Tag Archive for Earth Day

Riding a bike shouldn’t be so dangerous, a look at LA’s Vision Zero fail, and Garcetti cuts LA’s transportation budget

Happy Earth Day.

Or as Los Angeles officials call it, Friday.

LA’s elected leaders will undoubtedly pontificate and issue all kinds of public statements stressing the importance of protecting the earth and fighting climate change.

But won’t do a damn thing about it.

And if you happen to see outgoing CD5 Councilmember and current candidate for City Controller Paul Koretz, ask him how he can be a self-professed environmentalist while blocking bike lanes in his district.

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He gets it.

In today’s must-read story, a columnist for the New York Times writes that riding a bicycle in the US shouldn’t be this dangerous.

Using the recent death of a 13-year old Mountain View boy as a starting point, Farhad Manjoo writes that the boy was right hooked by a truck driver who reportedly never saw the kind on his bike hidden in his blind spot.

And that Andre Retana and the man who killed him didn’t do anything. But Andre lost his life anyway, thanks to roads designed to prioritize automotive throughput over everything else.

Including human lives.

Manjoo goes on to say this —

The United States is in the midst of a traffic fatality crisis. Nearly 39,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes on American roadways in 2020, the most since 2007. American roads have grown especially dangerous to “nonoccupants” of vehicles — that is, bicyclists and pedestrians. In 2011, 16 percent of traffic deaths were of nonoccupants; in 2020 it was 20 percent. The trends are a major reversal — from the 1970s until the late 2000s, deaths on American roadways of bicyclists, pedestrians and people in cars had steadily declined. There are a number of potential reasons for rising deaths — among them that many more of our cars are big and deadly S.U.V.s, that states keep raising speed limits, that ride-sharing vehicles have made our roads more chaotic, and that people drove much more recklessly during the pandemic. But while many cities, states and the federal government have unveiled plans to mitigate the horror, progress has been elusive.

The intersection of El Camino and Grant Road illustrates a major part of the problem. A big reason our roads are unsafe is because they were designed that way — because, as the advocacy group Smart Growth America puts it, policymakers at nearly every level of government continue to prioritize the speedy movement of vehicles over the safety of everyone else on our streets. And even when the dangers of our bad roads become glaring, officials have limited options for fixing them.

Our roads are deadly because officials will still call the inevitable consequences of this ill-design a tragedy rather than a choice.

It’s more than worth taking a few minutes from your day to read the whole thing.

Go ahead, we’ll wait.

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Call this one another must-read.

LAist’s Ryan Fonseca looks at the failure of LA’s Vision Zero and the city’s mobility plan, citing a lack of funding and political will that has led to a dramatic increase in traffic deaths, rather than eliminating traffic deaths by 2025 as we were promised.

Despite putting both plans in motion more than six years ago, L.A.’s streets are deadlier now than they were then, especially for people walking.

In 2015, 186 people were killed in crashes on city streets. Last year, the death toll was 294, according to city data. Pedestrians make up the largest share of victims, with 132 people killed by drivers while walking last year. That’s up 50% from 2015.

Fed up, a coalition of safety advocates and community groups is working to get a measure on the local ballot this November. The measure would compel the city to follow its mobility plan whenever it repaves a street. That’s rarely happening now, according to the group, called Healthy Streets LA.

Once again, it’s worth a few minutes of your day to read the entire piece.

Because, to paraphrase the NYT’s Manjoo, riding a bike — or walking, or even driving or riding in a car — shouldn’t be this dangerous.

Or deadly.

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Unfortunately, the mean streets of Los Angeles aren’t likely to get any safer anytime soon, as the mayor’s new budget cuts $14 million from the city’s already underfunded transportation budget, while pumping another $125 million into the LAPD’s bloated $3.2 billion budget.

Things like this are why both the LA Times and I have endorsed Kenneth Mejia for city controller, because he’s already doing the controller’s job of digging into the city’s finances to uncover what’s hidden there.

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Los Angeles filled in yet another missing chunk of the LA River bike path in the San Fernando Valley, as the city works to complete the entire 72-mile pathway in time for the 2028 LA Olympics.

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So tell me again how bicyclists don’t ride in the damn bike lane?

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The estimable Will Campbell offers a video love letter to the little known 4th Avenue bike and pedestrian bridge over the !0 Freeway.

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

More blowback for the coal-rolling Texas car tuner, as bike riders call for a boycott of the shop over the video of a driver enveloping a bicyclist in his truck’s exhaust, which was apparently posted by the shop owner, who somehow feels like he’s the victim the victim in the whole thing. Hint: He’s not.

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Local

A writer for the LA Times gets four of the five mayoral candidates on the record for their stands on environmental issues, including calls for better bike infrastructure; billionaire Rick Caruso evidently couldn’t be bothered to do more than email it in.

This, too, is the cost of traffic violence. A mountain lion was killed on the busy 405 Freeway just south of the Getty Center early Thursday morning, apparently trying to get across the massive billion dollar car sewer.

Over one hundred people turned out to honor fallen bike rider Andrew Jelmert with a ghost bike ceremony Wednesday night.

 

State 

Calbike credits their advocacy work for California’s 4th place ranking in the Bike League’s roster of bicycle-friendly states.

Costa Mesa opens a new bollard-protected bike lane on Bristol Street, while “enhancing” existing bike lanes on Baker Street. That protected lane is pretty much just separated bike lane marked by green plastid bollards that aren’t going to stop anyone.

La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation Board unanimously approved plans to repave and restripe the city’s deadly Via Capri to narrow traffic lanes and add buffered bike lanes, after a $1.32 million settlement over a man who was killed when his motorcycle hit one of the street’s many potholes.

Fontana has decided to abandon an undeveloped piece of property the city has owned for 25 years, while vowing to continue the bike races that often start and end there.

Cambria’s Eroica California vintage bike ride returns to San Luis Obispo County next weekend.

 

National

Bike Snob’s Eben Weiss says bike companies may not be perfect when it comes to protecting the environment, but they should keep doing what they’re doing.

Low-income resident’s of Corvallis and Eugene, Oregon can get a $1,200 rebate on the purchase of an ebike.

The wives of fallen bicyclists Adam and Matthew Bullard, the Whittier brothers killed while riding near St. George, Utah, thanked tlocal residents for honoring the men with a ghost bike; the city is also moving forward with plans for a permanent memorial near the site.

Indiana University’s legendary Little 500 is set to roll this afternoon; the race was made famous in Breaking Away.

There’s a special place in hell for whoever stole an adaptive tandem bike belonging to a Missouri special needs kid.

 

International

The City Fix calls out five ways to cut oil and gas use through clean transportation, including building safe bicycling and walking infrastructure, and prioritizing both in transportation budgets. Unlike, say, the budget presented by LA’s mayor this week.

The Belize cycling federation called on all bicyclists to don their team jerseys to ride along with the funeral procession honoring cycling coach and race organizer Edison “Vintage” Usher, who died just days before his 49th birthday when the motorcycle he was riding with another man exploded while on their way to livestream a women’s cross country race.

Canadian mountain bikers call for an apology after an Adidas marketing manager wrote a “willfully ignorant” blog post “steeped in white privilege,” which they say suggests the reason women of color don’t succeed in the sport is due to their own lack of hard work.

The president of a Malaysian road safety research institute says there’s no law banning bike riders from any road in the country, as long as they adhere to basic safety requirements.

 

Competitive Cycling

VeloNews says Dutch pro Mathieu van der Poel may be wiser and more dangerous than ever after bouncing back from a nagging back injury.

Paris-Roubaix really was the Hell of the North for France’s Florian Sénéchal, who claims a spectator doused him with urine during the race. Yet he still managed to finish 13th, despite an earlier crash.

VeloNews offers photos from the first stage of this year’s Redlands Classic.

 

Finally…

That feeling when you just want to go for a buck naked bike ride. Nothing like biking with a goggles and bowtie wearing kitty.

And answering the age old question of why do bicyclists shave their legs?

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

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

Morning Links: DC bike advocate Dave Salovesh killed, DTLA cycle tracks starts work, and Metro Bikes free today

I lost a follower on Twitter last weekend. 

Which is nothing new.

Except this time it happened the worst possible way. 

Like a number of other people, I’ve followed Dave Salovesh, aka @darsal, for some time. And vice versa, for reasons only he knew.

The extremely popular DC bike advocate has been an outspoken supporter of protected bike lanes and safer streets, as well as taking action now to fight climate change. I’ve enjoyed his humor and insights, and learned a lot from him over the years.

Sadly, we won’t be following each other anymore.

Salovesh was killed Friday morning when the speeding driver of a stolen van ran a red light, crashed into a car and slammed into his bicycle before crashing into a tree.

It could be argued that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, collateral damage to someone else’s crime.

Except he was riding on one of the city’s most dangerous streets, where Salovesh had been fighting to get a protected bike lane.

Whether that would have been enough to save him, we’ll never know.  

Meanwhile, a bicycle columnist for a DC weekly remembers Salovesh as his good friend, confessing to raw emotions while adding that bike advocacy will go on, but it will be far less meaningful without him.

Over two hundred bike riders held a vigil and ghost bike ceremony in his honor on Sunday, starting and ending at the spot where the speeding car thief took his life. 

DC TV station calls his death a cruel irony, while bike riders attending the vigil demand for safer streets for all bicyclists

And the city announced, just a little too late, that it would increase enforcement against drivers who stop or park in bike lanes.  

Which is another of the issues Salovesh had long fought for.

Meanwhile, I’ve lost an ally and a friend, albeit one Ive never met. 

And now, never will.

Photo of Dave Salovesh’s ghost bike and the spot where the driver’s car came to rest by Ryan Keefe

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LADOT is beginning work next weekend to convert the bike lanes on Spring and Main Streets in DTLA to two-way protected cycle tracks. 

Now let’s just hope they also do something to keep drivers the hell out of them. 

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Metro, Metrolink and other SoCal transit systems are offering free rides today in honor of Earth Day.

They’re also providing free rides on the Metro Bike bikeshare system. 

Or you can just ride your own bike, which is always free, with or without a code. 

Meanwhile, Metro celebrates Earth Day by beginning a three-year detour of the Expo Line bike path next to Jefferson Blvd today

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LA’s hit-and-run epidemic struck close to home last week, when a man was murdered by a hit-and-run driver on Sunset Blvd just walking distance from our apartment.

Even with the cane I’m currently confined to.

Compounding the tragedy, the victim was an Australian man who had been released from prison 12 years after he was wrongly convicted of murder.

……….

Pinkbike celebrated the weekend with videos of epic mountain bike fails. 

On the other hand, at least these people were out there riding, so there’s that.

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Local

Westwood Village applies for grants to improve the appearance and walkability of Westwood Blvd, as well as install bike racks. But apparently forgets to improve the actual streets and add bike lanes so people might actually use them. 

A writer for the USC paper says the future of LA sustainability begins with students, urging them to get involved at every level of planning and policy, including supporting more bike lanes. 

The LACBC’s next Sunday Funday Ride rolls May 5th, offering a preview of June’s popular LA River Ride

Claremont police ticketed bike riders and drivers in a crosswalk crackdown for rolling through the crosswalk instead of stopping for pedestrians, as the law requires. 

Food delivery drivers will get their own dedicated parking spaces in front of two restaurants in downtown Santa Monica for a three-month trial to keep them from double-parking in the bike lane. Now maybe they can do something about the FedEx and UPS drivers who park in the bike lanes on Ocean and San Vicente on a daily basis

 

State

Turns out the thief who stole a $5,000 bike from the Cyclist bike shop in Santa Ana just wanted to ride it, and cut off the ends of the handlebars because he’s a Phil Gaimon fan.

A San Diego community planning board voted to approve plans for a new cycle track in Point Loma

A bike rider was lucky to escape with minor injuries following a crash with a hit-and-run driver near the University of San Diego. 

A “gypsy family” of pedicab drivers stops in Coachella to provide rides at the music festival, one of several they serve as they make their way around the country. 

A San Jose newspaper says the popular road up Mt. Diablo needs more bike turnouts allowing drivers to pass bike riders without crossing the center line, and hopefully avoid the next crash. 

In a horrifying story, the CHP is looking for a hit-and-run driver who left a Merced woman to die on the side of the road after crashing into her bicycle; her body was found at 1 pm, hours after she was struck the previous evening. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know if she would have survived if she had been found sooner. Or if the coward who hit her had stopped to get help. 

 

National

Seattle bicyclists rode to all 27 public library branches in the city in an 11-hour, 70-mile ride to support investing in the city’s library system.

Speaking of Seattle, the city is bucking the trend by maintaining a fleet of dockless bikeshare bikes, even as providers pull dockless bicycles in favor of e-scooters. 

Talk about not getting it. A Texas man will spend the next ten years behind bars after repeatedly violating the terms of his probation for the hit-and-run death of a bike rider; he had originally gotten out after serving just 17 days of a two-year sentence thanks to a loophole in the law. You’d think someone would have enough sense to keep their nose clean after a gift like that. But apparently  you’d be wrong

She gets it. A Chicago letter writer says make safer bike lanes the norm

A Michigan outdoor campaign is putting a face on distracted driving by plastering photos of the victims of distracted drivers on billboards.

A Rhode Island man has spent the past nine years looking for a pair of nurses to thank them for saving his life after his front wheel locked up on a bike path.

A 74-year old New York man says he was attacked by a lawless gang of teenage bicyclists swarming down a riverfront path. 

The head of New York’s TransAlt advocacy group says the NYPD has to stop going out of its way to blame the victims

DC bike cops bust a prodigious bike thief, but aren’t able to find any of the bicycles he allegedly stole. 

Kindhearted Virginia deputies pitched in to buy a physically and emotionally impaired man a new bicycle when his was stolen, after they learned he had overcome the odds by learning to walk again following a crash left him in a coma.  

A South Carolina newspaper says not every street in the state has to be a Complete Street, but there are some where it’s necessary.   

 

International

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for children and young adults

London’s formerly bike-friendly Sunday Times now says a reported drop in bicycling levels in the UK is a victory for motorists “in their long-running battle with cyclists.”

A writer for The Guardian says cars are ruining our lives and triggering environmental disasters, and must be phased out within ten years

Dutch bike maker VanMoof has sold 11,000 ebikes worth a cool $33 million and change

Afghan women are demanding that their rights be preserved in any peace talks, including the hard-won ability to ride a bicycle. 

South African police are looking for a hit-and-run driver who fled the scene on foot after plowing into a 10 bicyclists, killing one and injuring seven others.

In a case of keeping an elderly driver on the road until it’s too late, an 86-year Australian man faces charges for dragging a food delivery rider under his car the length of a football field before fleeing the scene; the 23-year old woman he hit suffered extensive injuries, including severe burns. 

In yet another case of an elderly driver who shouldn’t be, a Japanese man crashed his car into a group of people waiting at an intersection, killing a mother and daughter who were sharing a bicycle and injuring eight others. Police suspect the 87-year old driver hit the gas pedal instead of the brake

Taiwan’s Penghu archipelago, made up of more than 90 islands and islets, is promoting bicycling tourism, saying it’s the best way for tourists to explore the area

Beijing is opening a four-mile, bicycle-only roadway with one lane in each direction, along with a reversible lane in the middle. 

 

Competitive Cycling

USA Cycling will field a national team at the Amgen Tour of California, naming ten young riders the team will be chosen from, including one who competes for an LA team. 

Belgium is mourning the death of track cycling great Patrick Sercu, considered one of the greatest of all time.

 

Finally…

Banned from riding your bike in a not-so-public public park. When you decide anyone who doesn’t ride like you do and go out of their way to ride in a bike lane is a selfish, entitled jerk.  

And if you’re carrying a number of controlled substances on your bike, don’t break any bylaws.

Whatever that means. 

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