been captured engaging in a racist conversation, as well as discussion of possibly illegal racial gerrymandering, and what appears to be a violation of the Brown Act open meetings law.

So if you’ve been wondering why our city hasn’t been more responsive to the needs of bike riders, and why nothing seems to get better in what should be — but isn’t — one of the world’s leading cities, we can start with a city government that looks to be rotten from top to bottom.

Photo from Wikipedia.

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In a very timely announcement, the next Streets For All virtual happy hour will feature a conversation with outgoing CD11 Councilmember Mike Bonin, whose Black toddler son was the subject of some of the most offensive comments from Martinez, De León and Cedillo.

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This is what it looks like when bikes are taken seriously as transportation.

Our German correspondent Ralph Durham forwards a photo of a bike repair stand next to an ebike charging stand for four bikes at his neighborhood biergarten.

Not shown, he says, is the bike tube vending machine on the restroom wall.

Photo by Ralph Durham

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

A pair of British men in their early 20s are facing murder charges in the death of 22-year old ebike rider; a third suspect has been released on bail, while a 30-year old woman has been arrested for helping them. Unfortunately, there’s no word on just what happened.

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

Police in South Wales are looking for a pair of men who assaulted another man as he rode his bike in broad daylight, for no apparent reason.

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Local

The LA Times has confirmed their previous endorsement of Kenneth Mejia for city controller, saying opponent Paul Koretz has fought efforts to make it easier to build more housing and blocked bike and pedestrian safety improvements, and “seems more interested in remaining in elected office than in being the taxpayers’ watchdog or government reformer.” Full disclosure — I’ve endorsed Mejia as well

 

State 

A 75-year old Yucca Valley man was pushed off his bicycle by a neighbor, then beaten with his own bike, in retaliation for pepper spraying the neighbor’s dog when it came up behind him the previous week.

Mt. Diablo State Park has added 30 bike turnouts on the popular Bay Area riding route, allowing bike riders to pull out to allow uphill traffic to pass.

 

National

Schwinn is introducing a new energy absorbing helmet liner to compete MIPS, designed to reduce rotational injuries in a fall.

Denver bike advocates are meeting with city officials to pitch a low-stress bike network.

This is the cost of traffic violence. A popular Bozeman, Montana high school teacher was killed when he was struck by a red light-running driver while riding his bicycle to work.

An op-ed from a Buffalo NY bike advocate makes the case that everyone benefits from effective bike and pedestrian networks, even drivers. Or maybe even especially drivers.

Philly bike riders are using expensive locks, AirTags and GPS, and social media to fight back against the city’s persistent bike thieves.

Frederick, Maryland is the latest community to introduce a book bike, intended  to take the public library to those who can’t come in themselves. Thanks to Robert Leone for the link.

 

International

Bloomberg Philanthropies is teaming with the Global Designing Cities Initiative to create the new Bloomberg Initiative for Cycling Infrastructure, which will award up to $1 million each to ten cities worldwide to help develop bike lane networks.

Cycling Weekly tries out the new Raleigh e-cargo bike, and says everyone loves it. The built-in kids seats are a nice touch.

A travel website recommends five “magical” Mexican towns to ride your bike in.

Winnipeg, Manitoba bike riders marked Canada’s Thanksgiving with an indigenous-led bike jam combining biking and music with lessons about colonization and reconciliation.

The UK’s British Cycling is being roundly criticized for signing an eight-year sponsorship agreement with oil and gas giant Shell to advise the group on how to achieve net zero. After all, who understands how to get to zero emissions better than an oil company?

A British bike advocacy group is calling on the government to close a loophole that allows people who would otherwise lose their driver’s license to keep driving, by claiming that suspending their license would result in an exceptional hardship.

A new Dutch app promises to tell when you fall off your bike, with or without automotive assistance, and automatically text someone for help.

Tragic news from Italy, where a British international sailing champion was killed when he fell 33 feet down a ravine while on a package mountain biking tour.

Sydney, Australia bicyclists say riding in the city is hard enough without police cracking down on bike riders in the central business district.

 

Finally…

Your next bike could be made from recycled plastic.

And we might have to deal with angry LA drivers, but at least we don’t have to worry about getting chased by a couple of angry moose.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

Another LA councilmember indicted for bribery, Claremont clarifies apparent bike ban, and bike riders get Gavined again

My apologies for the recent unexcused absences. 

You know I’m having a bad night when I post an explanation for why I won’t be posting something that day.

A really bad night is when I don’t manage to post anything at all. 

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The beat goes on at LA City Hall, where yet another councilmember has been indicted for bribery.

Longtime LA-area politician Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted for allegedly bribing a former dean at USC to admit a family member into a graduate program while he was serving on the LA County Board of Supervisors, before getting elected to the city council after he was termed out by the county.

He is the third current or former councilmember to be indicted for bribery in recent years, although Mitch Englander was convicted of receiving bribes, and Jose Huizar charged with doing the same.

And that doesn’t include CD12 City Councilmember John Lee, who remains on the council, despite reportedly figuring prominently in the bribery charge and conviction of his predecessor.

Maybe that’s our problem.

Maybe we need to take up a collection to bribe a few councilmembers, so bikes can get their attention for a change.

Meanwhile, the New York Times looks at the redistricting controversy that could send recently elected CD4 Councilmember Nithya Raman to represent the San Fernando Valley, where no one voted for her, while disenfranchising  her current district and leaving them without the bike, pedestrian and transit-friendly representative they voted for.

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Claremont has apparently learned the error of their ways, correcting a badly worded draft ordinance that could have been read to ban bicycles on at least one street, in violation of state law.

Credit Erik Griswold with sounding the alarm.

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Evidently, we’ve been Gavined again.

Streetsblog reports Governor Newsom vetoed AB 1147, which would have required better data and analysis regarding greenhouse gas reductions, while calling on Caltrans to develop a pilot program of branded bicycle highways.

He apparently wielded his overactive veto pen out of spite because the bill’s author, Laura Friedman, blocked Newsom’s $7.6 billion transportation bill in a dispute over what segments of high speed rail to fund first.

And no, I don’t know what a “branded” bicycle highway is, either.

On the other hand, Newsom did sign AB 773, which will make it easier to make Slow Streets permanent, as well as partially or completely closing streets for al fresco dining.

He also signed Friedman’s AB 43, which will allow cities to lower speed limits, but not until July 1st, 2024.

And Newsom signed SB 69, which will shut down the state’s “the defunct and bankrupt North Coast Railroad Authority,” and transition it to the Great Redwood Trail Agency, which will be charged establishing a rail trail through the redwoods along California’s North Coast.

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We’ve been following the case of the coal-rolling, 16-year old Texas driver who slammed into six bicyclists on a training ride in Waller County, and trying to read through the lines to figure out why the kid wasn’t charged on the spot.

We don’t have to wonder anymore.

Erik Griswold forwarded a powerful blog post from the Houston lawyer representing the victims from earlier this month, which has somehow gone unreported in the media.

Our 6 clients are suffering from horrible injuries including broken vertebrae, cervical and lumbar spinal injuries, broken collar bones, hands, and wrists- many of which require surgical intervention- as well as multiple traumatic brain injuries, lacerations, soft tissue damage, road rash, and extensive bruising. And those are just the physical injuries.

The driver of the black F-250 that crushed our clients’ bodies and left them and their bikes splashed and scattered across the roadway is a 16 year old Waller, Texas male. Through our own investigation, we’ve learned his name, his address, the names of his parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors and family friends. We know the names of the businesses owned and operated by the driver’s family. We know where he was earlier in the day, prior to crashing into our clients while they were more than 70 miles into their USAT tri-club training ride. We know the identity of his passenger (a local 17 year old male from a neighboring town) and a pretty good idea about the role he may have played in causing the crash that sent ALL of our clients to the hospital; 2 by Life Flight, 2 by ambulance, 2 by personal transport…

The driver’s family’s connections in Waller are a legitimate reason for concern, but I know that Charlie and Peter are very well versed in handling the challenges that nepotism can create.

They go on to add this —

The backdrop of the Waller Bike Crash is one riddled with anti-bike bias. Charlie knows all too well as he has recent experiences with judges there, one who actually lamented to him that Waller, TX “doesn’t like [our] kind.” Charlie has formerly represented several cyclists who were targeted and ticketed by Waller police over the last couple of years…This advocacy includes exposing and fighting against those who choose to selectively enforce the law for only a select few.

Our clients are not only hostages to the truck driver’s behavior and their own broken bodies, but also to a criminal process that is supposed to help make them “whole” again in a place that “doesn’t like [their] kind.”

Which reads like a perfect example of saying something without saying it.

Without mentioning the names of the driver’s family members, or their social, financial and/or official positions, the post makes it very clear he’s part of, and protected by, a powerful family in the country.

And that achieving justice in the face of the county’s extreme anti-bike bias will be an uphill climb.

It’s definitely worth a click to read the whole thing.

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Streetsblog reports that Norwalk is beginning work on a bicycle master plan.

Thanks to Joe Linton for the heads-up.

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LADOT offers a quick look at last Sunday’s CicLAvia.

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That feeling when you win the Nobel, but have no use for the prime parking spot that comes with it.

Thanks to Megan Lynch for forwarding the tweets.

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Kermet is one of us, too.

https://twitter.com/HistoryMuppet/status/1447643719512072192

But then, we already knew that.

And yes, that’s something to sing about.

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A UK bike advocacy group celebrates one of the country’s most celebrated bike illustrators.

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

No bias here. A British mayor complains he’s been abused for trying to stop “silly cyclists” from getting killed riding recklessly after dark.

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

A 41-year old man faces charges for running over a 12-year old girl with his bike as she was walking to school in Corona, then stripping naked and making lewd comments; he was arrested as he rode naked past students arriving for school.

Rome, New York police are looking for an ax-wielding, bike-riding robber who made off with a 14-year old boy’s bicycle after threatening to chop his head off.

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Local

LA is taking another step towards creating a continuous bikeway along the LA River, with plans to close a 2.9-mile gap in the San Fernando Valley.

A letter writer takes the LA Times to task for publishing an op-ed from a homeless advocate complaining about a bike rider who loudly objected to two men blocking the LA River bike path to comfort a homeless man, comparing it to a post on Nextdoor. Ouch.

Santa Monica-based Bird announced a new, integrated smart sidewalk protection technology designed to keep users from illegally riding the company’s e-scooters on sidewalks.

While Los Angeles tries to redefine what “Complete Streets” means to include sort-of, semi-complete streets, Culver City is busy building the real thing with a Complete Streets makeover of Washington Boulevard, including dedicated bike and bus lanes connecting downtown to the city’s E Line, nee Expo, station.

LA County Sheriff’s deputies disproportionately stop, search and handcuff Black people in the Antelope Valley, apparently for the crime of walking, biking or driving while Black.

 

State

Streetsblog complains about Gavin Newsom’s “deeply disappointing” vetos of bills to legalize Stop and Yield for bike riders and decriminalize jaywalking, saying the governor relied on flawed data.

A San Mateo letter writer complains about “confiscating” parking spaces from low income, working class neighborhoods, calling it callous and punitive. Evidently, she’s unaware that poor and working class people ride bicycles, too — many as their only form of transportation.

A letter writer from Northern California’s Plumas County makes the case for bike lanes, noting that he’s 60 year old and rides a bike 60 to 70 miles a week to stave off congestive heart failure. But we all know bike lanes only benefit young, healthy adults. Right?

 

National

America Walks will offer a webinar tomorrow on how to take on harmful jaywalking laws. Just a tad too late for those of us in California, though.

Now you, too, can build your own ebike with fat, low profile wheels intended for custom cars.

KC bike and pedestrian advocates called for safety improvements after a man was killed by two separate hit-and-run drivers while leaving Sunday’s Kansas City Chiefs game.

Kindhearted cops in Jasper, Texas raised funds to buy an adaptive bicycle for a 12-year old special needs girl.

Life is cheap in San Antonio, where a 70-year old woman will serve a lousy ten days behind bars and another hundred on house arrest for the drunk driving death of a bike rider.

Evidently, things are no better in Chicago than the Antelope Valley, where bike riders in predominantly Black neighborhoods are eight times more likely to be ticketed than riders in mostly white neighborhoods.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer promises to deliver for the Deliveristas, promising federal infrastructure funds to build rest areas for New York delivery riders, as they band together to protect their own safety.

A paralyzed former Army Ranger living in Virginia has made it his mission to provide adaptive bicycles for paralyzed and disabled children and veterans.

 

International

A British Columbia drunk driver was 2.5 times over the legal alcohol limit when he killed a bike rider, after texting a woman he was arguing with that he was going to get fucked up. And did, apparently.

The theft of high-end bikes continues in London’s Richmond Park, as machete-wielding thieves on motor scooters attacked a man and made off with his nearly $8,000 bike, the fourth such theft this week. Note to self: Don’t ride in Richmond Park.

Evidently, parking in bike lanes isn’t just an American thing, as a London bike rider snapped a photo showing at least seven drivers parked in one.

An English bike rider credits his helmet with saving his life — not from a collision, but when a brick wall collapsed on him as he was riding by. So always wear your helmet 24/7, on or off your bike, just in case.

After British bike riders ridicule a ridiculously short ten-foot bike lane, county officials contend it’s not really a bike lane, but just bike markings and parallel stripes on the pavement. Which is kind of what a bike lane is.

Does anyone really need the new Van Moof ebike that can do 37 mph? That would make it a motorcycle under California law, requiring a helmet, driver’s license and license plate.

A Turkish woman has taught 72 women to ride bikes in just the last five months, in an area where it’s not considered inappropriate for a woman to ride a bike. Which implies that there are places in the country where it is.

 

Competitive Cycling

A 31-year old woman is set to face charges of causing involuntary injuries and endangering others for causing a mass crash on the opening stage of this year’s Tour de France, by holding a handwritten sign reading Allez Opi-Omi — go grandma and grandpa — in front of the peloton.

Four-time Tour de France champ Chris Froome says he still dreams of getting a record-tying fifth win. Someone who shall not be named once won seven Tour de France titles, before unwinning them by doping.

Legendary cyclist Eddy Merckx says Slovenia’s Tadej Pogačar has the potential to do even better than he did. Which is saying something, since Merckx is generally considered the greatest of all time.

American Olympic bronze medalist Emma White announced her retirement at the ripe old age of 24, just days after winning this year’s Sea Otter Classic.

 

Finally…

That feeling when your neighborhood is closed to kids, because cars. Note to paramedics — don’t leave the damn keys in the ambulance.

And, um, well…

https://twitter.com/EntitledCycling/status/1447990411675389954

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

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