Tag Archive for Venice Beach

“Elderly” Venice man killed by drunken e-scooter user, white woman orders Black prof off “her” road, and ebike bias in CO

Tragic news from Venice, where an “elderly” man was killed when he was struck by an e-scooter user.

Make that an allegedly drunk scooter user.

The crash occurred around 9:45 pm Saturday on Lincoln Blvd at East Marco Court.

According to a report for KABC-7, the scooter rider was allegedly 1) illegally riding on the sidewalk, while 2) illegally carrying a woman passenger on the back, and while 3) wasted.

The victim, who was described only as elderly, or by other accounts, older — which could mean just about anything — died at the scene after hitting his head on the sidewalk.

Both people on the scooter suffered minor injuries, while the man operating it was arrested at the scene for DUI.

It’s unclear whether he can be charged under the state law prohibiting driving under the influence, or the statute prohibiting biking under the influence, which carries a much lower penalty.

This serves as yet another tragic reminder that sidewalks are intended for pedestrians.

While it’s legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in some California cities, you’re required to operated it safely, without posing an undue risk to people on foot. And basic human decency demands that you give as much space as possible and warn people before passing.

On the other hand, it is always illegal to ride an electric scooter on the sidewalk, or with a passenger.

And never while drunk or stoned.

Although I’d much rather see someone ride a bike or scooter while under the influence of anything than get behind the wheel of a car, which posses a much greater risk to everyone on the road.

But as this crash tragically shows, you can still pose a needless — and potentially fatal — risk to others.

Photo by Martin Péchy from Pexels.

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Racism, or just NIMBYism taken to the extreme?

Or more likely, both.

Black University of Washington med school professor Edwin Lindo went out for a bike ride while on vacation, and ran into a white woman — aka a “Becky” — who literally told him he couldn’t ride his bicycle on the road she paid for with her property taxes.

No, really.

https://twitter.com/EdwinLindo/status/1398870887630139397

Seriously, there is no effing excuse for that crap.

Ever.

Period.

Fortunately, Lindo didn’t let a little racism chase him off his bike.

Thanks to Keith Johnson for the heads-up.

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No bias here.

A story from the Denver Post tries to offer advice for ebike riders, particularly of the novice persuasion.

And they mostly kinda get it right.

Although this comment from an Aspen mountain bike instructor totally misses the mark.

“This is a framework of why it’s so important for e-bikers to have etiquette because they are now powered up with a weapon, really, that goes 20 miles an hour,” he said. “I say ‘weapon’ because now they can hurt themselves and others pretty easily.”

Never mind that it’s pretty easy to do 20 mph on a road bike, without a motor. And not that unusual on a mountain bike.

And while there’s no shortage of rude and/or inexperienced bike riders, no bicycle is a weapon, unless someone — like a cop, for instance — picks it up and uses it that way.

There’s there’s this bit of advice, which they apparently think is so important that it was repeated verbatim in a caption.

Though you may be tempted to ride side-by-side with your friends or family members so you can chat on your e-bikes, always ride single file and as far to the right as possible, unless you’re passing. This gives other cyclists and cars an opportunity to pass you safely.

Where do we even start?

This is sort-of decent advice for trail riders, but horrible for those riding on the road.

Yes, try to keep to the right on trails so faster riders can pass you. Unless you’re the faster rider, in which case you should pass politely.

And try not to ride abreast if it means clogging up the trail so others can’t enjoy it.

But on the road, riding like a gutter bunny puts you a greater risk of unsafe passes.

Most authorities, like the League of American Bicyclists and Cycling Savvy — and even Caltrans, for those of us in California — tell you to ride in the center of the lane, unless there’s a shoulder wide enough and clean enough to ride safely.

Riding two or more abreast in a single traffic lane can also increase your visibility and help hold the lane by forcing drivers to move into the next lane to pass you.

It’s also legal to ride abreast in many states, but check the law where you ride before trying it.

Like here in California, where police sometimes misapply the requirement ti right to the right to ticket people who ride abreast, even though there’s not one word prohibiting it under California law.

And they may not get it right where you are, either.

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Meet what may be LA County’s first protected bike lane.

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Cars don’t belong in parks. Even police cars.

That’s what bike cops are for.

https://twitter.com/streetsforall/status/1398844138775212036

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The LACBC has put together a number of training rides for this month’s LA Rivers Challenge.

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Megan Lynch forwards this video profiling the last of Ireland’s cycling posties, from 1975.

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This is what rush hour could look like in Los Angeles.

But probably won’t until we get new leadership.

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That feeling when you have a stowaway on your bike.

https://twitter.com/KathrynBertine/status/1398274331885522948

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

In what may be an act of sabotage, someone left industrial razor blades in the bike lane on Santa Monica Blvd. Even if it was just an accidental spill, the blades could cause a deadly crash by slicing through a rider’s tire, spilling them into heavy high-speed traffic.

Then there’s this from the UK.

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

Police in New York are looking for an ebike-riding gunman who killed another man who was sitting in a parked car in broad daylight.

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Local

Streetsblog examines the outdated plan to widen Burbank Blvd in North Hollywood to add a third traffic lane in each direction, and make it meet “Major Highway Standards.” Which would violate the intent, if not the letter, of LA’s Vision Zero plan and the transportation portion of Mayor’s Green New Deal.

They get it. The LA Times comes out against plans to widen the 710 Freeway, calling it “a zombie project from another era.”

 

State

While the state and feds debate providing ebike rebates, ebike buyers in San Mateo County could get an $800 rebate from the local clean energy company.

Speaking of which, an op-ed from a Bay Area professor calls on the state to pass a bill providing ebike rebates for up to 10,000 buyers.

A Marin paper says a new countywide ebike bikeshare could offer a first mile/last mile solution for public transportation. However, that depends on whether they’re willing to provide safe places to ride them.

A Placer County columnist says we all accept a little risk when we ride a bike, but don’t be stupid about it.

 

National

This is what a salt and barnacle encrusted Lime bike looks like after it’s pulled out of a Seattle sound.

A new Washington transit user takes understandable pride in figuring out how to use the bike rack on the bus.

Horrible news from Tucson, Arizona, where a tow truck driver ran a red light and slammed into a group of bicyclists, killing a 29-year old woman and sending four other people to the emergency room; a sixth rider was struck, but didn’t suffer serious injuries. Meanwhile, the community is rallying to support the victimsThanks to Keith Johnson for the heads-up.

Former NBA star Mark Eaten died after going out for a bike ride Friday night; the two-time defensive player of the year with the Utah Jazz was found unconscious on the side of the road, and died at a local hospital; authorities said there was no reason to believe a car was involved. Even though drivers can easily force riders off their bikes without ever making contact. Thanks to Erik Griswold for the link.

Kindhearted people in a tiny town in eastern Colorado raised funds to donate 150 bicycles, scooters and skateboards for local kids.

A Pittsburgh neighborhood gets tired of speeding drivers, so they ordered their own speed bump through Amazon.

In another multiple victim crash, a Pennsylvania woman suffered life-threatening injuries and another woman suffered minor injuries when they were both run down by a hit-and-run driver in Virginia, despite wearing reflective vests, with headlights and flashers on their bikes.

A group of Black women rode from Harlem to DC, covering 250 miles in 65 hours to replicate a ride taken by another group of Black women 93 years earlier, while raising funds to provide good used bikes to people in need.

Great idea. The Black Chamber of Commerce in New Orleans is installing free bike racks in front of Black-owned businesses to “help encourage safe and equitable transportation” to get there.

New Orleans NIMBYs repeat the same complaints you’ll hear anywhere bike lanes go in, arguing that bollards for the city’s first protected bike lanes are ugly, and that replacing traffic lanes with bike lanes increases congestion. At least they didn’t say the markings on the street make them dizzy, like Coronado residents did a few years ago.

 

International

Experts weigh in on what comes next for the pandemic-driven bike boom.

The kindhearted members of the Medicine Hat, Alberta Rotary Club refurbished 79 bicycles to give to people in need.

I want to be like him when I grow up. A 90-year old Alberta, Canada man rides a little more than six miles around town every day, sometimes twice a day, after his grown children gave him a bike for his birthday.

A Welsh Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist tells drivers to be patient, after she was knocked off her bike by a hit-and-run driver.

A speeding, coked-up English driver got a well-deserved three years behind bars for slamming into a six-year old boy on a bicycle, leaving the kid with a dangerous brain bleed; fortunately, the boy is expected to make a full recovery. And yes, he probably deserved a hell of a lot more than that.

You’ve got to be kidding. An Irish driver walked when he was acquitted of dangerous driving for slamming into a group of bicyclists, and killing a 34-year old woman — despite coming around a blind curve at high speed on the wrong side of road — in part because the victim may have fallen off her bike before the impact. Never mind that she was probably just trying to get the hell out of his way to avoid getting killed.

Up to 10,000 bike riders turned out for Critical Mass in Zurich, Switzerland to call attention to dangers posed by motorists.

Bike riders in eleven German towns rode to protest the American blockade of Cuba.

The Spanish paracycling championships were called off after a volunteer was killed by an ambulance during the competition.

Belarus was deservedly stripped of hosting duties for next month’s European track cycling championships, after the country faked a bomb threat to hijack a plane so they could arrest a dissident journalist who had fled the country.

Sad news from India, where the father of the Bicycle Girl has died, possibly from Covid-19; she gained international fame by pedaling across the country to carry her ill father home during the country’s first lockdown.

Disgusting story from Israel, where a small child was detained at gunpoint for the crime of flying a Palestinian flag from his bicycle. Thanks again to Megan Lynch.

Great idea. Dubai has installed bike counters on a 20-mile long bike path, providing users with a realtime bike count, as well as weather conditions, announcements and warnings.

The pandemic bike boom set a record for bicycle imports to Australia, coupled with a 50% increase in bike sales.

 

Competitive Cycling

Tour de France champ Egan Bernal clinched his first victory in the Giro by wearing the pink leader’s jersey into Milan’s Piazza Duomo as his Colombian countrymen celebrated.

Italy’s Damiano Caruso called himself “the happiest man in the world” after an unplanned victory in the Giro’s penultimate stage, which clinched an unexpected second-place finish for the three-week stage race.

Cycling Tips offers a behind the scenes Giro photo essay capturing the views you couldn’t get on TV. Or at all, for most of us in the US.

And this pretty well puts Bernal’s win in perspective.

It turns out the blue front tires used by the Jumbo-Visma team in this week’s Critérium du Dauphiné are just a marketing promotion for a European bicycle subscription service.

Keep an eye on 19-year old cyclist Riley Amos, who won the 2021 edition of Colorado’s Iron Horse Bicycle Classic; the road race was the launching pad for another young rider named Sepp Kuss recently. The women’s race was won by pro mountain biker and once and future Olympian Erin Huck.

The Belgian Waffle Ride offers a beginner’s clinic for California riders interested in taking part in the popular gravel race.

 

Finally…

Your new ebike could look like a very skinny Vespa. Your next cargo bike could (clumsily) charge itself.

And evidently, indoor trainers are nothing new.

Thanks to Ted Faber for the link.

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Happy Pride Month to everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, and all their supporters. And yes, you can proudly include me in that last group. 

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask

And get vaccinated, already.

Bike riders come in all sizes, VOA visits Venice Electric Light Bike Parade, and LACBC cultivates microbial bike ride

My apologies for yesterday’s unexcused absence. 

It probably won’t come as any surprise that my diabetes once again got the better of me. 

After struggling for weeks with high blood sugar after a new doctor — and new insurance — switched one of my medications, it took a sudden and unexpected nose dive Monday night, knocking me out for the rest of the night. 

And as you can see, when I finally came back to life, there was a dog sleeping on my head. 

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They get it.

Thanks to Shimano for a rare sympathetic look at bike riders who don’t fit the typical skinny mold.

The film follows two women, who self-identify as fat, on a “two-day bikepacking trip along the Corvallis to Coast Trail, a 65-mile route through the gorgeous Oregon Coast Range.”

And demonstrates that the sheer joy of riding a bicycle has nothing to do with the size of your body.

Seriously, watch it.

Then the next time you’re tempted to indulge in a little fat shaming, on or off a bike, just…

Don’t.

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The Voice of America takes a joyful look at the weekly Electric Light Parade in Venice Beach.

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The LACBC pens a Twitter thread on their self-guided bike ride for the upcoming month. Just click on the tweet to open the thread.

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If this doesn’t make you want to ride a bike in Trinidad & Tobago, nothing will.

Or better yet, to Trinidad & Tobago. Although you might want to catch a lift for that last wet stage.

https://twitter.com/GreenEDGEteam/status/1376595009408016392

Thanks to Stormin’ Norman for forwarding the video.

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Not only is London’s equivalent of Slow Streets not slowing down emergency responses, they may actually be improving them.

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GCN explains how to keep your bike free from rust.

Because as any Neil Young fan knows, rust never sleeps.

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

No windshield bias here. A writer on a South Dakota talk radio site is shocked to learn that bicyclists are allowed to ride in the roadway — even when it’s raining!

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a British police department’s campaign to prevent close passing of bicyclists is met with a barrage of anti-bike comments online. Then again, even the most innocuous pro-bike statements can bring the haters out.

Once again, someone has tried to sabotage a bikeway, as metal tacks were strewn along a popular New Zealand bike lane for the third time in four years.

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Local

It’s not your imagination. Passenger vehicle traffic is up to pre-pandemic levels in Los Angeles, and other cities around the US. Which is exactly what we’ve been warning would happen if the city didn’t invest in safe, efficient spaces for other forms of transportation during the pandemic down time.

Metro still doesn’t get it. The LA County transit agency continues to propose a watered-down alternative to the community-driven Beautiful Blvd plan for a Bus Rapid Transit line along Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock, omitting the expanded sidewalks, sidewalk-level protected bike lanes and more sidewalk trees residents have called for.

 

State

Chula Vista voted to rename the city’s portion of the Bayshore Bikeway for former mayor, county supervisor and bikeway booster Greg Cox.

A Santa Barbara bike rider suffered abdominal and torsal injuries in a collision with a hit-and-run driver; police are looking for the driver of a green pickup truck.

A Fresno man fondly remembers riding his bike to deliver the local paper in the early ’60s, when the Sunday paper was almost too much for the 90-pound, 12-year old boy.

After getting their Covid shots, a pair of San Francisco men decide to take Krispy Kreme up on its offer for free donuts by hitting up every Bay Area location in a single day. And would have succeeded if their ebike batteries hadn’t died.

 

National

Bloomberg rightly blames laws that lock in dangerous street designs and allow vehicles known to increase the risk to non-motorists for the shocking rise in US traffic fatalities during the pandemic.

Bicycling explains how to use a spoke wrench on your bike. And Yahoo explains it for those of us blocked by Bicycling.

Dutch ebike maker Van Moof says the US is ready to embrace ebikes in big ways.

The meth-fueled crash that killed five Las Vegas bike riders sped up a survivor’s plan to open his own bike shop. Which was just the second biggest decision he made as a result, after proposing to his girlfriend.

North Dakota joins Utah in becoming the latest US states to approve a modified Idaho Stop Law, aka Safety Stop, allowing bike riders to treat stop signs as yields; a similar bill has been introduced in the California legislature.

There’s something seriously wrong when the cops have to remind Ohio drivers that an offroad bike trail isn’t a traffic free shortcut for motor vehicles.

A kindhearted New York cop raised funds to replace the stolen ebike a teen boy living in a group home had just purchased, so he could start working for a food delivery service.

An Atlanta writer explains how to teach your kids to ride safely in a city built for cars. Good skills to have anywhere else, too.

Atlanta Magazine examines the Black bike clubs cranking the city’s two-wheeled revolution.

Family members speak out after a South Florida pastor was run down by a hit-and-run driver on a Miami causeway, leaving him in a coma. If the driver wanted to get away with it, maybe she shouldn’t have used valet parking right afterwards.

Horrifying crash in Miami, as the driver of a three-wheeled car plowed into a group of bicyclists standing on the sidewalk, injuring four people and leaving one woman with critical injuries.

Still more from the country’s most dangerous state for bike riders and pedestrians, as a 75-year old Florida man training for a 500-mile bike ride was killed by a 79-year old woman, who drove into him for “unknown reasons.” Maybe the reason was she shouldn’t have been driving in the first place.

A proposed law would require Florida drivers to move over to pass a bike rider or pedestrian, or at least give riders a three-foot passing distance.

 

International

London’s Independent looks at the best saddle bags for your bike.

There’s a special place in hell for the man who kicked a 13-year old English girl’s wheel to knock her off her bike, then repeatedly kicked her in the stomach before threatening her with a knife, in an apparent random assault.

A professor in the UK says bicycling is ten times more important than electric cars in fighting climate change.

A book excerpt takes a fascinating look at the role bikes, and the female arsonists who rode them, played in winning the vote for British women. And casually mentions Audrey Hepburn used her bicycle to deliver resistance leaflets in her Dutch hometown, and feminist icon Simone de Beauvoir rode a stolen bicycle with Jean-Paul Sartre in Nazi-occupied France.

Great idea. A woman in the UK has created a directory of businesses that deliver by bicycle.

It turns out the Russian consulate employee suspected of stealing hundreds of bikes from French riders was uncovered when the former deputy mayor of Strasbourg spotted his own stolen bike for sale online for half its original value.

 

Competitive Cycling

Italy’s Vini Zabù cycling team faces suspension for a second doping case in the same twelve-month period, after Matteo De Bonis tested positive for EPO following Matteo Spreafico’s positive in last October’s Giro d’Italia. If the finding is confirmed, the team could be barred from this year’s race, which returns to its traditional May start for 2021. But hey, the era of doping is over, though, right?

Team USA took four titles in this year’s Pan American cycling championships in Puerto Rico, which could bode well for the upcoming Olympics.

Former pro Phil Gaimon can kiss his KOM on Malibu’s Piuma Road goodbye, after ex-collegiate rower Drake Deuel took a six-month sabbatical from his job at Zwift to hunt Strava KOMs across the US.

New LED signs are warning cyclists about obstacles on race routes, inspired by Alberto Contador’s crash into a traffic island in the 2016 Tour de France.

 

Finally…

If you have to get run down by a hit-and-run driver, it might as well be a porn star. If you’re going to forage for parts in a bike shop dumpster, maybe pick one that’s not right behind a police station — and leave the marijuana, fentanyl and meth at home.

And riding tandem is always easier when your partner helps.

https://twitter.com/koan4u/status/1376523382733238274

Thanks to Keith Johnson for the link.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask

Update: Bike rider illegally ticketed by pissed-off cop for non-infractions on Venice bike path

Give Yo! Venice! credit for reporting this one.

The popular website broke the news yesterday that a bike rider on the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path was ticketed by a cop for a made-up violation — simply because he pointed out the LAPD officer’s motorcycle was blocking the pathway last Thanksgiving weekend.

According to the site — and backed up by a helmet cam video of the interaction — Venice resident Chris J. was slowly riding north on the pathway when he encountered the officer blocking the entire southbound section of the bikeway, at the same time a girl on a tricycle was blocking the north side of the path.

So after going around, he — politely, evidently — informed the officer his motorcycle was blocking the path, to which the officer responded “I can give you a ticket for that.”

Next thing he knew, the cop was following behind his slow moving beach cruiser with lights flashing.

And that’s when it gets interesting.

The cyclist turned on his helmet cam and recorded the officer fumbling for something, anything, he could ticket him for. And admitting on camera that the only reason he was writing up the rider was because he had argued with him.

Politely asking a cop not to block the bikeway may not be smart, but it sure as hell isn’t arguing.

Kind of violates the meaning of “To Protect and Serve,” doesn’t it?

First the officer threatens to write up the cyclist for riding on the wrong side of the bike path. Which, to the best of my knowledge, isn’t illegal; if the same traffic laws that apply to motor vehicles also apply to an off-road, Class I bikeway — a multi-use pathway in places — this is the first I’ve heard of it.

If so, the department could make up the state’s entire budget deficit just by writing tickets on the bike path. Starting with pedestrians walking on the bike-only sections, since people generally aren’t allowed to walk in the street, either.

Of course, it would also require cyclists to signal their lane change every time they pass someone. Along with a host of equally absurd requirements never before enforced on this bike path, or any other that I’m aware of.

So Chris argues that there’s a dotted yellow line dividing the two sides of the path in that section, rather than a solid yellow line, legally allowing him to cross over it in order to pass someone.

When the officer can’t argue that point, the cop switches gears. And instead, writes a ticket for violating the state’s Basic Speed Law, for — wait for it — riding 5 mph in a 10 mph zone.

Never mind the fact that the officer appears to have made up the 10 mph speed limit, which is not posted anywhere along the bikeway. Or anywhere else that I can find, for that matter.

Instead, let’s consider that the Basic Speed Law, CVC 22350, refers only to a speed greater than is reasonable under the circumstances. It says absolutely nothing about going too slowly.

Basic Speed Law

22350.  No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.

And to the best of my knowledge, a bike path is not a highway.

But I could be wrong about that; I’ll let you know if I see a semi-truck and a few speeding SUVs rolling down it when I’m out that way this afternoon.

Maybe the officer meant to write a ticket for CVC 22400, the Minimum Speed Law. Except that pertains only to highways, as well.

Not bike paths.

And part of which only applies to vehicles subject to registration.

In other words, not bikes.

Of course, had the officer written a ticket for that, he likely would have been laughed out of court when the case comes up before a judge on Friday. As he should be for attempting to make up traffic laws on the spot in order to cite a bike rider simply because the rider pissed him off.

Which is not exactly what we should expect from a trained officer sworn to uphold the law, who should have known better.

Or at least, known enough not to admit it on camera.

And I should also point out that it’s not against the law to argue with a cop. Although it’s seldom a good idea.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, take the ticket. Then take it up with the officer’s superiors, or fight it in court.

I’ve reached out to the LAPD’s bike liaisons for the West Traffic Division to see what they have to say on the subject. So far, I haven’t gotten a response; I’ll let you know if I do.

Update: According to KNBC-4, Detective Gus Villanueva of the LAPD’s Media Relations Section says the ticket was canceled “in the interest of justice,” and that the department was conducting an investigation into the officer involved.

Yo! Venice!, which has done a great job keeping on top of this story, reports that the officer involved works out of the West Traffic Division; still no response from the bike liaison from that Division. 

A minor miracle on the beachfront Marvin Braude bikeway

Finally, the sand is on the side of the bike path, where it's supposed to be.

Did you notice that?

To be honest, I almost missed it. Not because the change wasn’t dramatic, but because things were finally exactly the way they’re supposed to be — and until this year, usually had been.

For the first time in months, the bike path along the beach was virtually clear of sand, all the way from the Venice pier to the northern terminus in Pacific Palisades.

Finally, no sand on the path as far you can see.

Last week, I wrote that even though the county has been very responsive in clearing the sand that had built up on the sections they maintain in Santa Monica and Venice, results from the city had been significantly less impressive.

And the relatively small section the city is charged with maintaining, from north of the Annenberg Community Beach House to Will Rogers State Beach, remained covered with sand that had been there since the storms of last spring.

The telltale scrape marks left by a front loader after clearing the sand.

Scrape marks left by a front loader after clearing the sand from the concrete.

What a difference a few days makes.

On Thursday, Eric B commented that he’d just seen a heavy front loader, followed by someone with a leaf blower clearing away the sand, on the bike path. So I reworked my planned route for the next day to take in that section.

Focused on my ride, I was halfway through before I saw the telltale scrape marks on the concrete. And finally noticed what wasn’t there.

Sand.

Now there's enough room that users in each direction can stay on their own side.

It had been cleared away at last, and the path was open and truly ridable for the first time in months. And like me, no one even seemed to notice.

Which is exactly how it should be.

So thank you, Mr. Haynes, or whoever it was who was responsible for finally getting it cleaned. Now if you can just have those maintenance people come back every now and then to keep it that way, we’ll all be happy.

There's still a little sand spilling over in places, but nothing we can't ride around.

Speaking of which, I received a report this morning from LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer that he observed police officers advising pedestrians to stay off the bike path in Venice over the weekend.

Politely, I hope.

But still.

And on Friday, I watched as a private work crew worked to remove the broken and battered sailboat that had been beached just off the bike path in Venice for the last several months, after the skipper was tragically killed in one of last May’s storms.

The boat beached after a fatal sailing accident was finally removed on Friday.

So after months of dealing with a barely ridable path — and in the case of pedestrians on the bike path, years of virtual non-enforcement of the bikes-only restrictions — it looks like we’re finally making some progress on Southern California’s most popular bikeway.

Now if someone can just give me the name of whoever is in charge of getting the sun to come out…

No one seem to notice where city assumes responsibility for maintaining the bike path; they just enjoyed a nice ride for a change.

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Coverage of Friday’s Critical Mass ride and Blood In protest redux; links courtesy of Damien at Streetsblog. Beach bikes cruise PCH to Save the Ta-tas. The Anchorage paper tells drivers and cyclists to curb the temper and share the road. A 14-year old Fairbanks girl is dead and her brother injured after a pickup driver runs a red light. Oregon transit officials turn 8 parking spaces into 74 by trading cars for bikes. A Texas traffic engineer says just push the damn button if you want the light to change. Norman OK considers a three foot passing law after two cyclists are killed in OKC. A bike cop’s-eye view of a popular DC walking and biking trail. Mass Senators talk politics over bikes. Some drivers are jerks around cyclists, some cyclists are jerks around pedestrians. A Indianapolis triathlete gets right hooked by a minivan on its way to a Burger King. Evidently, the Tour de France is nearly as hard on reporters as it is on the riders; thanks to George Wolfburg for the link. A soon-to-be-ex member of Lance Armstrong’s Team RadioShack faces a two-year ban for doping. Belfast bobbies bear down on bike-raging bicyclists. A look at dooring from the driver’s perspective. Just one weekend into London’s new bike sharing program, refunds are already in the works. Biking across Australia in eight days or less. If you need a good laugh, check out the cycling infrastructure failure of the month, courtesy of Bicycle Fixation’s Rick Risemberg.

Finally, a UK cyclist takes one last ride to his own funeral.

True Grit: clearing a path for beachfront bicyclists

See the sand on the bike path? Me neither.

Notice anything different lately?

As you may recall, a couple weeks ago I wrote about the long-standing problem of sand on the Marvin Braude Bike Path along the beach in Santa Monica and Venice.

Then last week, I shared an email that I sent to County Bicycle Coordinator Abu Yusuf, after discovering that the county is responsible for maintaining the bikeway.

Or most of it, any way.

And I promised to let you know when I received a response. Then again, if you’ve ridden the bike path over the last few days, I probably don’t have to tell you what that response was.

To be honest, I didn’t think they were taking me seriously at first.

This is what local cyclists have had to deal with in recent months.

Mr. Yusuf emailed back, explaining that the bike path gets cleared three times a week, and inspected on a regular basis. And their records showed the maintenance was up to date and it was clear of sand.

So I picked up the phone, and said, as politely as possible, maybe you should take another look at those photos.

I explained that I’ve been riding that bike path for nearly 20 years. And this was the first time it had looked more like a sand trap at Riviera than southern California’s most heavily used bikeway — and stayed that way for over two months.

I was prepared for an argument. But his response surprised me.

As late as Monday, the bike path in Santa Monica looked like this.

Yusuf took my complaints seriously — even though they contradicted what he believed — and offered to meet me in Venice to take a first hand look.

Meanwhile, my original email, which had been circulated through the county maintenance department, seemed to be having an effect.

When I rode the bike path last week, it seemed a little cleaner than it had anytime since the storms of last May. Not yet free from sand, but clearly efforts had been made to clean the sand off in a number of places.

Then I rode it again this past Monday. And it showed even more improvement, though it still had a long way to go.

This is how the same section looked on Tuesday.

So Tuesday morning, I rode out to Venice, this time as a representative of the LACBC, to meet with Yusuf and the county’s other Bicycle Coordinator, Kristofor Norberg. I also asked my friend George Wolfberg to join us, since he’s involved in a number of local and regional community groups and bicycle advisory committees.

What we saw surprised us.

Overnight, following the regularly scheduled Tuesday morning maintenance, the bike path had gone from a sea of sand to an actual, ridable bike path. There were still problems, but the cement was cleaner than it had been in months.

It may not be perfect yet, but the bike path hasn't been this clear in months.

Of course, no pathway along the beach will ever be completely free of sand. Daily ocean breezes blow it onto the path, and every beachgoer who tramps across it drags a little sand with them.

But the difference was night and day.

So the first thing we did when Yusuf and Norberg arrived was to say thank you. Then we took them on a little walk to point out some problems that still remained.

They surprised us, too. Instead of the sterotypical SoCal bureaucrats hell bent on defending their department, we found two very polite and friendly men who were clearly committed to solving problems and finding a way to get things done.

In other words, exactly the kind of public servants our city and county so desperately need these days.

Kristofor Norberg and George Wolfberg examine how much of the bike path has been lost to sand.

We showed them places where a malfunctioning sprinkler system washed out the sand bordering the path, sending it streaming across the bikeway in inch-deep deposits. Along with areas where sand had been allowed to overtake the edges of the path, reducing its usable surface by as much as a foot and a half in places.

We pointed out places where pedestrians walk across the bike path, often without looking — and they showed us where warning signs had been removed or covered with graffiti, and where sweeping equipment had worn off the markings that indicated portions of the path were for bikes only.

And we talked about the problems presented by the odd combination of cyclists, skaters, skateboarders, joggers, pedestrians and Segway jockeys who traverse the path on a daily basis. In fact, we watched as a bike rider nearly had to be restrained after colliding with a skateboarder.

And after a tour that lasted well over an hour, our meeting felt more like four friends working together to solve a problem than a couple of cyclists butting heads against the usual brick wall of local government.

This sign used to say something; now it's just bike parking.

In the end, they committed to follow up with the county maintenance staff to make sure the path stays as clear of sand as possible, and to see what can be done about the problem areas and the streaks of sand the sweepers sometimes leave behind.

They offered to look into additional signage and striping to identify the bike-only portions of the path and warn pedestrians to look out for bikes when they cross the path. They also agreed to ask for bike cops to patrol the path from time to time to try to prevent conflicts before they happen.

And finally, they asked for your help.

If you notice any problems on the bike path or areas where the signage could be improved, Yusuf wants to hear from you; you can email him at ayusuf@dpw.lacounty.gov. Or just send them to me or the LACBC, and we’’ll forward it to him for you.

On the other hand, he also made it clear that there are limits to what he can do.

For instance, the county has responsibility for everything on the bike path itself — but anything on either side falls under the jurisdiction of other city or state agencies.

And their jurisdiction ends just north of the new Annenberg Community Beach House, where the city takes over.

Which means we face a whole different set of problems to get that section cleaned.

But at least, this is one clear victory for cyclists.

Clearly, we still have work to do; this is where the city maintained portion of the bike path begins.

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