Tag Archive for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

News Update: Senate candidate killed, AAA attacks bike funding, a move to make Metro bike friendlier

A Maryland driver tells police she thought she hit a deer, despite driving four miles home with a bicycle lodged under her SUV. But what she actually hit was the state’s Green Party candidate for Senate; 30-year old Natasha Pettigrew died of her injuries early Tuesday. WashCycle continues to follow the story.

Thanks to houseofpies and DC for the heads-up.

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The cyclist killed in Carlsbad on Sunday after losing control of her bike has been identified as 50-year old Susan Eiko Akana of Poway.

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The Rails to Trails Conservancy reports that AAA thinks the pittance the government spends on bike and pedestrian programs would be better spent on more highway projects, blaming the less than $1 billion budget for such projects for the $89 billion shortfall in the annual highway fund.

Clearly, AAA could use a refresher math course. As well as a good swift kick in the tail pipe.

RTC urges you to sign their petition calling on AAA to support funding for safe walking and biking. As a long-time AAA member, I couldn’t agree more; in fact, I just did it.

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Cyclists will be expected to behave a little better at Friday’s Critical Mass — like no corking or riding on the wrong side of the road. The LAPD be hosting a press conference to discuss policing of Critical Mass at 5 pm today at the plaza of the new Police Administration Headquarters, 100 West First Street Downtown.

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L.A. cycling’s new BFF, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has proposed that Metro get a lot more bike friendly, including more than doubling bike funding in next year’s Call for Projects. LACBC calls on all cyclists to attend the Thursday meeting, 9:30 am in the Third Floor Conference room at Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza.

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LADOT Bike Blog reports that sharrows are back on Westholme Ave; something I can confirm from Monday’s ride, when I rolled over them for the first few blocks before I even noticed.

Okay, so maybe I’m not always the most observant rider on the road.

Sharrows returned to Westholme Ave in Westwood on Monday; did anyone other than cyclists notice?

I tweet therefore I am, Streetsblog parties and the Mayor says Give Me 3

Today I finally enter the Twitter age, only a few years after everyone else on the planet.

I’d been reluctant to add yet another demand on an already overcrowded schedule. But my friend GT — who writes eloquently about struggling to complete his first major climb after his recent heart attack — talked me into it to make it easier to keep you up with new content and breaking news.

So you can now follow me @bikinginla. And I’m now taking suggestions on who I should follow.

And in case you’ve missed it, there’s an interesting — and decidedly in-depth — discussion about helmet use going on at the Survival Tactics page.

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Don’t miss tonight’s Streetsblog LA Re-Launch Fundraiser and Party, complete with silent auction courtesy of Green LA Girl. And set your browser for tomorrow’s official re-launch of the city’s leading — and most important — transportation news site. I have other commitments this evening, but will make a brief appearance before the night is over.

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L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa continues his surprising support for safe cycling.

L.A. cycling’s new BFF continues to support the biking community.

Yesterday, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a press conference to announce the winner of the recent contest to create a slogan for bike safety campaign — something that was in the works long before what London’s Guardian newspaper called his Road-to-Damascus conversion to cycling evangelist.

The Mayor autographs the Give Me 3 poster.

The contest, and resulting poster, were the result of a joint effort between the LACBC, Midnight Ridazz, LADOT and the LAPD, as well as the Mayor’s office.

Yes, that’s just as strange a coalition as it sounds. And one that would have been unimaginable just a year earlier.

The winning slogan, “Give Me 3,” was submitted by cyclist Danny Gamboa, and the poster was designed by L.A. based cyclist and graphic artist Geoff McFetridge.

The poster was also signed by many of the people who worked to make it happen.

According to the Mayor,

“California law currently requires drivers to give a ‘safe passing’ distance, but drivers may not know what safe means. Three feet is a safe passing distance and will help keep bicyclists out of the door zone.”

While the new campaign merely encourages drivers to give a minimum three feet distance when passing bike riders, Villaraigosa promised to work with cyclists and the state legislature to pass a state-wide three-foot passing law. A previous attempt to pass the law in 2006 failed to get out of committee after opposition from the trucking industry and the California Highway Patrol.

Who ever thought we'd see the Mayor flanked by cyclists and their bikes?

The website Three Feet Please says 15 states and the District of Columbia have passed three-foot laws, along with four cities — Austin and San Antonio Texas, Boise Idaho and Tupelo Mississippi. In fact, Mississippi recently became the latest to mandate a minimum three feet.

If they can manage to give cyclists a full yard on the narrow roads of the deep south, California drivers shouldn’t have any problem.

A phalanx of bikes storm the steps of power.

Villaraigosa also made a point of encouraging cyclists to wear a helmet, but did not mention his previous threat call for a mandatory helmet law. The event was followed by filming of a pair of PSA spots featuring the Mayor that will encourage safe driving and helmet use.

Other sites have already covered the press conference in greater detail, including the LACBC, LADOT Bike Blog, Streetsblog and the Mayor’s office; LADOT Bike Blog also offers a full listing of other coverage of the campaign.

A cross sections of cyclists sought shade while waiting to film the PSA.

It will be interesting to see what effect the Give Me 3 campaign will have on the streets of L.A.

In my experience, most drivers already pass at a safe distance, so the question is what influence it will have on the minority of drivers buzz cyclists — intentionally or not.

Or if they’ll only give a safe distance to riders who look like Gumby.

As I rode home, I spotted this poster just blocks from City Hall.

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People for Bikes reaches 50,000 pledges to support cycling in the U.S.; if you haven’t signed up yet, you can do it here. I signed up a few months back.

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Complaints surface about LADOT’s tendency to make infrastructure changes without public notice. Ten things to do at CicLAvia. Gary takes Agensys to task fighting a much needed biking link through Santa Monica. Glee’s Lea Michele rides a lavender cruiser through the streets of L.A. Headphones are legal while riding in most states, though California limits it to one ear only; then again, your choice of music could affect your performance. Rabobank, sponsor of one of the leading pro cycling teams, positions itself for next year’s Tour of California; thanks to George Wolfberg for the link. After receiving 110 units of blood to save his own life, a former CA police officer rides 4,000 miles across the country to thank blood donors; meanwhile, a Brit cyclist rides 3400 miles less across the U.S. to fight cancer; then again, she’s only seven years old. A Tucson bike-grabbing road grate gets a quick fix. If you get run over while talking on a cell phone while riding in Arizona, the courts could rule that distracted riding is relevant to your case. A Portland bike lane gets the Mario Kart treatment from the Department of DIY. A look at Dora Rinehart, the greatest female cyclist of the 1890s; from Colorado, of course. If you want to do a little climbing this weekend, how about 24.5 miles — and 7,700 vertical feet — up Pikes Peak? Somehow, a Kansas State student can get all the way to college, and still think that riding a bike in the street is annoying, rude and has to stop, regardless of what the law says. It takes real food, not energy bars, to get you through the long rides. British police crack down on anti-social cyclists — that sounds so much scarier than scofflaws, doesn’t it? UK authorities are set to reject a call to reduce the BAC limit from .80 to .50. How to adjust your front and rear derailleurs. Racer Rosa Bicycles strives to be cleaner and greener than the rest. Eleven months and 23,000 kilometers of riding across Africa. A New Zealand driver admits to falling asleep and killing a cyclist on Easter Sunday.

Finally, he’s doing it on two feet instead of two wheels, but a tenacious walker is about to finish a remarkable stroll from Rockaway Beach, NY to Rockaway Beach, OR; thanks to Brent for the heads-up.

L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa meets with cyclists, the world does not come to an end

Maybe he really did hit his head.

Something has to explain the seemingly overnight change in the Mayor’s support of bicycling.

His first four years in office, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa never let the word bicycle pass his lips in public. Or if he did, it occurred outside the hearing of the bike community, leaving many cyclists — myself included — to assume he was anti-bike.

Evidently, we were wrong.

It was just seven months ago that Villaraigosa captured the attention of L.A. cyclists by voicing support for CicLAvia, even if he didn’t actually use the word. And just a month since he stunned the entire city by falling off his bike and shattering his elbow.

No, it wasn’t the fall that shocked us — it was that he was even on a bike.

Former Richard Riordan and longtime bike advocate Alex Baum; all photos courtesy of George Wolfberg.

Now, less than a month later, bicyclists were the invited guests at the Mayor’s first Bike Summit — where he received a pair of training wheels, courtesy of cyclist and former Mayor Richard Riordan and BAC Chairperson Emeritus Alex Baum. And in two short hours, had made an impression, grudgingly perhaps, on a highly skeptical house of roughly 300 bicyclists.

What he said was less important than the mere fact that he stuck around for the full two hours and listened to a long line of cyclists voice their suggestions.

And their complaints.

So instead of the press event some of us feared — though there was a lot of that — it became an actual conversation.

The Mayor started things off by talking about his near-collision and discovery of the possibilities of cycling on last year’s trip to Copenhagen, and quickly morphed into the need to enforce the vehicle code and change the car culture on the streets of L.A.

With a panel that included LADOT General Manager Rita Robinson and Planning Director Michael LoGrande, among others, he addressed complaints ranging from Joe Linton’s remarks about the errors in the bike plan, to Jessica Meaney’s comment that “Roads are for everyone, not just the brave.”

Along with Brent Butterworth’s statement about drivers who think they know traffic law without truly understanding it. “People are driving around with laws in their heads that they made up.”

And please forgive me if I spelled anyone’s name wrong.

BAC Chair Glenn Bailey seemed to sum up the attitudes of audience members when he called on the Mayor and his staff to “safely accommodate bicycles on all streets, in all projects, without exception.”

The Mayor said Los Angeles was committed to building 40 miles of bikeways each year for the next 5 years, and 1600 over the next 25 — even though the city has built only 372 miles of bikeways in the previous 13 years. And responded favorably, but noncommittally, when cyclists asked for a biking equivalent of the Mayor’s 30/10 plan to speed up the pace of transit projects.

The CicLAvia group makes its presentation.

Villaraigosa responded to comments about CicLAvia with a promise to attend, and reiterated his support for a 10% set-aside for from Measure R funds for bike and pedestrian projects. He also said that he will soon film PSAs to promote bicycle safety, safe driving and helmet use, and will encourage local TV stations to play them.

However, he drew a round of boos when he said he’ll ask the state legislature to pass a mandatory helmet law, noting his doctors said he would still be hospitalized if he hadn’t been wearing his at the time of his accident. At least one audience member, BAC Vice Chair Jay Slater, agreed though, noting that the state already has a mandatory helmet law for minors. “Aren’t the brains of those over 18 just as valuable as those under,” he asked?

Mayor Villaraigosa agreed with 11th District Council Member Bill Rosendahl, the only Council Member who spoke — or appeared to be in attendance, for that matter — that they should work for a statewide three foot passing law, as well. Both also seemed to support the City Attorney’s plan for a civil anti-harassment law that would allow cyclists to sue drivers who assault, threaten or harass them, regardless of whether criminal charges are filed.

He assured the audience that his representatives will show up — and stay — for meetings of the city’s own Bicycle Advisory Committee, and that city staff and engineers will attend bike-related meetings when appropriate; if smaller cities like Glendale and Burbank can have staff attend meetings, he said, “so can we.” And that the city will look for opportunities to work with other agencies and jurisdictions to coordinate bicycle programs and capitalize on opportunities for funding.

On the other hand, he said the city had fixed potholes at three times the rate of the previous city administration, but that was going was going to slow down due to L.A.’s budget problems. Even though he acknowledged the risk that presented for riders.

Finally, the Mayor announced that he wanted to meet with cyclists again in a year to evaluate the city’s progress.

So is this the day that the Los Angeles finally turned the corner to become the bike-friendly city it always should have been?

Probably not.

Don’t get me wrong. This was huge, and hugely successful.

But there’s still a lot of work to do. And Mayor Villaraigosa still needs to demonstrate that his support goes beyond mere words and meetings, and will lead to the genuine action and hard choices that will make a difference on our streets and for our safety.

But it’s a start.

After five years in office, the Mayor is finally talking to us.

More importantly, he actually seems to be listening.

The Mayor and other panelists actually seemed to listen, but will it result in real change or more talk?

You can hear my comments about the Bike Summit, along with a brief interview with the Mayor, by downloading the podcast of Monday’s AirTalk with Larry Mantle on 89.3 KPCC.

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At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Villaraigosa said that he’d just received word that a bicyclist had been killed in the San Fernando Valley Monday morning. So far, I haven’t been able to find any information to confirm that report. If you have any information, let me know.

Welcome to the dawn of a new day for L.A. cyclists. Or not.

This could be one of the biggest days in L.A. bicycling. Or just a colossal waste of time.

Monday morning, L.A. cycling’s new BFF, L.A. Mayor Antonio “Bionic Elbow” Villaraigosa, is hosting his quickly arranged Bike Summit at Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza.

In just a few short weeks, Villaraigosa has gone from barely mentioning the word bicycle, to actually riding — and falling off — one. And now, according to a story by the Associated Press, he’s become a newly minted advocate of bike safety and cyclists’ rights.

Villaraigosa says the city needs to invest in bicycling infrastructure and focus on traffic safety enforcement to make streets safer for cyclists.

“We also have to have a cultural paradigm shift,” Villaraigosa said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We have to recognize that even in the car capital of America, drivers have to share the road.”

The real test, tough, will be what happens in the Metro Board Room on Monday and in the weeks and months that follow.

Hopefully, the Mayor will seize the opportunity to begin a real engagement with the cycling community, show some genuine leadership and start a two-way conversation that will benefit both bicyclists and the community at large.

Or he could turn it into just another press event, pop in to make a brief statement and get his picture taken with cyclists, then duck out to deal with some “unanticipated crisis” or another.

One approach will win him a lot of new friends, yours truly included. And finally set this car-clogged city on a path towards complete streets and greater livability.

The other will leave a roomful of very angry people demanding an end to the sort of lip service that has too long been employed to buy us off for yet another few years.

Because we’re not going to settle for that any more.

Villaraigosa didn’t ask to be cut off by a careless cab driver, making him the unintended poster boy for everything that’s wrong with L.A. bicycling, and giving him a bully pulpit to push for change on our streets.

But it happened, he is and he does.

The question is, what is he going to do with it?

Larry Mantle’s AirTalk program may host a discussion of the Bike Summit after the 11 am conclusion of the Summit on 89.3 KPCC if they can make the necessary arrangements.

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Wilbur goes on a road diet, and gets bike lanes — along with the long-promised lanes on Reseda Blvd. Finding a faux fur bike on Abbot Kinney. Bicyle Fixation challenges L.A. to sign up for the future of wayfinding. San Francisco challenges Portland and Long Beach to a bike-friendly smackdown. The Times looks at the Black Hawk Co bike ban, where gambling tour buses own the roads and bikes are banished; Chewie offers the city manager’s email address for anyone who wants to weigh in and threaten to do your gambling elsewhere. After Lance pulls out, Levi Leipheimer sets a new record in winning the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. Rolling in the vanguard of the vast bicycle conspiracy. A North Carolina newspaper says danger lurks at every turn, and never ride at night; a Michigan lawyer offers much better advice. Bicyclists have to obey the law too, but we can’t control other riders who break it. Then there’s the Alabama driver who says cyclists are the real danger on the road; yeah, we’re the ones who kill nearly 40,000 people every year. A cyclist says helmets aren’t the key to safety, drivers are; a New Zealand study shows head injuries dropped before the mandatory helmet law went into effect. Riding the Continental Divide from Alaska to Argentina, and waking up to guns more than once. Jan Ullrich withdraws from public life, but not because he lost a court case over the Operacion Puerto doping scandal. Purple Harry’s eco-friendly bike floss. A Toronto cyclist dies a month after a solo helmetless collision. Britain’s Cambridge United Football Club installs bike parking to encourage fans to ride to the matches.

Finally, a Brit cyclist moves to a new town and finds himself on trial for riding naked, something his old neighbors evidently didn’t object to, though his ex did.

A bike broken Villaraigosa on YouTube, Blood In protests in Beverly Hills

It’s been 10 days since L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa set out on his first bike ride since taking office over 5 years ago.

And promptly fell off when a cab driver cut him off pulling away from a curb, landing on his helmeted head and shattering his elbow.

Yet it still continues to make news, here in Los Angeles and around the country.

After writing last week that bikes belong on the streets, the mayor posted a You Tube video, prominently featuring his arm in a sling and a badly swollen right hand, in which he thanks the public, caregivers and first responders for their help and support.

He also talks about the challenges of riding the streets of L.A. — which is exactly the concept local cyclists have long wanted him to grasp — although some accuse him of pandering to the bike lobby.

I had a little bit of a scare there, but I can tell you, I know first hand just how difficult it is to maneuver through our streets to navigate through a city that is built for the automobile, but in many ways, would be the best place for cyclists to be in.

He also says he’s glad that LAPD Chief Beck has made bicycle safety a priority. And most surprising of all, says city officials are going to work with the bicycle safety community to put together a Bike Summit.

Count me in.

Meanwhile, the story continues to spread, as Grist agrees that the mayor missed a chance to “deflate the myth that collisions between military-sized vehicles and cyclists are no big deal.” The New York Times also picks up the story, but kind of misses the point, saying Villaraigosa learned firsthand that “cars and bikes don’t mix.”

And the SF Gate questions the mayor’s apparent emphasis on more bike lanes over better enforcement.

It’s time to stop defending bad driving based on stereotypes of cyclists and start slapping drivers who endanger bikers and pedestrians with criminal charges. And sure, a few more bike lanes would be great.

Meanwhile, back at home, Ken Alpern calls on Villaraigosa and other city officials to preserve planned bikeways on Sepulveda Blvd and along the Expo Light Rail Line.

On the other hand, our mayor isn’t the only one who’s run into problems on a bike lately. Vancouver’s mayor — aka Red Light Reynolds — is nearly hit by a bus after blowing through a traffic signal.

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Tuesday evening, cyclists will gather in Beverly Hills to protest the lenient sentence given to Celine Mahdavi for the hit-and-run collision that critically injured cyclist Louis “Birdman” Deliz on December 1st of last year.

After pleading no contest, Mahdavi was sentenced to just 90 days of community service and three years probation, and ordered to pay full restitution. According to a press release for the event,

Cyclists are calling it the last straw.  Bikeside LA President Alex Thompson said “this sentence is symbolic of the lack of respect cyclists get throughout the justice system.”

Many expressed frustration that Fox made no effort to restrict Mahdavi’s driving privileges, leaving decisions about the status of Mahdavi’s license at the discretion of the DMV.

A press conference will be held at the Beverly Hills Courthouse at 6:15 Tuesday evening; another will take place on Friday, which may coincide with the L.A. Critical Mass.

Event details:

Tuesday, July 27th, 6:15 pm
Beverly Hills Courthouse
9355 Burton Way
Blood In Press Conference
interviews to follow press conference
open mic available to attendees after press conference

Friday, July 30th, 8:15 pm
Beverly Hills Courthouse
9355 Burton Way
Press Conference
interviews to follow press conference
open mic available to attendees after press conference

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More on Sunday’s Walk and Ride for a Safer Fourth Street, including support from Council Member Tom LaBonge for the city’s first bike boulevard. Streetsblog will hold a re-launch party and fundraiser on Wednesday, August 25th. You can help support ciclovia in Santa Monica on Tuesday evening, as the city plans for a 10/10/10 launch date along Main Street; Gary says let’s keep the ball rolling. Cynergy Cycles hosts a free seminar on Training for Hill Climbing on Wednesday evening. Riding from Claremont to Baldy Notch. OC’s Ladera Ranch Grand Prix is scheduled for August 15. There’s an exhibition on biking at the California State Fair through the weekend. How to review bicycle accommodations in roadway designs. The Santa Rosa paper offers advice to drivers and cyclists that mostly gets it wrong — including a “friendly toot on the horn” when cyclists don’t “move over in a timely manner.” In a clear case of blaming the victim, Anchorage considers amending its laws to make cyclists automatically at fault if they get hit crossing a roadway. Katy Perry and Russel Brand ride bikes in New York. An overview of Lance Armstrong and the Floyd Landis investigation. Warning you’re “on the left” sometimes brings out a suicidal urge in the people you’re passing — like the woman who responded to me on Monday by turning directly into my path. Maryland authorities decide to build a 4.7 mile bike detour around a bat refuge; I’m sure many cyclists appreciate that. Advice on how not to have your bike stolen, from someone who once did — steal one, that is. A British tabloid exposes a reporter — and president of the leading bike advocacy organization — as a serial red light runner; or did they? A BBC documentary looks at the death of cyclist Tom Simpson on Mount Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France; maybe they’ll show it on this side of the Atlantic someday. An Ontario cyclist is charged with texting while riding after crashing into the back of a parked car. Here’s your chance to invest in a Wi-Fi equipped bike lock that can call you if someone tampers with it.

Finally, a writer takes all the work out of reporting just about any bike-involved collision with the perfect fill-in-the-blanks template for any media outlet.

L.A.’s newly biking Mayor still doesn’t get it

Over the weekend, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa fell off his bike, and instantly captured the attention of the entire city.

For better or worse.

But instead of using that moment to protect the cycling community he so recently joined, he let a careless driver off the hook.

Sending a clear message that drivers should pay attention. But if they don’t, no big deal.

It was just an accident.

As it turns out, Saturday’s outing was the Mayor’s first bike ride in years, and lasted all of 30 minutes before he hit the pavement. And in answer to the question some people have been asking, yes, he was wearing a helmet.

In fact, he landed on it first before breaking his elbow. Maybe that’s why he’s still a little confused on the subject.

His Honor may have written — and Tweeted — that bikes belong on L.A. streets and he’ll be back on a bike as soon as he’s able. But according to the Daily Breeze, Villaraigosa insists that the cab driver shouldn’t face charges.

“He was very concerned when he realized it was me,” the mayor said. “He was careless, but that’s not illegal. He certainly didn’t do this on purpose.”

That’s where the Mayor is wrong — and where he’s done a huge disservice to everyone else on the roads, especially his new friends in the cycling community.

Because what the driver did was illegal. He pulled away from the curb without making sure the bike lane he was parked next to was clear. And as a result, caused a cyclist to be injured.

It’s called failure to yield. And it is against the law.

Yet our mayor just told everyone within reach of his words — and in this wireless world, that’s just about everyone — that cutting off a bike is really okay. Careless driving is no big deal.

And if anyone gets hurt as a result, it’s just an accident.

Harm, but no foul.

Glen Bailey, chair of the city Bicycle Advisory Committee, pointed out that this kind of collision is all too common.

“It’s the kind where a vehicle pulls in front a cyclist without warning and an accident occurs… It’s the kind of thing that normally doesn’t get reported and doesn’t get the attention it should. That’s why we are advocating for greater awareness and are asking people to be more careful and watch when they make turns to make sure a bicyclist isn’t there.”

The mayor still has a chance to change that. Although a lot fewer people are listening now.

He needs to stress that — ticketed or not — what the cab driver did was, in fact, against the law. And that drivers are fully responsible for carelessness behind the wheel that results in injury to bicyclists, or anyone else.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Once he gets back on his bike, I’ll be happy to ride with him.

And teach the Mayor what to look out for so it doesn’t happen again.

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Just one day after we found out that Robert Sam Sanchez was sentenced to 4 years for the drunken hit-and-run death of Rod Armas, the 18-year old intoxicated driver who fled the scene after maiming cyclist Louis Deliz received a whopping 90 days community service — and may be able to get her license back next year.

The only significant difference between these two cases is that Deliz survived, while Armas didn’t. Clearly, someone has to die before judges take the lives of cyclists seriously.

Maybe it’s time we all got MADD.

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Tonight’s your chance to talk about the biking issues that matter to you, when the LACBC holds its monthly board of directors meeting at the Encino Velodrome. The meeting officially kicks off at 7 pm, but some board members plan to arrive early.

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In stage 16 of the Tour, Lance gives it his best shot for a stage victory, but Pierrick Fedrigo gets the win; in what may have been his last chance for a win, Lance just didn’t have the legs. A Kiwi le Tour rider is mistaken for a tourist and pushed off his bike, breaking both wheels. Following today’s rest day, Thursday’s climb up Tourmalet should be exciting — because Schleck wants his yellow jersey back.

In near-daily pro doping news, Alessandro Petacchi is placed under formal investigation. Armstrong’s lawyer complains about media leaks, and his team leader admits selling bikes as Landis charged, but doesn’t know where the money went.

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LACBC calls for L.A.’s broken-armed mayor to support safer streets. LADOT Bike Blog reports on the sharrows on Westholme Ave; I’m planning to ride them end-to-end in a few minutes. Advice on safely navigating a right turn lane. NBC4 looks at the upcoming CicLAvia, now scheduled for October. Bicycle Fixation complains to LADOT’s Carlos Morales about bike racks, and gets action. A Sacramento cyclist is killed on his way to work; the driver has no license but a witness blames the cyclist. She’s a citizen cyclist, not a cycle chic. Battling breast cancer by bike. A lawyer finally gets his client a settlement a year-and-a-half after she gets left hooked. Charleston encourages people to ride bikes Downtown, then locks and tickets them because there’s not enough bike parking. A Boston cyclist enjoys the occasional impromptu roadway horn concerto. A DC area driver had received five tickets in the month before he killed a 23-year old cyclist. More secrets to cycling safely in traffic. Comparing the world’s two largest bike share programs as London’s new Cycle Hire kicks off this week — but only for members. Meanwhile, the city’s first two Cycle Superhighways opened on Monday.

Finally, an NYPD officer faces charges for hitting a cyclist, dragging him to the curb, giving him a ticket and then driving off without reporting it; the entire event was captured on video.

L.A.’s mayor jumps on the bike bandwagon — and promptly falls off

L.A. bicyclists have long fantasized about getting Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on a bike.

Not just for the affirmation of cycling as a valid means of transportation and recreation it would provide in this often unwelcoming city, but so he would understand the challenges we face on its streets.

I have a feeling he gets it now.

Just days after Will Campbell revealed the first known photo of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on a bicycle — and only seven months since Villaraigosa stunned L.A. cyclists by publicly voicing support for bicycling for the first time — he’s now officially one of us.

On Saturday evening, he was cut off by a driver. And ended up with a broken elbow that required surgery on Sunday.

He might be hard pressed to find a local rider who can’t relate to the first part of the story, if not the second.

According to the Times, His Honor was riding in the bike lane on Venice Blvd between Hervey and Hargis Streets near Culver City when a taxi suddenly pulled in front of him, causing the mayor to fall.

Many bicyclists read between the lines and suspected a classic right hook, in which the driver makes a right turn across the path of a rider. Or maybe the cabbie cut in front of the Mayor and stopped short, like an accidental version of what Dr. Thompson was convicted of doing on purpose.

According to LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer, the real story is just a little different.

It seems the cab was parked along the curb and pulled out directly in front of the Mayor without looking for approaching riders in the bike lane. And rather than the implied hit-and-run, the driver did stop and exchange information, then left the scene before police arrived.

So while the driver did cause what the police term a no-contact collision, it was not a hit-and-run. And the only chargeable offense would be making an unsafe lane change or failure to yield.

Welcome to our world.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s spent much time riding the streets of this city who doesn’t have a similar tale to tell. Except drivers usually don’t stop for cyclists who don’t ride with a security detail.

And I have a feeling the police took the mayor’s call a little more seriously than they have the rest of us.

So we wish you well, Mr. Mayor.

Some of us hope you ignore all of those people who say this proves how dangerous it is to ride in this city, and just get back out on your bike as soon as you can. While others are hopeful that you’ve learned a lesson about drivers’ attitudes towards cyclists, painful though it may be, and hope you’ll now partner with cyclists to make the streets safer. And are critical of the press that wrote this off as a mere accident and implied it was your fault.

But if you haven’t quite grasped it yet, just try reading some of the comments on the Times story about your injury. If you have the stomach for it.

Like it or not, you’re one of us now.

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After a dull weekend, some real drama in the Tour de France.

Just as Andy Schleck was about to destroy Alberto Contador on a climb, Schleck lost his chain. And his yellow jersey, as Contador ignored the accepted courtesy of not attacking the leader when he has mechanical trouble. As a result, he now leads Schleck by a mere 8 seconds — with a very pissed of Luxembourger on his heels.

On Sunday, nothing much happened as Christophe Riblon won the stage and the leaders chose to play poker rather than compete; Vino bounced back from a two-year blood doping suspension to win stage 13. Judging by his comments, maybe Lance will be back in 2015 (third item), while his PR machine rolls over bad press. Jens Voigt wonders just how strong Contador really is this year.

………

A cyclist visits New York and asks, can we have some of those separated bike lanes too? Brayj says the city Planning Department clearly listened to him, but the new draft bike plan still has a way to go. How to make Riverside more bike-friendly; just change the name of the city and this would be make damn good approach for L.A. as well. Visiting L.A.’s largely forgotten Fisherman’s Village by bike. A female cyclist says if guys only knew how good they look on a bike, they’d ride everywhere. A cyclist is found dead on the side of a Santa Clara County roadway. Long Beach’s biking expats take the long — and very scenic — route from Nashville to Chattanooga. One of Amarillo’s leading bike activists is killed when a distracted driver tries to pick up the cell phone he dropped. Two cyclists are killed in separate incidents in OKC in just two days. A British cyclist was killed on the site of a planned bikeway that was scrapped just last week. Even for a trained cyclist, wearing a helmet is better than cracking your head. Even in Turkey, they’re building new bikeways.

Finally, a writer for the New York Post bends over backwards to ignore the safety improvements on Gotham’s streets and says no matter how many bike lanes the city builds, they will only make New York more dangerous.

As our own mayor can attest, more cars on the road only make our streets safer.

Right?

More Critical Mass fallout: the mayor speaks out, LAPD steps up

Sometimes it only takes a videotape of an assault under color of authority to get a little attention.

Just a few days after the LACBC called on L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa to step up and unequivocally voice his support for cycling in the City of Angeles following the now infamous Critical Mass Takedown, he did.

Sort of.

The next business day after the letter was hand-delivered to his office, he offered his response to the LACBC.

Bicyclists have every right to use our City streets and to be treated with courtesy and respect—both by drivers and law enforcement.

I fully support LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s efforts to improve the relationship between cyclists and police officers, and I was very   disappointed  to hear about the confrontation in Hollywood on May 28.

The video from that night is disturbing. The LAPD is conducting a full investigation of this incident, and I have complete confidence in Chief Beck’s commitment to making the City’s streets safe for everyone.

—Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

It’s a great message, as far as it goes. Which isn’t nearly far enough.

As Damien Newton points out, it’s a baby step, but one that goes far beyond anything we’ve heard from the mayor before.

But baby steps aren’t good enough. Not anymore.

Mayor Villaraigosa needs to take this opportunity to make it clear to all city departments and employees that bikes have a vital role to play in L.A.’s transportation future, and that cyclists deserve the same respect and consideration given to any other users of the city’s streets. And that the bureaucratic obstructionism that’s prevented implementation of the 1996 bike plan needs to end.

Now.

It’s also long past time for the mayor to meet with cyclists.

The Transportation Committee has done it. The full City Council has heard us. Even the new Chief and Asst. Chief of the LAPD sat down with cyclists — and made real changes as a result.

Now the mayor needs to come forward to meet with cyclists to share his thoughts, answer our questions and really listen to the concerns of the cycling community.

Anything less would be a failure of leadership. And yet another failure to communicate.

………

On the other hand, the LAPD seems to have gotten the message.

In response to the bungled Critical Mass response — which is far from the first time the LAPD has used force against cyclists — Commander Jorge Villegas, the Assistant Director of Operations, has ordered the Training Division to develop new tactics that would allow all officers to safely and effectively deal with riders on an individual and group basis, including:

  • stopping a single moving bicyclist
  • stopping bicyclists riding in a group
  • managing large bicycle rides and events
  • developing a pursuit policy for bicyclists who refuse to yield
  • any other bicycle-related tactical issues that may arise

That doesn’t mean things are going to change overnight. Or that the next time a police officer feels overwhelmed by cyclists, he won’t resort to the sort of use of force that would never be employed against a motorist under similar circumstances.

But it does mean that the department has gotten the message.

And that they are committed to finding a better way to deal with us.

A special thanks to Sgt. David Krumer of the LAPD’s Office of Operations, the department’s point man on biking issues, who has gone out of his way to address the concerns of bicyclists and improve communications between the department and the cycling community.

………

Alex Trujillo is scheduled to go on trial Wednesday for felony murder in the drunk driving death of Catherine Busse in Seal Beach two years ago. According to the Orange County Register, Trujillo was on multiple prescription drugs and had a blood alcohol level of 0.11 when he swerved onto the sidewalk and hit Busse at a speed of 45 mph. Trujillo had also been convicted of DUI in 2002.

………

Attack of the killer cyclists: The suspect in the vicious hit-and-run attacks that targeted four cyclists in San Francisco is described as an “avid cyclist,” while a bike-riding Wisconsin driver gets 30 months in jail for killing a cyclist while driving drunk.

………

Travelin’ Local ask why LA isn’t more bike friendly than NYC; two words: Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan. Or is that three? San Francisco takes space from the traffic lane to reduce the door zone. The mayor of Aspen, CO is seriously injured in a solo bike accident; that’s why you don’t wrap anything around your handles bars. A group of Critical Mass riders are captured on film actually stopping for a red light. Floyd “Seriously, I’m Telling the Truth Now, Even Though I was Lying Before” Landis lawyers up with LeMond’s attorneys; probably a damn good idea. NBA star Caron Butler teams with Denmark’s crown prince and a couple of Congressmen to promote cycling. The bamboo bike makers visit the Bay Area. Bad things can happen when you pass on the right; then again, the left isn’t always so great, either. Actually, there is a safe way for delivery trucks to double park without blocking the bike lane. Chicago gets artistic new bike racks. A bike wedding in Tucson. Tips on how to ride in a group without becoming roadkill. My idea of heaven: fly fishing by bike. What’s your carbon footprint when you ride? Manchester UK recruits cyclists for a new bicycle ballet. A BBC broadcaster would rather travel by bike than limo. Britain considers lowering the blood alcohol limit for drivers from .08 to .05. A British program doubles the percentage of children who bike to school. Courtesy of Witch on a Bicycle comes word of an intentional road-rage assault in the UK.

Finally, after a bus hits a cyclist on Denver’s 16th Mall, the driver gets a ticket; yet instead of improving driver training, Denver transportation officials consider banning bikes entirely in response. And just west of Denver, the small town of Blackhawk bans bikes entirely from most streets; you know, for our own safety.

God forbid they should actually focus on the big, dangerous vehicles that can kill people.

A quantum leap in L.A.’s cycling culture

Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is. Do you Mr. Jones? — Bob Dylan, Ballad Of A Thin Man


It can be challenging growing up with a physicist for an older brother.

Oddly, it doesn't look any different.

By the time I was in 7th grade, I had a better understanding of physics than most of the people who tried to teach me. Like the time I found myself trying to explain Schrödinger’s Cat to one of my science teachers, who couldn’t grasp the concept that a kitty could be both alive and dead at the same time. Or what it was doing in the damn box in the first place.

Or trying to explain that quantum leap doesn’t mean a sudden dramatic change, as most people assume. But rather, it’s an infinitesimally small shift at the subatomic level; yet one that can result in a dramatic change over time.

Sort of like what’s happened over the last year in with bicycling in Los Angeles.*

Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out just when things started to change around here. Maybe it was the Mandeville Canyon case that finally made cyclists mad enough to coalesce around a cause. Maybe it was the LAPD’s tepid response to the infamous Hummer Incident that caused riders to storm City Hall.

Or maybe it was when a group of cyclists got together to metaphorically nail their 12 theses on City Hall’s Wittenberg Door.

I really don’t know.

All I know is that something has changed. And for once, it seems to be for the better.

Take City Hall, for instance.

A year ago, there was minimal support for cyclists in local government. At best, a council member might host a bike ride or two, or stage a two-wheeled press event on Bike to Work day. Current TranspoComm chair Bill Rosendahl seemed to be one of the first to take cycling issues seriously when he tried to host a community meeting to discuss the Mandeville case. And failed, due to the overwhelming anger on both sides.

And no one could seem to recall Mayor Villaraigosa even mentioning bikes, let alone favorably.

Things look a little different today.

Somehow, that quantum leap — or series of leaps — has resulted in a dramatically changed environment for cyclists in this city, especially in the last month or two.

The City Council has responded to the concerns of cyclists by proposing an anti-harassment ordinance, pushing for sharrows and a bike-sharing program, and demanding a real response from the city’s police department. Council President Eric Garcetti went so far as to offer his personal assurance that he’ll keep the anti-harassment ordinance moving forward.

Even the mayor has recently expressed support for the planned CycLAvia. And just this week, he tweeted about his concern for making the streets safer for cyclists.

When Antonio Villaraigosa notices cycling — and actually supports it, no less — you know there’s something serious going on.

For the first time I’m aware of, LADOT General Manager Rita Robinson also offered public support for bike safety and educating drivers about cycling. And Bikeways Coordinator Michelle Mowery assured listeners yesterday that much of the proposed Backbone Bikeway Network is already being incorporated into the revised bike plan, based on feedback from cyclists.

We’ll see.

Meanwhile, the recent appointment of new LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has apparently resulted in a sea change in the department’s attitude towards bicyclists.

In recent weeks, the department has established a task force to address cyclists concerns, and has begun tracking bicycling collisions — revealing that a full 23% of reported bicycle collisions are hit and runs. In addition, they’ve issued a call for cyclists to report dangerous intersections so they can step up enforcement and recommend changes to city planners, and started to crack down on bike theft.

And they’re working on a program to educate officers on the rights of cyclists, and ways to educate drivers and cyclists on how to share the road safely.

Next up, Chief Beck is scheduled to address a special bike-focused meeting of the Council’s Transportation Committee meeting on the 24th. And hopefully he’ll listen to cyclists, as well.

The real test, though, will come when — and if — this change in attitude filters down to the street level.

Then there’s the LACBC.

When I started this blog a couple years back, like a lot of other local cyclists, I didn’t have a lot of use for the County Bike Coalition.

As far as I was concerned, they were wasting their time on relatively trivial matters, and unwilling to take on the serious challenges that face cyclists in Los Angeles. Maybe I was wrong; maybe they were working on things that went under the radar. Or my radar, anyway.

Or maybe they’ve just seriously stepped up their game in the last year or so.

Either way, the LACBC has been actively involved in the changes currently taking place in Los Angeles, from pushing for sharrows, bike-sharing and the anti-harassment ordinance to fighting for the 4th Street Bike Boulevard, a better bike plan and reforming the way the LAPD deals with cyclists.

They’ve also learned to hold their own with aggressive and sometimes unfriendly council members, without backing down. And yes, I’ve been impressed.

So much, in fact, that I’m seriously thinking about joining myself. Which is not something I would have considered a couple years ago. Or last year, even.

And the news media have taken notice, as the L.A. Times, KPCC’s Patt Morrison and Larry Mantle, and others have begun covering cycling on a regular basis.

Things are changing.

It’s up to us to keep up the pressure — on the Council, the Mayor, LADOT, LAPD, and yes, the LACBC. Because it’s up to us keep things moving forward.

And make sure this is just the beginning.

*Admit it, you were wondering where the hell I was going with this.

………

Riding outside the box and keeping yourself — and the city — moving in a more positive direction. Learning from San Louis Obispo’s bike boulevards. Can the Backbone Bikeway Network make North Fig bike friendly? Planning to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe on the Rose Bowl loop. Two new Bike Stations in Claremont and Covina. San Antonio becomes the latest city to approve a three-foot passing distance, while Portland delays a vote on their 20-year bike plan. The Bicycle Leadership Conference wants your input, including a separate survey for female cyclists. Better signage for better bikeways. Encourage cycling through a positive focus, or discourage it through a negative focus on safety? Slap your car with a Bicycle Safe Vehicle sticker, assuming you have one, of course. Busting the myth about taking the lane on a high-speed highway. A missionary’s son bikes from Alaska to Argentina. Cyclists will ride further for long distance trains with fewer stops; maybe cyclists should just park their bikes at the train station and stop complaining. The Bicycling Baronet rides to the rescue of Parliament. Will the Vancouver games result in more than a short-term uptick in cycling? Drivers target cyclists along the Australian coast, and Tasmanian drivers consider cyclists hazards; one in four reports a collision or near miss with a rider. A British cyclist is killed on her way to visit her Alzheimer’s-afflicted husband in a nursing home. Finally, yet another cycling collision in Orange County — but this time, it’s cyclists vs. raccoon. And at least it’s a reason for running late.

A little this, a little that — Dangerous intersections, Alta out(?), an endorsement and a miracle

There’s been a lot going on in the local bike world this week. So allow me to catch up with a few items that haven’t made it in here yet.

LAPD wants to know which intersections are most dangerous In a recent post on the LACBC’s website, they noted that LAPD Cdr. David Doan and Sgt. David Krumer made presentation to new bicycle task force working with the department, which included a report on tracking data relating to bicycle traffic incidents.

As part of his presentation, Sgt. Kramer said that he could start mobilizing officers to reduce the number of these incidents if he knew what the most dangerous intersections for cyclists are.

According to the LACBC:

Some of the “tools” Commander Doan mentioned they could start using to make sure drivers are respecting bicyclist safety are stings (similar to the pedestrian stings happening earlier this year), increased uniformed enforcement, and LAPD supported recommendations to DOT on streets and intersections that need to be reworked—including broken or non-existent bike-detectors that leave you forced to run a red light to get home at night and impassable intersections designed without any considerations beyond vehicles.

As a result, the organization is asking cyclists to report what you think are the most dangerous intersections for cyclists, via Twitter @lacbc, on Facebook, or through an interactive Google Map the LACBC has set up.

Officer Bike-Friendly may not be back quite yet. But it’s looking a lot better out there.

………

Alta Design withdraws from L.A. Bike Plan According to LADOT Bikeways Coordinator Michelle Mowery’s report to the Bicycle Advisory Committee, funding for Alta Design’s contract with the city has run out.

As a result, one of the nation’s most respected bicycling design firms will no longer be participating in revising the bike plan, leaving it up to city staff to make revisions based on public comments. She now estimates that the Planning Department will release a revised version in late February or early March — but don’t be surprised if that timeline slips even more due to reduced staffing and city budget problems.

Call me crazy, but when I give an estimate to my clients, I budget in extra time make any necessary changes. And I stick around until the job is done.

Then again, I don’t have to work with the City of Los Angeles.

Update: According to Alex Thompson, Alta says they’re going to finish the job, despite LADOT’s report to the contrary. So what’s really going on, God only knows.

………

Other bikeways projects affected by budget Mowery’s report also indicates that budgetary issues are impacting other projects. While 400 new inverted-U bike racks have been recently installed, contract issues may halt further installations for the time being, and possible reductions in staffing — in other words, layoffs — could cause severe cutbacks in the bike parking program. And the long-awaited Sharrows pilot study, which many cyclists believe has already started, will now be completed by Bikeways staff during their furlough hours, using funding from the Southern California Association of Governments.

………

Consider this an official endorsement As you may have noticed over the past few days, Dr. Alex — the good Dr. Thompson — and I have disagreed about completing the Marvin Braude Bike Path by extending it a few miles north.

Friends do that sometimes.

But that doesn’t change my high opinion of Alex Thompson. He’s one of the city’s leading bike activists, a co-founder of the Bikerowave and one of the prime drivers behind the Bike Writers Collective and the Bike Working Group. And a major pain in the ass to any government official who stands in the way of bicycling in the L.A. area.

He was also one of the first supporters of this blog, and has encouraged me to become more productively involved in tackling local bike issues.

Yesterday, he announced that he’s running for Community Director of the Mar Vista Neighborhood Council. And while I may not always agree with him, I couldn’t respect Alex more — and I offer him my unqualified endorsement.

Seriously, if you live, work, volunteer, own property or are otherwise connected to the Mar Vista area in some way, he deserves your support.

………

Notify the Vatican — the Mayor and LADOT’s GM support cyclists In a truly stunning development, both LADOT General Manage Rita Robinson and Mayor Villaraigosa showed their support for cycling yesterday, as they tweeted about the need to educate drivers and make the streets safer for cyclists.

Now if they’ll just turn those sentiments into official policy.

………

LAist looks at the dispute over completing the $30 million beachfront bike path. The Rampart Village Neighborhood Council endorses the 4th Street Bike Boulevard. Jeremy Grant looks at the Backbone Bikeway Network; I think it’s brilliant, but there are those who don’t. Just days after the Idaho Stop fails in Utah, Arizona takes up the debate. Iowa cyclists push for a vulnerable user and three foot passing law, while San Antonio considers a three foot rule for all vulnerable users. Cycling contributes $1.5 billion — yes, with a B — to Wisconsin’s economy. A Memphis man is arrested for shooting at a cyclist because he thought the rider was a crackhead; I’m sure that must have made sense to him at the time. Outdated Consumer Product Safety regulations mean your bike could be illegal. Race radios are now banned in US bike races as well as le Tour. A Belfast driver goes on trial for killing one of Northern Ireland’s top racers in an attempt to miss a dog; he probably missed his flight, as well. London 2012 organizers raise the roof on the new Velodrome.

Finally, KPCC’s Patt Morrison is scheduled to discuss the BWG’s proposed Backbone Bikeway Network with Mihai Peteu this afternoon. The show runs from 1 to 3 pm at 89.3 FM; best guess is that Mihai’s segment will run begin around 1:20 pm, and recording of the program should be available on the KPCC website later today.

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