Dear New York: Can we have your Dept. of Transportation Commissioner? Please?

February 28, 2011

What sadly passes for a writer at the New York Post calls NYDOT Commissioner Jannette Sadik-Khan a “psycho bike lady” and an “incompetent, overpromoted, overzealous bureaucrat.”

And that’s just the beginning.

This time, it’s because of a plan to convert the city’s 34th Street from a throughway to a Complete Streets busway. Although based on the paper’s highly biased coverage of biking news, it could have been about any number of other issues.

Sadik-Khan is recognized across the country as one of the nation’s leading transportation planners — willing to confront NYC’s addiction to the automobile and return some small portion of the streets to the people who actually live along and use them, rather than the machines that have long destroyed the city’s quality of life.

Yet the Post continues to fan the flames of self-righteousness over any attempt to take a single inch of roadway away from overly entitled motorists in order to actually improve the city’s over burdened streets.

And God forbid that the city’s residents should have viable alternatives to driving. Or pleasant and safer places to live, walk and bike — or just be, for that matter.

But evidently, they couldn’t care less how many people are killed or injured by motor vehicles on New York streets, or how poor the quality of life is along them, as long as they can speed from New Jersey to Long Island without stopping along the way.

And you thought yellow journalism was dead.

So here’s an offer.

Los Angeles has been without a General Manager for our Department of Transportation for the past several months. And we’d like Ms. Sadik-Khan to come home every bit as much as the Post’s writers would like to get rid of her.

So if they can convince New Yorkers it’s better to wallow in their own traffic and smog than actually do anything to improve it, we’ll gladly take her.

Please.

Meanwhile, in an amazing outbreak of enlightened self-interest, Toyota proposes building 250,000 kilometers (roughly 155,000 miles) of Japanese bike lanes in order to ease congestion and reduce the risk of collisions with bikes.

And as it turns out, the secret to happiness could be as simple as commuting by bike.

Maybe the Post’s writers should try it sometime.

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Video shows the aftermath of a horrifying, apparently intentional attack in which a driver plowed through the full length of a Critical Mass ride in Porto Allegre, Brazil, injuring over a dozen riders; the vehicle involved was later found abandoned, but no arrest has been made.

The driver reportedly felt threatened because cyclists were banging on his car, yet cyclists report that he was driving aggressively before his attack on the riders.

Here’s a thought: if you feel threatened by cyclists, just turn at the next corner and get away from them. Somehow, watching them bounce off the hood of your car as you drive through several blocks of bikes would seem to weaken that argument just a tad.

But that’s just me.

Meanwhile, posters on a gun forum seem to find it pretty damn funny; then again, they’re posters on a gun forum.

Thanks to Will Campbell for the tip.

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In an ironically appropriate crash, a drunk driver smashes into a sober living facility in South L.A.; as long as his SUV is already in one of the bedrooms, he might as well check in.

No word on whether Charlie Sheen was behind the wheel.

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Make a trip downtown Wednesday morning to witness Mayor Villaraigosa signing the — hopefully — newly approved bike plan in front of City Hall. Sign up as a Bike Buddy to guide less experienced riders on Bike to Work Day this May; I’m seriously considering it even though my usual commute is from my bedroom to the living room. A reminder about GOOD’s fundraising party to benefit CicLAvia this weekend. Jim Shanman, a founding member of the Culver City Bicycle Coalition, looks at a possible Westside bike share program. Adventures in bike commuting: Matt Ruscigno finds himself with 40 minutes to get five miles to the airport on a broken bike, and makes his flight anyway. Chinatown is catching bike rack measles. Here’s your chance to ride through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Palm Springs police catch a bike burglar after a brief chase. San Diego kicks off a new anti-obesity campaign, including emphasis on safe bike paths and walkways. A grieving father sets off on a cross-country ride to promote awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. A San Jose cyclist is critically injured after losing the hit-and-run lottery; thanks to Rex Reese for the heads-up. The North American Handmade Bicycle show moves to Sacramento next year; Cyclelicious has links to coverage of this year’s show in Austin over the weekend. Experience the Amgen Tour of California, without the inconvenience of actually having to ride it.

Biking our way to a better economy. Urban Country eviscerates the argument that bicyclists must obey the law if we want to share the road. A look at Major Taylor, one of the greatest racers of all time, who broke the color barrier in cycling 20 years before Jackie Robinson was conceived. A medical study shows spending on bikeways returns 1.2 to 3.8 times that amount in healthcare savings. Over 3,700 cyclists take on the Chilly Hilly ride on Seattle’s Bainbridge Island. Kansas shoots down a proposed three-foot passing law, while Georgia considers one of their own. Rising numbers of Chicago cyclists points to the need for more protected bikeways. Ohio’s Bike Lawyer Steve Magos says it’s time to criminalize negligent driving; he’s right.

If there really is a war on cars, the cars are winning. A British motorists organization calls for a mandatory helmet law, rather than just asking their members not to hit us. But at least they have the sense to pull an anti-bike rant from one of their columnists and say her services will no long be needed; those Brits are so polite, aren’t they? Edinburgh cyclists create their own DIY map of off-street bike paths, patterned after the famous London Tube map; thanks to Evan Garcia for the links. A look at bike parking in Amsterdam; and to think we’re happy to get a lousy bike rack. Proof that population density has nothing to do with cycling rates. A Sydney paper looks at the rising numbers of video cams on bikes.

Finally, Colorado’s proposed legislation to ban the Blackhawk bike ban failed thanks to the actions of the state’s Republican House Majority Leader; maybe it’s time to point out that cyclists spend a lot of money in her state, which can easily be spent elsewhere.

And a New York legislator proposes hanging a $25 license plate off the back of every bike in the state; and yes, that includes children, evidently. But why stop there? Let’s confront the menace of scofflaw pedestrians by forcing everyone to hang a set of numbers on their ass.


Talking back to L.A. Weekly, Newport Beach decides it’s safe enough, a London look at U.S. car culture

February 26, 2011

A cyclist, bike activist and long-time volunteer responds to the recent L.A. Weekly article about Stephen Box and the rise of bike activism in the city, complaining that more than just straight, white males were instrumental in building the bike community, including himself.

He makes a very valid point.

It doesn’t detract in the slightest from the amazing efforts of CD4 candidate Stephen Box and the others mentioned in the story to note that the LACBC and other groups, such as C.I.C.L.E., Midnight Ridazz and Bikeside and other groups, have done a lot to make this city safer and more inviting for cyclists of all types. As well as the efforts of countless individuals of every possible description, working together and on their own, to advance the cause of cycling in Los Angeles.

Singling out any one person or group, however deserving, ignores the efforts of everyone else who has done what they can to make this a better place to ride.

And we wouldn’t be where we are today without all of them.

Be sure to read the comments, as well. And thanks to Chris Kidd for the heads up.

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Newport Beach, home of yet another cycling fatality this week, plans to shut down the city’s Bike Safety Committee at the end of this year.

Evidently, the recent crackdown on dangerous riders and drivers has solved all their safety problems, and local cyclists can now ride the city’s streets without worry. Even though Amine Britel was the fourth cyclist killed in the city in just the last two years. And even though he was killed just days after the first weekend of the crackdown.

Or maybe they expect to solve any remaining problems during the second weekend this Saturday and Sunday — despite the fact that this seemingly wealthy seaside city can’t afford to buy a single Share the Road sign. Let alone one that says Bikes May Use Full Lane.

Because, you know, they still have to pay for that new $131 million City Hall.

Meanwhile, Danae Miller, the driver arrested for killing Britel, never had enough points charged against it to have her license suspended, despite receiving somewhere between 15 and 17 tickets in the last five years, depending on who’s doing the counting.

And a writer for the Examiner questions whether the law should be changed to keep people like her off the road.

If that’s what it takes, I’m all in favor.

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London’s Guardian offers an overseas look at America’s car culture — and trust me, it’s not pretty. However, there may be hope:

Before Communist China became partner with Capitalist America in a new world order of union-free sweatshops, Americans used to laugh at all the bicycles on Chinese streets. Now, as the Chinese become more car-dependent, as their cities become more clogged and polluted, many Americans are rediscovering the pleasures, healthiness and sanity of bicycling or walking. Suddenly, a street full of bikes seems positively idyllic. In a country, and empire, in a downward spiral, this will be one of the few changes for the better.

Riding and walking through one’s community at a more human pace, one will also regain one’s sense of belonging. One will also discover that one has two legs, arms and a set of lungs. Sprung from the steel prison of the automobile, Americans will be glad to see other faces and limbs. They will realise that they actually have neighbours.

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Grab another cup of coffee, and relax with our longest ever list of upcoming events:

Bike Talk airs Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Call it the art of bike maintenance, as C.I.C.L.E. and Bikerowave team with the Santa Monica Museum of Art at 2525 Michigan Avenue in Santa Monica, for a tour of the museum, bike maintenance workshop and a mini-ride through the neighborhood on Saturday. The free event requires preregistration and will be cancelled in the event of rain. Note: The workshop has been rescheduled for 1:30 pm due to this weekend’s storm.

Mr. Bicycle Fixation, Rick Risemberg, invites cyclists to join him for a birthday ride on Sunday, Feb. 27th; riders meet at Sabor y Cultura at Hollywood and Gramercy at 10:30 am.

Also on Sunday, 4th District City Council  candidate Stephen Box partners with Flying Pigeon LA to provide free bike repair and service at the Hollywood Farmers Market, 1600 Ivar Avenue in Hollywood.

The long and difficult path to a new bike plan should come to a completion when the L.A. City Council takes it up for final consideration at 10 am on Tuesday, March 1st at Downtown City Hall, 200 North Spring Street.

The 2nd meeting of the Bike Plan Implementation Team (BPIT) takes place from 2 pm to 3:30 pm on Tuesday, March 1st following the council meeting in room 721 of the Downtown City Hall, 200 North Spring Street.

Make a full bike day of it by helping plan CicLAvia’s advance to the Eastside with a meeting at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, March 1st on extending the route into Boyle Heights, Roosevelt High School cafeteria, 456 South Mathews Street, Los Angeles.

Celebrate the presumed victory of the bike plan with a rally and press conference in front of City Hall from 9:30 am to 10 am on Wednesday the 2nd.

Streetsblog LA somehow managed to survive the terrible twos. So come out and celebrate its third birthday at Downtown’s Spring Street Bar, 626 S. Spring Street, beginning at 5 pm on Friday, March 4th; RSVP and help spread the word on Facebook.

GOOD is hosting a fundraising party for CicLAvia from 2 to 7 pm on March 5th, at Atwater Crossing, 3229 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles; tickets range from $20 to $500. As part of the fundraiser, leading L.A. bike activist and Creek Freak Joe Linton will lead a very short, family friendly ride starting at 1:30 pm.

The third LACBC Sunday Funday ride will roll 62 miles through the North San Gabriel Valley on Sunday, March 6th. Lead by board member Alex Amerri, the fast-paced ride for advanced cyclists will explore the area’s architectural and historical highlights; riders assemble at 8:30 am at Parking Lot K at the Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive in Pasadena, with the ride starting at 9 am.

Flying Pigeon and the Bike Oven host the free Spoke(n) Art Ride on the 2nd Saturday of every month; the next ride will take place on March 12th, starting 6:30 pm at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

Flying Pigeon’s Get Sum Dim Sum ride takes place on the third Sunday of each month; the next ride will be Sunday, March 20 from 10 am to 1 pm, starting at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

The Santa Clarita Century is scheduled to roll on Saturday, April 2nd with rides ranging from a family ride to a full century.

The next three CicLAvias will take place on April 10th, July 10th and October 9th; if you missed the first one, don’t make the same mistake again.

The Antelope Valley Conservancy sponsors the 16th Annual Antelope Valley Ride on Saturday, May 7th with rides of 20, 30 and 60 miles; check-in begins at 7 am at George Lane Park, 5520 West Avenue L-8 in Quartz Hill.

L.A.’s 17th annual Bike Week takes place May 16th through the 20th, with an emphasis on bike safety education, and events throughout the city. This year’s Blessing of the Bicycles will take place as part of Bike Week on 8 to 9:30 am on May 17th at Downtown’s Good Samaritan Hospital, 616 S. Witmer Street. And Metro is looking for Bike Buddies to guide inexperienced cyclists on Bike to Work Day; heads-up courtesy of the marathon-training danceralamode.

The San Diego Century ride takes place on Saturday, May 21st with rides of 37, 66 or 103 miles, starting in Encinitas, along with free admission to an expo featuring sports, local cuisine and live music.

L.A.’s favorite fundraiser ride rolls on June with the 11th Annual River Ride; advance registration is open now. Volunteers are needed now and on the day of the ride, email RRvolunteer@la-bike.org for more info and to sign up.

And mark your calendar for the 2011 L.A. edition of the Tour de Fat on October 9th; unfortunately, Yom Kippur also falls on that date this year, so Jewish cyclists will have to choose between atoning and having something else to atone for.

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L.A. authorizes work on a key quarter-mile stretch of bikeway at the confluence of the Arroyo Seco and L.A. River. KCET’s Departures talks with LACBC River Ride coordinator JJ Hoffman about the comeback of the L.A. River. Santa Monica issues a BOLO alert for a bike convicted sex offender. Long Beach’s biking expats will make their next big adventure on much smaller wheels. A San Diego man has his throat slashed trying to protect his bike from a thief. The Union-Tribune says San Diego area governments plan to spend $2.58 billion — yes, billion — on biking infrastructure over the next 40 years, and profiles one of my favorite bike bloggers, Sam Ollinger of Bike San Diego. San Francisco Streetsblog interviews the city’s new bike friendly mayor. San Mateo police recover a $10,000 stolen bike that had been sold on Craigslist; what was it made of, crude oil? U.C. Berkeley police agree to stop giving cyclists expensive tickets for failing to dismount.

Bicycle Retailer starts a search for the bike shop dog of the year; and no, you can’t borrow my corgi. Your car sucks $7,000 out of the local economy every year. Sarah Goodyear asks why people in cars hate bikes so much. Dave Moulton looks at two epic rides. Tucson gets green bike lanes. Seattle’s bike friendly mayor forgets to lock his bike; you can figure the rest out. Chicago gets a bike crash map overlaid with bike count data. Zac Efron rides a bike on the set of his new movie. A New York State Senator wisely observes that if we want more order on the streets, we have to be part of that order. A New York Councilman says the controversial Prospect Park West bike lanes have reduced speeding, accidents, injuries and riding on the sidewalk, while increasing ridership and overall commuting rates — without increasing travel time; well gee, no wonder they hate it. The bike lane controversy spreads across the river to Hoboken when a local news station stuck firmly in the past suggests more parking should given a higher priority over bike lanes; could someone please send them Donald Shoup’s book? Unbelievably, Tennessee authorities acknowledge that a dump truck driver veered off the road “for unknown reasons” to seriously injure a cyclist, yet decline to file charges; evidently, maintaining control of your vehicle is optional there. A Virginia cyclist compares riding solo on the streets to battered wife syndrome; perhaps she used to ride in Tennessee. A Mobile man gets five years for the hit-and-run death of Czech student.

A Vancouver cyclist says a bike is an invitation to a hate crime, while another says Critical Mass is rude and selfish. According to the BBC, the key to happiness is work, sleep and bicycles; they just described my life, aside from the parts about work and sleep. France’s third-largest city makes great strides in welcoming bikes. After Alberto Contador walks on doping charges, Austrian Michael Knopf is banned for four years for supplying other cyclists with banned substances. Kiwi correspondent the Trickster points us to the tragic death a biking bricklayer killed by falling bricks during Tuesday’s earthquake; Olympic bronze medalist Sam Bewley is auctioning a signed jersey from New Zealand’s winning pursuit team to benefit earthquake victims. Guam is urged to add bike lanes to all major streets; be nice to see that here, too.

Finally, a beautiful Italian DEI bike catalog from 1933; thanks to Ross X for the link. And maybe one day you’ll be able to ride your bike past L.A.’s Downtown streetcar.


The high cost of traffic deaths, a possible 3-foot passing bill and ride with Bicycle Fixation on Sunday

February 24, 2011

The cost of a traffic death goes far beyond the emotional and financial toll it takes on the victim’s family.

Not surprisingly, there’s a cost to society at large, as well. And like virtually anything else, it can be measured in monetary figures.

The National Safety Council values the average actual cost of traffic deaths  — wages, productivity, medical expenses, etc — at $1.29 million, and the comprehensive costs to society at $4.3 million per death. Incapacitating injuries are valued at $67,800 and $216,000 respectively.

By that measure, Portland’s improvements in traffic safety has resulted 84 fewer deaths and roughly 2400 fewer injuries over the past four years. Which works out to a monetary savings of $1,629,913,300.

That’s $1.6 billion dollars. And nearly 2500 lives.

And that’s just one city.

Meanwhile, by the same measurement, the 12 cycling deaths that I’m aware of so far this year in Southern California have cost us $51.6 million.

And that’s just the financial toll.

The emotional toll is incalculable.

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According to Streetsblog, Long Beach State Senator Alan Lowenthal has introduced a bill that could become a three-foot passing law, even though it doesn’t currently include those words.

Of course, this isn’t the first time the state has considered establishing a minimum passing distance. A similar bill died in 2006 following opposition from the CHP and the trucking industry, which argued that trucks wouldn’t be able to pass cyclists on narrow roadways — as if trying to pass a cyclist at a distance of less than three feet was safe now.

Some have argued that a three-foot distance is unenforceable, since police have no way of measuring if a vehicle passed a cyclist at 35” inches or 37.” Which is ridiculous, of course.

Police won’t be looking for minor infractions; the law will come into force when they observe a driver buzzing a cyclist at far less than three feet, or when the vehicle actually comes in contact with a rider.

And it doesn’t really change anything.

Current law calls for a safe passing distance; all this would do is clarify that anything less than three feet — or roughly the arm length of a grown man — isn’t safe. Which is a hell of a lot better than the current standard, which basically allows anything short of actual physical contact.

Meanwhile, UCLA has started their own campaign to encourage campus drivers to give riders three feet. Good idea; however, I have a better one.

Just ban cars from campus entirely.

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Mr. Bicycle Fixation, Rick Risemberg, invites you to ride along in celebration of his birthday on Sunday. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him, Rick offers a near-encyclopedic knowledge of local cycling, and is a hell of a nice guy. If my wife hadn’t already booked my weekend, I’d be tempted to join in myself.

So if you’ve got the day free, by all means, go have a little fun for me.

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The Times asks why Angelenos are lazier than you’d think — and if something as simple as bike lanes would help. LADOT invites you to attend the next meeting of the Bike Plan Implementation Team on Tuesday, which conveniently comes just hours after the bike plan will (presumably) be adopted at City Hall. Good Sam helps out with the new Bike Wrangler program; then again, as hosts of the annual Blessing of the Bicycles, they’ve long been a friend of local riders. The Argonaut offers a post-mortem on the failed attempt to extend the Venice beachfront bike path to the Marina jetty; thanks to Curbed LA for the link. The Daily Bruin looks at Friday’s Complete Streets conference downtown. How to build your conditioning for endurance riding. Examined Spoke suggests cycling is a solution for our crowded streets, even if that means riding behind children and old people, and notes that L.A. is twice as dense as Holland — in more ways than one, I fear.

Santa Monica plans bikeways throughout the downtown area, including bike lanes on the California Incline leading up the bluff from PCH to Ocean Blvd. Glendale reports on last year’s bike and pedestrian count. Long Beach’s Charlie Gandy offers a look at the city’s new, still-under-construction separated bike lanes. The OC Register reports that Danae Miller, the alleged drunk driver who killed Amine Britel on Monday night, had actually received 17 traffic tickets since 2005, but had six dismissed; meanwhile, CDM Cyclist notes that the road is popular with cyclists, offering bike lanes and a long uphill. the  An Orange County glossy discovers Cycle Chic and social cycling. Santa Cruz police go against current trends and common sense by urging that cyclists be required to display license numbers on their bikes.

Consider the 8-80 Rule of cycling infrastructure — is a street safe for an 8 year old or an 80 year old to ride on?  A new Streetfilms video says biking is redefining infrastructure and our cities. Lessons learned from two years of winter cycling. A proposed bike/ped boardwalk along a Mississippi River rail bridge could result in a 600 mile bike path on both sides of the river. Zeke attends the North Carolina Bike/Ped Summit, once he finally finds it. A Tampa Bay columnist calls for a vulnerable user law.

David Hembrow says maybe London’s bike share program hasn’t been as successful as it seems. Maybe your dream job awaits at London 2012. Kiwi correspondent The Trickster offers more photos of damage to a popular riding route from the recent earthquake, and notes he was supposed to race through there next month; doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. There are several ways you can help. Don’t miss this exuberant celebration of cycling from Nairobi.

Finally, London’s Daily Mail concludes — incorrectly — that bike commuting is a leading cause of heart attacks, even though the study they based it on shows no such thing.  But hey, never let the facts get in the way of a good story, right?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the new intern insists that I’ve been working long enough.


Newport Beach cyclist was world-class triathlete, killer driver had 16 tickets; bike plan goes to council March 1

February 23, 2011

Authorities released the name of the cyclist killed by an alleged drunk driver in Newport Beach Monday evening.

Forty-one year old Amine Britel, a local businessman and world-class triathlete originally from Morocco, was pronounced dead at the scene. His killer, Danae Marie Miller, was released on bond Tuesday morning, on a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated — and was on the road despite receiving 16 traffic tickets over the last six years, including six tickets for speeding or driving too fast for conditions in a three-year period.

Miller has apparently been playing Russian Roulette with her car for years, while the courts failed to do anything to stop her. Now one life is ended and another shattered, all because a woman who probably shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheel got behind one after drinking.

Thanks to Lois Rubin for the link to Britel’s profile on Wafin.com, and Patrick Pascal for the link to the Daily Pilot story about Miller’s driving record.

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Word comes from the LACBC that the draft bike plan is scheduled for final approval by the City Council on Tuesday, March 1st. A press conference will be held at City Hall at 9:30 am Wednesday to celebrate its anticipated passage.

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Three cyclists barely survive falling boulders during the recent Christchurch earthquake; the riders suspect a nearby jogger didn’t make it. The photos offer fair warning of what could happen on PCH when  — not if — it happens here. Thanks to the Trickster for the heads-up.

There are several ways you can help. Then again, there are always those who’ll make the best of any situation.

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The controversy over New York’s Prospect Park West bike lanes just won’t go away, as a cyclist and university professor sides with the opposition, and video shows an ambulance bypassing traffic by using the bike lane.

And the crackdown on scofflaw cyclists continues as NYPD officers allegedly beat a teenage cyclist on camera, then throw him in jail for 24-hours for riding on the sidewalk; according to police, the ass-kicking was justified.

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Then again, the same battle is being fought on this coast, as battle lines are dug in over the Wilbur Avenue road diet — even though it’s supported by 77% of local residents — while LADOT claims to have a compromise.

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If you own a Felt bike, be sure to check this recall list.

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Why show your eco-cred by arriving at the Oscars in a Prius when you could go by bike? Maybe co-host Anne Hathaway will do it.

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The CalTrans Bicycle Advisory Committee meets this Thursday at 1:30 pm. Help CicLAvia expand east into Boyle Heights. Bicycle Fixation takes the city to task for poor roadway maintenance on 4th street that put cyclists at risk. LADOT Bike Blog asks how you would improve 7th Street for bikes, and reports on the recent BAC meeting, including the election of Jay Slater as chair. Green LA Girl interviews Lindsey Darden, author of Adventures of a Car-Less Valley Girl. Call it the art of bike maintenance, as C.I.C.L.E. and Bikerowave team with the Santa Monica Museum of Art for a tour of the museum, bike maintenance workshop and a mini-ride through the neighborhood on Saturday. Bikerowave plans a 4th birthday celebration this Friday. CD4 council candidate Stephen Box will sponsor free bike repair at the Hollywood farmers market this Sunday. Long Beach is building a multi-modal downtown; maybe L.A. could follow suit. Claremont Cyclist asks why smaller towns aren’t included in lists of bike-friendly cities. Who needs a car when you can bring home $100 in groceries by bike? A four-year old is killed in Sacramento after riding his bike out into the street. The father of the folding bike dies at age 77.

Free bike repair stands are popping up at Whole Foods stores. Next time a driver runs you over, ask if he or she is a Verizon customer. Bicycling’s Joe Lindsey blames bad reporting for bike racing’s continued lack of popularity, while the magazine looks for the next Lance Armstrong among a small group of rising stars. Tucson Bike Lawyer takes issue with yet another incorrect reminder that cyclists don’t pay for infrastructure; I know I do, and you do, too. A Colorado man gets hit by a car, then faces charges for biking under the influence. Utah considers the Idaho Stop Law. Chicago’s new mayor is a big supporter of biking; then again, so is Detroit’s. If you’re going to hit a car, at least make sure it’s an ambulance. A Florida cyclist is hit by a car, but the dog he was towing escapes unharmed. Everyday substitutes for expensive sports bars and drinks.

Now you can ask strangers to rate your ride. London’s new Olympic velodrome is officially open. British cycling champ Victoria Pendleton plans a series of women-only bike rides. Plans are underway to change the bike lanes near Blackfriars Bridge to speed traffic and make cycling less safe. A Manchester bike cop is the victim of a hit-and-run; the driver got out and looked at the victim before fleeing the scene. A Brit cyclist threatens an offending driver with a meat cleaver. Malaysian track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang is expected to make a speedy recovery after finishing a World Cup race with a massive wood splinter through his leg. Now you can produce clean drinking water while you ride; I produce a lot of water when I ride, but you wouldn’t want to drink it.

Finally, a fascinating Seoul study shows how cyclists make the transition from leisure riders to bike commuters. Married, married and lower income people are more likely to make the switch; oddly, so are people who live in high-rise buildings. And it concludes that governments should invest in separated bike lanes.

Maybe the Idiot’s Guide to Bike Commuting would help.


Orange County claims yet another biking victim

February 21, 2011

Just days after a police crackdown on cyclists and drivers intended to reduce Orange County’s one-a-month rate of cycling deaths, another cyclist has been killed on the county’s streets.

According to Corona del Mar Today, a cyclist described only as a middle-aged man was hit and killed on San Joaquin Hills Road east of Spyglass Hill Road in Newport Beach around 6 pm Monday. The unidentified 22-year old suspected drunk driver was booked on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicate, with bail set at $100,000. An earlier report placed the time of the collision at 5:59 pm; the rider was pronounced dead at the scene.

More details as they become available.

But here’s the thing.

Despite protestations from some quarters, bad bicyclist behavior does not cause most bicycling deaths. Bad driving does.

Even a cursory examination of cyclists killed in Orange County recently suggests that the problem isn’t cyclists running stop signs, riding two abreast or even flipping off drivers, as obnoxious as that may be.

They died at the hands of drunk, high or careless drivers. Simply put, no crackdown on rider behavior would have done a damn thing to save the lives of Michael Nine, Donald Murphy or Alan Earl Miller.

Or nine-year-old Nicholas Vela, who was killed as he rode in a crosswalk in front of a monster truck, whose driver couldn’t see him because the truck was jacked up so high.

Nor did this rider, whoever he may turn out to be, apparently do anything to cause his own death, other than take to the streets at the same time a drunk was behind the wheel. And apparently, there is no shortage of those behind the Orange Curtain.

Orange County clearly has serious problems.

But they’re not going to solve them by targeting the victims.

Update: The driver has been identified as Danae Marie Miller of Newport Coast; no word yet on the victim.


Explaining the rules of the road, and your President’s Day links

February 21, 2011

Gary Kavanagh of Gary Rides Bikes offers a clear and insightful explanation of the often misunderstood rules of the road, particularly as they apply to his home in Santa Monica.

And as usual, he does an exceptional job of explaining the hows and whys of bike and traffic safety, and how to share the road safely.

To have a truly sustainable city, being able to get around by foot and bike is an essential component. However, if some people live in fear of walking or cycling in the city, which is often the case presently, it not only undermines sustainability, it effects the quality of life in the community….

I do feel that motorists ultimately have the biggest responsibility in promoting safety since drivers are in the position to cause the greatest harm. When drivers don’t know the rules of the road, they sometimes lash out and try to intimidate cyclists in fits of rage. I cannot count the number of times I have been screamed or honked at for doing nothing at all wrong under the law. Then, when some cyclists flee the road to ride the sidewalks as a response to such harassment, we get the string of complaints about sidewalk riding by those on foot. While yes, a cyclist riding on the sidewalk in Santa Monica is in the wrong—outside Santa Monica the rules are more fuzzy, which adds much confusion—ultimately, I believe it is a failure of our transportation system and our culture that cyclists have a right to the road under law, but frequently do not feel they belong there or are welcomed there.

Seriously, read it. Then send it to every cyclist and driver you know.

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Mr. Bicycle Fixation, Rick Risemberg, invites cyclists to join him for a birthday ride next Sunday, Feb. 27th. Over 80 cyclists ride 50 miles from the Eastside to OC in support of the Dream Act. Good says better designed streets are coming to L.A. Bikeside takes LADOT to task for what it considers the wrong applications for Metro’s call for projects, though LADOT Bike Blog offers a few corrections; meanwhile, Bikeside is working on version 2.0 of their innovative L.A. Bike Map. The C-Blog writes about how to choose an adult bike. Palo Alto’s California Ave is scheduled for a diet. The Claremont Cyclist offers great photos from the first day of the LAVRA Cup at the Los Angele Velodrome. Just Another Cyclist says he wants his sport back; I know exactly how he feels.

Boulder CO’s bike corral program appears to be a roaring success; Columbia MO may get another one. Austin TX may finally get its first bike boulevard this summer. A look at New York’s possibly illegal pedicab king. A Virginia bike commuter beats his motorist coworker home by five hours in a recent blizzard. An Alabama cyclist writes about the dangers posed by distracted drivers. According to reports, a Ft. Meyers FL woman rode her bike into the path of a van in America’s deadliest state for cyclists; odd how careless and/or suicidal cyclists can be in police and news reports.

Not surprisingly, Riccardo Ricco has been fired following a botched self-administered transfusion. A group of bike activists ride through Quebec in the dead of winter to call for year-round bikeway maintenance. The UK’s BikeAware calls for bike training to be part of the driver’s test. Irish man is awarded €48,000 — $65,640 — when he went over his handlebars after having his bike serviced. Kraft Canada donates 4,000 bikes to cocoa workers in Ghana to help their children stay in school. Taylor Phinney crashes out on the final stage of his first professional race in the Tour of Oman; fortunately, he seems to have come out of it okay.

Finally, Malaysian cyclist Azizulhasni Awang has an 8” splinter from the Manchester Velodrome driven all the way through his calf in a fall — and still manages to finish third, winning a third consecutive World Cup Overall title in the process; thanks to Todd Munson for the heads-up.


Volunteers needed for River Ride, fear the brakeless fixies in SF and a long, long list of events

February 19, 2011

The LACBC puts out a call for volunteers for the upcoming River Ride, perhaps the area’s largest and most popular fundraising ride.

Your help is needed for a wide variety of activities to prepare for the ride, as well as on the day of the ride on Sunday, June 5th. Just five hours of volunteer work will earn you a free ride, or you can give your free ride to someone else if you work the day of the ride.

Take it from me, I worked in the LACBC booth at last year’s River Ride, and had the time of my life, despite the hard work. Or maybe because of it.

Email RRvolunteer@la-bike.org for more info and to sign up.

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L.A. gets it’s first bike corral in front of Highland Park coffee shop Café de Leche, which could be the model for similar installations throughout the city.

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Despite noting that fixed-gear cyclists can use their pedals to brake, a San Francisco paper claims that fixies without additional handlebar mounted brakes are “illegal and dangerous” after a rider hits and critically injures a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Police confiscated the bike, claiming that the lack of brakes is a traffic infraction, even though most fixies can easily meet the state standard of leaving a skid mark on clean, dry pavement.

But let’s be honest.

If a cyclist doesn’t stop or slow down before hitting a pedestrian, the problem isn’t the bike. It’s the incompetence of the rider.

.………

Bike trail funding miraculously survives the GOP budget cutting frenzy in DC, while bike lawyer Bob Mionske notes that in the new GOP controlled House, riding a bike is considered recreation, not transportation.

So if you rode home from work or school in the rain today, evidently you did it just for fun.

Maybe it’s time for all commuter cyclists to write their Congressional representatives and point out that not everyone gets there on four wheels.

.………

Alexi Grewal, gold medal winner at the ’84 L.A. Olympics, is planning a comeback at age 50. Then again, Mexico’s Raul Alcala is still going at 47.

I had the privilege of seeing both compete in the old Coors Classic; while watching Grewal was a thrill, Alcala was one of the most consistently exciting racers I’ve ever seen.

Evidently, eating meat contaminated with Clenbuterol can result in positive drug tests, which could open the door for appeals from other banned cyclists; Spanish police bust a Clenbuterol drug ring that wasn’t doping cows. Suspended pro Tom Zirbel says Contador’s clearing shows the inconsistency of doping regulations. And disgraced rider Riccardo Ricco left the hospital 12 days after a self-administered blood transfusion gone wrong.

.………

A long, long list of upcoming events —

Bike Talk airs Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Ride with Rapha and Bike Effect on Saturday the 19th; meet for coffee at 8:30 am and ride a 9 am. Meet at Bike Effect, 910 Broadway #100 in Santa Monica, RSVP to rsvp@rapha.cc.

CD4 City council candidate Stephen Box is partnering with Flying Pigeon LA to provide free bike repair at the Silver Lake Farmers Market, from 8 am to 1 pm on Saturday the 19th at 3700 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

The LAVRA Cup Time Trial takes place at the Home Depot Center Velodrome this Saturday, February 19th at 3 pm, 18400 Avalon Blvd in Carson; thanks to the Claremont Cyclist for the heads-up.

Escort two lovebirds in safety and style on the Lovebirds to LAX Party Ride on Sunday the 20th. Riders meet at Helen’s Cycles in Westwood, 1071 Gayley Avenue in Westwood Village at 11:30 am, and depart at 12:30 pm.

Flying Pigeon’s Get Sum Dim Sum ride takes place on the third Sunday of each month; the next ride will be this Sunday, February 20 from 10 am to 1 pm, starting at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

Bike Metro’s Bicycle Roundtable Implementation & Operations Subcommittee Meeting originally scheduled for Thursday, February 24th has been cancelled; new date to be determined.

UCLA will host a free day-long Complete Streets workshop on Friday, February 25th; participation is open to registered attendees. The workshop will take place from 8:30 am to 7 pm at the Japanese American National Museum at 369 East 1st Street Downtown. Contact d.grantham@ucla.edu to register, or call 310/562-7356.

GOOD is hosting a fundraising party for CicLAvia from 2 to 7 pm on March 5th, at Atwater Crossing, 3229 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles; tickets range from $20 to $500.

The third LACBC Sunday Funday ride will roll 62 miles through the North San Gabriel Valley on Sunday, March 6th. Lead by board member Alex Amerri, the fast-paced ride for advanced cyclists will explore the area’s architectural and historical highlights; riders assemble at 8:30 am at Parking Lot K at the Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive in Pasadena, with the ride starting at 9 am.

Flying Pigeon and the Bike Oven host the free Spoke(n) Art Ride on the 2nd Saturday of every month; the next ride will take place on March 12th, starting 6:30 pm at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

The Santa Clarita Century is scheduled to roll on Saturday, April 2nd with rides ranging from a family ride to a full century.

The next three CicLAvias will take place on April 10th, July 10th and October 9th; if you missed the first one, don’t make the same mistake again.

L.A.’s 17th annual Bike Week takes place May 16th through the 20th, with an emphasis on bike safety education, and events throughout the city. This year’s Blessing of the Bicycles will take place as part of Bike Week on 8 to 9:30 am on May 17th at Downtown’s Good Samaritan Hospital, 616 S. Witmer Street.

L.A.’s favorite fundraiser ride rolls on June with the 11th Annual River Ride; advance registration is open now.

And mark your calendar for the 2011 L.A. edition of the Tour de Fat on October 9th; unfortunately, that’s also Yom Kippur this year.

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LACBC responds to last week’s L.A. Weekly cover story on Stephen Box and the rise of bike activism in L.A. When cargo bikes are outlawed, only outlaws will ride cargo bikes in L.A. Santa Monica’s new Bike Action Plan will encourage more biking and less driving. LACBC is working with L.A. Planning and UCLA Urban Planning Masters Student Rye Baerg to develop a new bicycle parking draft ordinance. Jessica Meaney calls for more inclusive transportation planning. Chris at (just) Riding Along discovers what could be another Westwood Banksy, or maybe it’s another L.A.-based urban artist paying homage. Neon Tommy looks at the DIY attitude of the Bicycle Kitchen. Just what the Valley needs, an architecturally engaging Costco with a meandering bike path. Collisions with cyclists and pedestrians are on the rise in bike-friendly Santa Monica. The Claremont Cyclist visits the soon-to-be Citrus Regional Bikeway.

CdM Cyclist interviews Seattle’s Peter Lagerwey on how to build a successful bike master plan. A father plans to ride coast to coast to honor his 19-year old son, killed by a distracted driver while riding two years ago. After nearly being run off the road, Cyclelicious says it’s time to abandon Share the Road because so many drivers — and even some cyclists — don’t get it or don’t care. The SF Chronicle explains the meaning of sharrows to confused Bay Areans.

Frame builder Dave Moulton gets buzzed, and astutely describes it as just another a hate crime. People for Bikes says don’t be afraid to ride a bike, be afraid not to. Traffic meister Tom Vanderbilt writes about the age-old and mostly one-sided conflict between cyclists and motorists. Inspiring story of paraplegic former mountain biker Tara Llanes and her fight to come back. How much does a long, continuous history matter for a bike manufacturer? Cold, ice and snow means it’s a perfect day for a bike ride. Bloomberg notes that separated bike lanes encourage riding while reducing injuries. A look at a few of the projects industry trade group Bikes Belong with be funding this winter. Next time you ride in Portland, you may not need headphones. Tucson developers say eff you and the bike you rode in on. Oregon votes to make traditional-style bike traffic signals part of the state code. What better place for breakfast than a New York bike lane? The League of American Bicyclists says it’s time to stop killing cyclists in Tampa.

How to master fast cornering. A controversial Vancouver separated bike lane draws 600 riders a day with no significant delay in car traffic. A Manchester cyclist is fined for causing the death of a bus passenger who fell when the driver braked to avoid the rider. Talk about utility cycling — a Cambridgeshire cyclist makes waves by riding with a refrigerator on his back.

Finally, a nice piece from the Glendale News-Press advises keeping your focus three-feet ahead when you struggle in riding. And in life.

Good advice.

Along the same lines, I’ve always liked the old Native American proverb that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Then one day I realized that it continues the same way.

And the same goes for pedal strokes.


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