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Posts from the "Bicycling" Category

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Bottle Thrower in Cuffs: This Time I Was the Cyclist Who Got Attacked

Bottle thrower in cuffs in back of LAPD car. Photo by Roger Rudick

Bottle thrower in cuffs in back of LA County Sheriff car. Photo by Roger Rudick

Wednesday night I attended the vigil for Milton Olin, a cyclist who was run down and killed by a distracted Sheriff’s Deputy. The next morning, I decided to do something I haven’t done in a long time: go for a purely recreational ride.

As I get older, and my number of close-calls gets larger, the more I worry that my luck’s about to run out and my death will be the next headline. But the vigil made me more determined than ever that cyclists should not cower. We must be allowed to ride in safety and peace.

I live in downtown, so I decided to take the safest ride I know of: the bike path along the L.A. River. But getting there is still undeniably precarious. I threaded the needle as best I could, navigated around a city vehicle parked in the bike lane on Main Street, cut back over to Alameda near Union Station, and continued towards Chinatown on my journey to the start of the path in Egret Park.

But as I passed the intersection of Spring and Bruno, just past the Homeboy Cafe, a tan SUV blew through the stop sign. I shouted “Oiy!” as loudly as I could and he stopped before hitting me, yelling out the window, “I saw you!”

I answered, “The stop sign is back there!” as I rode past him.

So no f-bombs, no cursing, nothing rude, just a criticism for blowing the stop sign.

He gunned his engine, overtook me, and threw a bottle at me.

The bottle hit me in the buttocks and bounced off. It must have been mostly empty, and plastic, so no damage done. But that’s an assault—anybody throwing a bottle at a cyclist is aware of the potential consequences.

I took off after the guy and easily got back in visual range of his license plate. In retrospect, I’m not sure what I was going to do with the number. But then I noticed something to my left.

An L.A. Sheriff’s car, parked on the other side of the street, with two deputies standing nearby.

“Officer! I need help! Help!” I shouted as loudly as I could.  Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: Milton Olin Ride and Vigil Demands D.A. Justice

Milton Olin Ride passes Echo Park. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday’s Justice for Milt Olin Ride #rideformilt passes Echo Park. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Yield to Life, and Ghost Bikes hosted a ride and vigil for Milton Olin. Olin was bicycling in a Calabasas bike lane when County Sheriff Deputy Andrew Wood drove into the bike lane and ended Olin’s life. The sheriff was distracted, typing a non-emergency message on his on-board computer. Last week, eight months after the crash, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey declined to prosecute the killer, stating that Wood’s distracted driving constituted “reasonable behavior.”

Yesterday’s ride started at the crash site in Calabasas, and rode 30 miles to the D.A.’s headquarters in downtown L.A. Roughly 75 riders were on the ride as it entered downtown, and the number swelled to roughly 125 for the vigil at Grand Park.

LACBC submitted this letter (read it – it is excellent and thorough in outlining appropriate measures to prosecute Wood for his deadly behavior) and are encouraging others concerned to write to D.A. Lacey to demand she prosecute Olin’s killer. The D.A. can be reached at webmail@da.lacounty.gov.

For links to media coverage of yesterday’s ride and vigil, check these articles from SBLA headlines: CBS, ABCLA Times, LA Register, and Daily News. See also earlier SBLA coverage of this outrageous killing and the inexcusable lack of prosecution. More photos after the jump.  Read more…

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At End of 2014, LA County Bike Coalition Head Jen Klausner To Step Down

L.A. County

L.A. County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Jennifer Klausner announced today that she is leaving the LACBC as of year end. This 2011 photo shows Klausner (center at podium) celebrating the passage of the city of Los Angeles’ 2010 Bicycle Plan. Klausner is flanked by (left to right) LADOT AGM Amir Sedadi, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Controller Wendy Greuel, and City Councilmember Tom Labonge. Photo via LACBC

Via an email to L.A. County Bicycle Coalition membership this morning, Executive Director Jen Klausner announced that she is leaving her position as of the end of 2014. The organization is at the start of a search process to find her replacement.

Below is an excerpt of her resignation announcement:

Now, with great pride in the good work of LACBC, its extraordinary staff and Board, growing network of local chapters throughout the County, and you, our membership, without whom we could do none of this, I announce that I will be stepping down from my role as Executive Director at the end of 2014. I will continue to support the organization from a different perspective, as I will be looking to get some dirt under my wheels, while attending to other responsibilities and projects.

Our Board President and a dedicated committee have already started to search for a talented new Executive Director to lead LACBC on to new challenges. We will post a job description on our website soon. If you have questions about the search process, or possible candidates to recommend, please email our Search Committee at EDSearch@la-bike.org.

Read more…

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Five Things I Learned at This Week’s L.A. Transportation Committee

Here are the top five things I learned listening in to this week’s Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee meeting. The public meeting took place Wednesday, August 27, at Los Angeles City Hall. If you’re nimble and/or having trouble sleeping, catch the full audio here.

1. Seleta Reynolds Hearts Car Share

In discussion of the city’s anemic car share program, new Transportation Department (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds described herself as a “long-time fan of car share and a frequent user of it.” Reynolds bemoaned the lack of a viable car share option in her new Silver Lake neighborhood.

Hertz car share didn't work out so well for Los Angeles. Image via Flickr user tom-margie

Hertz car share didn’t work out so well for Los Angeles. Image via Flickr user tom-margie

The GM announced an “immediate expansion” of the city’s provisions to enable basic car sharing planned for this September, with a more robust expansion, likely including point-to-point options, coming at some unspecified later date. Reynolds stated that she favors a system that would include multiple providers. This should prevent issues like those associated with the failures like the city’s selected vendor Hertz becoming unresponsive.

To be continued. I too dig car share, and am happy Reynolds is on it.

2. Protected Bike Lanes This Year – Or Probably Not

In public testimony (audio at 01:05 here) about Los Angeles some day maybe perhaps one day you know possibly getting around to implementing those newfangled protected bike lanes that are all the rage in other cities, LADOT Bikeways’ Michelle Mowery stated:

MyFig is certainly one of these [protected bike lanes]. We’re also looking at Los Angeles Street right now. We believe we will have that on the ground within this next fiscal year.

When SBLA tweeted the good news, LADOT Bike Program took to the Twittersphere to let folks know that no protected bike lanes are coming this year, but that My Figueroa construction will happen soon. SBLA will dig more into this story. Did Mowery mean “a Los Angeles street” or “Los Angeles Street?” Could it be part of longer-term plans for Union Station? In any case, I am looking forward to protected bike lanes arriving on these shores. Ones not inside tunnels, that is.

3. Streetsblog Hearts Great New Traffic Metrics

Spoiler alert: wonky acronyms ahead. I knew that changes in California’s traffic modeling was big news, with the state ditching its car-centric car-only car-always Level of Service (LOS) measures for evaluating California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental impacts, and instead using Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)

It was great to hear it from LADOT Assistant General Manager Jay Kim.

Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: Ribbon-Cutting for New West SFV L.A. River Bike Path

Today's ribbon-cutting for the newest segment of Los Angeles river bike path, located in

Today’s ribbon-cutting for the newest segment of Los Angeles river bike path, extending from Winnetka to Canoga Park in the West San Fernando Valley. From left to right: Gary Lee Moore – City Engineer, Barbara Romero – Board of Public Works, Kevin James – Board of Public Works, Bob Blumenfield – City Councilmember, Seleta Reynolds – LADOT, Omar Brownson – L.A. River Revitalization Corporation, and Ed Ebrahimian – Bureau of Street Lighting. (Apologies for cutting off Anthony Jusay – Metro, whose hand is visible on the left.) Photo: Joe Linton, Streetsblog L.A.

This morning, Streetsblog enjoyed the ribbon-cutting for the newest stretch of Los Angeles River Bike Path, located in the West San Fernando Valley. In 2011, Streetsblog covered the project’s groundbreaking.

Councilmember Blumenfield hosted this morning’s ribbon-cutting, celebrated by a crowd of about 50, mostly city staff and river and bike advocates. Seleta Reynolds mentioned that this was her first ribbon cutting as Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s new General Manager.

The new bike path goes along the south side of the river from Hartland Street (just west of Mason Avenue) to Winnetka Avenue. It connects to the existing city bike path downstream (east), extending to the Vanalden Avenue footbridge for a total of 2 miles of continuous bike path. The path was part of six interconnected public works projects that included bridge retrofits and extending bike path crossings under refurbished bridges. At the upstream end of the bikeway, west of Hartland Street, is an also newly-opened section of county L.A. River greenway, which is somewhat bikeable but lacks a paved surface and below-grade crossings.  Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: Mad Men Writer Tom Smuts Bicycles to the Emmys

It is already all over the web: youtube, L.A. Times, NBCU.S. News and World Report, The Hollywood ReporterPittsburgh Post-Gazette… oh my… did the Post-Gazette scoop Streetsblog? Again?

Streetsblog L.A. was there, so we present this photo essay on Mad Men’s producer-writer Tom Smuts’ bike ride to the Emmy Awards. Smuts stated that he rode “to raise awareness of bicycle commuters” and “to support more bike lanes and better bike lanes.” He actually rides pretty fast.

Unfortunately Mad Men did not receive any of this season’s Emmy Awards. No word, though, on whether Smuts’ controversial new Mad Men made-for-TV-movie (rumored to be about Don Draper returning to Los Angeles to retire and establish a livable streets advocacy organization) has been green-lighted yet.

Tom Smuts and entourage barrel over the sharrows on 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Tom Smuts and entourage barrel over the sharrows on 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Tom Smuts (left, blue helmet) waits for traffic at Vermont Avenue.

Tom Smuts (left, blue helmet) waits for traffic at Vermont Avenue.

Read more…

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Ticketing of Ovarian Psyco Sparks Questions About How Group Rides Should Manage Safety

A ride marshal from Clitoral Mass is ticketed for running a red light. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

A ride marshal from Clitoral Mass is ticketed for running a red light. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

On Saturday’s Clitoral Mass ride with the Ovarian Psyco-Cycles, one of the ride marshals had a run-in with the police.

I did not witness the event, but was told by multiple sources (including one of the officers) that the Ovas had blocked traffic so that riders could continue through a red light on 7th St. in the Skid Row section of downtown. When the officers moved into the intersection to stem the flow of riders, one of the marshals went around the car. She was subsequently pulled over and cited.

Witnesses felt the officers had been a little overzealous, with the female officer nearly knocking the rider over with her door, and both preferring to hand the rider a full-fledged ticket rather than the warning she asked for.

By the time I arrived a few minutes later, the female officer was already writing the ticket out.

The exchanges between the officers and the riders were calm and courteous, with the male officer freely offering his name and badge number to those who requested it and neither officer seeming to be perturbed by the fact that they were being recorded by several people with cellphones.

That doesn’t mean the organizers and supporters of the ride weren’t frustrated, of course.

While the officers had likely felt obligated to do something about the blocking of traffic because it happened right in front of them, they could have just given the ride marshal a warning. But they made it explicit that they were choosing not to do so in this case.

I finally approached one of the officers and asked what the solution to this kind of situation was. Read more…

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Fun and Food in Boyle Heights and South L.A. this Weekend

Riders at the first Clitoral Mass event in 2012. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

Riders at the first Clitoral Mass event in 2012. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

If you like to get out and about on the weekends, there are some really great events you might want to plug into.

SATURDAY afternoon, women and those who identify as women are invited to join the Ovarian Psyco-Cycles on their third annual Clitoral Mass ride.

The first ride, held in 2012, generated some controversy for excluding men. But, the organizers held fast to their stance, arguing that group rides did not always feel like safe spaces for women and, in particular, women of color or those whose who identified as women.

The women seemed to agree, as they came out in droves — more than two hundred showed up for the first ride.

The Ovas are at it again, with a day ride this year. Meeting up at Grand Park (200 N. Grand Ave.) at 1 p.m. and rolling out at 1:30 p.m., they will take those identifying as women on a 30-35 mile tour of the city, and have a number of pit stops planned to invigorate and educate riders. People’s Yoga will prepare riders for the tour with a stretch session, Buyepongo will lead a drum circle, Comida no Bombas will provide dinner in Echo Park, activists will discuss gentrification at a stop at Mariachi Plaza, and a support car (with mechanics) will follow the riders. There will also be a condom mobile and lots of free snacks and water.

The tour will end where it began, in Grand Park. For more information about the ride, see a previous article about the ride planning here, or visit their event page, here.

If you are not woman-identified or just feel like stuffing your face instead, head over to the L.A. Taco Festival in Mariachi Plaza from 2 – 8 p.m. on Saturday. Read more…

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Editorial: Respect Your Advisory Committee, Build a Safer Hyperion Bridge

Members of the Glendale Hyperion Bridge Community Advisory Committee, city staff, and elected officials walk the bridge during their final meeting on August 7. Photo: Don Ward

Members of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge project Community Advisory Committee, city staff, and elected officials walk the bridge during their final meeting on August 7. Photo: Don Ward

There has been quite a bit of proverbial water under the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. Under a great deal of community displeasure in 2013, the city of Los Angeles set aside an outdated bridge retrofit plan and formed an advisory committee to decide the future of the historic span.

The 9-member Glendale-Hyperion Viaduct Improvement Project Community Advisory Committee is a broad cross-section of the local communities. It includes representatives from nearby elected city bodies: the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council, Los Feliz Neighborhood Council, and the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. Rounding it out are folks representing historic preservation, parents from local schools, and concerned non-profits: Friends of the L.A. River, the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, L.A. Walks, and the Los Feliz Improvement Association.

The committee has been meeting roughly every other month since December 2013. It reviewed design options and technical studies, and discussed how the bridge could best serve the diverse future transportation needs of all adjacent neighborhoods. The available technical studies focus on delays to car traffic, with no thorough evaluation of safety, health, or environmental outcomes. Even using these stacked-deck car-centric studies, bridge bike lanes and sidewalks not only appear feasible, but perform better than the existing bridge configuration.

At the committee’s final meeting on August 7, they were unable to come to a full consensus on a final recommendation for the configuration of the bridge.

So, as folks do in democracies, they took a vote.

The final vote was 6 to 3 in favor of the “Option 3″ road diet configuration. Option 3 reduces one car travel lane, resulting in three car lanes (one northbound, two southbound), two bike lanes, and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. The Community Advisory Committee completed their task; their advice to the city is to include two sidewalks and two bike lanes on the new bridge.

Option 3 is a compromise. Read more…

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Planning for Third Clitoral Mass in Full Swing

The Ovarian Psyco-Cycles have spent the last few months planning this year’s annual Clitoral Mass ride with one thing on their mind: creating a safe space for “solidarity between womyn, queer, femme, trans, gender non-conforming, and two-spirited individuals from different walks of life to promote solidarity in bicycling, encourage safety, health in our communities, and taking back the night.”

The Clitoral Mass Route Committee has been meeting every week with a dedicated core of members that have taken the lead on coordinating logistics, volunteers, scouting the route, and making sure that everything is on point for the upcoming August 16th event.

The lessons learned from the two previous rides and feedback from participants have been instrumental in the planning of this year’s ride. I sat down with Joan Zamora, Alejandra Ocasio, and Amoxeh Tóchtlí, three of the leaders on the planning committee, to talk about the planning process and some of the changes being made.

One of the biggest adjustments this year is that of the start and end points of the ride. The planning committee has always looked for sites that were accessible by public transportation and bicycle. While everyone that participates is encouraged to take those modes of transportation, some still can’t avoid having to drive to the starting location. In the past, that presented a problem of individuals needing to get back to their cars safely from other parts of town at the end of the night.

So, this year’s ride will begin and end at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles. It is also going to to be a daytime ride, with a meet-up time of 1 p.m. and a roll out of 1:30 p.m. Ocasio said that this should help attract a bigger turnout and make it easier for participants to plan and coordinate for the ride. The Metro Civic Center Station located at the west end of the park and numerous bus lines adjacent to it make it an ideal location to start and end. Read more…