Crackdown

July 10, 2016 § 18 Comments

Now that the PVE residents have screamed bloody murder about cyclist scofflaws, as if that has anything at all to do with putting up signs that say “Bikes May Use Full Lane,” and “3-Feet, It’s the Law,” the police department has, shall we euphemistically say, “stepped up” its enforcement against bikers who violate The First PVE Cager Commandment:

  1. Thou shalt stop at stop signs.

On this morning’s Donut Ride, which I was mercifully absent from as Matt Wikstrom set a new KOM up Crest, when the group came lawlessly swooping through Paseo del Mar at the incredible speed of 30-ish miles an hour, a PVE cop lay in wait at the Cloyden Road t-intersection and burst into the middle of the peloton.

One rider later said, “I was sure twenty people were going down.”

Another rider said, “I know that crime doesn’t pay, but this is ridiculous. ”

A third rider said, “Brillo pad and bleach on my chamois for a week.”

So the PVE bike haters have successfully linked two completely unrelated issues. In order to be granted the legal right to ride on their roads, all cyclists have to obey the law. Doesn’t matter that cagers don’t. Doesn’t matter that not a single citation has ever been written for violation of the 3-foot law. Doesn’t matter that on the same day that the Donuteers blew through the stop sign at which there were no cars, endangering no one at all, another rider caught a driver on video committing assault with a deadly weapon against a cyclist. And of course it doesn’t matter that no charges will be filed against the pickup driver who was caught on video camera tailgating John Bacon shortly before his “mysterious” death.

None of that matters.

What matters is that if you ride in PVE, you had better understand that you will be subjected to strict enforcement of the First Commandment. If that means we are on our way to getting recognition of BMUFL, and if it means that the city is going to bring an equally heavy hand down on cagers who break the 3-foot rule, I’m not going to complain.

But if it’s just another attempt to privatize the public roads for the convenience of cagers, well, that’s a whole different kettle of fish. See you at the PVE council meeting this Tuesday, July 12, at 340 PV Drive, Palos Verdes Estates, 90274.

PS: If you’re planning on attending the Tuesday, July 12 meeting of the PV City Council, please note: 1) Although the meeting starts at 6:00 PM, public comment won’t begin until 7:30, and probably not until after that. So no need to be there at 6:00. 2) The council will be voting on the signs at their next July meeting; this meeting is an opportunity for us to communicate to the council that we support the signage and want them to vote on it at the next meeting. Hopefully you can attend both meetings.

END

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The Empire Strikes Back

July 9, 2016 § 19 Comments

Now that the City of PVE’s traffic safety committee has recommended the radical and revolutionary step of putting up a couple of signs that say “BMUFL” and “3-Feet,” a group of residents has proposed banning bikes from certain public roads within the city.

Nice.

I will be charitable and assume they don’t understand that the streets in PVE are public and that bicycles are legally allowed to ride on them. I will be charitable and assume that they don’t understand that municipalities cannot preempt the California Vehicle Code. I will be charitable and assume that they haven’t thought through the ramifications of a few  angry citizens seizing public property.

But I won’t be charitable when it comes to the cycling community.

Here’s why: On July 12, at 6:00 PM, there will be a city council meeting at Palos Verdes Estates council chambers, 340 PV Drive. Cycling and the approval of the new signs is not on the agenda.

However, opponents of the signage, who also advocate illegally restricting cyclists from public roads, have already met with police and city officials. Postings on social media indicate that some PVE residents are going to virulently oppose any affirmative steps taken by the city to make cycling safer, or to increase enforcement of California’s 3-foot law.

nextdoor1

Happily, I’m one of the targets in all this. Two members of the Lunada Bay Boys On Mom’s Couch Gang showed up at the protest ride and introduced themselves as “Rich dudes,” then interviewed me and did a great job of proving that I was wrong when I said that none of the roads in PVE were wide enough to accommodate a car and bike side-by-side. After heckling our protest ride, they put together a video and proved pretty clearly that a very short portion of the road we were on was 18 feet wide.

They neglected to note that it was only a couple of hundred feet long before it immediately narrowed down to a substandard width, and they agreed that the 3-foot law needs to be enforced. Bizarrely, the street that they have proven to be wide enough to accommodate bikes and cars (for a few hundred feet) is now part of the very same section of roadway that the angry residents are trying to ban cycle traffic from.

Moreover, they didn’t think my blog was funny, which is weird, because I try really hard to write a fair, balanced, ordinary bicycling blog that is non-controversial. Why? One simple reason: My mom sometimes reads it and I would be mortified if she ever saw me write words like “fuck” and “shit.”

But back to the Lunada Bay Boys On Mom’s Couch. They deserve props for caring enough about the issue to show up, scream at peaceful protesters, video it, spend two weeks and all 56 of their combined IQ points editing it, and then share it from an email called SuperRoidInRB@gmail.com. And I mean that. They do care. They may be unemployed bums, but unemployed bums have a whole lot of choices about what to do in a day, and choosing to counter-protest is pretty healthy for democracy, certainly more so than another drunken day harassing women and vandalizing cars at an illegal rock shelter built on protected public state shorelines.

The bicycling community now needs to build on the success we’ve had with the traffic safety committees in PVE and Rancho PV. What does that mean?

It means it’s time for usto show up.

The city council will allow concerned members of the public to address the signage issue even though the council won’t be voting on it at this meeting. This past Wednesday 17 cyclists made polite, sincere, and intelligent appeals to the PVE traffic safety committee. That needs to happen again on July 12, and again when the council meets to formally vote on the recommendations. You can rest assured that the PVE residents who don’t want the 3-foot and BMUFL signs installed have already met, spoken, and emailed every single council member, the city manager, the city engineer, and everyone on the traffic safety committee.

If you can’t make it, fine. What about your husband or wife pr boyfriend or girlfriend or kids? If you can make it, why not bring your husband, wife, or kids with you? The roads may be in PVE, but PVE doesn’t own them. To the contrary, the city takes hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars to pave and maintain them. They are our roads, too.

Democracy isn’t Facebook. It’s not Twitter. It’s not email or Reddit or NextDoor or campaign contributions and it’s sure as hell not this blog.

Democracy is you, your family, and the most precious resource you have: Your time. The elected officials in PVE are like elected officials everywhere else. They show up, struggle with problems, and try to find the best solutions for the least price that results in the most happy constituents and the fewest angry ones.

In short, if they’re doing their jobs even remotely correctly, they compromise.

We can be part of the compromise, but only if we collaborate by showiung up. I know that Tuesday is Telo training crit day and Eldo training crit day and there are lots of better places to be at 6:00 PM, but we can’t be heard by the people who matter unless we’re in the chambers with our names on a speaker card.

Please show up and help. Ironfly, South Bay Wheelmen, BCCC, PV Bike Chicks, and especially the members of the Double Secret Probation Cycling Committee, i.e. Jim Hannon & Eric Bruins & Mike Norris. LaGrange will be sending people, and they’re not even in the South Bay–they’re coming because public access to public roads isn’t a joking matter, and safety in PV is crucial to every cyclist on the coast.

We need you.

You will be empowered by the engagement and you’ll gain a ton of respect for the council members and the police. You’ll also gain respect for the people who oppose safer and better streets, and who think that bicycles are a plague. They may see the world differently, but they care enough to show up and make their case. They want their city to be a better place, and to them that means fewer bikes.

They care.

Do you?

END

PS: If you’re planning on attending the Tuesday, July 12 meeting of the PV City Council, please note: 1) Although the meeting starts at 6:00 PM, public comment won’t begin until 7:30, and probably not until after that. So no need to be there at 6:00. 2) The council will be voting on the signs at their next July meeting; this meeting is an opportunity for us to communicate to the council that we support the signage and want them to vote on it at the next meeting. Hopefully you can attend both meetings.

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What a bicycle America looks like

July 8, 2016 § 33 Comments

I’m an awful father. When my daughter went off to college we put her on a plane to Asia and basically didn’t see her for five years.

When my eldest son went to college on the East Coast we took him to LAX with his duffle. “See you. Love you.” I visited him in Philly twice.

At the time it seemed okay. They were adults and had picked distant places and I was about as broke then as I am now and for fuck’s sake, my parents didn’t even tell me goodbye when I was eighteen, and I didn’t care because they were paying the tuition.

But with my last kid I figured maybe I should be more involved so when he invited me to orientation at UCSB I said, “Sure!”

UCSB is what bicycle America would look like. Cars are third-class citizens. Prime parking is for bicycles. Bike racks are everywhere. Pedal paths are the only roads on campus. Bikes have the right of way. No one wears a helmet, kids have wind in their hair, people look happy.

But once orientation began I stopped noticing that and noticed that I was surrounded by insane people. One woman anxiously hooked her arm through her adult son’s, clinging to him like a bad rash.

A father berated his daughter for the classes she wanted to take.

A Chinese couple reviewed the orientation schedule intensely, highlighting and marking it up as if it was the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Stock Market.

I had more practical concerns. What was going to happen when my son woke up after two months of classes and realized THAT THERE IS NO LAUNDRY FAIRY?

It quickly became clear that parent participation in orientation was designed to eliminate a student’s biggest obstacle to a happy college experience: Parents. The kids were gradually separated from the Klingons with a crowbar and taken away from their sobbing mothers and choking fathers, taken all the way 400 yards across campus to be academically counseled in private and advised to wear condoms.

As a booby prize we were shunted off into a series of seminars, each with a catchy title like “Don’t be a sniveling simp,” and “Your daughter will get banged so get used to it,” and my personal favorite, “You can’t do his homework any longer.”

After twelve hours only the moms were still standing. I had distilled the lessons into:

  1. Go away.
  2. Your kid is fine.
  3. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

At night’s end we were hustled into one last session called “Saying Goodbye and Meaning It.” After a full day of serious note-taking, the moms were at an emotional climax. Finally we’d get to discuss what really mattered: The nattering minutiae of off-loading the kids without breaking down into a sobbing, hysterical, inconsolable mess.

I wish I could make this stuff up but I cannot.

“How many electrical sockets are in the dorm room?”

“Can we have laundry service for our child?”

“How can we check up on our child’s homework and class attendance?”

“How do we advocate for a teacher to give our child a better grade if we think he was unfairly graded?”

“Since we’re paying we demand to see our child’s grades. How do we access their academic account?”

“Where is the Target? WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE IS NO TARGET?”

“If there are three students per room and our child needs more than her one-third of the space, how do we arrange that?”

“What if we think our child’s roommate is a bad influence?”

“What if we don’t like our child’s roommate’s parents?”

And my personal, all-time favorite question ever in the history of helicopters: “I’ve noticed that no one on campus wears a bike helmet which is very dangerous. How do we make sure he wears one?”

Bicycle America, indeed.


Our protesters were hotter than yours

July 7, 2016 § 22 Comments

First, thank you Judy Frankel. It was a few hours before the PV Estates Traffic Safety Committee, and we were all hard at work (okay, screwing off on Facebag), trying to figure out our approach for the meeting.

The committee agenda had three recommendations for the city council:

  1. Take down the “Bike Laws Strictly Enforced” signs, burn them, and force the charred ashes down the throats of all the yahoos we’ve caught assaulting cyclists on video.
  2. Put up “3 Feet–It’s the Law” signs that are designed so simply that your cat could read it and your dog could pee on the signpost.
  3. Put up “Share the Road” signs so that irate cagers could scream, “Get over onto the edge you stupid fuggin’ biker! The sign says SHARE!”

We all agreed that #1 was good and #2 was real good. But we thought #3 stank. So Judy Frankel advised us that we needed to come loaded for BMUFL: Bikes May Use Full Lane.

We hustled in a full crew of stinky cyclists, most still clad in their damp chamois, that included Jose Godinez, Sarah Barraclough, James Olsen, Linda Campbell, Matt Miller, Tom Duong, Susan Varee, Joann Zwagerman, Delia Park, Michael Barraclough, Alistair Miller, Greg Seyranian, Pete Richardson, Joey Cooney, Geoffrey Louis, Matt Chartier, JR Rossetti, Kristie Fox, Robert Cisneros, and Wendy Watson.

Before the meeting we had to choose between putting together an organized and well thought out approach or go pound our bikes for a few laps around the Wanky Super Power Loop. By the time we’d done three loops everyone was exhausted and had no energy to do anything except listen dully to our Feared Leader, Michael Claw of the Bear.

“Listen up, fuckers,” he said. “I’m going to make this so simple even a cyclist can understand it. The committee doesn’t decide anything, but it can kill everything. These guys make recommendations for the city council to act on. Piss them off at your peril.”

“What are we supposed to say?” asked one cowering, lycra clad sweatlump.

Claw of the Bear handed out Post-it notes. “I’ve dumbed it down for a First Grader, then dumbed it down again for us,” he said. “There are three points:

“1) Take down bad signs: Good.

“2) Put up 3-foot signs. Good.

“3) Put up “Share the Road” signs: Bad.

“4) Put up BMUFL signs: Good.”

“Er, sir,” protested one cyclist, weakly. “That’s four points.”

“I said four points,” Claw of the Bear shot back. “Four points. Now let’s go!”

We marched into the council chambers and leaned our bikes up against the corridor wall while a couple of riders with rather excitable bowels dashed into the restroom to “rest.” The sound of cracking porcelain rang throughout the council chambers.

The meeting was called to order, the pledge was read, and a few traitors were hung by the neck until dead, after which their bodies were thrown to a pack of wild dogs outside the window.

“Okay, you bastards,” said the committee chair. “Who’s next?”

We all cowered in our seats and pretended that we had simply come to take notes. “Let me tell you sonsofbitches how this meeting is gonna go,” said the committee chair. “First one of you underwear-clad clowns leaves a sweat stain on our expensive city council church pews is gonna hang by the neck until dead. Any questions?”

We had none and the meeting came to order. First off was The Great Parking On PVDW Controversy. Concerned citizens stood up and discussed the incredible importance of this pressing issue while the committee tried to stay awake and the police chief idly spun the cylinder of his .357 to see who was going to get shot first for going over the 3-minute speaking time limit.

After a half hour of avid discussion about the life-or-death parking issue, we moved on to the bike signage item on the agenda. “Okay, you bastards,” said the committee chair. “I know what you all want and let’s get this straight: You ain’t gonna get it. So you might as well shut up and go home now. Plus you all stink to high heaven. Take a bath next time, willya?”

Claw of the Bear was not to be intimidated. “We like #1 and #2, but #3 is dumb. D-U-M-B. The last time I saw something that dumb I was in Texas. So we propose something smart. Put up BMUFL signs.”

“What did you call me?” the committee chair bellowed.

“I didn’t call you anything,” said Claw of the Bear.

“Like hell you didn’t.”

“I just said BMUFL signs.”

“He said it again!” roared the committee chair. Then he turned to the police chief. “Shoot the bastard, willya? He just called me a BMUFL.”

The police chief looked doubtful. “I don’t think he’s worth shooting, sir.”

“Why the hell not?”

“He smells too bad for the wild dogs to eat, so we’d have to bury him out of city funds.”

The chair nodded, grudgingly. “Well, what do the rest of you bastards want?” he said.

One by one we went to the lectern and read our Post-it notes. “Please be nice to us,” we begged. “And give us some BMUFL.”

As each sweaty speaker beseeched the august council, one thing became clear: Our protesters were waaaaay hotter than the parking controversy protesters. The parking lot people were schlumpy, pot-bellied, sag-bottomed, and draped with ill-cut rags that were displeasing to the eye.

Regardless of how dumb we all sounded, it’s hard to argue with smokin’ hot, articulate women in Spandex and tight jeans, especially when, with one flex of the muscled thigh, they could probably crack your skull like a rotten cantaloupe.

Finally one of the committee members, teetering on the edge of a prodigious sleep, made a motion that the committee vote on the recommendations. Only thing was, he changed #3 from “Put up a Dumb Ass Share the Road Sign” to “Put up BMUFL signs.”

The motion passed unanimously.

We cheered. We clapped. We hollered. We hoped we weren’t going to get shot for leaving chain grease stains on the carpet. The BMUFL recommendation was off to the city council, where it would likely be shot down in flames by angry residents who weren’t about to put up profane words like BMUFL in their fine community.

For today, though, a big old democracy had been done, and not just in the men’s room.

END

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More traffic safety committee stuff …

July 5, 2016 § 13 Comments

The Palos Verdes Estates traffic safety committee has its monthly meeting tomorrow, July 6, and bicycling is on the agenda.

The big question is whether the city should take down the punitive “Bicycle Laws Strictly Enforced” signs and replace them with “3-Feet, It’s the Law” and “Share the Road” signs.

Personally, I think they should paper the whole fuggin’ city with “Cagers who harass bikers will be drawn and quartered!” but that may not happen. And I guess it is progress that instead of threatening everyone on two wheels with “strict enforcement,” which frankly sounds like you’re going to be bound with leather straps and beaten by a dominatrix wielding a cat o’ nine tails, the city is going to put up some finger-wagging “3-feet, folks” and some saccharine “Let’s be friends” signs.

Yeah, progress. Because a couple of dozen extra signs are going to change the behavior of motorists in a city that has, for decades, tolerated the violence and illegal shenanigans of the Lunada Bay Boys, none of whom, by the way, are boys, and all of whom are rumored to be saggy, baggy, flabby, middle-aged farts who still live on Mom’s couch.

But I digress.

The good thing about the PVE “Can’t we all just get along by putting up a few signs?” project is that it seems to be accompanied by a realization that bicycle riders need to be taken into account. WOW!!! The agenda even says that the signs are the part of a bike master plan that’s in the works.

It’s the master plan verbiage that should give you hope, and more importantly, a reason to show up at the meeting.

I know it’s late, I know you’re weary, I know your plans don’t include me; but we’ve got tonight babe, so why don’t you stay (at the traffic safety committee meeting)?

C’mon. Please?

END

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Push back hard

June 29, 2016 § 29 Comments

It’s funny how chicken people are. Me included.

When Michael Barraclough proposed a protest ride in the city of Palos Verdes Estates to draw attention to the recent three fatalities on the hill, the failure of the police to ever issue a SINGLE citation for violation of the 3-foot passing law, and the steady stream of violent crimes perpetrated against cyclists, I thought it was a good idea and supported it.

Then one by one the critics popped up and I got scared. A couple of people upped the ante by claiming they were “on the side of the cops” and they cited the protest as “cop bashing,” as did the critics who scolded us for making the problem worse by making cagers hate us even more.

“Is that even possible?” I wondered.

The plan behind the protest ride was to ride single file (“Hey, biker assholes! RIDE SINGLE FILE!”) and to stop at every stop sign by putting a foot down (“Fucking bikers BLOW THROUGH ALL THE STOP SIGNS!). Since the city of PVE has the highest ratio of stop signs per foot of roadway in the galaxy, the short little crazy-x loop Barraclough had sketched out would involve lots of stopping.

Once traffic was backed up to San Diego we would call off the ride, retire to our lairs, feast on joints of mutton and tankards of mead, and then gird our loins for battle with the city council. Many would fall in hand-to-hand trench combat. Many would be impaled on the bayonets of the raging council supporters. Many would be crushed by the massive tummies of the fat PVE trust babies who are the subject of a civil rights class action lawsuit for “Being colossal dicks.”

But with three dead cyclists since March and a reign of terror washing over the peninsula, Barraclough had had enough. Enough was too much, in fact, because his letters, impassioned pleas, and crime reports had resulted in very little change on the part of the city. This was in glaring contrast to the reaction at neighboring Rancho Palos Verdes, where our efforts in front of the traffic safety committee were already reaping rewards.

In the end, the only reason I went is because I had said I would. I was plagued with doubt and resigned to failure. What’s worse, I was being led to the slaughter by a fuggin’ Republican, a dude who knew about as much about nonviolent protest as I know about the bond market. I was also convinced that the turnout would be dismal and imagined four skinny wankers in gaudy underwear protesting social injustice on $15,000 bikes.

So I got there and found out I was wrong. The turnout was phenomenal–the PVE police were there in full force.

On the biker side, there were perhaps fifty or sixty riders. Many I knew, but many I did not. They had heard about the protest and came to make their voices heard in the service of victims they never knew at a place they never rode. I couldn’t help but wonder what the turnout would have been if everyone who actually had a dog in the fight had shown up.

Michael gave a great, rabble-rousing speech. The plan was to be safe, be polite, and to follow the law. This was important because a couple of PV dickbags had already shown up to harass us. Armed with video cameras and enough obnoxiousness to fill a Trump rally, they introduced themselves to me as “Rich people.” Then they did a short, rude interview and wandered over to a corner to shout derisively as the ride began.

What became clear to everyone was that a mere forty bikes obeying the letter of the stop sign law, and riding single file, would turn the traffic in PV into a sticky, tangled nest of knotted pubic hair, which it did. In no time the incoming rush hour traffic backed up all the way to PV Boulevard in Redondo Beach, and that was before even half the riders had exited (one by one in single file, of course) from the parking lot.

We even got the bonus of having a Jeep filled with snarking, snot-nosed, entitled little high school shits cursing and yelling at us as they sat stuck in traffic, the smelting sun baking the fifteen IQ points shared between them.

Once the stoppage hit critical mass, the police stepped in. They manned the intersection with a traffic cop and began moving the cars. After fifteen or twenty minutes they had cleared the intersection. We did one more glory loop and called it a day.

The police were beyond professional. They’d been alerted in advance, they let us have our say, and then they got things moving. At one point a rider fell over and a cop cruiser rushed over to make sure he was okay. The police seemed embarrassed by the lard-assed Rich People on the corner, and the profanities of the snotnosers were captured on video by a TV crew, videographer David Brindon, and others.

Not only were no PV Citizens harmed in the making of the protest, none was made late for a single double-tall soy latte with choco sprinkles, and many got to marvel at Jeff Hazeltine’s surfboard-carrier that was hauling a 300-foot surfboard in his wake. We bikers danced a victory jig and all dispersed except for seven or eight of us, who waited for an hour and a half until the city council meeting began.

Of course with that much time to kill a small group did a quick tour of the Wanky Super Power Loop, a Strava segment that is now more famous than the Stelvio. We returned in time to have coffee at the Ranch Market and to plot our strategy.

Tom’s was the best, of course. “Lasagna,” he said as he stuck his fork in the Ranch Market’s signature carry-out meal. “I’m having lasagna.”

We all agreed that the city would have not comeback to that.

The city council opened the meeting for public comment. The only people who had shown up to address the council and who weren’t addressing an item on the agenda were the cyclists, some of whom (ahem) hadn’t brought a change of clothes and stank like last Thursday’s dumpster and were ringed with enough white powder to start a salt lick. Barraclough, Delia Park, Michelle Landes, Joey Cooney, Jose Godinez, Tom Duong, Geoffrey Louis, and I each went to the lectern and asked the city council to act on the pressing issue of bike safety in PVE and the lack of law enforcement with regard to cager-on-biker crime.

When the last speaker sat down, we got a couple of big surprises.First was Police Chief Kepley. We’d made it clear that he and his department had comported themselves professionally during the protest, and during virtually all of our encounters with the PV cops. Kepley made comments that indicated a clear understanding of the conflict and the issues, and followed it up with an invitation for collaboration between us and them. It was awesome. No recriminations, no victim blaming, and no imperatives to ride single file.

Next, Mayor King and councilman James Goodhart thanked us for coming. What I mean is THEY THANKED US FOR COMING. US. SWEATY BIKER NUTS. THEY THANKED US. WITH THE WORDS “THANK YOU.” SINCERELY.

They acknowledged the issues and promised to begin the planning process that would address the issue of a comprehensive bike plan in PVE, much as we had heard from the traffic safety committee at the city of Rancho Palos Verdes. Goodhart encouraged us to keep showing up and to take our rightful place at the table. He added that the media attention Barraclough had brought to the city was good, and exhorted us to come to the July 6 PVE traffic safety committee meeting, as well as the one in September.

Radically different from other PVE council meetings I’ve attended, there was no “outsider v. locals” vibe and it was clear that the council was disturbed about the deaths and the assaults. If anything, the obnoxious slobs with the video cams helped our cause for this simple reason: When forced to choose between smelly, salt-stained people with kids and grandkids and jobs and real lives, or entitled nasty people filled with beer, the choice was easy.

We left as a group when the council went on to its regularly scheduled business, and outside the building got a chance to speak with one of the sergeants. He acknowledged the issues and it was clear that changes are in the works. He was friendly, professional, and did his best to respond to the pointed questions regarding the department’s failure to ever issue a single 3-foot citation. (Note to world: Don’t get on the hot seat when Delia Park is asking the questions.) Best of all, it was crystal clear that Barraclough’s decision to hold a protest ride was the turning point. The sergeant showed a thorough understanding of the issues and he made the effort to let us know we were being heard.

There’s no way to bring back the dead, but it was hard not come away with the conviction that the PVE police, mayor, and city council are ready and willing to work with us to make sure that this becomes a better, safer, more enjoyable place to ride a bike.

And I hate to say I’m an optimist, but you know what? I kind of am.

END

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World’s stupidyest McDumdum bike lane ever

June 26, 2016 § 52 Comments

Bike lanes are stupidy McDumdum. Sorry, but they are. Here’s why:

  1. They make you harder to see by shoving you over to the side of the road.
  2. They get cagers closer to you than they would be if you used the full lane.

That being said, I understand that bike lanes are a necessary part of life. They not only make incompetent bicycle people feel safe, kind of like science incompetent people think that chewing tobacco is safer than smoking it, but they also provide a reason to spend tax dollars.

Anything that comforts the stupid while simultaneously taxing them is always going to win. Think “Brexit.”

So every time I see a bike lane I accept it. It makes no sense to rage against the machine more than, say, 23 hours and 59 minutes a day, which is my self-imposed limit. However, each time I hop on my bicycle to pedal over to the NPR Sausage Fest and Profamateur Crashmonkey Course, I have to ride in the vicinity of the world’s stupidyest McDumdum bike lane ever invented.

It is mercifully short, but it packs a lot of stupid into its one mile or so of puke green asphalt. Like all bike lanes, it separates bicycles from cars, except of course like all bike lanes, it doesn’t. This bike lane has 38.98 separate driveways that open out onto it, so even though there is a concrete barrier between you and the cars going alongside, every drunk idiot (but I repeat myself) in Redondo Beach (triple redundancy) and every heffalump staggering out of the Cheesecake Factory parking lot has to drive directly across the bike lane thingy.

People get hit as a result, which is okay because:

  1. They are bicycle people.
  2. They are not smearing the actual traffic lanes with their blood and full carbon.

Having a bike lane that requires lots of bicycle people to get hit by cagers is fine; after all, that’s what bike lanes do (and please don’t send me the CalTrans engineering specs telling me that it’s not a bike lane, it’s a bike path, or a cycle track, or a heffalump breeding ground, IDGAF). So this bike lane is average in that regard.

What takes it to its own level of stupidyessnesstiondingerage are the stained, yellow Bicycle People Whackers which are installed every hundred feet or so in the middle of the bike lane. What is a Bicycle People Whacker, you ask? It is a giant yellow plastic pillar that sticks up about eight feet in the air and requires a certain percentage of drunks, children, angry parents, distracted profamateurs, and of course triathletes to whack into it.

You can tell that’s what they are for because each and every BPW is covered from tip to toe with black scuff marks, chain grease, dried blood, and Bernie Sanders bumper stickers. Imagine putting up a few hundred thousand Cager Whackers along the 405 to “slow things down” and “warn the cagers.”

If you are terribly bored and not terribly sober some sunny Saturday afternoon, go down to the bike path and watch the bicycle people run into the BPW’s. Many will fall, none will complain, and all will chalk it up to their own clumsiness.

To make the McDumdum quotient of this piece of bike “infrastructure” even higher, though, the fabulous bicycle-people-hating administrators of Hermosa Beach recently imposed a bike path speed limit of 8 mph. Have you ever gone 8 mph on a bicycle? If so, please leave this blog immediately and don’t come back until you’ve bombed the Switchbacks at 52.

Rather than take out the BPW’s, a city-installed safety hazard that daily knocks people off their bikes, the city set a “safe” bike speed limit that makes virtually everyone a violator. If you can’t make something safer, make everyone a criminal. At least it will increase your tax revenue. What’s even more awesome is that the law is illegal and unenforceable as explained by someone a lot smarter than I am:

Recently, 8 mph speed limit signs were installed on the Class I bike path adjacent to Harbor Blvd. in Redondo Beach.  I question whether that posted  limit is legal. California has three speed laws, basic, statutory, and altered. Under the Basic Speed Law, you may never drive (ride) faster than is safe for current conditions, such as heavy fog, ice on the road, etc.

Prima facie statutory limits (CVC Section 22352) apply when no other limit is posted: 15 mph at uncontrolled intersections and alleyways, and 25 mph applicable to business and residential areas without other posted speed limits, school zones, etc.

Altered speed limits are based on engineering and traffic studies. In the absence of a current E&TS, and current means “within seven years,” altered speed zones are not enforceable. This applies to enforcement using radar or lidar. If you are clocked by pacing, the speed limit may be enforceable, although it’s unlikely the police will use a cop bike to catch speeding cyclists, not least because the average bicycle cop is, uh, well, never mind.

The 85th percentile and E&TS

In California altered “speed limit determinations rely on the premise that a reasonable speed limit is one that conforms to the actual behavior of the majority of drivers; one will be able to select a speed limit that is both reasonable and effective by measuring drivers’ speeds. Speed limits set by E&TS are normally set near the 85th percentile speed. The 85th percentile speed is the speed at or below which 85 percent of the traffic is moving, and statistically represents one standard deviation above the average speed.”  Limits are by law set in 5 mph increments.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, I requested from the City Clerk a copy of the engineering and traffic study used to alter the speed limit on the bike path for the simple reason that municipalities are forbidden from preempting state law with regard to provisions of the vehicle code. To wit: “Except as otherwise expressly provided, the provisions of the Vehicle Code preempt local ordinances on the matters covered by such Code.” See CA Vehicle Code § 21. And unfortunately for the fine folks in Redondo Beach, regulation of bicyclists on conventional roads is not in California’s Vehicle Code to local authorities.

 I was therefore not surprised to learn from the city that the new 8 mph speed limit was not based on any engineering and traffic study, and was even less surprised to learn that the “8 mph” limit was illegal both because it’s not an increment of five and because state law regarding speed limits preempt local yokel bicycle-hating ordinances.

There you have it. Bike lane that exposes bicycle riders to exponentially more deadly cross traffic. Bike lane that was built with devices intended to knock people off their bikes. Bike lane that is regulated with illegal and unenforceable ordinances.

Thank you, Redondo Beach. You really do suck.

END

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