Tag Archive for Long Beach Press-Telegram

A little this, a little that — Expo bikeway heads off the rails, Long Beach writer gets it mostly all wrong

I’ve been hearing a number of reports that the westward extension of the Expo Line bikeway is rapidly going off the rails.

Instead of prudently incorporating a safe, separated cycling facility along the full route, word is that Metro and LADOT are cutting corners and giving riders short shrift — including those recruited to serve on the line’s Bicycle Advisory Board, who complain that no one seems to be listening to them.

Which begs the question, why have an advisory board if you’re not going to listen to their advice?

This bikeway has long been a dream for riders who are desperate for a safe, efficient route between Downtown and the Westside.

But despite repeated promises in recent years, it sounds like we may have to keep dreaming.

………

Once upon a time, journalists had standards.

Or so I’m told.

Writers — even columnists — were expected to get the facts straight before they went to press. And editors were expected to hold their feet to the fire to ensure that every item in the paper was as accurate as possible.

Seems like a long time ago, in that golden age before the current revenue crunch caused most papers to lay off too many of their editors. And allowing the few remaining writers to slip their erroneous flights of fancy onto newsprint and online without being challenged.

Then again, some papers never did have standards.

I’m not sure which case applies here.

Tim Grobaty, a columnist with the Long Beach Press-Telegram — who surely should know better, given the city he works in — could have gotten it right with just a little research. But apparently didn’t bother.

All it would have taken is a simple trip to the DMV website, where he would have learned that cyclists are expected to use left turn lanes. And which took me roughly 10 seconds to find via Google.

Instead, he offers the following advice.

1. Bicycles aren’t cars. Don’t act like you’re driving one by tying up the left-turn lane. Conversely, bicycles are cars. Don’t pedal through stop signs.

At least he gets the last part right.

Somehow, though, I manage to get through left turn lanes on my bike just as fast as the drivers in front or behind me, if not faster. So how, exactly, am I tying up anything?

He also instructs cyclists not to employ the common courtesy of calling out “On the left” when passing pedestrians, because it confuses him.

Maybe he should carry a pebble in his left hand when he walks to avoid stepping in the wrong direction.

One of the biggest complaints from pedestrians is that they don’t get any warning when riders are about to pass. But evidently, Grobaty would rather see cyclists refrain from offering walkers a verbal warnings, and is willing to accept the inevitable increase in collisions between bikes and pedestrians that would result, as if there aren’t too many already.

And yes, bike bells are friendlier.

But they don’t give walkers or slower riders any idea whether they should move right, left, go straight or levitate the hell out of the way.

All they tell you is that a bike is nearby.

And that an angel just got its wings.

Of course, it’s not just Grobaty.

We live in a society where the voices of those with little knowledge of a given subject carry as much weight as those who actually know what they’re talking about. Especially if they have their own TV or radio show.

Or newspaper column.

And don’t even get me started on the royal we Grobaty uses. Unless he has multiple personalities, in which case I owe him an apology.

Of course, the main point in his column is that Long Beach has spent $20 million on making the city safer and more inviting for bicyclists, and that retailers are starting to see a return on that investment as sales from cyclists increase. But people who drive to stores continue to spend more.

He’s right, of course. The overwhelming amount of retail sales continue to result from driven trips, even though numerous studies are starting to show the economic benefit of encouraging bicycling.

But he fails to consider the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been invested in streets and other infrastructure that allow people like him to drive a few blocks to the corner store.

And which is paid for in large part by every pedestrian, bicyclist and transit user, as well as drivers, whether or not they ever get behind the wheel.

Wake me when, or if, that ever gets repaid.

………

In a horrifying report, a 13-year old Milwaukee girl is charged with the hit-and-run death of a cyclist while street racing friends in a stolen car. A passenger in the car suggests she may have intentionally steered towards the bike rider, later laughing about it and saying he shouldn’t have been on the street.

………

Looks like LADOT hasn’t forgotten the Westside after all. Niall Huffman notes preliminary bike lane markings have gone down on Ohio between Bundy and Centinela, where the street becomes Broadway as it crosses into Santa Monica. And where they should join up with the Broadway bike lanes, providing a continuous route from Bundy to downtown Santa Monica.

………

LADOT Bike Blog looks at what the new Federal transportation plan means for local cyclists. Streetsblog’s Sahra suffers a cracked wrist jumping out of the way of an apparent drunk driver. A restored Tujunga Wash includes bike and walking paths. Support is growing for a NELA bike network. A bike ride will be held this Saturday to protest the coming Walmart in Chinatown; hopefully, they won’t attempt it on Walmart bikes. Flying Pigeon hosts the popular Get Sum Dim Sum ride this Sunday. The 4th Annual You’re Not Worthy Summer Century Ride rolls Sunday, August 25th. How to use bike racks on Metro buses. Better Bike says it’s time to hold Beverly Hills accountable when it’s not practicable to ride to the right on Santa Monica Blvd, even though parts of it are getting better; then again, they tried a patch job a couple years ago, and that only lasted a few months. Santa Monica allocates $164,000 for a planned Michigan Avenue Greenway connecting SaMo High with Bergamot Station. Manhattan Beach receives a nearly half-million dollar Safe Routes to Schools grant. Turns out I’ve been throwing bananas away when they reach their most healthful stage. More on the SoCal Colnago bike thief. The aptly named Hotter N’ Hell Mt. Baldy Hill Climb makes a comeback this Saturday,

San Diego cyclists get a new Whole Foods bike repair station; the city’s annual Midnight Madness ride rolls this weekend. Reducing the stress of riding across town. The latest version of California’s proposed three-foot passing law continues to move forward; Better Bike points out safe passing laws are literally all over the map. San Jose police decline to pursue a bike thief, even after he’s identified by the victim. Watsonville police warn cyclists about brakeless fixies following a serious crash. A 13-year old Sonoma cyclist faces a civil suit for running down and seriously injuring a 72-year old pedestrian; the city of Sonoma is also named for allowing bikes on the sidewalk. A boy scout on a bike tour through Fortuna finds fortune is not in his favor when he’s hit by a bus while crossing a freeway off ramp; sounds like the cyclist should have had the right-of-way since vehicles exiting a highway are required to merge safely, despite the biased press report.

Even Paralympic cyclists are doping now. According to the NHTSA, a pedestrian is killed in the US every 2 hours — with an injury every 8 minutes; but hey, it’s just an accident, right? Hats off to former framebuilder Dave Moulton for correctly calling our massive automotive infrastructure a waste of space, although I might quibble with his take on Olympic BMX racing. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske examines whether Strava can be held accountable for its members behavior. Five great American cities for cycling vacations; link courtesy of I Block the Bike Lane. Turns out my brother isn’t the only Iditarod musher to take up cycling. A Flagstaff paper appears to misunderstand a commonly misunderstood law regarding taking the lane. A Utah woman is critically injured trying to retrieve a bicycle than had fallen off her car on I-80. Rocky Mountain National Park considers opening a trail to mountain bikes. Former Angeleno Amanda Lipsey and her dog gear up for a week-long self-contained bike trip. West Texas cyclists don’t feel safe. Cyclists need better education, but let’s remember that the greatest threat to everyone on the road comes from motor vehicles. The founder of Rivendell Bicycle Works says Just Ride. A HuffPo writer says New York’s delayed bike share program will result in carnage once it opens. A prominent blind Detroit attorney is injured in a collision with a cyclist in New York’s Central Park — and he wasn’t the only one. A Washington writer says biking changed her life. A Florida cyclist is seriously injured in a hit-from-behind collision, but the driver isn’t expected to face charges.

Guadalajara businesses fund their own DIY bike share system; thanks to Richard Risemberg for the heads-up. Six scandal ridden team jerseys you might want to avoid. A passing driver helps save the life of a cyclist after he’s stricken with a heart attack while riding, then leaves without taking credit. The UK’s success in Olympic cycling inspires Brits to take up riding and is making those cash registers ring. London cyclists may not get safe roads, but they are getting a two-day bike fest next year. Turns out that the highly reported increase in serious collisions after some UK cities cut speed limits to 20 mph resulted from a statistically meaningless jump from six incidents to seven. Dublin coroner calls for making helmets available with the city’s bike share. Former Northern Ireland Olympian Billy Kerr passes away at age 67. Olympic gold medal winner and former doper Alexandre Vinokourov calls it a career. Namibia riders call for a ciclovía of their own. Aussie pro cyclist Robbie Williams is killed in a solo fall as a result of an undisclosed medical condition. Melbourne bike lanes are being remade to reduce dooring.

Finally, it turns out that inflatable bike helmet that’s suddenly making all the news again was actually invented in the U.S. decades ago; thanks to Steve Herbert for the first link.

Personally, all this talk about a $600 single-use device brings out my inner cranky old man and makes me want to yell at them to get off my lawn. I’d rather see an actual helmet that can provide real protection beyond the current 12.5 mph standard — and one most cyclists can actually afford.

Pissed off about bike lanes on your street? Get over it already.

There are nearly 21,000 miles of non-freeway roads in Los Angeles County. How many of those do you think were built to accommodate motor vehicles?

All of them.

So why do some people get so pissed off when a few lousy feet are finally set aside for the benefit of someone else?

Take Tuesday night, when cyclists made a last stand before the joint Porter Ranch and Northridge West Neighborhood Councils in an attempt to preserve the Wilbur Avenue road diet and bike lanes.

While no one can argue that motorists, or anyone else, received sufficient notice of the road work, people who live in the immediate area seem to like it. And there’s no real argument that something had to be done to improve safety on a residential street that had turned into a high-speed throughway in recent years, as drivers used it as a secret bypass to more congested roadways.

Yet inconvenienced drivers are up in arms about the loss of their speedway. Even if their arguments don’t always hold water.

After all, it’s far too hard to simply slow down and observe the speed limit, protecting the safety of other people on and along the street.

Or find a route that utilizes one of the overwhelming majority of streets that don’t have bike lanes or road diets, where you can drive with all the wild abandon L.A. traffic will allow.

Surprisingly, the Wilbur Avenue road diet survived this vote, despite overwhelming opposition from the 450 people in attendance — who, according to Streetsblog, went so far as to boo calls for road safety.

Why should you care if a few people are killed or injured if it means you can get where you’re going a few minutes faster?

Then there’s Doug Krikorian of the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

A respected sportswriter and columnist, he seems to have taken it upon himself to return Long Beach to its previous state of bike unfriendliness.

Why?

Because it inconveniences him.

After all, he recently found himself stuck in traffic on Broadway. And didn’t see a single cyclist using the city’s newly installed bike lanes the entire time he sat there gnashing his teeth.

It may have been a situation that left him speechless, but unfortunately, not typeless. And led him to the inescapable conclusion that no one bikes in Long Beach, despite evidence to the contrary.

Which is odd, because I’ve often found myself riding on streets without a car in sight.

Yet it never occurred to me to become angry over the wasted space devoted to motor vehicles that could have been converted to more productive uses. I just assumed that the cars would undoubtedly be along sooner or later, for better or worse.

And never mind that those bike lanes he’s complaining about aren’t even officially open yet.

But evidently, when Krikorian gazes out his window and doesn’t see a bike, that means the bikeway — in fact, the city’s entire commitment to bike-friendliness — is a failure.

Not that he has any statistics to back that up, of course.

It’s not like there’s anyone at the Press-Telegram could do a little research, after all. Or that he could call Long Beach Mobility Coordinator Charlie Gandy and ask if anyone actually rides in the city.

Although to be fair, more people might ride if their bikes didn’t get stolen.

Of course, the real problem wasn’t the bike lanes beside him, it was all the cars and trucks ahead of him. And that if more people used those bike lanes, he might not be stuck be stuck in traffic next time.

Then again, it’s not just a problem here in the L.A. area.

Anti-bike NIMBYism runs rampant just about everywhere. Even in the biking capital of North America.

Take Fresno County, where local farmers are all for cycling, but don’t want bike paths near their farmland. Not because they would be inconvenienced by all those two-wheelers silently whizzing by, of course. But because cyclists would be exposed to all those pesticides and industrial chemicals they put on our food.

As if we’re not exposed to them already when we eat it.

It’s not like cyclists aren’t riding those country roads anyway. The proposed bike paths would just make it a little safer by getting bikes out of the way of all the combines and farm trucks they currently have to dodge.

On the other extreme, there’s New York City, where Prospect Park West is Ground Zero in the bike lane wars — even though 70% of local residents support the bike lanes that were recently installed there.

The seemingly endless debate goes on, even migrating to economists, who can and will debate anything, seemingly endlessly. And again, don’t always get it right.

Yet the massive congestion claimed by opponents has failed to materialize, adding just 7 seconds to the average commute through the park. And pretty much all of dangers opponents project can be mitigated by looking both ways.

Evidently, that’s something New York mothers don’t teach their children to do, unlike virtually every other mother on the face of the planet.

Yet that doesn’t stop the opposition from offering less effective alternatives. And it keeps other bike projects from moving forward.

What they all fail to consider is that the entire total of bike lanes — whether here in L.A. or anywhere else this side of Amsterdam or Copenhagen — represents just a minute fraction of roadways otherwise devoted almost exclusively to motor vehicles.

And even then, it amounts to no more than 10 or 12 feet of space out of the entire road surface.

So let’s face it.

It’s not the bike lanes — or the bikes, or lack of bikes, on them — that’s making anyone’s commute a living hell.

It’s all the other cars and trucks on the street, most of which usually contain just one person behind the wheel, often on his or her cell phone, texting or web surfing.

Which means the bikeways they bitch aren’t the problem, but rather, just a small part of the solution.

And if the biggest problem you or anyone else has today is a cyclist or bike lane slowing your commute, your must be having a damn good day.

So just get over it already.

.………

Alta Planning’s Mia Birk offers tips and strategies on how to avoid the backlash, suggesting that fighting the battle upfront can help avoid Wilbur Avenue or PPW-type battles after the fact.

Although something tells me you can do all the outreach in the world, and it still won’t satisfy the people who choose not to participate until they suddenly discover a bike lane on their favorite high-speed short-cut.

Not that I’m feeling the least bit cynical today or anything.

.………

More on the death of Long Beach bike activist Mark Bixby and four other prominent people from the Long Beach area, from the L.A. Times, Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Daily Breeze, as well as a Santa Barbara perspective on the tragedy.

For those of us who didn’t have the privilege of knowing him, you can get a feel for who Bixby was — and how important cycling was to him — through his blog and his all-too-brief Twitter feed.

.………

A cyclist suffered significant injuries in a solo fall in Palos Verdes Tuesday morning. According to the Daily Breeze, the rider was one of five who were descending a steep hill on Via Del Monte around 7 am when he lost control and crashed on the 500 block near Via Ramon.

Jim Lyle writes to say that the street has an 8% grade, making speeds over 30 mph possible. Speed bumps were installed recently to slow vehicle traffic, but there’s space between them for emergency vehicles, making it unlikely that they were the cause.

Meanwhile, an Orange County rider required a helicopter rescue after going over the handlebars in rough terrain around 10:13 Wednesday morning. And an Altadena cyclist was injured in a right-hook-and-run.

.………

Anyone in the job market — and these days, that seems to be just about everyone — may want to check out this Craigslist listing.

Trainer/Instructor needed for outdoor bike safety program at schools and events. Physical ability needed to handle equipment and props; includes setting up student training course plus instructing students on pedestrian and bicycle safety. Will train. Background in sports or outdoor activities desired. Works well with children. Must have flexible schedule as hours vary. Weekend availability a definite plus. Pay rate based on experience. Please email resume.

Thanks to Stephanie for the heads-up.

.………

Yesterday’s breaking news left me with a long backlog of links. I’ll try to catch up over the next few days, starting with the ones I’d planned to post yesterday, but which seemed inappropriate given the day’s news. Look for more late tonight or tomorrow morning.

L.A. County’s new model streets manual was unveiled Tuesday night, including a requirement to design streets for all users, including bikes. LACBC announces Sunday Funday #4, exploring crosstown routes on Sunday, April 3rd. The new Bike Wrangler space across from Good Sam finally has a name. L.A. bike cops in 1904. Ride the closed-off L.A. Marathon course before the race starts. Covina is the latest SoCal city to ask for your help in developing a new bike plan, with three workshops scheduled before the end of the month. Claremont will serve as the launching point for Stage 7 of this year’s Amgen TofC. Last weekend’s Tour de Murietta honored pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado, who was killed by street racers near San Bernardino last spring. A California cyclist uses echolocation to navigate despite a lack of eyesight. Links to bike computer manuals for everyone who forgot how to spring forward.

Fifteen women who don’t exactly rule the biking world, but close. Which is worse — angry terriers or argumentative drivers? Before engineers are allowed to work on bike projects, maybe they should be required to actually ride a bike. A Colorado driver and his passenger are ticketed in a road rage case after being captured on the rider’s front and rear video cams. Ten teams are now confirmed for Colorado’s Quizno’s Pro Challenge, with some of the top pro teams participating, including Cancellara and the Schleck brothers. The Idaho house bars the use of eminent domain for building bikeways. An Iowa cyclist overcomes a broken arm and leg to win the 350 mile Iditarod bike race. Chicago considers adding a cycle track. When a cyclist has to compete for a driver’s attention, the cyclist always loses. Wednesday was Texas’ first Cyclists in Suits day. New Orleans prepares to break ground on the Lafitte Corridor, a three mile stretch of bike paths, greenways and public gardens. A New York police commander tries, and evidently fails, to defend the city’s selective enforcement crackdown on cyclists; key stat — 35 million Central Park visitors in 2010, yet just 42 incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians. A Florida truck driver swerves to hit and kill a cyclist, then keeps on driving; remarkably, the reporter refrains from calling it an accident. Miami Beach kicks off a bike share program; Toronto launches its own May 3rd.

UK employees get more than a Bike to Work Week to encourage them to ride. Evidently, dragging a cyclist 150 meters beneath a large truck is just an accident. The Cycle Opera moves forward, based on the life of British steelworker and Olympic cyclist Lal White. A Brit blogger has eight bikes stolen, and somehow gets them all back. Follow the tweets of top pros on a single Twitter list. Welcome to New Zealand, where life if cheap — at least for cyclists — although they do seem to take dooring seriously.

Finally, Copenhagenize looks at biking in post-earthquake Japan — and provides a historical perspective when some people take offense.

And anyone planning to ride through Beverly Hills today is urged to avoid the Wilshire Blvd geyser.

%d bloggers like this: