Intentionally hitting a cyclist with one’s car is not ok, but if those who commit these acts aren’t prosecuted, doesn’t that tell the world that it is ok? One would think! The Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance, recently decided to drop the assault charges that were filed against Jose Henriquez. For those not familiar with the case, Mr. Henriquez intentionally rammed a cyclist with his SUV and then fled the scene. So, to sum things up, a driver of a motor vehicle, used his vehicle as a deadly weapon to cause bodily harm to a cyclist and the cyclist won’t be going to jail. In fact, he won’t even be paying a big fine. He’ll be paying $250. That’s his fine. Let’s repeat that for effect: $250.
As reported by “Streets Blog NYC,” “According to [Steve] Vaccaro, [the victim's attorney], and a witness affidavit, at around 5:00 p.m. on July 13, 2013, Michael (not his actual name) was riding his bike on Avenue B on the Lower East Side. Avenue B is a narrow two-way street with no bike lanes and parking on both sides. To avoid being doored, Michael was riding in the center of his lane. When a motorist approached Michael from behind, tailgating and honking, he responded by flipping the driver off. Approaching the intersection of Avenue B and E. 13th Street, Michael slowed for a red light. According to the affidavit, the driver, still behind him, accelerated, striking the back of Michael’s bike and flipping him over the handlebars, causing him to hit his head on the ground. With Michael in the street bleeding from his face and head, the motorist swerved around him and attempted to drive off. A second motorist on the opposite side of the intersection tried to block the way, but the SUV driver went around the vehicle and left the scene.”
Shame on Cy Vance, the Manhattan DA, for setting this awful precedent. What this decision not to prosecute Mr. Henriquez does is tell every driver of a motor vehicle that it’s not only acceptable to plow down cyclists, but it’s then ok to flee the scene. Shame, shame, shame on Cy Vance. You bring shame to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and should be removed from this post.
This past Tuesday, an arsonist ignited fires in Lake Tahoe, endangering lives of brave firefighters and residents across the region. Over the next few days, the fires would spread and on early Saturday evening, the night before the Ironman Lake Tahoe, smoke filled the air across the region. The Ironman, which was set to go off at 6:30 AM, was canceled only a few minutes before the start of the race. Ironman had called for swimmers to report to the water and it was in the water, moments later, where we were informed that the race was canceled. Triathletes who came from 49 states and 65 countries would not be able to compete that day. And it was the absolute right call. The smoke’s spread had made the event dangerous to human health.
But while this was the right call, the call should have been made on Saturday night so that Placer County health officials could have been focused on what really mattered — fighting fires and saving lives rather than devoting their limited resources to the race. Ironman also dropped the ball with respect to their communications. Not once in the days prior to the race did they directly communicate with the event’s participants about the smoke. So when Ironman did inform the racers at the very last moment when we were all pumped and ready to go, it came as a shock. But it shouldn’t have. Ironman was aware of the developing smoke across Tahoe since Tuesday and made several comments to the local press. But Ironman athletes shouldn’t be expected to read the local press. Ironman had a responsibility to update their athletes directly via email, text, or Twitter. Their only direct communication about the race was to state that it was canceled.
The Ironman is a boon to Lake Tahoe’s economy. It certainly has the appearance that the Ironman organization was primarily concerned with participants — and their families and friends — potentially leaving Tahoe early or canceling their trip outright, thereby hurting local hotels, restaurants, and businesses. It’s unsettling that most of the communication to the press by “Ironman Lake Tahoe organizers” in the days leading up to the race was handled by the Chief Marketing Officer of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, and not the Ironman organization itself.
Thinking of biking to the Emmys? Why not! We came across this cute video featuring an Emmy-nominated writer from “Mad Men,” Tom Smuts. Smuts decided to bike to the Emmys and he did so in style — with a group of other cyclists. His purpose? To raise awareness that Los Angeles is a cycling city. He wants to increase the number of bike lanes and support the bike lanes that have already become a part of the city’s infrastructure. He made the following video with the support of the Los Angeles County Cycling Coalition. And take a look — he even wore a cycling hat on the red carpet…not to mention he carried his helmet! Very cool. Well done, Tom Smuts. And nice spread in “The Hollywood Reporter” for your cycling efforts. #CicLaEmmys!
We at The Bike GPS previously came down hard on the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, for essentially blaming the death of London cyclists on the cyclists themselves. While Johnson purports to be a cycling advocate, we questioned his alignment with the interests of London cyclists. But for every mayor that doesn’t support cyclists, there is likely a mayor that does. Enrique Penalosa, the former Mayor of Bogota, Colombia and a Duke University alumnus, is one of cycling’s greatest and smartest advocates.
As featured in the documentary “Urbanized” (currently available on Netflix), one of the reasons why we love Mayor Penalosa is for making the point that parking is not a human right. While various rights are afforded to citizens of Colombia in their nation’s constitution, the right to park is not among them. And why does this matter? Well, if transportation administrations are trying to come up with ways to restrict traffic, one of the best ways to do so is to limit parking spaces. After all, it’s not the number of people who have cars that’s the chief cause of traffic jams. It’s the number of commutes. If parking spaces are restricted, people would be disinclined to commute by motor vehicle on more and more occasions.
The Bike GPS salutes Mayor Penalosa — who also gave a fantastic TED talk on how buses are democracy in action — for trying to figure out novel ways to restrict commuting by cars. In so doing, he established himself as one of cycling’s greatest political advocates.
Know bike laws! We came across an awesome video made by a New York City cyclist that we wanted to share with our loyal readers. If you’re one of the over 13 million folks who’ve already seen this video, we’re sorry we were a little bit behind in coming across it. We pride ourselves in our timeliness. But not in this case! In any event, in the video, New York City cyclist Casey Neistat is given a ticket for cycling outside of a designated bike lane. Which we at The Bike GPS would like to point out is absolutely not illegal in the five boroughs of New York City. Every lane is a bike lane in New York City! Just because a lane is designated a bike lane doesn’t mean a cyclist can’t bike in a non-bike lane if, for instance, the bike lane is obstructed.
While we at The Bike GPS have great respect for New York City police officers, having lifeguarded with many of their brave members at Jones Beach over the summer months, it frustrates us that a police officer would ticket someone for something that isn’t in any way illegal. Beyond the fact that the ticket was unwarranted, Neistat put together an incredible video — at great personal peril — to share with this police officer and indeed millions of others how it can at times be absolutely impossible to bike exclusively in bike lanes.
Watch as Neistat collides into parked taxis, garbage cans, and so much more. And, of course, watch as he collides into a police car obstructing the bike lane. One of our objectives at The Bike GPS is to advocate for cyclists and to let the world know about laws that protect cyclists. We’d like to salute the maker of this viral video, Casey Neistat, for being a champion of cyclists everywhere — for being our voice — at great personal risk to his body. He wasn’t even wearing a helmet!
And, while you’re here, read about NYC’s Citi Bike.
The much anticipated Three Feet for Safety Act goes into effect across the California landscape on September 16, 2014 and we at The Bike GPS are stoked about it. No pun intended. If you’re not familiar with the Three Feet law taking the books, it mandates that drivers of motor vehicles in California must stay a minimum of three feet away from bicyclists while they’re passing them. A number of folks have asked us over the course of this past year, “But what if three feet isn’t possible? Sometimes, you just don’t have room.” If this is the case, the driver must slow his or her vehicle to a “reasonable and prudent” speed. Also, the driver can only pass the cyclist if such a move will not endanger the cyclist in any way.
According to an article on California’s Three Feet Law in “The Santa Cruz Sentinel,” “Officers who spot drivers too close to bicyclists can cite the driver $35 for a first infraction; drivers who are at fault in injury crashes with bicyclists face $225 tickets, the law states. State law already requires drivers to pass bicyclists only when it’s safe, but the 3-foot rule is more specific.” But as the article goes on to say, “For many bicyclists, the 3-foot rule makes the road rule more tangible, if not necessarily enforceable.”
Cyclists, while the Three Feet Law will soon be the law of the land here in California, we urge you not to try to enforce it yourself. Educate the public when you’re not on your bike. Don’t endanger your life to teach moronic drivers about the law in California. It’s just not worth it. Part of the mission of our business is to advocate on behalf of cyclists. We want all Californians to know that every lane is a bike lane and beginning September 16, 2014, drivers must leave three feet between their cars and cyclists when passing. So start spreading the news!
The Bike GPS mourns the death of one of cycling’s greatest advocates, Robin Williams. While Williams may have been better known as the most gifted comedian of our day, he was also a fierce advocate for the sport of cycling and a regular on his bike on the roads of Marin. If Jay Leno is the car guy, Robin Williams was the bike guy. The man owned hundreds of bicycles.
As Conan O’Brien shared on his late-night show, when he was going through that rough patch on “The Tonight Show,” Robin Williams had a bike delivered to his home. It wasn’t an ordinary bike. It was a crazy, colorful bike. And, as Conan said, that’s exactly the kind of thing Robin would do. As we’ve come to learn, biking made Robin feel good. It cheered him up. It relaxed him. Biking was how he found peace in his lifetime.
The Bike GPS salutes Robin Williams, one of the greatest champions for the sport of cycling and an avid cyclist himself for his many contributions to our sport. We thank him for supporting local bike shops. We thank him for offering money to keep the doors of local bike shops open. We thank him for his friendships with those in the cycling community. The world of cycling has lost a wonderful and most unique voice for our sport. We had the chance to briefly meet him once in Beverly Hills at Bouchon. His bicycle was perched next to his table.
Cycling in groups can pay off big time. When a Volvo follows closely behind a big truck, that Volvo doesn’t have to use as much gas to maintain speed. It’s the laws of physics, right? Well, we’ve long known that if you drag right behind another cyclist, you save energy. In fact, we’ve heard that the energy savings can be as high as 30%. But, as cyclist in the Marina Del Rey Cycle Club points out, much of this had not been quantified until relatively recently — when a study published last year by scientists in Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland came out. These folks apparently used mathematical modeling of the fluid dynamics around pacelines.
According to the summary, as outlined by the MDRCC cyclist, the lead rider gets a 3% boost from the riders behind him or her. Now that’s pretty cool. Who knew it was helping them, too? Maybe they should appreciate it more! When four riders are riding closely, the second rider in the sequence saves 18% energy, while the third rider in sequence saves 24%, and the fourth rider saves 27%. Very interesting! It really pays to go last. So next time you fall behind, just say that you’re smarter, that you’re using mathematical modeling and all. In a six person tandem, the second and third riders get the exact same benefit as in a four-person sequence but the riders behind them get the biggest benefit with savings of 30%, 33%, and 32%!
Oh — but perhaps the coolest finding is that riding behind someone who is big pays dividends. It creates a wake effect. Having a big person ride behind you, too, also is beneficial. So if you see a guy riding 5th in line with a big person ahead of him and a big person behind him, know that this cyclist is a smarty pants.
Hat tip to the Marina Del Rey Cycle Club — and Henry in particular — for this great information on cycling in groups! No wonder they don’t let you drag in Ironman races and such.
“CNN” recently put a piece out entitled “City cycling: Road to fitness, or accident waiting to happen?” written by Lesley Evans Ogden that we wrote a bit about a while back, but it’s such a good piece that we figured we’d further explore some points made. According to the piece (and this is something we’ve long known but it’s always nice to see it confirmed by data), cycling is safer in numbers. Safety improves in cities with respect to bicycle accidents as the total number of cyclists increases. This correlation has been studied in Denmark, Australia, the Netherlands, 14 additional European nations, and 68 cities in California. Who knew there were so many cities in California?
According to the “CNN” piece on city cycling, “‘It is likely that causation runs in both directions: safer cycling encourages more cycling, and more cycling encourages greater safety,’ writes John Pucher, Professor of Urban Planning at Rutgers University, in his recent book ‘City Cycling.’ Motorist behavior probably contributes to this phenomenon. In places like Copenhagen — where four out of five individuals have access to a bicycle — most drivers are also cyclists, and so are accustomed to sharing public space with bicycles.” We at The Bike GPS happen to agree that the causation runs in both directions.
Have you found it safer to bike with a group as compared to biking on your own? We sure have. We always feel much safer knowing there are other cyclists riding alongside us in cities. Let us know your thoughts on riding with a group in cities vs. riding solo. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
There is a petition going around Los Angeles in the hope of addressing a growing problem — cyclists are getting hit by cars and drivers are fleeing the scene of the accident. 20,000 hit and runs happen annually in the City of Los Angeles. It’s truly an alarming number and of these 20,000 hit and runs, 150 are fatal or severe, and folks who are biking or walking account for 75% of these severe injuries and deaths.
According to the petition on cycling hit and runs, “While other crime rates in the City of L.A. have fallen over the past several decades, hit-and-runs have held steady or increased. If you are hit and severely injured or killed while walking or biking, there’s a greater than 1 in 5 chance that the driver will not stop. In February 2013, a motorist hit Damian Kevitt while he was biking through Griffith Park in L.A., pinned him down, and then dragged him several hundred feet, leading to severe and near-fatal injuries. Hit-and-run victims are often more severely injured or killed during the act of fleeing than from the initial collision. Stopping after a collision saves lives.”
And drivers choose to “run” because they’re likely to get away with the crime! Drunk drivers, in particular, face much lower risk if they leave the scene of the accident, get sober, and turn themselves in should they be identified in the press. And if they do get caught, they often get a slap on the wrist. As stated in the petition, “Los Angeles is at the center of a larger statewide problem that needs to be addressed throughout California. The chance of someone being penalized for a hit-and-run crime, even if the perpetrator is caught, is so low that it is often worth the risk.” Let’s do something about this so that cycling can be safer for all.
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