Just 319 days until Los Angeles fails to meet its Vision Zero pledge to eliminate traffic deaths by 2025.
So stop what you’re doing and sign this petition to demand Mayor Bass hold a public meeting to listen to the dangers we face walking and biking on the mean streets of LA.
Then share it — and keep sharing it — with everyone you know, on every platform you can. Just 55 signatures to go to reach 1,000!
I’ll be off for President’s Day on Monday, but we’ll have a guest post from Cal Poly Pomona history professor John Lloyd critiquing the new bill that would impose an online test and permit before anyone without a driver’s license can buy or ride any type of ebike or e-scooter, and ban kids under 12 from riding them.
Meanwhile, Calbike doesn’t like the damn bill either, saying it “would create an unnecessary new bureaucracy and mostly harm youth of color in California while not taking the steps necessary to make our streets safer for all users.”
What happens when you get threatened with a motor vehicle in Santa Monica?
Even if you catch it on video.
In this case, Twitter/X user Mobility For Who reacted to a driver attempting to run a stop sign with a polite “Whoa, buddy!”
The driver naturally responded politely in kind.
Yeah, no. The driver responded with an angry honk as the bike passed in front of him, then revved his engine and squealed his tires in what can only be interpreted as a threat, which had the intended effect of scaring the hell out of Mobility For Who.
Since so many people recommended I report it, I gave it a try. Here is how it went.
Disclaimer: it’s as disappointing as one would expect.
— Mobility For Who (@MobilityForWho) February 15, 2024
Unless you’re a Santa Monica cop, that is.
In that case, they try to blame the victim for using a handheld phone — which isn’t illegal, even if it was true. Also for running the stop sign, which again wasn’t true.
And while the cop was correct that road rage itself isn’t against the law, the actions resulting from it often are. Even just exiting your vehicle to approach another road user is prima facie evidence of assault, according to an LAPD officer.
In this case, what you see on the video is, at a minimum, a misdemeanor case of assault with a deadly weapon — which means threatening someone, rather than actually making contact.
As others pointed out on Twitter/X in response to these posts, had this occurred in Los Angeles, it would have made a good case under the city’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance.
But not in Santa Monica, or anywhere else in Los Angeles County.
I’ve met with the police chief in Santa Monica, along with representatives of BikeLA Neighborhood Chapter Santa Monica Spoke, to address the department’s lack of enforcement to protect bicyclists and other vulnerable road users.
And left with promises they’d look into it, and ensure the law was enforced fairly against dangerous, aggressive and/or threatening drivers.
But that was four chiefs ago, as the department’s revolving door on the top floor has prevented any continuity or progress in protecting the rights and safety of vulnerable road users. And allowing street level officers to regress in their commitment to protect bike riders and pedestrians, instead of the current policy of just enforcing laws against them.
I encouraged Mobility For Who to meet with the current chief, whoever that may be now, to press their case — if not for this case, then for the next person it happens to.
And yes, I do know the current chief is Ramon Batista.
For now, anyway.
But that’s the problem. Whatever progress we might make by taking our concerns up with the chief would only last as long as he does in that role. And if past history is any indication, you might be better off buying ripe bananas than counting on the Santa Monica Police Chief to stick around.
It’s a problem that will have to be addressed with, and by, city leadership, who can require the department to better protect people walking and on bikes.
Or more likely, the inevitable lawsuit that will come from their failure to do anything.
The Healthy Streets LA ballot measure continues to make news.
A rally in support of Measure HLA, as it is referred to on election ballots, brought out four of the six City Councilmembers in favor of the measure to encourage voters to mark yes on their ballots.
According to Streetsblog’s Joe Linton,
Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez spoke movingly of meeting a 29-year-old man who had barely survived a car crash. The victim’s mother told Hernandez that “before, he was very active – he would ride his bike everywhere.” When Hernandez met him, “he was in a bed in a hospital, having been there for months already… he got hit while he was riding his bike…”
Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martínez spoke of the urgency of passing Measure HLA. “These High Injury Network streets happen to be in the most poor areas of our city – the ones that have historically been redlined – and it’s mostly working class people that are biking, walking or taking public transit… who are being killed every single day,” he said.
Both Councilmembers Nithya Raman and Katy Yaroslavsky spoke of their fears as mothers of young children, and how scary it is to cross unsafe streets just to walk their kids to school.
Raman drew attention to the need for Mobility Plan improvements to be implemented citywide, “in a way that is connected, that enables people to get out of their cars.” She concluded by calling Measure HLA “smart public safety-oriented policy-making.”
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles firefighters union held their own event to oppose Measure HLA, while demonstrating both their lack of understanding of mobility issues, as well as an inherent windshield bias and commitment to car culture.
Take this quote from California Professional Firefighters President Brian Rice, who Linton says was repeatedly dismissive of bicycles and transit, in addition to displaying his own misinformed conservative political bias.
“I hate to tell you men and women, California – and Los Angeles in particular – this is a car community. You may not like it,” Rice declared, “but it is.” Rice derisively asked, “Do you really think you’re going to see buses go faster than 12 miles an hour?”
Rice declared that “a small group of elite… Democratic Socialists” are behind Measure HLA…
However, many of the people behind the measure are far from elite. And while I suspect most probably are Democrats, given the political makeup of LA County, none have cited Marx, Che Guevara or Mao in any of their conversations with me.
But I digress.
Rice concluded his remarks emphasizing fiscal issues that firefighters don’t lead with, but which appears to be among their core concerns: spending money making streets safer competes with more resources going to firefighting.
The city released a misleading cost estimate for Measure HLA implementation: $250 million annually. (Safe streets advocates can only wish that HLA gradual implementation could ever result in that kind of annual investment. Measure HLA proponents estimate annual costs to be more like one tenth of the city’s estimate.) The city estimate rolls in some non-HLA costs, including the cost of the city’s annual street repaving program which already has been and will continue to be in the city budget, regardless of HLA. It also inflates per-mile bikeway and bus lane cost estimates well above what the city currently spends.
Nope. No bias there.
A writer for LA Progressive also takes a very non-progressive stand, saying he’ll vote against the measure because it “ignores two essential criteria that bicycling on LA’s streets must be safe and bicycle paths and lanes must directly connect to each other.”
Except that’s exactly what LA’s mobility plan, and by extension, Measure HLA, does.
Former LA City Planner Dick Platkin adds that HLA offers a “deceptively simple way to solve LA’s traffic congestion, just switch from cars to bicycling and walking.”
Even though it does no such thing, since the mobility plan is based on the assumption that most Angelenos will continue to drive, while offering safe alternatives to those would prefer other options.
He goes on to site Councilmember Traci Park, one of the city’s least progressive councilmembers.
And repeats the city’s extreme $2 billion cost estimate, which Linton explained above includes inflated figures, as well as the city’s entire resurfacing budget, which it is already committed to and HLA has no bearing on.
HLA would only add the cost of paint and any additional barriers, along with the basic design costs for each street restriping.
So maybe Platkin should try writing for a less progressing site.
Oh wait, he did.
Never mind that it was the previous LA city planners and engineers who got us into this car-centric mess to begin with.
Nice piece from freelance writer Michael Charboneau for the LA Times The Wild newsletter, introducing four group rides offering an up close and personal view of the City of Angels.
He nails his introduction, kicking it off this way.
Riding a bike in Los Angeles is an act of defiance — against car culture, against endless sprawl, against bike lanes that disappear without warning and against gaping potholes. But on the best days, riding a bike is a pure joy. And I’ve found that you can get even more out of those moments with this one easy trick: Ride your bike with other people.
Calbike will host a webinar on March 6th to discuss the state bike advocacy group’s campaign to demand Complete Streets on Caltrans Corridors.
Speakers: Senator Scott Wiener; Kendra Ramsey (CalBike); Jeanie Ward-Waller (Fearless Advocacy); Laura Tolkoff (SPUR); Sandhya Laddha (Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition).
Please join us to learn more about our statewide campaign for Complete Streets and Complete Corridors on Caltrans’ State Highway System. Our joint campaign is bolstered by SB 960, authored by Senator Scott Wiener, which will require Caltrans to implement safe streets for people biking, walking, and using transit. Along with the senator joining us, we will also have state and local experts demonstrating the path needed for Complete Streets and Complete Corridors on Caltrans’ roads that run through your community.
CicLAvia will kick off their 2024 season this evening with the release of Los Angeles Ale Works seek-la-VEE-ah West Coast IPA, after it was rained out last week.
(Did I hear someone say “Oh please, not another IPA!”? Or was that just me?)
The free event will be held in conjunction with the Ivy Station Night Market, featuring food trucks, music, games, local vendors and kid-friendly activities.
It comes just over a week before the year’s first CicLAvia a week from Sunday on Melrose Ave between Fairfax and Vermont.
In addition to the usual two-wheeled frivolity, I’m told we can expect the first-ever CicLAvia corgi parade, though the time and location are still TBD.
It’s now 57 days since the California ebike incentive program’s latest failure to launch, which was promised no later than fall 2023. And 31 months since it was approved by the legislature and signed into law — and counting.
The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.
No bias here. The president of a San Francisco merchant’s association offers an alternative to the “well-intentioned, but ill-conceived” Valencia Street bike lane, while offering a gratuitous slap at bike advocates, saying “diehard bike advocates can come across as a little sanctimonious and zealous,” even though “they’re doing the Lord’s work.”
Planetizen correctly says New Jersey’s proposed requirement for liability insurance for low-speed ebikes would have a chilling effect on micromobility, effectively halting any transition away from cars.
No bias here, either. A writer for the London Telegraph says bicyclists are the rudest, most entitled people in the UK today, with Lycra-clad boors giving off “an almost palpable air of smug self-satisfaction, even as they make life miserable for fellow road users.” Just wait until someone tells her about drivers. However, you’ll have to either subscribe to the paper or sign up for a free trial if you want to read the damn screed.
English authorities have launched a murder investigation following the hit-and-run death of a man riding a bicycle, after reports that he was also assaulted by an occupant of the vehicle, either before or after the crash.
A Singapore driver pled guilty to committing a rash act to endanger the personal safety of others, despite claiming she tried to de-escalate a confrontation with a road-raging bike-riding woman several times.
But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.
And no bias here, either. A 12-year old boy on an ebike somehow collided with a 66-year old Key Biscayne, Florida woman riding a bicycle in the opposite direction, killing the older woman. So local officials immediately called an emergency meeting to ban ebikes and e-scooters, ignoring 1) the crash was caused by one or more people riding where they shouldn’t have in the middle of the street, and 2) the tragic results might not have been any different if both were on non-electric bikes.
Jacobin looks at the LA bikeshare worker’s opposition to the proposed takeover of the Metro Bike operations by Lyft.
LAist offers an overview of the Pasadena city council election.
A new bill in the state legislature would ensure that all California bridges will remain toll-free for bike riders and pedestrians.
Costa Mesa has received $7.4 million in grants from the Orange County Transportation Authority, aka OCTA, to “create three interconnected, separated bike lanes as part of a major expansion of the City’s bicycle network.”
A Novato driver was busted on felony hit-and-run and driving under the influence of prescribed medication after he ran down two 15-year old boys as they rode their bicycles, followed by crashing into a pickup a block away; fortunately, everyone is expected to survive their injuries.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission has ordered a recall of Bell Soquel Youth Helmets due to risk of injury resulting from a balky strap.
Portland bike advocates want to change the narrative after bicycling rates rebounded slightly, following last year’s precipitous drop.
Oregon has their own ebike bills under consideration, including one opposed by Portland’s The Street Trust that would create California-style ebike classifications, and legalize ebikes for kids under 15, while banning throttle-controlled ebikes for the same age group.
Denver is down to just four bike messengers for the entire city, including one world champ.
A potential new helmet padding design developed at the University of Colorado could absorb as much as 25% more impact than existing foams, improving protection from bicycle helmets, as well as other types of helmets.
Kindhearted Texas cops bought a new bike for a local boy after his was destroyed by a hit-and-run driver.
New York celebrated a full decade of Vision Zero, despite just a 12% reduction in overall traffic fatalities and a record number of bicycling fatalities last year.
That’s more like it. A Mississippi man will spend 12 years behind bars after pleading guilty to the DUI death of a Tupelo bike rider.
Bicycling says bike riders in Nuevo León, Mexico are fighting to take back their streets, following two decades of drug cartel violence. As usual, read it on Yahoo if the magazine blocks you.
The first woman to win the 3,000-mile Race Across America has been disinvited to speak at an Ottawa, Canada Women’s Day event because she served in the Israeli Defense Force 30 years ago.
Canada’s bicycling minister says he didn’t mean what he said when he said the country will stop funding large highway projects. Or so he says.
A new report says Croydon is failing bicyclists and pedestrians, as the only London borough not seeking funding for greater bicycle infrastructure and bus priority lanes. Their semi-pro football, aka soccer, team kinda sucks, too.
The CEO of British foldie maker Brompton answers questions for Cycling Weekly, saying “People see us as a little, quirky, odd bike.” Which is exactly how most people view them.
American Magnus Sheffield says he’s “incredibly lucky to be alive” after crashing on the same descent that killed Swiss cyclist Gino Mäder in last June’s Tour de Suisse, adding it’s a reminder of how fragile life can be. Amen.
A Guyana bike race celebrates the country’s “rich history of bicycling excellence.”
Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.
Oh, and fuck Putin