Tag Archive for Main Street

Morning Links: New Spring Street bike lane goes both ways, red cup protected bike lanes, and ebikes up in smoke

Before we start, congratulations are in order for frequent BikinginLA contributor and behind-the-scenes proof reader Mike Wilkinson, who was recently elected to the Orange County Bicycle Coalition Board of Directors.

Couldn’t happen to a more passionate or deserving person.

Even if he does ride a tandem.

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Los Angeles’ first two-way protected bike lane is coming to Spring Street in DTLA, with a companion lane to follow soon just one block east on Main Street.

Actually, they’re already here.

https://twitter.com/LAcycleHelper/status/1122655540373364736

Here’s how both the Spring Street and coming Main Street bike lanes are supposed to work — if LA drivers can resist the urge to park in them, which is a big if.

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Bike riders across the US took part in Friday’s Red Cup Project by placing red plastic drinking cups on existing bike lanes to make their own DIY protected lanes.

And sending a message that paint is not enough. Such as the Pittsburgh advocates who called for more parking protected bike lanes.

Although not surprisingly, many didn’t last long before drivers ran them over, either failing to see the bright red cones, or simply not caring.

Like in Denver, where tomato-capped cups were soon turned into marinara. And where the project got its start, in honor of fallen DC bike advocate Dave Salovesh, who was riding in a painted lane when he was killed.

Meanwhile, hundreds of DC bicyclists converged on city hall to hold a die-in to demand streets that don’t kill people in the wake of Salovesh’s death. Although one local TV station seemed more concerned with scofflaw bicyclists than keeping law abiding ones alive.

And yes, the Red Cup Project even touched down in auto-centric Los Angeles.

And on the other side of the Orange Curtain, as well.

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Traditional bicycles seldom catch on fire.

Ebikes, not so much.

An Australian woman’s home was gutted by fire when the battery on her ebike unexpectedly burst into flames.

A Singapore woman and her son were injured when the ped-assist ebike they were riding burst into flames after they were struck by a van driver.

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Local

British singer Pixie Lott is one of us, following up on her recent Coachella appearance with a Dutch bike ride on the beachfront bike path in Venice. Maybe she ran into Simon Cowell while he was riding in Santa Monica.

Pasadena’s first-ever human sculpture took the shape of a bicycle at the Rose Bowl on Friday, in anticipation of the Pasadena finish of the Amgen tour of California next month.

The city managers of Alhambra, Pasadena and South Pasadena accuse Metro, which should know better, of ignoring people-powered transportation in favor of more cars after pulling the plug on the 710 Freeway extension through those cities.

A group of bicyclists set out from the Santa Monica Pier on Friday, hoping to raise a thousand dollars per mile for their 2,499-mile ride on Route 66 to Chicago, which would bring in $2.499 million for the fight against pediatric cancer.

The Coastal Commission gives Long Beach the okay to move palm trees along Marina Drive to make room for sidewalks and bike lanes, but only if it doesn’t bug the birds.

 

State

A Garden Grove man was sentenced to 26 years to life behind bars for the unprovoked attack that left a passing bike rider dead; 19-year old Bryan Ortega was knocked off his bike and repeatedly stabbed by 23-year old Troy David Son, even though there was no history between the two men, who did not appear to know each other.

Pro mountain biker Jeff Lenosky had $30,000 worth of bikes, cameras and other gear stolen when someone broke into his team van at a Santa Ana Holiday Inn.

A Ventura bike rider calls the city’s crumbling streets an embarrassment, complaining that the state’s gas tax money doesn’t seem to be fixing them.

Thanks to the help of a fellow church member and musician, a Bakersfield man is continuing to ride a bike despite losing his eyesight.

The news from Sunnyvale just keeps getting worse. In the story we’ve been following since last week, police now say the speeding driver who intentionally steered his car into eight pedestrians and bike riders at a Sunnyvale intersection did it because he thought they were Muslim; the FBI is now investigating it as a hate crime.

The Trader Joes of bike shops is making its second foray onto American shores with a new store in Emeryville, after pulling out of the US market thirteen years earlier.

 

National

A bipartisan bill pending in Congress would extend and expand the successful Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) to build bikeways and sidewalks to reduce traffic congestion and support safe routes to schools. Unfortunately, bipartisanship is out of fashion in DC, so its immediate prospects could be questionable.

Bicycling examines the mechanical failures that led Lyft to lift its ebikes from city streets across the US.

This is what happens when you try to drive your pickup camper over a Portland bike and pedestrian bridge.

A writer from Cheyenne, Wyoming heads south to my hometown to ride the bike path along the Cache la Poudre River, which I used to ride on a near daily basis back in the day. Cheyenne is where I used to go to buy booze before I turned 21, or whenever I wanted to get beat up by a cowboy for looking at his girl the wrong way. Good times. 

Omaha NE has completed a 38-mile interconnected bicycle network just in time for next month’s Bike Week. But those damn bike riders are just never satisfied, saying it’s not enough. Unbridled sarcasm aside, at least they have an actual network, unlike LA’s disjointed and inadequate patchwork of bikeways that don’t connect to anything or go anywhere.

An Iowa letter writer calls for bicyclists to pay their fair share, and get a motorcycle license because they move too damn fast. Because evidently, it’s not enough for bike riders to subsidize drivers with their tax money.

This is what can happen if you do bikeshare right. Houston’s booming bikeshare system is reshaping the car-centric city, with the biggest jump in ridership coming from people who swapped car rides for bike rides.

Apparently, it takes a village to find a stolen Michigan girl’s bicycle.

Massachusetts legislators advanced a bill creating a three-foot passing law and 25 mph speed limits, but rejected a clause that would have expanded the use of interlock devices to fight repeat drunk driving. There’s no excuse for driving drunk, ever. Some people will tell you anyone could get caught after having a few drinks, but the easy solution is just don’t drink if you have to drive.

A group of 26 bicyclists are riding from Newtown, Connecticut to Baltimore, then back up to Pittsburgh to remember the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre and call for an end to gun violence.

The New York bike rider who allegedly blew through a red light and seriously injured a pedestrian was a homeless man, who told police his gears and brakes weren’t working right. The victim’s boss issued a statement calling for license plates for people on bicycles, saying lawbreaking bike riders put peoples lives in peril. Never mind that the last time a person was killed by a bike rider in Gotham was 2014, while 64 people have been killed by cars this year alone.

Rapper J Cole is one of us, too, riding the streets of New York to get a haircut.

A Jackson MS man faces a murder charge after fatally shooting a 14-year old boy who may have been attempting to steal his bike.

After a group of Florida mothers got suspicious of a man who kept riding his bike past an elementary school when kids were getting out, they discovered he was a registered sex offender.

 

International

Kicking your car to the curb in favor of an active commute could help cut the risk of death for overweight people.

Environmental activists swarmed central London and held a die-in at the Tate Modern museum to protest insect die-offs linked to climate change.

Britain can’t seem to figure Brexit out, but they are turning a 1790s Scottish cashmere mill into a world-class mountain biking research and development lab.

Despite earlier reports of a decline in bicycling, the UK enjoyed a record year for bike commuting last year, as new bike superhighways and improved networks helped bike lane usage boom across the country.

The BBC belatedly discovers that bicycling is not just for MAMILs. Although it’s hard to call women bicyclists rare when they make up nearly a third of Irish riders.

A Chinese bike factory town is dealing with the fallout after the bust of the bikeshare boom.

 

Competitive Cycling

Sadly, Dutch Continental cyclist Robbert de Greef has died, three weeks after suffering a heart attack while competing in a race.

Santa Clarita Magazine looks forward to next month’s Amgen Tour of California visiting the valley, calling it America’s greatest cycling race.

 

Finally…

In Los Angeles, we have car chases; in Indiana, hot bike chases. If you’re just riding around the perimeter of Great Britain, is it really a world record?

And apparently, your love of bicycling is nothing more than a basic, garden variety Satanic possession.

Which totally explains that whole N+1 thing.

 

Morning Links: DC bike advocate Dave Salovesh killed, DTLA cycle tracks starts work, and Metro Bikes free today

I lost a follower on Twitter last weekend. 

Which is nothing new.

Except this time it happened the worst possible way. 

Like a number of other people, I’ve followed Dave Salovesh, aka @darsal, for some time. And vice versa, for reasons only he knew.

The extremely popular DC bike advocate has been an outspoken supporter of protected bike lanes and safer streets, as well as taking action now to fight climate change. I’ve enjoyed his humor and insights, and learned a lot from him over the years.

Sadly, we won’t be following each other anymore.

Salovesh was killed Friday morning when the speeding driver of a stolen van ran a red light, crashed into a car and slammed into his bicycle before crashing into a tree.

It could be argued that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, collateral damage to someone else’s crime.

Except he was riding on one of the city’s most dangerous streets, where Salovesh had been fighting to get a protected bike lane.

Whether that would have been enough to save him, we’ll never know.  

Meanwhile, a bicycle columnist for a DC weekly remembers Salovesh as his good friend, confessing to raw emotions while adding that bike advocacy will go on, but it will be far less meaningful without him.

Over two hundred bike riders held a vigil and ghost bike ceremony in his honor on Sunday, starting and ending at the spot where the speeding car thief took his life. 

DC TV station calls his death a cruel irony, while bike riders attending the vigil demand for safer streets for all bicyclists

And the city announced, just a little too late, that it would increase enforcement against drivers who stop or park in bike lanes.  

Which is another of the issues Salovesh had long fought for.

Meanwhile, I’ve lost an ally and a friend, albeit one Ive never met. 

And now, never will.

Photo of Dave Salovesh’s ghost bike and the spot where the driver’s car came to rest by Ryan Keefe

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LADOT is beginning work next weekend to convert the bike lanes on Spring and Main Streets in DTLA to two-way protected cycle tracks. 

Now let’s just hope they also do something to keep drivers the hell out of them. 

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Metro, Metrolink and other SoCal transit systems are offering free rides today in honor of Earth Day.

They’re also providing free rides on the Metro Bike bikeshare system. 

Or you can just ride your own bike, which is always free, with or without a code. 

Meanwhile, Metro celebrates Earth Day by beginning a three-year detour of the Expo Line bike path next to Jefferson Blvd today

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LA’s hit-and-run epidemic struck close to home last week, when a man was murdered by a hit-and-run driver on Sunset Blvd just walking distance from our apartment.

Even with the cane I’m currently confined to.

Compounding the tragedy, the victim was an Australian man who had been released from prison 12 years after he was wrongly convicted of murder.

……….

Pinkbike celebrated the weekend with videos of epic mountain bike fails. 

On the other hand, at least these people were out there riding, so there’s that.

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Local

Westwood Village applies for grants to improve the appearance and walkability of Westwood Blvd, as well as install bike racks. But apparently forgets to improve the actual streets and add bike lanes so people might actually use them. 

A writer for the USC paper says the future of LA sustainability begins with students, urging them to get involved at every level of planning and policy, including supporting more bike lanes. 

The LACBC’s next Sunday Funday Ride rolls May 5th, offering a preview of June’s popular LA River Ride

Claremont police ticketed bike riders and drivers in a crosswalk crackdown for rolling through the crosswalk instead of stopping for pedestrians, as the law requires. 

Food delivery drivers will get their own dedicated parking spaces in front of two restaurants in downtown Santa Monica for a three-month trial to keep them from double-parking in the bike lane. Now maybe they can do something about the FedEx and UPS drivers who park in the bike lanes on Ocean and San Vicente on a daily basis

 

State

Turns out the thief who stole a $5,000 bike from the Cyclist bike shop in Santa Ana just wanted to ride it, and cut off the ends of the handlebars because he’s a Phil Gaimon fan.

A San Diego community planning board voted to approve plans for a new cycle track in Point Loma

A bike rider was lucky to escape with minor injuries following a crash with a hit-and-run driver near the University of San Diego. 

A “gypsy family” of pedicab drivers stops in Coachella to provide rides at the music festival, one of several they serve as they make their way around the country. 

A San Jose newspaper says the popular road up Mt. Diablo needs more bike turnouts allowing drivers to pass bike riders without crossing the center line, and hopefully avoid the next crash. 

In a horrifying story, the CHP is looking for a hit-and-run driver who left a Merced woman to die on the side of the road after crashing into her bicycle; her body was found at 1 pm, hours after she was struck the previous evening. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know if she would have survived if she had been found sooner. Or if the coward who hit her had stopped to get help. 

 

National

Seattle bicyclists rode to all 27 public library branches in the city in an 11-hour, 70-mile ride to support investing in the city’s library system.

Speaking of Seattle, the city is bucking the trend by maintaining a fleet of dockless bikeshare bikes, even as providers pull dockless bicycles in favor of e-scooters. 

Talk about not getting it. A Texas man will spend the next ten years behind bars after repeatedly violating the terms of his probation for the hit-and-run death of a bike rider; he had originally gotten out after serving just 17 days of a two-year sentence thanks to a loophole in the law. You’d think someone would have enough sense to keep their nose clean after a gift like that. But apparently  you’d be wrong

She gets it. A Chicago letter writer says make safer bike lanes the norm

A Michigan outdoor campaign is putting a face on distracted driving by plastering photos of the victims of distracted drivers on billboards.

A Rhode Island man has spent the past nine years looking for a pair of nurses to thank them for saving his life after his front wheel locked up on a bike path.

A 74-year old New York man says he was attacked by a lawless gang of teenage bicyclists swarming down a riverfront path. 

The head of New York’s TransAlt advocacy group says the NYPD has to stop going out of its way to blame the victims

DC bike cops bust a prodigious bike thief, but aren’t able to find any of the bicycles he allegedly stole. 

Kindhearted Virginia deputies pitched in to buy a physically and emotionally impaired man a new bicycle when his was stolen, after they learned he had overcome the odds by learning to walk again following a crash left him in a coma.  

A South Carolina newspaper says not every street in the state has to be a Complete Street, but there are some where it’s necessary.   

 

International

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for children and young adults

London’s formerly bike-friendly Sunday Times now says a reported drop in bicycling levels in the UK is a victory for motorists “in their long-running battle with cyclists.”

A writer for The Guardian says cars are ruining our lives and triggering environmental disasters, and must be phased out within ten years

Dutch bike maker VanMoof has sold 11,000 ebikes worth a cool $33 million and change

Afghan women are demanding that their rights be preserved in any peace talks, including the hard-won ability to ride a bicycle. 

South African police are looking for a hit-and-run driver who fled the scene on foot after plowing into a 10 bicyclists, killing one and injuring seven others.

In a case of keeping an elderly driver on the road until it’s too late, an 86-year Australian man faces charges for dragging a food delivery rider under his car the length of a football field before fleeing the scene; the 23-year old woman he hit suffered extensive injuries, including severe burns. 

In yet another case of an elderly driver who shouldn’t be, a Japanese man crashed his car into a group of people waiting at an intersection, killing a mother and daughter who were sharing a bicycle and injuring eight others. Police suspect the 87-year old driver hit the gas pedal instead of the brake

Taiwan’s Penghu archipelago, made up of more than 90 islands and islets, is promoting bicycling tourism, saying it’s the best way for tourists to explore the area

Beijing is opening a four-mile, bicycle-only roadway with one lane in each direction, along with a reversible lane in the middle. 

 

Competitive Cycling

USA Cycling will field a national team at the Amgen Tour of California, naming ten young riders the team will be chosen from, including one who competes for an LA team. 

Belgium is mourning the death of track cycling great Patrick Sercu, considered one of the greatest of all time.

 

Finally…

Banned from riding your bike in a not-so-public public park. When you decide anyone who doesn’t ride like you do and go out of their way to ride in a bike lane is a selfish, entitled jerk.  

And if you’re carrying a number of controlled substances on your bike, don’t break any bylaws.

Whatever that means. 

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day — Main Street Santa Monica goes neon green

New green bike lanes below Pico in Santa Monica.

New green bike lanes below Pico in Santa Monica.

When the revelers stumble out onto Main Street in Santa Monica tonight, they may think the street has been dressed just for those who pretend to be Irish by getting fighting drunk for a night.

But they’d be wrong.

Even if the pavement matches the green beer they’ll soon be regurgitating onto it.

Because actually, the street has been repainted for your benefit. And not just for one night.

As of Friday, the much maligned door zone bike lane on the Santa Monica stretch of Main Street has been widened, and repainted in a vivid shade of green guaranteed to cause conniptions in a Hollywood location scout.

Or at least, that’s the effect a similar shade had in Downtown LA.

Intermittent patches of green lead up to intersections.

Intermittent patches of green lead up to intersections; you can see where the lane marker has been moved left.

Maybe that’s why the lanes are only intermittent south of Pico, where they match up with LA’s normally hued lanes through Venice. And full green only north of Pico, where they pass through the city’s civic center, where presumably, fewer film permits are in demand.

Or maybe Santa Monica just recognized the risk posed by all those drivers trying to access City Hall and the LA County Courthouse.

In fact, that’s long been on of the mostly likely places to get right hooked among my usual riding routes, as confused drivers cut across the bike lane to access Civic Center parking.

Broken lane leading to the entrance to City Hall/Courthouse parking lot.

Broken lane leading to the entrance to City Hall/Courthouse parking lot.

Whether a bright shade of green will help with that, or convince drivers they don’t belong there — despite the break in the paint — and make them more likely to turn across the lane rather than merge into it as the law and safety requires, remains to be determined.

I’d rather see the full green on the south section as a vivid reminder to drivers to look for riders before opening their doors or turning across the lane. We’ll have to see if the city’s spot job will do the job.

On the other hand, that extra foot of bike lane should make a huge difference by allowing cyclists to ride further outside the door zone without having to leave the bike lane.

Here’s a fast-forward view of the civic center lanes on both sides between Pico and Santa Monica Place.

Let’s just hope they hose them down in front of the bars Tuesday morning.

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Just down the road and around the corner on Abbott Kinney, LADOT installed the City of Angels’ third and fourth bike corrals last week, on a street that has long suffered from a lack of adequate bike parking.

When every other parking meter has a bike attached — which is technically illegal, though rarely enforced — it suggests an unmet demand, which the city has wisely heeded.

Even if, on the day I checked it out, one had as many hipsters enjoying lunch in and on it as it did locked-up bikes.

Just out of the frame, one more bike and two more guys sitting on the railing having lunch.

Just out of the frame, one more bike and two more guys sitting on the railing having lunch.

A brand new bike corral, full on a Friday afternoon.

A brand new bike corral, nearly full on a Friday afternoon.

One of the new bike corrals adorned with the new LADOT #bikeLA sticker.

One of the new bike corrals adorned with the new LADOT #bikeLA sticker.

 

 

Let’s not let oversized, inefficient SUVs get in the way of much needed bike lanes on Main Street

A proposed road diet could turn this...

Let’s talk road diets.

Or more precisely, let’s talk about the one LADOT proposes for Main Street in Venice.

Following the disastrous reception the Wilbur Avenue road diet generated in the Valley last year, with motorists outraged by the loss of their high-speed, cut-though commuter route — regardless of the benefits or safety for the people who actually live there — LADOT has gone out of their way to engage the public on Main.

And yes, in advance, this time.

Go figure.

Unlike Wilbur, where the arguments for and against the road diet took place after it was installed with no public notice, LADOT reached out in advance in an attempt to build support beforehand. But this time, instead of drivers complaining about the loss of a through lane slowing them down, or having to find an alternate route to one that was never intended as a cut-through commuter route, the complaints came from cyclists who didn’t like the plan’s specifications.

Valley, meet Venice.

And this...

That negative response from some people was surprising, because the road diet merely takes the street design that already exists in the Santa Monica section and extends it south to the Venice portion between Navy and Windward Circle.

So if you want to see what a difference a road diet can make, just take a ride between Windward Circle and Pico Blvd. Or vice versa.

Night, meet day.

I usually bike Main at least once a week; more in the summertime when the crush of tourists and locals out for a little sun make the beachfront bike path virtually impassible for anyone wanting to move above a slow walking pace.

And yes, like most of the bike lanes in Santa Monica, they’re far from perfect. More than once I’ve found myself dodging flung doors and swerving to avoid drivers casually pulling into and out of parking spaces, with no concept that the narrow band of paint on the street next to them might possibly suggest the presence of bikes.

Into this.

After all, why would anyone expect to find bikes in a bike lane?

But despite the fears expressed by some, I’ve never had any problems — with drivers or police — moving out of the bike lane when necessary to avoid obstacles real or imagined.

When time allows, I give a little signal — not quite a full extension of my left arm to avoid confusion that I intend to make a turn, but more of a three-quarter point to the left to suggest that I’m just coming out a little. Then I give a quick wave when I pull back over to thank the drivers behind for giving me a little space.

And I find drivers on the narrowed Santa Monica section far more willing to concede a little road space than on the wider, higher speed stretch to the south.

In fact, the stretch of Main between Rose and Abbot Kinney (called Brooks on the map) is the only road I ride regularly where I legitimately fear for my safety. Between impatient bus drivers, motorists hell bent on remaining well north of the speed limit and clueless beachgoers cruising for free parking — yeah, good luck with that — I’ve probably had more close calls there than anywhere else.

I’ve learned to ride aggressively there. I take the lane and keep my speed above 20 mph, merging into the flow of traffic. Yet still cringe as drivers blow by at over twice my speed, and bus drivers ride my ass so they can lurch to a stop just a few feet up the road. Or sometimes crowd me out if I continue past Abbot Kinney where the road gets narrower.

Which makes me wonder why anyone would prefer the dangerous, bike-unfriendly situation we have now to the much calmer, though admittedly not perfect, situation just a few blocks north in Santa Monica.

As it turns out, that’s not really the case.

For the most part, even most of those who oppose the current plan don’t advocate doing nothing. But other proposed solutions, such as traffic calming or separated bike lanes, while they might be preferable, aren’t viable in the current budget crunch and would require years before they could be implemented, while the proposed plan requires nothing more than a little paint and can be implemented almost immediately

That leaves advocates doing complex math to divide up the street to come up with a better solution, debating the merits of a 10 foot motor vehicle lane and 6 foot bike lane, as opposed to the proposed 11 foot vehicle lane and 5 foot bike lane.

LADOT prefers the 11 foot lane to accommodate all those wide buses, fearing that a rider traveling near the outer edge of the bike lane could risk getting mirrored by a passing bus. And having had sufficient experience with bus drivers in that area, I would contend their fears are well-founded.

I won’t reargue the merits of the various widths and configurations; you can find virtually every possibility debated in the comments on Damien Newton’s always excellent coverage of the story. Although as noted above, I have a strong preference for anything that will keep those bus mirrors away from my head.

But here’s the thing.

The entire debate hinges on the width allowed for parking, and the risk posed by the swinging doors of oversized SUVs.

LADOT’s plans call for a 5’ bike lane next to a 7’ parking lane — which means that all those Hummers, Escalades and Navigators so popular in L.A. would offer only a few inches of clearance if perfectly parked, or actually extend into the bike lane if parked like most people do in the real world. And their massive doors would block virtually the entire bike lane when carelessly flung open.

To some, that’s reason enough to kill the road diet and live with the dangerous situation we already have, preferring the devil we know to the one we know just up the street.

But consider this.

According to a study from San Francisco, 85% of all vehicle doors extend less than 9.5 feet from the curb.

Which means we’re concerned about the problem posed by just 15% of drivers who have more money than sense, and are willing waste their resources on the biggest, most expensive, least efficient and most dangerous-to-everyone-else private vehicles on the road.

Then consider that such a vehicle would have to be parked next to the bike lane, and occupied, at the exact moment you pass by. And just happen to fling open a door at exactly the wrong time.

That’s not to say it can’t happen. It happened to me on Abbot Kinney just last year.

But I would contend that the risk is a hell of a lot smaller than the danger posed by the speeding and frequently distracted drivers just a few blocks down the street.

As Joe Linton points out, with or without bike lanes, many — if not most — cyclists will continue to ride in the door zone, preferring the perceived safety zone next to the parked cars to what they see as the scarier, if actually safer, space further out into the lane.

So here’s my suggestion.

Let’s take a foot from the center turn lane, narrowing it from 10’ to 9’, as Linton proposed in his comment above, and add 6” to the bike lane on either side.

But then take it a step further.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no requirement that any car be allowed to park anywhere and everywhere. So let’s ban those massive SUVs and other oversized vehicles from parking along the curb on Main Street.

Do as other cities around the country have done for decades, and paint a line on the street 6’6” from the curb — wide enough to accommodate all but the widest cars and trucks — then ticket any parked vehicle that crosses it.

That will not only effectively ban big vehicles from parking there, but also force all other drivers to park close to the curb without encroaching on the bike lane.

They can find parking somewhere else. Call it their penance for buying a massive motorized behemoth like that to begin with.

After all, if you can’t ban an inefficient SUV in environmentally conscious Venice, where can you?

Yes, there’s a lot of room for improvement in the plan.

But even if we build the road diet exactly the way LADOT proposes, it will make the southern section of Main Street significantly safer than it is now. And provide a more livable, complete street that will benefit everyone who lives, works or goes to school nearby, while encouraging more people to venture out onto their bikes.

So lets try to improve the plan.

But not kill a good project simply because it’s not a perfect one.

.………

Before I forget — again — a friend of a friend is planning a new line of handmade bike accessories, and would like your opinion on exactly what cyclists might want. So please help me make it up to her by taking a couple minutes to complete this quick survey.

After all, it’s not like I’ve been distracted lately or anything.

My latest ride, in which I verify a verse from Proverbs

I admit it. I was already pissed off.

I was riding on as perfect a SoCal day as I have yet seen in nearly two decades as an Angeleno. Sunny, windless, mid-80s, cruising up the Santa Monica section on Main Street on the back end of a 32-mile ride, just a stone’s throw from the beach.

Unlike the blow-out induced hike earlier in the week, this ride had gone of without a hitch, reaffirming at the deepest levels of my being why we live in L.A., and why I ride.

Then just as I was about to pass an SUV parked on the side of the road, I started to get a funny feeling that things were about to go to hell fast. Nothing I could put my finger on, but it caused me to take a good look at the vehicle on my right.

No turn signal. No brake lights. I couldn’t even see if there was a driver behind the wheel.

But sure enough, just as I was about the pass the car, it lurched out from the curb, entering the lane as if I wasn’t there.

I swerved hard to the left, nearly crossing the center line, and yelled out a warning. Then yelled again. And again a third time, before the driver finally responded and let me pass.

As I rode by, I took a good look at the driver, and saw an expression that chilled me to my sweat-soaked chamois. Not the look of remorse that most drivers would bear under such circumstances. Nor the angry expression we’ve all seen too many times. Or even the blank, uncomprehending bovine gaze of a driver who has no idea what’s going on.

No, this time I saw the face of a man who knew exactly what he’d done. And didn’t care.

The moment I passed his vehicle and pulled back to the right, he gunned his engine and lurched around me. Then less than half a block away, he swerved back into the bike lane to pass another car on the right, before running the next red light and disappearing around a corner.

Needless to say, I was shaken. And shaking.

And I was pissed.

So I was in no mood to turn the other cheek a mile or so down the road, when I saw a pickup truck put on its turn signal and pull into the right lane to make a turn — without ever checking his mirrors to see that I was already there.

Fortunately, I was prepared this time. I grabbed my brakes, let him pull in front of me, then swung around to his left and pulled up next to him at the light.

His window was open, and he was looking the other way, preparing for his turn. So doing my best to keep my voice level and my anger under control, I leaned in and said, “Next time, check your mirrors first.”

And then the most amazing thing happened.

He turned around, revealing a young African-American man, and gave me one of the biggest, friendliest smiles I’ve ever had directed my way. And apologized profusely — and sincerely.

Taken aback, I mumbled something about how it was okay since I’d seen his turn signal, and just try to be more careful next time. He gave me that same smile again, nodded, and made his turn.

And I rode home, my mood restored, and thinking what a nice guy I’d just met. And I realized it’s true.

A soft answer really does turneth away wrath.

Something I might want to remember next time that I piss someone else off.

 

Hardrockgirl experiences a perfect Sunday riding through the Westside, while Gary celebrates his victory over a clueless cop an unfair ticket. LABikeRides and Streetsblog LA alert us to the upcoming Tour de Ballona II. A councilperson in Mad City, where it’s against the law to get doored, tries to put the responsibility back where it belongs. An Alaskan cyclist writes about the joys of riding at –15F (remember that next time we bitch about our 60 degree cold spells). Finally, the esteemed, and newly minted, Dr. Alex returns to blogdom with a meditation on cycling, activism and eternal summers. Welcome back, Alex — and when you’re ready to run for office, I’ll gladly manage your campaign.

Just poor planning? Or are they trying to kill us?

When I ride my bike, I tend to stick to routes I know, and take side streets whenever possible.

That gives me an intimate knowledge of the danger spots; because I know the streets, I know where I’m likely to run into trouble, so I can be ready for it.

For instance, when I take the bike lane on Main Street in Santa Monica, I know I’ll have a long, straight route where I can get up a good head of speed, often approaching — or sometimes exceeding — the speed of traffic. But I keep a close watch for taillights and drivers behind the steering wheels of parked cars, so I can avoid getting doored. And I have to be prepared for cars that suddenly cut in front of me and stop in the bike lane to back into a parking space.

If I keep a close watch on the oncoming cars behind me, though, I can easily cut out into traffic and take the lane for as long as it takes to avoid any obstacles.

Closer to home, I often take Ohio through Westwood, which gives me a nice, relatively quiet street to ride. East of Westwood Blvd, I look out for cars that dart out from the side streets without looking for bikes coming downhill at 25 or 30 mph; west of the boulevard, I know that cars tend to pass too closely. Sometimes intentionally.

But when I drive my car, I don’t have to be concerned about things like that. So I frequently find myself driving down streets I seldom, if ever ride.

Like Pico Blvd, for instance.

According to the most recent Metro Bike Map, it’s designated as a bike route between the 405 freeway to Century Park East.

Evidently, they assume a lot of cyclists are going to ride along the 405, then sling their bikes over their shoulders and climb down from the overpass, since there’s no exit ramp there. Or else we’re going to ride Pico to Cotner — just before the freeway — and then take the onramp for a nice, exhilarating ride over the Sepulveda pass.

And who knows, that could happen. Because anyone crazy enough to ride through all the traffic and potholes along there is probably crazy enough to ride the freeway.

The next section, just east of Sepulveda, offers two narrow lanes in each direction, bounded by parked cars on either side. And there’s no room to ride in the parking lane, even if you did manage to avoid any swinging doors.

Which means that any rider there would be forced to take a lane on one of the Westside’s most crowded streets. Then try to dodge all the cars pulling in and out of all the various driveways, parking lots and valet stands, as well as one of the city’s busier shopping centers.

I suppose that explains why I’ve never seen a cyclist on that particular bike route. And I can only assume it was designated as a bike route in a blatant attempt to thin the herd, since I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone without a death wish.

Then I find myself driving down other streets, such as Centinella, which was recently repaved and widened, leaving plenty of room for a bike lane now, in an area that desperately needs one. Instead, they put in nice, wide lanes and a center divider lane. The newly rebuilt Santa Monica Blvd, where they could easily extend the bike lane through Beverly Hills — or at least far enough to accommodate the route Will recently attempted.

Or Jefferson, which has three full lanes of traffic leading to and from the new Playa Vista development, yet no bike lanes to help move those people in and out of the area, or get riders to and from all the work places that have opened up in the former warehouse district south of Ballona Creek.

Maybe they assume riders will take the Ballona Creek bike path to get there. Except that it runs on the north side of the creek, with little access to the south side. And it presents it’s own set of problems.

I could go on (and on… and on…), but you get the idea.

Pick virtually any street in West L.A. If it’s a designated bike route, chances are, it shouldn’t be. Or if it could safely accommodate a bike lane, it doesn’t. And if by some miracle it actually has a bike lane, it usually doesn’t go anywhere, and dumps riders off in the most dangerous spot possible.

I think Timur hit it on the head. (If you haven’t read his blog, drop what you’re doing — once you finish reading this, of course — and check out one of the most intelligent, insightful and beautifully written sites in local cyberspace.)

The problem is that our entire bike system shows every sign of being designed by people who have never ridden a bike in their entire lives. Or at least, haven’t been on one that didn’t training wheels, streamers on the handlebars or playing cards attached to the spokes.

It’s a system that was designed to move cars with maximum efficiency, though little evident efficacy, with no thought paid to any other form of traffic or the effect it will has the surrounding community — like the mayor’s plan to turn Olympic and Pico into one-way streets, for instance. And whatever minimal effort was made to accommodate cyclists or pedestrians was obviously nothing more than an afterthought.

That why we need to add our comments to the new bicycle master plan, which the city is updating right now. (Yes, there actually is one now, believe it or not.) Then contact your council member to insist on adoption of the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights — and do something concrete about it by insisting that Metro include a 1% each set-aside for cycling and pedestrian projects in the proposed 1/2 cent sales tax increase.

You don’t have to look very had to see the failure of bicycle planning around here.

And no one’s likely to do anything about it unless we stand up and make them.

 

The Times’ Bottleneck Blog’s questions SoCal bike routes, including one on a Ventura highway in the sunshine; you’re gonna go, I know. Once again, the city breaks the law by banning cyclists from the holiday light display in Griffith Park. Maybe we should get a group together and go anyway. LACBC celebrates it’s tenth anniversary with a potluck party. Thankfully, only Will Campbell’s shadow bites the dust, courtesy of a non-stop driver, then encounters the owner of these road we ride on. Back from vacation, Gary catches us up on the Brentwood Grand Prix, and urges us to support the subway to the sea. But who won the Manolos? Alex says goodbye to Spook. And finally, New York has over 3600 reports of vehicles blocking bike lanes; L.A. zero. Somehow, I don’t think that means it never happens here; maybe we just don’t have enough functional lanes that anyone out here thinks it matters.  

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