Tag Archive for Paul Thornton

Die-in driven from news by mass shooting, LA Vision Zero a “totally unfunny self-parody,” and voters say no to De León

Three-hundred-twelve lives needlessly lost to traffic violence.

Most of them bike riders and pedestrians, many lower income, as Los Angeles set a record for the most traffic deaths in at least the last two decades.

Yet almost as heartbreaking as the lives lost to traffic violence in the City of Angels last year was the way Saturday’s die-in at City Hall to protest the deaths was shoved out of the headlines by yet another mass shooting.

The protest, which drew around one hundred participants, appeared to be covered by a number of news outlets.

Yet the only news story that’s been posted online so far came from Fox11.

And even they couldn’t be bothered to identify California Senator Anthony Portantino as the prone bicyclist shown gripping his handlebars in the story’s top photo.

Oops.

When your lead photo shows a state senator participating in a large protest, maybe it would be nice to identify him. Just saying.

 

The brief story attempts to put LA’s unacceptable rate of traffic deaths in perspective.

Yet somehow fails to mention that even one death is one too many.

How does that compare to other cities across the state, or even nationally? LA’s 312 traffic fatalities equate to just over eight deaths per 100,000, nearly twice that of San Francisco (4.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2022), but fewer than San Diego, which saw just less than nine traffic deaths per 100,000 people in 2022. In Cook County, Illinois, home to Chicago, there were roughly 7.8 traffic deaths per 100,000 people in 2022.

It ends with an all-too-brief mention of just what the assembled protestors were demanding.

Protesters organizing Saturday, want the city to do more to help curb traffic deaths in LA. They’re asking Mayor Karen Bass to declare a state of emergency on traffic violence; for more funding for the LA Department of Transportation and initiatives like VisionZero; and the passage of legislation that would allow for automated speed enforcement on dangerous roads.

“Throwing only $50.6 million at road safety issues in a city this big, especially considering how many lives are being lost, is a joke,” SAFE’s report concludes.

All of which was great.

But in addition to failing to identify Portantino, the station also failed to mention that Assembly Transportation Chair Laura Friedman took part, as did CD3 Councilmember Bob Blumenfield.

Not to mention leaders from Streets Are For Everyone, Families For Safe Streets, Streets For All, LA Walks and BikeLA — formerly the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition — among others.

Even then, the story was gone by morning, as LA’s news outlets went with wall-to-wall coverage of the Monterey Park shootings.

Leaving the reaction to the city’s horrendous death toll forgotten on the newsroom floor, just a blip in the weekend news.

I’ll have more tomorrow, after I have a chance to sift through all the many photos I took of the event.

At center is this photo, with the red bandana, is very good boy Max, who joined his owner in playing dead along with everyone else.

The top photo shows Assembly Member Laura Friedman addressing the crowd, flanked by state Sen. Anthony Portantino; behind her are LA Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and Streets For All founder Michael Schneider. 

Correction: Apparently suffering a major brain cramp, I somehow originally misidentified Streets For All’s Michael Schneider in the above caption as Michael MacDonald, evidently mistaking him for a member of the Doobie Brothers. He is, to the best of my knowledge, not a Doobie nor a rock star, but a street safety star instead. My apologies. 

………

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times Letters Editor Paul Thornton introduced responses to LA’s rising toll of traffic violence with a headline calling the city’s Vision Zero failure a “totally unfunny self-parody.”

All along, the city’s primary tool to achieving its Vision Zero goals has been redesigning roads to reduce vehicle speeds and allocate more and safer spaces to cyclists and pedestrians. What we’ve gotten since 2015 are bike lanes removed from street widening projects, quashed “complete street” proposals, a thriving Lincoln Heights street market shut down by the city, and a reopened 6th Street Viaduct used as a drag strip. Something tells me we’ll be much worse off on Vision Zero in 2025 than we were in 2015.

Although naturally, one letter writer felt the need to remind us that streets are for cars, and everyone and everything else doesn’t belong there.

Nope. No bias there.

And while we’re on the subject of letters to the editor of the Los Angeles Times, the expected complaints about ebikes in the paper’s recent article about their supposed invasion of Orange County Beach cities, a Huntington Beach man says what the outrage over ebikes really points out is the lack of safe bike infrastructure.

Well said.

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No surprise here.

The LA Times is reporting that CD14 voters have turned sharply against incumbent Councilmember Kevin de León in the wake of his comments on a racist and otherwise offensive recording that has already led to the resignation of the former council president and one of LA’s most powerful labor leaders.

The turnaround comes just two years after those same voters overwhelmingly installed De León to replace disgraced Jose Huizar, who pled guilty to racketeering last week.

…By a wide margin, voters said De León puts his own political self-interest ahead of the people he represents. Even reliable supporters who voted for him in the past have lost faith, the poll found.

Only 23% of the voters surveyed approved of the job De León is doing, compared with 48% who disapproved, the poll found. Just over half think he should resign, compared with fewer than a quarter who want him to stay in office and 18% who were undecided; 9% did not answer the question.

If a recall were to qualify for the ballot — an effort to qualify one is currently circulating petitions — 58% would support recalling him from office, compared with 25% who would be opposed and 17% undecided, the survey found.

That comes after De León was heard on the leaked recording comparing the Black adopted son of former Councilmember Mike Bonin to a Luis Vuitton purse, and discussed how Latino councilmembers could mute the influence of their Black peers on the council, as well as their constituents.

Yet De León continues to ignore calls to resign, apparently thinking there is some pathway that will allow him to rehabilitate his image before facing the voters again in 2024.

Or sooner, if the recall petitions currently circling in his district qualify for the ballot.

De León had shown promise when it came to supporting bike and safety improvements in his district, including selecting the resident-designed Beautiful Boulevard option for the NoHo to Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit route through Eagle Rock.

But whatever good he promised came to a quick end the moment he was heard on that infamous recording.

It’s time for De León to read the writing on the wall — and in the pages of the Times — and resign.

CD14 deserves a leader who can more effectively represent all the people, including those of us who travel on two wheels.

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This area has long been one of the most unforgiving areas for bicycling in all of the Los Angeles areas.

Although the long-delayed Mark Bixby Memorial Bicycle Pedestrian Path over the new Long Beach International Gateway Bridge, better known as the replacement for the Gerald Desmond Bridge, should help.

Once they finally get around to opening it.

Meanwhile, this video of trying to find a safe route around the Port of Los Angeles plays like a one-man Marx Brothers routine.

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Dr. Grace Peng forward news that an anti-bike lane Redondo Beach councilmember is facing possible loss of his license to practice law after allegedly misappropriating over a half million dollars of client funds.

Proving that corruption allegations extend far beyond LA City Hall.

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

The Chicago Sun-Times probably didn’t mean it when they placed an ad about the warning signs of dementia in a story about a man riding 60 miles across the frozen wintery city to meet with other similar-minded viking bikers. But still.

This is why people keep dying on our streets. A road raging British driver was found not guilty of punching and choking a man riding a bike after claiming self-defense because the bike rider punched his car after the driver “clipped” him.

This is what “clipped” looks like, as an Australian truck driver sideswipes a bike rider, then keeps going, possibly unaware he’d even hit someone.

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

Seriously, if you’re carrying guns and a large amount or narcotics on your bike, make sure the damn thing is up to the vehicle code.

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Local 

Streets For All is calling for more support for the heavy rail option to extend the Metro train system through the Sepulveda Pass, including a Metro station on the UCLA campus, at an in-person meeting on Tuesday and a virtual meeting on Thursday. Bel Air residents are demanding an impractical monorail through the center of the 405 because it wouldn’t, you know, inconvenience the rich people.

VeloNews has more on the nonprofit Bahati Foundation, formed by Compton’s own former national crit champ Rahsaan Bahati to change the lives of underprivileged kids through bikes.

Santa Monica-based Bird is selling their consumer ebike for 60% off right now, marking it down from $2,299 to just $899, including free shipping.

 

State

Twenty people got tickets during Goleta’s latest crackdown on traffic violations that endanger bike riders and pedestrians; unfortunately, there’s no breakdown on whether the tickets went to motorists, bike riders or pedestrian.

 

National

Washington’s governor pitched in on the first day of a new program to teach Seattle kindergartners how to ride a bike.

They get it. The Chicago Sun-Times says that it’s worth trying surveillance cameras and automated ticketing to keep drivers out of bus and bike lanes.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale is one of us, as he explains what happened when he fell off his bike and broke his wrist, which combined with Tommy John surgery and a broken finger to cost him most of three seasons.

 

International

Rouler explores the relationship between Italian bikemaker Cinelli and artist and former pro cycling wunderkind Taylor Phinney.

A travel site offers tips on exploring Europe’s over 27,000 miles of bikeways. Which would take the better part of two years if you averaged 50 miles a day. Works for me.

An insurance company issued an urgent warning to British bicyclists about the crumbling state of the country’s roads, as 21% of bike riders suffered pothole-related injuries. Although I imagine what they really mean is 21% of bicycling injuries are related to potholes. But what do I know?

Once again, a driver has claimed multiple victims, as a British driver faces charges for the hit-and-run death of two men who were riding their bikes, before abandoning his car and fleeing on foot. Although even more frightening is how the local weekly paper seems to accept the horrific crash, mentioning it almost in passing.

A history website tells the story of Peter Masters, an Austrian Jew who escaped the Nazis, then returned as a bike-riding British commando during the D-Day invasion.

Horrible story from India, where a 70-year old man was killed when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bike, then desperately clung to the drivers hood before he was thrown off and run over when the driver finally hit the brakes.

A New Zealand man’s planned three-day bike ride to babysit his granddaughter took a detour when his ride was interrupted by Cyclone Hale.

 

Competitive Cycling

British pro Simon Yates won an uphill battle to claim the final stage of the Tour Down Under, as Aussie Jay Vine took the GC title to win his first WorldTour race.

Bryan Coquard claimed his first WorldTour stage win in Saturday’s stage four of the Tour Down Under, 11 years after he joined the top pro circuit.

Rising Dutch ‘cross star Shirin van Anrooij had to sit one out after thieves stole her race bike from the parking lot while she was doing recon on the course in Costa Blanca, Spain.

Zimbabwean mountain biker Pressmore Musundi is aiming to compete in this year’s African Games, despite being born with no toes on either foot, following first and third place finishes in a pair of South Africa’s top mountain bike races.

 

Finally…

If a cop stops you for driving under the influence, try not to bite his finger off trying to get away. And we may have to deal with aggressive LA drivers, but at least we don’t have to worry about leopard attacks.

Usually, anyway.

………

Happy Lunar New Year, whatever language you celebrate in! And my sympathy and prayers to all the victims of the Monterey Park shooting and their loved ones. May the new year finally bring an end to both traffic and gun violence. 

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

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

 

Weekend Links: The CHP gets it wrong again, the LA Times gets it right, and North Fig safety dogs Cedillo

We’re still at 19 new or renewing members of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition in the first-ever May BikinginLA LACBC Membership Drive after yesterday’s unplanned absence.

So let’s get two more people to sign up or renew your membership now to make it 21 new members by the 21st.

Your fellow bike riders are depending on you to add your support to the LA area’s leading voice for bicyclists, and help make this a more bikeable, livable and equitable city.

Never mind the great LACBC gear you’ll get just for signing up.

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Happy Bike to Shop Day.

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Once again, the CHP gets it wrong.

Despite what a CHP officer told the OC Register’s traffic columnist, there is no law in California requiring cyclists to ride single file, on narrow roads or anywhere else.

Even though the department has been known to misapply CVC 21202, which requires bicyclists to ride as far to the right as practicable.

However, subsection 3 of the ride to right law exempts substandard lanes from that requirement, explicitly stating that the law does not apply on any lane that is too narrow for a bicycle to safely share with a motor vehicle. In most cases, that means any lane less than 14 feet wide, since bike riders are allowed to ride a safe distance from the curb, and drivers are required to give at least a three-foot passing distance.

That means, despite the officer’s assertions, that there is no legal justification for ticketing cyclists who ride abreast in a narrow lane, and no requirement under California law that they ride single file in the scene shown in the photo accompanying the column, where the lane is clearly too narrow for a cyclist to safely share with most cars, let alone a truck or SUV.

Yes, it is courteous to allow drivers to pass when safe to do so.

However, it is often safer for bicyclists to ride side-by-side on narrow roadways — not so they can chat, but to increase visibility and prevent unsafe passing.

As for whether it’s legal to cross a solid yellow line to pass a cyclist, that is allowed in most states with a three-foot or wider passing law. Unfortunately, Governor Brown vetoed an earlier version of California’s three-foot passing law that would have allowed drivers to briefly cross the center line to pass a cyclist, but only when safe to do so.

It’s not the officer’s fault he doesn’t know the law in this case.

The CHP has long failed to adequately train their officers in bike law, forcing officers to rely on cheat sheets that don’t list the many exceptions to CVC 21202, or go into detail on any of the other laws governing the rights and responsibilities of bike riders.

But providing false information like that only puts bike riders at needless risk, and encourages driveway vigilantes to take out their frustrations on bicyclists who are riding safely and within their rights.

Let alone subjecting them to tickets that aren’t legally justified, but are often too difficult to fight.

………

Great opinion piece from Paul Thornton the LA Times, who says if LA really wants to encourage more bicycling, the city needs to fix the roads so they’re safe to ride.

He also calls out former councilmember Tom LaBonge and current member Paul Koretz for dangerous decisions that defeat the purpose of the city’s Mobility Plan.

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The Eastsider examines the North Figueroa safety issues dogging CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo, as he claims to be working to improve safety, despite unilaterally cancelling a road diet designed to do exactly that.

And they talk with Flying Pigeon LA bike shop owner Josef Bray-Ali, who has thrown his hat into the race to challenge Cedillo in next year’s city elections.

………

Germany’s Andre Greipel wins his third sprint of the Giro d’Italia, then promptly quits the race. Andrey Amador takes the leader’s jersey from Bob Jungels after the 13th stage, becoming the first Costa Rican to lead a Grand Tour.

Cycling Weekly examines five talking points about the Giro as the race reaches the legendary Dolomites this weekend.

This has been one of the most democratic Amgen Tour of California’s in memory, as the race had yet another stage winner in Latvian pro Toms Skujins. Aussie Rohan Dennis won Friday’s time trial to leap into second place, 16 seconds behind leader Julian Alaphillppe.

Meanwhile, American Megan Guarnier won the first stage of the women’s tour in a last minute breakaway.

The AToC heads to Santa Rosa today, on the same day the city hosts their 122nd Rose Parade. Which is different from Pasadena’s Rose Parade.

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Local

CiclaValley reacts to Thursday’s bicycling fatality in Panorama City, which occurred just hours after he returned from Wednesday’s Ride of Silence.

LA’s Fox-11 concludes it is in fact possible to go carfree in SoCal.

The newly opened Expo Line extension adds 130 bike racks and lockers at seven new stations.

The LAPD has put out a BOLO Alert for a bike thief in the Central LA area.

South LA Councilmember Joe Buscaino rode an ebike 25 miles to work at City Hall in observance of Bike to Work Day.

KPCC is the latest media site to talk with the Eastside’s Ovarian Cycles Bicycle Brigade, who host their monthly women-identified Luna Ride tonight.

A writer for the Daily Bruin tweets that the board of directors for Westwood Village has voted to spend $44,000 for two bikeshare hubs in the village this fall. Unfortunately, the lack of bike lanes means there won’t be any safe places to ride them.

The Santa Monica Spoke invites you on a multi-modal Expo Line ride on Sunday.

The LACBC talks with Antelope Valley cyclist and soap maker Sharon Murdock.

 

State

It takes a world champion schmuck to steal an adult tricycle from a 67-year old Anaheim woman with multiple sclerosis.

A Huntington Beach man gets seven years for beating a police officer who stopped him for an alcohol violation while riding his bike; the officer’s daughter was doing a ride along and witnessed the assault. Not that the sentence isn’t warranted, but why is it that motorists seldom get a fraction of that for actually killing a cyclist or a pedestrian?

Potential San Diego bike commuters want more than just bike lanes to get them to ride, like showers and more considerate drivers. They have a much better chance of getting the showers.

A Fresno cyclist says don’t count on laws to protect you from distracted drivers.

In a seriously disgusting assault, a white Rancho Murieta driver ran a black bike rider off the road before getting out and punching him, after telling the victim to “go back to the hood.”

 

National

Members of the bicycle industry finally bind together to promote bicycling in the US. Something should have been done decades ago — and with a much higher budget.

HuffPo says we’ve been brainwashed into calling crashes accidents.

Caught on video: A Seattle truck driver jumps the curb in an apparent attempt to run down a bike rider; the action starts after the 1:50 mark. Note to cyclists: when you’re posting video of drivers behaving badly, feel free to delete the extraneous footage leading up to it.

A Salt Lake cyclist says he’ll be happy to pay for his fair share of the roads, as long as drivers pay theirs.

Agenda 21 is just so passé; evidently the new global bad guys are AARP and the World Health Organization, forcing age-friendly complete streets down the throats of those fine, upstanding Vermonters.

Apparently, traffic violations that put bike riders at risk don’t violate the rules of New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission.

A DC bike commuter lists his pet peeves about riding to work, from cars that don’t signal to the traditional catcall to get on the sidewalk.

A bicycling Florida non-profit is redefining sharecropping, riding en masse to work organic gardens on land borrowed from homeowners; the model has already spread to Oakland and Uganda.

 

International

Brazil’s bike-riding president is running out of options to fight her ouster by impeachment.

A Toronto bike lane carries nearly as much bicycle traffic as the roadway next to it does cars.

Nothing like just now returning one of London’s Boris Bikes late after it was rented on New Years Day — in 2015.

London’s Telegraph asks if an increase in heavy truck traffic in the UK is responsible for an unexpected decrease in bike ridership. Not bloody likely, to use the vernacular.

More spending on bicycling would show Britain is serious about increasing ridership.

Two Afghan cyclists on a round the world journey stop in New York to tell UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon their country is tired of war and violence, before setting out across the US for Los Angeles.

An Aussie writer asks motorists to remember the driver who killed his 75-year old bike-riding uncle, showing rare understanding and sympathy for the inevitable impact it had on the man responsible.

 

Finally…

Forget self-driving cars; the next thing is Google’s interactive Levi bike jacket. Nothing like putting a billboard in the middle of a bike lane.

And the next time you’re in San Diego, a bronzed Bill Walton and his bike will be waiting to greet you on the shores of Mission Bay.

 

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