Tag Archive for Encino

Metro considers shifting highway funds to active transportation, and LA Walks calls for saving Encino bike/ped bridge

Metro wants to know what you think.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is looking for public input on a proposal that would divert funding currently earmarked for highways to support active transportation and Complete Streets projects.

Here’s how The Source, Metro’s in-house blog, explains it.

In June 2020, Metro’s Board of Directors directed staff to explore ways to modernize the agency’s Highway Program to better align it with policy goals of reducing vehicle miles traveled while exploring the expansion of eligible projects to include active transportation and “complete streets” improvements that focus on all forms of mobility rather than just vehicles.

The changes, if implemented, would open certain Measure R and Measure M funding that is now reserved only for traditional highway or roadway projects to new types of improvements. Those improvements include bikeways, sidewalk and pedestrian safety improvements, bus prioritization and explicitly using reductions in vehicle miles traveled as a criterion for planning and designing projects.

The plan, which has already received input from local governments, has been split into two sections, here and here.

Email your comments to MMGuidelines@metro.net, or snail mail them to:

LA Metro
One Gateway Plaza, M/S 99-23-3
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Attention: MR MM Guidelines Revisions

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Last week we learned about Caltrans plans to tear down an existing bike and pedestrian bridge over the 101 Freeway in Encino, while breaking their promise to replace it with a new and improved version.

Now an email from Los Angeles Walks is calling on them to reverse a bad decision.

Last week, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced their intention to permanently remove and not replace a pedestrian bridge connecting communities divided by the 101 Freeway.

While Caltrans suggested other alternatives for pedestrians, such as traffic signals and crosswalks, the removal of this bridge significantly limits the mobility of those walking or rolling. Currently, the Encino Ave. Pedestrian Bridge is located in at the intersection of Encino Ave. and Killion St (see arrow).

If removed, this reduces the number of options for residents in the area to cross the 101 freeway and places at risk a similar bridge on Amestoy Ave. about half a mile to the east. With both bridges gone local Angenelos would need to walk up to 2 miles to cross the 101 at White Oak Ave. or Balboa Blvd. Or they’ll have to walk up Louise Ave., a four lane road with scant pedestrian signage and infrastructure.

This bridge provides easy and safe access for those walking or rolling to go between the neighborhood and Burbank Ave., where you’ll find grocery stores, a pre-school, businesses, and other important community assets.

In 2019 alone, these local roads (displayed on the map) saw nearly 50 collisions. That same year the community experienced a horrific street racing crash along Burbank Blvd. that killed a 19 and 25 year old. If LA City is dedicated to its #VisionZero commitment (to reach 0 traffic deaths by 2025), tearing down a community-connecting pedestrian bridge over one of City’s largest and busiest freeways is the wrong way to go.

Our call to Action! 🚨

Let Caltrans know that the community, our seniors, our students need their pedestrian bridge. And we’ve made it easy for you!

Email Caltrans Now!

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This is no April fools joke, as a new study shows popup bike lanes really do increase bicycling rates.

This is what the New York Times had to say.

The research, published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that in cities where bike infrastructure was added, cycling had increased up to 48 percent more than in cities that did not add bike lanes.

Dense cities where public transit was already popular generally saw the largest increases. In cities with lower density, more cars per capita and higher traffic speeds, the increase in cycling was more modest. Paris, which implemented its bike lane program early and had the largest pop-up bike lane program of any of the cities in the study, had one of the largest increases in riders.

“It almost seems like a natural law that the more infrastructure you have, the more cycling you will have,” said Sebastian Kraus, the study’s lead author.

The increases held up even after taking weather and changes in public transit supply and demand into account.

Then there was this.

Bicycles, unlike cars, do not emit greenhouse gases. Matthew Raifman, a doctoral student in environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health, found in a separate study that investments in infrastructure for cycling and walking more than paid for themselves once the health benefits were taken into account.

“They increase our physical activity and reduce levels of greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, which all have impacts on health,” Mr. Raifman said.

Which is about as good an argument for transferring Metro highway funds to healthier and more efficient uses as you could make.

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The former Mayor Pete could have ridden in a chauffeured limo to his first cabinet meeting as US Transportation Secretary.

If he chose to ride a bike, it was to send a message.

Thanks to Keith Johnson for the heads-up.

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Betty White 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.

Cycliq shared a pair of punishment passes, as a truck driver passes safely once, then dipped into a bike lane to apparently send a frightening message. And a driver on a country road can’t be bothered to slow down literally for a second or two so a car coming in the opposite direction can pass, and takes it out on the person on the bike, instead.

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

This one fits in both categories, as a Hermosa Beach letter writer calls on the city to remove the “silly” sharrows on Hermosa Ave, after someone on a bicycle hit his son while he was crossing the street. Seriously, slow the hell down and ride carefully around pedestrians, especially kids. But just wait until someone tells this guy about cars. And don’t get me started on sharrows, which exist primarily to help drivers improve their aim. 

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Local

Bike Talk posted the lengthy public comment portion of last night’s meeting to discuss remaking Eagle Rock’s Colorado Blvd to support the NoHo to Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit line. And hopefully, make it a lot more livable and less car-centric.

Metro Bike’s ebikes will be free to unlock this month, although standard rates will apply after that.

 

State

The San Diego Bike Coalition is in the midst of a semi-virtual Pedal With Your Peeps scavenger hunt, including a self-guided tour with peep stops tomorrow. Thanks to Robert Leone for the link.

Berkeley bike riders are being victimized by armed robbers who steal their bicycles while riding in the East Bay Hills; at least three people have been bike-jacked in the last week.

 

National

A writer for Electrek goes offroad riding on the $1099 RadMission ebike, and rates it “great.”

A Honolulu woman was the victim of a strange strong arm robbery when another woman repeatedly whacked her with a skateboard before making off with her bike — then bizarrely brought it back and walked away.

The rich get richer. Oregon bike riders will soon enjoy the benefits of a new $11.3 million program to build offroad bikeways around the the state. Much missed former SCAG Active Transportation Planner Alan Thompson heads the ambitious project.

A ghost bike for the five Las Vegas bicyclists killed by a meth-using truck driver was moved to a public school in downtown Summerlin; the plan is to rotate the memorial to different locations in the city raise awareness.

Colorado’s Tourism Office explains how to build a route through the high country wilderness by threading together by a series of scenic and historic byways. All of which are even better by bicycle. And say hi to my old stomping grounds on the Cache la Poudre River while you’re at it.

An Ohio girl became a published author while still in kindergarten, penning Bug on a Bike after getting inspired while riding with her father.

Streetsblog says yes, it’s illegal to ride your bike after smoking weed in New York, which just passed a bill legalizing recreational use. But not that illegal, since the state doesn’t have a specific statute banning biking under the influence, unlike California.

A series of weekend popup shops will bring high-end bike brands to New York that aren’t normally available in the US, including brands from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Australia and Italy. Someone needs to do this in Los Angeles, too.

An unlicensed driver living in the country illegally will serve up to 12 years behind bars for killing a Pennsylvania bike rider, then face deportation once he gets out. Although he couldn’t legally get a license in Pennsylvania, because he was in the country illegally.

 

International

Pink Bike collects the highlights of yesterday’s bike-related April fools pranks. I did kinda like the homeopathic mountain bike first aid kit.

Popular Science offers advice on how to get a bike during the worldwide bike shortage brought on by the pandemic-driven bike boom.

Cyclist examines the inside story of the perfect storm that resulted in an industry wide bike shortage.

A new report from Britain’s largest bike retailer suggests the bike boom is poised to continue post-pandemic.

No bias here. A London paper freaks out over a reality star’s video message encouraging people to get outside, recorded as he rode his bike “in the middle of the road.” Although they do approve of his helmet and uh, “bulging muscles.”

A UK website offers a head-to-pavement guide to gear for bike touring.

This one’s going on my own bike bucket list. A trio of British groups has developed a 2,000-mile bicycling route connecting all 42 Church of England cathedrals in England and Wales.

India’s abrupt lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people to walk, bike or hitchhike back to their hometowns; for many, life may never be the same.

 

Competitive Cycling

Both the men’s and women’s Paris-Roubaix races have been postponed until October due to the pandemic.

VeloNews examines the technical aspects of how Irish cyclist Ronan McLaughlin became the latest in a long line of recent Everesting record holders, with a time of 6 hours, 40 minutes and 54 seconds, in part by focusing on shaving time on the descents; the solo attempt involves making multiple uphill climbs equivalent to the height of Mt. Everest.

 

Finally…

Fixing flats with a water bottle. Offroad Viking biking on an Alaskan glacier.

And striking a blow for bike equality by riding up to the drive-through window to rob a bank.

Although maybe he should have picked one where they didn’t already know him.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask

Tell Metro don’t water down Eagle Rock’s Beautiful Blvd, and Caltrans breaks promise to replace Encino bike/ped bridge

Metro still hasn’t gotten the message.

After the transit agency proposed a trio of auto-centric alternatives to accommodate a Bus Rapid Transit line on Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock, local residents took matters into their own hands.

And designed a beautiful, livable and much safer Complete Street that would accommodate everyone, while making the shopping street the envy of the LA area.

The design quickly won the support of County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who convinced Metro to go back to the drawing board.

Now word is they’re prepared to come back with watered-down alternatives to the Beautiful Blvd plan, which will no doubt range from drab to almost pretty, at best.

Now Streets For All is urging you to tell Metro that’s just not good enough.

Tell Metro you support bus and protected bike lanes on Colorado Blvd!

With our local partners on the ground, Streets For All has been supporting Beautiful Blvd – a well thought out plan to implement the NoHo to Pasadena BRT through Eagle Rock on Colorado Blvd. Thanks to our coalition’s efforts, Metro is now considering this option as THE option through Eagle Rock – and it has the public support of Supervisor Solis. But it’s not a done deal yet.

On Thursday, April 1 from 5-7pm, Metro will be hosting a community meeting and it’s critical that they overwhelmingly hear support for Beautiful Blvd. Here are some talking points.

VIEW TALKING POINTS + ZOOM INFO

Add the Metro meeting to your calendar

Apple Google Office 365 Outlook Outlook.com Yahoo

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It could soon get a lot harder and more dangerous to cross the Ventura Freeway in Encino.

Retired Caltrans District Bicycle-Ped Coordinator John Cinatl sends word that Caltrans is reneging on plans to replace the Encino Ave Pedestrian Overcrossing when the current bike/ped bridge is removed later this year.

Google street view of existing bridge over the 101 Freeway

Here’s how the state transportation agency explained their highly questionable decision.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) received comments, suggestions, and feedback from community members as well as elected officials regarding the US-101 Proposed Encino Avenue Pedestrian Overcrossing Project. Most comments we received recommended or strongly suggested the permanent removal of the Overcrossing without reconstruction; Caltrans agrees. Caltrans will not replace the Encino Avenue Pedestrian Overcrossing (POC) after the proposed demolition. Caltrans is delaying the demolition and will further assess the need and financial feasibility of a range of alternative pedestrian improvements as suggested by community members, City of Los Angeles staff, as well as local and state elected officials.

This is what we could have had.

Without it, anyone who wants to cross the vast river of high speed traffic will be forced to share crowded bridges with impatient drivers navigating their way on and off the freeway — undoubtedly resulting in a seemingly inevitable jump in injury collisions involving bike riders and pedestrians.

Which LA officials and Caltrans are apparently just fine with.

In addition, a second nearby bike/ped bridge could be at risk.

Councilmember Paul Koretz, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, and Senator Henry Stern offices suggested Caltrans also investigate the feasibility of permanently removing the US 101 Amestoy Avenue Pedestrian Overcrossing, located ½ mile east from Encino Avenue POC. Caltrans will keep the community informed as this suggestion is further evaluated. Caltrans will work with City of Los Angeles on engineering studies, environmental reviews, and seek public comments.

It’s not surprising to see Koretz continue his strange fight to protect the environment by making it much more difficult to walk and bike.

Although maybe Gabriel and Stern could explain their inexplicable support, which seems to directly contradict Caltrans’ newfound commitment to Complete Streets, let alone common sense.

Because from here, it doesn’t make a damn bit of it.

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Active SGV wants your support to demand the public park Puente Hills was promised on the site of an old landfill.

https://twitter.com/ActiveSGV/status/1374560958731841541

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More evidence that the former Mayor Pete really gets it, as Keith Johnson forwards a screen grab of the following brief Twitter thread.

The question is whether his support will be enough to make a difference on our streets.

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Thanks to Austin Brown for pointing our attention to an endlessly fascinating Twitch stream disproving the myth of stop sign-running bicyclists.

Or rather, proving once and for all that we’re not the only ones.

https://www.tiktok.com/@jhbteam/video/6942363500756913413?referer_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.roadandtrack.com%2F&referer_video_id=6942363500756913413&refer=embed

In fact, trackers following the stop sign stream point out that a whopping 98.73% drivers — just shy of 100% — don’t come to the full stop required by law.

And unlike people on bicycles, they’re the ones in the big, dangerous machines with limited visibility, and the potential to cause major harm if they’re not operated in a safe and legal manner.

Which these drivers clearly aren’t doing. Just like the ones on the corner of my block.

And probably most other corners, too.

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

No bias here. Santa Barbara’s Historic Landmarks Commission is attempting to block plans for a bikeway on Sola Street, saying it would disrupt the virtual aesthetic of the city’s historic street grid. Because evidently, cars fit in just fine with their image of the early mission days.

No bias here, either. A Michigan radio personality comments on an early morning bike commuter she sees on her way to work every day, saying she doesn’t know “what this guy’s life situation is, but chances are he’s just a weirdo.”

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

Police in Flushing NY are looking for a bike-riding groper and flasher who assaulted two women in separate attacks.

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Local

Metro will consider a motion at their virtual meeting this Thursday that would allow highway funds from Measure M and Measure R to be spent on local streets and multi-modal improvements — including pedestrian and bike projects; email your comments by end of day today.

Streets For All forwards news that next Tuesday is the last day to request a mail-in ballot for the upcoming Neighborhood Council elections Echo Park, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Elysian Valley Riverside and Atwater Village; anyone who lives, works, shops, prays, owns property, or have kids that go to school these areas is entitled to vote.

Sunset4All proposes reconfiguring the current narrow, dangerous door zone bike lanes on Sunset Blvd between Dodger Stadium and Fountain Avenue, as well as on nearby Santa Monica Blvd, replacing the virtually useless lanes with a two-way parking protected bike lane on the south side of the street.

A trio of UCLA professors hope to encourage more bike commuting by creating bicycle “flows” that produce real-time digital art exhibitions throughout the city.

The LA County Supervisors approved the DA’s call for a special prosecutor to look at past police shootings for evidence of misconduct, possibly including the fatal shooting of Ricardo Zeferino by Gardena police as the unarmed man helped look for his brother’s stolen bike.

A former participant in the 90 Day Fiancé reality show asked for prayers for her husband, who was at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after getting hit by a driver while riding his bike to work.

Rhianna is one of us, riding what looks like a rental bike on the Venice bike path.

 

State

Palmdale, Oakland and Kern County have been selected for a series of Vision Zero workshops dedicated to establishing an effective Speed Management Program. In other words, how they can finally get drivers to slow the hell down.

Berkeley police are getting on their bikes in an attempt to prevent attacks on Asian residents.

 

National

NPR says the streets are getting deadlier for pedestrians, and even worse of people of color. They’re not so hot for people on bicycles, either.

Wheeltales Tours is resuming supported bike tours throughout the western US, ranging from Colorado to the West Coast, with appropriate Covid precautions in place.

Cycling News offers advice on where to find a bike in the middle of a pandemic-driven bicycle shortage.

Gear Patrol pens a love letter to Specialized’s new e-mountain bike, calling it their best yet.

A pair of kindhearted Las Vegas teens are staging a bicycle drive to help combat youth mental health struggles; the young women have already received pledges for twice their original goal of 200 bikes.

The staff of a Boulder, Colorado bike shop were shaken but safe following the mass shooting that killed 10 people in a grocery store near the shop; they were close enough to ear the shots ring out inside the store.

A Pittsburgh professor proposes a data-driven model to asses bicycle safety in cities, while calling bicycles “arguably the most sustainable and eco-friendly mode of transport.”

Customers remember the owner of Tampa, Florida’s eponymous Joe Haskins’ Bicycle Shop, who passed away after nearly five decades of serving the community, calling him someone who inspired great rides, yet would find time for free bike repairs for those who couldn’t afford it.

Once again, a driver in the country’s most dangerous state for bike riders and pedestrians has slammed into multiple people riding bicycles, killing one bike rider and seriously injuring another in Jupiter, Florida. There’s something seriously wrong when a driver can’t manage to see two grown adults on bicycles directly in front of their car.

One more from the Sunshine State, as police in Marion County, Florida are looking for the parents of a young boy, after stopping the frightened kid who was riding his bicycle on the freeway.

 

International

What to look for in road bike disc brakes.

A writer for Treehugger offers a second-year update on life with an ebike.

Irish actress Jessie Buckley is one of us, describing how she paid a bike mechanic to loosen the spokes and bolts on her bicycle because tightening them took away the bike’s character.

The French government has issued a warrant for a driver at the Russian embassy, who has apparently been supplementing his income by selling dozens of hot bikes with a combined value of up to nearly $120,000; the employee, who doesn’t have diplomatic immunity, has apparently fled back to Russia to avoid arrest.

Two women have been killed in right hook crashes while riding their bikes in Berlin in less than a week.

Add a tour of the Malaysian city of Kuching to your bike bucket list.

Apparently not understanding the meaning of “clipped,” an Aussie website asks who was at fault when a driver slams into a bicyclist riding across the street, sending him flying; fortunately, the victim wasn’t seriously injured.

 

Competitive Cycling

Chris Froome says it’s impossible to say if he’ll ever be able to compete for a leader’s jersey again as he struggles to come back from major injuries, after bombing in the first two stages of the Volta a Catalunya.

 

Finally…

Your new tiny house could come with built-in ebikes. And a bike-riding woman learns the hard way what can happen when you’re more focused on live streaming than where you’re going.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask

Caltrans wants input on replacing Encino ped bridge, best ad ever for LA bicycling, and maybe we should just move to Dubai

Caltrans is looking for feedback on a proposal to replace the pedestrian bridge over the 101 Freeway in Encino.

Or maybe not, since one of the options doesn’t involve a replacement.

Artwork from Caltrans rendering. Thanks to S. Martinez for the heads-up.

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Phil Gaimon does a little lane splitting on PCH through the ‘Bu, passing cars like they were standing still.

Which, from the looks of it, they mostly were, as usual.

He calls this the best ad ever for cycling in Los Angeles. And he’s got a point.

Although I’m not sure I’d split lanes like that on SoCal’s killer highway, even though it’s perfectly legal.

But I confess, there’s a real satisfaction in passing long lines of stalled traffic on your bike.

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Maybe we should all just give up on LA and move to newly bike-friendly Dubai.

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Once again, an English police department shows their American counterparts how it’s done when it comes to enforcing safe passing laws.

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Local

A Pasadena website looks at the new bike lanes in Arcadia and San Gabriel.

 

State

San Jacinto approves plans to implement critically needed bike and pedestrian safety projects.

Santa Maria police will step up bike and pedestrian safety enforcement from the 18th through the 25th of August. Standard protocol applies — ride to the letter of the law until you get out of their jurisdiction.

Santa Cruz has chosen eleven streets for the city’s Slow Streets program.

San Francisco proposes a protected bike lane and other steps to fix a dangerous section of Folsom Street.

A Sacramento TV station wants to see your first bike.

 

National

A new Amazon Prime show from the producer of Survivor promises to pit the world’s toughest cyclists against the world’s most challenging bike race. If you can’t access the Bicycling site, you can read it on Yahoo.

Road Bike Action Magazine is offering free online access with registration. And entertain yourself for hours swatting their many popup windows.

Your next bike tires may never need air or a patch kit.

A columnist for a Salt Lake City paper says biking in the age of coronavirus is the least we can do. Which is all most people do, anyway.

The Green Bay Packers’ website goes all the way back to 1958 to uncover the source of the team’s annual tradition of borrowing kid’s bikes to ride to the first day of training camp.

Sadly, there will be no more bicycle taco deliveries in Milwaukee.

A Minnesota public radio station looks at the local chapter of Red Bike and Green, a Black riding collective founded in Oakland 13 years ago to bring more diversity to bicycling.

Heartbreaking news from Detroit, where a mother was killed, along with her one-year old son, when a driver plowed into the bike trailer she was pulling with her bicycle. Crashes involving bike trailers may be rare, but sadly, they do happen, despite what many drivers will tell you.

More proof that ebikes are real bicycles, as a Tennessee man lost 105 pounds and beat diabetes by riding one. Once again, if you can’t access the Bicycling site, you can read it on Yahoo. And before you ask, no, that won’t work for me; if I lost 105 pounds, there wouldn’t be much left. And I’d still have diabetes.

A Boston website takes understandable pride in Bicycling’s promotion of the hometown East Coast Greenway. Although hometown is a bit of a stretch for something that runs over 3,000 miles through 15 states.

A Hoboken NJ bike thief folded under interrogation about the theft of a folding bike, appropriately enough.

Apparently, Virginia state police plan to put a pickup truck behind bars for fleeing the scene after running down a teenage boy who was walking his bike, since they don’t even mention that it might have had a driver.

 

International

Bloomberg examines the problem planners face balancing expanded space for bike riders with the needs of disabled people. Although it’s worth noting that expanding space for bikes allows some disabled people to ride bikes, which many use as mobility devices.

CBC says cutting speed limits could slow climate change. Not to mention save lives.

That’s more like it. After 12 criminal convictions in the past 15 months — including four for bike theft — a prolific British thief has been banned from even handling or sitting on a bicycle for the next two years.

Surprisingly, bike theft in down dramatically in the UK, with 19,000 fewer bikes stolen compared to the previous year.

The Guardian’s Laura Laker says UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will never see the golden age of bicycling he anticipates as long as the roads continue to feel unsafe.

In what may be the best story of the day, a four-year old British girl rode three miles on her little pink bike — complete with a doll in the toy rear child seat — raising the equivalent of $522 to fight cancer, after her grandfather died of the disease.

Helsinki, Finland is converting a boulevard into a shared bike boulevard, creating an express bikeway where drivers have to slow to the speed of bike riders.

A play that premiered in Germany’s Terezín Ghetto during the Holocaust will be performed live in New York and Israel; The Last Cyclist is described as a comic allegory that “pits innocent bicycle riders (Jews) against escaped lunatics (Nazis) who seek to destroy them,”

Residents of India Goa state are turning to bicycles and running to stay fit and get away from the pandemic for awhile. They also have the country’s best cuisine, which is annoyingly hard to find in Los Angeles. 

A former Philippine volleyball star turned TV host is giving away 50 bicycles to deserving people to help them get to work during the pandemic.

 

Competitive Cycling

A writer for the New York Times examines the coronavirus lockdown phenomenon of Everesting and the rapidly falling world records.

Colorado’s high school mountain bike season is going virtual in response to Covid-19. Now if they can just figure out how to make that work with high school football.

Cycling News wants to know if anyone can beat Remco Evanepoel at the rescheduled Il Lombardia monument race.

You may never win a stage in the Tour de France or the Critérium du Dauphiné, but you can own the bike that did. Or might have, anyway.

Speaking of which, Stage 2 of the Critérium du Dauphiné featured an unexpected hazard — hailstones.

 

Finally…

That feeling when you have to revise your story because people don’t know what a stroad is. Your next bike helmet could squish down, so hopefully your head won’t.

And if you’re going to ride 621 miles on a stolen bicycle to see Tokyo for the first time, try not to get busted for bike theft just short of the city.

But at least the purloined bike the adventurous thief took was only worth $93.

Thanks to Robert Leone for that last one.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask, already. 

Accused killer of Jim Swarzman arraigned in San Diego, currently facing relative slap on the wrist

The accused hit-and-run driver charged with killing Encino cyclist Jim Swarzman has pleaded not guilty in San Diego Superior Court.

According to multiple reports, Joseph Ricardo Fernandez was arraigned Wednesday on a single count of hit-and-run causing death.

That’s it.

No charges for DUI charges or killing another human being, whether carelessly or deliberately. Just running away like a coward and leaving a crumpled body behind.

Fernandez faces up to four years for taking the life of another human being – less than Dr. Christopher Thompson received for attempting to injure two riders in Mandeville Canyon.

Hopefully, the case is still under investigation; it’s always possible that additional charges may be added later.

The description of the collision suggests that the driver was either asleep or extremely drunk when he hit Swarzman, as witnesses reported the truck drifting from lane to lane before swerving over to hit Swarzman’s bike.

Witness descriptions also suggest that the driver was fully aware that he hit something, despite Fernandez’s reported comments when he turned himself into police that he thought he may have hit something over the weekend.

By all accounts, the collision was extremely violent. People on the scene, including Swarzman’s fiancé, say his bike exploded on impact and that he was hurtled through the air before crashing to the roadway; the driver then sped away from the scene.

And yes, Swarzman was riding exactly where he should have been on the roadway, and was lit up like a Christmas tree in the North County San Diego darkness.

It plausible that Fernandez was so drunk — or yes, so tired — that he couldn’t remember it the next day.

But I find it impossible to believe that he did not know, at the moment of impact and the minutes that followed, that he had hit someone or something, and made the decision to run away rather than stop and be held accountable for his actions.

Of course, I have no way of knowing if Fernandez had been drinking. My speculation — and at this point, that’s all it is — is based strictly on the late hour and the witness descriptions of the truck’s actions before and after the collision.

Although if I had to make a bet, I’d lay everything I own on it.

And that shows the failure of our current laws regarding hit and run. As it now stands, California law actually encourages drivers to flee the scene if they’ve been drinking, because the penalties for drunk driving are much stronger than the penalties for hit-and-run.

If he was in fact intoxicated, the smartest decision Fernandez made that night — as least as far as his legal prospects are concerned — was to run away until he could sober up, then turn himself in once the booze and/or drugs were out of his system and a DUI charge was off the table.

And that has to change.

At last report, Fernandez was still being held on $100,000 bond. His next scheduled court appearances are a readiness conference on May 5th, and a preliminary hearing on May 10th in the San Diego Superior Court, North County Regional Center, case number CN290834.

I’m not mad yet. But I’m getting there.

Correction: Originally, I had written that Fernandez had pleaded guilty. That was a typo; the plea was not guilty, as I’ve corrected it above. Thanks to Dj Wheels for the catch.

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