Tag Archive for Santa Monica bike path

The problem with group rides, a solo “intergalactic” charity ride, and closed isn’t closed on SaMo beachfront bike path

An image created by San Diego’s Serge Issakov makes the problem of group rides in the age of coronavirus pretty damn clear.

Right now, we’re all better off staying home.

But if you have to ride, ride alone or with members of your own household. Also stick close to home, and save the epic and group rides for when this is finally over, whenever that may be.

And wear a damn mask, already.

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Basketball great Bill Walton is hosting an “intergalactic” Bike for Humanity event on April 25th, with net proceeds benefiting coronavirus victims and the healthcare professionals fighting it.

Individuals are encouraged to get out and ride their bikes for up to two hours in an area where they can practice social distancing at a minimum of 6-feet 11-inches in honor of Walton’s true height (at least the last time he was measured). Current CDC guidelines recommend a minimum of six feet of social distancing in an effort to stem the pandemic.

It is critical to note that Bike for Humanity is not a group ride and riding clusters are prohibited due to the coronavirus. Interested participants can ride anywhere in the galaxy as long as they are in a location where they can practice social distancing.

Hopefully the current restrictions encouraging people to remain in or near their homes will be lifted by then.

Otherwise, this may be all about maintaining social distancing while riding with Zwift.

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No surprise here.

Beach bike paths are officially closed in LA County as part of the social distancing restrictions due to the coronavirus shutdown.

But David Drexler reports that closed appears to be a relative thing where bike paths are concerned.

In front of Casa del Mar on Saturday. The path was still closed, but you would hardly know.

Looking north from Casa del Mar toward the pier. Path is closed but you would not know it.

Santa Monica spent a lot of money fencing now closed Palisades Park. Almost looked like they were getting ready for the finish of some sort of race on Ocean Avenue. Top photo is section next to California Incline.
However, they left open the protected bike lane on the California Incline that leads down to the new widened path section on the beach. New this weekend were dozens of signs indicating temporary closure placed in the middle of the beach path.

Looking south towards the Venice Boardwalk from the Venice – Santa Monica border. A lineup of homeless encampments as far as the eye could see where you usually see tables of people selling things. No closure signs here.

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A new webinar explains how to train in the age of coronavirus this evening.

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Local

The LA Times looks at what’s open and closed in Southern California this week, even though LA city and county officials are encouraging everyone to just stay home. And as we noted above, closed doesn’t always mean closed.

A Pasadena resident calls for a fresh look at our streets as public space, flipping the priority from a focus on cars to providing people with space to get outdoors while maintaining social distancing.

This is who we share the road with. A Lancaster man faces a well-deserved murder charge for the DUI hit-and-run that killed a pedestrian two years ago.

 

State

VeloNews talks with mountain biking Calabasas resident Reggie Miller, who also used to play a little basketball.

No surprise here, as velodromes in San Jose and San Diego are closed for the foreseeable future. Thanks to Robert Leone for the heads-up.

Sad news from Tulare County, where a 76-year old man was killed in a collision while riding his bike, although the CHP was quick to absolve the driver of any responsibility by blaming the victim for wearing dark clothes on a dark bike in poor lighting conditions. However, no mention is made of whether the victim had the legally required lights and reflectors on his bike. Or if the driver had any lights at all on his car, which would theoretically allow him to see a bike rider directly ahead of him, unless he was violating the Basic Speed Law by driving too fast for conditions.

 

National

Good piece from Outside, as Joe Lindsey says studies show hi-viz works — but only if a driver is paying attention.

Bicycling says it’s never too late to learn how to ride a bike.

How to ship your bike without risking a trip to the airport. Thanks again to Robert Leone.

Bike Portland’s Jonathan Maus considers the new rules for riding in the age of coronavirus, including masks, leaving more room, and etiquette for passing.

A Tacoma, Washington man has turned shouting messages to strangers from his bicycle into a thriving very small business.

Business is booming at Phoenix bike shops.

A kindhearted Missouri man built a handmade adaptive bicycle with a sidecar so a mother could ride with her disabled young daughter.

Chicago Streetsblog recaps a webinar on Closing Streets to Create Space for Walking and Biking During COVID-19 featuring officials from Duluth, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Bogotá.

Teenage bike riders emerge from “hibernation” in Schenectady NY, angering drivers by swarming streets and breaking social distancing rules.

New York’s mayor decides to pay for the city’s coronavirus response by cutting funds from Vision Zero and bicycle safety improvements, as well as bus lanes and the Staten Island ferry. But God forbid he should touch funds to subsidize motor vehicle travel.

Kindhearted strangers pitched in to get a new bicycle, helmet, lock, lights and safety vest for a DC nurse who was walking four and a half miles to and from work each day to avoid unknowingly infecting people on public transportation with coronavirus.

 

International

Road.cc explain how “proper” bicycling clothing can improve your rides.

Kindhearted Brits donated the equivalent of nearly $700 to a midwife with the National Health Service after her bicycle was stolen while she was working.

British researchers call for a switch to bicycling to help keep other people safe.

No surprise here, as a UK study shows male drivers are twice as dangerous as female drivers, and male bike riders pose twice the risk to others as female riders.

Bicycling is considered an essential form of transportation in at least one Philippine city.

Paris has imposed a daytime curfew on all outdoor sports from 10 am to 7 pm. Although it’s not clear whether that only includes recreational riding, or bicycling for transportation, too.

Police in Australia’s Victoria state rescind a $1,652 fine a man received for violating the coronavirus lockdown by driving 35 minutes to ride on a mountain bike trail.

 

Competitive Cycling

The Tour of Utah becomes the latest bike racing domino to fall, while Indiana’s famed Little 500 bike race bites the dust for this year, too.

Cyclist looks at the hellish history of the famed Hell of the North, after the legendary Paris-Roubaix race was scrapped for this year.

Reigning Paralympic road champ Jamie Whitmore thanks the Challenged Athletes Foundation for its support in helping her transition to cycling. after a misdiagnosed cancerous tumor ended her career as champion triathlete.

A British woman rides her first road race — and first road bike — at what she calls the world’s toughest amateur bike race in Oman.

The BBC examines how Fiona Kolbinger became the first woman to ride to victory in the ultra-endurance, self-supported and self-navigated Transcontinental Race across Europe last July.

 

Finally…

Country star and American Idol judge Luke Bryan scared the crap out of his wife as she rode her bike by blasting his truck horn in a “hilarious” stunt.

Which any bike rider would recognize as the seriously dangerous and unfunny actions of an obnoxious jerk.

 

We can only hope it doesn’t inspire other similarly antisocial drivers to follow his lead, with riders they aren’t related to.

But it probably will.

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Be safe, and stay healthy.

Why we can’t have nice things — Ballona Creek, other LA area trails close because Angelenos won’t practice social distancing

Angelenos couldn’t manage to keep away from each other over the weekend.

Let alone stay home.

So now we have a lot fewer places to do it.

The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority has closed all the parks and trails under their authority, including the popular Ballona Creek bike path, and at least some portions of the LA River bike path.

Which exactly the wrong move when bicycling is one of the safest forms of transportation for avoiding exposure to the Covid-19 coronavirus.

And it severely limits safe options for bike riders used to using the creekside trail to bypass busy and dangerous Westside streets.

Think of it as akin to closing the nearby 10 Freeway, which would be unthinkable for most Angelenos. But is, apparently, all too easily done when it involves people on bicycles.

This comes after numerous reports of people crowding the beachside bike path in Santa Monica, which has also been shut down as of Sunday afternoon. As well as images from Runyon Canyon, which drew condemnation from across the US over the weekend.

Along with other sites in the LA area, and up and down the state.

Not to mention several sightings of spandexed idiots riding closely in pacelines, as if they and everyone they know or encounter were somehow immune to the disease.

Malibu’s Solstice Canyon is also closing effective today, after the CDC concluded that the necessary distancing couldn’t be achieved.

So let’s make it as clear as we possibly can.

Stay the fuck home.

Go out for necessities and essential services only. Which doesn’t mean shopping at Target, Costco or anywhere else because you’re bored.

Get what you need and go home. Because every stop you make, and every moment you spend out, increases the risk that you could catch Covid-19 or spread it to those you love.

Or to total strangers, some of whom may not survive it.

As a diabetic, my risk of death from coronavirus is much higher than most. And my wife, who suffers from a number of medical issues, is almost guaranteed to suffer serious complications if she is exposed.

And we’ll both lose our medical insurance at the end of next month if she can’t get back to work by then.

Our lives, and those of countless others, are literally in your hands.

So wash them, already.

Yes, you can go out to exercise and get some air. Walking and bicycling are highly recommended.

But when you do, practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from anyone you don’t live with.

If not for us, then because they’ll take that away too if you don’t.

Just ask the people of Italy and Spain.

And now, France, where jogging more than one mile from your home is prohibited, and bicycling banned entirely.

There are very few people alive today who have ever seen a pandemic like this.

And unless they’ve already caught it, no one alive has immunity to it.

No even you.

Thanks to Michael Taggart for the heads-up.

Photo of non-social distancing on the Santa Monica bike path by David Drexler.

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Bike riders are turning out to be heroes in our nation’s hour of need.

Bike Portland says bike delivery pros are proving their value — and their mettle — in the age of coronavirus.

I want to be like him when I grow up. A 94-year old rides his bike 45 miles a day delivering food for Meals on Wheels, even during the Covid-19 outbreak.

A biking Brooklyn bartender is riding door-to-door to deliver mixed spirits to lift his customers’ spirits.

New York bicyclists are volunteering to buy groceries for older people who can’t get out on their own.

Bike riders in Tampa FL are pitching in to deliver food for local restaurants after they were shut down except for takeout and delivery.

And speaking of bicycle heroes, Italian bikewear company Santini has put padded shorts on hold while they devote their efforts to making as many as 10,000 medical masks a day.

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The mayor of Watsonville discusses a recent police crackdown as part of the city’s Vision Zero effort.

But let’s be clear.

Bike helmets aren’t Vision Zero. Bike lights aren’t Vision Zero. And neither are traffic tickets.

Yes, they all may help. But Vision Zero is recognizing that people will always make mistakes, and redesigning streets so those mistakes don’t become fatal.

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If you have a few extra bucks lying around, you can’t ask for a better cause.

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If you’re bored at home — and who isn’t? — get the crayons or markers out and do a little coloring.

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That feeling when a 10-year old can ride rings around you. Or over you.

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Most people would just settle for a helmet cam.

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No argument here. Although this was probably someone’s not-too-distant relative.

Thanks to Ted Faber for the link.

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

As British track cyclist Lauren Bate would undoubtedly agree.

https://twitter.com/LaurenBatee/status/1240998997332054021?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1240998997332054021&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Froad.cc%2Fcontent%2Fnews%2Flive-blog-man-drives-lauren-bate-272077

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Local

Bike Talk talks LA bike politics this week.

Colin Hanks is one of us, taking his daughter for an ebike ride through the streets of LA.

Dennis Quaid is one of us, too, as he goes for a ride through Pacific Palisades with his fiancé.

And while we’re at it, we can’t forget Adam Sandler, who took a spin through the ‘Bu on his Pedego ebike.

 

State

Sad news from Santa Maria, where a 48-year old man was killed in a hit-and-run while riding his bike; he was found off the side of the road next to his mangled bicycle.

A woman takes a ride through San Francisco with her 15-year old son after the lockdown, and finds a city neither recognizes.

San Francisco rejected calls to close RFK Drive in Golden Gate Park to provide safe walking and biking space.

Sad news from Modesto, where a man died as a result of an apparent medical event while riding his bike; first responders found him down on the ground, still straddling his bike.

 

National

A writer for Outside sets his course in life with a BMX faceplant in the driveway when he was seven years old.

A Missoula, Montana newspaper talks with locals who refurbish and ride vintage steel road bikes.

Yet another example of keeping a dangerous driver on the road until it’s too late. A Minnesota man faces charges for allegedly being under the influence when he struck and killed a 16-year old boy; he has two previous DUIs, as well as at least six convictions for driving without a valid license, and a handful of criminal convictions.

An idea who’s time has come amid the coronavirus crisis, as New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for closing some streets to cars to make more room for pedestrians for social distancing, and to declare bike shops essential businesses during the virus closures. Unfortunately, New York’s governor disagreed, ruling bicycle repair was non-essential, despite the city’s recent surge in ridership, before eventually changing his mind.

Meanwhile, New York’s mayor responded with temporary protected bike lanes on two major corridors.

New York isn’t the only city seeing a bike boom. Ridership in Philadelphia has more than doubled since the first of the month, compared to the same time last week; one corridor saw a 471% increase. Then again, it’s boom times for bikes that don’t move, too; scooters, not so much.

 

International

Experts are calling for countries to generously fund bikeways in response to a worldwide jump in bike use due to Covid-19.

Mexico City’s mayor shut down the city’s popular ciclovía on Sunday to avoid spreading coronavirus.

Good question. A Canadian paper wants to know why things aren’t getting better after so many cities have embraced Vision Zero.

The Guardian’s Peter Walker says the UK should encourage bicycling during the country’s coronavirus lockdown.

Bike Radar tries to answer all your burning coronavirus bicycling questions.

Pretty much the definition of tragic irony, as a London bike rider was critically injured in a collision with an ambulance driver.

A British father is still on the road after quitting his job on a whim to ride 28,000 miles around the world for the last two years.

India’s biggest bikemaker has shut down to protect its workers from Covid-19.

Think you know how to harden up? Try riding a paracycle 250 miles across Kenya while steering with your chin the entire way.

 

Competitive Cycling

USA Cycling has pulled the plug on American bike racing through May 3rd. But don’t be surprised if we’ve seen the last bike race for quite awhile.

Yes, the pros are on lockdown, too.

American cyclist Lawson Craddock is in self-quarantine in his Texas home after returning from the abbreviated Paris-Nice stage race, to prevent inadvertently spreading the virus to his family.

When there’s no bike racing, there’s nothing to talk about except recent cycling kerfuffles.

 

Finally…

Just want we need — a Mercedes pickup made just for bicyclists. Who says there’s no bike racing now?

And maybe there’s a reason why downhillers don’t use roadies.

View this post on Instagram

Came in way too hot. Whoops.

A post shared by Adam Blythe (@adamblythe89) on

 

One of L.A. County’s most dangerous streets gets a little safer with buffered new bike lanes on Fiji Way

Just quick update on last week’s item about pending bike lanes on Fiji Way in Marina del Rey.

A ride down to the South Bay yesterday morning showed that nothing had been done on the street beyond the preliminary markings that had gone down earlier.

Yet by the time I rode back a few hours and many miles later, the street had been transformed into, if not a cyclists’ paradise, a much safer and more inviting connection between the Santa Monica and South Bay bike trails.

And turned what has been one of the area’s busiest — and most dangerous — bicycling thoroughfares into something that promises to be significantly safer.

As you can see from the video, a bike lane has been installed on the west/southbound side of the roadway, and the much hated, and probably illegal restriction to ride single file — which is unsupported by anything in California law — has been painted over.

Moving down to the turnaround at the end of the street, near the connection to the Ballona Creek bikeway, the road narrows to a single lane, with painted separators keeping motorists away from riders. And hopefully, reducing the risk of right hook collisions.

Continuing around the turnaround to the north/eastbound side of the street reveals a road diet for most of its length to Admiralty Way.

It was unclear yesterday whether the reduced roadway was being striped for a buffered bike lane, or if the county was planning to allow curbside parking, which had previously been banned, with door-zone bike lane alongside.

But a quick conversation with a member of the county road crew confirmed that cyclists will now enjoy a wide curbside bike lane with a comfortable buffer to the left — separating riders from the high speed, and often confused, drivers who have traditionally frequented the area. And that work on re-striping the street should be finished today.

Fiji Way has long been the missing link in the Marvin Braude bike trail, the name given the full length of the bikeway connection Palos Verdes with Pacific Palisades

As well as one of the most dangerous streets for cyclists, with multiple near-daily collisions as drivers entered or exited driveways without looking for riders first — like this one. Or brushed past or rear-ended riders on the previously unmarked street.

This should go a long way towards reducing those collisions, making what had been a needlessly risky ride much safer.

And it’s a high-profile improvement that shows the county may really be committed to improving conditions for cyclists.

A glance of responsibility

I had planned to write about Bicycling’s recent article on defusing conflicts with angry drivers — and how I’d thought kowtowing wasn’t practiced anymore.

But then something happened on my ride Wednesday that was so surprising — and surprising that something so simple would be surprising — that I was lost in thought for the remainder of the day.

You see, part of my ride took me north on the bike path along the beach through Santa Monica and the Palisades. As I rode, I was passing pedestrians, skaters and slower riders so often that “On your left” was quickly becoming my new mantra.

Then I came upon a man who was riding slowly, pulling his child behind him with one of those trailers that attach to your bike. Just as I was swinging out to the left to go around him, he started to go around a pedestrian. But before he did, he looked over his shoulder, saw me behind him, and patiently waited for me to pass first.

I was stunned.

It’s not that things like that never happen. But they’re rare enough to make me notice when they do. So I slowed down for a moment to ride along next to him, complimenting his riding and thanking him for riding safely.

Because instead of acting carelessly, like so many riders, pedestrians and skaters seem to do there, he put his safety, as well as mine — and more importantly, that of his child — first.

We live in a society that’s quick to assess blame, and slow, if ever, to accept responsibility. We tend to make others responsible for our safety, and blame them — rather than our own actions — if anything happens to go wrong.

Like the story a few years back about the burglar who got injured falling through a roof, and filed suit against the property owner. Or a driver whose tire blew out at well over 100 mph and then sued the manufacturer — never mind that he was driving at over twice the legal speed limit.

I can’t tell you how many times a pedestrian has stepped out in front of me without looking, or another cyclist has pulled out to pass someone without first checking to see if anyone else is there. Then blamed me, rather than their own carelessness, for the near collision — even though I was the only one who kept us from colliding in the first place.

Of course, it doesn’t just happen on the bike path. I frequently see riders swerving into traffic to get around some obstacle without checking first to see if another bike, a car or a Mack truck is bearing down on them. Or consider the idiot who was riding on the wrong side of the street, then blamed the bike-riding driver who pulled out in front of him.

And it’s not just cyclists, pedestrians and the like. Drivers do it, too. Such as the one that cut me off on Montana yesterday — there’s that street again — when I was riding along side her.

I had a feeling she was going to move right without warning, so I’d been holding back a little so she could see me in her mirror; if she bothered to look, that is. Then just as I was starting to pass her, she began inching right towards an open a parking space, forcing me to jam on my brakes and swerve around her. All because she’d never bothered to check her mirrors, let alone her blind spot, and had no idea I was there.

Best of all, though, was the driver I saw honking and yelling, demanding that another car that was double parked on the opposite side of the street to move out of the way so he could make an illegal U-turn in his Escalade.

There’s only one thing these stories all have in common. In each case, they acted carelessly, and made other people responsible for the consequences of their actions, as well as for their own safety — and the safety of anyone else around them.

That’s why I was so impressed with that bike-riding, trailer-pulling father. By taking the simplest of actions — a mere glance back over his shoulder — he took full responsibility for his own safety.

And didn’t have to blame anyone else for the accident that didn’t happen.

 

The Times’ Bottleneck Blog reports on a story in the Wall Street Journal, which says San Fran’s new bike plan is being held up by a single gadfly who claims bicycling is bad for the environment. Actually, I think a far worse problem is getting mugged on the bike path. A paper from Mad City suggests cycling could be the new golf. A biker in Walla Walla posted a notice from the Washington legislature calling for more and safer bike routes — dated 1974. Finally, it looks like Gary’s car is looking for a good home.

Today’s ride, in which I think like a driver.

I’d planned on taking a nice, sunny spin down the coast today. After all, this was supposed to be an easy day, since I’d ridden hills yesterday and only needed another 20 miles to meet my goal for the week.

But once I got down to Santa Monica, I found the weather wasn’t so inviting. It was cool, overcast and windy at the beach; the most un-summer-like August day I think I’ve ever seen around L.A. So rather than fight the wind, I decided to just take a quick ride along the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path — despite my rule of thumb to never ride there during on Fridays during the summer, due to the early weekend influx of tourists, kids, pedestrians and other assorted path-clogging flotsam.

To be honest, though, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, I had to dodge the occasional training-wheeled toddler weaving across the path with no parents in sight, as well as the usual clusters of tourists stopped in the middle of the path to chat or gawk at the view. And it certainly didn’t hurt my cheerful disposition knowing that I had an Old Speckled Hen on ice at home, waiting for my return.

That is, until I encountered a couple of young women walking up the bike path, despite the presence of a pedestrian walkway just a few feet away, and “bikes only” markings on the one they were walking on instead. And they were walking on the wrong side, headed straight for me, directly in my path.

Now, as anyone who has ever ridden along there knows, that’s not entirely unusual. Usually, such people will look up, see a cyclist coming, and politely move out of the way. Which is exactly what I thought these two would do.

Instead, they just kept walking directly towards me, with the same uncomprehending stare one would expect to see in a flock of sheep. But then I saw a small gap to their right and attempted to slip by, just as one of them moved in that same direction, bumping up against me and almost forcing me into the sand.

I just couldn’t help myself, and yelled out, “Other side, stupid,” as I rolled past. And immediately regretted adding the word “stupid,” although, to be fair, it was the mildest of the many words that popped into my head.

Of course, the catcalls from bystanders started immediately, including, among many other epithets, “rude” and “arrogant.” So there it was once again, as I found myself being called a rude, arrogant cyclist.

My mind reeled.

How was it that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, on a pathway build exactly for that purpose, while they were exactly where they weren’t supposed to be, doing exactly what they weren’t supposed to be doing. Yet I was the bad guy?

Suddenly, something snapped, and my mind I became a driver. Not the courteous, safe kind that actually make up the vast majority of local drivers, but the indignorant, letter-writing kind who feel perfectly justified in taking out their anger on cyclists.

So I thought, just for a moment, that I should have just ridden directly into them and knocked both women on their ass. After all, they were in my way, and so clearly they deserved it.

When the police came, I would say it was an accident, and I just didn’t see them, because they weren’t where they were supposed to be. Then I could give him a knowing look, and say “When pedestrians learn to respect the rules of bike path, then we’ll respect the rights of pedestrians.”

And I’d get away with it, too. Because drivers usually do.

But then I snapped out of it, and realized, no matter how hard I might try, I could never really be that big a jerk. And so, once again, I was just another rude, arrogant cyclist.

But for once, it really didn’t seem so bad.

 

Mack Reed writes about riding tandem with arachnids, while Will•I•Am (no, not that one) puts his bike cam to work nailing parking tards. David Byrne, ex-Talking Head, now the Dick Cheney of bike rack design. Bicycling tells us how to de-escalate conflicts between cyclists and drivers. Finally, VeloNews’ own cycling PI attorney recaps the recent road rage incidents, including the good doctor’s Mandeville Canyon brake check and biker-on-biker violence in Portland.

Today’s ride, in which I think like a driver.

I’d planned on taking a nice, sunny spin down the coast today. After all, this was supposed to be an easy day, since I’d ridden hills yesterday and only needed another 20 miles to meet my goal for the week.

But once I got down to Santa Monica, I found the weather wasn’t so inviting. It was cool, overcast and windy at the beach; the most un-summer-like August day I think I’ve ever seen around L.A. So rather than fight the wind, I decided to just take a quick ride along the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path — despite my rule of thumb to never ride there during on Fridays during the summer, due to the early weekend influx of tourists, kids, pedestrians and other assorted path-clogging flotsam.

To be honest, though, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, I had to dodge the occasional training-wheeled toddler weaving across the path with no parents in sight, as well as the usual clusters of tourists stopped in the middle of the path to chat or gawk at the view. And it certainly didn’t hurt my cheerful disposition knowing that I had an Old Speckled Hen on ice at home, waiting for my return.

That is, until I encountered a couple of young women walking up the bike path, despite the presence of a pedestrian walkway just a few feet away, and “bikes only” markings on the one they were walking on instead. And they were walking on the wrong side, headed straight for me, directly in my path.

Now, as anyone who has ever ridden along there knows, that’s not entirely unusual. Usually, such people will look up, see a cyclist coming, and politely move out of the way. Which is exactly what I thought these two would do.

Instead, they just kept walking directly towards me, with the same uncomprehending stare one would expect to see in a flock of sheep. But then I saw a small gap to their right and attempted to slip by, just as one of them moved in that same direction, bumping up against me and almost forcing me into the sand.

I just couldn’t help myself, and yelled out, “Other side, stupid,” as I rolled past. And immediately regretted adding the word “stupid,” although, to be fair, it was the mildest of the many words that popped into my head.

Of course, the catcalls from bystanders started immediately, including, among many other epithets, “rude” and “arrogant.” So there it was once again, as I found myself being called a rude, arrogant cyclist.

My mind reeled.

How was it that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, on a pathway build exactly for that purpose, while they were exactly where they weren’t supposed to be, doing exactly what they weren’t supposed to be doing. Yet I was the bad guy?

Suddenly, something snapped, and my mind I became a driver. Not the courteous, safe kind that actually make up the vast majority of local drivers, but the indignorant, letter-writing kind who feel perfectly justified in taking out their anger on cyclists.

So I thought, just for a moment, that I should have just ridden directly into them and knocked both women on their ass. After all, they were in my way, and so clearly they deserved it.

When the police came, I would say it was an accident, and I just didn’t see them, because they weren’t where they were supposed to be. Then I could give him a knowing look, and say “When pedestrians learn to respect the rules of bike path, then we’ll respect the rights of pedestrians.”

And I’d get away with it, too. Because drivers usually do.

But then I snapped out of it, and realized, no matter how hard I might try, I could never really be that big a jerk. And so, once again, I was just another rude, arrogant cyclist.

But for once, it really didn’t seem so bad.

 

Mack Reed writes about riding tandem with arachnids, while Will•I•Am (no, not that one) puts his bike cam to work nailing parking tards. David Byrne, ex-Talking Head, now the Dick Cheney of bike rack design. Bicycling tells us how to de-escalate conflicts between cyclists and drivers. Finally, VeloNews’ own cycling PI attorney recaps the recent road rage incidents, including the good doctor’s Mandeville Canyon brake check and biker-on-biker violence in Portland.

Today’s ride, in which I think like a driver.

I’d planned on taking a nice, sunny spin down the coast today. After all, this was supposed to be an easy day, since I’d ridden hills yesterday and only needed another 20 miles to meet my goal for the week.

But once I got down to Santa Monica, I found the weather wasn’t so inviting. It was cool, overcast and windy at the beach; the most un-summer-like August day I think I’ve ever seen around L.A. So rather than fight the wind, I decided to just take a quick ride along the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path — despite my rule of thumb to never ride there during on Fridays during the summer, due to the early weekend influx of tourists, kids, pedestrians and other assorted path-clogging flotsam.

To be honest, though, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, I had to dodge the occasional training-wheeled toddler weaving across the path with no parents in sight, as well as the usual clusters of tourists stopped in the middle of the path to chat or gawk at the view. And it certainly didn’t hurt my cheerful disposition knowing that I had an Old Speckled Hen on ice at home, waiting for my return.

That is, until I encountered a couple of young women walking up the bike path, despite the presence of a pedestrian walkway just a few feet away, and “bikes only” markings on the one they were walking on instead. And they were walking on the wrong side, headed straight for me, directly in my path.

Now, as anyone who has ever ridden along there knows, that’s not entirely unusual. Usually, such people will look up, see a cyclist coming, and politely move out of the way. Which is exactly what I thought these two would do.

Instead, they just kept walking directly towards me, with the same uncomprehending stare one would expect to see in a flock of sheep. But then I saw a small gap to their right and attempted to slip by, just as one of them moved in that same direction, bumping up against me and almost forcing me into the sand.

I just couldn’t help myself, and yelled out, “Other side, stupid,” as I rolled past. And immediately regretted adding the word “stupid,” although, to be fair, it was the mildest of the many words that popped into my head.

Of course, the catcalls from bystanders started immediately, including, among many other epithets, “rude” and “arrogant.” So there it was once again, as I found myself being called a rude, arrogant cyclist.

My mind reeled.

How was it that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, on a pathway build exactly for that purpose, while they were exactly where they weren’t supposed to be, doing exactly what they weren’t supposed to be doing. Yet I was the bad guy?

Suddenly, something snapped, and my mind I became a driver. Not the courteous, safe kind that actually make up the vast majority of local drivers, but the indignorant, letter-writing kind who feel perfectly justified in taking out their anger on cyclists.

So I thought, just for a moment, that I should have just ridden directly into them and knocked both women on their ass. After all, they were in my way, and so clearly they deserved it.

When the police came, I would say it was an accident, and I just didn’t see them, because they weren’t where they were supposed to be. Then I could give him a knowing look, and say “When pedestrians learn to respect the rules of bike path, then we’ll respect the rights of pedestrians.”

And I’d get away with it, too. Because drivers usually do.

But then I snapped out of it, and realized, no matter how hard I might try, I could never really be that big a jerk. And so, once again, I was just another rude, arrogant cyclist.

But for once, it really didn’t seem so bad.

 

Mack Reed writes about riding tandem with arachnids, while Will•I•Am (no, not that one) puts his bike cam to work nailing parking tards. David Byrne, ex-Talking Head, now the Dick Cheney of bike rack design. Bicycling tells us how to de-escalate conflicts between cyclists and drivers. Finally, VeloNews’ own cycling PI attorney recaps the recent road rage incidents, including the good doctor’s Mandeville Canyon brake check and biker-on-biker violence in Portland.

Shocked — shocked! — I am to find bikes on the bike path

I never cease to be amazed at people who are shocked — shocked! — to discover bikes on the bike path.

Like the people who casually stroll along the bike lanes on Santa Monica’s Montana Avenue, the Marvin Braude (nee Santa Monica) bike path along the beach is inexplicably full of people who seem to have no clue that they might actually encounter bicycles as they blithely ignore the Bikes Only and No Pedestrian markings under their feet.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking the entire 22.3 mile length of the path. The upper portion along Will Rogers State Beach is usually okay, as is the lower portion through the South Bay, at least until you get to Hermosa Beach. No, I’m referring to the vastly over-populated portion from the Venice Pier north to the walkway under PCH at West Channel Road.

I’ve had a number of bizarre encounters there over the years, such as the time a toddler darted out from the parking lost directly in front of me. I jammed on my brakes and managed to come to a panic stop just inches from her.

So did the bystanders chastise her parents, for letting a small child run unsupervised like that? Or did they commend me for riding defensively, and putting the safety of a child ahead of my own?

Of course not.

Instead, I got to hear an old guy complaining about “all the damn bicycles on the bike path.” And I rode off, wondering just exactly what he expected to find there.

Then there was the woman so engrossed in her cell phone conversation that she stepped directly onto the bike path — and right in front of me — without ever looking up. So I yelled out a warning and learned hard to my left, then immediately back to the right, carving a perfect C shape right around her.

And then I made my big mistake. I stopped to make sure she was okay.

She started screaming at me — without ending her call, of course — for having the audacity to frighten her. Never mind that if she’d done the same thing on a city street, she’d probably be dead now. Or that a less experience cyclist probably would have crashed right into her, sending both of us to the ER.

No, as far as she was concerned, she was blameless and I was the bad guy, just because I tried to spare us both from serious injury.

In other words, blame bicyclists first.

Or take the large family of very large Texans I encountered near the volleyball courts awhile back. There were about 12 of them, all gathered in a group and completely blocking the entire bike path in both directions.

Eternal optimist that I am, I assumed that they would move aside to let me pass when I got close. But no, they just stared at me, their bovine expressions unchanging as they gazed at the approaching cyclist.

Polite requests to pass accomplished nothing. So finally I came to a full stop just feet in front of them and, exasperated, yelled at them to get out of the way.

That had the same effect as poking an enraged bull. The women started screaming at me and the men started moving angrily towards me. One woman, apparently the matriarch of the group, sputtered that they were from Texas, and had never encountered such rudeness.

So let’s recap, shall we? They were far from home, blocking a major pathway, preventing anyone else from passing in any direction, and ignoring every reasonable request for passage.

And I was the rude one?

Finally, some other riders approaching on the other side of the group called for them to move, as well, and slowly they gave way to either side, not unlike Moses parting the Red Sea.

And I rode off, wishing them a safe and speedy return to Texas.

Okay, so I may have left out the safe part.

Today’s must reads: Streetsblog reminds readers about tonight’s DWP meeting to discuss the annual Festival of Lights, giving us an opportunity to protest their absurd — and illegal — ban on bicycles (thanks to Alex Thompson for pointing us to section 21 of the state vehicle code). Speaking of Alex, he’s posted a beautiful reverie on racing a magical wave on Ballona Creek. The Time’s Bottleneck Blog provides the details of the proposed sales tax increase, which still lacks any provision for bicycles and pedestrians. And finally, sad news from my home town, where one rider was killed and another severely injured when they were stuck from behind by a drunk driver — at 5:20 in the morning.

Blame bikers first

Normally, I try to avoid try to avoid the Santa Monica and Venice sections of the Marvin Braude bike path, aka Santa Monica bike path, this time of year. But I got out a little earlier than usual yesterday, so I thought I’d try to squeeze in a quick ride along the beach before it to got too late and the path became overrun with tourists and pedestrians.

And it was, for the most part, a pleasant experience. I did my best to ride safely and courteously, keeping my speed down and waiting behind slower riders until it was safe to pass, and announcing to the assorted riders, skaters, walkers, shopping cart jockeys, et al, that I was passing whenever appropriate.

Of course, there was that one incident. As there usually is.

A couple of surfers stepped out onto the path, without looking, maybe 10 feet in front of me, their surf boards parallel to the ground and blocking most of the path. So I yelled out a warning, then swung quickly to the left and immediately back to the right, avoiding them safely so we could all continue enjoying our day.

And that was when I heard a woman on my right yelling something about “aggressive cyclists.”

Of course, there was no way she could have seen what had just happened, so it was clear that she had just heard my warning, and immediately went into the ever popular Blame Bicyclists First mode.

Which left me to wonder just what it was that I had done wrong. Was that I warned them to avoid an accident? Or simply that I had the audacity to actually ride a bicycle on the bike path?

Or was it the mere fact of my spandex clad existence?

Of course, this sort of thing is nothing new. A few weeks ago, I was riding along a busy street with heavy traffic buzzing past my shoulder, when I saw a couple of young women standing in the middle of the bike lane up ahead as they waited to cross the street (illegally, of course).

They continued to just stand there as I approached, blocking my path as they gazed mindlessly at the cyclist bearing down on them. Finally, I yelled for them to get out of the way; their response, as their feet stood firmly planted in the bike lane in front of me, was “Fuck you.”

My only option was to jam on my brakes, coming to a stop just feet in front them. Which lead to a argument, of course. And sure enough, within a few moments, one of the local shop owners — who had no idea what had started the argument — came out and threatened to call the police and have me arrested.

Why? Because I’m a cyclist. And as we all know, cyclists are evil.

Which leads to this: last night’s public meeting to discuss the problems in Mandeville Canyon was cancelled, replaced by the first meeting of a task force to discuss the issue. (LAist has also posted a new video from Dual Chase productions on how to ride the canyon safely.)

Meanwhile, a group of bike and pedestrian advocates are collecting signatures to request that a mere 2 percent of Metro’s planned 1/2 cent sales tax increase be allocated for bike and pedestrian issues — that’s just 1% each to help keep bikers and pedestrians safe and alive.

And councilman Bill Rosendahl, who is rapidly turning into the biking community’s best friend, continues to support the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights, and is calling for a larger discussion of the issues confronting bicyclists and drivers throughout the city later this year.

If you ask me, that can’t happen soon enough.

 

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