Nothing to see here

December 8, 2013

Good news.

We finally made the transfer to private server this afternoon. As a result, this site probably won’t be updated any more; any new posts can be found at bikinginla.com.

Hopefully, it will forward automatically soon; until then, just click on the link above, and remember to update your bookmark or reader.

And big thanks to Alex Amerri for his hard work in moving this site over.

Breaking news: bike rider killed in collision with Sheriff’s Deputy


Update: Bike rider killed in Pacoima train collision; eighth SoCal train victim this year

December 6, 2013

Eighty-one. And eight.

That’s how many bike riders have lost their lives in what has turned out to be a horrible year for SoCal cyclists. And how many of those riders have died as a result of train collisions.

According to the LA Times, a male bike rider was hit and hilled by a Metrolink train in Pacoima this afternoon. The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding on Van Nuys Blvd when he attempted to cross the railroad tracks just north of San Fernando Road around 3:50 pm.

The paper reports he apparently tried to beat the train, despite the fact that the warning gates had already been lowered. He was struck by the 218 train on its way to Union Station in Downtown LA, and pronounced dead at the scene.

With this death, nearly 10% of the fatalities involving Southern California bike riders have been the result of train collisions — the easiest type of collision to avoid. All you have to do is stay off the tracks when there’s a train coming.

Unlike motor vehicles. trains are restricted to a specific pathway, and can’t vary their route in any way. And they have warning systems to let you know when they’re coming; all you have to do is squeeze on the brakes.

At least three of those eight deaths resulted from riders attempting to beat the train or ride around the warning gates. Which makes me wonder if they were truly attempting to beat the gates, or if at least some might have been fixie riders forced to ride through because they lacked the skill to stop in time.

Unfortunately, we may never know, since none of the reports identify the type of bike the victim was riding.

But it’s a question worth asking as we struggle to understand why so many riders have died in a type of collision that’s so easy to avoid.

This is the 81st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 33rd in LA County. This is also the 14th rider to lose his life in the City of Los Angeles since the first of the year, three time the average for the city.

Update: According to KCBS-2, the victim, identified only as a 30-year old Hispanic man, was riding west on Van Nuys at the time of the collision. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his family.


Let’s try this again

December 4, 2013

Just a quick note to let you know we’re going to try once again to transfer my blog over to a private server, hopefully tonight.

With a little luck — okay, a lot of luck the way things have gone so far — we’ll be back up and running in a day or two, almost as if nothing has changed.

On the other hand, if things go the way I expect, it may take a few days to get it back to where it needs to be. Or maybe even better, as I start to add some of the new pages I’ve been working on.

Which means, unless there’s breaking news, you may not see anything new here the rest of this week. So bundle up and get out on your bike, which beats the hell out of sitting in front of a screen reading about it any day.

In the meantime, I hope to see you here Thursday night.


Bike-riding dancer suffers broken leg in Westside hit-and-run

December 2, 2013
A broken leg is a serious injury. Especially for a dancer.

A broken leg is a serious injury. Especially for a dancer.

LA yoga maven and bike rider Joni Yung forwards word of a nearly month old hit-and-run that left a dancer with a broken leg.

This is from the victim’s husbands Facebook page:

As some of you know, on Nov 6th, my wife was involved in an hit and run accident while riding her bicycle. As a result of the accident she has a broken fibula in two places. We are posting this to activate our community of friends to help locate the driver and/or car. Luckily, we have a couple witnesses that were able to get a description of the driver and a partial plate number. The car involved was a Black Mercedes with the partial plate 7AF65. (not sure the placement of digits missing) The driver description: female, early 20’s, around 5’5-5’6, with long wavy brown hair. The accident was at the intersection of Federal and Rochester in West Los Angeles. Feel free to share and please contact the police department at 213-473-0222 case number 130816261 with any information regarding the car or driver. Thank you for your help.

The driver reportedly stopped to check on the victim, then said she had to move the car. And took off.

That’s definitely someone who deserves to be found.

And held accountable for her tiny, cold, hard heart.

………

An innovative new kickstand design promises to support bikes born without them; the project just passed it’s Kickstarter goal with less than three days to go.

………

The LA Times takes a belated look at the controversy over the killer redesign of the Glendale-Hyperion bridge complex, and adds to the story, including news of a possible road diet. Sweet Ride USA reviews their most recent sweet ride. Firestone Walker Brewing plans a bike-friendly Venice beer tasting room; I’m in. SaMo city councilmembers want better bike and wheelchair access to the planned replacement for the new pier bridge. A Long Beach paper asks if bicycling has a future in the city; aka trolling for controversial comments to boost readership. Burbank will hold a meeting on the Channel Bikeway Project on the 11th, while the San Gabriel Valley will hold a series of meetings for their proposed bike plan. Is it just me, or are there too many bike meetings to keep up with these days? Either way, it’s a good problem to have.

Caltrain makes it easier to park your bike and ride the train. Laguna police are looking for a stolen $10,000 mountain bike; seriously, what kind of person would leave any bike, let alone one worth that much, in an unlocked pickup bed overnight? Bakersfield city councilman promises a better bike plan and rides one himself — a bike that is, not a bike plan — while the local paper calls for better bike infrastructure.

A new Bike League infographic looks at women and cycling. A Seattle letter writer says the hilly city will never be a cycling city, despite plans to spend $500,000 on bike infrastructure and programs. A PA driver faces charges for intentionally running down a bike rider following an argument — with his dad sitting next to him. Safety isn’t the only concern many cyclists have to deal with, as women and LGBT riders face harassment on their bikes. Former Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson will ride to the school’s spring football game as his third annual bike ride for tornado relief.

After London cyclists stage a die-in, the city’s cycling czar says bike safety advocates are spreading fear; actually, six riding deaths in nine days will do that. A BBC poll shows one in five bike commuters has stopped riding as a result. London prosecutors drop charges against a rider who stopped ahead of a bike box because there was a car in it. UK residents call for a crackdown on “lunatic” ninja cyclists. Former cosponsor Oleg Tinkoff buys the Saxo Bank team, and proclaims cycling’s doping era is over; yeah, right. Former TdF champ Jan Ulrich is at peace with his doping past, while the cutback in drug use seems to have produced more grand tour winners. Bangalore bike commuting questions answered. Qatar introduces a women’s cycling team; the question is whether they will be permitted to dress in a way that allows them to be competitive. Eritrea wins the African Cycling Championships for both men and women. Queensland cyclists will get the equivalent of a three-foot passing law, with more space required at higher speeds. Aussie judge loses her license and faces charges after hitting a cyclist while driving drunk. A Brit pro cyclist is punched out in New Zealand because a local didn’t like his T-shirt. Three-hundred Singapore cyclists ride for better safety.

Finally, an Aussie paper jumps on the bike hate bandwagon, offering 14 reasons why they hate cyclists, aka “cockroaches of the road.”

Nice.


The more things don’t change, the more they remain the same; LA driver confesses to threatening cyclists

December 1, 2013
Here's a picture of my dog, who could have done a better job of moving my blog than the people I hired to do it.

Here’s a picture of my dog, who could have done a better job of moving my blog to a private server than the people I hired to do it.

So much for that.

As we left off last week, I promised this blog would be transferred to a private server over the holiday weekend, as the first phase of long-gestating plan to remake it into an advertising-supported website.

Long gestating, indeed. Many species have their babies in a lot less time than this process, which started in August, has taken.

But as you’ll see, either the transfer was done so perfectly that nothing has changed, or nothing has changed.

Smart money is on the latter.

Over the weekend I received an email from the web-hosting service I’d hired to do the transfer that they too lacked the capability to move it to their servers. This, despite sworn assurances from their sales staff that they’d done it many times before, and would have me up and running in a matter of days.

Turns out they hadn’t. And wouldn’t.

But at least I got my money back.

So the transfer is on hold for now. Hopefully, it will get done later this week, by another company that doesn’t have its head so far up it’s own ass knows what it’s doing and is a little more honest about its own abilities.

I’ll let you know more when I do.

………

It’s not everyday someone confesses to assault with a deadly weapon on National Public Radio.

But that’s exactly what self-proclaimed life-long LA driver Jackie Burke did in an otherwise positive piece about LA Bike Trains.

The story focused on the founding of the program by New York transplant Nona Varnado, who has become a leader in the local bicycling scene in the short time she’s been here — though I do miss her incredible design work for women cyclists. Along with the success the program has had in helping beginning bike commuters take to the roads.

Not that everyone welcomes new riders to the roads.

Like the aforementioned Ms. Burke, for instance.

“It’s like they enjoy taking up the lanes,” says Jackie Burke, who has lived in Los Angeles her whole life. She says bicyclists drive her crazy when she’s in a car and has to slow down for them.

“It’s very frustrating, to the point where I just want to run them off the road,” Burke says. “I’ve actually done one of those drive-really-close-to-them kind of things to kind of scare them, to try to intimidate them to get out of my way.”

Let’s start with the fact that neither Burke, nor anyone else, has a right to the roadway, let alone a right to drive unimpeded. And as Niall Huffman points out, bikes aren’t hard to pass — as long as you’re not the kind of sociopath who’s willing to intentionally threaten another human being for the crime of slightly inconveniencing your commute.

Because that’s exactly what Burke has admitted doing.

By her own account, she used her vehicle as a weapon in an attempt to intimidate another person using the roadway in a legal manner. She could, and perhaps should, be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Except that she would undoubtedly deny her own words, which is currently the only evidence against her.

In order for charges to stick, her victim or an independent witness would have to come forward who could testify that Burke threatened the rider with her car, and could place her — or at least her vehicle — at the scene of the crime.

Because a crime is exactly what it was.

Her words also place her in violation of LA’s groundbreaking cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, which allows a cyclist to file a civil suit against deliberately threatening drivers. But again, that would require Burke’s victim(s) to come forward, and be able to identify her as the attacker.

Not likely, given the challenge of taking down a license number as a rider struggles not to get run off the road. Let alone over.

Which means, despite her very public confession on national radio, she’s likely going to get away with it. Just like all the other otherwise decent people who somehow turn into blood-thirsty, road-raging sociopaths once they get behind the wheel.

Although the DMV should seriously look into permanently pulling her license. Or at least until she can learn to drive without threatening the lives and safety of complete strangers who have the misfortune of sharing the road with her.

Perhaps more frightening, though, is that Alex Schmidt, the reporter on the piece, didn’t even bother to challenge her comments.

Because attitudes and actions like hers are far too common. And far too accepted in our society.

And if that doesn’t scare the crap out of every American, it should.


Happy Thanksgiving. And wish me luck.

November 27, 2013

First of all, please forgive my absence the past couple days.

While I try to write something every day — or every weekday anyway —  sometimes other obligations get in the way. Especially when the calendar calls for riding my bike to meetings downtown.

And as much as I enjoy the ride, time spent on my bike or in meetings is time I can’t spend writing.

Then again, there are other things that have been eating into my time lately.

As I’ve hinted at before, there are changes afoot at BikinginLA, as I make the transition bike blog to an advertising-supported bike news site. The first step will — hopefully — take place this weekend when my site is scheduled to move to a private web server.

It’s not going to be the whole new website I’d planned; not yet, at least. But it will allow me to do things I can’t do now, like accept advertising and put up a link for donations while I work on getting a whole new design online.

If everything goes as planned, you won’t notice the difference. Otherwise… well, let’s just hope for the best, shall we?

Although if you have this site bookmarked, you may want to change it from bikinginla.wordpress.com to just bikinginla.com. Both work now, but the latter will be the address going forward.

Finally, I know I’ve said it before.

But in this season of gratitude, let me take a moment to thank you for coming here. Because without you, and all those who take the time to visit here, nothing I have to say would mean anything.

And if you need a little help counting your blessings this year, or remembering what really matters, read this.

Hopefully, I’ll see you back here next week.

Until then, please accept my best wishes for a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving and a very happy Chanukah.

And stay safe out there.


Bus driver who killed Udo Heinz may have been distracted; and a long list of Monday links

November 24, 2013

Official results aren’t expected from federal investigators until the end of the month in the death of Udo Heinz, the popular San Diego cyclist killed by a bus while riding on Camp Pendleton last August.

However, San Diego’s NBC-7 confirms that Heinz and two other riders were hit from behind, as reported here earlier, rather than sideswiped as reported in other press accounts. And reports — or strongly implies — that the bus driver was illegally using a handheld cell phone at the time of the collision.

………

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton questions the courage of CD5 Councilmember Paul Kortez following his recent kowtowing to Westwood homeowners. UCLA unveils a new on-campus bike counter, while less bike-friendly cross-town rival USC reneges on promises for street improvements. Touring LA without a car. Santa Monica could see new green bike lanes on Main Street and Broadway, pending Tuesday’s SaMo city council vote. Cycling in the South Bay isn’t shocked by doping by masters racers. The new bike team at Cal State Long Beach is starting to make waves. The Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition is hosting a fund raiser at the Dale Bros Brewery on Saturday, December 14th. BikeSGV discovers newly installed protected car parking, uh, bike lanes.

Palm Springs could become more bike friendly. Santa Cruz cyclists get a new off-road dirt bike course. If you’re riding with an illegal blackjack and two outstanding warrants, stop for the damn stop sign, already. A cyclist suffers major injuries when his bike is rear-ended on the Stanford campus; fortunately, a second car only hit his bike. SFist asks if San Francisco is the most bike-friendly city in the country; uh, probably not. Salinas cyclist killed after allegedly running a stop sign; but if the driver had the sun in her eyes, who saw him run it? Napa Valley paper asks if California’s laws are enough to keep bicyclists safe. Improve safety by designing roads for cyclists.

Treehugger says let’s stop calling the deaths of cyclists at the hands of negligent drivers accidents; I couldn’t agree more. Reflective vests don’t have to look like crap. A 78-year old driver kills cyclist participating in El Tour de Tucson bike race, even though the rider “did everything right.” Seattle spends $225,000 for a special bike lane street sweeper. Boulder CO bike advocates question lenient penalties for drivers who kill or injure cyclists; actually, I think bike riders everywhere question that. Chicago driver jerks — with emphasis on the jerk — his vehicle into a cyclist after the rider asks him to stop playing video games while driving. A Tennessee town misinterprets local law to ban children from riding bikes on city streets. Actually, new Boston sharrows – even on steroids — don’t give priority to cyclists or motorists; that’s kind of the point of a shared lane, no? Maryland grand jury gives an aggressive driver a pass for fatally not passing a cyclist. Bipartisan support for bicycling baffles the media. A Florida rider corrects the misconception that salmon cycling is safer.

Bicycling British writer politely responds to the very unfunny, anti-bike troll she has the misfortune of sharing the planet working with. New report says the UK is falling behind on bike safety. London’s Police Commissioner says he’s afraid to ride a bike and that only poor people do, then backs off on his own comments. On the other hand, Bristol’s police chief says he’s one of us, while the city steps up enforcement against both cyclists and motorists. The Independent says cyclists and motorists should be on the same side. Brit author and WWII survivor is run down by a driver blinded by the sun. A Scottish letter writer calls for £500 — $811 — fines for rogue cyclists; I wonder how many rogue drivers face fines anywhere near that? Former pro rider Arnaud Coyot was killed in a French car crash on Sunday. Former world time trial champ Emma Pooley is back in the saddle after taking time off for her PhD. American triathlete is forced to pay blood money to leave Abu Dhabi after colliding with a race volunteer who ran into his path. Kiwi cyclist confesses to being less of a rebel, with more of a cause. Are Australian cities underestimating the potential for bicycling? Aussie cyclist gets five years for fatally pushing a 71-year old woman who got in the way of his bike. A new bike safety campaign wants your help in reporting articles about cyclist/driver incidents; thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up. A Tokyo police sergeant is under investigation for trying to stop a rash of bike thefts; yes, you read that right.

Finally, a British Lord claims bike riders want to get run over so they can film it; personally, I’ll pass, thank you. And a London cyclist says he’s okay, but everyone else sucks. Then again, he’s probably never had to defend himself from a family of elk.


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