Let’s start with some good news for a change.
I reached out to the lawyer representing the family of the Newport Beach bicyclist who was severely injured riding at Newport Coast Drive just south of San Joaquin Hills Rd on Sunday, March 26th.
I’m told that he is now conscious and sitting up, and his injuries are not considered life-threatening. However, he does have a number of injuries, and faces a long road to recovery.
There does not appear to be a crowdfunding campaign to help pay his medical expenses at this time. But I’ll let you know if that changes.
The news is good, though. And far better than we could have expected, given the circumstances.
It was a good day for traffic safety in the editorial pages of the LA Times.
The paper’s editorial board took on the problem of ever-expanding trucks and SUVs, and the danger their hulking profiles pose to pedestrians.
And yes, to people on bicycles, too.
The heavier, taller vehicles now make up 80% of car sales in the U.S., and a growing body of research shows they are more deadly when drivers hit pedestrians and cyclists. The mass of SUVs and trucks means they take longer to stop and strike with more force.
They also have larger blind spots than smaller cars. With reduced visibility, drivers turning at an intersection are more likely to hit pedestrians, according to one study. Drivers are also less likely to see small children directly in front of the vehicle. With a higher profile, when a SUV or truck crashes into a person, the front hits the chest and head for more traumatic injuries.
Unfortunately, federal regulators are doing absolutely nothing to rein in automakers to demand smaller and safer vehicles for people outside of their armored and padded passenger compartments.
Which leaves it up to states to step into the breach.
That’s why California legislators are looking into emulating Washington DC by tying registration fees to vehicle weight, as the paper suggests it shouldn’t be a controversial bill.
As EV technology improves, the battery packs are expected to become smaller. But that advancement will be of little help if automakers and consumers continue to buy vehicles with little regard to their danger to people in front of the windshield. Federal regulators should push automakers to design vehicles that are safer not just for the driver but for the pedestrians and bicyclists. Until that happens, California lawmakers can pass AB 251 to help create momentum for change.
The same day that editorial appeared online, Streets For All founder Michael Schneider argued in the Times that California needs to stop dragging its feet on life-saving speed cameras.
Speed is the single biggest factor in determining the severity of a car crash, and yet California has resisted the most obvious tool to slow down traffic: speed-enforcement cameras. Still, the state has learned a few lessons over the years from experiments with red-light cameras, and there’s now a bill in Sacramento that could deploy similar technology to lifesaving effect.
Without speed cameras, cities face an untenable choice: Let drivers flout traffic laws and allow vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists to die, or increase enforcement by police — which fuels conflict and casualties. If anything, California is moving toward reducing traffic stops, which can be a pretext for harassing Black and Latino drivers.
A new bill in the state legislature sponsored by Assembly Transportation Committee Chair Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), would address that by establishing a speed cam pilot program in Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, Glendale, Long Beach and San Francisco.
Which is a good first step.
But it also means if you live or ride in Orange County or San Diego, you’re screwed. Or anywhere else in the late, great Golden State, for that matter.
Schneider writes that Assembly Bill 645 addresses concerns that killed two previous attempts to pass a speed cam bill by ticketing the owner of the vehicle, rather than attempting to determine who is driving.
Although arguably, opposition by CHP and police unwilling to give up the job security posed by the state’s ever-present and eternal problem of speeding drivers had as much, if not more, to do with the failure of two previous bills.
Never mind the reluctance of California drivers to take their foot off the gas pedal, or face consequences for failing to do so.
If Sacramento allows these pilot programs, we should see an almost immediate safety improvement. Indeed, if drivers know that they’re likely to be caught by an automated speed camera, they’ll be less inclined to speed in the first place. Slowing down will save lives…
Yet every arterial in Los Angeles has at least a 35-mph posted speed limit, with drivers routinely reaching 45 mph or faster. Even a recent state action that allowed Los Angeles to lower speed limits didn’t make much of a dent; the main result was the limit returning to 35 mph on some streets where it had crept higher.
It’s no wonder, then, that traffic fatalities soared to a two-decade high in Los Angeles in 2022, especially in light of massively large trucks and SUVs currently popular on our streets. No one should have to fear for their life while crossing a street or riding a bike in Los Angeles — a city where a pedestrian is killed once every three days.
No one, indeed.
California’s addiction to speed, and the state’s failure to take substantive action to rein it in, has resulted in a state of quasi-legal mayhem on our streets.
Taxing oversized vehicles out of existence and legalizing speed cams could be valuable first steps in actually doing something to save human lives on our streets.
Besides the usual thoughts and prayers, that is.
Bike to the Culver City council meeting on Monday to fight to keep the successful Move Culver City bus and bike lanes, which are in danger of being ripped out by the council’s new conservative majority.
— Bike Culver City (@BikeCulverCity) April 4, 2023
If you feel the need for speed, USA Cycling is looking for you at next weekend’s Mid-City Meets Pico Union CicLAvia.
Just remember to cool your jets when you leave the booth and rejoin the throngs of CicLAvia celebrants.
The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on rolling.
Police used DNA evidence to arrest a man for allegedly stringing wires at neck level on paths used by Madison, Wisconsin bike commuters. Although they undercharged him with first-degree recklessly endangering safety, since it was clearly a deliberate attempt to injure or maim innocent people; it should be charged as felony assault with a deadly weapon, at the very least.
British residents call a new separated bike lane junction “confusing,” “a bit of a pain” and “a total waste of taxpayers’ money,” even though it looks pretty self-explanatory in the photo.
But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.
Mark your calendar for two weeks from today, when the annual Bicycle Day celebrates the discovery of LSD by a Swiss chemist who dropped a tab before attempting to ride his bike home.
More than 80 people turned out for the inaugural Bike Ride for Alan at Dockweiler State Beach on Sunday to honor community leader Alan Nishio, as he enters hospice care after battling a rare cancer for the past 17 years.
The brother of 68-year old fallen bicyclist Bradley Catcott has filed a lawsuit blaming the Carlsbad State Beach park ranger who engaged in a chase with the drunken motorcyclist who killed him while riding at speeds of up to 100 mph. Although this could just be a case of going after the state’s deep pockets, instead of the motorcyclist’s limited liability coverage.
San Diego has opened the new $148 million replacement for the aging Mission Bay Bridge, complete with bike and pedestrian pathways.
Doubly sad news from Bakersfield, where a man riding a bicycle was killed in a hit-and-run Monday night, less than 24 hours after a pedestrian was killed in another hit-and-run.
The festival guide for Monterey’s Sea Otter Classic is now available online, just over two weeks before it takes place.
San Francisco approved plans for two-way, centerline bike lanes on Valencia Streets, despite the opposition of almost everyone.
Jalopnik reports the average car payment is now $730 a month, while the percentage of Americans paying more than $1,000 a month in car payments has nearly tripled in just two years, jumping from 6.2% to 16.8%. But tell me again that bikes are expensive, and bicycling is just for the wealthy.
Business Insider makes the case for improving bike and pedestrian safety by requiring sideguards for buses and large trucks, which advocates have demanded for years with no response.
A science blogger details the physics underlying your bike ride in easy to digest, non-scientific terms.
Streetsblog argues that Chicago bike lane haters aren’t completely wrong, noting that the city’s disconnected network can be improved, and that bikes shouldn’t be sharing streets with fast traffic — which they say is a better argument for lowering speed limits than banning bike lanes.
Massachusetts now requires a four-foot distance to pass any vulnerable road user, including anyone walking, biking, scooting, skating or rolling. Thanks to Victor Bale for the heads-up.
He gets it now. A New York driver changes his mind about opposing bike lanes after hearing the heartbreaking testimonies of bike riders who feared for their safety at a community meeting.
A Louisiana bike rider is dead because a semi-truck driver somehow couldn’t wait to pass until they both cleared a curve in the road. But apparently it’s okay because the driver was sober.
Tampa, Florida is just the latest city to offer ebike rebates, good for up to two grand, before California finally gets its long-delayed ebike rebate program off the ground.
Momentum Magazine explains how to give your bike a spring tune-up and cleaning, while We Love Cycling addresses how to make your own DIY bikepacking bags.
Toronto could address police harassment of speeding bicyclists in the city’s High Park by turning the park over to fast riders for morning rides.
Life is cheap in the UK, where the father of a fallen bicyclist calls the nine-month suspended sentence that allowed the driver who killed him walk without a day behind bars a farce; the 74-year old driver failed to brake or swerve, despite being able to see the victim for at least seven seconds before the fatal crash.
France is creating a new generation of bike riders with a national “universal bicycling” program for middle school students.
A Japanese newspaper calls the country’s new bike helmet law an opportunity to ensure safety. Even though studies have shown helmet laws depress bicycling rates, reducing the safety in numbers effect that has been shown to improve bike safety.
Rouleur explores the effects of the “brutal pavé of Paris-Roubaix” on the human body. Which is the best rhyme I’ve heard in ages.
French women’s champ Audrey Cordon-Ragot walked away from her Zaaf Cycling Team, claiming she hasn’t been paid or reimbursed for expenses for the last three months.
You can cross the annual Tour of Walla Walla off your bike racing calendar, after the Washington race was permanently cancelled after nearly 25 years.
Nothing like a bright green snake wrapped around your bike frame to convince you your next ride can wait. Always ask if you can smoke the weed in your pocket if you get caught with a stolen bike, because they probably won’t let you do it in jail.
And nothing like a darn good slogan to improve traffic safety.
And yes, that was sarcasm.
Chag Pesach Sameach to all observing Passover tonight.
Ramadan Mubarak to all observing the Islamic holy month.
Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.
Oh, and fuck Putin, too.