Tag Archive for spandex-clad cyclists

The cost of traffic violence, vehicular cyclists versus protected bike lanes, and why people keep dying on the streets

This is the cost of traffic violence.

A British woman describes firsthand what it’s like to survive — barely — a near-fatal collision with a truck driver while riding her bike to church.

I heard a loud bang. A heavy thud. A violent bump. It was me. It was the noise of my body slamming against the lorry. And then falling to the ground.

I couldn’t work out what was happening. My heart was in my throat. I was staring up at the beautiful, bright blue sky, but at the same time sinking into darkness.

I was in excruciating pain as the heavy truck’s wheels – of which there were 12 in total – ran over my leg.

It’s a powerful story.

Especially this part.

I was desperate to see my kids, but I didn’t want to scare them. After two days, I put on my bravest face and held them when they visited me.

My son said, “Mummy, you’re not ready to die. We haven’t finished our story yet.”

Fortunately, she made it. And kept her leg, thanks to five separate surgeries, including one 12 hour marathon.

But something else to consider.

While she doesn’t mention it in her story, one vital aspect in getting back on her feet was the UK’s National Health Service, which meant she didn’t leave the hospital with a massive bill like she would have in the US.

In fact, chances are, she paid little or nothing, despite her month-long hospital stay.

So she was able to go home to her family and resume her life, even writing a book about her experiences.

Instead of being forced into bankruptcy like so many Americans after a similar experience.

………

The San Diego Union-Tribune takes a deep dive into the city’s new protected bike lane network, and the problems it causes for some in the spandex-clad set.

“This is to attract the all-ages and abilities groups that are just trying to go places within their communities, but if you need to go fast, the (car) lane is always open,” said Everett Hauser, a traffic engineer focusing on bicycle infrastructure for the city of San Diego.

Many new projects around the region also include bicycle-specific traffic lights at busy intersections and reconfiguring streets to encourage slower driving especially at tight turns.

Still, not everyone’s convinced.

“These protected bike lanes that have appeared in the last few years are the most dangerous thing that’s ever happened to bicycling in San Diego,” said Ralph Elliott, 70, historian of the San Diego Bicycle Club and a member for more than 50 years. “They’re unsafe. If there’s a car door in your face, somebody’s walking in the protected bike lane, skateboarding in the lane, dog in the lane all that’s dangerous because you can’t get out.”

Most studies don’t bear that out, however.

A recent 13-year study of 12 large international cities shows that separated and protected bike lanes improve safety for all road users, reducing traffic deaths by 44%.

Although a lot depends on the design and quality of the protected lanes.

But as the story points out, protected bike lanes are designed for casual bike riders who might not feel safe mixing with motorists.

Club riders and other experienced bicyclists who don’t want to slow down should be free to continue riding in the regular traffic lanes, where their speed won’t pose a danger to themselves or others.

………

Sadly, two SoCal bicycle riders lost their lives over the weekend.

On Saturday, a 75-year old man was killed by a semi-driver in an Oxnard crash.

And on Sunday, a motorcycle rider somehow slammed into the trailing rider on a group ride in East San Diego County near Jamul; both the bicyclist and the motorcyclist died at the scene.

Two more tragic reminders that our streets aren’t safe enough for people on bicycles. And our safety is still in the hands of those we share the road with.

………

This is why people continue to die on our streets.

An Iowa man who deliberately drove his car through a group of racial justice protestors because he thought they needed “an attitude adjustment” walked without a single day behind bars, despite leaving several injured people in his wake. To make matters worse, his conviction will be expunged if he stays out of trouble for three short years.

And a North Dakota woman walked away with two years probation after intentionally running down a man she’d been arguing with as he attempted to ride away on his bike.

………

Take a 59-second mountain bike break.

………

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

A 73-year old Novato, California woman blames a pair of aggressive mountain bikers for spooking her horse, resulting in a broken wrist, shattered eye socket and a broken jaw that had to be wired shut. Seriously, don’t do that.

………

Local

Former Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge died unexpectedly last week at 67; he was known for his frequent recreational rides through his district, though he also blocked a number of bike projects, including the long-planned 4th Street Bike Boulevard.

Streets For All says there’s still time to run for your neighborhood council; a Thursday webinar will discuss how you can add more bike and pedestrian voices to your council — starting with yours.

Glendora wants your input on plans to improve bicycle access to the city’s upcoming Gold Line — aka L Line – station.

 

State

A La Jolla woman ‘fesses up to being the person who installed a free trading post along a bike path in the city.

Federal authorities seized 600 girls bikes worth $84,000 that were headed to a company in San Bernardino County; the Chinese-made bikes had an excessive level of lead in their pink paint.

A Lompoc paper considers the role the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition plays in making the streets safer and more equitable for people on bicycles.

After barely surviving stage four throat cancer, a Bakersfield man took to two wheels to regain his life.

No San Francisco, a sharrow on a four-lane arterial roadway does not a safe bicyclist make.

 

National

Bicycling says the best deals are on used bikes these days, and wants to help with your shopping by listing what they consider the best buys.

Cycling Tips offers more details on the proposed class action lawsuit alleging Trek vastly overstated the effectiveness of their WaveCel technology for Bontrager bike helmets.

A young former soap opera star is one of us, as the kid who played Danny Morgan on General Hospital needed a number of stitches after doing a face plant off his bike.

There’s a special place in hell for whoever stole a paraplegic Denver man’s three wheeled adaptive handcycle.

It’s been eight months since a Colorado woman disappeared after reportedly going for a Mother’s Day bike ride; no trace has been found, despite a massive search.

After setting out to ride 2,020 miles across the US in 2020, a South Dakota teenager overshot the mark, ending up with almost 3,000 miles.

Good news from North Carolina, where a 14-year old girl was found safe, three weeks after she had disappeared while riding her bike.

 

International

Now your bike can actively remove pollution from the air, rather than just not adding to it.

A writer for Bike Radar says it’s worth the time and research required to ride comfortably in the winter. Although in LA, that sometimes means just deciding to go with a lower SPF.

Conde Nast Traveler recommends seven bike trails from around the world, from India to Germany — including our own beachfront Marvin Braude Bike Trail.

Forget how well it protects your head; what really matters about your new bike helmet is whether it works with you ponytail.

A Vancouver man set a new world’s record by riding 7,100 miles to visit 24 European capitals in just six months.

Road.cc calls it an “unexpected outbreak of common sense” as bicyclists get a rule overturned banning bikes from a shopping district, even if they’re just being walked.

London’s city council will take another look at the knee-jerk removal of a popular bike lane after drivers complained it was causing congestion; since the removal, drivers have just used it as a parking lane. As we’ve said before, though, the only real cause of traffic congestion is too many cars.

After riding nearly 50 miles just to get there, a group of men are turned away from a Welsh bike trail for breaking the UK’s lockdown restrictions; they’re told they’ll face arrest if they come back.

British and European bike brands remain in flux as they struggle to adapt to the new Brexit trade rules.

The pandemic-fueled bike boom manifested itself in Ireland, as well, as the city of Cork saw a 35% jump in bicycling last year.

This is what LA could be doing, but isn’t. Paris has approved a $300 million plan to convert the car-choked Champs-Élysées into “an extraordinary garden” running over a mile across the city.

Record-setting 109-year old bike racer Robert Marchand wrote a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, asking that bicyclists be exempted from Covid lockdown rules that restrict biking or running to within roughly two-thirds of a mile from home.

A new Belgian ebike parking unit allows you to securely lock up your heavy bike, while recharging the battery.

Another Chinese bikeshare bicycle dumping ground swamps the city of Chengdu.

No bias here. A Singapore paper asks if bicyclists and drivers can ever get along — but only includes rules for the people on two wheels, with barely a word on how motorists can drive safely around people on bikes.

 

Competitive Cycling

German doctor Mark Schmidt faces up to five and a half years behind bars, as well as losing his medical license for five years for his role in the Operation Aderlass doping scandal that took down at least six riders on the pro tour.

 

Finally…

You can’t use stadium seats for sports fans anymore, so you might as well use them to display your massive team cycling jersey collection. If you’re going to steal a tip jar from a business, don’t leave the bike you stole behind.

And yes, the royal family rides bikes, too.

………

Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a damn mask, already. 

Today’s post, in which I take umbrage at Lance Armstrong wannabes

Let’s go back to that letter from Colorado I mentioned earlier in the week.

Something about it has been bugging me ever since I read it — aside from her insistence that cyclists could best share the road by staying the hell off it. And what bothered me was that she was about the two-millionth person I’ve seen refer to a certain class of cyclists as spandex-clad Lance Armstrong wannabes.

Sooner or later, it’s bound to turn up in just about any blog, discussion, comments or forum in which someone, anyone, complains about cyclists. In fact, Google the exact phrase “Lance Armstrong wannabe,” and you’ll get about 37,800 hits.

Okay, 37,801 now.

It’s become so common that I thought some bike hater like Rush Limbaugh must have trademarked the phrase by now.

Problem is, it’s not the least bit accurate.

It assumes that everyone who rides a road bike — particularly if they wear clothes designed for high visibility, wind resistance, moisture wicking, comfort and minimal chafing — fits into one easily defined category. And that category is defined by a desire to emulate the world’s greatest cyclist.™

I mean, I admire the guy. I’ve loved watching him decimate a peloton over the years. But just because I ride a road bike and wrap myself in skin tight, bright colored clothes that look like an explosion at a tutti frutti factory, it doesn’t mean I want to be him.

Then again, considering that I bought my first adult bike when Lance was just 9 years old, it’s entirely possible that he might have wanted to be me at some point — however briefly. Besides, the only rider I ever dreamed of emulating was the incomparable Eddie Merckx. And that only lasted until I passed my first driver’s test.

The simple fact is, if you get a half dozen road bikers together, you’ll get at least that many different types of riders.

Some race. Some ride fast, some ride slow. Some spin around the block, while others go for ultra distance. Some prefer group rides. And some, like myself, prefer to ride alone.

Which doesn’t mean I’m entirely anti-social.

Some run red lights and stops signs — sometimes only when it’s safe, and sometimes with a riding style that would make a kamikaze cringe. Some are rich, some are poor, some are courteous, some are not. And most fit somewhere in between.

About the only thing we all have in common is that we’re all unique in our own unique way.

Calling us all Lance Armstrong wannabes is no more accurate than suggesting that donning the old Stetson I inherited from my dad makes me a John Wayne wannabe. Or that a truck driver’s baseball cap means he really wants to be Albert Pujols or Manny Ramirez.

And I don’t think all those people wearing Lakers jerseys around this town really want to be Kobe Bryant. Although I’m sure most of them wouldn’t mind his paycheck for a week or two.

It’s stupid, it’s lazy and a sure indication that the user doesn’t understand what the hell he or she is talking about.

But other than that, I don’t have a problem with it.

………

Alex Thompson calls on the League of American Bicyclists to get their Santa Monica bronze-awarding act together. LA Eastside notes today is the city’s 227th birthday. But it doesn’t look at day over 215. Really. Bicycle Fixation says there may be hope for L.A.’s 4th Street Hudson River. San Diego is about to get new bike and pedestrian bridges, while Contra Costa calls for a network of multi-use bike and walking trails. Portland is working on 15 miles of new bike boulevards. The Springfield Cyclist achieves his life’s goal of being a pain in the a$$. Finally, a Kansas college students says those damn bikes can just ruin your whole day, and it’s their fault if you spill coffee on your pants. Really. A Toronto bike cop says you are, in fact, entitled to the whole lane. Anger rises over a British researcher’s suggestion that more people died from taking up cycling afterwards than died in the 7/7 terrorist attacks. Even north of the border, sharing the road ain’t always easy. Finally, a drunk-driving, hit-and-run scumbag and his wife try to blame his permanently disabled victim. There are no words…

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