Tag Archive for Westholme Ave

Advice from a pimp on making PCH safer and more livable for everyone

I’ve met some interesting people over the years.

I once had a long philosophical discussion with a drug dealer when my car happened to break down on his corner, and talked with a Super Bowl-bound football star about his premonition of scoring the winning touchdown — one that fell just inches short of coming true.

Then again, a lot of championships have been lost on almost.

I’ve shared drinks with future rock stars before they made it big, and chatted with others who should have made it but didn’t. I’ve known powerbrokers and paupers, pimps and politicians. Not that there’s a lot of difference between the last two.

In fact, it was a pimp who offered some of the best advice I’ve ever been given.

I was working in a jewelry store at the time; he walked through the door, just an ordinary looking guy in a business suit — if you ignored the fur hat, flashy jewelry and even flashier women on either arm.

After briefly cruising through the store, he asked me to show him a very expensive ring — for himself, of course. But stopped me when I started to tell him the price.

“Don’t matter,” he said.

When I seemed surprised, he explained. “If I want it, the price don’t matter ‘cause I’ll pay whatever it costs. If I don’t want it, don’t matter ’cause I won’t buy it.”

“Only matters is if I don’t know what I want. And then I’d be a damn fool to let the price talk me into it.”

The current situation in Malibu is kind of like that.

If they truly want to make PCH safer, they’ll find a way to do it, whatever it takes. And come up with policies and infrastructure solutions that will benefit everyone — cyclists and drivers, residents and visitors.

If they don’t, then nothing will really change. They’ll ticket a few riders for running red lights, pull over some speeders and bust a handful of drunk drivers. And people will continue to die on a highway that doesn’t work for anyone — least of all the people who live and work there.

The real problem is if they don’t know what they want. Like if they want to improve things, but consider the problems they face insurmountable, the costs too high. Or if the obvious solutions, such as traffic calming and reduced speed limits, increased enforcement and on-road bike lanes — or an off-road bike path that bypasses PCH entirely — are rejected out of hand, whether because of the cost or a lack of will.

Or just rampant NIMBY-ism, because they don’t want to encourage cyclists to ride on PCH. And intend to continue letting conditions deteriorate until we stop riding past those high-end homes that line the beach on the eastern part of the city.

Note to Malibu: Ain’t gonna happen.

So our job, as cyclists, is not to fight with the city until we convince them to do nothing because it’s not worth the aggravation of dealing with us.

But to convince them to work with us to improve safety and take a Complete Streets approach to PCH, because it’s in everyone’s best interest. And the law.

And will make Malibu a safer and more livable city.

For all of us.


And then there were five. Or maybe five-and-a-half.

As Damien noted on Streetsblog Tuesday, the long awaited sharrows on Westholme Ave. have disappeared without warning, victim of a slurry-sealing project that has been underway in the Westwood area for the past few weeks.

I discovered it on Tuesday when I set off to ride some hills, starting with the long step climb up Westholme. About a block or so after crossing Wilshire Blvd, the tell-tale jet-black pavement appeared and the sharrows disappeared, lost beneath the thin veneer of slurry until just before Hilgard.

According to Damien, LADOT seemed to be as surprised as the rest of us; evidently, the Bureau of Street Services evidently failed to notify them of the plans. Or noted the strange hieroglyphics on the pavement, and never thought to ask if maybe they happened to be something important before covering them over.

LADOT Bike Blog indicates that getting those sharrows back will be a top priority for the department.

But maybe next time, biking’s new BFF, Mayor Villaraigosa, might want to make sure the people who work for him talk to each other before they do something stupid.



Vuelta stage 4 winner Igor Anton suggests Joaquim Rodriguez has the best chance of winning among the home-turf Spanish riders. Alberto Contador, who’s sitting out the Vuelta, injures his knee in training. And more tributes pour in for cycling great Laurent Fignon, dead at age 50.


Metro says fire officials consider groups of cyclists on trains a fire hazard. Important meeting Wednesday night on the Santa Monica Agensys bike path-blocking project. Speaking of Santa Monica, LA Creek Freak looks at the planned conversion of lower Ocean Park Blvd into a green Complete Street; if you happen to be a Malibu city official, click on the link. Please. LADOT Bike Blog examines sidewalk riding laws in the San Gabriel Valley. Ride with the Ovarian Psychos/Cycle Bicycle Brigade. San Diego considers making the central plaza in Balboa Park car free. A cyclist hits a trolley in East San Diego County. Several California bike clubs risk losing their non-profit status, including some in the L.A. area. San Francisco finishes its first new bike lane since the injunction was lifted. Bicycling suggests 15 proven ways to get faster, and offers tips on how to teach your child to ride to school. New York continues to lead the way to safer streets, with a planned experiment to reduce speeds to 20 mph. A small Texas town now requires a permit for groups of 10 or more cyclists; no word on whether groups of cars will now require permits, as well. A driver picks up his dropped cell phone, and find himself in the bike lane when he looks up — just before hitting a cyclist. A Kansas cyclist leaves a message in chalk to thank the woman who saved his life. Connecticut starts a 3-foot law bike safety campaign. Brit model Kelly Brock rides her bike at the Tower of London, and looks a lot more comfortable on two wheels than London’s biking Mayor BoJo.

Finally, the definition of irony, as bike-banning Black Hawk, Colorado invites the League of American Bicyclists to come gamble at their casinos.

But, uh, leave your bikes at home.

Bright shiny new sharrows in Westwood

This morning, I set out on a ride down to Manhattan Beach, rolling right past the future home of sharrows on Westholme Ave.

As has been the case for the past few weeks, a quick glance up and down the street for traffic showed no signs of any new paint. At least none I hadn’t already spotted.

These markings have been on the street for the past week or so.

So imagine my surprise when I rolled back about 3 hours and 45 miles later, and noticed a car slow down to a near stop, evidently confused by the new markings that had suddenly appeared on Westholme.

Seriously, I swear these weren't there this morning.

I stopped to take a look, and sure enough, there were a pair of bright, shiny new sharrows on the street leading up to Wilshire Blvd. And a quick look the other way showed more heading south towards Santa Monica Blvd.

Sharrows to the left, sharrows to the right.

So even though my legs were on their last legs, I couldn’t resist the temptation to ride up as far as Wilshire to check them out.

Even though they were placed in the center of the lane, it seemed appropriate, since the lanes on this section are narrow — and definitely not sharable.

Even placed in the center of the lane, they're just outside the door zone.

Riding up towards Wilshire, I was perfectly comfortable riding on the sharrows, moving to the right to let cars pass when it was safe and appropriate. Coming back, there were no cars parked on the right due to street sweeping restrictions, so I stuck to the parking lane and let the drivers have the traffic lane to themselves.

On the other hand, many of the drivers who went by didn’t seem to know what to make of the strange symbols on the road in front of them. Some slowed down and examined them closely, while others drove onto the other side of the road to go around them — even though there weren’t any bikes, or anything else, in their way.

This driver wasn't the only one who seemed afraid to cross over the strange markings that had appeared without warning.

Then there were others who didn’t seem to notice there was anything different.

Those are the ones I worry about.

That just leaves Abbot Kinney Blvd as the last of the six streets scheduled to get sharrows during the current pilot project. And I just rode there on my way back this afternoon.

So I can safely say there aren’t any there.


Yesterday’s ride, on which I discover sharrows on Westholme Ave — or maybe not

Easy come, easy go.

Ever since they went down on Fountain and 4th, I’ve been on sharrow watch along the routes I ride on a semi-regular basis. Which means Westholme Ave in Westwood and Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, since they’re the only two Westside streets scheduled to get sharrows as part the current pilot project.

Notice the misaligned chevrons on top of this painted-over sharrow.

So imagine my surprise when I found one on the upper portion of Westholme, just below Hilgard Ave and the UCLA campus. Even more surprising, it had been painted over completely, just leaving a shadow of its former self.

Then just a little further uphill, I found another one.

And this one seems a little squished.

For a moment, I thought that maybe LADOT had put the first few Westholme sharrows down, then changed their mind for some reason.

Oddly, though, the paint appeared to be flat, rather than the raised thermoplastic favored by LADOT. Then there was the unusual shape of the blacked out shadows, with one showing misaligned chevrons and the other seeming a little… squished.

Which raised the question of whether these were official street markings that had somehow been misapplied. Or if the Department of DIY was back in action, unwilling to wait a moment longer for their Westwood shared lanes. Or maybe they just wanted to ensure proper placement on the street.

Which then raised the question of who painted them over. Was it LADOT trying to cover up a mistake or remove an illegal DIY application? Or had NIMBY-ism once again reared its ugly head and a local homeowner decided that bikes don’t belong on his street?

Inquiring minds want to know. So I reached out to a contact at LADOT to see if they knew the real story. As it turns out, they did.

Those sharrows had been applied over two months ago as part of the initial study to survey cyclists and examine driver behavior before the real sharrows are installed, so the city would be able to determine what effect they have on both. Then they were immediately painted over to avoid confusing anyone — other than me, that is — until the more permanent markings are installed.

So the question isn’t what they were doing there, or even who painted over them. But why the hell I hadn’t noticed them before — despite riding directly over them at least a dozen times in the weeks that followed.

On the other hand, it does bring up a good point.

As much as I’ve criticized LADOT for requiring a study to prove the effectiveness of shared lane markings that have already been shown effective in real-world conditions around the globe, that’s exactly what it is.

A study.

The six initial installations are part of a test to determine how L.A. drivers and cyclists respond to sharrows, and if they actually make the city’s streets any safer for riders. Or if they just end up further aggravating L.A.’s already impatient drivers.

And exactly how, where — and if  — they’re used in the future will depend on the results.


Alex David Trujillo has been convicted of 2nd degree murder for the October, 2008 death of 46-year old Catherine Busse, who was killed as she rode next to her 14-year old son. Trujillo, who had previously been convicted of drunk driving and attended 9 months of court-ordered alcohol awareness classes, had a blood alcohol level of .09 at the time of the collision — hours after he’d stopped drinking — as well as Oxycodone, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma in his system.

He now faces 15 years to life in state prison; sentencing is scheduled for August 20th.


More on Friday’s successful LAPD accompanied Critical Mass — LADOT Bike Blog says it was clear from the start it was going to be successful, Sirinya had the time of her life, Stephen Box says it turned into a Ride of Respect and Damien says we all rode as one, even though LAist says a cyclist was hit by a car in West Hollywood.


Flying Pigeon asks if the lessons learned by the Dutch translate to L.A. cycling. CicLAvia is halfway to their goal of raising $7,000. Bicycle Fixation finds a bike corral at the Farmer’s Market. L.A. cyclists tour Pershing Square and the Downtown area. Oakland is the latest city to host a ciclovia. A Santa Cruz bank is held up by a bicyclist, but at least he wore a helmet. A cyclist from Lodi is seriously injured in Idaho after being brushed by a passing SUV, then hit by the following pickup after falling in the roadway, evidently because the sun got in their eyes; fortunately, the police didn’t buy the first driver’s excuse. Biking just five minutes a day helps women keep weight gains to a minimum; of course you wouldn’t get very far. Instructions on how to fix a flat tire; something I’ve done way too much lately. Now there are at least two bands that tour by bicycle. LCD Soundsystem’s new video features Portlanders jousting on tall bikes. A new website launches offering advice for cyclists — as well as drivers. A Florida driver pleads not guilty of stabbing two cyclists following an argument. Bike share comes to the City of Big Shoulders. Cyclists pitch in for Habitat for Humanity. Cincinnati passes a new Bike Master Plan and bike safety ordinance. New York requires every bike to have a bell, even if it doesn’t do any good. The old myth of cyclists not paying for the road rears its ugly head in Southwestern Colorado. Bicycling says don’t bet on Lance in this year’s Tour unless maybe you are Lance. Does Toronto need blue bike lanes? A former driver wasn’t prepared for the absolute concentration required by bike commuting. Sheffield, England calculates that their bike training program pays off seven pounds sterling for every pound invested. A London cyclist is seriously injured by a truck belonging to the same company that killed another cyclist earlier this year. Riding with London’s bike bobbies. Scotland boosts bike spending by £4 million — about $6 million U.S. Israel tells soldiers to leave their bikes at home. Brisbane cyclists are ticketed for speeding and not having a bell.

Finally, Dave Moulton says mandatory helmet laws are like allowing people to walk around shooting guns, then making everyone wear a bullet proof vest.

A simple adjustment in biking infrastructure, part 1

I confess. I haven’t read the new bike plan yet.

Most of us need a little time to get through a plan that, with appendices, checks in just this side of War and Peace. And Tolstoy didn’t include complicated maps that have to be studied with near microscopic attention.

Or leave out street names, as on the Westside map.

So it’s possible that this could have been addressed in the plan, although a cursory look suggests otherwise.

Yet while city officials frequently cite a lack of funding as a primary reason why we see so few improvements in bikeways and biking infrastructure — even though they have a history of leaving money on the table — there are a number of things they could do that would cost almost nothing and have little or no impact on traffic.

Take Westholme Avenue in Westwood.

It’s currently a Class 3 bike route, offering a safe, quiet route from Santa Monica Boulevard to the UCLA campus — although the new plan shows it’s due to be downgraded to a “bicycle friendly” street. And according to the LACBC, it’s one of the streets that’s under consideration for the upcoming Sharrows pilot project.

Unfortunately, north of Wilshire Blvd, cyclists face a steep, three-quarter mile climb to get to campus. It’s not a problem when you’re southbound and down; not so much fun when you’re struggling to make it uphill.

Westwood-3-wayTo make matters worse, just as the hardest part of the climb begins, there’s a three-way stop at the intersection where Westholme, Glenmont and Le Conte come together.

From a driver’s perspective, it helps control a quiet, but confusing, junction. From a cyclist’s perspective, though, it forces riders to either ignore the law and blow through the stop, or lose all momentum at the base of the hill, just when they need it most — making it a difficult, if not impossible, climb for many riders, and deterring them from attempting it a second time.

And it’s completely unnecessary.

As the photo shows, there’s no parking in the intersection, which means that cyclists can comfortably ride to the right, out of the traffic lane, without risk to or from traffic in any direction. It’s as if we had our own little through lane there.

So why should we have to stop?

Westwood-3-Way-SignsLADOT could address the problem by adding another sign below the stop sign, reading “bikes yield” or “except for bikes.”

Problem solved.

Overnight, it becomes a much more attractive street for riders of all levels — at almost no cost to the city. And without inconveniencing a single driver.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.


Streetsblog has posted links to the bike maps released earlier in the summer for anyone wanting to compare the current draft of the bike plan. Why the lack of diversity at the recent Byrne panel discussion? The top 10 facts about cycling. Dallas police will no longer enforce the city’s mandatory helmet policy — the one that was put in place to stop drug traffickers (?!?). Portland police release their internal bicycle training video. Advice from Boston on avoiding the door zone. Delaware declares female bike commuters extinct. A ‘60s era video from GM gives a driver credit for avoiding an accident — caused when she nearly right hooks a cyclist. Women in the UK consider cyclists the most attractive males. Well, duh. A cyclist’s view of rush hour in Scotland. In case you missed it earlier this week, the UK’s Guardian asks if California will become America’s first failed state. Finally, this may just be the most heartbreaking photo I’ve ever seen.

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