Main Street road diet brings joy to Venice cyclists; a road rage finger and a shipload of links

January 31, 2012

This is what the new bike lanes on Main Streets looked like on Thursday.

Those of us who ride near the coast are celebrating the long awaited arrival of the Main Street road diet in Venice.

After winning approval from the local Neighborhood Council, hopes were high that the bike lanes would be installed by the end of the year. While that didn’t happen, work finally began the weekend before last — only to be halted due to the recent storm.

And leaving barely sketched out lane lines that seemed to confuse almost everyone, as I watched driver after driver try to squeeze into the narrow soon-to-be bike lane.

Even though it lacked the bike markings, you’d think drivers would realize that a lane narrower than their cars probably wasn’t meant for them. Then again, that’s assuming most drivers think behind the wheel, which may be a stretch.

But this past weekend, it finally became a reality.

And frequent contributor Eric Weinstein — excuse me, Eric “lets extend the Main St. bike lanes” Weinstein, as he signed his email — could barely restrain his excitement.

The Main Street bike lanes in Venice are here!

Katarina, on her electric bike, and I went for a bicycle ride and victory lap, up and down the freshly painted Venice Main Street Bike lanes on Sunday. They came out pretty good after all this time. It was perfect weather and there were already lots of other cyclists.

These lanes appear to be a bit wider than the Santa Monica section. There’s less chance of being doored with a space on the right of the lane for much of the route. And the car traffic seemed calmed by the lane re-configuration. There’s a section Northbound from the kicking clown to the Santa Monica border which has long had lane confusion, with awkward last second merges into the left lane. That’s completely fixed and is much safer and smoother now. The South end of the bike

lane is at the Windward Circle allowing a easy merge around the circle. Connecting to Abbot Kinney’s sharrows is easy too, making a good route over to Venice Blvd.’s bike lanes to Culver City and even Downtown LA.

This is great new place for bicyclists. Now there’s safe, easy route from downtown Santa Monica to the Windward Circle. These are the best places near the beach to visit by bicycle. And the new lanes make this an easy trip on flat ground that anyone can pedal. Merchants near Main St. should now be asking LADOT for more bike racks in front of their stores to bring in these new customers (www.bicyclela.org/RackRequest.htm). We should all be taking this route for a test spin on the next sunny day.

Like all things there’s room for small improvement, which will make a big difference. The one I’d really like so see would be some wayfinding signage. One or two signs at the south terminus

pointing to the beach path and the alternate route avoiding Washington Blvd. to the Marina Del Rey section of the path. And put a few signs on Ocean Ave. and Venice Blvd. pointing toward the new lanes on Main Street. Showing the connections to the bike lane will really help increase it’s usability.

These bike lane projects take a massive effort by many, many people to see anything appear on the ground. A big tailwind on their next ride to LADOT and Michelle Mowery’s group for initiating this great connecting route. Not the mention engineering, presenting and constructing it. Also to the Venice Neighborhood Council for voting to proving a safer place for cyclists in the community. And Bill Rosendahl’s office for getting the plans approved by all concerned. And a really big kudos to all the SPOKE and LACBC people who advocated for this, especially our Bicycle Advisory Committee representative Kent Strumpel.

……..

The latest trend seems to be automotive greenwashing support of bikes, as Volkswagen begins a two-year relationship with Bikes Belong, and Fiat wants to clear the air to improve relations between cyclists and motorists.

Of course, that’s after the League of American Bicyclists partnered with AAA, even though the SoCal version of the auto club was one of the prime opponents of California’s proposed three-foot passing law.

Speaking of the bike league, they report that bike and pedestrian funding is once again under attack in the Tea Part-addled House.

……..

It may be in broken English — the original is in Swedish — but a Stockholm cyclist complains about news reports that never fail to blame cyclists but never seem to blame drivers. Instead, it always seems to be driverless cars that bump into other people and vehicles.

I’ve complained about the same thing on here more than once.  Then again, if you subscribe to my Twitter account, I’ve probably complained about it ad naseum.

But it’s interesting to see it’s not just an American phenomenon.

Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

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L.A. Live is getting more bike parking. A review of a 32-mile ride through the Westside guided by Bike and Hikes LA. If you liked last November’s CicLAvia, you’ll love the next one on April 15th on the same route. Glendale is reaching out to local residents to support a road diet of their own. Baldwin Park wants more bicycle-friendly streets. The Culver City Bicycle Coalition will host a fundraiser the day after Valentines Day at Joxer Daly’s on Washington Blvd. Better Bike recaps the recent Beverly Hills Bike Plan Update Committee meeting to discuss proposed — and rapidly shrinking — bike lanes and bike racks both current and planned; and he’s right, if the meetings weren’t the same night as the LACBC board meeting, I’d be there. Venice may have new bike lanes on Main Street, but Pink and baby prefer the bike path. The Time is running out to become Streetsblog’s new Santa Monica correspondent. A Santa Monica bike company based on a made up bike team based on a real beer-drinking Belgium racer. Rick Risemberg meets a man on an 85-year old bike; he also finds a bike/ped bridge in Whittier, but no signage that says how to get there. Some schmuck stole a 86-year old WWII vet’s bike in La Habra. San Diego gets buffered bike lanes.

View the trailer for the upcoming bike movie Peloton. Bicycling interviews rising BMC star Tejay van Garderen. Drivers like to complain about red light running cyclists, but it’s the cyclists and pedestrians whose lives are endangered by the scofflaws on four wheels. After two years of bike commuting, an Arizona cyclist has to get new clothes. Washington’s House passes legislation to slow some speed limits to 20 mph. Evidently, Springfield Cyclist hates SUVS as much as I do; or almost, anyway. A Texas cyclist is collateral damage when a drunk driver flips his truck, killing his two passengers as well. Is someone stealing and selling ghost bikes in the Big Apple? The captain of the Appalachian State University bike team is injured when his wheel hits a pit bull. LeBron bikes to work.

Grist offers 10 lessons from the world’s great bike cities. A Calgary columnist says just say no to bike share. After his bike is stolen, a UK youth gets it back through Facebook for £50 — about $78 bucks. A driver is fined a whopping £25 after being caught on video verbally abusing a cyclist. A London councilor says four cyclists have died within a two-minute walk of his home in the last two years; a very lucky cyclist could have added to the toll. Yet another delay in the Contador doping case. Aussie cricketer Shane Warne is being sued by the cyclist he apparently slandered — and hit.

Finally, when a group of teenagers tried to rob a 65-year old Pennsylvania cyclist, he pulled out a gun and fired, killing one and injuring another. Now friends of the victim speak out in support of his friends and family. Thanks to Rex Reese for the heads-up.

And this is what a road raging driver looks like after threatening to run me off the road the next time I get in front of him — even though I was doing 20 in a 20 mph zone on the VA grounds when he Jerry Browned me for no apparent reason.


A Thanksgiving thank you, editing Google bike maps, and Zev says back to the drawing board

November 24, 2011

I’ll be honest.

This has been yet another rough year, in a string of rough years that has gone on way too long.

And yet, I have a lot to be thankful for. Not the least of which is the simple fact that I’m here, and have a loving home and family waiting for me at the end of a ride.

That’s a lot more than some people have.

I’m also very thankful for you. Because it doesn’t matter what I have to say if no one bothers to read it.

So much for that question about a tree falling in the forest.

Thank you for coming by, whether this is your first visit or you’ve been with me from the beginning.

Please accept my best wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving for you and your loved ones. And my hope that we’ll all have more to be thankful for next year.

But if you want to read some heartfelt thanks from someone who clearly means it, try this one.

And People for Bikes says be thankful for biking.

……..

Another thing I’m thankful for is all the people who send me links and contributions, and help me put this blog together on a regular basis.

Such as frequent contributor Eric Weinstein, who offers his thoughts on Santa Monica’s newly adopted Bike Action Plan.

The Santa Monica Bike Action Plan was enacted by the City Council last night. This means that Santa Monica will budget the expenditure of 2.5 Million dollars for the next two years, and has grants to bring the total up to about 8 Million dollars. That’s a big bunch of money to improve cycling!  I think this will change the entire experience of biking in Santa Monica to a level greater than Portland. Santa Monica is on it’s way to increasing the bike mode share – aiming for 30%!

Some of the items: lots of bike lanes, sharrows, bike boxes, and green lanes for major east-west and north south signature corridors. The largest bike garage in the country – oops it’s already here! Some bike education/encouragement for students, and a bunch of other useful items – some signage to improve the overcrowded beach bike path. And a bike share. There’s a 5- year and a 20 year wish plan for better facilities. These will include: taking some parking for wide (passing lane) bike lanes, even more lanes and sharrows, bike parking at the coming Expo stations, and my favorite: a recreational cycletrack around the Santa Monica Airport. Bring on the Tour of California.

Hooray for progress! This is a major milestone in getting people out of cars and on bikes!

……..

County supervisor — and widely anticipated yet currently unannounced mayoral candidate — Zev Yaroslavsky says L.A. County should send the proposed county bike plan back to the drawing board.

The motion by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky calls on the county Department of Public Works to create a bike plan that “will not just move us out of the 1970’s, but move Los Angeles County forward as a leader in 21st Century bicyclist safety and comfort.”

Specifically, the motion says that the plan should “promote the use of leading-edge designs such as those found in the Model Design Manual for Living Streets that was prepared by the Department of Public Health.” Those include “cycle tracks” that separate bike lanes from traffic with dividers such as a lane of parked cars, and experimental street design approaches—including the possibility of varied lane and sidewalk widths in some areas—that do not fall within current Caltrans standards.

The motion urges the county to take the lead in helping such street layouts receive state approval for broader implementation.

A longtime leader in L.A. politics, Yaroslavsky offers a surprisingly strong and influential voice in support of safer cycling in the county. And could soon join Austin Beutner and outgoing City Council President Eric Garcetti in a bike-friendly mayoral field.

Things are getting very interesting.

Thanks to Streetsblog’s Damien Newton for the heads-up.

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George Wolfberg, who I frequently rely on for some of our best links — as well as his incomparable behind the scenes contributions in reaching the right people and getting things — sends word of a rash of bike burglaries in the Brentwood area. He sends the following report from LAPD Senior Lead Officer Kirk.

  • 11/14/11 1500 Hrs – 11/21/11 1000 Hrs, 1300 Block of Wellesley Ave, Susp removed window to residence and entered the loc. Susp removed property and fled loc. Property taken was a bicycle.
  • 11/04/11 1800 Hrs – 11/08/11 0930 Hrs, 1800 Block of Stoner Ave, Susp cut bike lock and removed bicycle from parking lot.
  • 11/18/11 0400 – 0600 Hrs, 1400 Block of Barry Ave, Susp removed bicycles from apartment balcony.
  • 11/19/11 1200 Hrs – 11/21/11 0800 Hrs, Susp cut off lock and removed the bicycle from property.
  • 11/19/11 0900 Hrs- 11/21/11 0600 Hrs, 11300 Block of Wellesley Ave, Susp cut off lock and removed bicycle from carport area.
  • 11/20/11 1330 – 2130 Hrs, 1600 Block of Granville Ave, Susp cut cable lock off and removed bicycle from apartment courtyard.
  • 11/21/11 0645 – 0830 Hrs, 2000 Block of Colby Ave, Susp cut off lock and removed bicycle from property.

Officer Kirk suggests keeping your bike inside your residence, and writing down the serial number. I’d add that you should keep a current photo of your bike, register it, and lock it with a secure U-lock any time you have to leave it outside or in your garage.

Remember, weight doesn’t matter if you don’t have to carry it with you, so go for the biggest, strongest lock you can find to protect your bike at home.

……..

Another contribution comes from Alejandro Merulo, who calls our attention to Google Maps feature I was unaware of.

I wanted to let you know of a feature that readers of your blog may find useful. As you know in Los Angeles, a large number of bike lanes and sharrows have been added to our streets recently. These bike lanes should be added to Google Maps so that more people ride on them. Google has made it possible to do this for any user using Google Map Maker. It would be great to have other cyclists adding/reviewing these features. For example, today I added the Spring Street and 1st street bike lanes. But these additions need approval. There aren’t that many cyclists reviewing other people’s submission to Google Map Maker.

Sharing the ability of cyclists to add our routes to the roads will make them safer. If you could share this feature through your blog, many cyclists would appreciate it.

Not being familiar with this feature — and a little to dense to figure it out on my own — I asked Alejandro to explain the process.

The link for Google map maker is http://www.google.com/mapmaker. If you are in normal Google maps with the biking layers on, there is some small text on the bottom right that says “Edit in Google Map Maker.” Using a Google account, you can then draw lines along roads. Clicking next, you can then edit road attributes and add bike lanes. Once you have gotten this far, I found it intuitive to figure out other features. However, if you try these steps and still have trouble, let me know and I’ll be happy to assist you. You can see some of the work I’ve added if you type in “Spring Street and 9th Street, Los Angeles, CA” in the text box at the top. You can also see Community Edits like mine by clicking on “Community Edits.”

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Santa Monica’s Bike Effect hosts a trunk show of women’s cycling apparel from New York designer Nona Varnado this Saturday. L.A. wants your ideas on how to keep the city moving, including a suggestion to make motorists pay the true cost of driving. KCET Departures features Flying Pigeon’s always informative, entertaining and elucidating Josef Bray-Ali. Damien Newton unveils this year’s Streetsie Award winners, including a much deserved nod to the LACBC’s Colin Bogart as Advocate of the Year. Curbed takes you on a ride down the new Spring Street bike lane, which has bike parking, too. The Beverly Hills Bicycle Ad Hoc Committee considers the biking black hole’s first pilot projects. Cyclists make their case for a safer PCH while Malibu officials consider becoming bike friendly. Former Burbank city council candidate Garen Yegparian offers a spot-on look at the state of cycling in the Los Angeles area, and finds drivers in his own Armenian community among the worst offenders; definitely worth reading. This is what 10 years of L.A. traffic fatalities looks like, based on the Guardian’s map of U.S. casualties from the last decade; thanks to Simon for the link.

A San Diego cyclist thanks the life guards who saved his life. A San Francisco cyclist pleads not guilty in the death of a pedestrian; he’s accused of running a red light and hitting the 68-year old woman as she walked in the crosswalk with her husband. In a heartwarming story, an S.F. cyclist rescues a puppy while riding. San Jose cyclists pitch in to fix up a derelict bike path. A new bike rack keeps a Los Altos bike safe on a public street for four months. San Rafael cyclists celebrate Cranksgiving. A San Anselmo cyclist is in a coma after being found unconscious on the side of a fire road.

New Mexico cyclists install a ghost bike for a six-year old boy killed 21 years ago. In a classic chicken or egg equation, St. Louis County doesn’t build bikeways because not enough people bike; the current leadership in Ohio doesn’t seem much better. A Huntsville radio station helps ensure 2800 children will receive a new bike for Christmas. A Florida cyclist was drunk when he was hit and killed by an unmarked police car while carrying a case of beer in each hand. Dunedin FL officials turn down nearly $450,000 in Safe Routes to School funding because they’re afraid residents might object.

Nine-and-a-half years for on Oxford driver who deliberately ran down a cyclist; turns out he knew the rider if that makes it any better. A video guide to wearing tweed while you ride. Then again, if you really want to be seen, this should do the trick. Seven people face up to 2 years in prison each in the Operation Puerto bike doping scandal. A New Zealand driver is found guilty of killing a cyclist, despite claiming she just didn’t see him — which is usually the universal Get Out of Jail Free card for careless drivers.

Finally, North Carolina police kill a disabled, partially deaf cyclist by shooting him with a stun gun while he was riding. For any law enforcement personnel unclear on the concept, never, ever knock anyone off a bike while their riding unless you actually intend to kill them.

Because you just might.


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.

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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.

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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?


LBFD Captain charged with DUI & felony hit-and-run; report on last weekend’s Sunday Funday ride

April 8, 2011

This one slipped under nearly everyone’s radar.

On Friday, April 1st, a cyclist riding in a Seal Beach bike lane was hit by a pickup traveling at roughly 60 mph. The driver, who fled the scene leaving the crumpled victim clinging to life, turned out to be a captain with the Long Beach Fire Department.

And yet the story didn’t break widely until a full week later.

Maybe they thought it was a particularly unfunny April Fool joke.

The still publicly unidentified 48-year old rider was headed east on Westminster Blvd east of Bolsa Chica Street at about 1:30 pm — the L.A. Weekly inexplicably places it at 1:30 am — when he was hit from behind by a Chevrolet truck, catapulting the rider onto the side of the road. According to press reports, he is still hospitalized with major head trauma.

To answer the inevitable question, there’s no report on whether the rider was wearing a helmet. And no, it doesn’t matter — no bike helmet is capable of protecting the wearing in a 60 mph collision.

According to multiple reports, the driver did not stop to check on the injured cyclist. Witnesses followed his truck to a home in Huntington Beach, where 38-year old John Hines was arrested on charges of DUI and felony hit-and-run; he was later released on $50,000 bond.

As it turned out, Hines is not only an LBFD captain, but the son of a retired captain and nephew of the department’s former chief.

Maybe he missed the memo that fire fighters save lives, not take them.

The first report I can find of the collision appeared on a local Seal Beach website the following Monday; not unusual for a story that breaks on the weekend. It identifies the driver only by name, age and place of residence.

The association between Hines and the LBFD first appeared the following day. Yet widespread coverage of the story didn’t occur until the Long Beach Press-Telegram took it up yesterday.

Just what took so long might make a very interesting story.

.………

Late word on the condition of cyclist Adam Rybicki, critically injured in an collision with an allegedly drunk, underage driver early Sunday morning. I won’t share the details, but it sounds like he could use your prayers.

.………

Eric Weinstein joined in on last weekend’s LACBC Sunday Funday ride. I invited him to offer his thoughts on the ride and the route we followed.

About 30 riders assembled in Westwood on Sunday morning for the Crosstown Traffic Ride. Latest in the LACBC rides, this one was lead by Greg (famous LACBC Board member), on a Dahon single speed folder. Many different, average, ordinary people were on this ride, with a multiplicity of bikes: a beach cruiser, an electric, a couple hybrids, a few fixies, and a bunch of road bikes. All suitable for this fun ride exploring the nice easy routes across town. There has gotta be a nicer way than Venice all the way to Downtown for me. And there is!

Sunday Funday riders gathered across from Angelus Temple in Echo Park

The route’s interesting details follow:

We started near the Westwood Federal Building (near to UCLA), turned onto Santa Monica Blvd, then demonstrated the trick of crossing to the opposite very wide sidewalk when the bike lane ends in Century City.

We then road through the Hilton and across Wilshire to North Beverly Hills. That is were the drivers are still BH friendly, and stop at intersections to wave you through first. Amazing.

From there, we took Carmelita across to Doheny at West Hollywood, returning to the Santa Monica Bvld. bike lane where it starts up again. When it ended, we turned north and rode up to Fountain. Fountain is not bad, passing near the Hollywood Bowl and Metro, and crossing the 101 on a quiet bridge. Brian sez “Watch for glass!” as he got one on this stretch.

A stop to fix a flat tire serves as a reminder...

After that, we turned onto the Sunset Blvd bike lane. Nice place and close to Dodger Stadium, if you ever go there. Then right on Park Avenue to Echo Park, around the lake on Glendale Blvd, and a quick jog west on Beverly Blvd before heading south down on Alvarado to MacArthur Park.

Excellent notable lunch stop at Mama’s Hot Tamales. Good, inexpensive, and politically correct, just as I like it. I’ll be back!

(Ed note: Mama’s offers some of the best coffee and tamales west of Downtown. And as for the politically correct part, it’s a non-profit restaurant that trains immigrants to work in the food service industry.)

A few Westward jogs and we’re on the famous 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard. Not a bad way across town, despite what they say about the potholes. After a few miles we turned left at Cochran, then south to 6th street, and kept on going West for awhile. Here’s where it got awkward. When 6th ends, turn left, then right on busy Wilshire for a few blocks to La Cienega. Walk the bikes across, then west to Le Doux, and a quick turn on wonderful Charleville through Beverly Hills.

...to look for rare beauty in unexpected places.

We followed Charleville across all of Beverly Hills. Nice! Where it ends bear left, then right, until you come to the next awkward part at Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City. You have to zoom across with the light, then get up on the same wide sidewalk next to the golf course that we took riding out.

Got that? I really, really like this route across Beverly Hills, but it’s quite hard to find.

Weirdly (to me) the ride dissipated from here towards the end. Almost everyone rode their bike to go on this ride, so they broke off near the end to ride on home. Clearly, this was a ride for people who ride.

You shoulda been on the ride!

Thanks to Greg and the LACBC for organizing this educational ride. Now I know a few nicer routes.

My apologies to Eric for the delay in getting this online due to this week’s breaking news.

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A New York cyclist is arrested a nearly getting doored, then chased in a road rage incident by a plain clothes cop who reportedly feared for his own safety. Yeah, a small woman on a bike is a real danger to a cop driving threateningly in an unmarked car.

Maybe it’s time for Mayor Bloomberg to call NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly on the carpet and ask him what the f*** is going on with his department.

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Way too many CicLAvia links to include here. I’ll try to catch up with them on my next post later tonight. In the meantime, Joel Epstein says he’s longing for CicLAvia in an insightful HuffPo piece linking Sunday’s event with the fight against obesity and diabetes. And fellow HuffPo writer Aaron Paley says CicLAvia is about overthrowing the tyranny of the automobile.

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Writing for Flying Pigeon, Rick Risemberg says get involved, get out there on your bike, be visible and make some noise. LADOT is moving forward with bikeways around the city, including an extension of the Orange Line bike path, and wants your opinion on how to build bike lanes on Venice Blvd. LACBC reports on the Tuesday’s Altadena workshop for the new draft county bike plan; the Messenger Online looks at the Monday Topanga workshop. Street-hassel asks if Stephen Box blundered in deciding to head up Budget LA. Seventh Street will soon go on a road diet; the new bike lanes won’t be ready for this weekend’s CicLAvia, but could be there for the next. Congestion due to roadwork related to the 405 expansion offers an opportunity to promote bikes as an effective alternative. The C-Blog looks forward to Sunday’s Queen of the Classics, aka the Hell of the North. A Redondo cyclist will ride 500 miles to call attention to his friend’s rare illness. Confused by Claremont’s double standards and rider-less bike signs. This time, Long Beach’s biking expats are riding for a cause.

The Daily Pilot tells distracted drivers — and cyclists — to pay attention; evidently, it’s a world-wide problem. San Clemente revises a proposed I-5 onramp design after complaints from cyclists. Not surprisingly, Herman Lopez Gonzalez has pleaded not guilty in the Oceanside death of 18-year old David Mendez last month. Ross del Duca of Just Another Cyclist is the new head of VeloReviews. Art of the Group Ride continues its series on the anatomy of a great group ride. Book a room at San Francisco’s Clift Hotel and get use of a Dutch-style bike during your stay. Thursday was Bike to School Day in the City by the Bay.

The Lovely Bicycle says the Urbana bike I reviewed last year would make a perfect hi-vis rainbike, and discusses the problem of female saddle discomfort; maybe that’s why more women don’t ride. Levis introduces a new line of bike-friendly jeans. An introduction to bike riding for beginners, and six tips on how to help your significant other learn to ride. Tucson bike commuting stalls. An Anchorage cyclist’s GPS iPhone app captured his rides throughout the city — including the exact point where he was killed by a car. Edmond OK okays their own three-foot passing law. Evidently, St. Louis-area bikes and bikinis go together after all. Tennessee state senator and triathlete Roy Herron suffers a broken collarbone, handful of broken ribs and a slightly collapsed lung following a Sunday riding accident. Detroit cyclists rediscover a long-forgotten velodrome. A rising New York politician swears he’s pro-bike, but won’t take a stand on bike lanes. When a New Jersey cyclist is hit in a classic right hook, local police can’t figure out the driver is at fault. A writer for the Baltimore Sun says roads weren’t actually made for cars, and says those who can’t watch out for bikes and interact safely with them should seek instruction or stop driving. A drunk driver keeps going after killing father and son cyclists in North Carolina. Zeke says cycling is blooming like spring. New Orleans in suddenly on track to be a leading bike city; take it from me, if they can do it there, it should be easy here. Look ma, no hands — no really, it could be legal in Florida soon. Michelin introduces self-sealing inner tubes.

Tijuana cyclists roll on monthly Friday night Paseo de Todos rides. Now that’s what I call a mostly off-road bike race. Kate and Will gear up for the big day with healthy bike rides. An insightful UK MP calls for more reliance on bikes and less on cars. The City of London gets new public bike pumps. The Guardian asks what’s the best way to pass other traffic. Maybe bikeways wouldn’t suck so much if we had a hand in designing them. David Hembrow looks at the new innovative NACTO bikeway standards, and finds them lacking.

Finally, a Montana legislature actually stands up to defend drunk driving as a traditional way of life; maybe you’d better wear some serious protective devices if you’re planning to ride up there. And the next time you’re stuck behind a bus sucking diesel fumes, you’ll wish you had new First Defense Nasal Screenstm. Wonder if they’d keep my wife from complaining about the dog’s gaseous emissions?

No, seriously, it’s the dog. Honest.


A report on Monday’s Santa Monica Bike Action Plan open house

December 15, 2010

These past few weeks have featured a lot of meetings and events I’ve had to — or will have to — pass on, from Metro’s discussion of the Wilshire BRT to tomorrow’s reconsideration of the draft bike plan by L.A. Planning Commission.

One of the meetings I most wanted to attend, and most regret missing, was Monday night’s open house to discuss the Santa Monica Bicycle Action Plan. Fortunately, Eric Weinstein, an actively involved rider I’ve frequently met at various bike-related meetings, was there to fill us all in with a guest post on what we missed.

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Bicycle Action Plan meeting Dec 13th 2010

Desired locations for bike parking, bike corrals and bike share stations; photo by Eric Weinstein.

The City of Santa Monica held the Public Input meeting for a bicycle plan Monday night.  Hope you were there, with the 100 (or so) other bike activists.

The meeting was organized by Jeff Tumlin. That was kind of a surprise, since rumor had it that the outside consultant was not a bike person, but Jeff is an extremely well spoken bike planner, and familiar from the LUCE (Land Use and Circulation Elements) process. Many of the City’s departments were represented, including the bike-oriented Planning commissioners and City council members. Santa Monica Spoke was there in its entirety, and several other bike interested parties were there, including school staff and SMPD.

The 1st question in the Q&A dismissed bikes and suggested we all “get along” by sharing the road – which was immediately followed by a Spoke member with a call for a more visionary future. Bad start, snappy reply. The meeting soon moved ahead to the input phase – much better than this sort of debate. The endless debate of cars or parking vs cycling is not part my vision of how to implement better transportation. Bikes are vehicles and deserve safe accommodation on the roads. Period.

Most of the items for discussion are laid out in the LUCE, with several areas set up to gather public input, including:

  • A map to mark frequent destinations to aid in planning the bike network
  • A map to mark priorities for “bike street” improvements such as lanes, bikeways and sharrows
  • An aerial photograph to mark where cyclists might get on the forthcoming Expo Line bikeway, to help integrate with the city’s bike network
  • A chart and map to note where the access needed the most improvement in getting to the beach bikeway, along with notes on route and challenges to getting there
  • One I still don’t understand about work sites
  • A place for additional notes on the LUCE bike parking and business section – where else to add bike valets, how to encourage employees to bike to work and customers to bike to shop.
  • A place to note where to put the next bike-improved street for North-South and East-West travel
  • A small section on metrics, with a survey on how optimistic you are that improvements will be made in mode share by 2030 (20% to 50%)
  • And last (my favorite with the most dots) where to put more bike racks, more corrals and bike share stations

These are the elements of the Panning Departments thinking on bike improvements. And from what was put forward, it looks like the next improvements will include at least some of the following: more bikes lanes and sharrows to close the gaps in the bike network, some more (possibly permanent) bike corrals, more bike racks, a bike station at the Santa Monica Place mall downtown, and some better bike-sensing at traffic signals.

All this sounds like great stuff – the more the better. Better cycling roads and much more parking are very important elements to successful bike infrastructure; however, I do feel that there are quite a few areas where other ideas should be put forward.

My take on the most important missing element is the need to educate returning (adult) cyclists for riding again in urban traffic. If we bicycled like we are traffic, we would be traffic, and most of these car/bike conflicts would disappear.

I’m sure that there are many other ideas that are missing. The Santa Monica planning department is very interested in getting more input, so please send them some. Everyone is invited to send in written suggestions or additions to the Bike Action Plan; you can learn more and link to a survey at www.smgov.net/bikesm.


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