Catching up with today’s way too long compendium of all the latest bike news and links

April 25, 2013

Let’s take a few minutes to catch up on this week’s news now that things have settled down a little.

Or maybe quite a few minutes.

It’s a long list.

………

Beverly Hills isn’t the only place where a road raging driver has left an injured cyclist in his wake.

Around 5 pm last Friday, a group of women visiting from Las Vegas were riding single file on eastbound PCH in Newport Beach, when a Cadillac pulled up behind one on the riders and started honking impatiently — then plowed into one of the riders, rather than wait a few seconds until they could get out of his way.

The jerk driver fled the scene, but returned later, claiming it was the victim’s fault. Evidently for having the audacity to occupy the same space where he wanted to put his car.

The woman was transported to a local hospital with a head injury; a comment to the story indicates she was released after being kept overnight.

And no word yet on whether the driver was cited, or if charges are pending.

Thanks to Lois for the link.

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An unarmed bike rider is shot by an L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy who thought he was acting “suspicious” and might have had a gun.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but since when is the mere possibility that someone might a weapon sufficient justification for using deadly force?

Maybe that’s why some drivers have been so aggressive lately. They can’t tell if I’ve got a gun in my bike shorts, or just happy to see them.

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On the job front, Safe Routes to School is looking for an Active Transportation Fellow in DC. The League of American Bicyclists is looking for a Development Director. And if you’re a bike enthusiast with wrenching skills, GMR Marketing has a job for you at this year’s Amgen Tour of California.

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The LA Weekly trolls for web hits once again, claiming, among other things, that the best way to improve L.A. traffic is to rip out bike lanes in favor of restoring regular traffic lanes. As evidence, the bike-baiting writer who shall remain unnamed claims the 7th Street bike lanes are unused and result in angry motorists.

Yet he somehow fails to explain why the city’s worst traffic problems are on streets that don’t even have bike lanes.

As someone who rides 7th Street on a regular basis, I can attest that I have never seen a traffic jam there since the bike lanes were put in, even at rush hour. And seldom find myself the only cyclist using the popular lanes, which have become the primary feeder route for riders coming into Downtown from the Westside.

But then, the Weekly doesn’t always let the facts get in the way of the story when it comes to bikes these days.

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Once again, L.A. County’s killer highway claims another life, this time a pedestrian crossing Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

Which is a needlessly tragic lead-in to the news that Malibu is hosting a pair of public meetings next month to discuss the city’s PCH Safety Study next month. If you ride on PCH — or ever find yourself trying to cross the street there — you owe it to yourself to attend one.

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Maybe it’s just because the producer is my nephew. But this looks like a pretty decent distracted driving PSA. Especially considering it was made by a 16-year old who just got his license.

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The city council gives the go-ahead for bike share in Downtown L.A., while CD14 Councilmember Jose Huizar introduces a motion to repaint the Spring Street green bike lanes. Speaking of which, the most recent bike count shows ridership on Spring Street is up another 40%, after a 52% increase last year; I suppose the Weekly would say no one uses those, either. Construction will begin soon on shared bike/bus lanes on Sunset Blvd. Mark your calendar for Bike Week; pledge to ride on Bike to Work Day and you could win a bike from REI. Examined Spoke offers some good thoughts about CicLAvia; I missed that somehow in yesterday’s roundup. Will Campbell unwillingly shares a burger with a man who blames cyclists for everything that’s wrong with Los Angeles; maybe he’s a regular Weekly reader. A Silver Lake bike rodeo is scheduled for May 18th. Metro works to improve bike and pedestrian access in Boyle Heights and Little Tokyo. How to get abandoned bikes removed from racks. Both Helen’s Cycles in Santa Monica and Pasadena’s Incycle Bicycles invite you to ride with them this weekend to learn about Tour de Cure. County Commissioner Zev Yaroslavsky says NBC Universal has agreed to complete — and help pay for — a missing link in the L.A. River Bike Path through Universal Studios; now if he could only apply a little pressure to the anti-bike city of Vernon. Calabasas bike-centric farm-to-table restaurant, coffee roaster and Moots bike boutique Pedalers Fork is open, and the first reviews are already in and looking good. In other food news, bike-powered Peddler’s Creamery is now open in Downtown L.A. The San Marino paper offers what may be the most accurate estimate of attendance at Sunday’s CicLAvia, putting the total at an open-to-interpretation several hundred thousand.

The third attempt at a California three-foot passing law passed its first hurdle in the state legislature; now its on the Appropriations Committee, even though it wouldn’t seem to require any. Riverside boldly decides to study a disputed bike lane. An open letter to the AAA. No charges against a stop sign-running Apple Valley driver who hit a cyclist. A call for artistic bike racks in Beaumont. A Newport Beach city councilmember criticizes the sentence given the killer driver in the Campion-Ritz hit-and-run; but why is the death of a “significant citizen” any more important or tragic than anyone elses? Presenting the best bike ride around San Diego’s Mission Bay; I often followed a similar course when I lived down there. Escondido’s Muffler Man will get bike drag in time for the Amgen Tour of California. When a little girl’s bike is stolen, an Oxnard cop buys her a new one at his own expense, then teaches her how to ride it; thanks to our Carolina friend Zeke for the heads-up. Red Kite Prayer drops in on this year’s Sea Otter Classic. A new bike path opens connecting Downtown San Jose to the Bay. A case so old I’d forgotten all about it finally comes to a conclusion, as a Santa Clara County deputy gets a warm caress on the wrist when he’s sentenced to four months, possibly to be served at home, for killing two riders while asleep at the wheel. Unlike its L.A. counterpart, the San Francisco Weekly doesn’t have it’s collective head planted firmly up its own posterior, explaining why protected bike lanes are good for business; then again, even NBC says the same thing, at least for small businesses. It’s been a bad year for NorCal cyclists, as a 79-year old rider was the latest to killed; if a bike rider can fall under the wheels of a passing car, doesn’t that suggest the car was passing dangerously close — let alone that it might have caused the fall?

A Portland driver somehow finds herself on a separated bikeway rather than the interstate highway bridge next to it; local police say “oops.” Another self-hating bike rider who says cyclists don’t belong on the road (scroll down). Those bike-riding Portland kids sure have it easy these days. Bike share will launch in Seattle next year. An Alaska cyclist rides his fatbike over 2,000 miles in the middle of winter along two of the state’s famed sled dog trails. Big hearted strangers give a new bike to the victim of an Oklahoma hit-and-run victim. America’s only surviving Tour de France winner says he has no vendetta against Lance Armstrong; can’t say the same about the U.S. government, though. Louisiana driver gets a minor citation despite hitting and seriously injuring a bike rider who stopped in a bike lane. Bikeyface wishes bikes were more like cars. New York imposes new restrictions on bike delivery riders. NYC’s new bike share program isn’t even open yet, and it’s already being vandalized.

A UK nurse was over twice the legal alcohol limit — and on her way to work — when she killed a cyclist and fled the scene, stopping only to pull the bike out of her way. A driver with a suspended license killed a cycling married couple as he fled from police. Amazingly, British police refuse to file charges against a road raging driver was captured on helmet cam beating the crap out of a bike rider; thanks to Joni for the heads-up. Parliament members call for reducing speed limits and jailing dangerous drivers, as well as boosting spending levels to £1 billion to encourage more people to take up bicycling. Photos of eyes over bike racks cut theft rates. Town Mouse is more concerned with the safety of the dog chasing her. The director of a Dutch — yes, Dutch — road safety institute calls for a mandatory helmet law for riders over 55. A new book looks at Italian cycling great Fausto Coppi. The authoritarian state of Uzbekistan is banning bicycles in the capital, seizing bikes and advising bike shops to shut down. A Persian Gulf writer asks if taking a dangerous shortcut is really worth it. Queensland is relaxing their mandatory helmet laws to allow religious requirements. An Aussie woman is ticketed for using a handheld cell phone while riding, but the local press is more freaked out by her “bizarre” tall bike. Tempers run hot Down Under, as a cyclist is punched out by an angry driver. Why women should ride to work and how to get started.

Finally, build your own sandwich bike; peanut butter and jelly optional. A British thief returns a stolen “lusciously smooth” bike with an apology and a coupon. And trust me, you don’t want to read the comments to the Times’ story  about the Beverly Hills road rage case — let alone the ones on the CBS version.

But you’re probably going to anyway.


Breaking news: Cyclist attacked in Beverly Hills road rage assault; rider not seriously injured

April 23, 2013

More bad news from the Biking Black Hole.

News is just breaking that a bike rider was deliberately attacked with a motor vehicle after the rider hit the driver in a road rage dispute.

According to the Beverly Hills Police, the incident occurred nearly three weeks ago, around 6 pm on Wednesday, April 3rd.

Evidently, they don’t feel an urgent need to keep the public informed of violent crime on their streets. Let alone for the prompt release of information that might lead to the arrest of a dangerous suspect.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, reportedly punched the driver of a white, possibly 2008 model year BMW 328i in the face. The motorist threatened to kill the rider, and followed him into an alley in the 9000 block of Wilshire Blvd, between Wetherly and Almont Drives; a Google satellite view shows alleys on both sides of the street behind the buildings facing Wilshire.

The driver then intentionally rammed the cyclist with his car, pinning him against a metal trash bin. Fortunately, the rider was not seriously injured; the fact that the trash bin was on rollers may have lessened the force of the impact.

The assault was captured on security footage; the attacker can clearly be seen reversing course in the alley and striking the victim, who clings to the mirror of the car as it backs away. Once he’s thrown off, he walks back to collect his bike.

There’s no word from the police on what caused the dispute.

Yes, the rider broke the law in striking the driver, regardless of what led up to it. It’s possible that he could face criminal or civil charges for assaulting the driver unless it can be shown that he hit him in self-defense; however, that requires that the action is necessary to halt a current or imminent physical attack.

The far more serious crime, though, is the motorist using his vehicle in a deliberate attempt to injure or kill the rider after the initial incident had concluded. It should be no different under the law than someone who gets into a fight in a bar, then goes out to the parking lot and shoots the person he’d argued with.

This is a clear case of assault with a deadly weapon. Any claim the driver may have had to self-defense ended the moment the cyclist initially rode away.

The suspect is described as a Middle Eastern or White male in his mid-30s, with dark hair and eyes, and a thin build; the Beverly Hills Courier has a somewhat sketchy sketch of the suspect. The car suffered possible minor front-end damage, although it may have been repaired by now.

Hopefully, the BHPD can overcome the delay in releasing this information and bring a violent criminal to justice.

And take this for fair warning.

As tempting as it may be sometimes to get even with the jackass that just ran you off the road, it’s never a good idea. There are some crazyass, and potentially very violent, people out there.

And it doesn’t take much to set them off.


Bike harassment caught on video, a small step to fight hit-and-run and a long list of links and events

January 26, 2013

The state legislature is about to consider its first, small step to halt the epidemic of hit-and-runs.

Burbank state Assembly Member Mike Gatto has introduced a bill to increase the statute of limitations for drivers who flee the scene of a collision.

Currently, the limit expires three years from the date of the collision, after which the driver is free to publicly confess his or her crime without fear of prosecution. Gatto’s bill would allow prosecution within three years of the collision, or one year after the suspect is identified by law enforcement, whichever is later.

It’s a step in the right direction, if only a small one.

It won’t do anything to encourage police to pursue more hit-and-runs where the victim isn’t killed or seriously injured, or for prosecutors to file charges in such cases. And it won’t do much to encourage drivers to resist the impulse to run like cowards to avoid responsibility for their actions.

But it’s a start.

Just like the city council’s fledging attempts to look into the epidemic.

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If this had happened in Los Angeles, it would have been the perfect test case for the city’s bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance. Instead, it will be up to Santa Monica authorities to determine if a chargeable crime took place.

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The Times looks at L.A.’s unexpected bike friendliness. Three CicLAvias, no waiting — and no space shuttle. LAPD lists the top four bike theft locations in DTLA. Grand theft auto and burglary from cars by bike on Ventura. Here’s your chance to work for LADOT’s bike team, and tell them where the next bike corrals should go. L.A.’s own Ovarian-Psychos introduces their new documentary film and Kickstarter campaign. Bike riders and pedestrians sign the pledge to keep the peace on the L.A. River bike path. A cyclist is beaten unconscious on a Long Beach Blue Line platform defending his bike from thieves.

Costa Mesa has a $2.5 million surplus; maybe they could work with neighboring Newport Beach to improve bike safety. While Newport Beach has gotten friendlier for cyclists, Anaheim hasn’t. A San Diego cyclist rides home after being stabbed in an apparent gang attack. A San Diego writer looks at what it would take to get more people on their bikes. So if a Santa Maria cyclist is hospitalized with a leg injury following a collision, why does it matter that she wasn’t wearing a helmet? The Path Less Pedaled discovers an undiscovered cycling paradise on the Central Coast. A San Francisco columnist says biking is for grown-ups, and it’s time everyone acted like it. A cyclist asks what the f*** is wrong with Bay Area drivers. Dressing for the drizzle. San Francisco drivers don’t like the city’s separated bike lanes, and apparently, neither do cyclists.

Forget road diets, we need to right size our streets. The country’s three leading bike advocacy groups struggle to work out the terms of their failed engagement. Laws banning dooring don’t mean much if police don’t enforce them. A new electric kids bike trailer is looking for you to give it a boost. Great new police bike training video from Portland. A Spokane thief cuts down a tree to steal a bike. The mayor of OKC says his city should be rebuilt for people; that’s exactly what we’ve been saying about Los Angeles. It’s now against the law to ride sans skidlid in Jackson MS. Turns out New York bike lanes and pedestrians plazas are good for business. Commuting 40 miles by bike in the middle of a New York winter. Bikeyface discovers a superpower we all share. A team of 26 cyclists will ride from Newtown CT to Washington DC to press for common sense gun safety legislation. Denis McDonough gives up bike commuting to become White House chief of staff.

Toronto doctors say bike lanes save lives. Ottawa hikes bike use by 40% over the last six years. Call it a getaway bike share. When you have snow tires on your bike, winter doesn’t have to be the off-season — even in Scotland. An Irish teen funds his invitation to a debutant ball by stealing bike parts. A Kiwi writer offers advice on how to stay safe on your bike; though I might argue with the hi-viz, and my black helmet seems quite visible during the day, thank you. An interesting look at sharing the roads through the eyes of Aussie cyclists and drivers.

Finally, an Ottawa man gets 60 days for shooting a cyclist after mistaking his helmet for a skunk. And if I ever dope, I’m going straight for the wild boar dung boiled in vinegar.

Yum.

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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.

new support group is forming for people who have been involved in a bicycle collision. Everyone is welcome to share your experiences, gain insight and understanding into your emotional state and develop new coping strategies. The group will meet Saturdays from 11:30 am to 1 pm at 6310 San Vicente Blvd, Suite 401. Current LACBC members receive a discount. To learn more, contact Aurisha Smolarski at 323/203-1526 or email aurisha.smolarski@gmail.com.

If you read this early, you may still be able to catch the inaugural Monthly Community Ride with the LACBC’s newest affiliate chapter in Downey. The ride meets at 8 am, rolling at 8:30, from the Southwest parking lot of Apollo Park, 12544 Rives Avenue.

Caltech Bike Lab teams with C.I.C.L.E. to offer a series of free defensive cycling classes; the first takes place on Saturday, January 26th from 11 am to 12:30 pm at Caltech Y, 505 S. Wilson Ave in Pasadena. Subsequent classes will take place on Sunday, April 7th and Saturday, June 8th; RSVP to bike@cicle.org with the date you want to attend.

Bicycle Kitchen is holding a fix-a-flat workshop from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm on Sunday, January 27th, 4429 Fountain Ave; RSVP to bkworshops@gmail.com.

Bike SGV celebrates their first anniversary with the first Bike Train of the new year on Sunday the 27th starting at 9 am. The ride meets near the docks on the southernmost section of Legg Lake for a ride along the Rio Hondo and the San Gabriel River.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Civic Engagement Committee meets at 6:45 pm on the last Tuesday of each month. This month’s meeting will take place at the Pitfire Pizza on Second and Main in Downtown L.A. on Tuesday, January 29th, focusing on the upcoming March elections. Email bikinginla at hotmail dot com to be added to the discussion list.

You won’t want to miss the official opening of Pasadena’s new bicycle boulevard along a three-quarter mile stretch of Marengo Avenue at 3 pm on Thursday, January 31st, at the corner of Marengo and Orange Grove Blvd.

Friday, February 1st marks Move LA’s 5th Annual Transportation Conversation from 8 am to 3:30 pm in the old ticketing area at Union Station, 800 N. Alameda Street in Downtown L.A.

Flying Pigeon will host their monthly Brewery Ride at 3 pm on Saturday, February 2nd, starting at 3404 N. Figueroa St and rolling to a local microbrewery or watering hole.

The next LACBC Sunday Funday ride rolls on Sunday, February 3rd with the aptly named Pigskins and Pedals: A Sunday Funday Tour of L.A.’s Historic Football sites. Meet at the world famous peristyle entrance to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 3939 S. Figueroa Street, at 9:30 am, rolling at 10 am for a tour of the city’s pervious — and possibly forthcoming — Super Bowl sites. The ride is free for LACBC members and a guest; discount memberships are available at the start of the ride.

The UCLA Bike Coalition and the LA County Bicycle Coalition invite you to join in the West Area Community Ride – Ride Westwood! On Saturday, February 9th at 10 am for a fun community ride to showcase existing and future bike facilities in the Westwood area. Did I mention a light breakfast and lunch will be provided?

On Sunday, February 10th, the LACBC invites you to join in on the Ride Figueroa to explore and promote planned bike lanes on Figueroa and Colorado in North East L.A. The ride meets at 10:30 am, rolling at 11 am, at Greayer’s Oak Part at Figueroa and Marmion Way; followed by a candidate forum for Council District 1 to replace bike-friendly Councilmember Ed Reyes at 1 pm at Herrick Memorial Chapel Lower Herrick Room at Occidental College.

Flying Pigeon isn’t the only group hosting brewery rides these days, as Brewcyclers provides a beer doubleheader with a ride to Brew-Ligion Brewhouse and Aftershock Brewing Co on Sunday, February 17th. The 30 mile loop kicks off at Brew-Ligion, 39809 Avenida Acacias in Murrieta at 8:30 am, rolling at 9 am.

If you’re as tired of cyclists and pedestrians being left to bleed in the streets as I am, mark your calendar for Tuesday, February 19th when the LAPD reports back to the Police Commission on hit-and-run stats requested by the city council; the meetings usually take place at 9:30 am at the new, officially unnamed police headquarters across from City Hall at 1st and Main.

Stand up for bike lanes on the Westside as L.A. Planning and LADOT host the West Area Bike Lanes Public Hearing on Tuesday, February 19th from 6 pm to 8:30 pm at the Medina Parking Enforcement Office, 11214 W. Exposition Blvd at Sepulveda Blvd.

LACBC will host the city’s first Bike Prom from 8 pm to midnight on Saturday, February 23rd, at the American Legion Hall Post 206, 227 N. Ave 55 in Los Angeles. Similar events have been very popular in other cities, so this could be the bike social event of the year — get your tickets early.

Also on Saturday the 23rd, the annual L.A. Chinatown Firecracker Bike Ride will offer a 20-mile route along the LA River for families and casual riders, and a more challenging 30-mile on city streets for more advanced riders. The LACBC will provide a free bike valet.

Registration is open for the 2013 UCLA Complete Streets Conference on Thursday, February 28th at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 120 South Los Angeles Street Downtown.

This should be a major party, as the infamous semi-official Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race takes place on St. Paddy’s Day, Sunday, March 17th, starting at 3:30 am at Tang’s Donuts, 4341 West Sunset Boulevard. Be sure to wear green — or better yet, ride a kelly green bike festooned with shamrocks and leprechauns.

Make your plans for the Malibu 7-Canyon Ride on Saturday, March 23rd with rides of 100 miles, 100 kilometers and 50 miles. The fully supported ride will begin at Zuma Beach, and pass through Latigo, Encinal, Decker, Mulholland, Little Sycamore, Yerba Buena and Deer Creek Canyons, with over 9,000 feet of climbing on the century ride.

The next CicLAvia rolls out on Sunday, April 21st from 10 am to 3 pm, following a new route from Downtown to Venice Beach — or as Yo! Venice! puts it, from Dogtown to Downtown — along Venice Blvd. Future events will follow Wilshire Blvd from Downtown to Fairfax on Sunday, June 23rd, before returning to an extended Downtown route on Sunday, October 6th.

Registration has opened for this year’s LA River Ride, to be held Sunday, June 9th, starting and ending in Griffith Park. If you haven’t done the River Ride, I highly recommend it; if you have, then what are you waiting for?


It ain’t necessarily so — new study proclaims L.A. one of the nation’s most dangerous places to walk or ride

October 3, 2012

This morning, the L.A. Times discovered the unacceptably high rate of bike and pedestrians deaths in this city. Quickly followed by a number of other news outlets.

Only problem is, they got the story wrong.

The study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute looks at bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in New York and Los Angeles, compared to other large cities in the U.S.

They concluded that while bicyclists represent 1.7% in other cities nationwide, they make up 2.8% of traffic fatalities here in Los Angeles. And pedestrians fare even worse, with nearly three times as many deaths on L.A. streets, as a percentage of total traffic fatalities, as in the rest of the nation.

Needless to say, New Yorkers fared even worse, with cyclists making up 6.1% percent of all traffic fatalities, and pedestrians nearly half.

And the media took that limited and misleading information and ran with it, proclaiming — loudly and falsely — that L.A. and New York are exceptionally dangerous places to walk and bike.

The problem is, as stated above, this study only considered these deaths as a percentage of overall traffic fatalities. Which means that if motor vehicle fatalities in those cities — which make up the overwhelming majority of traffic fatalities nationwide — were lower than the national average, it would skew the results and make bike and pedestrian deaths look disproportionately high.

And guess what?

Driver and passenger deaths in New York accounted for just 43.6% of traffic fatalities and 63.6% in Los Angeles, compared to a whopping 86.3% nationwide.

In other words, because fewer people are getting killed in motor vehicles in New York and L.A., it incorrectly suggests that more people who bike or walk are getting killed.

What’s missing from the study is an appendix with hard numbers of how many bicyclists and pedestrians were killed in each city, rather than just a percentage. As well as individual stats for each city that was included in the study, rather than a national aggregate.

Because the one statistic that would allow us to compare apples to apples is the number of deaths per capita for each city.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to access stats for individual cities from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s FARS database today, which would allow us to figure that out. And let us determine whether Los Angeles is really a more dangerous place to ride a bike than Dallas or Des Moines. Or any other city of any size in the U.S.

What I can tell you is that in 2011, Los Angeles County had the lowest per capita bike fatality rate of any county from Santa Barbara to San Bernardino and south to the Mexican border, with the single exception of sparsely populated — and even more sparsely biked — Imperial County.

And the City of Los Angeles had just one bicycling fatality for every 763,940 people who call L.A. home. That’s one for every three-quarter of a million people in this city.

Which sounds like pretty damn good odds to me.

In fact, that compares with one cycling death for every 189,454 people in San Diego. One for every 116,394 in Long Beach. And one for every 69,050 residents of Pasadena.

Don’t get me wrong.

One death is too many. Let alone the four the city has already suffered this year. And nothing in this study, or the press reports that followed, considers the city’s rate of serious cycling injuries, as opposed to fatalities.

But one of that nation’s most dangerous places to ride a bike?

Far from it. At least as far as your risk of dying is concerned.

And study’s authors — and the media who ran with it — would have known that if they’d just dug a little deeper.

Thanks to Harris M. Miller II and Where to Bike Los Angeles co-author Jon Riddle for the heads-up.

Update: Evidently, I wasn’t the only one who had a WTF response to this study and the hype that followed. The Native Angeleno had a similar reaction, as did our friends at Los Angeles Walks, who offer suggestions on how to improve safety for our fellow bipedalists. And L.A. Streetsblog meister Damien Newton looks at the over-the-top — and highly repetitive — media response.

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On a related note, Pasadena public radio station KPCC responds to the study by asking for your help to map the area’s most dangerous intersections. It’s a great idea.

Although checking out the map Bikeside LA already put together would have been a nice place to start.

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OC Bike lawyer David Huntsman forwards word of a road raging Dr. Thompson wannabe.

The Press-Enterprise reports that 38-year old Carl Albert Robbins of Temecula “accidently” hit a rider after intentionally swerving at four cyclists riding on Rainbow Canyon Road near Temecula around 8 am Monday. Robbins reportedly drove his car at the riders in the back, then swerved again at the lead rider, hitting the rider’s hand with the car’s mirror.

According to a Riverside Sheriff’s spokesperson, Robbins claimed the riders didn’t belong on the road, but he didn’t intend to actually hit one.

So let me get this straight.

If I try to fire a warning shot past your head, but miss and blow your ear off, it’s just an accident, right?

Evidently the authorities disagreed with Robbins, as well as the paper, booking him on $25,000 bond.

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A full-time — and apparently very sarcastic — parking lieutenant for LADOT, among his many other jobs, is running for president of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council. Walk Eagle Rock sends word that he doesn’t seem to be exactly bike friendly; you’d think an LADOT parking enforcement official would know not to put a business sign in a bike lane.

And sarcastic or not, suggesting someone light up a joint seems a tad inappropriate for a city official. Let alone a potential NC president.

But maybe that’s just me.

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My good friends at Altadenablog send word that Cher, the original singularly named recording and Hollywood star, apparently hates PCH cyclists.

Or maybe just cyclists in general.

But she swears, cross her heart, that she would never text from behind the wheel. Honest.

We can only encourage her to Cher the road.

Thanks to Century City cyclist and attorney Stanley E. Goldich for the heads-up, as well.

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It’s been a busy few days in my inbox.

George Wolfberg forwards a link to this New York Times story of a lovely journey by bike through the French countryside.

And he send us another NY Times story from over the weekend saying cities need to lose the helmets to promote bicycling.

Or at least bike share programs.

But lets stop for a moment to consider the claim that Dutch cyclists don’t wear helmets.

Dutch cyclists enjoy some of the world’s best biking infrastructure, and ride relatively heavy, slow bikes that are easy to step off of in the event of a fall.

Most American’s don’t

American bikes tend to be faster, lighter machines that usually take the rider down with them when they go down. And American roads don’t begin to compare with Dutch bikeways, in either quality or separation from vehicular traffic.

Whether or not you wear a helmet is your choice.

Personally, I never ride without mine, bearing in mind that they’re not magic hats that prevent all harm to the wearer; you’re far better off avoiding a collision than counting on your helmet to save you from it.

But let’s stop using the Amsterdam experience to argue against helmet use here. Because it just doesn’t translate from the Dutch.

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Cyclist Jim Lyle send news that Hermosa Beach has rejected a plan to put bike lanes on Aviation Blvd.

HB City council members claimed the 2 – 3 person Public Works Department had more pressing issues, and couldn’t afford the 10 to 20 hours a month it would take to save cyclists’ lives plan the bikeway.

“Once we pave our streets, let’s talk about bikes,” Mayor Pro Tem Kit Bobko said.

Although you’d think with such a small staff, they might know how many people actually work for them.

………

Finally, my adventure cycling, Iditarod dog sled racing brother Eric offers a heads-up about the 100-year old former French bike racer who set a new 100 kilometer age group speed record.

I plan to race him myself when I turn 100; my brother, not the Frenchman.

Of course, I may have an unfair advantage, since he’ll be 109.


The Biking Black Hole can’t get it right; no justice in Texas, and road rage is all the rage these days

September 8, 2012

A little news and a whole lot of links to wrap up the week.

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Police in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills offer safety tips for cyclists, but can’t manage to get it quite right.

Bike riders are required to ride as close to the right as practicable, not as far right as possible, as they state. There’s a big difference, which any police officer should understand.

And which is scary as hell when they don’t.

Riding as far to the right as possible puts riders in the gutter and door zones, and gives police an excuse to ticket anyone with the audacity to take the lane. Riding as far right as practicable keeps cyclists out of the way of swinging doors and broken glass, and allows them to legally ride in the center of non-sharable lanes.

Which is basically the difference between being bike friendly and observing the law, and making sure riders know they aren’t welcome in your city.

Meanwhile, the city considers adding an handful of bike racks, but banning locking bikes to virtually anything else.

In other words, once again appearing to support cycling while actively discouraging it.

………

Amazingly, the Texas driver who ran down tandem cyclists Greg and Alexanda Bruehler in 2009 — resulting in the single saddest photo I’ve ever seen — has been acquitted in their deaths.

Clearly, there is no justice for cyclists in the state of Texas.

The driver was doing 79 in a 65 mph zone when he failed to see the riders wearing hi-viz vests, and drifted off the roadway onto the shoulder where they were riding. The defense won the case by arguing that anyone could have could have made the same mistake.

The scary thing is, they’re right.

Even scarier is no one really seems to care. Not even a jury.

………

There’s been a horrifying number of road rage and traffic violence stories in the news the past few days.

For instance, a Massachusetts driver punches a cyclist in the face after the rider’s bike falls over and scratches his car. Local police don’t get it when a Mass cyclist is deliberately doored. A Pittsburgh cyclist is chased up a flight of stairs, stabbed and cut from ear to ear in a brutal road rage assault. A Texas mixed martial arts fighter has been charged with the shooting death of a cyclist after they apparently argued last year; even in Texas, shooting someone because you feel disrespected is a rather extreme response. A former Florida police officer threatens two cyclists with a knife when one flips him off after he threw something at the riders. A Hamilton Ontario cyclist is beaten by a pickup driver after being yelled at, then grazed by the truck’s mirror. A road-raging Toronto cab driver faces up to five years in prison for backing into a cyclist following a dispute, causing the rider to lose a leg. A UK car passenger is sentenced to three years for jumping out of the car and beating a cyclist to a bloody pulp.

Proving it’s not just drivers, police find their suspect in a methadone clinic after a drunken Colorado cyclist pulls a knife on a driver. A Massachusetts cyclist bends a car’s antenna after an argument with a driver. A New York mob trashes a car after a collision with a cyclist during the Fashion’s Night Out celebration. A 16-year old cyclist breaks into a couple’s home after an argument over an open car door. And closer to home, the OC Weekly’s food writer gets into a little bike on bike action; thanks to David Bain for the heads-up.

So let me offer a little advice.

Having been the victim of a road rage assault, I would much rather get off my bike and let the jackass pass than have an angry, potentially violent, driver behind me.

And no matter how much you think the other party deserves it, violence is never justified — it’s far more likely to jeopardize your own life and freedom than teach the other person a damn thing.

One more bit of hard-earned advice.

Never flip off the driver behind you.

Trust me. I’ve learned the hard way that cars are bigger than me, and they hurt.

………

Some idiot jackass stole the bike Jerico Culata was riding as he lay dying on last week’s Critical Mass ride; there’s not a pit in hell deep enough for someone like that. Formerly bike-unfriendly Malibu has come a long way, now launching an interactive website to explore improving safety on PCH — for bicyclists and everyone else. The city will also be conducting public hearings on the subject the next four Thursdays. Rapper The Game comes to the rescue of a cyclist who was unresponsive after a crash with his bike on top of him — the cyclist, not The Game — no word on how the rider got that way. LADOT introduces new street signs for Bike Friendly Streets. A Sierra Madre driver sees a girl riding her bike, but steps on the gas instead of the brakes; local police say “oops.”

Bike Lawyer Bob Mionske looks at California’s recently passed three-foot passing law and CEQA exemption for bike lanes. San Clemente gets over $1 million in grants for bike and pedestrian projects. NPR looks at charges that Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital sent jobs from Santa Ana-based GT Bicycles overseas; seems like there’s some truth on both sides. San Diego plans to encourage cycling in the “fun” communities. A San Diego cyclist suffers major leg injuries in a crash with a delivery truck. A North San Diego County writer asks who owns the roads, and correctly concludes we all do. An 18-year old salmon cyclist is seriously injured in a Temecula left cross collision. A bike rider in Perris suffers major injuries in a collision with a minivan on a street that somehow seems to simultaneously run both south and west. Rancho Mirage tells cyclists to walk their bikes on the sidewalk across a bridge — even though it has a bike lane. Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious is run off the bike path by an overly aggressive rider. A Modesto cyclist is killed after both he and the driver who hit him run a four-way stop; guess which one will probably get the blame? San Francisco cyclists will get their own lane on The Embarcadero during next month’s America’s Cup races.

People for Bikes looks at biking to school. A cyclist watches an idiot bike rider from his position behind the wheel; thanks to Jerry Oser for the heads-up. Barbie rides a bike. New foldable bike helmet fits odd shaped heads. Suffering the emotional scars of urban cycling. A Portland man moves forward with a statewide initiative requiring bike license plates and licenses for bike riders. An Albuquerque court imposes the maximum sentence on a drugged driver who killed the bike riding manager of the local REI. The 13-year old Milwaukee girl who laughed about it after killing a cyclist while street racing in a stolen car has been ordered into mental health treatment; well no shit. Ohio suffers three cycling fatalities in one week. An Atlantic City cyclist is killed when he’s caught in the crossfire in a gunfight. An Alabama driver won’t be cited after colliding with a cyclist who was riding on the sidewalks illegally. Long Beach’s bicycling expats, now Portland residents, visit our buddy Zeke in North Carolina. A Florida driver with drugs in her system receives the maximum sentence for killing a cyclist — a six-month suspension of her drivers license; no wonder the Sunshine State leads the nation in bike and pedestrian deaths.

A Toronto writer is taken down by streetcar tracks while trying to maneuver around a truck blocking the right lane. A London magazine editor apologizes after writing that “the only good cyclist is a dead cyclist,” noting that he was merely being ironic with his heartfelt wishes that you and I would just die and get it over with. London considers, probably not seriously, a multi-million-pound network of elevated bikeways. UK driving instructors want bicycle awareness to be part of the driving test. Former Formula 1 driver Alex Zanardi wins gold in the Paralympic handcycle time trial 11 years after losing his legs in a horrific crash. Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree cancels his attempt at a record setting 100 mph bike ride, saying his ride isn’t ready yet. An 11-year old French boy finds a brake lever imbedded in his thigh months after a bike crash; even my stomach turned a little writing that one. One of the better Vueltas in years is slowly coming to a conclusion, as Contador holds a seemingly comfortable lead after bouncing back from a drug scandal that stripped him of his 2010 Tour de France victory; maybe current and former dopers should form their own bike racing league so they can take whatever the hell they want and not have to worry about getting caught.

Finally, a UK cyclist apparently accomplishes the rather remarkable feat of rounding a corner on the sidewalk at 20 mph; even more remarkable is the arthritic pensioner who claims he managed to stop the speeding rider merely by putting his arms out.

Superman ain’t got nothing on him.


Justice denied in Orange County, Lippman ghost bike removed, and Christine Dahab misses her court date

August 3, 2012

Long Beach filmmaker Danny Gamboa forwards word that justice has been delayed — if not denied — in the case of Duane Parkison, the San Bernardino detective killed in a hit-from-behind collision while riding in Irvine last year.

A Facebook page demanding justice for Parkison notes that the OC DA’s office has indicated they won’t be filing charges, and implies the driver may be receiving some sort of favorable treatment.

Today I got a call from Mike Lubinski at the OC DA’s office. He is possibly releasing a statement to the press and public as to why they did not file charges and asked if I would like it sent to me. I told him I asked for an official reason two months ago and was told by Tom Glazier that the woman did everything she could to avoid the accident. I told him for this reason I do not trust the DA anyway and do not care to read the statement. I mentioned the “lunch” numerous times and asked if the statement brings up the lunch and he said it does not and did not comment further. So, if anyone wants to read the statement they can request it, and when we put up the website with the police report everyone will be able to draw their own conclusions. As for the “lunch”, stay tuned, we are working on getting answers for that.

It goes on to explain the lunch reference, and notes that the Irvine police have recommended charges.

In my opinion, there have been strange twists in the investigation of this. The Irvine Police Dept. found her at fault for two vehicle violations and recommended a charge of Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter but the OC DA will not file charges. In her transcribed statement to the Irvine PD the driver says she had “lunch with the Deputy Sheriff of San Bernardino County”… “something Hoops?” and she goes on to say “he took my husband and I to lunch and was very kind”. Duane was on vacation and this did not occur in the jurisdiction of San Bernardino County so why would anyone have “lunch” with the driver? The family would like to see this “lunch” investigated. For more information, please come to the “Justice for Duane Parkison” facebook page.

It does raise questions as to why the DA is apparently ignoring the recommendations of the Irvine police in this case.

Call me crazy, but I thought it was up to a judge and jury to decide whether she actually did everything she could to avoid the collision.

………

An anonymous reader sends word that the ghost bike installed for fallen cyclist Roger Lippman has already been removed — evidently by the heartless folks at Caltrans, who don’t seem to want any reminders of how dangerous their roadways really are.

Roger Lippman’s ghost bike is gone.  It was there yesterday, but gone this morning.  The fake purple flowers I had woven into the post it was chained to were left lying on the sand.

I specifically chose purple after a quote from the book The Color Purple.  According to the character Celie, the Lord knows purple is pretty and that’s exactly why he puts so little of it in the world. He’s “just wanting to share a good thing.  I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.” Well, imagine how pissed He is whenever some idiot fails to notice His master work, which He created in his own image, just because a goddam text or “one for the road” is so much more important.  I kind of imagine that the Joel Alexander Murphys of the world will be bitchslapped straight out through the back wall of the universe if they hop on the “up” elevator by mistake.

………

Dj Wheels offers a couple of legal updates.

First up is the news that a bench warrant has been put on hold for Christine Dahab after she failed to appear for a scheduled court date. Dahab is the driver charged with felony DUI and DWI after plowing into a group of late night riders in Culver City last year, injuring 13 riders; an LAPD officer investigating the case suggested that the collision was the riders fault for evidently staging a drunken orgy in the street.

Wheels speculates that her failure to appear may be related to Dahab’s pregnancy; if she doesn’t appear by August 16th, a warrant for her arrest will be issued.

Meanwhile, road raging Angeles Crest driver Earl Cox is going to trial as we speak.

………

LAPD reminds everyone to be on the lookout for the driver who killed Paul Albert Helfen in an early morning Nordhoff Street hit-and-run on June 22nd. And notes there’s a $50,000 reward for information.

If you don’t want to get involved, send the information to me. I’d love to get this SOB off the streets.

And I could use the money.

………

Great Streetsblog profile of the cycling group Cast a Shadow, riding next week to raise funds for clean water in Africa.

………

LACBC’s former award-winning City of Lights program is transforming into a new organization to be called Multicultural Communities for Mobility. KPCC offers a great report on last weekend’s Wolfpack Hustle midnight singlespeed drag race;, while a rider captures a helmet cam view. Santa Monica bike advocates and staffers question funding for the city’s ambitious bike action plan. After losing his father to the disease, an Israeli man rides from Malibu to NYC to fight cancer. A Long Beach cyclist pedals his bike across the country in 46 days, and chronicles his story in an e-book.

Corona cyclists won’t see sharrows on the coast highway until fall. A Newport Beach rider writes about where it all went wrong in the first part of a first-person story. Bike SD reports that a San Diego cyclist is on life support following a June hit-and-run. San Diego is joining the rest of the civilized world in scrapping its bike licensing program. An Ocean Beach writer says if you’re going to ride, follow the rules. A tax on sugar could have unintended consequences for cyclists who use sports drinks, bars and gels. A Santa Cruz writer says parents should set an example for their kids by wearing a helmet. Lodi cyclists will soon get new artistic bike racks. The 18-month old Fresno girl critically injured in the drunken crosswalk collision that killed her 7-year old sister and injured their father has come out of a medically-induced coma; the driver had a .11 BAC. A Modesto teacher is killed in a left cross while riding in Santa Cruz at around 40 mph, after the driver says he never saw him; thanks to Brian Skaggs and Don Blount for the heads-up. Campbell CA cyclists are reeling from two bicycling fatalities in just 30 hours. Bad roads will continue to contribute to collisions for cyclists, and everyone else on them, according to a Bay Area report. A Bay to L.A. bike tour will take place this month to support Prop 37, requiring the labeling of genetically modified organisms.

Crashing and the five stages of grief. A Seattle cyclist steals his bike back a year after it was stolen, no thanks to the police. Minnesota attempts to ease cycling with a new mobile app. A 90-year old WI driver faces charges after running down a cyclist while mistakenly driving on a separated bike path. A New York cyclist builds his own protected bike lane to keep cops from double parking in it. Nine New York cyclists share their favorite rides in the city. The New York Post rabidly says pull the plug as NYC’s bike share hits a minor speed bump. Once again, a NY cyclist is critically injured, but it’s nobody’s fault. Charlotte’s new bike share system will be a legacy of the Democratic National Convention. A Michigan cyclist on a cross-country tour is killed by semi-truck in Georgia. A Florida rider is found guilty of illegally leaving a bike lane — with about 30 other riders — despite the testimony of the rider they were passing, because the judge believed the blind man officer who didn’t see the rider they were passing.

Montreal police are investigating whether a driver intentionally ran down a cyclist after yelling at him to use the bike path. A UK driver is convicted of killing a bike riding father of three while showing off for a woman; it was his second hit-and-run in six years. Motherhood and Olympic cycling medals do mix after all. American cycling scion Taylor Phinney firmly establishes himself as the fourth best cyclist in the Games, after finishing just off the podium in both the road race and the time trial. Gold medalist and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins backs mandatory helmet laws  — or maybe not — after a cyclist is run over by a bus, even though a helmet would not have helped in the slightest in this case. The London Times offers an even-handed look at the debate. The London Telegraph says the time for talking has stopped and it’s time to actually do something about bike safety. Scottish traffic cameras cut accident and injury rates. Funding bike advocacy could help the bike industry sell 30 million more bikes. An Aussie cyclist crashes because his coffee was too hot. Brisbane police are on the lookout for a spitting cyclist.

Finally, once again, Bikeyface nails it. And are you a velocapitalist?


A little this, a little that — a rash of road rage, a Cycle Chic kerfuffle and a scofflaw driver on video

July 26, 2012

Maybe it’s something in the water, as today’s news brings a rash of road rage and otherwise intentional assaults, mostly involving cyclists.

First up, a Leavenworth KS driver pulls a Dr. Thompson, slamming on his brakes before backing up and swerving his truck into a group of cyclists; thanks to David Huntsman for the heads-up.

A pregnant Michigan cyclist may have been intentionally targeted in a hit-and-run last month. A Florida driver is dead after attacking a cyclist with an ax handle in a road rage attack, then collapsing after taking a punch to the face. A UK driver is convicted of beating up a cyclist who clipped his mirror, even though the rider didn’t cause any damage.

Not surprisingly, when an off-duty cop gets killed riding his bike, they consider it homicide; when anyone else does, it’s just an accident.

An Oregon man arrested for repeatedly sabotaging a popular mountain bike trail. And a Tiburon man is arrested for trying to run over a pedestrian because he didn’t his plaid jacket.

No, really.

………

There’s been quite a conversation about the Cycle Chic movement going on online over the past few days, sparked by a critique Copenhagenize’s Mickael Colville-Andersen offered by the incomparable Elly Blue.

The Reno Rambler calls it fascism, while Modal Mom defends the movement. And the over 50 comments to Blue’s original article are well worth reading, including this one by Lizbon.

As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter what you ride, where you ride, how you ride, why you ride or what you where.

Wear whatever you want, and just ride.

Then again, there’s more than one way to express cycle chic.

………

I thought I had reported on this story last week, but can’t find it anywhere.

According to KTLA-5, an arrest has been made in the case of Alex Patrick Silva, the 25-year old Fontana cyclist who was killed in a Rancho Cucamonga hit-and-run earlier this month.

Fifty-seven-year old Fontana resident Mark Sanders reportedly turned himself in to sheriff’s deputies at the Rancho Cucamonga station while detectives were searching his home after serving a warrant. He was booked on a charge of hit-and-run resulting in death, and is now free on $100,000 bail.

My apologies for not reporting this earlier.

………

A San Francisco photographer asks your help to finance a project on Kickstarter to capture images of ghost bikes throughout the East Coast and Midwest.

………

The Bicycle Film Festival returns to Los Angeles this October, with a kick-off party at historic El Cid in Silver Lake on the 11th, followed by the debut of The Contender, the first BFF-produced film at Cinefamily on the 12th.

Other screenings will take place at the Downtown Independent theater from 11 am to 10 pm on Saturday the 13th, with an all-ages DTLA block party the next day from 10 am to 6 pm. Convergence rides are planned for the various events. Email volunteerla@bicyclefilmfestival.com for more information or to volunteer.

………

I had an interesting meeting this morning with Odysseus Bostick, who just announced his candidacy for L.A. City Council in District 11, currently held by Councilmember Bill Rosendahl.

It should be an interesting race; Bostick is a cyclist and a strong supporter of bicycling, while Rosendahl has been the L.A. cycling community’s best friend on the council.

………

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton offers an exceptionally in-depth two-part interview with L.A.’s bike and transportation-oriented mayor. A Pasadena Gran Fondo rider says that cop didn’t need to ticket him for running a stop sign — just to be clear, there is no requirement in the California Vehicle Code to put your foot down to come to a full stop; thanks to Meghan Lynch for the tip.  San Diego cyclists ride to call attention to the dangers on local streets, urging cyclists and divers to use the roads safely. A writer makes a wise call for greater safety in the cycling community.

Traffic fatalities are up over 13% for the first quarter of 2012. How to file a claim for bike damage following a collision. An Oregon rider asks if you have a mangina. The Alaska schmuck man who repeatedly punched a seven-year old girl to steal her bike has been convicted. A Boulder CO intersection claims a second cyclist in just three years. Red Kite Prayer reports on RAGBRAI. A Boston writer decries the 400 bikes soon to be added to the city’s bike share program. A DC study says the way to encourage employees to bike to work is to provide showers and bike parking.

A writer calls Australia’s mandatory helmet law a disaster. The tragic dooring of a New Zealand cyclist leads a coroner to ask if bike riders should be required to use bike lanes.

Finally, if you really want drivers to see you at night, skip the hi-viz clothing and get a glow-in-the-dark bike. And everyone knows only cyclists run stop signs or use the wrong side of the road, right?


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