Tag Archive for media bias

It’s Bike to Work Day, LA Times talks with seven bike-riding Angelenos, and how the press blames crash victims

Happy Bike to Work Day.

But just between us, feel free to bike anywhere.

I won’t tell.

While it’s not the bicycling equivalent of Trick or Treat that it used to be, Spectrum News 1 reports several LACBC chapters will be operating pit stops, including in West Hollywood, Culver City and Santa Monica.

Metro is hosting a Bike to Work Day celebration at Union Station until noon today.

Bike to Work Day Celebration

  • May 19 @ 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Union Station, 800 N Alameda St
  • Los Angeles, CA 90012 United States

Ride Metro Bike Share to work on Bike to Work Day! Stop by our booth in Union Station West for free coffee, pastries, and passes for FREE 30-minute rides.

The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition is teaming with Pasadena nonprofit Day One for a Bike to Work Day stop at City Hall.

That will be followed by a Handlebar Happy Hour this evening.

It’s a good day for a multimodal commute, with free transit for bike riders throughout the LA area.

Saturday’s daylight Ride of Silence has been moved from the Rose Bowl to Memorial Park in Old Pasadena.

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Nice piece from the LA Times, which talks with a broad cross-section Angelenos who love riding their bikes, despite the obvious obstacles.

“The concern is very simple,” bike activist Michael Schneider said. “People feel like they’re gonna die if they bike in L.A.”

Over the past five years, 96 cyclists have been killed on Los Angeles roads, an average of 18 a year, according to LAPD data. So far this year, six have died, including Andrew Jelmert, a 77-year-old real estate agent struck by a driver in Griffith Park in April, and days later, Leonidas Accip Serech who was killed in a hit-and-run crash in Koreatown. That same week, a third cyclist, John Hermoso, was killed while riding near Santa Clarita, outside Los Angeles city limits.

And yet a hardy 3% of L.A. residents, about 120,000 people, through wit, will, joy or necessity, carve out their daily commutes and other trips on two wheels.

The riders range from Schneider and legendary Bike Kitchen founder Jimmy Lizama, to Cal State LA assistant professor Michael Runnels and Lena Williams of People for Mobility Justice.

Most focus on the surprising convenience and sheer joy of riding a bike, despite the built-in inconvenience and inequity of LA-area streets.

Here’s just a portion of what Runnels had to say, in response to the question “What’s the most fun you can have on a bike in L.A.?”

Descending down a hill from Griffith Park. Los Angeles is an unfurling gorgeous flower that has no center — continuous gorgeous petals. And the only way that I began to see how this beautiful city is tied together is on the saddle of a bike. I mean you could see, in a poor neighborhood, you’ll tend to go slower because the roads are maintained less effectively. If you bike to Beverly Hills, the pavement turns smooth. You can see the theory of a city: where the money goes, where the money does not go. The views of the city that’s nestled in the mountains right next to the ocean — it’s stunning. So riding your bikes with friends, in this staggering natural beauty, you’re earning this beauty. You’re getting exercise, you have a zeroed out carbon footprint, and you’re making bonds with your community in ways you could never do with a car.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

It’s today’s must read piece. So take a few minutes and read the whole thing.

We’ll wait.

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In the day’s other must-read, Slate takes a deep dive into how news organizations cover car collisions when the victim is on foot, or otherwise outside the vehicle.

Subtly — or not so subtly — blaming the victim by parroting police reports, without taking an objective look at what really happened.

Across the country, media outlets consistently employ practices that traffic safety experts and advocates object to—writing headlines about pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in the passive voice and highlighting the vehicle instead of the driver (i.e., “pedestrian struck by car” instead “driver strikes pedestrian”). Research suggests that American reporting is much more likely to focus on the pedestrian or cyclist who is struck, rather than the driver behind the wheel. Recognizing the problem, a 2018 Columbia Journalism Review article offered guidance to reporters and editors: “When covering car crashes, be careful not to blame the victim.”

Because most people learn about these incidents from the press, reporting habits around roadway deaths have attracted more scrutiny as pedestrian and cyclist fatalities rise, surging 46 percent and 36 percent, respectively, from 2010 to 2019. Roadways have grown even more dangerous during the pandemic, with more than 42,000 people dying on American roadways in 2021, a 10.5 percent annual increase, the highest on record. Meanwhile, traffic fatalities have fallen steadily across most of Europe and East Asia…

The media’s role in this conversation matters. Public pressure can help push transportation agencies to revise their approaches to road safety, something that the growing death toll suggests is overdue. Media coverage can be instrumental in shaping such pressure, but only if newsrooms dig deeper in their crash reporting and guard against blaming the very people who are getting killed.

Unlike the Times story, this one won’t make you smile. But it’s every bit as important a read.

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Streetsblog reports that a Metro committee has recommended pulling the plug on the $6 billion plan to widen the 710 Freeway, which would require demolishing hundreds of homes and businesses.

Let’s hope that means they’re finally getting it, recognizing that we can’t keep building traffic-inducing highways when the world is literally on fire.

Or maybe not.

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GCN explains how to recycle old bike tires.

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Local

Streets For All is endorsing Bryant Odega to replace outgoing LA councilmember Joe Buscaino in CD15, noting he’s the only candidate for the post who has endorsed the 25×25 plan to return 25% of LA street space to human use.

 

State 

Bike to Work Day returns to San Diego after a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, with 100 pit stops scattered around the city.

A Los Angeles expat has turned his high-end Sonoma home into a bike-centric clubhouse for his friends.

 

National

Seriously? House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy slammed Speaker Nancy Pelosi over a proposal to give House staffers free Peloton memberships, when families are struggling to find baby formula — then joined 191 other Republicans to vote against funding to address the formula shortage.

Garmin’s new $400 bike tail light comes complete with a rear-facing, hi-def bike cam and built-in radar to warn you about oncoming vehicles.

Bicycling says Coldplay wants you to help provide the pedal power to power their shows. As usual, read it on Yahoo if the magazine blocks you.

An Idaho man celebrates riding 200,000 miles over 36 years. Something I was on track for before diabetes and other associated health problems knocked me off my bike.

A Denver weekly says the city’s rating as one of the nation’s safest cities for bike commuters doesn’t jibe with its rising traffic death toll, six years after adopting a five-year Vision Zero plan.

Denver riders who missed out on one of the city’s ebike rebate vouchers will get a second chance in 60 days, when any unused vouchers go back on the market.

An Illinois woman was sentenced to five years behind bars for the hit-and-run death of a Wisconsin man who was riding his bicycle against traffic.

That’s more like it. Philadelphia is adding bicycle parking patrols to target drivers who park in bike lanes.

 

International

Police in Liverpool, England caused an uproar when they tweeted bicyclists should ride with courtesy and care, with bike riders angrily noting they’re not the ones who are killing people.

Undefeated English UFC featherweight Lerone Murphy reports he nearly died after he was struck by a careless driver while riding his bike, and nearl bled out when it took 45 minutes for an ambulance to get there.

Speed cams work. A speed camera installed to enforce a British city’s new 20 mph speed limit caught 1,100 drivers in just the first 24 hours — and a whopping 23,500 speeding drivers before it was officially turned on. So what the hell is California waiting for?

The wife of the inventor of Haribo gummy bears was one of us, riding her bike to make deliveries of the then new confection around Bonn, Germany in the 1920s.

Ukrainian soldiers are turning to local ebike maker Delfast, mounting bikes with anti-armor rocket launchers to turn them into stealth tank killers.

 

Competitive Cycling

Spanish pro Juan Pedro López held on to the pink leader’s jersey in Wednesday’s 11th stage of the Giro, as Italy’s Alberto Dainese won the stage, becoming the first Italian to win at this year’s race.

Disappointing news, as Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay was forced to withdraw from the Giro hours after becoming the first Black African to win a Grand Tour stage, due to a hemorrhage suffered in his left eye when he popped a bottle of prosecco to celebrate his victory, and was struck by the cork.

Thirty-nine-year old Italian cyclist Domenico Pozzovivo is fighting through pain from a horrific head-on crash by a driver two years ago to compete in the Giro, assuming the sole leadership of the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert after Girmay was forced to drop out.

 

Finally…

Your next carbon frame could be virtually unbreakable. A pair of exercise bikes went down with the Titanic 110 years ago.

And Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is one of us. Or at least, the fictional president he played was.

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

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

LA media belatedly reports death of 80-year old NB bike rider, fed rules favor cars over people, and ride for Woon this Sat.

Maybe they should try reading BikinginLA first.

Or working weekends, anyway.

Last week, we reported on the tragic death of 80-year old Ernest Adams, who lost his life a day after he was run down by an allegedly intoxicated driver while riding his bike in Newport Beach.

No other media outlets reported his death at the time, other than a local Newport Beach blog.

That changed Monday, when a number of LA-area news outlets breathlessly reported that the Orange County Coroner had released the name of the 80-year old victim of the crash.

Except the coroner had posted Adam’s name online last Wednesday — the same day Tom Johnson’s Stu News Newport reported on his death, as well as the arrest of the 20-year old driver.

But maybe those other media outlets don’t have this site’s network of loyal readers to keep them on top of the latest news.

So we can do the same for you.

Thanks again to Bill Sellin and Lois for the heads-up, and giving us a nearly full week head start on nearly everyone else.

We’ll do our best to stay on top of the story, long after the rest have forgotten it.

And by we, I mean me.

And a year-old corgi who needs to start pulling her weight around here.

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Nice to see NACTO gets it.

As their tweet suggests, current federal rules require 100 people per day to cross an intersection before a crossing signal can go in.

Except many people won’t cross dangerous intersections precisely because they don’t have signals.

Chicken, meet egg.

It’s long past time to rewrite the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, aka MUTCD, to eliminate such dangerously ridiculous requirements.

And the Federal Highway Administration needs to hear from us — all of us — that people matter more than cars.

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Streetsblog’s weekly listing of livable streets-related events includes this notation about a walk/ride to honor Frederick “Woon” Frazier this Saturday; Woon’s alleged killer has yet to face justice for the hit-and-run that took his life.

Saturday 4/10 – On this date in 2018, 22-year-old Frederick “Woon” Frazier was killed in a horrific hit-and-run at Manchester and Normandie. Though the driver was ultimately apprehended, the case is still making its way through the court system. In the meanwhile, little has changed in the way of safety in that area; cars seem to be driving faster than ever along both busy corridors. To continue to push for both justice and safer streets, friends and family ask you to join them on a bike/walk for justice in honor of his memory. Meet up at 51st and Harvard at 11 a.m.

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Sarcasm is a powerful tool.

Although there’s always a few tools who don’t get it.

Although this is just a truncated version of the Onion’s cartoon. So be sure to click through to get the full effect.

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GCN wants you to take better care of your bike tools.

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

Nice guy. Portland, Oregon police busted a man who shot paintballs at a passing bike rider, then threatened park rangers with an ax.

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

Tallahassee police are looking for a would-be thief who rode his bike up to a bank patron using an ATM, then shot him in a botched robbery attempt; the victim was hospitalized in serious condition.

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Local

LA County Sheriff’s deputies report two men were killed in separate collisions around on PCH near Busch Drive in Malibu, at 10:35 pm Sunday. However, it’s possible that one or both of the victims may have been riding bikes.

 

State

Huntington Beach considers allowing ebikes on the beachfront bike path.

Sad news from San Jose, where a man was killed when he was run down by a motorist while riding his bike across the street; police stress that he was “outside of a marked crosswalk” when he was killed. Never mind that bike riders are neither required nor expected to use a crosswalk — and often blamed when they do.

 

National

Grist credits investments in bicycling infrastructure during the pandemic for the surge in ridership.

Forbes says ebikes are the growing choice for summer transportation.

No surprise here, as my bike-friendly hometown is one of Colorado’s top ebike adaptors.

A second-generation Vietnamese-American woman explains how bicycles are a tool for upward mobility, while addressing the anti-Asian racism she experiences riding in Denver.

The Houston Chronicle says the new bike plan for the city’s East End is every bicyclist’s dream, adding a total of 50 miles of bike lanes connecting the community.

Howard Hughes was one of us as a kid, building his own motorized bicycle as a 12-year old growing up in Texas.

A Chicago broadcaster looks back at the history of bicycling in the city, and the city’s role in it.

An op-ed in the New York Daily News makes the case for legalizing jaywalking; a bill under consideration in California would do exactly that.

A report from the New York mayor’s office says the pandemic was a disaster for Vision Zero.

A Pennsylvania man got a well-deserved one to nine years behind bars for a hit-and-run crash while driving with a suspended license, which critically injured a toddler being pulled behind her mother’s bicycle; the judge wisely added a request not to release him after serving the minimum sentence.

 

International

Mountain bikers in Windsor, Ontario are engaged in an ongoing battle with the city, which rudely insists on removing the DIY jump tracks they keep rebuilding.

An Ontario, Canada lawyer says the province needs to go back to the drawing board and clarify the new regulations for ped-assist cargo bikes, which are needlessly vague and confusing.

Cycling Weekly looks back over a hundred years to legendary Black cyclist Major Taylor’s journey to London; Taylor repeatedly won despite the racism and discrimination he faced.

Jason Statham is one of us, going for a London tandem ebike ride with his actress-model fiancé. And yes, the bike has pedals, even if it looks more like an e-motorcycle.

A British photographer spent his pandemic lockdown taking some remarkably evocative self-portraits riding through the English countryside.

Inspired by legendary bike-riding women, a woman from the UK defies convention by continuing to ride through France during her pregnancy.

Smart bikeshare is booming in Nigeria’s Oyo State.

Singapore bike riders will be required to pass a theory test before they’re allowed to ride a ped-assist bicycle, under proposed amendments being considered in the parliament.

 

Competitive Cycling

Native Frenchman and former French road cycling champion Nacer Bouhanni hits back against racist online comments since he was DQ’d for bodychecking British cyclist Jake Stewart in last week’s Cholet-Pays de Loire. Seriously, he may ride like a jerk, but there’s no excuse for that crap. Ever.

 

Finally…

A bicycle for people with far more dollars than sense. Don’t blame motorists for driving on a bike trail, they’re just confused and misunderstood.

And I love this, which translates to “Long live freedom on wheels.”

Amen to that.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask

Boing Boing doesn’t get bike helmets, California exempts bike lanes from CEQA, and racism on the South Bay bike path

How to write about bike helmets, and make it clear in the first two sentences that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

Nobody thinks they’re going to get into an accident, which is half the reason why bicycle riders often sneer at wearing a helmet. The other half of the reason is obvious — helmets usually make you look incredibly dorky.

Who knows, the rest of the article may be brilliant.

But that’s where I stopped reading.

Because from my experience, most people are painfully aware of the risks we assume every time we get on a bike.

And I’ve never known anyone who made the very nuanced choice of whether or not to wear one based on how they make you look.

As I’ve noted before, I never ride my bike without a helmet. And I credit mine with potentially saving my life during the Infamous Beachfront Bee Incident.

But that’s the only time I’ve needed one in four decades of riding a bike.

The simple fact is, bike helmets are designed to protect against relatively low speed falls, not high speed impacts like car crashes.

They also do nothing to protect any other part of the body, which is why it’s often meaningless when police or the press report on whether or not a crash victim was wearing one, without indicating whether the crash would have been survivable either way.

And unless you spring for a MIPS or WaveCel model, they do absolutely nothing to prevent against traumatic brain injuries.

Which is why I got to spend a night in Intensive Care, and a couple more under observation, after getting my bell rung like a carillon in the aforementioned incident.

Some argue that bike helmets have other downsides, from encouraging risky behavior and closer passes, to making bike riding appear far more dangerous than it actually is.

Especially since no one seems to call for helmets in the shower, when climbing ladders or riding in cars, all of which have a significant rate of head injuries.

I know where I come down in the debate — and yes, there is one, despite all the overly simplistic “no brainer” comments.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a cheap form of insurance, on the off chance I ever need it. I’d much rather ride with one I’ll never need, than need one and not have it.

Besides, it gives me a good place to mount my bike cam without hogging handlebar space.

So use your own judgement.

But chances are, no one bases their decision on whether it makes them look dorky, or messes up their hair.

Except maybe Boing Boing readers.

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The California state legislature has passed a bill exempting bike lanes from air quality restrictions for the next ten years — cutting red tape and eliminating a tool opponents have long used to halt any changes to the streets, no matter how beneficial.

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Sadly, this is who we share the South Bay bike path with.

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Why let a little thing like a bike lane — or a playground — get in the way?

https://twitter.com/mobimaw/status/1300110780692680710

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How to give your bike a bath.

GCN also answers the eternal question of whether a gravel bike can keep up offroad.

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

Someone is boobytrapping bike and pedestrian trails in Victoria, British Columbia, stringing nearly transparent finishing line where it could trip someone walking or riding a bike.

An Irish man was pulled off his bicycle and repeatedly punched in the face by three other men while riding on a bike path, for no apparent reason.

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

A Texas man was stabbed in the stomach by a homeless man as he was riding home from a bar, and got into a dispute with the other man riding in the opposite direction.

Horrible story from New York, where a 15-year old boy was slashed in the face by a bike-riding man using a razor blade attacked to a pole, in an apparently random attack in Times Square.

No bias here. A Singapore driver offers a windshield perspective of a bike rider cutting in front of his car without looking, then inexplicably going ballistic over a gentle tap on the driver’s horn. Although something tells me there’s more leading up to this that got left on the cutting room floor.

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Local

Streetsblog says LA’s “already driver-permissive” Slow Streets program is being watered down even more, in the city where cars continue to come before people.

The next time you take your bike on a bus or train in LA County, the trip could be free, as Metro’s CEO wants to eliminate fares next year.

 

State

San Diego authorities have identified a pair of suspects in the hit-and-run crash that left a bike-riding man with life-threatening injuries; the couple got out of their SUV to look at the victim, then casually removed his bike from underneath the vehicle before driving away.

No bias here. According to the local paper, a Chino bike rider somehow struck a moving pickup, while somehow riding distracted. Which makes this a story that is somehow totally useless.

A 74-year old Victorville man was critically injured by a hit-and-run driver who abandoned his car after his passenger moved it, and both fled in another vehicle.

Fremont will invest $750,000 to protect ten miles of existing bike lanes.

Good question. An Orinda hit-and-run victim wants to know why police don’t enforce laws to protect bicyclists.

A Tahoe-area paper looks back to the first crossing of the Sierras by bicycle.

 

National

Outside offers a few considerations to take into account before replacing those car trips with an e-cargo bike.

Figures. A new mystery thriller revolves around a man on his way to a cycling competition. Except he turns up dead in the first few pages.

Schwinn is shifting marketing gears to ride the crest of the bike boom.

Singletrack lists 12 things mountain bike magazines need to stop doing. Including making lists like that.

Probably not the best idea to assault a cop in an Arizona ER, then ride your bike into Walmart and steal a bottle of booze after crashing into the display.

Now that’s more like it. A Nebraska man was sentenced to 18 years behind bars for the hit-and-run death of a Colorado bike rider. In California, that likely would have gotten a measly four-year sentence — if prosecutors didn’t bargain it down just to get a conviction.

A group of Wisconsin men dedicated the first 4.3 miles of a group ride to Chadwick Boseman, and call attention to health risks facing Black men.

Milwaukee firefighters rode 183 miles to honor a fallen compatriot.

There’s a special place in hell for whoever stole a customize adaptive bike from a Michigan boy with cerebral palsy.

Kindhearted Ohio cops bought a new bike for an eight-year old boy after the bike he got for his birthday was stolen.

A Massachusetts bike charity gave 200 bicycles to help children in need.

The bike boom is claiming a victim in the Philadelphia area, as an 85-year old family-owned bike shop is shutting its doors because they can’t get the bikes and parts they need to stay in business.

A Virginia nonprofit donated 23 custom-built adaptive bicycles to children with disabilities; the organization was founded by a disabled vet who personally learned the difference an adaptive bike could make in his life.

Over 130 bike riders turned out to honor a 57-year old North Carolina man who was murdered in an apparently random attack as he rode his bike on a local bike path.

No bias here, either. A New Orleans man was killed when an on-duty cop crashed into his bike with his patrol car; as always, the cops blame the victim for somehow coming into the officer’s lane.

 

International

International financial services giant Deloitte predicts the rate of bicycle commuting will double around the world over the next three years, as technological changes make riding faster, easier and safer.

One unexpected effect of the coronavirus bike boom — bike thefts in an English town are up as secondhand bike prices spike.

The Guardian offers tips on how to keep your bike from being stolen. Or maybe just how to keep your bike, period.

A British man uses himself as proof that heavier people can ride bikes, too.

Frightening story from the UK, where a man’s bike and cycling shoes were stolen after he was rammed with a van.

The bike boom has come to Finland, too

It’s not often that a story can be heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. A two-year old Polish boy rode a trike for the first time after losing both feet to sepsis when he was just an infant; he was initially given just a 0.1% chance of survival.

An Indian paper says unlike European cities, bike commuting in Delhi is fraught with danger for the poor. Meanwhile, Bengaluru is crowdsourcing routes to create the city’s first European-style cycling district.

More people are riding bicycles in Singapore, although one rider describes biking in the city as “a pain.”

 

Competitive Cycling

Since the Tour de France is available to nearly everyone on cable TV, we’re going back to our usual spoiler-free recaps, in case anyone is letting the race stagnate in their viewing queue.

Stage one of the Tour delivered a surprise winner in a rainy, crash-filled stage. Or at least it was a surprise to everyone but the eventual winner.

Sunday’s stage winner out-sprinted the peloton to claim the race, and dedicated the race to his late father, who passed away in June. Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb are already out, and a number of riders started the second stage banged up.

Monday’s stage three should be a day for the sprinters.

A 23-year old California man became the first Native American to take part in the Tour de France, and one of just three Americans in this year’s race.

CNN looks at the problems of staging what they call the world’s toughest bike race in the middle of a pandemic.

The men get 21 stages in the Tour de France, but the women get just one. Britain’s Lizzie Deignan out sprinted defending champion Marianne Vos to win La Course, a one-day, 60-mile circuit race.

In the latest cycling scandal, Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Davide Bramati was caught on camera removing something from the pocket of injured cyclist Remco Evenepoel and covertly slipping it into his own pocket, after Evenepoel crashed in Il Lombardia.

 

Finally…

If your girlfriend rejects your proposal, it may not be the best idea to respond by whacking her with your bike. Just what every bicyclist needs — a combination stationary bike, back scratcher and cookie dispenser.

And bike racing has been around longer than the talkies.

Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask, already. 

Cyclists v. drivers — who’s to bless and who’s to blame

So let’s pick up where we left off the other day.

I ended on Monday by saying, if I may be allowed to briefly quote myself:

…While it is in everyone’s best interest to encourage everyone to ride safely, as cyclists, we bear no more collective responsibility for the two-wheeled jerks, than other drivers do for the four-wheeled ones who are undoubtedly speeding down the 101 or 405 at this very moment.

Which is to say, none at all.

Later that day, I was flipping through the March issue of Bicycling, and found an excerpt from a truly devastating article by David Feherty, the bike riding CBS golf analyst who was nearly killed last year in a collision with a truck:

…I am sick up to my coin purse of hearing cyclists apologize for the behavior of a tiny minority of morons on two wheels. Sure, they give the rest of us a bad name. Get over it. This problem is caused by careless and inattentive drivers, period.

Read the article. Seriously.

But read it on an empty stomach. Because his description of the accident and its aftermath will make whatever you have in there want to come back out — the hard way.

I can’t agree with his contention that drivers are the only ones responsible for bicycling accidents. I’ve seen riders do some damn stupid things. Myself included.

But he’s absolutely right that it’s time to stop apologizing for the actions of a small minority of riders.

I am not responsible for the jerk I saw drafting on a Big Blue Bus through Santa Monica traffic last year. Neither are you. Unless you happen to be that jerk, in which case I’d really like to have a serious conversation with you.

No more than I am responsible for the driver who followed a city bus through a stop sign in Westwood yesterday, without even pausing. And nearly hit my car in the process.

We see it every day, whether we’re in the saddle or behind the wheel, crossing the street or riding the bus. Drivers speeding and weaving, running red lights and stop signs, making U-turns in traffic, reading behind the wheel, chatting on their cell phones or putting on makeup.

Yet no one would suggest that drivers are responsible for the careless and irresponsible actions of other drivers.

Frankly, I’m tired of being blamed for things I didn’t do. And having my life endangered by drivers who can’t be bothered to observe their legal responsibility to drive safely and attentively.

The problem is, we live in a society where most drivers aren’t held accountable for their actions. The legal requirement that all drivers carry liability insurance means that there is no financial penalty for having an accident — except in the most extreme cases — other than a possible increase in insurance rates.

And drivers are seldom held legally responsible for their actions, simply because we as a society insist on believing that most collisions are simply “accidents,” rather than the result of carelessness or a failure to drive safely and maintain control of the vehicle, as required by law.

Meanwhile, as noted by Bob Mionske, we face an institutional bias against cyclists, both in law enforcement and in the media, and an attitude of blame bicyclists first.

It’s not going to change.

Not unless we demand that it does. Demand that our elected officials enact laws that protect our right to the road, and place the burden of responsibility on the operator of the more dangerous vehicle. And support candidates who support cycling.

Demand educated and unbiased law enforcement, knowledgeable in the rights, as well as the responsibilities, of cyclists. And insist that the press report cycling incidents fairly and objectively, rather than just parroting police reports.

 

A Santa Barbara writer insists on her right to be irritated when a cyclist impedes the progress of her Suburban, while another writer encourages bikers to increase their chances of survival by riding responsibly. An Austin cyclists befriends other riders — and steals their bikes. CityWatch’s Stephen Box notes that LADOT’s bikeway successes remain works in progress. And Fox News discovers four of the country’s deadliest highways are right here in Southern California.

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