Tag Archive for The Gauntlet

Boring video proves Weekly writer wrong, anti-bike bias runs rampant, and riders run down on video

Sometimes it seems the truth doesn’t even matter anymore.

At least, not when it gets in the way of a bias against bicycles and those who ride them.

Stick with me here, because this is going to be a recurring theme today.


Just one of the many riders the LA Weekly claims don't ride on 7th.

Just one of the many riders the LA Weekly claims don’t ride on 7th.

We’ll start with what was apparently a semi-tongue-in-cheek article in last week’s LA Weekly.

In it, writer Dennis Romero — who famously proclaimed impending disaster before the first CicLAvia and seldom seems to miss an opportunity to unleash his snark on those of us on two wheels — offers five suggestions for solving the city’s traffic problems, from penalizing drivers who stop the flow of traffic to mandatory loss of license for any driver over 65.

Never mind that drivers aged 65 to 74 have the lowest rate of fatal collisions of any age group.

Then there’s his number one traffic solution — Take back the bike lanes.

….taking an entire car lane and giving it to bike riders, as has been done in some parts of town, is useless. It means double the number of cars in one lane and, often, an unused bike lane that neither protects riders from cars nor particularly entices the cyclist. Take a ride down 7th Street, which used to have four lanes and now has two, and you’ll see both mad traffic and an empty bike lane next to you…

That reference to “mad traffic — whatever that means — took me by surprise. Because 7th Street, post road diet, has morphed into one of the calmest, sanest and safest streets I ride on a regular basis.

It wasn’t always so.

Before the road diet went in about a year-and-a-half back — or before it was right-sized, to use the current, more PC planning term — 7th felt more like the wild west, as impatient drivers took to the lightly utilized street to zoom past more heavily congested routes such as Wilshire Blvd and 6th Street, just one and two blocks north, respectively.

And many of those drivers seemed less than disposed to share those lanes with the cyclists who rode them specifically because they were quieter, if not always safer, than those other streets.

Post downsizing, it has become one of the most popular riding routes between Downtown and the Westside. Despite the city’s failure to repave or patch the badly broken asphalt where the bike lanes went in, leading to an at-times bone-jarring ride, especially after dark when the potholes and cracked pavement are harder to see.

Let alone avoid.

I frequently use it myself, at all times of the day or night, as I ride in or out of DTLA for various meetings.

And despite what Mr. Romero suggests, I have yet to see anything close to traffic congestion on the repainted street.

Or angry — or crazy — drivers, for that matter.

Or any other form of the word mad, as it could be applied to traffic on the street.

But don’t take my word for it.

Consider this helmet cam video from last Thursday, recorded as I rode to an interview during what passes for the lunch rush on 7th.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing exciting about it.

In fact, it may be the most boring video I’ve ever posted online. Nothing of any consequence happens.

There’s no right hooks. No left crosses. No near doorings. No impatient drivers honking for me to move out of their way.

Although I did catch a motorist driving in the bike lane about a minute-and-three-quarters in, something I missed until I looked at the footage later that night.

And more to the point, no traffic congestion or angry drivers. No back-ups. No needlessly impeded traffic.

And no, it wasn’t any different when I rode back home at rush hour. Except I saw a lot more bike riders using the bike lanes in both directions.

Where Romero encounters that “mad traffic” that would justify yanking out the bike lanes and restoring automotive hegemony over the street is beyond me.

But I can say without the slightest doubt, it’s not on 7th Street.


Speaking of bike lanes, I was shocked to see new bike lanes on Wilshire Blvd — yes, Wilshire — in the Westwood area.

Evidently, the lanes went in after the roadway was recently repaved from Beverly Glen Blvd east to Comstock Ave, finally fixing one of the worst stretches of roadway in the City of Angeles, unaffectionately known by local cyclists as The Gauntlet.

It may go further west, but I was unable to see beyond the crest of the hill before making my turn at Beverly Glen. But I’m told the bike lanes will eventually reach west to Selby.

Of course, the bike lanes are only going in because the Condo Canyon millionaires’ row in the Westwood area was carved out of the planned Bus Rapid Transit Project, where bikes would have shared a lane with buses, allowing the hoi polloi to mingle with the overprivileged, at least on the streets.

But I’ll gladly take the bike lanes, and the finally, and unexpectedly, smooth pavement.


Now then, back to today’s theme.

In one of the most egregiously misguided pieces in recent memory, a writer in the UK takes issue with a new paved shared-use pathway in the Warwickshire countryside, decrying what sounds like an ideal pathway as a “grim cycle route” has become the domain of the “Lycra Brigade.”

Thankfully, most of the comments question her judgment. If not her sanity.

Thanks to DD Syrdal for the link.


Then there’s this one.

Writing for the London Guardian, the Executive Director of Scotland’s Daily Mail says that encouraging his fellow countrymen and women to bike will only result in more heart attacks, while making offices smell like “a badger’s arse.”

Though just how he has become intimately acquainted with the unique aroma of a badger’s butt is a question I am reluctant to ask.


For the benefit of motorists like those above, a Canadian writer offers six ways to kill a cyclist.

Although he forgets one of the simplest and most effective — just frighten riders off the road until they eventually die of inactivity in front of the TV or behind the wheel of their surprisingly not-actually safer SUV.


A British study shows that maybe that driver really didn’t see you, as over a fifth of all motorists seem blind to cyclists; thanks to Matt Ruscigno for the heads-up.


Fargo Street FMLIAR

Photo by Patrick Pascal

Speaking of Matt, Patrick Pascal shared a great photo of Sunday’s view from the top of Fargo Street, as the competitors in L.A.’s 8th Annual Feel My Legs, I’m A Racer stage hill climb race organized by Mr. Ruscigno struggle up the near impossible and virtually impassable climb.

Hopefully, we’ll soon find out who won.


Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has his right shoulder replaced after a serious fall from his bicycle. Odd; I would have assumed he’d lean to the left. Thanks to David Huntsman and Patrick Pascal for the tip.


And finally, maybe there is something to that study, as a Mulholland motorcyclist plows a pair of bike riders.

I’m told the rider somehow fixated on the cyclists directly in front of him, and was unable to avoid what he was staring at.

Scary, indeed.

Reports are the rider seem to be okay; one walked away while the other was taken to a hospital to get checked out. No word on whether the motorcyclist was injured, ticketed or charged.

My sincere thanks to everyone who submitted a link to this video via email, comments on here or Twitter. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten another story from so many sources.

Celebrating L.A.’s most magnificent, wheel crunching and sometimes life-giving potholes

Just one of the many massive potholes cyclists have to contend with in the City of Angels.

No one has to tell L.A. cyclists that the streets are getting worse.

These days, even a brief ride means dodging potholes and ridges of rumpled asphalt that can take down even the most careful riders. And God help the bike rider taking a new route after dark, unaware of the road hazards that lay hidden in the night.

That was driven, or more precisely, ridden home last night, as my riding companion and I plowed into a deep rut left behind by road work on Olympic Blvd.

We both hit it hard; my front wheel hit it squarely, causing my back wheel to fly off the ground and briefly putting me at risk of going over the handlebars. Fortunately, I nailed the landing and escaped unscathed.

My companion wasn’t so lucky.

While he successfully navigated the rut, it took a toll on his tires as the rear quickly went flat. Once he got the tire off, it didn’t take long to spot the telltale twin snakebite punctures caused by solid smack against an unflinching surface. Fortunately, I had a spare tube with me, and we were back on our way in just a few minutes.

Unfortunately, though, the city’s budget problems mean that the roads aren’t going to get fixed anytime soon. While L.A. says it’s still fixing potholes, the job doesn’t seem to be getting done as fast or as well as it has in the past, and other issues — like the trench we hit last night — present more complicated problems. And many streets are long past the point where patching would do any good.

Which bring us to my current candidate for the worst pothole in the city.

Other cyclists may point to the huge recurring pothole caused by flowing water on 4th Street known as the Hudson River. Or the endless series of cracks, ruts and gaping holes on the westbound stretch of Wilshire Blvd between Beverly Glen and Wilshire Blvds unaffectionately called the Gauntlet.

Pothole planter at Glendon and Holman.

But I would direct your attention to the intersection of Holman and Glendon Avenues in Westwood, where you’ll find what I call the Westwood Community Garden — a pothole of such breadth, depth and duration that is has grown to become an unofficial city planter.

And judging by the multiple L.A. Street Services sawhorses gathered in its gaping maw, one that the city is well aware of and chooses to ignore, instead allowing nature to reclaim a small section of our asphalt megalopolis.

Fortunately, it’s not a street that cyclists frequent. And we can always use a little more greenery here on the Westside.

So call it a victory of nature. Or even a failure of city government.

Just don’t try riding through it.

L.A. Street Services has clearly staked out their turf.

If you have a better candidate for Pothole of the Year, send me your photos and I’ll post them on here. The winner will receive absolutely nothing, other than the satisfaction of knowing the continued neglect of your streets has not gone unnoticed by your peers.

And remember — unless you know for a fact that there are no cars behind you or on your left, you’re often better off riding through the pothole than suddenly darting into traffic to go around it.


Following on the heels of the recent rescue of two scuba divers by a pair of biking triathletes in Malibu, a hero cyclist saves the life of a woman drowning in the San Gabriel River.

Meanwhile, a teenage salmon cyclist in Calabasas stops a drunk driver after narrowly avoiding a collision himself. Oddly, while recognizing his actions, not one word about the obvious dangers of riding the wrong way in traffic — or that he wouldn’t have been in the drunk’s way to begin with if he’d been riding on the right side of the street.

Note to cyclists: Saving lives, good; wrong-way riding, bad.


A hit-and-run driver is in custody after critically injuring a cyclist at the intersection of Walnut and Browning Avenues in Tustin; the name of the driver and victim have not yet been released.


Lulu Laing, widow of cyclist Jim Laing killed by an alleged drunk driver in Agoura Hills last month, writes about her loss on Bikeside; warning — reading it will just break your heart all over again.


Victorious hit-and-run victim Ed Magos writes to thank the L.A. cycling community for its support. Streetsblog interviews bike advocate and BAC member Ayla Stern, and recommends four fresh faces who should be considered as the new head of LADOT. The UCLA Bike Coalition sponsors its first group ride on Friday, while Flying Pigeon sponsors its next Get Some Dim Sum Ride on Sunday including a visit to the Arroyo Arts Collective 18th Annual Discovery Tour. Currie Technologies opens its first iZIP store in Venice, offering electric bikes and ebike tours of Venice, Santa Monica and the Marina.

The driver who killed a cyclist near Portola Valley earlier this month had been involved in two previous fatal collisions, including a 2007 collision that took the life of another cyclist. Cycling the 31-mile California Delta ride. Promoting bicycling in the African American community through the National Brotherhood of Cyclists. Lovely Bicycle compares different types of Mixtes. A bicycling Portland bus driver stops a thief from stealing a ghost bike. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, a Seattle cyclist is attacked with an umbrella. No matter how mad you get at a driver, do not throw your bike at the offending vehicle. New York cyclists are blindsided by the removal of a vital Staten Island bike lane.

Happy birthday to the world’s oldest bike shop, which just turned 150 but doesn’t look a day over 135. Sadly, the Joy of Cycling didn’t make the cut for a new London cycling promotion. Brit road safety experts call for a ban on large trucks in cities to protect cyclists, while an aptly named severely hung-over truck driver gets seven years and a lifetime driving ban, and a cyclist wins a £280,000 settlement in another case. A new campaign urges drivers to be BikeAware. Budget cuts in Scotland could undo years of bike and pedestrian progress. Tour de France champ Alberto Contador claim his positive doping test resulted from tainted meat; the World Anti-Doping Agency says “yeah, right.” Signage for salmon cyclists. Australia introduces new standards for bike helmets to provide better protection, making thousands of unsold helmets obsolete. An Aussie cyclist is hit by an SUV while fleeing from police. A third cyclist has died in the head-on collision that took the lives of two other cyclists on Sunday, while a British tourist is fatally doored — making five New Zealand bike deaths in five days.

Finally, stunt ace Danny MacAskill releases his latest film full of impossible tricks. And if you thought you were skilled on a bike, you ain’t seen nothing yet.