This is who we share the road with.
In a truly awful piece, a writer in San Diego’s Ocean Beach neighborhood complains that bike advocates are lying about this years rash of bicycling deaths to foist an anti-car agenda on the car-driving public.
He has the shameless audacity to go through each death one by one, pointing out how the victims were, or could have been, at fault, but from his windshield-biased perspective.
Never mind that he’s relying on newspaper accounts for his information, which as we’ve seen, too often don’t contain the salient facts and leave far too many blanks to fill.
And all too often, are based on police reports, which can, and usually do, reflect the officer’s windshield bias, and a basic lack of training when it comes to bike laws.
I had intended to open today’s post with a lengthy rant dissecting his arguments. But soon discovered that Peter Flax had beaten me to the punch.
Writing for Medium, Flax took the writer — and the bike-unfriendly OB Rag, which published the shameful piece — to task for the obvious victim blaming.
Obvious to anyone but the author, anyway.
The central premise of Page’s story is that bike advocates and city leader in San Diego have dishonestly tried to leverage the spate of riders being killed there to get more bike lanes built — “to further the cycling agenda” as he puts it. In his argument, the connection between people dying and the need for better riding infrastructure is mostly fictious and totally overblown. And then to prove his hypothesis, Page does some light googling and sets out to demonstrate that nearly all the cycling deaths that have occurred in San Diego were likely the riders’ own fault. It’s an eye-opening exercise in victim blaming.
Above all, the story is inhumane and recklessly presumptive. Imagine thinking that you could spend an hour on Google, read a handful of day-one news stories, and then feel equipped to pronounce that strangers in your community have been killed because of their own errors or bad judgment. Imagine being an editor or publisher and thinking you want to publish that kind of a hot take on your site.
Then Flax did something remarkable.
He reached out to the man who penned that awful piece, and held a non-judgmental online discussion — nonjudgmental on his side, anyway — on why he wrote it.
Here’s just a brief sample of the conversation.
In your story, you state quite firmly that five of these deaths were the fault of the cyclists, and that several made “poor choices” and several more died in circumstances where blame cannot be assigned. This adds up to nearly all the deaths in San Diego. Can you see how many people felt like you were engaged in victim blaming?
I did not blame any victims. I recounted that the news stories on five of these clearly showed the cyclist was at fault, that was not me making a decision based on the facts. The facts in five more do not say who was at fault, not a conclusion I came to. I have responded to several comments asking for a specific instance of victim blaming in my article. Nothing.
It’s not victim blaming these folks are upset about. They are upset because I had the temerity to challenge the cycling narrative to the public by debunking their claim about what these 12 deaths meant. My target was dishonesty.
Unfortunately, the conversation accomplished exactly what you’d expect, with the author unbudging in his unbridled victim blaming, and accusations of some subversive cyclist agenda.
But you have to give Flax credit.
That could not have been an easy conversation to have. And he went out of his way to understand the other man, and to be fair.
But this kind of attitude is, sadly, all too common.
One where we are seen, not as ordinary people simply trying to stay safe on the streets, but as wild-eyed activists pushing a radical anti-car agenda to force the unwilling car-driving public onto bicycles.
When the truth is, we’re just trying to get from here to there in one piece.
And too often, failing.
Photo from the bike path in Santa Monica, which will have to stand in for Ocean Beach.
Malibu’s continually rescheduled discussion of a plan to widen the shoulder on a two-mile section of PCH, instead of building bike lanes, which will presumably put bike riders in the door zone — unless maybe they won’t — is back on the agenda for tomorrow night.
Unless it gets postponed once again.
Here’s the notice from Streets For All —
Ask the City of Malibu to add safe, protected bike lanes to PCH
There is a special Planning Commission Meeting (RESCHEDULED) in Malibu this Wednesday at 630pm where they are going to discuss approving a plan to widen the shoulder on 2 miles of Pacific Coast Highway between Webb Way and Puerto Canyon Road to add MORE parking.
Their proposal really only benefits cars and puts people on bikes in the “door zone.” We need them to do better – it’s time for Caltrans and Malibu to add protected bike lanes to PCH.
EMAIL THE MALIBU PLANNING COMMISSION BY TUESDAY (9.7)
Maybe the ‘Bu is just hoping we’ll all stop paying attention if they postpone it enough times.
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.
The author of this tweet sent it to my attention to point out a dangerous condition on the bike lanes on Venice Blvd.
To be honest, it’s hard for me to get too worked up about this simply because it’s been going on for so long.
Whether’s it’s RVs, illegally parked semis and construction trucks, or some other obstacle, the Venice bike lanes are frequently blocked in one place or another from one end to another, and have been for years.
Enforcement doesn’t seem to do any good. Ticketing or towing drivers for parking illegally only seems to work in the moment, until they come back a day or two later.
If not the same day.
The only solution I can see is to install protected bike lanes from Downtown to the coast. And preferably designed so drivers won’t just park in it anyway, like the LAPD and delivery drivers already do in DTLA.
Which should have been done already.
Sunset4All held a successful celebration of LA’s first public/private partnership to transform one of the city’s most dangerous streets.
Join Tern and New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie for a Reddit chat on the two-wheeled future of transportation.
Here’s your reminder that the annual worldwide Fancy Women Bike Ride will roll later this month.
Unfortunately, I haven’t heard anything about rides planned for Los Angeles, or anywhere in Southern California.
So let me know if you’re planning anything here.
A Scottish driver escaped a close call when a bicycle fell off the rack of another car on the highway, and lodge in his windshield.
Maybe there really is a war on cars, and the bikes are finally striking back.
GCN says you’re probably killing your ebike, if you have one. So stop it, already.
Meanwhile, a writer for Treehugger says she gets so many questions, she feels like a celebrity when she rides her ebike. And recommends getting one “a million times over.”
The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.
Nothing like an LA driver intent on sending a message. Or worse.
Evidently, there’s no such thing as a carfree event where drivers are concerned. Like the schmuck who decided to weave his car around participants in Chicago’s Bike the Drive on Sunday.
But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.
Probably not the best idea to repeatedly fire an antique gun for no apparent reason while riding along an Iowa bike path.
A New York State man is under arrest after using his bicycle as a weapon when police attempted to take him in on a couple outstanding warrants, before pulling a knife on them after a foot chase.
A Virginia bike rider refused to exchange information and demanded money from a driver after a minor collision; the driver wisely called the police instead, and the man on the bike rode off before they arrived.
This is who we share the road with. A 22-year old Los Angeles man is dead following a road rage confrontation after a minor fender bender. He chased the other driver when she left the scene, then was thrown to the street after somehow ending up on her hood during a second confrontation.
Streets For All is hosting another virtual happy hour a week from tomorrow, with special guest LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds. Which makes it the perfect opportunity to ask why the bike plan is still just “aspirational,” and why Vision Zero and the city’s Green New Deal seem to have been pushed so far onto the back burner they’re in danger of falling off entirely.
Mark your calendar for the Los Angeles edition of the World Naked Bike Ride on September 18th, where you can go as bare as you dare except for your face, which will need a mask.
Police in La Jolla busted a suspected serial burglar and bike thief who had been raiding back yards and garages for months; he’s now being held on $300,000 bond.
After talking with other people who’d done it, a San Francisco writer decides to try riding a bike up the area’s steepest hill, with grades as stiff as 30%
A pair of looters were arrested for stealing bicycles from South Lake Tahoe homes after the town was evacuated because of the Caldor Fire.
Oops. A Chico man was busted after police stopped him riding a $5,000 mountain bike, then searched his home and found several stolen bike frames and parts, along with a few grams of meth.
Your next bike helmet could come loaded with an augmented reality and artificial intelligence-enhanced heads-up display, complete with a 360-degree camera.
After walking away from his IT job, a Portland man is devoting himself full-time to cleaning up the city’s pathways, collecting trash in a trailer towed behind his bike.
Reno bike advocates are up in arms after the city calls for a $100,000 study to reroute a planned bike lane, because the casinos complained that they don’t want one in front of their businesses. Apparently failing to grasp that bike riders are used to gambling, since we have to do it on a daily basis.
Nice gesture from Denver Bronco’s general manager, the rest of the front office and the coaching staff, as they built 75 bicycles for underprivileged second grade students at a local elementary school in honor of former Bronco’s coach Greg Knapp, who was killed in a Bay Area bicycling collision in July.
Kansas police insist they’ve got the right man now, after arresting a motorist for shooting and killing a man, apparently to steal his bicycle, after they’d both visited the same business; another man was cleared of the crime after being arrested earlier, but was still being held on outstanding warrants.
Sometimes, the sound of gunfire is just a bike tire popping in an Arkansas Walmart.
A Cincinnati student newspaper calls for keeping a popup bike lane that was installed in a weekend for just fifty grand.
A Connecticut congressman is riding his bike across the state to promote all the state has to offer. Which apparently isn’t much, since his ride will be just a hair over 91 miles.
A New York man was rescued after spending anywhere from two to eight hours trapped down a shaft in the Queens woods when he somehow fell down it during a bike ride through the park.
New Yorkers are criticized for risking the lives of bicycle delivery riders, who somehow stayed on the job despite the incredible risks posed by the recent Hurricane Ida.
Sad news from New Jersey, where nationally recognized cyclist and triathlete Arland Macasieb was fighting for his life after being run down by the driver of a classic ’59 Corvette as he was riding his bike across a freeway onramp; Macasieb is also a repeat national trial champ and national record holder in the Philippines.
A Philadelphia magazine profiles North Philly’s Bilenky Cycle Works and their high-end, handmade bicycles.
The shortage of bicycles and parts fueled by the pandemic bike boom is now expected to last through the end of next year.
Credit the Romans with the first Low Traffic Neighborhoods — or Slow Streets, as we call them on this side of the Atlantic.
He gets it. A British writer says there are no winners in the debate over cars versus bikes.
Inspiring story from a 14-year old English boy who was told he could never ride a bicycle due to his autism and hydrocephalus, and not only learned to ride, but raised the equivalent of nearly $14,000 for his scout troop by riding 1,000 mile across the length of the UK. And had to overcome the theft of his bike just days before he started.
What does it say about our streets that there’s even a need for a $1,000 German made backpack that becomes a full torso airbag in the event of a crash?
BMW wants to put you on a ped-assist ebike with a whopping 186-mile range — and a top speed of 37 mph, which would appear to make it illegal under California law. And would require a driver’s license and motorcycle helmet even if it’s not.
Gee, it’s such a relief to know there’s no suspicion of foul play in the death of a Singapore man who was dragged more than 100 feet under a bus, after he allegedly ran a red light on his bicycle and was right hooked by the driver, who claims he never saw him.
Speaking of Singapore, a woman had a far too close call when she fell off her bike and nearly landed in the path of a large truck. Although all the commenters seemed to care about is that the group of bicyclists she was with wasn’t supposed to be on that highway to begin with.
Still in Singapore, a bike delivery rider says why bother with handlebars, and builds an AI chip that can steer his bike for him.
To the surprise of no one, Primož Roglič won the Vuelta by a whopping margin of 4 minutes and 42 seconds, after taking four stages in the process.
Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez apologized for giving up and quitting in the middle of the penultimate Vuelta stage, after falling off a possible podium finish when he was dropped in an attack, slipping from third to sixth before abandoning.
Pez Cycling News shares their final rant from, and about, the Vuelta.
For reasons known only to them, media outlets across the US suddenly decided to share a 2013 CNN piece offering fast facts about Lance Armstrong, as if the seven-time ex-Tour de France winner was somehow once again relevant. Which he’s not.
Sad news from Spain, where a competitor in a Córdoba mountain bike race was found dead a short distance off the road after going missing during the race; the cause of his death was unknown.
You don’t have to wear spandex when you ride, but try not to look like the Michelin man. If you’re carrying a baggie full of crack on your bike — and have an outstanding warrant for murder — put a damn light on it, already.
And if drivers keep blocking the bike lane, just move it to the other side of the street to keep them out.
L’shanah tovah to everyone celebrating 5782 today!
Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.