Update: San Diego TV station attempts to thin the herd by encouraging children to ride against traffic

August 23, 2011

Evidently, they have too many children in San Diego.

How else can you explain a news report on KFMB-TV encouraging children riding to school to risk their lives by salmoning on the wrong side of the road?

And if your child walks, rides a bike or a skateboard to school, make sure they travel against traffic and always wears a helmet.

The helmet advice is fine. In fact, helmets are legally required in California for all bike riders under 18. And walking against traffic can be good advice, although it might have been nice to encourage children to walk on the sidewalk, rather than in the street.

But riding a bike against traffic is not only illegal — bikes are required to ride with traffic — but exceptionally dangerous. While it may give the illusion of increasing safety by allowing riders to see oncoming traffic, it reduces reaction times for both the rider and drivers while greatly increasing the severity of any collision.

It’s bad enough that a local reporter got it wrong and gave children and parents the wrong advice in a mistaken attempt to improve back-to-school safety. What’s worse is that the statement came in the middle of a quote from a California Highway Patrol officer.

At best, it appears to give official support for the reporter’s error. At worst, it suggests that the officer in question is badly misinformed about bike law and safety, and offering advice that could put children at risk.

Hopefully, they’ll make a correction soon. Before anyone takes their advice.

And maybe they’ll talk to someone who knows what the hell they’re talking about before making a similar mistake again.

Update: As of 12:30 today, KFMB still has not corrected their report, despite promising several people who contacted them that they would do so. As a result, I sent them the following email.

Dear Adrienne Moore — 

I’ve heard from a number of people who have contacted you today to correct the dangerously false advice given in your report “Avoiding a big danger kids face on way to school.” They wrote you to asking that you correct the suggestion that children riding bikes should ride against, rather than with, traffic. 
This is both illegal, as California law requires that all cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic, and dangerous because it reduces reaction time for the cyclists and for motorists rushing towards them. There is no valid authority that advices riding against traffic in the U.S.; however, the placement of the statement within the discussion by CHP Officer Brian Pennings suggests that he provided you with that information.
If he told you that cyclists should ride facing traffic, he is wrong, and this gives you an opportunity to both correct his error and inform the general public how to ride safely with traffic. If not, you have done the CHP a disservice by suggesting that Officer Pennings is unaware of one of the most basic laws governing cycling.
Your continued failure to correct this advice puts the lives and safety of children at risk. I must insist that you offer a full retraction immediately before anyone is injured or killed as a result of your error; simply correcting the story online will not be sufficient to remedy the damage that has been done.
Update 2: I haven’t received a response to my email; however, the video report has been re-edited to say that pedestrians should walk against traffic, and skateboarders and bicyclists should wear a helmet. However, the online print version of the story still has not been corrected, and as far as I can tell, no effort has been made to correct the misinformation given all the people who may have heard or read the original report.
Update 3: I received a response from Adrienne Moore, the reporter who covered the story for KFMB, who apologized for the error and said the story had been corrected. However, the online print version still has not been corrected as of 10 pm August 23rd.

A beautiful, moving remembrance of a fallen cyclist. And brother.

August 22, 2011

Almost one a year ago to the day, I received an email from a reader telling me that a friend of his had been killed riding his bike a few days earlier.

A link to a Facebook page brought confirmation that Doug Caldwell, a popular local cyclist and scientist, had been killed, and another man, Scott Evans, seriously injured.

The driver, Gordon Wray, was charged with the death, and acquitted. Even for the relatively light charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, it was a difficult case to prove.

In the flurry of angry comments that followed, I was surprised to see Stephen Caldwell jump into the fray to challenge those who claimed his brother’s death was nothing more than just an accident.

Afterwards, I offered him the use of this site if he ever wanted to tell his story, or simply remind us of the man Doug had been.

This past weekend, Stephen took me up on my offer — exactly one year after his brother was struck down on Foothill Blvd.

……..

To My Brother

For a boy, a bike means freedom. With a bike he can ride to a friend’s house or explore new neighborhoods on the weekend. He doesn’t need his parents anymore to drive him to school. He can, if he wants, ride to the beach. Were he a surfer he could devise a means to carry his board.

I think of my own boyhood. Few were the consecutive days when I did not ride my bike. Indeed, I took it so much for granted that recently I tried to remember the bicycle I used from the 7th through the 11th grade. Though I can specifically remember the Centurion ProTour I purchased just before my 12th grade year – the year I started driving – I cannot remember the prior one. I think it may have been light blue. I think it was a Schwinn. But it was my freedom. And I often rode with my brother.

For an adolescent boy-becoming-man, a car means freedom. He can go to the same places he went on his bike, but now more quickly. He can take girls on dates. He can drive to work at night. If he persuades his parents, he can drive to a city he never could have reached on bicycle. Greater freedom and a larger world.

For the adolescent with car keys, the bike takes on new meaning. Now a bike becomes simply a means of exercise. Or a way to feel the wind in his hair. (We lived at a time when helmets were rarely worn.) Now it is not primarily a means of transportation, but of recreation.

For some at this stage, the bicycle recedes into the past. They take it out again when they have their own children, or perhaps when they are on vacation and pleased to enjoy a summer boardwalk in a carefree way. For others, bicycles rise to the racks atop their cars, now transportable to scenic roads away from the busy city. For a few, bicycles become symbols of something greater, of greener worlds and healthier humans.

As boys, the bicycle demonstrated the sort of men we might become. The steep hills were our crucible. At the base of the hill one had three choices:  push the bike up while walking beside it; zig zag up to decrease the effective grade; or dig deep into oneself and learn to dominate the hill by going up it straight.

For the first boy, the ride down is but a lazier extension of the walk up. It is remarkable only in that it might not have been at all, close as the boy was to simply turning around at the bottom to look for an altogether easier route. For the second boy, the ride at the end is a reward for his labor. The gravity he once resisted now serves for his relaxation. But the rest is short-lived. Another hill will come, ever a burden.

For the last boy, the ride down on the wings of gravity is like a hero’s flight on the wings of victory. He has triumphed. He does not dread the next hill but seeks it out. “I defy you,” he thinks. “Indeed, though you may be even steeper and longer, I shall learn to ascend you faster.”

In a way, the three boys so described are three types of men. One cruises along in society, often at the expense of others. Another makes his way, but with only enough energy to provide for himself and the small world of his affections. The third is the sort who leads. Metaphorically, he has the power and strength to ride a tandem up a hill even doing the greater share of the peddling. Indeed, he can push himself to great heights because he knows that life is like the hills he conquered in his youth.

As a man, he must drive his car to his place of work, the place where he rides metaphorical mountains straight up. As a man, he sometimes rides his bicycle to work, a bit of a boy still in him. He enjoys the exercise which stills his busy mind, his mind which at his place of work he exerts for developing concepts or equations and for leading others to do embrace a vision.  He enjoys the open road with nature to his side – at least as much as he can experience in the city. He feels the air on sides of his head, but not the top, for now he does wear a helmet.

He is free for one last time. Ironically, on this day he is riding up a slight hill without exertion.  He has many mountains yet to climb, in tandem or as vanguard, showing others the way.

He is a man for one last time. And then a driver, proving only a simple law of basic physics – that energy times mass equals force – lays that man, my brother, to rest beside the road.

Like that. It ends. And we are left groping for answers.

Douglas Caldwell, a lifelong cyclist, was an eagle scout, a nature photographer, and a UCLA Ph.D. He had spent many years advancing space exploration, but in recent years had shifted his focus to alternate energy development. On August 20th, 2010 he was riding to his new job at JPL where he would have led a program to develop smart grid technologies for a greener planet earth. A driver straying into the bike lane struck him down. Douglas died the following day. 


Weekend events: New Bellflower bike shop, West San Gabriel Valley fun ride & Cause for Creativity in SaMo

August 20, 2011

Once again, we’ve got a busy bike weekend and a long list of upcoming events.

And be sure to scroll all the way down for an exciting new fundraising event from the LACBC coming to Culver City in November.

……..

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

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

Saturday, August 20th, marks the Grand Opening of Live4Bikes, a new bike shop at 14328 Woodruff Ave in Bellflower. Events include games, food, live music and free tune-ups for the first 50 customers.

The West San Gabriel Valley Bicycle Coalition is hosting a free bike clinic and maintenance class from 10 am to 11:30 pm at Mountain View Park, 12127 Elliott Ave in El Monte, followed by a fun bike ride on the Emerald Necklace Bike Trails from 3 pm to 5:30 pm; the ride meets at Lashbrook Park, 3141 Lashbrook Street.

The Encino Velodrome hosts the Encino 6 Hour Race on Saturday, August 20th at 17301 Oxnard Street, at the edge of Balboa Park in Encino. Gates open at 10 am; race day registration is at 11 am and racing starts at noon.

C.I.C.L.E. and the Santa Monica Museum of Art co-host the Cause for Creativity: Tour da Arts on Sunday, August 21 from noon to 7 pm at 2525 Michigan Ave in Santa Monica. Pre-registration is closed after reaching capacity; however, there will be a stand-by line at the door.

Flying Pigeon hosts their popular Get Sum Dim Sum Ride at 10 am on Sunday, August 21st, with the slow-paced ride departing at 10:30; bring cash to pay for the food. The ride meets at Flying Pigeon Bike Shop, 3714 North Figueroa Street in Highland Park.

Also on Sunday, August 21st, the Los Angeles Young Marines will hold a car wash to benefit Ride2Recovery, helping wounded veterans overcome the obstacles they face through bicycling. It takes place from 10 am to 2 pm at 316 W. Florence Ave; volunteers are welcome, arrive at 9:45 to help out. The suggested donation is $10 — and I’m sure they’d be willing to wash a bike or two.

Metro is holding a roundtable discussion to talk about operator training, bicycle outreach and education on Monday, August 22nd from 6 to 8 pm in the 3rd floor conference room, One Gateway Plaza in Downtown L.A. Anyone who has ever been buzzed by a bus — which means just about every cyclist in L.A. — may want to attend.

Tuesday, August 30th, Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse will host a benefit night for Streetsblog LA from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm; a portion of all food and drink purchases will benefit Streetsblog; 2911 Main Street. Events will include a raffle, drink specials and possibly a bike valet.

Also on Sunday, September 4th, the LACBC will hold the next monthly Sunday Funday Ride, hosted by LACBC Board President Chet Kostrzewa; the ride starts at 9:30 am at the Wolf Creek Brewery in Valencia, 27746 McBean Parkway. Or join the riders at the end of the ride for beer and brunch at Wolf Creek Brewery; a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the LACBC. (Note: an earlier version said the ride started at 11:30; it actually begins at 9:30 and will conclude around 11:30.)

Wednesday, September 7th, Victims Impact Statements will be held in the case of Stephanie Segal, charged with felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and felony hit-and-run in the death of cyclist James Laing; Segal reportedly had a BAC of .26 at the time of the collision. The hearing starts at 8:30 am in Department 1 of the Malibu Courthouse, 23525 Civic Center Way; cyclists are urged to attend wearing bike jerseys, but no shorts are allowed in the courtroom.

Saturday, September 10th, the Santa Monica Spoke hosts the Dinner & Bikes Tour with leading bike scribe and advocate Elly Blue, vegan chef Joshua Ploeg and Joe Biel, founder of Microcosm Publishing; time and location to be determined. If you can’t make it on the 10th, a second dinner may be held in the L.A. area on Monday the 12th.

The 2011 Far West and SCNCA Elite Track Cycling Championships comes to the Encino Velodrome on Saturday, September 10th and Sunday, September 11th at 17301 Oxnard Street, at the edge of Balboa Park in Encino. Gates open at 8 am; racing starts at 9 both days.

Head up to Palo Alto on Saturday, September 17 for the Echelon Gran Fondo, with rides of 65, 80 or 95 miles, as well as a fundraising walk, run or ride and A Taste of Palo Alto. The ride benefits Bikes Belong, parent organization of both People for Bikes and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. The goal is to raise $10,000; if you can’t make the ride, you can still donate and get some cool Bikes Belong swag.

Mark your calendar for L.A.’s Ultimate Bike Weekend, as the 2011 L.A. edition of the Tour de Fat comes to town on Saturday, October 8th, followed by the next CicLAvia on Sunday, October 9th, offering an expanded route taking participants another 3 miles north into Chinatown and south into South L.A.

You’re invited to participate in the Gladiator Rock’n Run at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, October 1st. Not bike related, but at least they’re offering a discount for cyclists; enter code GLADIATORZ10 (all caps) to save $10 on registration.

The LACBC is co-hosting a weekend-long training program for bicycle and pedestrian advocates with the Alliance for Biking and Walking from Friday, October 14th through Sunday, October 16th, 634 S. Spring Street, Suite 821.

The LACBC’s award-winning City of Lights program will host their 2nd Annual City of Lights Awards/Fundraising Dinner on Thursday, October 27th from 6 to 11 pm at CARECEN HQ, 2845 W 7th Street. Tickets will be available for $45 later this year.

Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13th, the Eastside Bike Club hosts the LA Tamale Throwdown at a site to be determined, offering a chance to sample some of the city’s best tamales, coffee and pan Mexicano; bike valet courtesy of Flying Pigeon LA.

And mark your calendar for Sunday, November 13th, when the LACBC unveils a marriage of bikes and food with the 1st annual Tour de Taste in Culver City.


Getting the royal road treatment from Hollywood police, and encouraging a motorist to drive better

August 19, 2011

Earlier this week, I was cut off by a driver who pulled out from a side street without ever looking in my direction.

So I jerked on my brakes and yelled out a warning. And he responded by calling me an asshole before speeding on his way.

So let me get this straight.

He drives in a careless manner, putting other people’s lives at risk. But I’m the asshole for trying to avoid getting killed?

Or maybe just being on the planet?

Fortunately, experiences — and drivers — like that are the exception.

Santa Monica Spoke member and bike advocate Eric Weinstein had a couple of much better encounters recently, demonstrating that there is hope for détente on our streets.

And that maybe things are better out there than it seems sometimes.

Sunday I was cycling back from a bar near Universal City. So, I’m southbound on Cahuenga Bvld, through the pass, which I expect to be difficult, with a narrow road and fast cars. Well…the auto traffic is conveniently stopped on most of the downhill portion. About 3/4 of a mile of cars: all nose to tail, not moving at all.

They can’t hurt you if they’re not moving! Nice!

So, I ride between the lanes and arrive at the Hollywood Bowl entrance intersection. There is an event starting, with a bunch of traffic and police types, and everyone waits for quite a few minutes until the cross traffic is stopped. When it’s time to go, the traffic officer points to me and says “You first.” I go, all alone, and she holds the rest for at least 30 seconds, which gives me time to accelerate to speed, take the lane, etc. Nice!

Then I get to Highland and Hollywood Boulevard, where my route turns right. Another line of cars, all turning right, all stopped by a traffic guy and a large bunch of pedestrians in the crosswalk. I cruise up the outside, because you all know you do not want to be between a car and a right turn!

When I get to the head of the line, the cop asks me “ You turning right?” “Yep” I say. Where else would I be going stopped at a right turn. The pedestrian mob ends, and he points to me and says “Go now!” and he holds the rest of the cars until I’m well clear. Nice! And much safer.

Are there new instructions on this to the Hollywood Traffic police? Have any other cyclists been allowed go first like that? This was a great experience! I really felt that a cyclist belonged in traffic.

The following day, I was biking down Colorado in Santa Monica near 20th. It was the part where it’s pretty commercial — the road is two lanes per side with some parking, some curb. It’s reasonably wide.

An unfortunately typical thing happens – the squeeze. When I bike there, I take 1/3 of the lane, putting me just outside the door zone. At almost 20 mph I expect the cars to follow me until there is room to pass in the lane to their left.  When there’s room on my right I put over to let them past.

What surprised me was that a small silver sports car could just squeeze by in the 2/3 of a lane remaining at about 35 mph. Always brings that feeling of mortality when there’s a car zooming by right next to your handlebar.

Sometimes, though, you catch them at the next light. That’s what happened this time, so I put up next to the open passenger side window and say “Hey” to the driver.

The driver is a blond woman, who is hunched over, looking down and texting! She is very, very startled as she realizes someone is talking to her from outside the car and sits up, looking guilty. I say, “You just did the same thing to me back there!”

Pause while she (maybe) remembers passing me a minute ago. If anything she looks more guilty. Next I say “Please don’t text!” She says apologetically “I wasn’t texting back there.”

“Please leave more space when you pass,” I say. “Sorry,” she says. And I think she means it. She really looked very embarrassed.

The light changes, and we drive off. I think she got it.

And, I hope, another driver converted to changing their ways.

Something tells me that the driver I encountered wouldn’t have responded quite so well had I been able to catch him.

Not that I tried, of course.

……..

As you may recall, Stephanie Segal is currently facing charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run for the death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last year. Laing was riding in the bike lane on Agoura Road when Segal allegedly ran him down, with a blood alcohol content of .26%.

Now, in what promises to be a very emotional day, Victim Impact Statements are scheduled to be heard on September 7th, starting at 8:30 am in Department 1 of the Malibu Courthouse, 23525 Civic Center Way.

Cyclists are urged to attend to show support for the victim and his family. I’m told that a room full of riders in bike jerseys would make a real statement to the court and offer comfort to the family; however, wear long pants, because shorts — bike or otherwise — are not allowed in the courtroom.

……..

Bicycling offers a look at the top contenders and 3 stages to watch in next week’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, aka Tour of Colorado. It doesn’t bode well for the Pro Cycling Challenge that another Colorado bike race is sabotaged. Mark Cavendish and his HTC-Highroad team want to win one last grand tour at the Vuelta before the team is dissolved at the end of this season.

And then there’s this:

Q. Do you think Lance cheated?

A. Evelyn Stevens. Marianne Vos. Emma Pooley. Jeannie Longo. Kristin Armstrong.

Those are just five of the hundreds of female pro cyclists who deserve more attention and discussion than the question of whether Lance cheated.

That beautiful, brilliant response comes from competitive cyclist Kathryn Bertine, along with her responses to nine other questions cyclists get asked.

……..

After getting hit by a car 10 years ago, Simon Richardson recovered to become a Paralympic cycling champion. Now he’s fighting for his life, a victim of a hit-and-run collision on Wednesday.

……..

The L.A. Weekly decides the city’s new bike plan is already in trouble, just four months after it was adopted. Richard Risemberg points out that the biking black hole of Beverly Hills has a golden opportunity to do something that would benefit cyclists — and everyone else. Stephen Box says Metrolink passes the bike friendly test. Leading bike scribe and advocate Elly Blue’s Dinner & Bikes tour comes to Santa Monica on Saturday, September 10th; word is another local date is in the works on Monday the 12th. More on Temple City’s plans to construct the city’s first bikeway with separated bike lanes on Rosemead Ave. Long Beach makes a long leap towards livability. The L.A. firefighters riding to New York for 9/11 make a side trip to visit the victims of the Joplin MO tornado.

Two Orange County teenagers are under arrest for shooting passing cyclists with a BB gun. San Diego’s Courteous Mass and Critical Manners ride may not bring about world peace, but it’s a start. A driver gets two-years for killing a cyclist in a Bay Area hit-and-run. A Cupertino cyclist rides across Iowa at age 70 after taking up riding just last winter.

As usual, Bob Mionske nails it with a look at internet trolls who respond to every cycling news story from a highly biased and usually inaccurate windshield perspective. Bicycling says follow this diet, and you’ll be able to ride longer on less food and never bonk. Another example showing cyclists are at least as likely as pedestrians to be seriously injured in a collision between the two; oddly, I don’t hear anyone calling for dangerous scofflaw pedestrians to be taxed and licensed. Five easy steps to buying your next bike; they forgot to mention step six, which is finding a way to pay for it. After the rear cyclist on a tandem is killed in a collision, a witness is arrested for going through their belongings. So let me get this straight — did a teenage cyclist riding in a crosswalk dart out and hit a passing truck, or did the driver ignore the girl riding in the crosswalk and cut her off? Springfield Cyclist asks if you’ve ever done anything dumber than locking your bike to a post without the key; maybe that’s what happened here. An Ohio driver is charged with killing a bike-riding judge while driving with a blood alcohol content of nearly .29. New York cyclists may have won the lawsuit over the popular Prospect Park West bike lanes, but some local residents still think they suck — the cyclists and the bike lanes, that is. The sore losers at the Daily News complain about NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s highhanded ways; then again, they’d probably complain if she picked up the tab for drinks. Our North Carolina friend Zeke points out that road rage is relative, as drivers patiently line up behind a slow moving tractor without a single horn or finger.

A Canadian cyclist is injured after firecrackers are thrown from a passing car. A Vancouver cyclist is fighting British Columbia’s mandatory helmet law in court; although a little helmet hair isn’t a bad trade-off when your skull is at stake. A 10-year old Brit cyclist is impaled on his handlebars; fortunately, he’ll survive, but this seems to happen far more often than it should. Cyclists and driveways don’t have to be in conflict. Sydney bike riders would feel safer using the city’s bikeways if pedestrians and buses wouldn’t.

Finally, genius must have skipped a generation, as a bike thief is arrested after mentioning on his Facebook page that the bike he’s trying to sell is stolen.

And after nearly getting turned into bug splatter by a stop sign-running VW Beetle on my way home Wednesday night, I’ve come to the conclusion that my last words on this planet may very well be “Oh fu…!”

But then, aren’t we supposed to be the ones who run stop signs?


SaMo cyclist deliberately assaulted; alleged Jorge Alvarado killer plays soccer in Texas

August 18, 2011

I’ve gotten reports of an intentional assault on a cyclist in Santa Monica on Wednesday.

Cyclist Will Ashe sends word that the driver of a black Lexus GS 470 deliberately rear-ended another rider on Colorado Ave, then fled the scene. Police were called, but the victim got the license plate number wrong.

I can tell you from personal experience that it’s hard to get the number right when you’re trying to pick yourself up off the pavement.

Be on the lookout for a car that meets that description driven by an African-American man. But remember that there are probably hundreds of cars like that on the Westside.

So don’t get carried away.

Call the police, and let them deal with it.

Update: In my rush to get this online last night, I neglected to mention that the rider is okay, though the bike has a tacoed rear wheel.

……..

Good news and — to me, at least — maddening news on the legal front.

Cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels reports that the judge has denied a motion to suppress evidence in the case of Shawn Fields; the allegedly drunk hit-and-run driver is accused of killing 17-year old cyclist Danny Marin in Pacoima last October.

The defense had argued that police did not have a warrant when the entered Fields’ house after he did not respond when they saw him sleeping inside. As a result, they wanted everything officers observed after entering the home suppressed, as well as the results of blood alcohol and field sobriety tests.

However, the judge ruled that the police did the right to enter the home based on probable cause and exigent circumstances.

The next court date is pre-trial hearing scheduled for September 20th at the San Fernando courthouse, case # PA068775.

Meanwhile, in the case of Patrick Roraff, the teenage driver accused of killing pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado while street racing in April of last year, has had his pretrial hearing delayed until September 1st, case #SB – FSB1002475.

Wheels reports that attorneys for Roraff and co-defendant Brett Morin have both filed motions to have their charges dismissed for insufficient evidence; Roraff has also filed a motion to have his charges reduced from felony manslaughter to a misdemeanor; I’m told that both motions are routine.

Don’t go looking him around here next month, though. Despite the seriousness of the charges he faces, the judge had given Roraff permission to travel to Texas with his school soccer team.

So let me get this straight.

Despite — allegedly — killing another human being because he couldn’t resist the urge to illegally race another driver, he gets to play soccer with his friends, while Jorge Alvarado’s family and loved ones face going on without him.

Am I the only one who finds that more than a little infuriating?

……..

The California Bicycle Coalition calls for action to support AB 345 to give cyclists and pedestrians the voice with Caltrans we should have had all along.

……..

Intriguing idea, as Streetsblog’s Damien Newton reports — and supports — an idea floated by the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee to elevate the planned Expo Bikeway over several busy Westside intersections.

And speaking of Streetsblog, Damien looks at bike-friendly Long Beach this week.

……..

Looks like someone is deliberately trying to sabotage courses for next week’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. Evidently feeling a need to attack all former Tour de France winners, Floyd Landis accuses Alberto Contador of doping by association; he’s no doubt looking for dirt on Cadel Evans as we speak. Meanwhile, the Cadel effect results in an upsurge of interest in cycling Down Under. Vincenzo Nibali will defend his title in the Vuelta. Twenty-year old Portland racer Jacob Rathe goes pro with top-tier team Garmin-Cervelo; evidently, Taylor Phinney isn’t the only pro cycling prodigy.

……..

A writer for the Baltimore sun reminds us that bikes can kill, too.

However, a tiny bit of perspective might be helpful — you can count the number of people killed by bikes each year on one hand and still respond with the inappropriate gesture of your choice, while motor vehicles kill well over 30,000 people a year in the U.S. alone.

Of course, the people who hate bikes also tend to forget that colliding with a pedestrian is just as likely to result in serious injuries or death to the cyclist. And it isn’t always the cyclists’ fault. But maybe the solution is as simple as better infrastructure.

……..

LACMA will offer a free screening of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure this Friday. More on the new 7th Street road diet and bike lanes from EcoVillage, CicLAvia and LADOT Bike Blog; I rode them myself Wednesday evening, but I’ll save that story for another day. Bicycle Fixation offers a lovely look at a bike Sunday in Santa Monica. CicLAvia expands into South L.A. and Olvera Street and Chinatown. C.I.C.L.E. says studies show exercise increases lifespan, so why aren’t we? A look back at biking in L.A. circa 1901. Photos from the newly upgraded section of the Ballona Bike Path in Culver City. UC Irvine makes a dent in campus bike thefts by arresting five suspected thieves, one for the third time; does the third strike law apply to bike theft? Meanwhile, Manhattan Beach police arrest another four bike thieves; 9 down, a few thousand or so to go. Live 4 Bikes, a new bike shop is officially opening in Bellflower this weekend, and offering free tune-up for the first 50 customers. Temple City plans to install protected bike lanes on Rosemead Blvd. The Claremont Cyclist asks why the recent stories about deaths in Yosemite ignored the park’s leading killer. Sometimes, when everything goes wrong it turns out better. After a flurry of activity by local advocates, Newport Beach’s illegal, though long-standing, ban on bikes on a local street is coming down, despite claims that it really wasn’t a ban after all, despite what the sign says.

L.A.’s own former National Criterium champ Rahsaan Bahati wins the Ladera Ranch Grand Prix; San Diego’s Trina Jacobson takes the women’s crown. San Diego hosts a successful Courteous Mass. Drivers complain about cyclists, cyclists complain about bikers. A Fairfield cyclist suffers life-threatening injuries after witnesses say he ran a red light and rode into the path of a turning car. A bill increasing penalties for using a hand-held cell phone or texting while driving goes to the Governor’s desk — and extends the prohibition to cyclists, as well, so hang the damn thing up when you ride, already.

More evidence that bicycling is a lot safer than people think; still, Bob Mionske says it’s a good idea to wear a helmet — legally as well as medically — even if you don’t have to. It may be the end of the road for motormania. Utah hit-and-runs are on the rise as more people ride bikes. A beginner’s guide to safe cycling from my hometown, good advice that would work anywhere. More on the Black Hawk bike ban going to the Colorado Supreme Court. Compete Streets is now the law in New York state. There’s good news for NYC cyclists as the lawsuit against the popular Prospect Park West bike lanes is dismissed. After a shattering hit-and-run, New York police do…not much. Another day, another Daily News hack job on Gotham cyclists; judging by their reports, Daily News reporters would rather deal with a zombie apocalypse than an infestation of bike riders. Defining bikers, cyclists and rolling pedestrians. The New York Times says Florida pedestrians have to run for their lives.

A look at the infamously popular Rosarito-to-Ensenada bike ride coming up next month. A Canadian street performer has his prop bike stolen during his act. Victoria police crack down on cyclists for not wearing helmets. A UK motorist is convicted of using two mobile phones to talk and tweet at the same time while driving — and making the police wait while he finished his call. No, seriously. Bike theft is a problem in the UK as well, as a 14-year old rider helps bust a bike theft ring. Free-to-use bike pumps appear in London. Why Cambridge is a model cycling city. Now you can ride your bike to look for Nessie. The first improved roads were built for and by cyclists, before they were co-opted by motorists. Seville, Spain experiences a 100 time jump in cycling levels in just four years, which would probably put the Daily News writers in a padded cell.

Finally, Danny MacAskill is back, doing the impossible on two wheels. And writing for Bicycling, pro cyclist Ted King says enjoy — truly, consciously enjoy — your next ride. And your life.

Now that’s a philosophy I can get behind.


Yet another teenage cyclist killed earlier this month, this time in Rancho Cucamonga

August 16, 2011

A 16-year old Rancho Cucamonga cyclist died August 5th, nearly a week after he collided with a car.

Bernie Cota, who would have been a junior at Rancho Cucamonga High School, was riding his bike to a friend’s house on Friday, July 29th when the wreck occurred at the intersection of Milliken Ave and Terra Vista Parkway. No other details about the collision are currently available.

Cota was not wearing a helmet at the time, even though helmets are required for anyone under 18 in California. He suffered severe brain injuries, and despite surviving emergency surgery, lingered in a coma before being declared dead on Friday, August 5th.

According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, his organs were donated after his death.

All of Cota’s organs were healthy and his mother opted to have them donated. She is absolutely certain that her son would have wanted it that way.

“Many people got good news that day,” Denise Cota said.

But many others received news that broke their hearts, including friends, relatives and Bernie Cota’s two younger brothers, Brent and Brandon.

A public memorial was held for Cota this past weekend, while a local hair salon and pizza parlor both held fundraisers for the family; friends made and sold t-shirts and bead bracelets to raise money for the funeral.

A local mortuary offers a moving slide show of a life cut short.

This is the 49th confirmed traffic-related cycling death in Southern California this year, and 4th in San Bernardino County; Cota was the second teenage cyclist to die in the county this month.

My heart and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. Thanks to Ann for forwarding the news.


Guest post: leading L.A. bike attorney and advocate Howard Krepack on taking the lane

August 16, 2011

There are just a handful of attorneys I’d want on my side when I need help, most of whom you can find over there on the right column.

Howard Krepack is one of those, someone I’ve come to know and respect as a friend and fellow cyclist, as well as an experienced attorney specializing in bike law and a strong supporter of our local cycling community. So when he contacted me recently to say he’d written a piece about the law behind your right to take the lane — as well as when and how to do it — I offered to let him share it here.

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Taking the Lane—It’s a Personal Decision

By Howard Krepack, Esq.
Partner, Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant Felton & Goldstein, LLP

Bicycling safety is all about balance and control, particularly when it comes to taking the lane. Sharing the road with motorists can be a breeze or a nightmare; you can do a lot to shape that reality for yourself.

Taking the lane makes you more visible to motorists by basically becoming one of them. It enables an approaching driver to spot you, slow down as necessary and pass you as if you were a car. If you are hugging the shoulder, many drivers will pass you too quickly and/or too closely. In addition, motorists are often preoccupied with other things—the phone, the radio, their passengers—to pay a great deal of attention to the cyclist riding near the curb (drifting to the shoulder is common for inattentive drivers).  Taking the lane also helps alleviate your chances of being caught in a right hook when a motorist makes a right turn.

The California Vehicle Code tackles the topic in Section 21202—Position in Traffic. It reads as follows:

(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

  1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
  4. When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

But, just because taking the lane is legal and oftentimes optimal, doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. It is as much of a mental act as a physical one, and shouldn’t be done until you are comfortable putting yourself in that situation.

Even then, there are cases when balancing the legality with the reality doesn’t add up to taking the lane. For instance, when vehicular traffic is moving at 45 mph or more, a bicyclist traveling at 20 mph will be seen as a nuisance at best (with the possible accompanying road rage that implies) and an unseen victim at worst.

We live in a car-centric society where infrastructure improvements that would increase bicycling safety are slow in coming. Grassroots, non-profit groups are making great strides, but until cities and governmental agencies get on board in earnest, bicyclists will still be considered second-class citizens. Needed changes include:

  • An increase in the length and number of bike lanes and sharrows.
  • Keeping road shoulders clear of debris and obstacles.
  • Utilizing proper/appropriate signage to warn bicyclists of road conditions and hazards.
  • A better understanding on the part of public safety officers about the vehicle code as it pertains to bicyclists.
  • Public awareness that bicyclists and motorists share the same responsibilities and rights to the road.
  • Motorists adhering to the rules of the road.
  • Bicyclists adhering to the rules of the road.
  • Motorists and bicyclists treating each other with common courtesy.

Just like taking the lane, it’s all about balance and control.

(The law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP is dedicated to protecting the rights of those who have suffered serious injuries on or off the job. Partner Howard Krepack, an avid bicyclist, leads the firm’s bicycle accident practice. For more information about our firm, call us at 213-739-7000 or visit our website: www.geklaw.com.)

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I welcome guest posts, whether you’re a leading bike attorney or just a cyclist with something to say. And whether or not you agree with what I have to say — or vice versa.

So if you’d like to share your thoughts with your fellow cyclists on any bike-related subject, email me at bikinginla at hotmail dot com.


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