Tag Archive for sharrows

The incredible disappearing sharrows, part two

Now you see them, now you don’t.

Just days after sharrows magically reappeared in Westwood — after being covered up in a massive failure of communication between two city agencies — it’s happened again.

Only this time, it’s a good thing.

According to an email I received on Wednesday, Torrance joined the recent rush to put sharrows on the streets this month — to the delight and disappointment of local cyclists.

Delight, because shared lane markings have proven exceptionally popular with many bike riders, indicating to drivers that we have a right to the road.

And to the lane.

Nice try, but this is just so wrong in so many ways.

Disappointment, because the markings were placed in entirely the wrong location — in the bike lane and well out of the traffic lane. And worse, they indicated that cyclists should ride directly in the door zone, rather than positioning riders outside it, as the marking are intended to do.

Maybe someone in the city’s Public Works Department saw the pretty bike and chevron design in another nearby town, and thought they’d look lovely on the streets of their own town. Or maybe they just wanted to be trendy, like everyone else here in SoCal, and didn’t want to get left off the sharrow express.

Problem is, they clearly didn’t research the hows and whys and — most importantly — wheres before they put paint on the street.

I’ll let my correspondent take it from here, quoting from the email he sent to the Public Works Department just last Saturday, with a copy sent to the city’s mayor.

Shared Lane Markings (aka “sharrows”) have been incorrectly installed on streets in the City of Torrance.

According to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Shared Lane Markings are not to be used in designated bicycle lanes and, on streets with parallel parking, should be placed at least 11 feet from the curb.

The recently installed “sharrows” on Torrance Blvd (in designated bicycle lanes) and those on Anza Avenue (less than 11 feet from the curb and in the “door zone”) are nonconforming, exposing the city to possible liability should a bicycle rider be injured.

While the City of Torrance is to be applauded for its bicycle friendly efforts, the use of Shared Lane Markings should be in accordance with the MUTCD.

Under that black paint lies an unlamented misplaced and swiftly removed sharrow.

The response was surprisingly swift.

When he went out for his ride on Wednesday, he passed one of the locations where sharrows had been placed on Torrance Blvd.

And he was surprised to see that the offending pavement markings had already been painted over,  just five days —and only three business days — following his email. Evidently, it doesn’t hurt to copy the mayor’s office when you complain.

As he put it:

Better no sharrows than ones in the door zone.

………

As if people didn’t already think most cyclists are law-breaking scum.

The LAPD hosted a news conference Wednesday evening to announce that, despite improved relations with the cycling community, there are certain biking behaviors that just won’t be tolerated.

Like corking intersections. Riding on the wrong side of the road. Or swarming a grocery store parking lot, drinking beer and smoking pot, and riding bikes through the aisles of the store, scattering shoppers in your wake.

As Brent wrote in an email Wednesday,

…it’s like the new “skateboarding” — hanging out with your friends, skateboard in one hand, joint in the other. But it sure does tar the rest of us just trying to get to our destination by bicycle.

Leaders of the local bike community are working to ensure it doesn’t happen again at Critical Mass this Friday. And the police will be on hand to make damn sure it doesn’t.

Tolerance only goes so far.

And patience has clearly run out.

………

Damien Newton breaks the news that Rita Robinson may be leaving her position as LADOT General Manager to take a high-level position with the county. Interesting timing, as it comes at the same time that New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, a graduate of Occidental College, is rumored to be having trouble with her new, less-bike-friendly boss.

Maybe this is Mayor Villaraigosa’s opportunity to demonstrate that he really is the bike community’s new BFF, and bring her back home to L.A.

………

LADOT Bike Blog sums up its excellent series on where you can and can’t ride on the sidewalk in L.A. County. And concludes by saying it just shows there’s still work to be done.

If bicycles are supposed to be considered vehicles with responsibilities and rights equal to automobiles, like CVC 21200 states, then bicyclists deserve to have rules for their operation that are at least as uniform as the rules for operating an automobile.

The LA County Sidewalk Riding series proves, if nothing else, that we’ve still got a ways to go in that regard.

………

Villaraigosa offers Angelenos a personal invitation to attend CicLAvia on 10/10/10. Gary says when someone steals your bike, you can always rollerblade. Here’s what you can look forward to at next month’s Tour da Fat. A Fresno mother pleads for justice in the hit-and-run death of her son. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske discusses liability for road hazards, saying you may not be at fault for that fall; something you might want to remember, considering we have the 2nd worst roads in the U.S. The search continues for the schmuck driver who fled the scene after hitting two cyclists in rapid succession in Portland. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood looks back on Tuesday’s Distracted Driving Summit, saying distraction-related crashes are 100% preventable. A reputed Lance Armstrong accuser testifies before the Grand Jury investigating him here in L.A.; is it truth or sour grapes? Top young pro Taylor Phinney blows off Lance and signs with BMC. How to ride in a paceline. If you want to get away with murder, use a car instead of a gun. Canadian TV asks if enough cyclists use Vancouver’s new bike lanes to justify their existence, while a writer says the city’s cyclists are their own worst enemies. An English cyclist was five times over the legal drunk driving limit when he was killed in a collision. A British rider asks for advice on how to make her longer bike commute more fun. A rare, 130-year old tricycle is stolen from a Brit bike charity. Researchers say traffic jams are caused by a combination of aggressive and/or timid drivers; link courtesy of @Metro Library. A different approach to Budapest’s Critical Mass works better than expected.

Finally, the inevitable far-right backlash begins against Wednesday’s Car-Free Day; evidently, it’s another left-wing plot, just like bike sharing.

Advice from a pimp on making PCH safer and more livable for everyone

I’ve met some interesting people over the years.

I once had a long philosophical discussion with a drug dealer when my car happened to break down on his corner, and talked with a Super Bowl-bound football star about his premonition of scoring the winning touchdown — one that fell just inches short of coming true.

Then again, a lot of championships have been lost on almost.

I’ve shared drinks with future rock stars before they made it big, and chatted with others who should have made it but didn’t. I’ve known powerbrokers and paupers, pimps and politicians. Not that there’s a lot of difference between the last two.

In fact, it was a pimp who offered some of the best advice I’ve ever been given.

I was working in a jewelry store at the time; he walked through the door, just an ordinary looking guy in a business suit — if you ignored the fur hat, flashy jewelry and even flashier women on either arm.

After briefly cruising through the store, he asked me to show him a very expensive ring — for himself, of course. But stopped me when I started to tell him the price.

“Don’t matter,” he said.

When I seemed surprised, he explained. “If I want it, the price don’t matter ‘cause I’ll pay whatever it costs. If I don’t want it, don’t matter ’cause I won’t buy it.”

“Only matters is if I don’t know what I want. And then I’d be a damn fool to let the price talk me into it.”

The current situation in Malibu is kind of like that.

If they truly want to make PCH safer, they’ll find a way to do it, whatever it takes. And come up with policies and infrastructure solutions that will benefit everyone — cyclists and drivers, residents and visitors.

If they don’t, then nothing will really change. They’ll ticket a few riders for running red lights, pull over some speeders and bust a handful of drunk drivers. And people will continue to die on a highway that doesn’t work for anyone — least of all the people who live and work there.

The real problem is if they don’t know what they want. Like if they want to improve things, but consider the problems they face insurmountable, the costs too high. Or if the obvious solutions, such as traffic calming and reduced speed limits, increased enforcement and on-road bike lanes — or an off-road bike path that bypasses PCH entirely — are rejected out of hand, whether because of the cost or a lack of will.

Or just rampant NIMBY-ism, because they don’t want to encourage cyclists to ride on PCH. And intend to continue letting conditions deteriorate until we stop riding past those high-end homes that line the beach on the eastern part of the city.

Note to Malibu: Ain’t gonna happen.

So our job, as cyclists, is not to fight with the city until we convince them to do nothing because it’s not worth the aggravation of dealing with us.

But to convince them to work with us to improve safety and take a Complete Streets approach to PCH, because it’s in everyone’s best interest. And the law.

And will make Malibu a safer and more livable city.

For all of us.

………

And then there were five. Or maybe five-and-a-half.

As Damien noted on Streetsblog Tuesday, the long awaited sharrows on Westholme Ave. have disappeared without warning, victim of a slurry-sealing project that has been underway in the Westwood area for the past few weeks.

I discovered it on Tuesday when I set off to ride some hills, starting with the long step climb up Westholme. About a block or so after crossing Wilshire Blvd, the tell-tale jet-black pavement appeared and the sharrows disappeared, lost beneath the thin veneer of slurry until just before Hilgard.

According to Damien, LADOT seemed to be as surprised as the rest of us; evidently, the Bureau of Street Services evidently failed to notify them of the plans. Or noted the strange hieroglyphics on the pavement, and never thought to ask if maybe they happened to be something important before covering them over.

LADOT Bike Blog indicates that getting those sharrows back will be a top priority for the department.

But maybe next time, biking’s new BFF, Mayor Villaraigosa, might want to make sure the people who work for him talk to each other before they do something stupid.

Again.

………

Vuelta stage 4 winner Igor Anton suggests Joaquim Rodriguez has the best chance of winning among the home-turf Spanish riders. Alberto Contador, who’s sitting out the Vuelta, injures his knee in training. And more tributes pour in for cycling great Laurent Fignon, dead at age 50.

………

Metro says fire officials consider groups of cyclists on trains a fire hazard. Important meeting Wednesday night on the Santa Monica Agensys bike path-blocking project. Speaking of Santa Monica, LA Creek Freak looks at the planned conversion of lower Ocean Park Blvd into a green Complete Street; if you happen to be a Malibu city official, click on the link. Please. LADOT Bike Blog examines sidewalk riding laws in the San Gabriel Valley. Ride with the Ovarian Psychos/Cycle Bicycle Brigade. San Diego considers making the central plaza in Balboa Park car free. A cyclist hits a trolley in East San Diego County. Several California bike clubs risk losing their non-profit status, including some in the L.A. area. San Francisco finishes its first new bike lane since the injunction was lifted. Bicycling suggests 15 proven ways to get faster, and offers tips on how to teach your child to ride to school. New York continues to lead the way to safer streets, with a planned experiment to reduce speeds to 20 mph. A small Texas town now requires a permit for groups of 10 or more cyclists; no word on whether groups of cars will now require permits, as well. A driver picks up his dropped cell phone, and find himself in the bike lane when he looks up — just before hitting a cyclist. A Kansas cyclist leaves a message in chalk to thank the woman who saved his life. Connecticut starts a 3-foot law bike safety campaign. Brit model Kelly Brock rides her bike at the Tower of London, and looks a lot more comfortable on two wheels than London’s biking Mayor BoJo.

Finally, the definition of irony, as bike-banning Black Hawk, Colorado invites the League of American Bicyclists to come gamble at their casinos.

But, uh, leave your bikes at home.

Sharrows hit the street on Abbot Kinney

Headed west on Abbot Kinney, the first sharrow appears just after crossing Venice Blvd.

Thanks to a tip from Eric B, I made a point of including Abbot Kinney Blvd on my most recent ride so I could to check out the new sharrows — the final link in the city’s new six-street sharrows pilot project.

Over all, they seem to do the job.

When there wasn’t a bike present, the cars rolled over the sharrows as if they weren’t there — unlike the response on Westholme Ave, where drivers didn’t seem to know what to make of them.

When there were bikes around, the drivers passed whenever the opportunity presented. But at least they all seemed to pass at a safe distance.

Riding beside the bumpy thermoplastic places riders dangerously close to the door zone.

Which, I suppose, is all we can really ask for.

There’s one oddly placed sharrow on the westbound lane about a block from Venice, where the street curves, which seems to direct riders off the roadway — although I didn’t get a photo of it, since I was a little preoccupied with trying not to get run over at the time.

Maybe it was directing riders to stop at the food trucks that frequent the parking lot at the Brig, since that seems to be where it’s pointing.

Choosing the bumpier ride puts cyclists in a better lane position.

And like the other locations, the raised thermoplastic makes for a bumpy ride, which may encourage cyclists to ride beside the sharrows rather than over them — giving riders less control over the lane and placing them at the edge of the door zone.

So now the final piece of the pilot project is in place.

While we may think sharrows are a no brainer, the question remains whether the city’s implementation of them will encourage cyclists to use them. Or if decisions made regarding their placement on the streets will make riders feel less safe.

Sharrows stretch out on both sides from Main Street to Venice Blvd.

How drivers will respond is also an open question. Especially without adequate signage or educational efforts directed at motorists.

As is whether historically risk-averse LADOT will use the results to improve future installations throughout the city. Or call it a failed experiment and throw in the towel if issues arise.

It’s going to be an interesting experiment.

The question remains how drivers will respond on a busier street like Abbot Kinney — especially without signage or driver education.

………

On the last day of the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish won the final sprint in Paris, while Alberto Contador won his third Tour by one of the smallest margins in TdF history — the same amount of time Andy Schleck lost when he dropped his chain.

In the penultimate stage of this year’s Tour, Schleck gave it his best in Saturday’s time trial, but it just isn’t enough as Fabian Cancellara won the stage and Contador clinched victory — but Schleck will be back in 2011. After Christian Vande Velde crashes out of the Tour, aptly named Canadian Ryder Hesjedal became an overnight sensation for Garmin-Transitions. Tyler Farrar should be back on his bike in time for next month’s Tour of Spain. For Lance Armstrong, his 13th Tour really was bad luck as he finished 23rd, and his team’s attempt to honor cancer survivors was disallowed, but at least the French are on his side for once.

And on Nightline, Floyd Landis said “I saw Lance Armstrong using drugs.”

………

A look at Saturday’s Walk and Ride for a Safer 4th Street. Make your plans for the first public meeting of the bike committee of the Santa Monica Recreation & Parks Committee on Monday night. Tuesday evening there’s a demonstration and press conference in Beverly Hills to protest the slap on the wrist given Celine Mahdavi for nearly killing Louis “Birdman” Deliz. Courtesy of my friends at Altadenablog, a USC neuropathologist rides 140 miles for Alzheimer’s research. Get your limited edition, hand-printed CicLAvia t-shirt. The former chairman of the Yucca Valley Planning Commission is ordered to stand trial for killing a cyclist while driving with a blood alcohol level over twice the legal limit. Three NorCal cyclists are hurt in separate incidents on the same road just hours apart — two on the same spot. The cyclist killed in North Dakota last week was on her way to Casper WY to build homes with Habitat for Humanity. A DC area cyclist dies, apparently from the high heat and humidity blanketing the East Coast. A Brit Olympian is in stable condition after suffering a skull fracture when he was hit by a truck in Winslow AZ last Tuesday. A reminder that bicyclists have to follow the rules of the road, too; thanks, we didn’t know that. Everything you need to know to talk bikes in 27 European languages. Every bike means less traffic and one more parking space. Twelve reasons why vehicular cycling may not be the answer for everyone.

Finally, a conversation with London mayor and avid bike supporter Boris Johnson, who undoubtedly won a lot of fans with his stand on bike theft.

“Plainly, we will treat bike thieves with the utmost severity. I’m looking at a very draconian policy. Bring back the stocks!”

Bright shiny new sharrows in Westwood

This morning, I set out on a ride down to Manhattan Beach, rolling right past the future home of sharrows on Westholme Ave.

As has been the case for the past few weeks, a quick glance up and down the street for traffic showed no signs of any new paint. At least none I hadn’t already spotted.

These markings have been on the street for the past week or so.

So imagine my surprise when I rolled back about 3 hours and 45 miles later, and noticed a car slow down to a near stop, evidently confused by the new markings that had suddenly appeared on Westholme.

Seriously, I swear these weren't there this morning.

I stopped to take a look, and sure enough, there were a pair of bright, shiny new sharrows on the street leading up to Wilshire Blvd. And a quick look the other way showed more heading south towards Santa Monica Blvd.

Sharrows to the left, sharrows to the right.

So even though my legs were on their last legs, I couldn’t resist the temptation to ride up as far as Wilshire to check them out.

Even though they were placed in the center of the lane, it seemed appropriate, since the lanes on this section are narrow — and definitely not sharable.

Even placed in the center of the lane, they're just outside the door zone.

Riding up towards Wilshire, I was perfectly comfortable riding on the sharrows, moving to the right to let cars pass when it was safe and appropriate. Coming back, there were no cars parked on the right due to street sweeping restrictions, so I stuck to the parking lane and let the drivers have the traffic lane to themselves.

On the other hand, many of the drivers who went by didn’t seem to know what to make of the strange symbols on the road in front of them. Some slowed down and examined them closely, while others drove onto the other side of the road to go around them — even though there weren’t any bikes, or anything else, in their way.

This driver wasn't the only one who seemed afraid to cross over the strange markings that had appeared without warning.

Then there were others who didn’t seem to notice there was anything different.

Those are the ones I worry about.

That just leaves Abbot Kinney Blvd as the last of the six streets scheduled to get sharrows during the current pilot project. And I just rode there on my way back this afternoon.

So I can safely say there aren’t any there.

Yet.

A meditation on sharrows and door zones

In search of the Great White Sharrow.

Last week, I found out exactly where the door zone is.

Not that I didn’t know before.

Though now I doubt I’ll ever question it again.

Last month I mentioned that I’d ended up riding the now nearly four week-old sharrows on 4th Street the day they first appeared. And found them not quite to my liking, placing me a little further out into the lane than I felt comfortable with.

After reading that, Gary Kavanagh reminded me about the sharrows that had been placed on Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach since I’d last been down that way.

So I set off to check them out, plotting a route that would take me to the Redondo Pier, then back up to check out Santa Monica’s newly extended bike lanes on Arizona Ave and the new sharrows on 14th Street. And figured I might as well visit the site of the soon-to-come sharrows on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice while I was at it.

Call it my own personal Tour de Sharrows.

As I rode up Abbot Kinney, I took my usual position just inside the lane and just outside the door zone.

A short line of cars passed safely around me, moving across the yellow line to leave a comfortable margin of three to five feet. All except the last car in the line, which failed to follow the example the others had set — and instead buzzed me less than a foot from my left elbow.

At that exact moment, as a car zoomed by just inches to my left, a driver unlocked his parked car and — without ever gazing behind him — threw open his door, missing me by just inches.

That’s when the real meaning of door zone sank in.

If I’d positioned myself even a few inches to the right, I would have been knocked into the car on my left. And where I would have pinballed from there I have no idea.

And no desire to find out.

But it reconfirmed my own instincts, and provided exactly the experience I needed evaluate the sharrows for myself.

When I made it to Hermosa, I paused to take a couple of quick photos. And watched as the drivers zoomed down the street jockeying for position on a busy beach day — despite what it looks like in the photo below — and convincing me that I would have to struggle to hold my lane position. Sharrows or not.

Yet my experience was exactly the opposite.

The start of the Hermosa sharrows, which extend down Hermosa Ave from the bike path.

The sharrows were positioned dead center in the right lane, just as they’d been on 4th Street. But here they were on a four lane street, rather than two. And as I rode down the center of the lane, drivers either followed patiently behind me, or simply moved into the other lane to go around me.

No one honked. No one pressured me or passed too close. And the only driver who followed closer than I liked went around me once he realized I wasn’t going to get out of his way.

In other words, it was probably the most enjoyable experience I’d ever had taking the lane.

I can’t say I felt that way in Santa Monica.

When is a bike lane not a bike lane? When it's a work zone in Santa Monica.

First up was the bike lane on Arizona, in which I rode safely for exactly one block before being forced into the traffic lane by a city work crew. So I took my place in the lane, riding squarely down the middle and holding my place in a line cars until I could move safely back into the bike lane and leave them in my lurch.

As I was for the light to change, I noticed not everyone in Santa Monica like bikes.

When I got to 14th Street, I turned left and resumed my usual place just outside the door zone. For the first few blocks, the lane was wide enough that cars could pass easily on my left. Once it narrowed, I moved a little further into the lane, yet still far enough to the right that drivers could pass with just a little patience by briefly moving onto the other side of the road.

Sharrows on 14th Street are placed exactly in the center of the traffic lane/

That ended once the sharrows started.

Just as on Hermosa Avenue, the sharrows were placed directly in the middle of the traffic lane. But here it was on a two lane street, where drivers would be forced to go all the way onto the other side of the road to go around me.

The drivers behind me clearly had no intention of doing that. And I can’t say I blamed them.

So after awhile, I ignored the markings on the asphalt, and moved back to where I felt more comfortable on the right third of the lane — allowing the drivers behind to go around by briefly crossing over the center of the road, much to their relief. And mine.

It was then that I discovered my own personal sharrow comfort level.

UCLA's sharrows are placed in the right third of the traffic lane.

On roads with two lanes in each direction, I’m perfectly comfortable in the center of the lane, where anyone who wants to pass can simply take the other lane. I don’t have to worry about impatient drivers behind me, or feel like I’m not sharing the road myself.

Even though I’m quite comfortable riding in the center of the lane for short distances or when I’m moving at or near the speed of traffic, I prefer sharrows placed on the right third of the lane when there’s just one lane in each direction. Like the ones that I’ve used when riding through the UCLA campus the past few years.

This marking either means that a sharrow goes here, or your money went that way.

And judging by the placement markings that recently appeared on the street, exactly where it looks like LADOT is planning to place them on Westholme Ave.

It may not be the placement preferred by everyone.

But it keeps me out of the door zone while putting me in control of the lane — without blocking it completely.

And it’s the one I’m most comfortable with.

Yesterday’s ride, on which I discover sharrows on Westholme Ave — or maybe not

Easy come, easy go.

Ever since they went down on Fountain and 4th, I’ve been on sharrow watch along the routes I ride on a semi-regular basis. Which means Westholme Ave in Westwood and Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, since they’re the only two Westside streets scheduled to get sharrows as part the current pilot project.

Notice the misaligned chevrons on top of this painted-over sharrow.

So imagine my surprise when I found one on the upper portion of Westholme, just below Hilgard Ave and the UCLA campus. Even more surprising, it had been painted over completely, just leaving a shadow of its former self.

Then just a little further uphill, I found another one.

And this one seems a little squished.

For a moment, I thought that maybe LADOT had put the first few Westholme sharrows down, then changed their mind for some reason.

Oddly, though, the paint appeared to be flat, rather than the raised thermoplastic favored by LADOT. Then there was the unusual shape of the blacked out shadows, with one showing misaligned chevrons and the other seeming a little… squished.

Which raised the question of whether these were official street markings that had somehow been misapplied. Or if the Department of DIY was back in action, unwilling to wait a moment longer for their Westwood shared lanes. Or maybe they just wanted to ensure proper placement on the street.

Which then raised the question of who painted them over. Was it LADOT trying to cover up a mistake or remove an illegal DIY application? Or had NIMBY-ism once again reared its ugly head and a local homeowner decided that bikes don’t belong on his street?

Inquiring minds want to know. So I reached out to a contact at LADOT to see if they knew the real story. As it turns out, they did.

Those sharrows had been applied over two months ago as part of the initial study to survey cyclists and examine driver behavior before the real sharrows are installed, so the city would be able to determine what effect they have on both. Then they were immediately painted over to avoid confusing anyone — other than me, that is — until the more permanent markings are installed.

So the question isn’t what they were doing there, or even who painted over them. But why the hell I hadn’t noticed them before — despite riding directly over them at least a dozen times in the weeks that followed.

On the other hand, it does bring up a good point.

As much as I’ve criticized LADOT for requiring a study to prove the effectiveness of shared lane markings that have already been shown effective in real-world conditions around the globe, that’s exactly what it is.

A study.

The six initial installations are part of a test to determine how L.A. drivers and cyclists respond to sharrows, and if they actually make the city’s streets any safer for riders. Or if they just end up further aggravating L.A.’s already impatient drivers.

And exactly how, where — and if  — they’re used in the future will depend on the results.

………

Alex David Trujillo has been convicted of 2nd degree murder for the October, 2008 death of 46-year old Catherine Busse, who was killed as she rode next to her 14-year old son. Trujillo, who had previously been convicted of drunk driving and attended 9 months of court-ordered alcohol awareness classes, had a blood alcohol level of .09 at the time of the collision — hours after he’d stopped drinking — as well as Oxycodone, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma in his system.

He now faces 15 years to life in state prison; sentencing is scheduled for August 20th.

………

More on Friday’s successful LAPD accompanied Critical Mass — LADOT Bike Blog says it was clear from the start it was going to be successful, Sirinya had the time of her life, Stephen Box says it turned into a Ride of Respect and Damien says we all rode as one, even though LAist says a cyclist was hit by a car in West Hollywood.

………

Flying Pigeon asks if the lessons learned by the Dutch translate to L.A. cycling. CicLAvia is halfway to their goal of raising $7,000. Bicycle Fixation finds a bike corral at the Farmer’s Market. L.A. cyclists tour Pershing Square and the Downtown area. Oakland is the latest city to host a ciclovia. A Santa Cruz bank is held up by a bicyclist, but at least he wore a helmet. A cyclist from Lodi is seriously injured in Idaho after being brushed by a passing SUV, then hit by the following pickup after falling in the roadway, evidently because the sun got in their eyes; fortunately, the police didn’t buy the first driver’s excuse. Biking just five minutes a day helps women keep weight gains to a minimum; of course you wouldn’t get very far. Instructions on how to fix a flat tire; something I’ve done way too much lately. Now there are at least two bands that tour by bicycle. LCD Soundsystem’s new video features Portlanders jousting on tall bikes. A new website launches offering advice for cyclists — as well as drivers. A Florida driver pleads not guilty of stabbing two cyclists following an argument. Bike share comes to the City of Big Shoulders. Cyclists pitch in for Habitat for Humanity. Cincinnati passes a new Bike Master Plan and bike safety ordinance. New York requires every bike to have a bell, even if it doesn’t do any good. The old myth of cyclists not paying for the road rears its ugly head in Southwestern Colorado. Bicycling says don’t bet on Lance in this year’s Tour unless maybe you are Lance. Does Toronto need blue bike lanes? A former driver wasn’t prepared for the absolute concentration required by bike commuting. Sheffield, England calculates that their bike training program pays off seven pounds sterling for every pound invested. A London cyclist is seriously injured by a truck belonging to the same company that killed another cyclist earlier this year. Riding with London’s bike bobbies. Scotland boosts bike spending by £4 million — about $6 million U.S. Israel tells soldiers to leave their bikes at home. Brisbane cyclists are ticketed for speeding and not having a bell.

Finally, Dave Moulton says mandatory helmet laws are like allowing people to walk around shooting guns, then making everyone wear a bullet proof vest.

L.A. gets sharrows, and the newly revised bike plan is released. No, really.

Big news in the L.A. bike world.

Just days after L.A. got its first — and second — sharrows, LADOT Bike Blog announces that the long-awaited revision to the city’s proposed bike plan will be released on Friday.

What, is it February already?

In what is, for L.A. at least, a seemingly ambitious plan, LADOT is proposing 200 miles of new infrastructure — in addition to what’s already funded or in progress — at a rate of 40 miles a year for the next 5 years.

Not quite New York’s 50 miles a year, let alone their recent 200 miles of new bikeways in just three years. But it’s a start, assuming it’s not the biking equivalent of vaporware. And that the city actually funds it and follows through, which is far from a given.

The blog — which has become surprisingly good at providing the department’s perspective — says the new plan will go well beyond the traditional Class 1 Bike Path, Class 2 Bike Lane and Class 3 Bike Routes by introducing a number of new-to-L.A. innovations:

Bicycle Friendly Streets – Bicycle Friendly Streets are a bit of a catch-all for streets where we don’t have the room to install bicycle lanes, but we still want to make the street as safe and useful for bicyclists as possible.  Treatments for Bicycle Friendly Streets could include Sharrows, traffic circles, bulbouts, choker entrances, bicycle loop detectors, traffic diverters, lane striping, and other traffic calming devices – depending on the type of street and volume of traffic.  This coves a lot of streets in the mid-Wilshire area, where the streets are already pretty tight and there’s no way to fit in more infrastructure.  If you’ve seen the Bicycle Boulevards in Berkeley, you’ve got a good idea of what we’re aiming for.

Pilot Streets – These are streets that may be good candidates for the California Traffic Control Devices Committee (CTCDC) and federal (FHWA) Department of Transportation experimental project studies.  By arranging to do a CTCDC or federal project, the City can experiment with new infrastructure methods that normally aren’t allowed by Caltrans’ Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices(CA MUTCD).  As part of the federal experimental project, the federal government assumes legal liability for the project and offers technical and advisory assistance to the City in implementation.  The City, in turn, would be responsible for filing regular progress reports to the federal government.  For those who are fans of what Long Beach is doing for bike infrastructure, a lot of their projects were made possible through federal pilot projects.

Enhanced Bicycle Routes – Enhanced Bicycle Routes are current Bike Routes that the city would like to beef up.  These Bike Routes are usually on high-volume arterial streets that cannot fit a bike lane.  While these streets are too much of a thoroughfare to qualify for the treatments prescribed for “Bicycle Friendly Streets”, Enhanced Bicycle Routes may be eligible for Sharrows installation and enhanced signage.  The 2010 LA Bike Plan hopes to use Enhanced Bicycle Routes as a tool for “gap closure”, connecting the gaps between existing bike lanes on streets where a bike lane would not fit.

Transit Bike Lane – A Transit Bike Lane is a dedicated bus lane that also allows bicycle traffic.  You’ve probably seen signs on Figueroa Street near downtown to that effect.  City Planning hopes to implement similar Transit Bike Lanes in all places where dedicated bus lanes are going in, Wilshire Blvd. being an example.

Meanwhile, the LACBC notes that while some cyclists have complained about the placement of the sharrows on Fountain, others are excited to finally have a defined place on the road.

We understand the community’s concerns about proper placement of sharrows and we agree that in addition to getting sharrows on our streets the goal is to ensure that best practices are achieved. After contacting multiple bicycle advocacy organizations from different cities that have painted sharrows, LACBC has found that many place their sharrows at 11 or 12 feet and have reported positive reactions from local cyclists. We have also found that some cities paint them in the center of the lane or at 13 to 14 feet from the curb depending on lane width with very positive reactions from the community as well. Most of these cities reported following the guidelines as recommended from the San Francisco study and CAMUTCD code which states that the sharrow marking should be placed at a minimum of 11 ft, but optionally, the distance from the curb may be increased.

Moving forward, LACBC recommends that LADOT carefully consider alternate placement locations for sharrows depending on the lane width, traffic volume, size of parking lane, and other important factors that determine where they should be placed in order that sharrows are used effectively and appropriately when installed in the future. We also request that LADOT make it clear what the goals of the study are and maintain as much transparency as possible in order to build more trust within the community.

I rode the new 4th Street sharrows myself on Wednesday night, as I enjoyed an exceptionally pleasant rush hour ride to Downtown with a friend who knew all the back routes that I didn’t.

And while I didn’t measure them myself, they certainly seemed far enough from the curb. In fact, they were actually a little too far out in the lane for my taste.

But maybe I’ve just gotten a little too comfortable skirting the edge of the door zone over the years.

………

Speaking of the LACBC, they want to know what you think about the LAPD’s plans to crash next week’s Critical Mass; I’ve only been suggesting that the police join the ride for a couple years already.

And CicLAvia asks if a police-accompanied CM will really be a rolling ciclovía, and requests your help to kickstart the city’s first real ciclovía this fall.

………

RAAM continues as riders tweet from the Midwest. Spanish competitor Diego Ballesteros was hit by a car just east of Wichita when a driver drifted off the road and struck him from behind. He was airlifted to a local hospital in extremely critical condition, though reports indicate that his prospects for full recovery are good following surgery.

Mark Cavendish finds himself shaken, but not stirred, following his major crash in Tuesday’s sprint to the finish in the Tour of Switzerland, as other competitors protest his tactics and road rash takes him out of the competition. In non-Cavendish news, Rabobank’s Robert Gesink takes stage 6 and the overall lead. Meanwhile, the fallout from Landisgate continues.

Normally I’d be watching, but there’s this little sporting event in South Africa that has my attention right now, as Mexico reenacts Cinco de Mayo.

………

Thursday is Dump the Pump Day, as The Source reminds us.  And this is what L.A. may look like if we don’t dump our cars soon.

………

Cyclelicious reports that Gil Garcetti signed copies of his new book Paris, Women & Bikes — with forward by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Jen Klausner — Thursday night at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica. I flipped through the book at the River Ride earlier this month, and it’s a beautiful collection of photos on the subject; if you’re a fan of cycle chic, it’s worth checking out. The LACBC may have copies for sale soon.

If that name doesn’t quite ring a bell, Garcetti was L.A.’s District Attorney for eight tumultuous years, including the O.J. Simpson Trial; Thursday marked the 16th anniversary of the infamous slow speed chase. And rumor has it that Gil’s kid has a pretty good political career going himself, as well.

………

Here’s your chance to run L.A.’s other leading biking organization, as C.I.C.L.E. looks for a new executive director. Following the other day’s SMIDSY report, L.A.’s most entertaining bike blogger asks if an attractive woman in a pink dress riding a cargo bike with a huge potted plant can’t be seen by a driver, who can? Gary grows impatient with impatient drivers. LA Weekly reports on last week’s L.A. edition of the World Naked Bike Ride; not safe for work, as the Weekly notes; thanks to George Wolfberg for the link. Travelin’ Local looks at Los Angeles and Cities for Cycling. Dave Moulton offers a contrarian look at the recent Critical Mass Takedown. San Diego’s killer bike lane finally gets repaved. The bike-riding hit-and-run driver charged with intentionally attacking four cyclists in San Francisco pleads not guilty. The Reno paper looks at bike lawyer Bob Mionske prior to a speaking engagement in the other Nevada gambling town. New York police officers are in hot water for failing to report hitting a bike rider while driving on the wrong side of the street. A Phoenix rider is glad to have his bike lane, even if it is one just .117 of the time. The Obama administration is spending $1.2 billion to promote walking and cycling in the U.S.; thanks to Dr. Michael Cahn for the link. A federal study shows that biking and walking now account for 11.9% of all trips, while fatalities are down 12% and 22.3% respectively. Rock hopping and other stunts on a carbon Raleigh roadie. Scofflaws are scofflaws, regardless of vehicle. How to avoid big trouble with big trucks. How to stay cool in the long hot summer. Trek kills Gary Fisher, sort of. Bikes belong everywhere says Bikes Belong. The former Ugly Betty looks pretty good on her bike. A New England cyclist frightens drivers without even trying. Two St. Louis riders are shot by bike riding robbers. Brit train operators are trying to be more bike-friendly. A Prague tram driver chases down his runaway train by bike after it leaves the station without him.

Finally, five men have been found guilty for causing the death of a London cyclist who was inadvertently caught up in a two-vehicle dispute over a puppy. Yes, an innocent man died because fight over the price of a puppy.

And am I the only one who thinks Texas Rep. Joe Barton nominated himself for biggest political twit of the year Thursday morning?

Sharrows hit the streets of LA; Bicycle Kitchen’s epic 5th Anniversary benefit concert

Aurisha Smolarski of the LACBC rides the city's first sharrows; photo courtesy of LACBC

Evidently, LADOT finally figured out what kind of paint to put on the street.

In an event as unlikely and seemingly miraculous as Moses parting the Red Sea, L.A. saw its initial sharrows hit the pavement on Fountain Ave. in Hollywood today — the first in what is promised to be six test sites, as Los Angeles gingerly explores a concept that has already been proven in cities around the world.

And despite LADOT’s expressed concerns over what kind of paint to use so cyclists wouldn’t sue after slipping on wet paint, they ended up using the same thermoplastic paint usually used for lane markings.

LADOT workers prepare to put well-researched paint on the pavement; photo courtesy of LACBC

Go figure, huh?

Others have already reported the story in detail; Joe Linton offers the full long, sad history of the cycling community’s fight for shared lane markings.

Suffice it to say that today’s pilot project marks a rare victory for local cyclists, for which much of the credit goes to City Council President Eric Garcetti, who championed the project, and the LACBC, which has unrelentingly led the fight for the last five years.

Of course, the fight’s not over.

L.A. cyclists — and drivers — need to prove that these projects are successful before we’re likely to see another drop of paint in our lifetimes.

………

Click to enlarge

In upcoming bike events, Bicycle Kitchen celebrates their fifth anniversary with an Epic Benefit Concert and Silent Auction Saturday night.

Santa Monica Spoke invites one and all to their next meeting on Wednesday, featuring special guest Santa Monica City Council Member Terry O’Day.

Next weekend, Streetsblog holds it’s first fundraising ride on Friday, June 18, following the routes of L.A.’s old Yellow Car train lines through NELA. The next day, Saturday, June 19th, explore art and culture with the Folk Art is Everywhere Bike Tour, an easy 3.5 mile ride through Echo Park and historic Filipinotown.

And the second round of public workshops for the County Bicycle Master Plan continue throughout this month; next up is a meeting in Newhall on Thursday the 17th.

………

No objections on the Transportation Committee to a motion requiring developers to count bikes and pedestrians as well as cars; even LADOT supported it. Flying Pigeon makes the scene at the SoCal premier of Riding Bikes with the Dutch. LACBC recaps last Sunday’s River Ride, with a link to another great Flickr set of photos. California cyclists get pelted by passing motorists in a pickup. Local bicyclists plan to fight the bike ban in Blackhawk CO. The joys of cycling include giving random strangers a high five as they hail a cab. A teenage driver kills a cyclist while untangling his flip flops and walks away without charges. DC’s DOT Director asks local cyclists to just take a breath. Your summer reading list: 10 great books about bicycling. RAAM is on the road, making good time through the western U.S.; India’s top endurance rider aims for a top five finish. Lance calls a proposal for even more drug testing at the Tour de France “bullshit.” Six-hundred riders prepare to roll across Britain. A grown man shouldn’t be afraid to ride a bike in the street. Pink rides through Deutschland sans skidlid. Germany’s Defense Minister rides das fahrrad. Polite police warnings in Copenhagen. Protect your pedals, ‘cause there’s few things worse than an insecure bike. A 15-year old pseudo cop jacks 14 bikes before getting caught. A Canadian bike rider gets bit in the butt by a grizzly bear.

Finally, LA Eastside’s El Random Hero outs himself as a new member of the cycling community. Glad to have you on board, but seriously, get a light if you’re going to ride after dark; after all, it’s only your life we’re talking about.

I’d know that look anywhere

I grew up in Colorado, where men are men and sheep run scared. Or so the saying goes.

In fact, I grew up right in the heart of sheep country. My high school football team was even called — I kid you not — the Lambkins. Not exactly a name to strike fear the heart of opposing teams.

So I know that look.

The same one I saw in the face of the woman driving the BMW this afternoon.

I was cruising down a side street in Brentwood, making my way home from today’s ride when I saw her car waiting at a stop sign up ahead. I watched closely as she looked to her right and waited. And waited.

And waited.

Even though I knew better, I decided to ride past her, since I had the right of way and there was no way of knowing how long she was going to sit there. Besides, she still hadn’t cast a single glance to her left.

But sure enough, that was exactly when she started to turn left — without ever looking my direction.

So I yelled “Look out!” and jammed on my brakes; she hit hers and we both skidded to a stop, ending up with me directly in front of her. And as I looked at her, she gazed back with the same uncomprehending expression I normally associate with wool-wrapped ruminants.

I was tempted to say something, but it was clear it would just be a waste breath. So I shook my head and rode on, leaving her sitting there with that same blank look on her face.

Then there was the earlier incident, as I was just starting my ride, when I pulled away from a stop sign about the same time as an SUV going in the other direction — only to have her brake angrily as I blocked her from making the left she hadn’t signaled for.

Seeing her window open, I shouted, “Turn signal would be nice.”

And as I went by, I heard a woman in the crosswalk next to me say, “Yeah, good luck with that!”

……..

After nearly five years of delays, the Transportation Committee wants to see some progress on getting Sharrows on the street — official ones, this time. Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl wants some answers by next month; LAist says maybe by May; LADOT just says maybe.

………

Mark your calendar as last year’s successful — and fun — Bike Summit turns into this year’s new and improved Street Summit. LAPD asks for cyclists’ help in finding a sexual assault suspect. Will Campbell captures scofflaw pedestrians and a motorized red light runner, and sticks up for his Ballona, assaults and all. Photos from the first 60 days of the new Bikerowave. LACBC looks back on a successful 2009, and looks forward to 2010. The upcoming county bike plan will look at new paths along L.A. rivers and creeks, as well as improving existing bikeways, among others. Council Member Tom LaBonge would rather see bike stations than bike sharing. What do you do when Luckman Plaza won’t let you take your bike up the elevator? Sacramento ranks 4th in the U.S. in bicycle commuting. San Francisco’s Streetsblog looks at the statewide bicycle agenda for 2010. Springfield, MO gets bike lockers. Over a quarter of all traffic accidents collisions are caused by occur while drivers are on cellphones or texting. Boston Biker looks at drivers arguments from a cyclist’s perspective. Yellow Springs, OH cyclists are encouraged to use the whole lane. Manchester’s new bikes on trains policy make Metro’s limitations seem generous. As L.A. considers a three-foot passing distance, Ireland raises the ante to nearly five feet — 4.921259842519685 feet, to be exact. A call for improved biking infrastructure, or any for that matter, in Karachi. Finally, the world’s Top 10 Cycling Cities; oddly, Los Angeles isn’t on the list.

Go figure.

Dept. of DIY strikes again and other missing links

Never seems to fail.

The most interesting stories seem to happen when I’m tied up with work, or busy writing something else — like last yesterday’s open letter to 5th District Council Member Paul Koretz.

Photo courtesy of Ubrayj02/Flickr

Which is why I’m late in reporting the latest efforts from the city’s leading producers of biking infrastructure, the Department of DIY. As well as the first sharrows to appear on L.A. streets, at an undisclosed location somewhere in the vicinity the Bike Oven.

The first report — at least, the first one I saw — showed up on the website of the Flying Pigeon bike shop, from whom I stole the above photo. And was soon confirmed on LA Streetsblog.

I’ll let them tell the story, since they got there first and told it best.

But consider this.

In just one weekend, the Department of DIY put in more sharrows than LADOT has (i.e., zero), with more money and years of planning.

And the phenomenon seems to be spreading to New York.

………

Speaking of infrastructure, Richard Risemberg — aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation — urges business people to support the 4th St. Bicycle Boulevard, while Portland and Copenhagen offer innovative new designs. If you missed last weekend’s St. Anne’s Toy Ride, Midnight Ridazz offers the 4th Annual All City Toy Ride this Friday, converging on Downtown from multiple starting points. Altadenablog reports on last weekend’s Tour of Pasadena’s Northern Neighbor, while LA Cycle Chic covers the Black Kids on Bikes’ Freedom Ride. The Daily Breeze reports on the newly formed South Bay Bicycle Coalition. Will Campbell encounters a truly bizarre driver. The big-hearted people at L.A. Greensters transport more than just toys to St. Anne’s. Long Beach’s cycling expats offer a 2010 calendar with photos from their tour of the West Coast, while Russ offers a great discussion of the Great Fear. Flying Pigeon offers an end-of-year clearance, while Cynergy Cicles offers a free lecture on Nutrition, Hydration and Recovery Techniques Wednesday night. Levi looks forward to his 4th TofC title. NPR discovers cargo bikes. Evidently, you can transport anything by bike, even a stolen Christmas Tree. Milwaukee considers bowing to existing reality, and making bike licensing optional. Delaware is the latest to consider a three-foot passing law. A history of cycling in the Windy City. This Friday, you can take your bike into your office in New York. The University of Cincinnati may have finished the football season undefeated, but they can’t seem to protect bikes on campus. Next on the list of cycling celebs, a winter-riding Rachel McAdams. A writer in Prague regrets punching out the cabbie who ran them off the road. The Godmother of bicycling promotes designs for women. British cyclists are freedom fighters, not menaces. London police seek a naked cyclist. Finally, tomorrow’s bike-only Transportation Committee meeting — and Rosendahl’s proposed anti-harassment ordinance — makes news across the Atlantic.

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