Tag Archive for handheld cell phones

Morning Links: Expanded mobile phone driving ban, Vision Zero speed limits, and scary bike-riding non-clowns

The good news is, we’ve figured out what caused the problem with email notifications for new posts. Now that the tech supports are back from their annual conference, maybe we can get it working again.

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Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation prohibiting drivers from holding and operating mobile phones for almost any reason, including changing a play list or using a GPS.

However, in a sign of just how seriously the state doesn’t take distracted driving, the fine for the first violation is a measly $20, rising to a whole $50 for subsequent violations.

Even though distracted driving is every bit as deadly as drunk driving.

And people will continue to die until we treat it that way.

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Seattle votes to lower speed limits on city streets, from 25/30 mph to 20/25 mph as part of the city’s Vision Zero plan.

Which is exactly what LA has to do if there’s any hope of reducing, let alone eliminating, traffic fatalities by 2025.

Yet here in the City of Angels, the case is complicated by streets with near-highway speeds as a result of the deadly 85% rule, which sets speed limits at the average speed of 85% of drivers on any given street.

In other words, the best way to make sure the speed limit goes up is to keep your foot firmly planted on the gas pedal. Which is kind of like putting bank robbers in charge of bank security.

Never mind that speed limits are unenforceable by radar guns on roughly 75% of the city’s streets, thanks to the city’s failure to conduct the required speed surveys.

And never mind that decades of flawed traffic planning has left Los Angeles with countless streets engineered to carry traffic at speeds far beyond the posted limits, and too many drivers more than happy to take advantage of that.

Angelenos have gotten used to driving that extra 10 to 15 mph above the speed limit, even on streets with posted limits of 45 mph or more.

We could see open rebellion and riots in the streets if the police started cracking down on speeders — or at least a number of recall threats and angry letters to the Times. Let alone if city officials found a way around the 85% law to lower limits to life-sparing levels.

But it has to be done.

Because until we do, Vision Zero will be nothing more than a couple of words.

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Maybe the national obsession with scary clowns is just a tad out of control.

Consider this report from Portland, Tennessee about the arrest of pranksters posing as clowns.

State and local police urge residents to call in all unusual behaviors to the nearest law enforcement agency. The warning comes in light of several incidences in Tennessee and beyond involving people disguised as clowns who have threatened and scared people and children…

Portland (TN) police received another call Tuesday morning reporting a clown was riding a bicycle near Highways 109 and 52. The report was false and police found a person riding a bike wearing a safety vest with flashing lights to warn traffic, Heavner said.

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Cycling scion Taylor Phinney jumps to the Boulder CO-based Cannondale-Drapac team for 2017, just two years removed from the crash that nearly ended his racing career; Cycling Tips offers a good profile of the 26-year old racer as he works to revitalize his career.

Atlas Obscura looks at the demise of America’s love affair with six-day track cycling competitions of the ‘20s and ‘30s.

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Local

Richard Risemberg argues the benefits of a road diet on 6th Street in the face of NIMBY opposition.

CiclaValley offers a recap of recent bike cam videos, including yesterday’s big bike lane dump in Griffith Park and a dump off his bike at the Griffith Observatory.

World Car-Free Day may be over, but Santa Monica gets into the act on October 7th.

The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition and Bike SGV wants your input if you walk or bike in the San Gabriel Valley.

Damien Newton talks with Wesley Reutimann about the rescheduled 626 Golden Streets open streets event.

 

State

San Diego’s Measure A would raise $18 billion for transportation infrastructure, but just $540 million would be set aside for bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Chula Vista applies for funds to build a four-mile bike lane and make other bike and pedestrian safety improvements on a street where 33 bicyclists were involved in collisions over a four year period.

Three Redlands cyclists are riding 250 miles to Las Vegas to raise funds for underprivileged kids.

 

National

Cities around the US are using temporary, pop-up traffic installations to see if they work before making permanent changes. Which is a smart way of avoiding the inevitable panic that stops most projects before they ever start.

Students at the University of New Mexico pitch in to buy a new bicycle for a fellow student after his was stolen.

The nation’s best bike city, as anointed by Bicycle Magazine, has suffered six bicycling fatalities this year, all involving commercial vehicles. Meanwhile, a Chicago TV station finds the city’s bike lanes are often blocked by parked vehicles, despite a city ordinance prohibiting it.

A Michigan middle school student barely avoided becoming collateral damage when he jumped off his bike just before a van involved in a collision rolled over it.

Something is seriously wrong when a Western PA bike rider faces jail for taking the lane.

Boston’s bikeshare system really doesn’t want anyone riding their bikes on a busy highway.

New Yorkers are shaming drivers who block bike lanes on a new interactive website.

A Delaware cyclist says he’s giving up riding after he was rear-ended by a car, saying local roads are too dangerous and drivers don’t care.

Nice gesture, as Atlanta considers naming a one-block section of the Peachtree Street bike lane after the co-founder of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition after he died of a brain tumor.

 

International

Treehugger says Toronto has zero vision when it comes to Vision Zero.

A London supermarket will test one hour bicycle delivery.

A British cop stepped away from his duties protecting the US ambassador to save the life of a cyclist; the rider flew through the rear window of a parked car when he crashed into it on a training ride.

Scotland is in danger of missing their goal of having one in ten journeys made by bicycle by the year 2020, as ridership declined slightly last year.

A beautiful new 2/3-mile bike and pedestrian suspension bridge will be the longest bridge in Finland when it’s finished.

Turkey opens its first bike themed and bike friendly resort hotel.

A South African cyclist faces charges after he became enraged when a driver honked at him, attacking both her and a second rider who came to her defense, then throwing a cup of hot coffee at her husband when they spotted him at a bistro. Seriously, no matter what a driver does, violence is never the answer. Nor is losing control of yourself.

An Aussie cyclist takes silver in finishing her seventh triathlon, just three years after receiving a heart and double lung transplant.

A Chinese cyclist rode from China to Portugal, covering just under 1,000 miles in 87 days.

 

Finally…

When you’re on parole and carrying stolen credit cards and prescription drugs, it’s probably a good idea to obey local bike laws. If you’re carrying coke on your bike and have outstanding warrants, put a light on it — and don’t pass yourself off as your warrantless brother.

And the underwater mountain bike season is officially over.

 

Sharing the road with drunks — and worse

There are certain days I try not to ride. Or if I do, I try to get out and back before the kegs and cocktails start flowing.

Like Christmas Eve. New Years Eve. Super Bowl Sunday.

And yes, St. Patrick’s Day.

Days when the risk of getting intimately acquainted with the bumper of an intoxicated driver is just too high for comfort. And not based on statistics or studies, but my own personal experience of having dodged far too many far too close calls over the years.

Lately, though, it’s become clear that there’s another roadway risk that’s not tied to the calendar or the local bar. One that seems to be a daily, and rapidly growing, occurrence.

Take Monday’s ride.

I was at the base of San Vicente Blvd in Santa Monica, waiting to make my left onto Ocean Blvd.

I watched as the driver approaching from my left signaled for a right turn. And having been fooled by far too many turn signals over the years, waited until she actually began her right before starting across the intersection

Then I jammed on my brakes as she suddenly cut back to her left, forcing the driver behind her to slam on his brakes — as well as his horn — as she blew through the stop sign in front of her.

And rolled through the very spot I would have been occupying if I hadn’t hit my brakes in time.

It was okay, though, because she gave the other driver L.A.’s ubiquitous “sorry” wave. And I’m sure she would have gladly directed it my way as well, if only she’d actually seen me.

Do I really need to mention that she was on her cell phone the whole time?

Or consider another incident from last week.

I was on Beverly Glen, waiting with a long line of cars to make the left onto Olympic Blvd. And watched in horror as a pickup coming from the other direction made a right turn onto Olympic from the opposite left turn lane, cutting off three lanes of traffic in the process.

He then drove well below the speed limit, swerving from lane to lane before finally forcing his way into the left lane, nearly leaving a demolition derby’s worth of cars strewn in his wake.

Thanks to his slow speed, I found myself stopped at the same light with him, so I looked over, expecting to see a noticeably drunk motorist behind the wheel.

Instead, he had his hands in his lap.

No, texting.

Or consider another case from later that same day, when I took my car out to run an errand.

Just a few blocks past the spot of the earlier incident, I put on my turn signal and slowed to make a right turn. And nearly got rear-ended by a driver who evidently couldn’t see the car directly ahead of him, despite the working turn signal and brake lights.

And yes, I checked.

And yes, he had his phone pressed tightly to his ear.

So what do you think my chances would have been if I’d been on a bike instead of wrapped within a rolling ton of rubber, glass and steel?

I wish these were just random events. But the fact is, simple observation suggests that the laws prohibiting handheld phones and texting behind the wheel are almost universally ignored these days — though I have noticed more drivers holding their phones in their right hands, where they would presumably be less noticeable from a passing patrol car.

Even though studies have consistently shown that talking on a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk.

And texting behind the wheel is worse.

Which brings up the problem.

We can ban dangerous behavior behind the wheel and pass all the laws we want to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

But just like the trash bins in the bike lanes on Venice Blvd — or the three-foot passing law in our neighbors to the east — it won’t make a damn bit of difference without adequate enforcement.

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