Tag Archive for Streetsblog Los Angeles

Council committee delays adoption of uninspired LADOT Strategic Plan, and Insta users want carfree Hollywood Blvd

Before we get started, I hope you’ll join me in thanking our title sponsor Pocrass & De Los Reyes for renewing their sponsorship for the coming year. Keeping up with this site is a more than full-time job, and it’s the support of our sponsors, and people like you, who make it possible. 

Photo by Valeria Boltneva from Pexels.

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Maybe we’re lucky they pulled the plug yesterday.

At almost the last minute, Streets For All sent out a notification that the city council’s Transportation Committee would consider LADOT’s new Strategic Plan for the next four years at yesterday’s virtual meeting.

That’s the weak-kneed plan we mentioned last month, which sets the bar so low agency staffers have to be careful not to trip over it on the way to work every morning.

Here’s how Streetsblog’s Joe Linton summed it up.

In his introductory statement, Mayor Garcetti calls the plan “an honest, assertive strategy that reflects my priorities for LADOT as your mayor.” While there are laudable goals in the plan, it is anything but “assertive,” except perhaps assertively reiterating that there will be little change to L.A. streets’ status quo. Overall the plan does feel very Garcetti: proclaim lots of great high-minded much-needed goals (Vision Zero, more bikes, more CicLAvias), set some far-off benchmarks, then deliver very little, and avoid courting even minimal confrontation – especially with drivers.

It’s sad just how accurate that is. Garcetti’s tenure has been marked by bold, visionary plans that never seem to manifest on the streets.

Or anywhere else.

Apparently, LADOT has figured out his management style, and now takes care to underpromise, knowing they’ll probably live down to it.

Again, this is how Linton saw it yesterday.

The most dismal portion of the document is in the Health and Safety section, which includes active transportation – walking and bicycling. LADOT states that its goal is to “increase the share of people walking and biking to support healthy communities.” This is the action with which LADOT plans to accomplish this:

“Complete one major active transportation project (such as a protected bike lane on a major street) per year to support the build out of a comprehensive network of active transportation corridors in the city.”

Really. One major project each year. That’s by a department with a $500+million budget, in a city with four million people, more than 6,000 miles of streets, and an approved plan for hundreds of miles of new bikeways by 2035. One major project per year, which might be a protected bike lane… who knows for what distance.

That was exactly my take on it, too.

Garcetti recruited one of the county’s most respected transportation planners in Seleta Reynolds, and brought her in, supposedly, to transform our streets and reduce the city’s ever-growing reliance on motor vehicles.

You can see how well that worked out.

Unless you happen to live Downtown, where a PeopleForBikes-funded initiative spurred some change, chances are you haven’t seen a single infrastructure improvement where you actually live and ride.

Evidently, they plan to keep it that way. And keep LA deadly in the process.

More worthwhile goals paired with minimum implementation show up in this section on Vision Zero:

“Continue to deliver high impact safety treatments on the High Injury Network (HIN), including an annual multimillion dollar signal program and significant roadway improvements to priority corridors”

The disappointing key word here is, arguably, “continue.” The city never actually got around to funding and implementing those “high impact safety treatments” and “significant roadway improvements,” largely due to resistance from city council and backlash from drivers. The plan appears to signal that the city’s weak steps toward Vision Zero will continue to be weak.

The one bit of good news comes in regards to CicLAvia, with a dramatic increase in open streets events.

Although as Linton points out, we’ve heard all that before.

The new plan calls for more CicLAvia events:

“Increase the frequency of open streets events to monthly by 2022 and to weekly by 2023.”

This sounds depressingly familiar. Garcetti’s Sustainability pLAn called for more CicLAvias back in 2015. LADOT’s 2014 Strategic Plan had monthly CicLAvias in 2017.  In 2020 Garcetti pledged to make CicLAvia weekly by 2022. Why keep pushing back the goalposts for what is probably the most popular event in the history of Los Angeles? What’s the hold-up?

Linton’s piece spells out a pattern of repeated downsizing of the agency’s goals, followed by a repeated failure to live up to them.

If that sounds depressing, it is.

Along with a waste of Reynold’s talents.

But that’s what the Transportation Committee was being asked to agree to yesterday, before the meeting was cancelled just before the 3 pm start time.

Maybe we’ll get a little more notice before it comes up before the committee again, so we can call in and demand better.

And in the meantime, we can all contact our councilmembers — especially the ones on the Transportation Committee — and tell them to reject this shameful effort to avoid making any meaningful commitment to change.

Other cities around the world have shown it can be done, and done quickly.

It’s long past time we expected that, too.

Correction — Call it a false alarm. According to a comment from Streetsblog’s Joe Linton, LADOT’s pitiful strategic plan has already been carved it stone, and the council was just going to talk about it after the fact.

How sad is that?

fwiw – the Strategic Plan is already published/adopted – it’s just an executive thing from LADOT – doesn’t need to be approved by City Council. The T-Committee meeting yesterday was set to discuss it – but not to adopt it.

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According to a nonscientific poll of Instagram users, Hollywood Blvd in Los Angeles is one of eight city streets around the world people want to see go carfree, along with Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Then again, it’s not just people outside of LA who are begging for that.

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After yesterday’s discussion of protected bike lanes, let’s remember who they’re really for.

https://twitter.com/JuliaRidesBikes/status/1366240769741266948

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A mobile repair service funded in part by a small state grant has fixed 428 bikes in eight communities on the Navajo Nation to help get kids on their bikes.

The nonprofit service is also teaching kids how to fix their own bikes, since there isn’t a single brick-and-motor bike shop on the 29,500 square mile Hopi and Navajo reservation.

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

Seattle’s bike-hating radio jerk, uh, jock is back at it again, calling bike advocates delusional for fighting a bike helmet law that is disproportionately enforced against people of color, with Black bike riders ticketed at four times the rate of white riders.

A Brazilian bike rider discovers even nature is out to get us, after getting bombed by a helmet-cracking jackfruit.

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

An Idaho man could serve up to five years behind bars after being convicted of riding his bike over an hour to stalk a woman in another town who had a protection order against him. Although he could serve just a year if he successfully completes a diversionary program.

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Local

LA Times columnist Patt Morrison examines why so few people jaywalk in Los Angeles, pointing the finger at a heavy-handed police response not seen in other cities. Although under California law, it’s not illegal unless you cross on a block controlled by traffic signals or police officers on either end.

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against LADOT’s data-sharing requirement for micromobility providers, which was filed by the ACLU on behalf of a group of plaintiffs.

Everyone’s least favorite 007 is one of us, as 81-year old George Lazenby used his ebike to go shopping in Santa Monica.

 

State

Tragic news from San Bernardino, where a 29-year old Cherry Valley man was fatally shot in a driveby while riding his bike.

You can now subscribe to a bicycle in Davis,while the Cycling Tips podcast wants to know if you’d lease a roadie.

American Canyon approves plans for a wine warehouse after the company commits to fill an 800-foot gap in a bike path to meet an obligation to offset vehicular traffic.

 

National

A new proposal in the US Congress would commit states to design and build Complete Streets that are safer for everyone.

Yanko Design considers mostly tech-inspired bicycle accessories designed to make your rides “safe, secure and fun.” Including zip-on bike tire treads and a bike helmet that looks like it was inspired by Devo.

Bicycling says it’s time to move ebikes way up on your to do list. As usual, you can read it on Yahoo if Bicycling blocks you.

Speaking of which, the New York Times examines the growing confluence of ebikes and bikeshare.

The Manual makes some interesting picks for the nine best fat bikes.

An op-ed for Cycling Tips questions why tech progress is so slow for road bikes, compared to other types of bicycle.

A couple in New Mexico have joined the fight against distracted drivers after the husband was critically injured by one while riding his bike, spending the last year attempting to recover from his injuries.

A North Carolina teenager was shot in a driveby while riding in his own neighborhood; he may have to carry the bullet near his spine for the rest of his life.

 

International

Bike Radar explains how to assemble your internet-bought bike in a box in ten relatively easy steps.

A new ebike promises to let you haul up to 400 pounds, for when you really need to carry a load.

People who bought a futuristic-looking bespoke 3D printed bike on Indiegogo last year aren’t happy, with many still waiting for delivery, and disappointed by the devolving design.

A London investor is understandably livid that police cited a lack of witnesses in refusing to file charges against a truck driver who crashed into his bike — even though the crash was caught on a security cam.

A former soldier from the UK who can no longer walk, talk or swallow after suffering a brain injury in Iraq rode 60 miles on an adaptive stationary bike to raise funds for other wounded veterans.

While Lime rolls out it’s 4th generation ebike, complete with phone and cup holders, they’e giving new life to old ebike batteries by partnering with a British company to make rechargeable portable speakers.

If art school design students have their way, these are the ebikes you’ll be riding through European cities in the not-too-distant future.

Streetsblog considers how the Dutch manage to maintain bike lanes during the winter, when American cities can’t seem to manage it.

 

Competitive Cycling

New pro cyclist Ayesha McGowan is hosting a free virtual summit later this month to celebrate the joy of bike riding for BIPOC — aka Black, indigenous and people of color — bicyclists. Once again, read it on Yahoo if Bicycling blocks you.

 

Finally…

Nothing like stealing a bike to ride to city hall, and stand shirtless in the middle of the road yelling at cars. When bourbon infused cold brew coffee isn’t enough, put a bicycle selfie station inside to draw the crowds.

And who knew that car-choked, bike-unfriendly Los Angeles is an ideal city?

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

Bike League addresses South LA bike rider killed by deputies, Streetsie Awards announced, and don’t be a schmuck

I may have to start a new religion. 

Three days after my laptop died, it somehow miraculously resurrected itself yesterday morning. 

No assurances that it’s up and running for good, but at least it gives me a chance to catch up on this week’s news. And maybe buy a little time to come up with the money to replace it. 

Photo by Life Matters from Pexels.

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The Bike League offered a statement on the killing of Black bike rider Dijon Kizzee in South LA last week, seemingly shot in the back by sheriff’s deputies as he tried to run away from a traffic stop.

I’d planned on just posting an except from it, but the whole thing is worth reading.

Dijon Kizzee was a bicyclist. He was a person on a bike. He was a Black man in America on a bike.

According to police reports he was doing something illegal on a bike, violating a section of the traffic code. As most people who bike know, most of the traffic code was not created for them; is not known by many people, including law enforcement; and is enforced in a highly discretionary manner. Much of the traffic code that deals with bicycling is focused on protecting the rider from the drivers of motor vehicles that we share streets with. We as an organization are committed to doing whatever we can to make bicycling safe for everyone, including reducing interactions between bicyclists and the police that can escalate into violence.

A biking code violation should never lead to police violence and deadly force.

Dijon Kizzee died after being stopped while bicycling. A protected bike lane or statutory change would be unlikely to change that.

Racism is much larger than bicycling, but to make safe streets for everyone requires confronting racism. Confronting institutional racism in our justice systems, police practices, and cycles of investment is necessary to make safe streets for everyone.

To make sure that #BlackLivesMatter to us as a bicycling organization, bicycling while Black must be treated as a threat to the safety of bicycling in the same way that we treat lack of infrastructure, distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, and the many other things that people think of when they think of bicycle safety.

Los Angles Sheriff Alex Villanueva says the department has almost concluded its investigation of the shooting, and is just waiting to interview one of the deputies, who still hasn’t spoken with investigators over ten days after the shooting.

Meanwhile, there’s this hard-hitting piece by a Black writer, who wonders when we’ll talk about the fear Black people experience as they walk their dogs, ride their bikes and work in their yards, as opposed to a fear of Blackness.

An Asian man in Garden Grove was the victim of a racist rant from a neighbor as he rode a stationary bike in his garage; the woman only left after he picked up a knife. Needless to say, the woman’s husband insisted she’s not racist and it was all a misunderstanding. Hint: If you don’t recognize your own neighbor, and describe him as having “slanted eyes,” you’re pretty damn racist.

And an Illinois woman faces hate crime charges for trying to run Black bike riders off the Winnetka Pier, falsely telling them they needed a permit to be there. Correction: I originally wrote that the incident took place on Chicago’s Navy Pier, rather than Winnetka. Thanks to Andy Stow for the correction.

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Congratulations to BikinginLA sponsors Jim Pocrass and Josh Cohen on being honored with this year’s Streetsblog LA Streetsie Awards.

Other honorees include LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Culver City Councilmember and former Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells, LA City Commissioner and CicLAvia Chief Strategist Tafarai Bayne, and climate advocacy group Climate Resolve.

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This one’s definitely worth the click. And maybe even a few copycats.

Thanks to W. Corylus for the heads-up.

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That feeling when you can’t decide whether to build a cycle track or a pump track.

bike lane in Körmend, Hungary from UrbanHell

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Leslie Jones is one of us now, too.

https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/1302365492070379520

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It takes a major schmuck to tell a handicapped bicyclist who doesn’t have use of his legs that he can’t use his mobility device on public trail.

Whether or not it’s technically within the rules.

Seriously, don’t be this guy.

https://twitter.com/KalhanR/status/1304259089262931969

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

An unlicensed driver faces charges for intentionally trying to run down a mother riding with her young daughter, after they complained he was blocking a San Francisco bike lane.

DC authorities are looking for a driver who intentionally ran down a man riding a bike; for a change, the police are treating it as a homicide.

An Ontario, Canada letter writer says bike lanes should be built on a “use it or lose it” basis, suggesting they should be removed if not enough people use them. Maybe we should put the same rule in place for motor vehicles.

No bias here. A British tabloid exposes the “secret” hand signs that bicyclists use to warn other riders about road hazards, which drivers apparently aren’t supposed to know about.

No bias here, either. A British motoring magazine says Covid-19 is being used as an excuse to rob drivers of their precious traffic lanes, and motorists need to keep fighting to claw them back.

Or here, as a British tabloid goes ballistic claiming a fire truck became stuck by a planter intended to block traffic on a Slow Street — even though the fire captain said in the same article that they didn’t get stuck, and supported the traffic restrictions as a safety measure.

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

A group of New York firefighters chased down and detained a bike-riding man who swerved onto the sidewalk to punch a 60-year old woman, apparently at random.

A Saskatchewan woman suffered serious injures when she was struck by a bike rider who rang his bell before plowing into her; the crash may or may not have been his fault, but leaving the scene afterwards was.

Seriously, don’t be that person, part two. A woman on a bike rode off without an apology after being confronted by a child’s mother for hitting and dragging her one-year old daughter in a London Park.

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Local

Surprise! It’s Bike Month in LA County, such as it is this year. Instead of Bike to Work Day, we’ll have Ride a Bike Day on Tuesday the 22nd, aka World Car Free Day; you can celebrate virtually with Burbank and the LACBC.

This is how you change the world. South LA’s East Side Riders Bike Club has been serving a free breakfast to the community all summer; now they’re extending hours to feed children before school, and working on serving lunch.

Look, we get it. It’s great that the former Governator is one of us. But we really don’t need to see daily photos of his daily ebike rides through Santa Monica.

 

State

The bike boom is going full force in San Diego, where a new study shows bicycling rates shot up 40% over last year since the Covid-19 stay at home order was issued.

Highland police will conduct a bike and pedestrian safety enforcement crackdown today. Standard protocol applies — ride to the letter of the law until you cross the city limits, so you’re not the one who gets ticketed.

A Big Bear bike rider says it’s time to dust off the local bike plans, because there are too many drivers “who either don’t see cyclists or don’t like cyclists on the road.”

The family of a Vallejo bike rider will receive a $6 million settlement from the city, after he was fatally shot by a cop who wanted to warn him about riding on a busy street.

A Los Altos bike rider describes roads emptied by the fires in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties as a cycling Nirvana. Even if everyone was being asked to stay off them.

Santa Clara-based chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices is getting into the bike business with a pair of eponymous ebikes.

 

National

Nice read from a new bike rider, who comes to the realization that it’s okay to take up space on a bike. And that some drivers insist on getting in front, even when it’s not smart.

Cannondale is recalling defective front racks on some of its Treadwell bike models.

A bike rider documented the destruction from a wildfire that ravaged his southern Oregon town.

Now that’s more like it. A Nebraska man got 18 years behind bars for the hit-and-run death of a Colorado bike rider; that compares with just four years for a similar crime in Los Angeles.

A Texas man is riding 3,000 miles around the perimeter of the state, after previously riding 4,900 miles through every street in Austin.

This is why you don’t chase down a bike thief. A Wisconsin teenager faces an attempted murder charge for repeatedly shooting a man who chased after him when the teen allegedly stole a bike from his property.

Chicago has seen a spike in bicycling fatalities, with seven deaths so far this year, including the first death on city’s e-bikeshare.

This is the cost of traffic violence. An assistant Brooklyn DA and experienced bicyclist was killed when she was struck by the driver of a charter bus while riding her bike; advocates point the finger at New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for failing to make the city safer. De Blasio responded by saying if you think riding a bike in the city sucks now, just imagine what it would be like without him.

New York’s spare mayor, who would take over if de Blasio stepped down for any reason, says he worries about his own safety while riding a bike, after getting hit by a driver while riding last week.

New York bike advocates call on the NYPD to stop prematurely blaming bike riders for their own deaths before even conducting an investigation.

No charges have been filed against a pro-Trump driver who plowed into a group of bike riders last week at a Black Lives Matter protest in New York’s Times Square.

Someone please tell “Northern Virginia’s leading news source” that robbing, assaulting and exposing yourself to people on a local bike trail is not the same as aggressive bicycling.

A group of North Carolina seniors were heroes after finding four grand in cash while on a bike ride, then tracking down the money’s owner who had literally lost his nest egg.

 

International

Once again, a bike rider is a hero, as a Canadian medical resident biking home from work came across someone passed out in the street, and was able to save their life with a dose of naxalone.

One of Canada’s best-know tech investors was paralyzed from the waist down when he was struck by the driver of jackknifed truck as he was riding his bike last week.

London bicyclists were twice as likely to be seriously injured or killed by speeding drivers during the city’s coronavirus lockdown.

Life is cheap in Wales, where a driver walked after playing the universal Get Out of Jail Free card, claiming he couldn’t see the bike-riding man he killed because the sun was in his eyes. A second driver played the same card in the same crash, but a jury didn’t buy it in her case.

Good for her. The wife of a fallen British bicyclist unleashed her fury on the court for the lenient sentence given her husband’s killer, who got just six months for hitting him head-on while speeding on the wrong side of the road.

Tragic news, as a well-known 86-year old UK bicyclist died while trying to ride the length of the country for a second time, after he was found in the roadway suffering from serious head injuries; he’d completed the 621-mile ride once before when he was 77.

A Berlin court ordered city officials to remove popup bike lanes that had been installed during the pandemic, after opponents accused them of using it to push through their traffic agenda.

Bollywood star Salmon Khan is one of us. Then again, he’s also an accused hit-and-run driver who was never held accountable.

An Indian man had a little time on his hands during the country’s coronavirus lockdown. So he used it to build an eco-friendly wooden bicycle.

Kenyans are taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to fall in love with bicycling again.

Tokyo responds to the worldwide bike boom by doing exactly what Los Angeles has failed to do, building bike lanes on 62 miles of major roadways to accommodate the increase in bicycling.

 

Competitive Cycling

By now, it’s not a spoiler to report Britain’s Adam Yates put up a fight before losing the yellow jersey earlier this week, and said leading the Tour de France was fun while it lasted.

French favorite Julian Alaphilippe faltered when his legs gave out on a breakaway yesterday.

Italy’s Fabio Aru had to abandon the Tour due to physical issues that the Former Vuelta winner doesn’t understand himself.

Cycling Weekly catches up with everyone who’s gotten a financial slap on the wrist in this year’s Tour.

Bicycling offers 14 fun facts about the Tour de France you can use to impress your friends. Even though most American’s don’t care in the post-Lance fiasco age.

Seriously, if you’re going to get in the face of the competitors in the peloton, put your damn mask on.

And when people complain about the disparity between men’s and women’s cycling, this is exactly what they mean .

https://twitter.com/DreVorak/status/1302224388159188993

 

Finally…

Your next bike could be a Lamborghini. If you barely get out of the parking lot, you didn’t escape following a bank robbery, whether on a bike or anything else.

And apparently, victory does not always go to the sweaty guys in spandex.

https://twitter.com/AmericanFietser/status/1301911734844895234

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I continue to be amazed by the kindness and generosity of the people who read this site. Thanks to James L, Fred D, and Janice H for their very generous donations to help me get it up and running again.

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

A successful Wilshire CicLAvia, Give Me 3 moves forward, and who knew drivers run stops signs, too?

The view from the Downtown hub

The view from the Downtown hub

Just a few quick thoughts on Sunday’s CicLAvia.

After all, there’s been more than enough written on the subject to make a review by yours truly truly irrelevant.

But let me offer my congratulations to the folks at CicLAvia for pulling off the most successful event yet.

Maybe it was the extended 9 am to 4 pm hours, allowing people to travel the route more leisurely.

It could have been using both sides of a wide boulevard, unlike the recent CicLAvia to the Sea, allowing more space to move. And the limited traffic crossings certainly didn’t hurt, making it possible for even the slowest riders to cover the entire route in an hour or so of actual pedaling.

Meanwhile, the shorter distance encouraged more walking, making this the first one where I’ve seen a significant amount of pedestrians along the entire route.

Evidently, bikes are good for business

Evidently, bikes are good for business

It might have been the iconic theme for an iconic boulevard. Along with the many entertainment and educational options along the route; the woman singing traditional Korean songs in not so traditional Koreatown was a highlight for me.

Call it Gangnam-style from a handful of centuries back.

Then there was the food of every possible description, dispensed from everything from trucks and restaurants to church groups and kids hawking cookies and lemonade.

It could have been the abundance of portapotties, reducing bladder pressure and putting everyone in better mood.

Or maybe it was all of the above, in what felt like the best planned and organized CicLAvia yet. Clearly, organizers have looked at what didn’t work in previous events and made some changes for the better.

I'll believe a car-free Wilshire when I see  unicorn on it

I’ll believe a car-free Wilshire when I see unicorns

One minor criticism is that participants universally ignored signs suggesting slower people should keep to the right, resulting in conflict zones throughout the full length of Wilshire. Which may have been why I saw three riders fall, resulting, thankfully, in relatively minor injuries.

The worst was a woman who lay in the street grabbing her collarbone, causing me to ride a few blocks back to an aid station get medical help.

The others suffered scrapes and road rash, and declined medical help.

Note to everyone: If you have the option for free medical help in an event like this, take advantage of it. Prompt first aid can prevent worse problems later, and the need for avoid more expensive medical attention if further injuries become apparent the next day, as often happens.

A friend writes that she witnessed a bike-bourn hit-and-run, in which a couple on a tandem rode off after knocking down another rider. Witnesses were unable to stop the bike before it disappeared into the crowd, leaving the victim sprawled bloody on the street.

Me taking a picture from Downtown hub; photo by Maraget Wehbi

Me taking a picture from Downtown hub; photo by Maraget Wehbi

Then there’s the schmuck — and I use the term advisedly — who apparently was unwilling to make his way to one of the four crossing points, and gunned his late model Toyota through the barricades at Windsor Ave and across the CicLAvia route, where he hit a cyclist before fleeing the scene.

Fortunately, the rider wasn’t seriously hurt, though badly shaken. (Update: The rider has three fracture vertebrae as well as a mangled bike; having suffered the same injury a few decades back, he likely faces a long road to recovery and a lifetime of back pain.)

Unfortunately, the limited description means the driver will probably get away with it.

But on the off chance they find him, I hope they take away his license. And shove it so far up his ass he’ll need to see a proctologist to buy his next six pack of beer.

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Congratulations to Wolfpack Hustle on pulling off what I’m told was a very successful and popular first-ever Civic Center Criterium on Sunday.

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California’s latest attempt at passing a three-foot passing law is now before the Senate Standing Committee on Transportation and Housing after overwhelmingly passing the state Assembly, just shy of a veto-proof two-thirds majority.

The bill’s sponsor, Inglewood Assemblymember Steven Bradford, has been very smart in answering the unreasonable objections Governor Jerry Brown gave in vetoing the last two attempts to pass a three-foot law.

There should be no rational reason for Brown to veto the law this time around. Although as we’ve seen, rationality isn’t exactly his strong point when it comes to bikes.

There are some strong supporters of bicycling on this committee, including West Valley Sen. Fran Pavley. But it couldn’t hurt to contact committee members to voice your support.

As we’ve seen with the previous attempts to pass this law, nothing is guaranteed in California politics.

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After learning that the rate of cellphone violations are down in California, a writer from the Press-Enterprise conducts his own survey and finds 7.7% of drivers he observed at a Temecula intersection were texting or using handheld phones — slightly higher than state stats.

More interesting, however, was his secondary observation that two-thirds of the drivers failed to stop for the stop signs.

Based accusations from motorists, I would have sworn only bike riders do that.

Pot, meet kettle.

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Speaking of anti-bike bias, so much for the L.A. Newspaper Group’s self-proclaimed Summer of Cycling being a good thing, as the owners of the Daily News, Daily Breeze, Press Telegram, et al, once again trot out the tired cliché of licensing cyclists and requiring insurance for bike riders.

As usually happens when the press chums for angry drivers, the results will inevitably skew towards requiring licensing for bike riders, if only because there are far more motorists than there are bicyclists. Never mind that this question reads like a classic push poll designed to draw a negative response.

So once again, for their benefit and that of anyone else unclear on the concept, like most bicyclists, I have a drivers license, which means we’ve already passed the same test as anyone else on the road — and probably have a better knowledge of traffic law than most, since we too frequently have to defend our right just to be on the road.

And despite what the papers suggest, my automotive insurance covers me for liability when I ride, as well as covering medical expenses resulting from a collision with an uninsured motorist or a solo fall.

Just like pretty much every American bike rider over the age of 16.

So get over it, already.

And before they claim to cover the subject, they need to reach out to the people and groups who are fighting for the rights of cyclists every day.

Not the angry drivers who don’t have a clue about the rights of cyclists, or how to ride a bike safely on the streets of Southern California.

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Congratulations to our friends at LA Streetsblog, winners of two L.A. Press Club awards Sunday night.

Well deserved.

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Former LADOT Bike Blogger and current Calbike board member Chris Kidd updates his comprehensive listing of state sidewalk riding laws, including percentages of where it’s legal in each county.

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Looks like we’re all invited to the official inauguration ceremony for our new mayor this Sunday evening. LADOT ranks the 50 most dangerous intersections for pedestrians; something tells me they’re not much safer for anyone else. Beverly Hills begins work on the city’s first bike lanes; needless to say, they’re only being installed on a trial basis. A writer raises questions about plans to improve bicycling on Redondo Beach’s Harbor Drive. A SoCal cyclist sets a new national one-hour record at the Home Depot Center Velodrome in Carson. A Valencia woman faces charges for a hit-and-run that seriously injured a cyclist. San Diego prosecutors decide on misdemeanor charges for the driver responsible for killing cyclist Charles Gilbreth — despite recklessly passing a bus — and blame fallen cyclist David Ortiz, at least in part, for his own death.

Bikes Belong looks to reinvent itself. A smart new Maine bill redefines traffic to include bikes, bans right hooks and removes the restriction to ride to the right. NYPD is — finally — starting to take traffic fatalities seriously; thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up. A New York columnist offers his take on the city’s new bike share program; Gothamist says that all you got? A Virginia cyclist is hit by a stray bullet when a man can’t manage to load his gun without firing it. A Texas woman leaps off her bike at the last second to avoid getting run over by a cement truck. New Orleans gets bike lanes on iconic Esplanade Ave. One hundred nineteen years ago yesterday, a Jewish mother of three successfully set out from Boston to bike around the world.

A bike-hating Toronto writer changes his tune after just  two hours on two wheels. A Winnipeg writer offers a tongue-in-cheek look at six ways a cyclist with a death wish can become a hood ornament; decent advice, but somehow, not so funny. Bikes now make up as much as a quarter of London’s rush hour traffic. Tips for the bike curious. Even in the Netherlands, childhood bike riding is down as more parents drive their kids to school. A look back at 150 years of bicycling in Copenhagen. Evidently, you need nine lives to ride a bike.

Finally, I don’t even know what to say here, as a Swiss man sexually assaults a bicycle after puncturing both tires; presumably so it couldn’t get away, I guess. And if you’re carrying a sunglass case full of meth on your bike at 1 am, put a damn light on it, already.

The bike, that is, not the meth.

Is an accident just an accident?

There’s an interesting debate going on over at Streetsblog.

As I noted the other day, Damien Newton has written about a new ghost bike at Fountain and La Brea — a memorial to two women who died when one of the cars involved in a typical traffic accident careened into the women as they stepped off the curb, killing them both.

Just another tragic accident.

After all, no one intentionally did anything to endanger these women. They were just in the wrong place, at the wrong time, when things when out of control with unintended consequences. And yet, they’re still dead.

As Damien put it:

Of course, neither driver was charged in the crash because of a little-known, but oft-cited, part of the vehicle code that clearly states, “Unless a driver is drunk, runs away from the crash or does something else horrific but telegenic action; said driver can kill as many pedestrians as he or she desires.”  I guess causing a chain reaction of crashes that kills two elderly women, and injured a third pedestrian, wasn’t quite exciting enough.

A few people took exception to that. David Galvin, for instance:

Right. Because the drivers of both of these vehicles really desired to kill two people that day. How do you know that? Because they were driving cars. Murderous monsters. Do drivers of the blue line “desire” to kill someone when that happens?… The incident mentioned in the post was tragic. And yes it resulted from either wrecklessness OR a momentary lapse in judgement OR a mistake. And yes, it cost the lives of two people. But there IS such a thing as an accident.

Which got me wondering, is there really such a thing as an accident? Or to put it another way, is it possible to have a collision without at least one of the drivers — or yes, cyclists or pedestrians — violating the law in some way?

I’m not sure it is.

Invariably, one or more of the people involved is speeding, tailgating, or fails to yield the right-of-way. Or simply isn’t paying enough attention.

I’ve been wracking my brain — or what’s left of it, anyway — and can only come up with two ways an accident could occur with no one being at fault.

The first is when someone or something, such as an animal or a child, darts out into the roadway without warning, forcing drivers to react; of course, this requires the inability to understand the consequences of their actions, otherwise they would be at fault. The other is when a mechanical, road or weather condition eliminates the ability to control the vehicle, such as a steering or brake failure, or hitting a patch of glare ice (though the latter seldom happens here in L.A.).

Of course, it’s not always the vehicles involved that are responsible. Some drivers — like the jackasses who drive city streets at 80 mph, weaving in and out of traffic — cause far more collisions than they seem to have themselves.

And yes, that goes for some cyclists, as well.

But we live in a society that has accepted collisions as a natural, and seemingly inevitable, consequence of mobility. We call them accidents, implying that no one is really at fault. We don’t have enough police officers to fully investigate them or effectively enforce the laws. We have an overburdened court system that discourages filing charges in anything but the most egregious cases. And we have an insurance system that ensures that drivers seldom suffer the financial consequences, either.

And so people die, and it’s no one’s fault.

Damien wrote a great response to the comments — one I highly recommend reading. But this seems to sum it up:

The same logic applies here. People should be paying more attention to the road when approaching a crosswalk, not having momentary lapses. If there’s some external reason (hepped up on caffeine, distraught that his girlfriend dumped him, tired from a day of exams) they shouldn’t be driving in the first place. Cars are deadly when not utilized safely and we should treat them as such and the people driving them should be responsible for their actions.

If a car hits another car, the occupants have over a ton of steel to protect them, along with assorted seat belts, air bags and head restraints. Cyclists and pedestrians, on the other hand, have little or nothing to protect them. And the consequences of someone’s inattention, inability to control their vehicle, or unwillingness to obey the law can be quite different.

Or as another blogger I’ve been reading lately recently wrote:

…when a driver screws up and hits a cyclist, the cyclist gets injured or dies, but when a cyclist screws up and hits a car, the cyclist gets injured or dies.

Update: A man was struck by an out-of-control car today on Lincoln Blvd. in Playa del Rey, apparently while seated on a sidewalk bus bench.

But hey, it was just an accident.

 

Flying Pigeon gets a visit from a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. Alex tells the LACBC to stop twitter stalking his mom. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation supports cycling, so why can’t our own mayor? Texas cyclists put on suits and lobby their legislators. Seattle riders get more infrastructure. A mountain biker dies falling from an unofficial bike trail, and a UK driver fatally runs down a cyclist for damaging his mirror.

For once, I shut up and let someone else talk

Ever since last Friday’s Transportation Committee meeting, I’ve been filtering my own thoughts in preparation of discussing the subject today.

But then Damien Newton of Streetsblog Los Angeles added a comment to my initial post on the subject. And since not everyone clicks the link to read the comments, I thought for once, I’d just shut up and let someone else do the talking.

So take it away, Damien:

It was pretty awesome to see us pack a board room like that…a hundred cyclists, ready to take part in the process…Unfortunately, we’ll still see a lot of setbacks before we get the kind of changes we want to see, and I hope the enthusiasm stays high.

In the meantime, I wrote up a draft letter on bike licensing that people should feel free to use if they want to get City Council to take up this issue. Rosendahl, LaBonge and Parks all seemed ready to go…

councilmember.greuel@lacity.org, councilmember.alarcon@lacity.org, councilmember.parks@lacity.org, councilmember.rosendahl@lacity.org, Councilmember.labonge@lacity.org,


Dear Member of the City Council XXX,

As a committed cyclist, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for respect and concern you showed at last Friday’s committee hearing on bicycling, bicycling infrastructure, and bicyclists rights. During the sometimes heated hearing, you continued to listen to our concerns and questions.

While it is not going to be easy to recreate Los Angeles as a cycling haven, there is one thing that can be done quickly and that is placing a moratorium on the bicycle licensing program. Whether a mandatory program is necessary is a conversation that can’t occur until cyclists are not being harassed for not having a sticker license that is difficult to obtain and not being distributed by the LAPD as they are required to.

Unfortunately, as you saw on Friday, the LAPD doesn’t seem interested in suspending their uneven enforcement of bike licensing even after being confronted on the program several times by Council Members LaBonge, Parks and Rosendahl at last week’s hearing. To that end, we are asking that you not let go of this issue and that you quickly introduce a motion to suspend the program. We understand that Councilman Rosendahl will not be at tomorrow’s hearing, but that doesn’t mean you cannot take action.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to working with you in the future on other bike-related issues.

Sincerely,

X

Just copy, paste and send. Or if you prefer, use Damien’s email as a template, and put it in your own words. But as one who has been an active rabble-rouser over the years, I can tell you that letters and emails like this really do make a difference.

I’ll be back with my own thoughts soon. In the meantime, you can read a recap of the meeting from Stephen Box of the Bike Writer’s Collective — creators of the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights (and a big thanks to all of you for your efforts). Or you can listen to Enci’s recording of the meeting here. 

Note: I’m waiving copyright for this post, in case anyone wants to repost Damien’s letter — and I’m sure it would be okay with him, as well. Right, Damien?

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