Tag Archive for driving

Morning Links: Ex-Angeleno Maria Sipin honored, closing LA River bike path gap in DTLA, and no drop in solo LA drivers

Just a quick note before we start.

I’m planning to post again tomorrow, despite the call for websites to go dark in observance of the Global Climate Strike.

While I support the goals of the strike, I expect to take a couple days off next week to spend time with my brother once he arrives on his 4,000-plus mile tour of the western US.

I’ll also be observing my birthday on Tuesday, even though it’s going to be a sad one without the Corgi.

I just don’t want to risk going three or four days in a row without posting anything. So call me a scab, but I’ll be crossing the virtual picket lines tomorrow.

And if you want to give me something for my birthday, I’m registered with Don’t Get Your Ass Run Over On A Bike.

Seriously, ride carefully out there. I don’t want to have to write about you, or anyone else, unless it’s good news. 

Capisce?

Photo of Maria Sipin shamelessly stolen from Alice Awards website; see next item.

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Let’s start out today with a pair of my favorite ex-LA advocates.

Former SCAG Active Transportation Planner Alan Thompson sends word that former LACBC volunteer and current People for Mobility Justice board member Maria Sipin is being honored with the Emerging Leader Award at Oregon’s Alice Awards, presented by the Street Trust.

Here’s how they describe the awards.

The Alice Awards celebrate our transportation heroes who continue to fight for safe and convenient walking, biking, and transit.

And here’s what they had to say about Sipin.

Maria Sipin will receive the Emerging Leader award. She is a transportation planner at the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).  In addition to her work at ODOT, Maria works for the community via several venues, and she participates in The Street Trust’s Women Bike Program.

Maria is in her fifth year as a board member for the non-profit People for Mobility Justice based in Southern California and is a certified cycling trainer by the League of American Bicyclists.

Maria is active in working for the community on transportation projects and activism supporting the needs and rights of low-income communities of color, teen health, and LGBTQ youth of color.

I’ll add that she’s also one of the nicest, most upbeat and indefatigable people I’ve had the pleasure to work with.

So I hope you’ll join me in congratulating Maria Sipin.

She deserves this one.

Thanks to Alan Thompson for the heads-up.

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We may finally get a bike path from Griffith Park to Long Beach.

As long as you’re willing to wait another six to eight years. And if Metro can find a spare $158 million or so under their cushions.

Streetsblog reports Metro’s Planning and Programming Committee approved moving forward with required environmental studies for three options to close the eight-mile gap in the LA River bike path through Vernon and DTLA.

Which, if you’ve ever tried to ride it, is a major pain in the ass right now.

The good news is, Metro already has $365 million in Measure M funding to pay for it.

The bad news, depending on the option they choose, it could run as little as $329 million, or as much as $523 million.

And won’t be finished until 2026 at best.

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Is anyone really shocked that new census data shows single occupancy driving is down throughout the US — but not in auto-centric Los Angeles?

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It’s been awhile since we’ve checked in with Long Beach expats and professional bike tourists The Path Less Pedaled, who take bicycling and painting excursion to Washington’s San Juan Islands.

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You still have time to be entered to win free Cycliq bike cams just for reporting obstructed bike lanes.

And no, for those of us who live in Los Angeles, “all of them” is not acceptable.

I tried that already.

They also offer a page full of tips and reviews for buying a bike cam. Just in case you don’t win.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes is all too real.

Physicians had to scrape a 67-year old British man’s elbow down to the bone to remove road debris after he was pushed off his bicycle by a masked passenger on a passing motorcycle. Yet remarkably, says he bears no malice towards his attacker.

But sometimes it’s the people on bikes behaving badly.

Police are looking for masked gunman who rode a bike up to a Chicago woman, and shot her in broad daylight on a crowded sidewalk; fortunately, she’s expected to survive.

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Local

If you have a little extra cash lying around, give some serious thought to donating to the crowdfunding page for LADOT crossing guard Delia Huerta Arrearan, who was killed in a collision that also injured a student on Monday; so far it’s raised just over $2,400 of the $15,000 goal in the first day.

CiclaValley takes a challenging ride up to the Hollywood Sign.

 

State

Police in Porterville are accused of using excessive force to arrest five bike riders in their early to mid teens, including throwing one boy off his bike; they were apparently participating in a ride-out with up to 100 other people. Naturally, the police denied they did anything wrong.

A letter writer in Half Moon Bay makes a call for bike bells to give a warning to pedestrians. Or at least put them on all the rental bikes.

Frequent contributor Robert Leone says he’ll be volunteering with the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition’s bike rodeo at this Sunday’s Viva Calle San Jose open streets event in San Jose. If you go, try to find him and say hi for me.

Biking and walking advocates in San Francisco offer their suggestions on how to stop people in cars from killing people. They can start with reducing speed limits and installing speed cameras, as the story suggests, then block cellphone signals in moving cars — all of which would require changes to state law. Then move on to reducing the number of cars on the street.

Speaking of which, San Francisco is considering banning cars from some neighborhoods to address safety concerns. A similar proposal in Los Angeles would probably result in NIMBYs and traffic safety deniers rioting in the streets.

Concluding our San Francisco trifecta, bike advocates are applauding approvals of protected bikeways on both sides of the bay.

 

National

Men’s Health ranks the 100 fittest cities in the US. Shockingly, car-centric Los Angeles checks in at #16, while San Francisco tops the list, with San Diego and San Jose close behind.

No surprise here, as Streetsblog says federal transportation policy is undermining climate progress.

PeopleForBikes is giving away prizes for completing their 2019 Community Survey, including a bike from Burbank-based Pure Cycles.

A writer for Gear Patrol says a $6,000 ebike doesn’t beat his motorcycle for commuting to work, but it’s a lot of fun, anyway.

San Antonio TX police bust a serial burglar who terrorized a downtown neighborhood by stealing high-end bicycles and tools.

Fascinating, yet gut wrenching story of a Minnesota renaissance man — named Genghis Muskox, no less — who rafted down the Mississippi, built his own bikes and rode across Europe. Then was brutally murdered by an Iraqi war vet and fellow alcoholic suffering from PTSD.

Officials in Dayton, Ohio may remove a requirement to have bike bells on bicycles, which has been described as burdensome and a “ticky-tack” excuse to make a police stop.

The rate of regular bike riding in New York appears to have dropped by 5% over the last two years, even though it’s increasing in Manhattan and bikeshare memberships are up. However, a lack of infrastructure in the outer boroughs and this year’s rash of bicycling deaths could be contributing factors.

New York’s Streetsblog refutes “the five stupidest things” that were said at a recent community meeting called to address the mythical war on cars.

Yes, adults can learn to ride a bicycle, even if they’ve never done it before. A DC man took an adult bike training class, and managed to stay up upright for the first time in his 38 years.

 

International

London’s buses will soon try out new safety systems to prevent driver fatigue and keep them from running over you.

A British man is happy to get his stolen bike back, even though he had to pay the equivalent of $45 to a man who claimed he bought it; several accessories were missing, but they did fix his flat tire.

After catching a close call on his cam with a driver drifting into the bike lane he was riding in, a bicyclist in the UK concludes that paint isn’t infrastructure.

An Aussie website says painting eyes on the back of your helmet or attaching cable ties won’t keep magpies from attacking you.

 

Competitive Cycling

VeloNews looks at why the punishing 3,000-mile Race Across America, aka RAAM, is cycling’s hardest race. I once met a competitor in several of the first races who said he started hallucinating by the time he got to Missouri, warning his support crew to watch out for dinosaurs on the freeway.

Britain’s Cyclist magazine considers how much the world championships have changed in the 37 years since they were last held in the UK.

Germany’s Tony Martin is bouncing back from a nasty crash in the Vuelta, and preparing to lead his country’s team in next week’s worlds, despite looking extremely worse for wear.

Probably not the best idea to tweet a photo of the broken bike that made a Swiss pro crash spectacularly (see below), since team bike sponsors usually don’t like things like that.

 

Finally…

Maybe it’s time for shower helmet shaming. Kids, don’t bring your handlebars to class or unless you want to put the school on lockdown.

And more proof you can do just about anything on a bike.

Morning Links: Green bike lanes coming to Beverly Hills, and windshield bias from Pepperdine economics prof

Hell is about to freeze over.

After years of telling us it was impossible and repeatedly voting it down, Beverly Hills has given final approval for bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd, between Wilshire Blvd and Doheny Drive.

The city council also overrode a staff recommendation for white striped lanes with a little green paint at key conflict zones, instead voting for green lanes the entire length, at a cost of around $100,000 — nearly triple the staff’s $35,000 budget.

Which should give you an idea just how cheap bike lanes really are.

The work should be done sometime this spring.

Thanks should go to Beverly Hills’ bike-friendly Mayor Lili Bosse, as well as Better Bike’s Mark Elliot, who continued a quixotic and nearly solitary fight for the lanes, long after others had given up.

Myself included.

Photo from Beverly Hills website.

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I’d give this econ professor an F.

In an Op-Ed for the Orange County Register, Pepperdine’s Gary Galles writes that transit use is down because cars remain popular.

And that the reason they are so popular is because they are “vastly superior” transit and other forms of non-motorized transportation.

Many things are already in motion to solve transit agencies’ problems. For instance, in 2015, Los Angeles began a 20-year plan to remove auto lanes for bus and protected bike lanes, as well as pedestrian enhancements, diverting transportation funds raised from drivers and heightening congestion for the vast majority who planners already know will continue to drive.

Such less than effective attempts to cut driving by creating gridlock purgatory suggest we ask a largely ignored question. Why do planners’ attempts to force residents into walking, cycling and mass transit, supposedly improving their quality of life, attract so few away from driving?

The reason is simple — cars are vastly superior to alternatives for the vast majority of individuals and circumstances.

Of course, what he fails to consider from his windshield-perspective perch overlooking PCH is that drivers around Southern California already complain about massive traffic congestion.

And, in fact, one of the reasons bus use is less attractive that driving is that bus schedules are constantly thrown off by all those people in cars jamming streets beyond their practical capacity.

So what traffic planners are attempting isn’t to create a gridlock purgatory.

It’s dealing with the traffic congestion hell we already find ourselves in, and preparing for an otherwise dystopian future in which more and more people try to jam themselves into an already built-out traffic system that can no longer be expanded.

So unless we provide those people with safe, practical alternatives to driving, our streets will continue to get worse with every new car added to the grid.

That means more frequent and reliable transit, and safer walking and biking. Which in some cases will require making traffic worse in the short term in order to make it better in the long term.

As an economics professor, he should understand that.

But as a shill for the motor vehicle industry, he’s doing a damn good job.

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The Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council will discuss the draft Hollywood Community Plan at the William & Ariel Durant Library, 7140 West Sunset Blvd on Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 6-8 pm.

If you live, work or ride in bikeway-challenged Hollywood, you’ll want to be there to support the bike lanes described in Section 6 of the plan.

Because the Hollywood Hills homeowners will undoubtedly turn out in force once again to complain about density and traffic congestion. As well as bike lanes, if they think it will contribute to either one.

Thanks to the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition for the heads-up.

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Local

A Pacoima square will be dedicated in honor of fallen cyclist Saul Lopez, the 15-year old boy who was collateral damage in a crash between two cars at Glenoaks Boulevard and Vaughn Street after one of the drivers ran a red light.

 

State

Coronado, where bike lanes give residents vertigo, considers improving bike safety by replacing stop signs with roundabouts; needless to say, not everyone approves.

The annual Tour de Palm Springs rolls this weekend, and a letter writer says it’s rude to ride two or more abreast and force drivers to change lanes (scroll down) to go around them. Even though that’s exactly what drivers are supposed to do, unless there’s a solid yellow line.

A Bakersfield columnist shares the joys of his regular Saturday morning group ride, which has been riding together for over 20 years.

Not so fast on the bike boulevard in San Luis Obispo, as the cycle track portion of the project has been put on hold after residents rise up to demand their God-given right to free street parking.

The former mayor of SLO tries to out-crazy the Coronado NIMBY’s, describing the planned bikeway as “urban rape … not to be performed by a male penis, but by thousands of inanimate bicycles … .” No, seriously.

Three-time world champ Peter Sagan will host a pair of California fondos, starting with a gravel ride in Truckee this May, and a road ride in a city TBD in November.

 

National

Nice idea. In an attempt to support sustainable transportation, a Washington couple builds a small Bike Hut on the edge of their property, providing riders in need with spare tubes, chain lube and other small necessities.

A Montana paper looks at the efforts of rural towns to capitalize on bicycle tourism.

Zen and the art of bicycle maintenance in Minneapolis.

After moving off campus, a Johns Hopkins University student discovers the joys of bicycling in Baltimore and the city’s monthly Bike Party.

A writer from Los Angeles falls head-over-heels — literally — for mountain biking just a few hours outside Atlanta. And wonders why he doesn’t do it more here in California.

 

International

A couple of British pub owners ride the length of South America, covering over 3,000 miles from Chile to Argentina.

A London physician gets it, saying the city’s Camden neighborhood won’t meet its smog reduction goals without a greater emphasis on bicycling and presumed liability. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, presumed liability assumes the operator of the more dangerous vehicle is at fault in any collision, unless it can be proven that the other party is at fault, because they have a greater responsibility to avoid crashes due to their ability to cause greater harm.

A British coroner rules that a velodrome did not follow safety guidelines when a cyclist was killed in a 35 mph crash with another rider in 2014.

An Aussie letter writer says bicycles should be required to have bells, since there’s apparently no other way to politely warn others a bike is approaching. And seems to be under the illusion that drivers politely yield to people on bikes and on foot.

 

Competitive Cycling

An entre Italian amateur team gets busted for systematic doping (scroll down) following the heart attack death of a 21-year old cyclist last May. But sure, tell us again how the era of doping is over.

VeloNews previews this year’s Amgen Tour of California, and says the key stages will be the famed Gibraltar climb and the time trial in Morgan Hill. And looks at how the pros overcome the fear of failure and getting hurt.

 

Finally…

Evidently, I’m not actually a road cyclist. Maybe someday you’ll ride wearing an inflatable flak jacket.

And today is International Winter Bike to Work Day.

So pat yourself on the back if you were able to somehow endure Southern California’s sunny winter weather on your way to work this morning.

The dog crap theory of road safety

Let’s talk responsibility.

Every morning, I walk outside with my dog, carrying a bag in my hand.

Then after a few minutes of watching her sniff every fire hydrant, bush, nook and cranny on our block — the Corgi equivalent of reading her Facebook page — she settles in for a good poop.

And inevitably, when I bend over to pick it up, I have to dodge piles of crap left behind by dog owners who aren’t as responsible.

It’s not just the unpleasant prospect of stepping in it that poses a problem. Or the simple fact that the law clearly requires owners to clean up after their animals.

What their dogs leave behind can spread disease, both to other dogs and the people who may inadvertently come in contact with it. And eventually, when the rains come, it will wash into the storm drains and out to the ocean, fouling the water that countless people swim and surf in.

Granted, one pile of crap isn’t going to cause any real harm. But multiply that by the multiple mounds on my block, and virtually every other block in this City of Angeles and the 88 other cities and towns, as well as unincorporated areas, in the county.

And you’ll start to understand why it’s not safe to eat many of the fish that come out of the bay. Or to spend much time in it yourself.

As I stand waiting for her to finish her morning rounds, I also have an opportunity to study the busy street that runs in front of our building.

I watch as a steady stream of cars flows past, observing countless drivers talking on their hand-held cell phones.

Others turn left or right or change lanes without ever using their turn signals, leaving other drivers to wonder — often with obvious impatience — why the car ahead is slowing down for no apparent reason. Or slamming on their brakes and swerving dangerously into the next lane to get around them.

Then there are the speeding drivers who weave in and out of the morning traffic, ignoring both speed limits and common sense, trusting their own driving skills to avoid the many near misses they create.

And too often, failing.

All this, despite their responsibility to obey the traffic laws they flaunt, and operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner.

Less frequently, I’ll see bikes rolling past as riders make their way up the street to UCLA, or down the street to jobs in Century City or beyond.

From time to time, I see one blow through the red light on the corner, forcing drivers who have waited patiently to cross the street to jam on their brakes to avoid a collision as the rider rushes into their path.

At night, as I take my dog out for the last walk of the day, I often see cyclists ride past without lights, briefly highlighted by the streetlights before rolling into semi-invisibility in the twilight between.

Other times, as I ride my bike, I often watch in amazement as I stop for a red light, only to see a cyclist ride up from behind and ride right through, ignoring my example as well as their own safety.

In fact, I was hit by one the other night, as I stopped and he kept going, brushing hard against my side as he blew through on my right, oblivious to the traffic starting to flow in either direction on the cross street.

Evidently, hitting me and risking getting hit himself were worth it to avoid stopping for less than a minute.

It breaks my heart when I reach an intersection and see oncoming or crossing drivers hesitate, despite having the right-of-way, because they expect me to ride through a stop sign or red light. Or anticipate that I’ll cut in front of them, ignoring both the right-of-way and my own safety.

Because that’s what we’ve trained them to do.

Too often, I find myself waving drivers through the intersection, granting my permission to do what the rules of the road say they have the right to do anyway. Or needlessly clicking out of my pedal and putting my foot down, so they’ll see that I am in fact stopping.

Because, like them, I have a responsibility to obey the law.

And more importantly, to share the road safely.

The difference is, when drivers act irresponsibly, they pose a danger to everyone else on the road. When we do, the risk is primarily to ourselves.

Although we, too, can harm others by our actions.

The problem isn’t irresponsible cyclists, despite what countless bike-hating internet trolls and shock-jock DJs will tell you. Or drivers who have forgotten the danger their vehicles pose, and their responsibility to operate them safely.

Or even dog owners who can’t be bothered to clean up after their pets.

It’s a society that has become irresponsible in the truest sense of the word, willing to let others clean up the messes we create. Except they often don’t do it either.

Whether on Wall Street, in Washington, Sacramento or City Hall, or on our own block.

When that lack of responsibility occurs on the streets, it forces other road users to assume responsibility for our own safety.

By blowing through that red light or stop sign, or driving while distracted — or any of the other countless, seemingly insignificant violations we commit every day — we’re placing responsibility for our own safety in the hands of others, who may or may not accept it.

When they do — or can, for that matter — everyone rolls off safely, if perhaps a little more angry at the cyclists or drivers they blame for posing a hazard to everyone else. And oblivious to the way they do the same things every day.

I’ve often said that the highest responsibility of any cyclist is to ride safely, in a manner that doesn’t pose an unnecessary risk to ourselves or others around us.

And yes, drivers bear that same responsibility, too.

So I promise I won’t make you deal with my crap on the road. I’ll ride responsibly, obeying the law when it’s safe to do so, and rarely, breaking it when safety demands doing something else, and ensuring that safety is always my top priority.

And hope that you won’t make me deal with yours.

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