Tag Archive for safe streets

Morning Links: $25,000 reward for Boyle Heights hit-and-run, new candidate for LA CD8, and bike stolen every 15 seconds

LAPD Central Traffic detectives are looking for a hit-and-run driver who left a Boyle Heights man lying in the street with severe injuries.

And the city is offering a $25,000 reward to bring the heartless coward to justice.

The victim was riding his bike east on Whittier Boulevard near Calzona Street around 10:20 pm last Thursday, when a speeding pickup driver traveling in the opposite direction lost control and swerved onto the wrong side of the road, hitting him head-on.

The man, identified by KNBC-4 as Gabriel Lopez, a 53-year old father of five, was pulling a kid’s bike trailer behind his bike. Fortunately, no one was in it.

Lopez was released after just four days in the hospital, despite suffering a fractured back, blood clot and numerous scrapes and bruises. And can’t feed his family until he can get back to work as a construction worker.

Which is likely to take a very long time.

Police are looking for a distinctive white 2011-2018 Chevrolet/GMC full-size pickup with a red front bumper and lower valance air deflector, black rims and a black bed cover. The truck may have a custom white rear bumper, and possible aftermarket headlamps and tail lamps.

The crash was caught on security cameras from two separate angles. However, be sure you really want to see it before you click play, because they’re not easy to watch. And you can’t unsee it once you do.

Anyone with information is urged to call the LAPD Central Traffic Division at 213/833-3713, or LAPD Detective Juan Campos at 213/486-0755; you can also email Det. Campos at 31480@lapd.online.

Let’s hope Lopez makes a full and fast recovery.

And the cops catch the jerk who did this to him.

Photo of suspect hit-and-run vehicle from LAPD. Thanks to John Damman and the LAPD Central Traffic Division for the heads-up. 

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As long as we’re talking hit-and-run, City News Service offers more details on the march to honor 15-year old hit-and-run victim Roberto Diaz and call for safe streets in South LA.

Remarkably, Diaz has forgiven the hit-and-run driver who nearly killed him as he rode his bike in a crosswalk.

Which doesn’t mean he should escape justice, as the heartless coward is still missing, with a $25,000 bounty on his or her head, as well.

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Which brings to someone who wants to help make those safer streets a reality.

Denise Francis Woods recently announced her campaign to represent South LA’s CD8 in the Los Angeles City Council, replacing Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

I offered her the chance to introduce herself to the bicycling community. Here’s what she had to say.

I am a life long resident of District 8 in Los Angeles, better known as South LA. I became aware of your site not along ago when Fredrick Woon Frazier was killed. I participated in a lot of the demands for change on several busy streets here, such as Manchester, to add efficient bike lanes. During those times I hadn’t even considered becoming a candidate, but over time, after not seeing any change in my community on many levels, I decided to take on the fight for social and economic justice for my fellow constituents.

I do not know a lot about the biking world. What I do know is that I’m an activist for doing the right things and fighting injustice for all. In regards to the biking world, I see a serious injustice in our local biking community here in South LA, where the bikers have not been given what is required in order to be safe while riding. As the councilwoman for the this district, I will make sure bike lanes are added to our major streets, in particular to Manchester, in honor of “Woon” and the other gentleman whom was also killed on Manchester recently.

Sounds like we could do a lot worse. Especially with someone who seems willing to listen and learn.

Then actually do something about it.

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A new study from the Project 529 bike registry shows a bicycle is stolen in North America every 15 seconds — which works out to two million to bikes every year.

It also shows only 20% of those thefts are reported to the police. One reason just 5% of stolen bikes are ever returned to their owners.

Meanwhile, fellow bike registry Bike Index says they’ve helped recover over $8 million in stolen bicycles since 2013. And now they’re promoting stolen bike alerts on Facebook to help get more people on the lookout, and more bikes back home where they belong.

You can get free lifetime registration with Bike Index’s nationwide database right here on this site; Project 529 also offers free registration, though I don’t know what, if any, restrictions apply.

Best advice is to register your bike with every service you can to maximize your chances of getting your it back.

Especially if it doesn’t cost you a cent.

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Be careful scanning those QR or bar codes for dockless bikes or scooters.

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CiclaValley’s Zachary Rynew is looking for help fixing up a ghost bike and honoring 15-year old Sebastian Montero, who was killed by a speeding driver on Easter Sunday last year.

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

Company officials gave the “psychotic” driver of a Mr. Softee ice cream truck a stern talking to after he reportedly parked in a bridge bike lane and threatened riders who complained, telling him to “knock off the stupid stuff.” Yeah, that ought to do it. Sure.

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Local

Streetsblog says the new ultra-modern suspension bridge over the LA River is nearing completion.

A new map shows block-by-block and hour-by-hour how Los Angeles belches smog into the air — and into your lungs. But sure, let’s keep fighting bikeways and alternative transportation, and demanding our God-given right to drive until we all die and take the Earth with us.

Area residents call for protected bike lanes on Sunset Blvd from East Hollywood to Dodger Stadium; the Sunset4All proposal would replace painted lanes with protective devices, improving safety while creating a prime bicycling corridor — and keeping parked trucks out. Thanks to Jeff Vaughn for the tip.

 

State

It was a rough summer at Orange County’s Chapman University, as three students died during the break — including Pablo Valdez, who was killed by a pickup driver while riding on Oso Parkway in Las Flores last month.

This is why you shouldn’t try to intervene if you see someone stealing a bicycle. A woman is on trial for first-degree murder for shooting a Bakersfield man who tried to stop her from stealing a bike. Call the police and let them deal with it. And take pictures or video if you can do it safely.

Maybe Facebook isn’t entirely evil, after all. Robert Leone sends word that the massive Menlo Park company held a free bike repair clinic over the weekend to get kids and adults rolling again.

I want to be like him when I grow up. A 73-year old bike rider successfully tackles a hill climb challenge on NorCal’s Old Priest Road, a road so steep even the Amgen Tour of California said no thanks — and boasting an elevation gain of 1,630 feet in 2.5 miles, with a grade of up to 15.4%.

 

National

Writing for Bicycling, Peter Flax turns fashion critic, concluding he was wrong about Primal’s bike jerseys being the Nickelback of cycling apparel. Although they have some new competition coming from Australia.

A new study shows spending time in urban green space — aka parks and trails — can make you as happy as Christmas Day. But is that Christmas as a kid when you got exactly what you wanted, or sad adult Christmas when your significant other dumps you and all you get is underwear from your folks?

Denver votes to boot e-scooters off the sidewalk and onto the streets, reversing the previous rules that required them to be ridden on sidewalks.

After officials posted notices urging bicyclists to use caution on a Denver-area trail, someone trolled them with their own — and better — signs.

A Kansas man was a one man crime wave, stealing a man’s car, cellphone and wallet, followed by making off with a woman’s bicycle, assaulting a police officer, and threatening to shoot up a bar.

In what may be the best video you see today, a 12-year old Oklahoma boy with cerebral palsy rides an adaptive bike for the first time, thanks to a Tulsa nonprofit.

Now that’s a good kid. A Northern Michigan girl is collecting cans to buy new bikes for less fortunate kids.

After a Columbus, Ohio boy’s bike was stolen from a friend’s porch after the first day of school, bighearted teachers at the school pitched in to buy him a new one.

A New York condo owner says a lawsuit from the building’s board intended to halt a Central Park West bike lane is out of order, because the board violated the building’s by-laws — and possibly state law — in not one, not two, but three distinct ways.

An ebike rider was critically injured in a collision with a 72-year old pedestrian  in New York’s Central Park; the pedestrian, who wasn’t seriously injured, was in a crosswalk, though it was unclear who had the right of way. Three other bike riders were injured within feet of the first crash site, suggesting the problem goes way beyond mere carelessness. Which didn’t stop a local TV station for blaming bike riders for an “alarming rise” in collisions with people on foot. Never mind who’s actually at fault. Thanks to Mike Cane for the tip.

A Lafayette, Louisiana man started a bike kitchen to keep fixable bikes out of landfills, after turning to one in Oakland when he was the victim of a home invasion and mugging.

 

International

Seriously? A Canadian driver insists there are no written rules for what bike riders are supposed to do when bike lanes end before intersections, apparently never having studied the rules of right-of-way. And that bicyclists put drivers in harms way by traumatizing them when we make them kill us.

He gets it. The founder and executive director of a Canadian transportation policy institute says “There is no war on cars. Everybody, including motorists, benefits from a more diverse and efficient transportation system.”

The Brits do have a way with words. An English bike rider calls new barriers blocking the entrance to a pathway a “potentially lethal abomination.”

Norway proposes spending $1 billion on bike highways through the hilly country.

Add this one to your coming bike bucket list. The European Union is helping to fund a 437-mile bike path though “the Amazon of Europe,” connecting Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary and Serbia. Hopefully this one isn’t on fire, unlike its Brazilian counterpart.

As long as we’re in the Balkans, Slovenia is creating the country’s first e-mountain bike bikeshare network in the mountainous Upper Sava Valley. If it’s a pretty as the picture, why the hell aren’t we all there already?

A Taipei, Taiwan paper calls for educating bicyclists, noting that half of all crashes involving bicycles are the riders’ fault. Which means that half of them aren’t. But oddly, they don’t call for re-educating drivers, too.

 

Competitive Cycling

Sad news from Colombia, where a 16-year old junior cyclist was killed when she was hit by a truck driver while riding home from a training ride with six other cyclists.

A Boulder CO paper offers a trio of photos — and a few more photos — of the “iconic mountains and cityscapes” from the recent Colorado Classic, calling it the only standalone women’s pro cycling race in the Western Hemisphere.

Retired Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi received a two-year ban for his role in a doping ring run by a German doctor; Austrian cyclists Stefan Denifl and Georg Preidler both got four-year bans earlier this year for their involvement in the ring. But thank goodness the doping era is over, right?

American mountain bike world champ Kate Courtney looks back at her year in the rainbow jersey.

VeloNews says former elite runner Leigh Ann Ganzar has enjoyed a remarkable rise through the ranks of women’s pro cycling.

 

Finally…

Apparently, mediation is the ebike of the business world. No, you don’t have to lose your driver’s license to get an ebike, but it helps.

And forget Peter Sagan. It takes major skills to whack off while you’re riding.

Not to mention a callus indifference to going blind.

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Thanks to Denice H for her very generous donation to help defray the Corgi’s vet bills.

Your support is always welcome and appreciated, whether to help maintain this site, pay down massive corgi vet bills, or help get a new one…someday.

 

Morning Links: Eliminating car culture amid Vision Zero fail, and bike greenways at tonight’s Pasadena council meeting

Good essay by James Ramsey for Gothamist, questioning whether New York City should completely eliminate car culture.

It’s debatable whether New York City is a car town. On one hand, it’s obviously not — the majority of us take public transportation to work, cycling is at an all-time high, and there are people walking around at all hours of the day and night.

But the recent death of Jose Alzorriz, a 52-year-old cyclist from Park Slope, highlights a different reality about how the city is designed, and for whom…

But as economist and longtime cyclist Charles Komanoff wrote this week in an op-ed for Gothamist, the individual decisions of reckless drivers are merely the “proximate causes” of these tragedies.

“The wellspring of cycle fatalities lies deeper, in driving’s culture and sheer volume,” Komanoff writes.

Which is why he’s joining several prominent officials, most notably City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, in saying we need to “break the car culture.” That means making it far more expensive to drive in the city; less placating of reactionary community boards (see the cases of the 14th Street busway, or the Central Park West bike lane); and taking away huge chunks of space currently devoted to free or cheap parking.

Komanoff goes on to add that ending car culture also means “placing public transit, biking, and walking at the center of all city planning decisions.”

Incrementalism isn’t enough, he argues. Adding a few bike lanes won’t “change the cultural assumption that cars reign supreme” in New York.

The same holds true for Los Angeles.

When the city was looking for public input on Vision Zero, several of us argued for the urgent need to break attitude that LA streets are for cars and the people in them.

And that Vision Zero would never succeed as long as the city’s longtime philosophy of autos über alles was allowed to continue.

Which was quickly agreed with. And then, like most bold steps in the City of Angels, promptly forgotten.

Instead, we got a weak-kneed call for drivers to watch their speed from the punter for the Rams.

Evidently, the city concluded the best way to change driver attitudes was to bore them to death, and start over with the next generation.

Like New York, we’re long past the point where incremental changes will make a damn bit of difference.

It’s time for bold action and real change from a mayor and council who seem afraid of both. Or more accurately, afraid of angry windshield-biased NIMBY voters.

That’s where genuine leadership and political courage must come in. Elected leaders willing to stand up and take the heat for changes the city must make if we’re going to survive the coming decades.

And that’s exactly what the city lacks right now.

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If you live or ride in the Pasadena area, drop whatever you were planning to do tonight and head to the meeting of the Pasadena city council, where officials will discuss proposals for four bicycle greenways, aka bike boulevards.

  • El Molino Ave between Atchison Street and Bonita Drive
  • Wilson Ave between Washington Blvd and California Blvd
  • Sierra Bonita Ave between Washington Blvd and Colorado Blvd
  • Craig Ave between Orange Grove Blvd and Del Mar Blvd

Unless you were already planning to be at the meeting.

In which case, carry on.

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Over a hundred people turned out for yesterday’s march to demand safer streets in response to a hit-and-run that has left a 15-year old bike rider hospitalized for the past three weeks.

At least it now looks like he’s going to survive.

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Not only is former NBA star Reggie Miller one of us, he got a new gravel grinder for his birthday.

View this post on Instagram

YAASSSSSS it’s my Birthday, thanks @santacruzbicycles for the best gift EVER, my Stigmata CC.. Here on my new Santa Cruz Stigmata I’m rocking the new Sram Red AXS with the power meter integration into the front chainrings and a Kogel bottom bracket to keep it spinning. The gearing is 46/33 in the front and 10/33 for the cassette to get me climbing up the hills. Now to keep me rolling I’m on the Santa Cruz Reserve carbon rims laced to some Industry Nine torch hubs. For the tires I’m using the @vittoriatires 700x37c Terreno Zeroes and orange sealant to keep me from getting flats. For the cockpit I have some Easton bars and stem to keep me upright, to allow me to go the distance I have my Selle SMP Dynamic seat with carbon rails. Thanks @dropdeadzep for being the best Producer/Director of this video and @browncastle for the best bike fit and acting cameo.. Big ups to @nitrothomas and @incyclebicycles for fine tuning my new everyday machine.. Watch whole video on my IGTV.. 🎶 @wizkhalifa #BlackAndYellow #NewBikeDay

A post shared by Reggie Miller (@reggiemillertnt) on

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

Toronto bicyclists are turning to civil courts to confront road raging drivers after the criminal court system lets them down.

Three British teenagers have been charged with murder for ramming a popular, 18-year old taekwondo star and role model as he rode his bike in southwest London, then getting out and beating him as he lay on the ground.

Two Irish thieves rammed a rider to knock off his bicycle and into a ditch, then got out of their car and mugged him before taking off with his bike.

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Local

The number of e-scooter riders ticketed by the LAPD is soaring, mostly for riding on the sidewalk — even before the Paul Koretz-inspired crackdown on sidewalk scooter riders began.

Santa Clarita sheriff’s deputies ticketed 74 people during their recent crackdown on traffic violations that endanger bicyclists and pedestrians, half of which were for distracted driving.

When Pomona police officers tried to return a young boy’s cellphone after it was stolen by older kids as he walked to school, they learned he was afraid to walk to class anymore. So the kindhearted cops surprised him a new bicycle, helmet and lock so he could ride to school, instead.

Active SGV considers LA County’s plans for protected bike lanes.

 

State

Yes, those cars with dark tinted windows are illegal in California. Which doesn’t mean they’re not out there threatening your life and safety on a daily basis.

Police are investigating a crash between a bicyclist and a motorcyclist in Rancho Santa Margarita that left one man dead; for a change, it was the man with the motor. Which does not make it any less tragic.

Sadly, a 48-year old San Diego man suffered life-threatening injuries when he crashed his motorized bicycle into the side of a car while attempting to ride across a street; no word on whether he was on an ebike or one with a gasoline engine.

A Clovis woman apparently broke both arms and legs when she allegedly ran a red light and was struck by a driver.

The San Francisco Chronicle accuses Caltrans of trying to steamroll SB127, the Complete Streets bill that would force the state agency to consider the needs of all street users.

 

National

After the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed claiming “new left urbanists” want to use infrastructure to “make the masses conform to one vision of how to live — which unfortunately is hidden behind their paywall — a writer for Jalopnik responds that he never knew an op-ed could be so stupid.

A writer for the LA Times takes an ebike-aided bike tour of the Oregon Cascades. Which just happens to be where my brother is now on his solo bike tour across the west, except he’s currently on the coast.

Police, fire and EMS personnel rode 650 miles across Texas in eight days to honor fallen first responders.

After a homeless man stole a $10,000 road bike off a car rack, Tulsa OK police quickly mobilized to track him down, busting him a few hours later riding the purloined bike while carrying bolt cutters.

A Michigan man with muscular dystrophy will have to start over after his coast-to-coast fundraising bike ride to fight the disease was interrupted when a careless driver slammed into him and his riding partner with just 800 miles to go, leaving both with several broken bones; the driver played the universal Get Out of Jail Free card, claiming he just didn’t see them. Which should be seen as a confession rather than an excuse, but seldom is.

A Maine man is suing Ford for $1 million over a crash when he was riding his bike with his son. Not over the gardening truck that passed them, but for the the 50-year old Ford lawn mower in the back whose blade came off and nearly severed his leg.

If you’re riding a bike in Boston with a loaded gun in your pocket, try not to act so damn suspicious.

Hundreds of New Yorkers rode to honor a fallen rider and demand safer streets. And called for the city’s mayor to stop running for president and come back to deal with the recent rash of bicycling deaths.

A Philadelphia op-ed says taking steps to hold drivers accountable signals a change in the city’s pervasive car culture.

Philly goes all out for the city’s annual naked bike ride, and they’ve got the photos to prove it.

A Palm Beach FL columnist inadvertently shows how windshield bias can determine who gets blamed for bike and motorcycle crashes, pointing out that drivers get most of the blame in one county, and people on two wheels in the next. Even though studies show drivers are to blame in the majority of crashes.

A Florida woman is under arrest after slamming into a bike rider during her morning commute, then driving to work to begin her shift; she called her husband and asked him to return to the crash scene for her, but never bothered to call the police.

Seriously? After an older person complained about bikes in a Florida park, a city department ordered signs from — from Amazon, no less — banning bicycles in the park, knowing they weren’t official and couldn’t be enforced.

 

International

A pair of British Columbia bike thieves broke into a parking garage and made off with an $11,000 Yeti mountain bike, as well as another as-yet unidentified bicycle.

A 73-year old Victoria BC letter writer says he just rode in a new bike lane, and contrary to the usual hysterical reports, didn’t crash into any pedestrians, get hit by wobbly bike riders or run over by cars coming from a parking lot.

After a drunk, half-naked man got tossed out of an English supermarket, he grabbed a bicycle and tried to smash his way back in through the glass.

A British couple are riding over 3,700 miles to draw a bicycle across the face of Europe to call attention to the environmental impact of traveling by motor vehicle.

The breathless UK media freaks out over a man riding his bicycle on a “busy” street carrying a baby in one arm. For a change, they’ve got a point; a kid should always be in a child’s seat or some other type of safe child carrier on a bike.

An Irish government committee calls on the country to legalize e-scooters. Which means you could soon take a Bird to the Blarney Stone, or a Lime to Limerick.

Cargo bikes are becoming status symbols in Deutschland, as Germans turn away from electric cars in the switch to greener transport.

A Taipei, Taiwan committee calls on the transport ministry to prevent bike crashes, which they mostly blame on the people on two wheels.

 

Competitive Cycling

Cycling News lists ten cyclists to keep your eye on in this year’s Vuelta, which kicked off on Saturday — including a rising young American rider for a change.

Twenty-two-year old American cyclist Chloe Dygert-Owen dominated the inaugural women’s Colorado Classic, winning all four stages, as her husband was 5,000 miles away in Spain competing in his first Grand Tour.

 

Finally…

Anyone can go biking on a mountain, but try riding a third of a mile under one. Are you a biker or a cyclist — or just someone who rides a bicycle?

And why ebikes burn like Jimi Hendrix’ guitar.

Morning Links: LA area bikelash spreads, free Bike Hub memberships, and SUVs are built to kill

In the fight for safe streets, the streets are fighting back.

Or at least, the people trying to keep them dangerous are.

According to City Lab, the bikelash against redesigning streets to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians is spreading nationwide.

And Pasadena and Los Angeles are prime bad examples.

For several hours, opponents voiced their objections into the auditorium’s sound system. Shedding lanes, one said, would be an “unmitigated traffic disaster.” Not only would residents who live along the road never again be able to back out of their driveways, bicycle accidents would increase (because the new lanes would attract more riders). At one point, a city councilmember decided to hold a “voice vote” on the issue. Though several dozen shouted their support for the reconfiguration, their cries were drowned out by hundreds who bellowed their opposition.

The next day, the City of Pasadena announced that a second scheduled meeting on the issue was cancelled. And so ended the road diet of Orange Grove Boulevard.

And then there’s this from the City of Angels.

John Russo, one of Keep LA Moving’s organizers, bristles at this safety argument. “It makes me laugh when people say we’re anti-safety. You’d have to be a psychopath to be anti-safety,” he said. “We’re here to remind the city how most Angelenos use the road. Overall, we don’t think it’s a bad idea to take a step back and think long and hard about how Vision Zero is being implemented in Los Angeles…”

In addition to these kinds of grassroots efforts, UCLA’s Brozen is looking for more assertive leadership from the city’s political class. And so far, she’s not seeing it. “There’s a little bit of a void in the pro-transportation change space in L.A., and it seems like this anti-change backlash is filling that void,” she said. “There’s a lack of understanding as to why these projects are needed. Without that understanding, it gets really personal and very nasty very quickly.”

That is why I’m crashing city hall on May 18th to demand safer streets.

Far too often, our elected leaders listen to traffic safety deniers like Russo, and forget that some of their constituents are drivers. But all of them are people, everyone of whom use the streets in some way.

And it’s long past time we prioritized the needs and safety of people before cars, to create a safe, livable and prosperous city that benefits everyone.

I hope you’ll join me as we crash the 10 am city council meeting one week from tomorrow, and ask our elected officials to have the courage to do the right thing.

Because they already know what that is. We just have to make them to do it.

Photo from FHWA.

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If you can’t join me on the 18th — or even if you can — feel free to send a letter demanding for safer streets for you, me and everyone else. Just email your letter by Wednesday, May 16th to ted at bikinginla dot com.

I’ll print them out and include them with the packages we’re giving each councilmember and the mayor, containing copies of Profiles in Courage and Do The Right Thing.

A couple quick tips if you plan to write a letter.

  • If you can, try to work in the theme of our protest by asking them to have the courage to do the right thing.
  • Mention what council districts you live, work or ride in.
  • Stress that safer streets benefit everyone, whether on bikes, on foot or in cars.
  • Feel free to (politely) express whatever anger or fear you may be feeling
  • Demand they take immediate action to protect us all

And let me know if it’s okay to share your letter. I’ll be happy to put it on here as a guest post leading up to Friday’s meeting.

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Now here’s a great deal.

To celebrate Bike Month, Metro is offering free one-year Bike Hub memberships through the end of this month.

It’s worth signing up if only to have a safe, free place to lock your bike when you take transit or ride to DTLA, Hollywood or El Monte.

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More fallout from the Insurance Institute study we mentioned yesterday, which blames SUV design, as well as bad road design, for the dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths.

The study suggests that the high, flat grills on most SUVs strike a person higher, with greater force and trauma than most cars would.

In other words, those massive SUVs we share the road with are just as deadly as you thought they were.

Never mind the distracted drivers in them.

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Speaking of Bike Month, there’s no better way to celebrate than watching the start of the Amgen Tour of California in Long Beach this Sunday.

Except for getting out and riding your own bike there, of course.

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Local

13th CD Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell is hosting a community conference this Saturday, which will discuss pedestrian safety among other issues. Apparently he forgot to include a workshop on bike safety; maybe you should go and remind him. And tell him that cancelling the Temple Street road diet hurts everyone.

LA’s Jewish Journal asks if the Giro’s Jerusalem start makes Israelis the People of the Bike.

Santa Clarita’s mayor pro tem invites everyone to come out and enjoy Bike Month on the city’s 63 miles of trails.

A Streetsblog Op-Ed says that Santa Monica officials and employees have to start paying for parking if the city is serious about using it to discourage driving.

 

State

Today is Bike to Work Day by the Bay, as NorCal celebrates a week earlier than we do.

San Franciscans will now be able to rent ebikes through the Ford Go Bikes docked bikeshare. Let’s hope LA’s Metro Bike catches up soon.

San Francisco’s effort to allow people to report traffic and parking violations through a 311 app turns out to be a disappointment. We tried to get a similar program going here in LA several years ago, but couldn’t get approval from the LAPD and city attorney.

Larkspur is using eminent domain to close a gap in a bike path and make the “path to nowhere” actually go somewhere.

No surprise that San Raphael bike riders and business owners are split over a pilot protected bike lane, since business people usually seem to prefer parking spaces to customers. Although I’ve never heard anyone say “Why do we need a road here, since there’s another one just a block over.”

A Stockton ministry is using bicycles to help people find jobs and housing.

 

National

Ebikes are now free to roam county trails surrounding Aspen CO.

More on the two German bike riders who were run down from behind on a Kansas highway; authorities are still trying to inform their next of kin. There’s something seriously wrong when people can’t visit this country without being sent back home in a box, just because they chose to ride a bicycle.

You have to give this Michigan letter writer credit. It takes skill to turn a proposed $10 annual fee on kayaks and canoes into an attack on bicycles.

Apparently not understanding how westerns work, Nashville tells Bird scooters they’ve got 15 days to get out of town, Although some people want to save the Birds. Any fan of cowboy movies could tell you they’re supposed get out of town by sunset.

A small New Jersey town has restricted access to a number of its streets during rush hour to keep New York-bound Waze users off them. Although a better solution would be to install traffic diverters and convert the streets to bike boulevards, which would eliminate cut-through traffic while preserving local access.

Curbed features a one-week diary from a multi-modal Boston city councilor and mom. Show that to the next person who tells you every mom needs a minivan.

 

International

Nice piece from Singletrack, as a writer uses elderly neighbor as an example to make the point that planners should talk about walking, bicycling and driving, rather than pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers, because each is a choice that should be an option for everyone, rather than who we are.

Bike Radar examines the six great mysteries of cycling, including why do bicyclists litter — which I’ve often wondered myself — and is it all just a cover for cake addicts?

My favorite story of the day: Costa Rica’s new president rides to his inauguration in a hydrogen powered bus, escorted by people on bicycles, including the new head of the national assembly. And with another bike on the bus rack for good measure.

This is the cost of traffic violence. A Montreal mother pleads for drivers to show a little patience, be polite and take responsibility for their actions, as spokeswoman for the city’s Ride of Silence just seven months after her teenage son was killed in a collision with a U-turning driver. Needless to say, the driver wasn’t charged.

HuffPo UK says bicycling can improve mental health. Which anyone who has ever started a bike ride in a bad mood can probably attest to.

London’s hugely successful Mini Holland bikeway has been shortlisted for a people’s choice civil engineering award, even if opponents consider the recognition a joke.

Glasgow is planning to turn a fashionable district into the city’s first bicycle village.

So much for being bike friendly. A bike-riding Indian actor is turned away from six out of seven luxury hotels in Mumbai, which evidently didn’t want bicycles besmirching their parking.

After a two-year trial period, violations of the 1.5 meter passing law in Australia’s New South Wales state — the equivalent of a 3-foot passing law in the US — will now result in a $330 fine and two points off a driver’s license. That compares to just $35 in California, although that rises to $235 once all the court and admin fees are tacked on.

You can now rent an ebike all over Tokyo, as well as reserve maps, guidebooks and helmets in advance.

 

Competitive Cycling

It was Italian day in the Giro d’Italia.

The Giro remembered Wouter Weylandt on Wednesday’s stage of the race, seven years after he was killed in a tragic crash.

Lance says cycling shouldn’t try so hard to stop doping, because it isn’t working. Problem is, he’s probably right; while pro cycling brags about ending the doping era, it’s more likely teams have just gotten better at hiding it.

 

Finally…

If you can’t go swimming with the dolphins, try riding with the emus. When a bike helmet turns into an attack ad.

And doesn’t everyone warm up for a WorldTour race by hosting a gravel gran fondo?

 

All hands on deck! Planning Comm to consider anti-bike LA Mobility Plan amendments Feb. 11th

My apologies.

Due to health problems after attending an event last night, there won’t be a Morning Links today. I’ll try to pull it together and get the Weekend Links for you tomorrow.

However, one important item came through my inbox Thursday.

The Planning Commission meeting to consider amendments to LA’s recently adopted Mobility Plan 2035 will be held at City Hall on Thursday, Feb 11 at 8:30 am.

This is the one where opponents to the plan will try to remove key streets, such as Westwood Blvd and North Figueroa — as well as most of Councilmember Gil Cedillo’s CD1 — from the Mobility Plan.

Which means it’s an all-hands on deck meeting for anyone who cares about bicycling and safe streets in the City of Angels. Let alone Vision Zero.

Which should be just about everyone who reads this in LA.

 

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Designed to kill — LA throws out Complete Streets to plan high-speed Hyperion Bridge complex

Call it a big step backward for livability — and survivability — on LA streets.

Despite a state Complete Streets policy to accommodate all road users, plans to rehabilitate the Hyperion-Glendale bridge complex currently calls for a high-speed viaduct focused strictly on moving motor vehicles as quickly as possible, at the expense of all other road users.

Bike lanes included in the current bike plan have been left out. As have safely usable sidewalks. And apparently common sense, as the plans reflect a big step backward to the failed policies of the past, similar to the killer roadways currently found in Orange County and San Diego.

Not exactly what you’d expect from our new progressive mayor, who seemed to get it when completing a questionnaire for the LACBC prior to this year’s election. Or new bike-friendly City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who replaced Garcetti in CD13.

On the other hand, it’s exactly what we might expect from Councilmember Tom LaBonge, who professes his support for bicycling while opposing bike lanes on Lankershim Blvd, and was the driving force behind the removal of the green bike lane on Spring Street in Downtown LA.

With friends like that, we don’t need enemies.

I’ll let the latest Action Alert from the LACBC take it from here.

The LA Bureau of Engineering (BOE) and Caltrans are currently studying rehabilitating the Hyperion-Glendale complex of bridges over the 5 Freeway and LA River connecting Silver Lake to Atwater Village. Despite being designated for bike lanes in the 2010 Bicycle Plan, the proposed project does not include these planned lanes. Why? LACBC and LA Walks (and many of you) attended a community workshop last night to find out.

What we discovered is plain old car-centric engineering from start to finish. Caltrans and BOE are designing Hyperion Ave. to freeway standards with a design speed of 55 miles per hour. Based on that design speed, they are pursuing a median crash barrier, banked turns, and supersized car lanes. Those decisions leave no room for bike lanes and just a narrow sidewalk on only one side of the street.  Simply designing the street to normal city street standards would leave enough room for everyone.

Your voice is needed to make Hyperion Ave. safe for all. Tell Caltrans and BOE that freeway speeds have no place on city streets and that walking and biking are just as important as moving traffic. Comments can be emailed to Tami Podesta by October 11th at Tami.Podesta@dot.ca.gov. Please cc: tom.labonge@lacity.org, councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org, and mayor.garcetti@lacity.org.

To: Tami.Podesta@dot.ca.gov
cc: tom.labonge@lacity.org, councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org, mayor.garcetti@lacity.org
bcc: info@la-bike.org

Subject: No Hyperion Freeway – Build a Safe Viaduct for All

As someone who bikes or walks between Silver Lake and Atwater Village, it is absolutely critical that Hyperion Ave. be made safe for people like me. Everyone’s needs can be met if the project is designed for appropriate speeds through an urban community. Specifically, I would like the project to include:

  • Bike lanes on Hyperion Ave.
  • Wider sidewalks and well-marked crosswalks with wayfinding signs
  • Narrower traffic lanes to provide more space for bicyclists and pedestrians and discourage speeding
  • No crash barrier and banked turns that will make people drive even faster
  • A complete crosswalk on the Atwater end of the viaduct to let people access the sidewalk from both sides of Glendale Blvd. and give bicyclists an alternative through the dangerous merge

There is no reason for this project to not be consistent with the bike plan and Caltrans complete streets policy. The viaduct is currently the greatest barrier to safe bicycle access across the 5 Freeway and the LA River. This project can change that and make all travelers benefit.

Sincerely,

your name
your address

………

A new petition calls on Caltrans to stop chip sealing popular cycling routes, following the disastrous resurfacing of Angeles Crest Highway and Mt. Baldy Road.

The surfacing treatment, which combines a layer of asphalt over gravel or other aggregate material, results in a rough roadway that is, at best, unpleasant to ride. And at worst can create dangerous conditions that make it difficult to maintain control of a bike.

Considering the outcry from bike riders when Caltrans chip sealed PCH north of Cambria earlier this year, it’s nearly incomprehensible that they would use the same technique on some of Southern California’s most popular riding routes.

Which begs the question — is Caltrans merely incompetent and tone-deaf to the needs of cyclists, or is the agency actively trying to discourage riding on these roadways?

………

Santa Monica sends a shot over the bow of LA’s long-delayed Bike Nation bike share program, as they vote to move forward with their own plan, in what the city hopes will grow to be a regional program developed in conjunction with Metro.

……..

Times readers weigh in on the new three-foot law, as the writer gently corrects a negative commenter. West LA’s Martin Cadillac could become a bike-friendly mixed-use housing, office and retail development; an apparently less bike-friendly car dealer in DTLA says he’s not trying to kill the MyFigueroa project. The aforementioned CMs LaBonge and O’Farrell belatedly celebrate the city’s first Bicycle Friendly Street. Celebrate the new and improved Colorado Boulevard this Sunday. Malibu gets a $900,000 Caltrans grant to improve the existing bike route on PCH through the west side of town. Boyonabike looks at how Monrovia could become more bike friendly in advance of the coming Gold Line station. Old Pasadena gets bike racks.

The Orange County Register finally drops its draconian paywall, but only to complain about Long Beach bike riders. Homebuyers along OC’s new Great Park will get a new bright orange bike. A San Diego driver says he’s going to keep crossing over the centerline to pass bike riders safely, regardless of whether permission to do that was removed from the new three-foot passing law; thank you. Somehow, Modesto police don’t know which way a bus was travelling, but know a cyclist rode in front of it. A 17-year old Redding-area driver is under arrest for the hit-and-run death of a 61-year old bike rider. A 19-year old man is under arrest for the hit-and-run death of a Chico cyclist, as well as possession of marijuana for sale — the day he was supposed to get off probation for a previous drug conviction.

Forbes says bicycling is badly in need of good PR, as London’s formerly bike-friendly Daily Telegraph cries out against the false god of cycling. Forbes also presents 10 cities where bicycles rule the streets; I think riders in many of those cities might disagree. Are America’s planners making Americans fat? A good looking new video from Adventure Cycling highlight’s the US Bicycle Route System — and inadvertently, bicycling’s white problem. While LA’s city leaders are busy ripping them out, Las Vegas installs new green bike lanes downtown. Nevada cyclists can now run red lights that fail to detect their presence. Instead of telling cyclists where not to park, why not install enough bike racks for everyone? A second person has been arrested in the death of two New Hampshire cyclists last weekend; the suspect allegedly provided drugs and a car to the unlicensed driver who killed them. Bikeyface says you too could ride to work on a cloud, even if you’re not athletic. New York’s Daily News rides a bike share bike with the city’s Republican candidate for mayor. A New York cabbie is really sorry and has trouble sleeping after he severed the leg of a British tourist following a dispute with a bicyclist; imagine how his victim must feel. Arlington VA cyclists get a new bike repair vending machine. Georgia considers a slate of anti-bike legislation.

A cyclist is critical of Vancouver’s GranFondo after suffering life-changing injuries when he hit a storm grate. A UK cyclist is dead because a race track failed to let drivers know there was a bike path on their property. A Brit couple time their wedding photos to include the Tour of Britain. British bike scribe Carlton Reid attempts to defend bike riding before a hostile TV audience. The successful Paris Velib bike share system may shrink because people won’t stop stealing their bikes. Bike racing’s governing body could have a new president Friday. Garmin-Sharp rider Peter Stetina prepares to compete at the world championships, despite his father’s recent near-fatal fall and flooding at the family’s Boulder CO home.

Finally, when you call the police to report a 5’9″, 90-pound man broke into your trailer, knocked you over the head and stole your bike, maybe you shouldn’t mention he stole your meth, too.

There are no safe streets for cyclists

Yesterday, I received an email from a man who had moved with his wife from Portland to South Pasadena.

They had chosen South Pas, at least in part, because it appeared to offer the most rideable streets in the area. Yet in less than a year, he’d suffered two minor right hook collisions.

His point was that riding in the L.A. area is a completely different experience than riding in Portland. And that local communities need to do more to make other forms of transportation besides motor vehicles a priority.

He’s right.

While South Pasadena has recognized the problem, and is actually doing something about it, a lot more has to be done throughout the county to make cycling safer for every rider.

Though not everyone seems to be getting that message.

The LACBC affiliate chapter BikeSGV reports that the Arcadia City Council decided this week not to develop a bike plan — in part because the city’s Mayor Pro Tem doesn’t think bikes are a legitimate form of transportation.

Vincent Chang

Just got back from a disappointing Arcadia City council meeting where Mayor Pro Tem Robert C. Harbicht took the lead to nix a contract with a bike plan consultant to prepare a bike plan for the city. Unfortunately, the rest of the council, including the Mayor (who established a city “mayors bike ride”) went along. Harbict stated he had concerns about federal funding for bike access in general as he didn’t believe cycling can be a legitimate form of alternate transportation. Ironically, both Harbicht and the Mayor claims to be avid cyclists.

I don’t know whether that reflects ignorance of the potential utility of their preferred form of recreation, or the dangers of riding in their own city.

Either way, they’ve failed the residents of their city by denying them the opportunity to ride in greater convenience and safety, whether for recreation or safety.

Then again, the problem could be that they’re “avid” cyclists, as some — though not all — Vehicular Cyclists actively oppose the sort of infrastructure preferred by the overwhelming majority of riders.

They believe that every rider — even the most unskilled, slow or risk-conscious cyclist — is safer riding in the traffic lane ahead of oncoming, often high speed, vehicles than in a separate lane devoted to bikes.

In fact, John Forester, the father of the VC movement, recently commented on the New York Times website that “nobody has yet “create[d] safe bike lanes”; we don’t know how to do it.”

I think many riders in the Netherlands — and even in New York — would beg to differ.

It’s a battle that rages on in cities and states throughout the country. Like in San Diego, where Forester himself helps lead the fight against more and better bike lanes, much to the chagrin of more mainstream riders.

Despite denials from VC adherents, there have been numerous studies that show well-designed bike lanes can improve safety for everyone. Not just cyclists.

Meanwhile, I have yet to see a single credible study that supports the oft-repeated argument that cyclists are safer riding in traffic than in a good bike lane.

Which is not to say there aren’t a lot of bad ones out there.

Maybe that’s because, like Forester, they refuse to believe such things exist. Sort of like another group that denies compelling scientific evidence.

But it does raise a question another rider brought up awhile back, when he asked for my advice on whether it was better to ride a busy street with a bike lane or a quieter backstreet route with no bike infrastructure.

And the sad answer I gave him was that there is no such thing as a safe street for cyclists.

Depending on your perspective, both present their own unique set of dangers.

On a busy street, you have the risk of high speed traffic and an unacceptably high rate of careless and/or distracted drivers. Along with the near-constant risk of doorings, right hooks and left crosses, as well as drivers who consider the bike lane another motor vehicle through lane, or maybe a parking lane.

Meanwhile, riders on backstreets risk drivers backing out of driveways without looking, children and dogs running out into the roadway without warning, and drivers who don’t even consider the possibility of bikes on their bucolic byways.

Even on country roads, where I did some of my most enjoyable riding in my pre-L.A. days, you might not see a car for hours. But there are still dangers posed by truck drivers and farm equipment operators who assume there’s no one else there, and speeding teenagers out for a joyride — sometimes tossing their empties at any unfortunate victim they happen to pass.

And yes, I speak from experience.

And don’t get me started on the ubiquitous risk of potholes and otherwise dangerous road surfaces and designs. Or the unique thrill presented by riding past bears or gators.

Or bees.

That’s not to say bicycling is dangerous.

It’s not.

But it does demand a constant awareness of your surroundings, as well as a focus on defensive riding by anticipating the dangerous presented by your current environment, wherever you happen to be. And being prepared to respond to risks before they arise.

That doesn’t mean that drivers and other in the road aren’t responsible for using it safely. But it’s your life that’s on the line, and you can’t count on them to focus on your safety. Or even know you’re there.

Or care, for that matter.

That point that was driven home the other day on the quiet residential streets of my own neighborhood, as I made my way through the last few blocks at the end of an otherwise enjoyable ride.

I’d just stopped for a stop sign, and was beginning to resume my route across the intersection when an SUV came up on the cross street. The woman behind the wheel looked directly at me, then gunned her engine just as I was about to pass in front of her, cutting right onto the road I was riding on.

Fortunately, I was prepared, anticipating that the driver might run the stop sign — though not that she would attempt to hit me in the process. I was able to swing out onto the wrong side of the road, allowing her to screech past me and race off into the distance.

Yet as so often happens, I caught up to her at the next red light.

So I asked, as politely as I could under the circumstances, with fear and anger and adrenalin coursing through my body, why she’d just tried to run me over.

Her response?

“Cyclists have to stop at stop signs too!”

Never mind that I had already stopped before she ever got to the corner, while I was still the only one at the intersection. Or the irony that she ran a stop sign in her attempt to run me down.

In her mind, she was entitled to enforce traffic laws with the bumper of her car. Just another driveway vigilante using brute force to intimidate, if not injure, another human being.

Fortunately, I’m not so easily intimidated.

I would have loved to continue the conversation, but she quickly cut from the left turn lane she was in to make a quick right in front of high-speed traffic in order to get away from me.

Evidently, I scared her, even though she was the one wrapped in several tons of steel and glass. And I wasn’t the one who’d just tried to attack someone.

Though I did break my Lenten vow to not swear at drivers, however much they might deserve it; risking eternal damnation for the momentary relief of releasing my anger verbally before I exploded into a thousand spandex-clad pieces.

As usually happens in such cases, I didn’t have time to get her license or a good description of her car. And even if I had, there were no witnesses, so there’s nothing the police could have done anyway.

The really scary thing, though, is that the residential nature of the street she was on means that she’s likely to live here herself. Which means that she’s probably one of my neighbors, and there’s a high probability I could run into her again.

Whether either of us will recognize the other is a good question. As is what would happen if one of us does.

Where you prefer to ride is a matter of your own comfort level. Whether that leads you to ride vehicularly in a busy traffic lane, in various bikeways or on quieter bike streets that seldom see another road user, on two wheels or four.

But it’s a good reminder that no matter how peaceful they may look, there are no safe streets.

Even the ones in your own neighborhood.

Thanks to everyone who forwarded me the link to the San Diego KPBS story.

Update: Oddly — or maybe not so oddly, given the KPBS story — Bike Snob wrote Vehicular Cycling today, as well. And as usual, he’s much funnier than I am.

Save a life, right now. In fact, save hundreds.

It’s not every day you get a chance to save a life.

But that’s exactly what you can do in the next few minutes. Without moving from wherever you are right now.

Chances are, you’ll never know when it happens.

It could be a young child who doesn’t get hit by a car on her way to school, thanks to a safe crosswalk on a dangerous intersection. Or one who doesn’t develop diabetes or other obesity-related illnesses because he can to safely ride his bike in his own neighborhood.

Or it could be you, benefitting from the same improvements that help keep countless area children and their parents safe as they walk or bike to and from school.

In fact, the life you save could be virtually anyone, and everyone. And all you have to do is take a few moments right now to endorse the Southern California Regional Platform developed by Safe Routes to School California.

I’m not asking you to do anything I wouldn’t do. In fact, you’ll find me right here, along with other names you may recognize, representing people and groups throughout the area.

They’re out to get 75 endorsements by May15th. Personally, I think we can do a lot better than that. I’d like to see at least 75 endorsements by the end of this week. And a few hundred more by the May 15th deadline.

If even just a fraction of the people who visit this blog every day sign up, we can easily meet that goal. And make a real difference in the health and safety of children and adults throughout Southern California.

So if you bike or walk in Los Angeles — or care about children who do — stop whatever you’re doing and take just a couple minutes to click this link and endorse the Safe Routes to School platform.

Please.

.………

Speaking of Safe Routes to Schools, the Santa Monica chapter says there’s a big, gaping Trench of Doom blocking access for students at Santa Monica High. Evidently, there used to be a pedestrian and bike bridge over the Santa Monica freeway, which — despite what one councilmember recalls — was removed to make room for a new off ramp.

And they want it back.

Although personally, I think a park would be a better option there.

.………

Here’s the next bike book I want to read. Olympic medalist and TdF stage winner Davis Phinney writes about his riding career and battle to overcome Parkinson’s disease, as well as raising a rising pro riding phenom in his son Taylor.

Phinney used to lead rides around Denver and Boulder with his wife, fellow Olympian Connie Carpenter, that I fell in with on more than one occasion. So I like to say I’ve ridden with them — even though he probably never knew I was there at the end of the pack.

He’s also one of the few people I’ve never heard anyone say a single negative word about.

.………

Still no charges in the hit-and-run death of Encino endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman; a sheriff’s spokesman confirms that alcohol may have been a factor, as many people have speculated.

.………

A Topeka, Kansas lawyer has his license suspended after pleading No Contest in the DUI death of a local cyclist. Blood tests showed he had a .12 BAC, as well as marijuana, a “narcotic-like pain reliever” and an antidepressant in his system — and was driving in that state with his own son in his car. It was his 4th DUI since 1989, and third since 2000. Thanks to Stanley Goldich for the heads-up.

.………

Zev talks bikes and trains, or more precisely, bikes on trains. Although rumor has it that Metro’s commitment to put bikes back on trains may not be as strong as they suggest, so Thursday’s meeting of the Metro Board’s Operations Committee could turn out to be important.

There also may be some pushback on plans to remove seats to make room for bikes, as well as strollers, shopping and suitcases, all of which can block doorways and turn into projectiles if left in aisles.

.………

If you’re 12 -18, you can earn a bike at Bicycle Kitchen; if you’re too old for that, join the volunteers at Bikerowave. LACBC offers flyers explaining the upcoming road diet on Downtown’s 7th Street. Streetfilms looks back at the recent CicLAvia. Cynergy Cycles is offering an introduction to cycling lecture on Wednesday, and will soon feature a blog of their own. KPCC reports on how to get a bike lane or corral on your street. LADOT Bike Blog examines the long history behind the recently opened Elysian Valley segment of the L.A. River Bike Path. The Source looks forward to next month’s Bike to Work Week. L.A. Creek Freak suggests a visit to the double parentheses of Burbank’s Lake-Providencia Bridge. Bikeside’s Mihai Peteu calls for better — aka separated — bike lanes; Long Beach officially opens theirs on Saturday. The Long Beach City Council takes up the cause of naming the bike paths on the new replacement for the Gerald Desmond bridge for late bike advocate Mark Bixby. Bike and dine at a discount on Earth Day in Long Beach. San Diego magazine looks at the rise of citizen cyclists. The Golden Gate Bridge considers a 10 mph speed limit — and a ban on tall bikes and unicycles. The Art of the Group ride looks at the recent list of bike friendly universities, and concludes that smart people ride bikes.

The Economist says distracted driving is the new drunk driving. Green bikeways finally receive preliminary approval from the Feds. Bicycling interviews cycling actress Monica Raymond of Lie To Me. A woman fantasizes about fighting back when she gets right hooked. Vulnerable user laws gain speed across the country. Apparently, a Portland coffee shop doesn’t love cyclists anymore. Motor-centric Indianapolis will add 33 miles of bike lanes this year alone. A Kentucky jury gets it, as they sentence a drunk driver to 35 years for the death of an 11-year old bike rider. Listen my children and you shall hear of bike routes that follow the midnight ride of Paul Revere. A commenter deftly dismantles the NY Posts latest anti-bike diatribe, while BikeNYC offers photographic proof that the city’s traffic-clogged streets are just a myth, and are actually occupied only by bike riders. Robin Williams gets stopped as part of NYC’s bike crackdown, while talk show host Chelsea Handler reportedly finds dead cyclists amusing. The New York Times discovers Japan’s post-earthquake bike boom. A Virginia campaign urges drivers to be bike friendly. NASCAR driver and cyclist Bobby Labonte is hosting a Share the Road Memorial Ride in North Carolina this weekend to honor fallen cyclists; thanks to Todd Munson for the heads up.

A stabbing victim feels police don’t care, comparing it to reporting a stolen bike; now that hurts. A writer takes the UK’s Automobile Association to task for their recent bike helmet and hi-vis vest handout, rather than focusing on dangerous drivers. London cyclists complain about the city’s ghost bike lanes. Everyone cycles in Antwerp. Pro teams walk out on a meeting with UCI President McQuaid in a dispute over race radios. Plans to remove parking spaces to put in bike lanes have Tel Aviv residents up in arms, who see it as an attempt to turn the city over to the rich; evidently, poor people must not ride bikes in Israel. Pietro Ferrero, CEO of the company that brings you Nutella and Ferrero Rocher died after falling from his bike in South Africa. Philippine cyclists campaign for cleaner air.

Finally, a 72-year old Aussie cyclist says red lights are a bloody hindrance. Maybe he’d like the new brakeless bike from Target, although he may need the Army’s new Kevlar bike shorts if he keeps running them.

Today’s post, in which I consider my attitude

Let’s talk about negativity. Mine, in particular.

You see, during the panel I was on at last week’s Bike Summit, I mentioned that one of the many reasons I’d started this blog was that I was concerned — okay, pissed off — about the state of cycling in Los Angeles. And said that this is, with the possible exception of 1980’s era Louisiana, the worst city in which I’ve ridden.

Then someone asked if I thought that cycling had gotten better or worse in my 30 years of riding — and here in L.A. over my near two-decades of residence, in particular.

My response was, worse. Much, much worse, in fact.

And it’s true.

Once I learned to avoid busy streets unsuitable for cycling — and to never, ever ride after an LSU home game, when the risk of being intentionally run off the road by drunken frat boys increased exponentially — Louisiana really wasn’t that bad. There were lots of quiet side streets perfect for cycling, and the River Road along the levee was wide, flat and virtually car free. And cyclists were enough of an anomaly in those days that drivers usually gave us a wide berth.

Every other city I’ve passed through or called home, for whatever reason or length of time, had a system of cycling infrastructure far superior to present day L.A. Even San Diego, circa mid-‘80s, had a better system of Class 1 and Class 2 bikeways (off-road paths and on-road lanes) than L.A. does today.

And in many ways, L.A.’s bikeways are in worse shape than they were 10 years ago, as crumbling asphalt, increased traffic and lax enforcement of bikeway restrictions take their toll.

Another thing that’s changed over the last 10 years is the willingness of local drivers to share the road. And in case you’re unsure where this is going, I’m not suggesting that it’s gotten better.

Maybe it’s the fact that traffic here on the Westside is significantly heavier than it once was. Maybe it’s the added stress everyone is under these days. It could be the distractions to drivers offered by the proliferation of cell phones, iPods and PDAs.

Or it could be the simple fact that L.A.’s understaffed police force, combined with an increasing population and shifting departmental priorities, means there aren’t enough officers on the streets to enforce traffic laws. As a result, local drivers seem to feel free to do whatever strikes their fancy, legal — or safe — or not.

And whether or not there’s a cyclist in their way.

So if that sounds negative, I’m sorry. That’s just my experience, from my perspective.

On the other hand, it’s not all bad.

Things actually seem to have gotten better over the past year. There seems to be less tension on the roads today than there was just a year ago. Maybe the Mandeville Canyon incident has made drivers rethink their attitudes.

Or maybe we’re all just trying a little harder to get along.

Then there’s the fact that even a bad day on the bike is better than just about anything else I might be doing. And for every negative moment on the road, there are a thousand moments that make it all worth while.

Some people at the forum thought that it was wrong to focus on the negatives. They felt that too much negativity might discourage people from riding.

And they have a point.

This sport needs its evangelists. We need people who will encourage beginners, and help them get the skills they need to start on a long, safe and rewarding riding career.

But we also need to talk about the wrongs we see and experience on the road. The things that can, and should, be changed, so that the people who start riding today will experience a better, safer and more bike friendly city than we did yesterday.

Because we owe them that.

 

One of my fellow panelists says it’s time to become a more considerate cyclist. According to Streetsblog, cyclists may finally be getting some respect in Washington. An economics professor at Oregon State University says instead of taxing cyclists, they should pay us to ride. An off-duty police officer in Tucson was killed when his bike was struck from behind in broad daylight; as usual, the driver was not cited. And also as usual, it doesn’t take long for the anti-cyclist rants to start. Another cyclist, also run down by a pickup truck, credits his survival to wearing a helmet; while this site suggest that learning how not to get hit in the first place is an even smarter option. Evidently, I’m not the only rider who complains about iPods on the bike paths. And finally, L.A. Magazine has added a postscript to their description of Los Angeles’ Bike Culture, discussing the role we cyclists may have played in influencing the outcome of last week’s primary election.

 

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