Tag Archive for hegemony of the automobile

Morning Links: Getting crushed by car culture, safety versus convenience, and LA’s new sideways bike lane sweeper

Let’s start with today’s must read, as an editor for The Outline says he’s seen the future.

And it’s not us.

There is also the unrelenting, often murderous hostility of drivers toward pedestrians and people on bikes. No cyclist I know has not been menaced by an enraged driver — brushed past within inches, bumped at an intersection, run off the road — and most of us have been menaced more than once. No pedestrian who has to cross at a mid-block crosswalk is unfamiliar with the experience of a driver actually speeding upwhen they see you; no one who has crossed at a regular intersection is unfamiliar with a turning driver laying on the horn and waiting until the last second to jam on the breaks as you scurry out of the way.

The car is a very specifically American symbol of freedom, but like so many instruments and symbols of American freedom, it is a tool of domination and control. A car is a missile and a castle, a self-propelled, multi-ton fortress, hermetically sealed against the intrusions of weather, environment, and, of course, other people. Drivers view the world through the lenses of speed and convenience — most of the anger at cyclists, in my experience, is at having to drive at something resembling a normal urban speed limit because there’s a bike in front of them — but also through the lens of ownership. Streets belong to cars. The rest of us are interlopers, invaders, invasive species.

He goes on to blame car culture, not the internet, for the crushing disconnection and loneness rampant in out society, as we move things further and further apart, forcing us to live more and more of our lives in motor vehicles.

Seriously, take a few minutes to read it.

We’ll wait.

Then take a couple more to see just how right he is, as a new traffic congestion study is criticized for being too pro-car, while ignoring the “new realities of multi-modal transport.”

Making it all too clear that the auto-centric way of thinking won’t die easily.

Photo by John Howard from Pixabay.

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Then there’s this one from Grist, questioning whether New Orleans can keep bike riders safe, as it revamps the streets with 75 miles of bikeways surrounding the downtown area in the next few years. 

This is a life-saving effort,” De Wulf said of his krewe’s push. “Would you rather have someone die on a bicycle, versus someone being inconvenienced for five minutes of their day?

Sadly, I’ve heard the answer to that one too many times, in dozens of public meetings, and in the comments online.

Because far too many Angelenos would rather get home a couple minutes earlier, your life or mine be damned.

And that, my friends, is what we have to change.

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On the other hand, it looks like Claremont bike riders may have won that battle, at least on Foothill Blvd.

Michael Wagner’s excellent CLR Effect reports on the progress of Claremont’s nearly completed curb-protected bike lanes on Foothill Blvd, which is looking pretty damn good at this early stage.

Hopefully neighboring cities will pick up on it, and extend them beyond Claremont’s city limits.

Although, like anywhere else, some drivers are a little slow to take the hint.

One of my major regrets lately is that I don’t have time to keep up with some of my favorite blogs. Starting with Wagner’s, which does an exceptional job of keeping up with biking in the Far East. 

Of LA County, that is. 

So don’t make my mistake. Bookmark CLR Effect now, and keep checking back to see what’s new.

It’s okay if you got so caught up you miss a new BikinginLA every now and then. Just don’t let it happen too often.

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After trying out several models, Los Angeles is ordering a cute little mini-street sweeper for protected bike lanes.

Hopefully it will work upright, as well as sideways. Although it won’t get a lot of use either way unless LA builds some more protected lanes.

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A new study shows women who say they have genital pain and numbness while riding a bike are far more likely to suffer from sexual dysfunction.

So don’t grit your teeth and try to ignore it.

Get to a bike shop and buy a new seat to take the pressure off. Or get a good bike fit to change your positioning in the saddle.

Even if you have to get a friend to help and do it yourself.

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Local

A writer for City Walk talks with bike and Complete Streets supporter Sarah Kate Levy about her race to unseat David Ryu in LA’s 4th Council District; Glendale has an election coming up next year, too.

WeHo sheriff’s deputes wrote 72 tickets to e-scooter riders over an 18-month period ending in July, mostly for riding on the sidewalk, compared to 800 scooter tickets over the same period in Los Angeles.

Surprisingly, Pasadena is working on a return of the legendary ArroyoFest next year; the original 2003 event may have been the region’s first modern day open streets event, shutting down the historic Arroyo Seco Freeway, aka the Pasadena Freeway, to motor vehicles, and opening it up to all human-powered forms of transportation.

Boulder CO-based Bicycle Retailer and Industry News is looking for sponsors for an ebike tour of Long Beach, Pasadena and Santa Monica bike shops next month. Or better yet, just sponsor me and I’ll be happy to ride an ebike almost anywhere you want.

Long Beachize’s Brian Addison reports that 20 people have been killed in motor vehicle collisions in the city this year, including ten pedestrians and three people on bicycles. Yet no one there is calling for a ban on cars, unlike bikes or scooters if their users dare ride on the sidewalk or collide with someone.

Simon Cowell is one of us. And so is his son, as the TV talent show judge hopped on his bigass ebike to take the five-year old boy for a ride through the ‘Bu.

 

State

A former San Diego County sheriff’s deputy has pled guilty to sexually assaulting 16 women while on duty, including a woman he groped while she was riding her bike; he faces a well-deserved five years behind bars, and will have to register as a sex offender.

 

National

A new app promises to let you use bikeshare, scooters and transit systems across the US, including Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus.

Outside profiles a 57-year old African-American grandmother who rode her bike across the US just five years after suffering a stroke, learning about gears along the way. And she plans to do it again.

A Milwaukee convenience store owner says he’s fed up with getting robbed by roving gangs of bike riding kids, saying he’s losing $5,000 to $6,000 worth of merchandise a day.

After retiring, a kindhearted Michigan man spends his days fixing up bicycles to donate to kids in need.

A Connecticut Bikes for Kids program gave out 36 bicycles and helmets to underprivileged kids over the weekend, a small part of the 500 bikes they give out each year.

A writer for the New York Daily News says a new bike lane will endanger children because they might get run down by speeding bike riders. Or maybe because emergency vehicles might get stuck in traffic. Or, something.

The NYPD continues to blame the victim, saying an ebike rider was at fault for the crash with a garbage truck that left him critically injured; not surprisingly, Steetsblog sees things differently.

Maybe they could have a chat with the CHP. After a South Carolina high school guidance counselor was killed in a rear-end collision, state troopers charged the driver with driving too fast for conditions. The same law is on the books in California, but the CHP doesn’t seem familiar with that section of the vehicle code. Then again, LA County Sheriffs could use a brush up, too.

 

International

A British woman is planning to swim the English Channel, five years after losing a leg when she was run over by a truck driver while riding her bike; she’ll be joined by a pair of air ambulance paramedics on her swim, including the one who saved her life.

Just heartbreaking. Moments after finishing a 45-mile Scottish charity ride, a man learned his father had collapsed and died while taking part in the same bike ride.

The family of a fallen Irish bike rider calls for safer infrastructure and a ban on dangerous passing to protect bicyclists on the Emerald Isle.

Your next Dutch bike could be very strange, heavy, uncomfortable-looking and 3D-printed.

A new study suggests Barcelona’s plan to limit car use and reserve 70% of street space for bicyclists and pedestrians could save 667 lives a year. Which seems like an oddly specific number.

 

Competitive Cycling

VeloNews explains why Slovenian cyclist Primoz Roglic finds himself in the Vuelta’s red jersey instead of competing in the Tour de France earlier this year. And looks at former mountain biker Sepp Kuss’ rapid rise to a stage victory in the Vuelta.

The next time someone tells you ebikes are cheating, point them to Belgian pro cyclist Wout Van Aert, who’s using one to rehab a severely torn muscle suffered during the Tour de France.

London’s Independent looks back on legendary 1960s Italian cyclist Felice Gimondi, one of just seven riders to win all three Grand Tours, including his first Tour de France when he was just 22. Even in his best dope-fueled days, Lance never even tried to win any of the other Grand Tours. 

If James Joyce was a mediocre bike racer. Or writer, for that matter.

 

Finally…

Until you get eyes in the back of your head, a new bike helmet could be the next best thing. If you’re going to break out of prison, at least try to change clothes before getting on a stolen mountain bike the next day.

And we may have to deal with f’ed-up LA drivers, but at least we don’t have cope with schtupping copperheads.

Or toxic plants, for that matter.

 

Morning Links: LA Times columnist takes his anger out on us, and a section of LA River path closed for two years

Take a breath, George.

Abraham Lincoln had a habit of writing angry letters to let off steam, then placing them in his desk, unsigned and unsent.

Maybe LA Times Capitol Journal columnist George Skelton should take the hint.

In his Thursday column, Skelton reported that his planned trip to Lake Tahoe with his daughter over the weekend was derailed when they ran into a road closure to accommodate an Ironman triathlon — not a bicycle race, despite how he characterized it. And was so incensed he responded by calling for a tax on all bike riders.

Which is like demanding that joggers and pedestrians pay for the sidewalks and crosswalks they use just because the LA Marathon keeps you from crossing the street, as Keith Pluymers pointed out.

Except they already do.

In fact, we all do. Just as we all pay for the roads Skelton seems to think are exclusively financed by motorists.

Even gas taxes and auto registration fees, which he seems to think bike riders don’t pay — even though the overwhelmingly majority of people who ride bikes also own and drive cars — only cover a fraction of the cost of building and maintaining our streets and highways.

The rest comes out of the same income and sales taxes we all pay, whether we travel on two wheels or four.

Or none.

He also seems to forget about those similarly freeloading electric car drivers, who don’t pay a penny more in gas taxes than bike riders do. And hybrid owners, whose relatively high mileage means they pay a fraction of the taxes other drivers pay when they fill up.

Then there’s the simple matter of why drivers are expected to pay for those roads.

It’s not for the privilege of driving on them, as Skelton seems to presume. It’s because those multi-ton vehicles cause exponential wear and tear on the roadways every time they’re driven on them.

Bicycles don’t. Period.

Even at the peak of my out-of-shape weight following my father-in-law’s stroke, when I packed 220 pounds onto a 15 pound bike, my impact on the road was infinitesimal compared to even the lightest motor vehicles. Never mind the massive SUVs so common in California they should replace the grizzly on the California flag.

It’s true that bike lanes aren’t free.

But striping lanes costs just pennies on the dollar compared to the cost of building a roadway to accommodate cars and trucks. Let alone the more than $1 billion — that’s billion, with a b — it cost to put HOV lanes on the 405 through the Sepulveda pass.

And as anyone who’s driven there lately can attest, that’s barely made a dent in the infamous 405 traffic congestion. If that.

Skelton doesn’t address the question of who would have to register their bikes with the state. Does the toddler on her trike have to pay the same fee as the roadie slicing curves on Mulholland?

What about the immigrant worker who can’t afford a car or public transportation? Do we slap him in leg irons if he rides an unregistered bike on the streets of our fair state?

Finally, there’s the question of who would administer the fees he calls for.

The DMV has already said they don’t want the job. The sort of small fees he suggests — such as the $3 licensing fee charged in Long Beach — wouldn’t begin to cover the millions required to administer and enforce a program to register every single bicycle in the late, great Golden State.

And any fee high enough to cover the costs would only serve as yet another barrier to bicycling, at time when we should be lowering those barriers to encourage more people to bike to improve their health, and the health of the cities they live in.

Let alone removing a few more cars from our overly congested streets.

In fact, a recent study showed that every mile traveled by bike results in a net economic gain of 42 cents to society, while every mile traveled by car results in a net loss of 20 cents.

Which means we should be getting a rebate, not charged extra taxes on top of those we already pay.

Skelton should have known better.

And probably would have if he’d just taken long enough to cool off; even a few minutes with Google could have corrected his misassumptions before they ever got into print.

Instead, a respected reporter who usually offers valuable insights into the inner workings of our state government apparently let his anger get the better of him.

And instead of taking it out on the Ironman sponsors, Caltrans or the local governments who permitted the race, he chose to take it out on you and me.

This is one column that should have been placed in his desk drawer. And left there.

Permanently.

Thanks to Noel Smith for the heads-up.

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Just in case you needed a reminder — which is highly unlikely if you ride LA streets — this is what a too-close pass looks like, courtesy of On My Bike in LA.

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LA area cyclists are about to lose one of the few safe places we have to ride thanks to the never-ending drive to increase capacity for cars.

A one-mile section of the La River bike path will be closed for two full years between Riverside Drive and the 134 Freeway.

Yes, two years.

All because Caltrans is adding carpool lanes to a section of the 5 Freeway. The construction will impact a section of the bike path that runs nearby, and the closure is for our own safety, according to the notice.

Thanks for looking out for us. No, really.

Bike riders will be diverted onto Zoo Drive and Western Heritage Way, near where Finish the Ride founder Damien Kevitt was struck by a hit-and-run driver who dragged him onto the 5, nearly taking his life.

So if anyone happens to get hit by a car while bypassing the construction zone for the next two years, I’d suggest getting a good lawyer who can reach into the deep pockets at Caltrans.

And yes, I can recommend a few.

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Mike Wilkinson forwards advice on what to do if you’re the first on the scene following an injury collision. It’s written from a motorcyclist’s perspective, but the advice holds true for non-motorized riders.

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Welcome to the US. An unidentified cyclist training for the world championships was hit by a car that was somehow allowed to cross the course; fortunately, the victim was not seriously hurt.

Bicycling talks with U23 silver medalist Emma White; the 18-year old is the first American woman to podium in the world junior time trial since 2007.

School students get days off for snow days, teacher training days, religious holidays, and now, UCI world championships race days.

Alberto Contador makes plans to exit stage left after the Rio Olympics next year. Bike racing’s governing body announced next year’s women’s WorldTour with a 60% increase in competition days. Women continue to ride in the back of the bus, though, and there’s still no women’s equivalent to the men’s Grand Tours.

Taylor Phinney discusses the pain of time trials versus the pain that comes from a devastating injury, while the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay offers perhaps the best Taylor Phinney profile yet. And a gofundme account has raised $80 to buy Phinney a muffin.

Yes, a muffin.

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Local

South LA cyclists demand the Central Avenue bike lanes promised in the mobility plan. And rightfully so.

Bike Portland talks with our own transportation maven Seleta Reynolds.

The latest podcast from Streetsblog’s Damien Newton is a talk with new CicLAvia Executive Director Romel Pascual.

A man is under arrest for murder after shooting another man near West 6th and Lafayette Park, then stealing a bicycle at gunpoint before being captured by police.

Los Angeles Magazine offers five tools to make shopping by bike easier. Although they somehow forgot messenger bags, which were developed by bike messengers for a reason.

 

State

An anonymous tip has led San Diego police to the car used in a hit-and-run that seriously injured a woman riding her bike last week; it was found at a repair shop, apparently getting fixed to hide the damage. Although the local NBC station seems to think the car was acting on its own.

Trial began on Thursday for the wrong-way, allegedly high driver who slammed into 10 riders on San Diego’s Fiesta Island, leaving one permanently disabled.

The San Diego Union-Tribune puts the Coronado anti-bike hysteria in context, saying it’s part of a backlash against increased tourism on the penisula. Maybe tourists should respond by taking their money somewhere else.

Palm Springs cyclists get a new mobile bike repair truck.

Bittersweet story from Camarillo, as a woman is spending her final days touring California by bike with her boyfriend; she was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer shortly after kicking a two decade addiction to meth. Camarillo’s US Bike Company gave them new bicycles after theirs were stolen in Big Sur.

Caught on video: The San Francisco police captain who ordered a crackdown on scofflaw cyclists rolls a stop himself while on his bike. Maybe he was just trying to fit in.

Evidently, San Francisco cyclists will be on the Critical Mass to Hell this weekend.

Sad news from Shingletown, near Redding, as a bike rider was killed Thursday evening when a 17-year old driver drifted onto the shoulder where she was riding.

 

National

The National Bike Challenge hit 35 million miles 10 days before the scheduled end of the program, a whopping 50% increase over last year.

You can now ping your bell to tell you where you parked your bike. Although if you can’t find where you parked your bike, it’s usually a sign it may not be there anymore.

The Portland paper road tests the city’s new bikeshare bikes.

The standard controversy erupts over a road diet in my hometown, with drivers complaining about traffic backups and unused buffered bike lanes, which riders avoid because they don’t connect to anything and dump them back into traffic with no warning.

Denver tries on a protected bike lane for size; for a change, local merchants joined safety advocates in pushing for changes on the busy street.

That’s one way to steal a bike. A woman walked into an Ohio Wal-Mart, set a rack of pajamas on fire, and walked out with a new bike.

Some schmuck stole a 1980 Schwinn 12-speed from a 92-year old WWII vet in Troy NY; he only rode it twice before hanging it up in his garage.

Now those are some serious choppers. A New York bike thief imitates the city’s infamous rats and uses his teeth to gnaw through a bike lock. Yes, his teeth.

A Philadelphia website says the pending papal visit is the perfect opportunity for drivers to experience a Road to Damascus conversion to bike commuting.

That Delaware DuPont exec on trial for killing a man on a bicycle in a hit-and-run last year claimed he thought he hit some tree branches. And yet his young sons saw the bike spinning away and asked if he’d just killed a cyclist. Schmuck.

All Washington DC students will now learn to ride a bike in the second grade. This should set the standard for every city, including LA.

Atlanta officials sign off on 31 miles of new bike lanes.

By his account, a 70-year old Georgia driver was doing everything right when those crazy bike riders started yelling at him, and he accidently ran into one trying to get away. Sure, that sounds credible.

FL police blame a teenage bike rider for not riding in the crosswalk after he’s injured in a collision. Of course, if he had been in the crosswalk, they would have blamed him for that.

 

International

Now those damn Canadians are trying to take credit for the Popebike.

No bias here. The CBC apparently thinks the value of a victim’s bike has something to do with why a left turning driver ran him down in the bike lane and fled the scene.

Serious injuries among British bike riders are going up three times faster than the increase in miles ridden.

Brit bike couriers protest to demand a living wage.

 

Finally…

Evidently, the key to success as a champion lumberjack is riding a bike. Regardless of what the Standard thinks, a combination breathalyzer/bike lock is not a blow to bike-riding boozers as long as its use remains voluntary.

And this gnome-lookalike perv should be locked away until he’s 87. But you’ve got to admire his bike handling skills.

 

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