Tag Archive for Livable Streets

Healthy Streets LA ballot measure qualifies for ballot, moves to city council; and Paris moves to be 100% bikeable

Correction: I got a couple things wrong in the following piece.

First off, the Healthy Streets LA initiative has qualified for the 2024 ballot, not this fall as I originally wrote.

Second, my sloppy wording implied that the city council had the option of changing the wording on the initiative, but they don’t. They have the option of adopting the initiative as written, or adopting their own ordinance based on the initiative. 

I’ve made both corrections below. 

It’s on.

The Healthy Streets LA ballot measure has been approved for the 2024 election.

According to Streetsblog, the LA City Clerk’s office ruled that the coalition behind the proposal, headed by transportation PAC Streets For All, has collected enough qualified signatures to go to a vote of the people.

Or as an alternative, the city council could skip the whole hassle of campaigning for the next two years, and adopt the measure outright, which is what Streets For All is pushing for.

The measure would simply require that the city implement the already approved mobility plan whenever streets in the plan get resurfaced, whether repaved or coated with a slurry seal.

The council can adopt the plan outright, adopt their own alternative version based on the plan, or vote to place it on the ballot.

Some people, including longtime leading pedestrian advocate Jessica Meaney, have called for the city to adopt the alternative version including a plan for implementation with a focus on equity.

The problem with that is that it could be amended or revoked by a simple vote of the city council at any time, for any reason. So if the next Gil Cedillo or Paul Koretz decided they didn’t want bike lanes in their district, they could easily have them removed.

Adopting the proposal outright would give it the force of law, and would require a vote of the people in order to modify it. And nothing prevents the city council from approving both the Healthy Streets LA proposal, as well as the council’s version, with a focus on equity in the resurfacing schedule, to govern how it will be rolled out.

Which would be the best of all possible worlds, and what Streets For All is recommending.

Meanwhile, the LA Times looked at the ballot measure, and the willingness of city officials and the public to make real changes to the streets to increase safety and livability.

In the city where the car is king, activists are pushing to claim strips of the biggest boulevards for bicyclists and walkers.

Their fight has played out at Griffith Park, where streets were recently closed after a cyclist was killed. It spilled out along the steps of City Hall where advocates staged a die-in. And now, it could make its way to the ballot box in a vote that will test traffic-weary Angelenos’ willingness to put themselves on a so-called road diet to make streets safer and the air cleaner.

But what jumps out from the story is a comment from a board member from NIMBY advocacy group Fix The City.

“If you take away vehicle lanes, you are creating congestion,” said Mike Eveloff, a board member of the nonprofit Fix The City. The group successfully sued Los Angeles over its mobility plan, mandating that an extensive outreach plan accompany new projects for 10 years. “This will result in even more lawsuits against the city. There are no costs disclosed. This represents a ‘hidden’ tax.”

Eveloff said he once loved to cycle but not anymore. “The infrastructure is incompatible with cars, bikes and pedestrians sharing the same space.”

He clearly doesn’t recognize the irony of that statement.

Because that same lack of safe infrastructure keeps many people from riding their bikes or walking to the market. And the fixes the Fix The City group opposes are exactly what would allow him to ride a bike once again.

Who knows, he might even like it.

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This is what Los Angeles could be doing.

Paris has invested the equivalent of 154 million dollars to transform itself from a typically auto-centric, car-choked city to one where both residents and visitors can choose to get anywhere in the city on two wheels.

Now Paris is planning to drill down to the neighborhood level over the next five years, to make 100 percent of city safe and convenient to travel by bicycle.

The city is increasing its investment to $258 million to build 621 miles of bike lanes and 186 miles of cycle tracks, along with 30,000 bike racks, with 1,000 spaces reserved for cargo bikes, and 40,000 new secure bicycle parking spaces.

They’re also planning for 8,400 ebike charging stations.

This is the sort of wholesale transportation changes we were promised with the adoption of LA’s mobility plan, before we were all told it was merely “aspirational.”

And forgettable, evidently.

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Robert Downey Jr. is one of us, as he makes a sepia toned call for more bike lanes.

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A Vancouver visual effects artist created short videos placing local bicyclists in the Upside Down and the middle of a Star Wars battle.

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

The widow of a man murdered by a bike-riding man while their family was on vacation in Myrtle Beach SC is demanding the death penalty or life in prison for his killer; the victim was shot eight times after agreeing to give the down-and-out stranger a ride

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Local

AAA calls on people to drive safely and avoid distraction as kids return to school. Never mind that they should drive that way all the time, whether or not school is in session.

The LAPD reports things are finally quieting down on LA’s new $577 million 6th Street Viaduct, while the city public works committee considers a proposal to periodically close the bridge to cars to allow greater bike and pedestrian access.

Santa Clarita residents are invited to a public meeting on Wednesday, August 24th to learn more about the Bouquet Canyon Bike Trail project.

 

State 

Streetsblog calls on California to ban parking minimums, noting that AB 2097 would prohibit parking mandates in areas near public transit.

Assembly Bill 371 could threaten bikeshare systems throughout the state by requiring providers to obtain insurance to cover the cost of injuries or deaths caused by negligent users.

Steve Martin is one of us, riding his ebike into town when he spends summers in Santa Barbara with his wife.

Sad news from Bakersfield, where a bike-riding man was killed in a collision just after midnight Wednesday.

Gizmodo calls Silicon Valley’s push into transportation a miserable failure, marked by a lot of disruption but not much innovation, while a Canadian technology writer accuses tech firms of planning for transportation that benefits the few, not the many.

San Francisco has received a $23 million federal grant to improve the plastic-protected bike lanes on a seven-block section of Howard Street, including concrete buffers, curb-protected intersections and new bike traffic signals.

No surprise here, as the parents of a 19-year old UC Davis student killed by a university garbage truck driver as she rode her bike to class have filed a wrongful death suit against the university.

A New Jersey website offers tips on how to keep your bike from getting stolen.

A new study suggests the Richmond-San Rafael bridge is dramatically underused, with an average of just 136 weekday crossings.

Call it a different kind of tall bike, as Road Bike Action examines 6’7″ former NBA great Reggie Miller’s new Moots gravel bike.

People For Bikes examines plans for the Lost Sierra Route, a new 600-mile bike trail connecting 15 mountain towns in Northern California.

 

National

Treehugger asks if we’re seeing the beginning of an e-bikelash.

Speaking of Silicon Valley tech firms, Ralph Nader urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, aka NHTSA, to recall Tesla’s full self-driving technology, calling it “one of the most dangerous and irresponsible actions by a car company in decades.”

CityLab calls for installing speed governors on all cars to keep drivers from dangerously exceeding the speed limit; modern versions use geolocation to match the posted speed limit on a given roadway.

A Seattle website suggests riding your bike around the scenic islands of Puget Sound.

Utah has seen a spike in fatal bike crashes, already topping any other year for the past decade.

A Durango, Colorado letter writer reminds readers that without an ebike, he wouldn’t be able to ride at all.

A Massachusetts city councilor is calling for the removal of a bike lane, even though it has reduced crashes a whopping 77%.

 

International

Toronto’s mayor met with the city’s largest bike advocacy group protesting a crackdown on bike riders in the city’s High Park; an Ontario website calls the crackdown a colossal waste of time and money, since only 15 pedestrians were hit by bike riders over an eight-year period, with no fatalities, while drivers killed 212 pedestrians over the same time.

A London bike company is offering commuters free bikes to use when tube workers are on strike.

Five British bicyclists completed a 1,100-mile trip across the country, raising the equivalent of nearly $100,000 to install “life-changing” gardens at every spinal injury center in the UK.

Horrible story from India’s Uttar Pradesh state, where a woman and her son beat a young man on a bicycle to death, using a bat to knock him and his bike into an open sewer.

A New Zealand website recommends the world’s best and most beautiful bike routes.

 

Competitive Cycling

Veteran World Cup mountain biker Lea Davison has walked away from the Life Time Grand Prix gravel racing series, concluding she loves mountain biking, gravel not so much; she also cited a lack of safety and fairness.

 

Finally…

Now you, too, can sculpt a giant pink cow for a Florida bike path. Or hold your own in a drag race pitting a DIY ebike against a Ford Mustang.

And if you’re going to get drunk and fall off your bike, try not to do it in front of someone’s doorbell cam.

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

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

New York joins LA in fight for 25×25, Streets For All’s state & county endorsements, and Ford says park the car

New York is joining Los Angeles in the movement for 25×25.

Advocates are challenging city leaders to return 25% of city street space back to the people by 2025, whether in the form of sidewalks, bikeways or public plazas.

New York currently has 19,000 lane miles dedicated to motor vehicle use, and three million free on-street parking spaces — more than 1.5 for every vehicle in the city.

The LA 25×25 campaign similarly seeks to return 25% of the city’s 6,500 centerline miles of streets to human use by 2025.

Unfortunately, none of the five major candidates for mayor — make that four, after Joe Buscaino dropped out — have signed on yet, though a handful of others have, including progressive candidate Gina Viola.

Which would seem to make it a valuable point of distinction for anyone who does.

Meanwhile, three of the five candidates for city controller have endorsed the plan; not surprisingly, pseudo-environmentalist Paul Koretz is a holdout, along with Paul Wilcox. And four of the five candidates for city attorney are onboard.

Only Curren Price has backed it among sitting city council candidates. Bob Blumenfield is a no, while Monica Rodriguez and Mitch O’Farrell have failed to respond, along with “Roadkill” Gil Cedillo, though several of their challengers have endorsed it.

Combined with the Healthy Streets LA ballot measure, which requires the city to build out the already-approved mobility plan as streets are repaved, it could radically reform the city into a human-centered space it hasn’t seen for most of the past century.

And New Yorkers could envy us for a change.

Photo shows kids enjoying a pre-pandemic CicLAvia.

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Streets For All offers their endorsements for the state legislature and the LA County Board of Supervisors.

Not surprisingly, the political action committee recommend returning Assembly Transportation Committee Chair Laura Friedman to office, along with Hilda Solis at the county level.

They also recommend WeHo Mayor Lindsey Horvath for the county board.

Click the link above for their endorsements in other state legislature races.

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The East Side Riders invite you to join them on a family friendly ride this Sunday.

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Ford is starting a new campaign telling their European staffers to park their cars and bike to work, instead.

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

This is the problem with drivers parking in bike lanes. A road raging San Francisco driver subjected a bike-riding man to a punishment pass, then threw something at him while screaming to “stay in the God damn bike lane!”, after the victim had been forced to leave it several times to get around illegally parked cars. Which is not to suggest that the jerk behind the wheel had a point.

No bias here. After a 15-year old Paris, Texas girl was injured in a hit-and-run while riding her bike, the local press can’t be bothered to mention that the apparently sentient car even had a driver.

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

A South Philly bike rider was killed in a curbside shootout when he tried to rob a man smoking in front of his home, not realizing the intended victim was armed and had a license to carry.

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Local

The widow of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who died during a mountain bike race run by the California Police Athletic Federation won a partial victory when a judge refused a bid to dismiss her lawsuit, but ruled she couldn’t receive punitive damages in a wrongful death case.

 

State 

No news is good news, right?

 

National

AAA included head-on collisions with bicyclists in their crash tests for cars with active driving assistance; the results weren’t pretty.

Bring it on! Seattle is hosting a self-guided Tour de Donut leading to five donut shops around the city; the $25 entry fee includes a T-shirt, and coffee or donut at each stop. LA has a hell of a lot more donut shops, in case anyone wants to try it here.

LV Sports Biz has more details on plans to hold a L’Étape by Tour de France fondo in Las Vegas next May.

Colorado bike vigilantes are stealing back previously stolen bicycles, because police don’t have the time or resources to track them down.

Millions of toddlers can’t be wrong. The founder of popular balance bikemaker Strider Bike will be inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame.

Police in Kalamazoo, Michigan are using a laser measuring device mounted to an officer’s bicycle to catch drivers violating the city’s five-foot passing law. Something we tried, and failed, to get the LAPD to do here when they complained there was no way to enforce California’s three-foot passing law.

Seriously? A Virginia legal group suggests five of the state’s bike laws that could save your life — including wearing a helmet, which isn’t required under state law. But the only tip they have for drivers is to obey the three-foot passing law. Because evidently, if you get killed by a driver it’s your own damn fault.

 

International

Vancouver is Awesome offers a cycling enthusiast’s guide to buying your first bicycle.

Good idea. Canada’s Price Edward Island is donating $25,000 to a foundation to help young people in recovery transition back into society, to help establish a program to refurbish and recycle bicycles.

Great idea. Cycling UK, Britain’s official bicycling agency, is now offering free three-month ebike loans to encourage people to stop driving and start riding.

The rich get richer. London bicyclists now have yet another bicycle superhighway, providing a safe route for riders on the city’s east side. Which compares favorably with LA’s none.

No bias here, either. An Irish jeweler blames a new bike lane that replaced parking spaces in front of his shop for “forcing” him to close, before even waiting to see how it affected his business; Facebook commenters aren’t having it.

We Love Cycling, which appears to be associated with Czech carmaker Škoda, offers advice on how to buy a bicycle online.

More heartbreaking news from Ukraine, where a father was killed by Russian soldiers as he was riding his bike, leaving his family to carry his body back home in a wheelbarrow.

No surprise here. After authorities in a New Zealand city block a dangerous street to through traffic, there hasn’t been a single crash; the city now plans to make the closure permanent.

 

Competitive Cycling

No change in the leader’s jersey, as French cyclist Arnaud Démare overcame  Caleb Ewan in a photo finish to win Thursday’s sixth stage of the Giro, capturing his second consecutive stage.

Evidently, Astana Qazaqstan team leader Alexander Vinokourov still thinks a bike race is best seen from the seat of a bicycle, taking a few minutes to motor pace behind the team van during Thursday’s sixth stage.

Cycling Tips looks at an Italian cycling team’s whopping 38 sponsors.

 

Finally…

Presenting an ebike for people who’d rather be riding a motorcycle. If you’re riding a bike with two active drug warrants and an open charge of driving without a license, maybe don’t ride salmon — or flee from police when you do.

And you’ll have to keep riding a dumb Zwift bike for now.

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

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

Guest post: Biking in Munich, Germany isn’t perfect, but it beats just about anywhere in the US

Good news and bad news. 

The good news is my surgery went well last week. The bad news is I entered the hospital with compressed nerves in my wrist and elbow, and left with conjunctivitis, leaving me virtually blind for the past several days.

So I’ll be out the rest of the week to give me a few more days to type with both hands and see clearly with both eyes. 

Fortunately, we have a guest post today from our European correspondent Ralph Durham, who has shared his insights on biking in Germany and other nearby countries since moving there several years ago. 

And I’ll be back on Monday to get things rolling again. 

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Greetings from Munich Germany.

My name is Ralph and I have lived here for almost 7 years. My wife got a job here and allowed me to retire and move with her. She was a lifelong SF bay area person and I have lived in several states and 4 countries. Most of my serious cycling has been in and around the SF Bay area. I spent 12 or so years commuting by bike the 12 miles from my home to work so I have seen a lot. I spent 8 years on Sunnyvale’s Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Here we have no car. Between our bikes and public transit, we have almost no need for a car. If we need one for a trip, we will rent one. 

The purpose of this post is to talk about riding in the Munich area on a regular basis. In addition, I have ridden in different European countries to some extent. The cycling infrastructure in Munich is quite a bit different from the SF Bay area. Munich is not perfect for its cycling infrastructure. Munich does have some of the best, or at least the greatest total amount of bike infrastructure in Germany, which include 58 bike paths. Many of those skirt parks and are along rivers.

Germany has no real overarching bureaucracy to cover cycling nationwide. Each state has their own way of dealing with the problems and how to work it out. I live in München, in Freistaat Bayern, (Free state Bavaria.) I can’t speak about other city/states and their methods. The basics are likely to be the same based on my travels. The rules of the road are becoming more standardized in Europe. The new government may push to develop more commonality in how cyclists’ infrastructure is set up. And better yet, provide extra cash.

The German mentality, caution stereotype alert. This is one of the big differences from the US and it might be the most important. Generally, Germans will follow the rules, and expect others to do so. This is especially true in town where the risks of hurting others are greater. That is not to say that some drivers don’t act up. Drivers in towns rarely speed. Pedestrians rarely cross on a red light even with no cars present. You will almost always get the right of way when you have it when on your bike. Drivers won’t race you to a spot so they can get ahead or turn in front of you. They will wait behind you on narrow roads until it is safe to pass. 

Helmet use is not required unless you are under the age of 16, which is when you can drink beer or wine. Adults wearing helmets are in two groups. Parents with children or people riding road bikes. Most ride some sort of practical city bike with no helmet. I am seeing more helmet use with the greater penetration of the e-bikes as a market share. 

There is also a lot more wayfinding signage. Some of it can be sketchy, or in my opinion too far apart. Or perhaps I just miss some of the small signs. I seem to see them better now than when I was first here. Cities are not laid out on a grid. Straight down the road is almost meaningless. Follow the road is better.

All photos by Ralph Durham

You will see whole families out for rides even if just to and around parks, and the school run. Many kids are starting on balance bikes so seeing training wheels is a bit of a shock. I’ve seen kids that can’t be much over 2 riding pedal bikes with no training wheels. Most families seem to have a trailer so when the kid gets tired, they can get transported home. You will see families on major streets because there is usually separated infrastructure. Children can ride on the sidewalks until they are 8. The feeling of safety is key to get people out on bikes.

One of the big differences from the US, is the speed that vehicles are allowed to travel. What we would call residential, is 30 KPH, 18 mph. When you enter a town, you will see a yellow sign with the town name. That means 50 KPH, 30 mph, unless otherwise posted. The 30 zones have no bike lanes for the most part. Pretty much all 50 kph zones in Munich have bike provisions. 

Most 30 zones are two-way traffic.

However, they are only about 3 car widths wide. You can have parking on both sides of the road leaving one lane open and drivers need to negotiate who goes first with oncoming traffic. These streets usually don’t have any yield or stop signs. Priority is given to the vehicle, car, truck, bike coming from the right. Yes, drivers will give a cyclist right of way if they have it. I can tell you that is very scary when you are used to drivers just taking the right of way in the US.

A feature which helps cyclists and pedestrians is that there is no right turn on red. There are a few locations where there is a slip lane to the autobahn, but it is rare. One part of this is the traffic light posts are on the entrance side of the intersection.

So, if you pull up past the limit line you can’t see the traffic light. Since there is nothing to gain from stopping in the crosswalk or bike lane, they are free for cyclists and pedestrians to cross the street. There are very few stop signs in Munich. There are signs letting you know if you are on a priority road or there is a yield sign.

Another big difference is in driver’s training and licensure. It is expensive and hard to get a driver’s license here in Germany, and in many EU countries. I have talked to people from England and Ireland and their process seems close. A beginning driver will be lucky to only have to spend $2,700. A lot of that goes to the required driving school. The base cost for a license is about $55 and is good now for 15 years. There is a first aid course, and an eye test. You pay for everything. The manual is 400 pages long. It includes the math for stopping distances and passing distances. The written test is about $110. You pay, every time you take the test, until you pass. I have heard there is a 30% failure rate. The driving test comes in around $340. You pay for the time for your driving teacher, their car and the test administrator. You pay each time you take it.

Drivers tend to be more careful in city driving. The largest vehicle has the most responsibility in the event of an accident. Insurance limits are high. Three million to 5 million Euro for cars. But not that expensive. People injured don’t need to worry about going bankrupt if a driver hits them, between the driver’s insurance and their own. It is not uncommon for drivers to have their licenses revoked for short periods of time for flagrant infractions, including speeding. At a set amount over the limit, it is automatic. Also, most people have ridden bikes or still ride bikes. This gives them heightened awareness to look for others using the facilities. I now am now shocked when a driver violates my right of way. When I first got here it was scarry to take the right of way. If you don’t the drivers will be annoyed that you didn’t follow the rules. The thinking is that you are using the roads that you know the rules.

In the city the facilities are a bit different.  In the center of town, you have the tight old areas and pedestrian malls. The old areas have no specific bike facilities for the most part. The speed limit is 30, if you are lucky to get a clear road. The pedestrian malls normally have signs which say no cycling except for late at night to early morning. There are too many pedestrians and tourists to ride safely. You can walk your bike. If you ride to the town center and decide to walk there never seems to be enough bike parking. So, you park with the rest of the bikes and pray for safety in numbers. Main roads into the center have space carved out. The car lanes are about 10 feet wide; parking is narrow and then the bike lanes are next to the pedestrian way.

Surprisingly enough, even with no real barrier between cyclists and pedestrians both parties stay in their area. Both parties generally keep a lookout if they must use the other’s space. 

The treatment of cycling and pedestrian facilities is different when there is construction. If building must go on for a while there are provisions made for pedestrians and cyclists. That can include covered walk/bike ways, lanes taken from drivers and or parking spaces. Since the mode share is high for commuters and families with children, provisions are made to reduce the impacts. One project that is crossing the river has a 4-lane bridge was necked down to 2 lanes, one in each direction so work could be done on half the roadway. The sidewalks/bike lanes closed but temporary covered bridges were set up for cyclists and pedestrians. 

When you leave the city and its suburbs the situation is a bit different. Many of the major roads have a mixed-use path on one side of the road.

Photo by Ralph Durham

This can move from side to side depending on where it was easiest to put in the path. It is not set up like Holland where it seems that they went out of their way to make the whole country connected. Just remember that it you hit a pedestrian it is almost always going to be your fault. Small winding country roads will generally not have bike lanes. Most tend to be narrow, almost 2 lanes wide, twisting along farms or forests. Drivers wanting to get somewhere generally stay off them. 

Towns of various sizes are close It is hard to go more than 20 kilometers without hitting another small town. Even if there is no specific bike lane traffic is slow, 50kph max, and they can have speed cameras. Some places have speed radar to inform you of your speed. If you are at or under the limit you get a green smiley face. Go over and it becomes a red frown face.

Cycling is done year-round. Winter cycling can be more treacherous because of balance issues. Some places the bike ways are kept clear and gritted better than others on the same street. My wife won’t let me ride in the snow without my spiked tires. I see a lot of riders without them. I am old and allergic to falling. 

The takeaway from this is that cycling infrastructure can be done. Even in tight European cities. Traffic speeds need to be cut down. England has a push for 20 (mph) is plenty. We don’t need streets that have freeway width lanes in residential areas. The fire departments will have to get used to lanes which aren’t as wide. You get more riding when people know that it is safe to ride. You get more riders when they can get to the places they want to go. Be that work or the park, or the next suburb over. It must be done. It is hard. I spent 8 years on my California city’s BPAC. Every paint stripe and loss of parking space was a fight. 

Too many developments aren’t set up for cyclists or pedestrians to get through them. Developments are huge blocks that force traffic out to arterial streets, car sewers, that encourage high speeds and leave limited space for cyclists and minimum width pedestrian facilities, should anyone wish to walk along a 6-lane road baren of life. No, Munich isn’t perfect or cycling Shangri-la. But it is better than anywhere I have ridden in the US. 

I know people are busy. Family, children, jobs. Try to provide input into the process. Letters to the paper. Letters/email to council, boards of supervisors. Your state representative and senator. Every bit helps. If you have the time volunteer for your local BPAC (bike ped advisory committee). Look at the city agendas, BPAC, Planning, Council. Find out how to contact members of those groups and explain what you like and don’t like. Attend meetings. Don’t be mean when you state your case. Research the city/county plans that they have approved. 

In the words of a radio newsman from San Francisco in the last century, Scoop Nisker, “If you don’t like the news; go out and make some of your own.”

Morning Links: LA Vision Zero is hiding not dead, and prelims for accused killers of Mike Kreza and Frederick “Woon” Frazier

One quick correction.

It turns out that LA’s Vision Zero website isn’t gone, it’s just been subsumed into LADOT’s larger Livable Streets website.

Although, since they didn’t bother to forward the previous links, it’s virtually impossible to find unless you know where to look.

Which may or may not be intentional.

And whether that reflects a lessening commitment to saving lives on the part of the city, or just an attempt to bring all the city’s streets programs together under a single roof, is still to be determined.

Thanks to PatrickGSR94 for the correction

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It’s been awhile since we’ve posted an update from our anonymous Orange County correspondent, who reports today from the prelim for the driver accused of killing Costa Mesa Fire Captain Mike Kreza.

Stephen Taylor Scarpa had his prelim last Thursday. The courtroom was packed, mostly with family and friends of the victim. The widow held it together surprisingly well.

Scarpa had so many drugs in his system, my notes are 2 pages long. But he might have just “fallen asleep” at the wheel, ’cause that’s happened to him before.

The defense attempted to present Scarpa as a sympathetic figure, saying Scarpa’s actions “killed” himself as well as Fire Captain Kreza. Yes, the defense actually suggested that Scarpa is a murder victim. Audible gasps in the courtroom.

He’ll be arraigned next Tuesday. I hope to make it, because if he’s wise, he’ll go nolo contendere and take whatever plea deal has fallen in his lap.

Meanwhile, Kreza’s sister decided to honor her brother with a tattoo of angel wings enveloping his initials.

And the state legislature voted to name a section of State Route 55 after him.

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Our OC correspondent also reports from yesterday’s hearing for Mariah Kandise Banks, accused in the hit-and-run that took the life of popular South LA bicyclist Frederick “Woon’ Frazier, as well as the coverup that followed.

Mariah Kandise Banks was scheduled to have her preliminary hearing Thursday morning.

She was late.

This did not escape Judge Lynne M. Hobbs’ attention. Once Banks was present and before her, Her Honor attempted to impart the importance of punctuality. She told Ms. Banks that she’d been this close to revoking bail. She reminded Ms. Banks of the seriousness of the charges against her, and referenced her priors, although I suspect that she was referring to the failures to appear, not the other hit-and-runs (yes, plural).

The prosecutor, citing Ms. Banks’ (and her mama’s) alleged ongoing harrassment of the victim’s family, requested an increase in bail, which the judge denied. The judge further warned Ms. Banks that any restraining order issued against her would become evidence against her in this case.

As Ms. Banks turned to walk away, she petulantly muttered, “Lies!” under her breath. This was heard by the judge, who immediately informed Banks that she was not yet dismissed. The defense requested and was granted that the preliminary hearing be trailed until September 19th, based on a substantial amount of new discovery (evidence) that had not yet been reviewed.

The judge asked why Ms. Banks had been late. She replied she was late because she is not allowed to drive and is therefore dependent on others for rides. (Um. If she is still at her last known address, she lives half a block from the freeway express bus that drops off a few blocks from the Foltz courthouse.) The judge helpfully suggested she find a more reliable way to get around. Inexplicably, Her Honor did not propose that Banks ride a bicycle to her court appearances.

“You are very much on my radar,” the Judge told Ms. Banks ominously, possibly motivating her to be on time.

I really, really like the prosecutor. She’s going to put this killer away for as long as legally possible.

Meanwhile, Spectrum News 1 checks in with the grieving mother of South LA hit-and-run victim Frederick “Woon” Frazier, and uses that as the jumping off point for a broader look at the problems of hit-and-run, and bike and pedestrian, crashes in the City of Angels. Note to non-Spectrum customers: You can still read the transcript, even if you can’t watch the video.

And no surprise here, as KNBC-4 digs into the stats underlying LA’s hit-and-run crisis, and finds only one percent of fleeing drivers are ever brought to justice for their crimes.

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She also adds this aside.

Wednesday night at 1am, an asshat motorist failed to negotiate the Zoo Drive offramp, took out a bunch of chain link fence, and left giant divots on the grounds of the Griffith Park Dog Park. The location is so close to the river path that obviously those damn cyclists are responsible somehow.

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The LACBC urges you to contact California’s governor to urge him to sign SB 400, which would allow you to trade your car in for an ebike if you’re poor enough.

Which is a good start.

But what we really need is a program that would allow anyone to trade in their car for a bicycle, electric or otherwise, or a fully loaded TAP card.

Or get a rebate on the purchase of a bike for commuting, so we can start getting more cars off the roads.

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Speaking of the LACBC, you still have time to complete their survey on what direction the bike coalition should take as it recovers from the disastrous financial mismanagement of the previous director.

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Bicycling talks with the founder of Project 529 about the ever present problem of bike theft, as their 529 Garage bike registry releases an infographic to drive the point home.

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Local

The Eastsider offers photos of the stunning bike and pedestrian North Atwater Bridge rising over the LA River, while CiclaValley considers Glendale’s plans for a bike and pedestrian bridge of their own over the LA River, both of which would join two more currently under construction.

KPCC tags along with Danny Gamboa for a first-person look at placing a ghost bike.

A woman was airlifted from the Angeles Crest highway with a severely torn calf muscle after getting hit by a driver, who responded to an oncoming truck crowding the center line by cutting to the right and hitting her bike after getting blinded by the sun. Hopefully the CHP will see that for the confession it is, and not the universal Get Out of Jail Free card it usually serves as. Thanks to Tim Rutt for the heads-up.

Santa Monica-based Bird’s head of sustainability wants to transform America’s streets, even after the company reneged on its promise to fund new bike lanes wherever it operates.

Don’t plan on renting an e-scooter in Hermosa Beach anytime soon. The city has extended its ban on scooters through April, or until they can work out guidelines in conjunction with neighboring cities Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach.

Long Beach warns residents to approve a sales tax extension, or face crumbling roads in the years to come.

 

State

The California DMV will be releasing a guide to your civil rights during a traffic stop next spring. One key point to remember in the meantime is that is you have the right to refuse a search of your bike and belongings if you’re stopped for a traffic violation.

Brooks McKinney talks with the guy responsible for keeping California’s pavement smooth and rideable. Oh, and drivable, too.

Residents of San Diego’s Point Loma neighborhood would rather have a homemade pump track than more housing.

The Department of DIY reared its head in San Luis Obispo, where local bicyclists made their own toilet plunger-protected bike lane, two years after a Cal Poly student was killed by a drunk driver.

Sad news from San Jose, where a man with a bike was collateral damage when an SUV driver crashed into a pickup and spun into the victim as he was in a crosswalk; his killer fled on foot without even looking at the man trapped under his SUV.

San Francisco responds to a jump in traffic fatalities by redesigning intersections to improve safety. Which is how Vision Zero is supposed to work. But usually doesn’t.

Streetsblog SF applauds the city for its quick build strategy, but says the 7th Street protected bike lane isn’t.

A Sacramento-area e-bikeshare program was put on hold after Trump’s China tariffs made it economically infeasible.

 

National

A new book details how America’s transportation systems are biased against women, including a lack of protected bikeways.

No surprise here, as a new study shows deaths from red light-running drivers has hit a ten-year high. But sure, let’s talk about all those entitled scofflaw cyclists.

A new study finds booze and e-scooters don’t mix, as nearly 40% of seriously injured scooter users were legally drunk when they crashed. Note to Today Show — Nice job of inflating the stats to get clicks, with a headline that says nearly 50%, before stepping it down to nearly 40% in the subhead.

A Washington man chased down and fatally shot his mother’s boyfriend as the victim rode off on a bicycle; the boyfriend was allegedly abusive, and had a history of protective orders filed against him by other women.

A Wisconsin woman who describes herself as a casual bicyclist has ridden over 7,100 miles at AIDS rides to raise funds and keep alive the memory of friends lost to the disease; when asked how much she’s raised, she said “Not enough because AIDS is still here.”

Hats off to the Providence Journal, which recognized that most biking riding kids in the Rhode Island city aren’t out to break the law or infuriate drivers.

New York police are looking for a man who beat and slashed another man in a subway station in an attack that began with a dispute over a bicycle.

A New York driver ran away on foot after somehow getting his car wedged in a barrier-protected bike lane next to a highway.

In a tragic reminder that people on bicycles can get hurt in collisions with pedestrians, the New York ebike rider who was critically injured after crashing into a 77-year old man has died, while the older man only suffered minor injuries.

Gotham bicyclists say just getting to a spacious new bikeway across a bridge is hell.

 

International

A kindhearted British Columbia business owner gave a boy a new bicycle when both his bikes were stolen, after the businessman learned the boy had raised over $10,000 for the charity that gave one of the bikes to him when he was diagnosed with diabetes as a five-year old.

An 82-year old Toronto man was overwhelmed by an outpouring of community support after the bike he relied on for transportation was stolen less than a week after he got it.

Canadian Cycling Magazine offers five tips to safely lock your bike.

Van-driving bike thieves are targeting solo riders with expensive looking bicycles on a popular Irish riding route. Correction: I originally misplaced this story as being from Scotland, not Ireland. Thanks to J. Patrick Lynch for the. correction.

Belgian ebike owners are hacking their rides to remove European speed restrictions.

No bias here. After a Spanish study finds “several cyclist and environment related variables” that led to fatal bike crashes, the authors only suggestion was bike riders should wear a helmet.

Even India’s relatively low-cost bicycle industry is being undercut by cheaper Chinese imports crossing the border from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The Radavist takes a gravel bike tour of New Zealand’s South Island.

 

Competitive Cycling

The owner of a women’s cycling team says she was wrong to be skeptical about the Colorado Classic bike race and its commitment to elevating women’s cycling.

VeloNews considers how the Colorado Classic upended the traditional TV model by streaming the entire race for free.

Just one day after losing the leader’s jersey, Nicholas Roche crashed out of the Vuelta.

Cycling Tips says the Cross County World Championships are American mountain biker Lea Davison’s chance to redeem herself after a couple difficult years.

 

Finally…

Now even the birds are out to get us. Who needs a fanny pack when you can carry a fashionable $375 “bike wallet” inspired by chunky bike lock chains?

And who really needs a bike seat anyway?

 

Imagine a great city: A Wilshire pipedream

I’ve always liked Wilshire Boulevard.

With the exception of my first few months crashing on the floor of my oldest friend’s apartment — in terms of years known, not age — I’ve spent my entire time in this city living, and usually working, within a few blocks of it.

For most of the 20th Century, once the city spread west from downtown, it was L.A.’s Main Street, home to virtually every important bank, business and department store in the city. It was also the epicenter of West Coast advertising; at least until Chiat/Day started the industry’s westward migration by moving to Venice.

Now though, it’s a faded version of its former self, a street so choked with traffic and stop lights that some sections are virtually impassible most of the day. A street most Angelenos try to avoid by taking parallel streets such as 6th or Olympic; cyclists have their own bypass routes.

As Yogi Berra once said, “No one goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”

Yet it is a street with infinite possibilities, drawing a nearly straight line from downtown to the coast. And soon, with luck, it will soon be home to the long-delayed and much debated Subway to the Sea — making it a perfect platform for a bold reinvention that goes far beyond anything this city has yet contemplated.

Imagine a Wilshire without traffic.

A Wilshire where the subway doesn’t just take a little pressure off vehicular traffic, but replaces it entirely. Where people aren’t just encouraged to take mass transit, but where it becomes the most viable and efficient means of transportation.

It’s possible.

A Wilshire Boulevard so completely reinvented, from Ocean to Grand, that alternative transportation becomes the mainstream.

Picture this:

On the far right side of the roadway in each direction, you’d have a row of parking next to the curb, flanked by a single lane of traffic. Every few blocks, a barrier would force drivers to turn right, preventing through traffic. This would allow drivers to use the boulevard to get to shops and offices, just as they do now, yet eliminate any other traffic.

Next to that would be a single through-lane in each direction for bus traffic. This would allow riders to get off the subway at the nearest stop, then transfer to a bus to get to their final destination.

Finally, the center of the roadway would be a bike boulevard — an entire traffic lane in each direction devoted strictly to non-motorized traffic and physically separated from motorized vehicles. This lane would also be free from barriers, allowing cyclists to safely travel the entire length of the boulevard, from downtown to the coast.

By placing it inside the car and bus lanes, rather than near the curb, buses could easily reach the curb to pick up or let off passengers, and cars could turn right into parking lots or pull into a parking space without crossing the bike lanes — eliminating the risk of right-cross collisions.

This could also be combined with a series of bike stations located in key employment centers, offering secure bike parking, showers and simple repair services, making bike commuting a viable alternative for many workers.

On either side of the boulevard, wide sidewalks — now free from the overwhelming noise and choking exhaust of passing vehicles — would entice strollers and shoppers with sidewalk cafes and open air markets.

It will never happen, of course.

It’s a lovely pipedream; just an exercise in possibilities.

Because something like that would take an enormous amount of money, which seems to be in very short supply these days. And it would take leaders with the genuine vision and courage to see the possibilities and turn away from the exclusively car-centric mentality this city is built on.

And that seems to be in even shorter supply.

 

Gary gets my vote for the best April Fool joke for a post so impossible it almost had to be real. Ubrayj comments on the Ponzi Scheme that is transportation planning. Metro plans an interactive chat this Friday; good place to ask why complaints seem to disappear into the void. Like the rest of us, cyclists in Long Beach want more. An older blog by my favorite Scottish bike blogger explains why London cyclists are tempted to run red lights. A Texas cyclist and custom bike builder tracks bike collisions, including a despicable hit & run in Utah and a Houston cyclist crushed by a fire truck; he also relates a harrowing story of his own recovery after being hit by a city-owned pickup truck. And finally, as if they didn’t have enough reasons to hate us, now we have a bicycling hit man.

Pico-Olympic: The 10% Solution

One thing you seldom see in Los Angeles is bold action from elected officials.

You might see it in the private sector — especially from corporate jerks vying for the title of the city’s biggest bunghole. But from the government, no so much. At least not since the city’s last great mayor.

That’s why I was stunned to get up one day around 18 months ago, and discover this in my morning paper — an exceptionally bold, if flawed, plan to reconfigure Olympic and Pico Boulevards into near one-way streets through much of the Westside. (Note that the story was written by the much-missed Steve Hymon, one of the latest victims in the slow decline of the once great L.A. Times.)

As anyone would expect with such a radical transformation of city streets, local residents and business owners had some legitimate concerns. And as usual, rather than sit down with the concerned parties — or the city council, for that matter — and negotiate out a solution that could work to everyone’s benefit, the mayor responded in typical L.A. fashion.

He tried to ram it down the city’s throat.

And in typical L.A. fashion, a lawsuit ensued. As a result, the brakes were applied, just as they are countless times every day by frustrated drivers stuck endless Westside traffic.

The sad part is, it could have been a great plan. Had the mayor and his minions looked at the plan as more than just a means of increasing traffic flow and reducing commute times, these streets could have become tremendous assets for the city.

But nowhere in this plan was there any suggestion of creating livable streets that would improve the neighborhoods they pass through. No mention of walkable streetscapes or any measures to accommodate cyclists. No beautification plans that would draw people to the area, increase property values and create new business opportunities.

Nothing to address the concerns of business people over the loss of street parking, or resident’s worry over difficulty getting in and out of their homes. Let alone concerns that the plan could backfire and actually increase traffic and congestion by drawing even more drivers are drawn to these streets.

Now, after repeatedly scaling back the once-bold plan, the Department of Public Transportation is holding hearings on what’s left of it. Which basically consists of three lanes in each direction, with a turn lane in the middle, prioritizing traffic in the direction of traffic flow, and eliminating street-side parking at rush hour.

Which may succeed in improving traffic flow somewhat. But continues the focus on vehicular throughput that the city has employed for the last 60 years — the same failed focus that got us into this mess in the first place.

And squanders a rare opportunity to do something that could truly transform L.A. streets for decades to come.

So the question is, do we settle for a mere fraction of the original plan — which itself was just a fraction of what it could, and should, have been?

Or insist that they go back to the drawing board, until they come up with a complete solution that works for everyone — cyclists, pedestrians, transit users, residents and business owners alike.

And not just drivers looking for a faster route from here to there.

Thanks to Damien Newton of LA Streetsblog for the complete refresher course on the Pico-Olympic plan. And for most of the links I’ve used on this post, as well.


One week after being invaded by drunken, rampaging cyclists and the cops who love them, Hollywood once again finds itself infested — this time by mopeds. New York cyclists need better PR; evidently, they need better bike locks, as well. Louisville cyclists get a new Downtown bike center with their stimulus dollars. It looks like Colorado will get a new bike safety bill this year, despite the objections of the bike-hating sheriff. Green LA Girl profiles the founder of the Bikex Database. The best-named bike shop in town gets a new home, with plans for a “soft-opening” party this weekend. And finally, my brother and his dogs survive wind chill factors of -50 degrees Fahrenheit to arrive safely in Nome.

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