Archive for the ‘Road Riding’ Category

Safer Streets for Cyclists – take action!

Friday, June 17th, 2011

We are mountain bikers but we too sometimes ride our bikes on the streets. Please help us to support California Bicycle Coalition 3-foot passing legislation.

Senate Bill 910, cosponsored by the California Bicycle Coalition and the City of Los Angeles, would require motorists to give bicyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing from behind under most circumstances.

The California Senate approved SB 910 on June 1. On Monday, June 27, the bill will be up for a vote by the Assembly Transportation Committee. We need bicyclists like you to contact Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, the chair of the committee, by phone, email or fax to let her know why this bill is so important to the safety of all bicyclists on the road!  A file documenting all messages of support for SB 910 accompanies the bill as it moves through the legislative process. This information is read by legislators and their staff and helps make the case for the bill. Your voice definitely counts! The deadline for calling or sending a message is 5 PM Tuesday, June 21.

You can express your support for SB 910 by phone or by email or fax. Click here for more information.

 

 

 

Angeles Crest Highway Open to the Angeles National Forest

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Cyclist and others gather for the ACH highway 2 opening ceremony and press release This morning, June 3, 2011, at 10 a.m. the Angeles Crest Highway was opened to motor traffic, bicycles and pedestrians. It has been closed since the Station Fire of 2009, while numerous repairs were made to the highway. It had been scheduled to open last November, but one of last winter’s heavy storms brought down the hillside onto the newly repaired road. Repairs have been completed on the section between La Canada and Clear Creek. Construction continues on a few sections beyond the Mt. Wilson road junction, but traffic is being flagged through the construction zone.

Caltrans also removed the winter closure of the highway at Islip Saddle. ACH is now open all the way through to Wrightwood.

Dozens of cyclists were among the first to pass the ceremonially opened gate, just outside the Angeles National Forest border. CORBA volunteers Steve Messer, Mike and Robin McGuire were also on hand, and took the opportunity to do some trailwork along the Grizzly Flat fire road after climbing Mt. Lukens.

This has been a much-anticipated day, welcomed by hikers, mountain bikers, and everyone who just wants easier access to the forest.

Angeles Crest Highway 2 openingThe highway opening has come just a few weeks after the May 16 opening of many trails that had been closed due to the Station Fire. A complete list of opened trails can be found in our previous story.

LA Planning Commission Approves Bike Plan

Friday, December 17th, 2010

The City of Los Angeles Planning Commission passed the proposed bike plan yesterday December 15, 2010.  It now goes to the Mayor for 30 days, then to the Transportation Committee of City Council, then to the full Council.  Mark Langton and Steve Messer of CORBA, and Jim Hasenauer of IMBA attended.  Langton and Hasenauer spoke before the Commission.

Of particular interest to mountain bikers is section 3.3 of the plan which focuses on ongoing studies of off-pavement cycling in City parks. Langton and Hasenauer spoke in favor of the section and urged the Commission to keep it intact. Several people affiliated with equestrian or hiking groups spoke in opposition of section 3.3 of the plan. They cited similar, if not the same arguments as in the past—that it is a transportation not a recreation plan; bikes are a threat to public safety; bikes travel too fast; there are many injuries; bikes have adverse environmental impacts; allowing bikes will lead to motorized vehicles on the trails; etc.

Hasenauer commented that the plan didn’t go far enough and that planning staff should have treated mountain bike advocates with the same engagement they gave road advocates.  He asked to also restore the pilot program language of the 1996 plan.  Langton said that the recreation vs. transportation dualism is a false dichotomy and talked about The Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency’s (COSCA) 20-plus years of shared use success. Several members of the LACBC also took time to argue in favor of section 3.3 (click here to see their report).

After the public hearing, staff responded that the plan does not advocate for opening trails to bikes: It advocates for study, inventory, an identification of standards so that a decision about off-pavement cycling in parks would be comprehensive and well-informed; that studies around the country indicate that some trails are feasible for bikes; and that illegal riding was a function of not having any legal places to ride.  Staff concluded that ultimately 3.3 is a “step in the right direction.”

Barbara Romero and Diego Cardoso of the Planning Commission supported keeping section 3.3 in the plan.  Romero asked why the pilot programs were removed and was told “at the request of City Parks.”  Cardoso said the city has a diverse population, including families who ride bikes.  He said that not everyone can afford horses, and for many people “a bicycle is an affordable horse.”

Michael Woo of Planning Commission said he was initially worried about section 3.3, but after hearing staff’s recommendations is now more comfortable with it.

The Plan including section 3.3 passed unanimously.

The Mayor’s office will now have 30 days to review the plan before it is passed to the transportation committee, and ultimately the full City Council.

Off-pavement advocates’ next steps are to ensure that section 3.3 stays in the plan. When the plan is passed, it will be imperative that the Department of Recreation and Parks includes the study process in their work plan.

Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa Announces Aug. 16 As Date For City ‘Bike Summit’

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

From LAWeekly

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced on Tuesday that his aforementioned “Bike Summit” would happen Aug. 16 (from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the board room of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, One Gateway Plaza, downtown).

Bike activists, city officials, transportation planners and police will discuss a 1,600-mile city bike path plan, police enforcement of traffic laws as it concerns cyclists and integration of “bike ways” with the area’s bus and rail network, according to the mayor’s office. Mountain biking is illegal on unpaved roads and trails in all LA City parks.

“Let’s get together and talk about what we need to do to make the streets safer for cyclists,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “Whether you depend on your bike for commuting or just take it out for fun, I invite you to come to the Bike Summit to talk about your experiences and learn about what we’re doing in Los Angeles to make streets safer for everyone.

Mayor Villaraigosa first announced his plans for the Bike Summit in July.

Villaraigosa was famously involved in a bike-versus-cab accident earlier this month that left him with a broken elbow and newfound respect for cyclists’ rights.

Angeles Crest Highway closures cause confusion and frustration

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

From the Los Angeles Times  

Hundreds of hikers and bicyclists have been spotted in areas closed for construction. Some are genuinely unaware of the roadblocks along the popular trails, while others trespass out of defiance.  

With a small day pack strapped to his back, Scott Groves set out from his home in Pasadena to the foot of the Mt. Wilson Trail in Sierra Madre. He climbed seven miles to the top of the mountain and then proceeded down Mt. Wilson Road before happening upon the closed portion of Angeles Crest Highway.  

About 20 miles of the 66-mile Angeles Crest Highway is closed for construction. The $16.5 million in road repairs is expected to be completed in November. (Raul Roa, La Canada / July 6, 2010)

“It wasn’t even on my radar that this was closed,” Groves said as he stopped to fill his water pouch near the intersection of Angeles Crest and Angeles Forest highways. “I had read that it was clear to come up from the Palmdale side, so I figured everything here was cool.” 

About 20 miles of the 66-mile Angeles Crest Highway, from La Cañada Flintridge to Mt. Wilson Road and 25% of the Angeles National Forest remain off-limits to the public as construction crews rebuild pieces of the route that winter storms caused to wash out. The $16.5 million in repairs, contracted out to Thousand Oaks-based Burns Pacific Construction, is expected to be completed in November.  

Meanwhile, the closures continue to frustrate and confuse those seeking to access some of the most popular portions of the San Gabriel Mountains. Hundreds of motorcyclists, bicyclists and hikers have been spotted in restricted areas, according to officials from the California Department of Transportation and U.S. Forest Service. Some of the trespassing seems to be due to genuine misunderstanding about the status of different portions of the road and forest.  

In late June, Caltrans Public Information Officer Patrick Chandler intercepted a dozen members of a family setting off on a hike.  

“They parked at Angeles Forest Highway where it meets Angeles Crest and walked up to the closure and were going to go down to Switzer Falls,” Chandler said.  

He had to explain to the family that the popular trail was closed. But hikers have not been alone in their confusion: Road repair workers reported that Los Angeles County public safety personnel have attempted to respond to emergency calls by traveling north on Angeles Crest Highway, only to hit roadblocks.  

Los Angeles County Fire Battalion Chief Mitch Brookhyser confirmed one such incident. On May 31, units from La Cañada Flintridge’s Station No. 82 responded to a call of a motorcycle that had gone off the side of Angeles Crest, Brookhyser said. The responders were forced to stop at a locked gate. The call was canceled minutes later, he said.  

Many of those entering closed portions of the highway and forest, however, are doing so with overt disregard for clearly posted signs, Chandler said. A Las Vegas motorcycle crew posted on its blog a dozen photos of members circumventing closures and being cited by the California Highway Patrol during an outing in May.  

And on a recent afternoon, Jim Blake, a Lake View Terrace resident and avid bicyclist, stopped to watch workers repair a 200-foot-deep washout near Brown Canyon — the largest of the two dozen damaged spots. He had pedaled 27 miles, traveling on Big Tujunga Canyon Road, Angeles Forest Highway and Angeles Crest Highway.  

“Big Tujunga Canyon was open,” Blake said. “Then they had some signs on Angeles Forest Highway that it was closed ahead, but cars could go through. At Angeles Crest Highway they had a gate, but I could get through there.”  

He enjoyed having the road to himself, Blake said, although he did have to steer clear of a couple of dump trucks.

New Thousand Oaks bike path will create a shortcut under 23 freeway

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

From the Thousand Oaks Acorn

A new 1.2-mile bike path in Thousand Oaks is slowly taking shape.

The contractor has until March 2011 to finish the $1 million Conejo Creek Park Bicycle Path but may get it done by the end of the year, said city public works engineer Christopher Lynch. It will take three months to have a 20-foot-long by 10-foot-wide pedestrian footbridge made.

“The construction is 100 percent funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds,” Lynch said.

The 12-foot-wide bike path will begin at the intersection of Janss Road on Conejo Valley Unified School District headquarters’ property and proceed south through Conejo Creek Park South.

That park is usually for soccer and is the location of Conejo Valley Days in the spring.

The path will continue under the 23 Freeway, carving a shortcut to where Gainsborough Road dead ends.

Getting from the beginning of the path where it terminates at the end of the path by city streets would cover 2.5 miles, Lynch said.

The shortcut will help active people get to the teen center, the senior center, the library and Conejo Creek Parks north and south more easily. The path will be made of asphalt, the same material found on many city streets.

“It’s a bike path, but in reality people will be walking on it too, and pushing strollers, using (inline skates) or jogging,” Lynch said.

Conejo Recreation and Park District and the school district are partnering with the city by allowing the path to be on their property. The city is paying the costs and managing the construction, Lynch said.

The park district may someday add a horse path beside the bike path.

Currently the city has a total of 1.2 miles of bike paths, so the new route will double that figure. There are a long-range plans to build more paths, Lynch said.

A future bike path could be constructed from Willow Lane to Haaland Drive, near the city’s transportation center on Rolling Oaks Drive off Rancho Road. That path would be hilly, as it cuts through the California Department of Transportation right of way, but it would shorten the distance for bicycle riders.

The $148,000 design costs for the Conejo Creek Park Bicycle Path were paid with city funds and $16,000 from a federal Congestion Management and Air Quality grant.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant was for $1.3 million. Total costs for construction are $1.07 million The remaining $229,641 of the grant will be used for street repair.

“Ride of Silence” to be May 19th

Friday, May 14th, 2010

From the Thousand Oaks Acorn

The Conejo Valley Cyclists and the city of Thousand Oaks invite all concerned cyclists to participate in the third annual memorial “Ride of Silence” on Wed., May 19.

Preparation begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Bank of America parking lot, west of Sears and Janss Marketplace at the northwest corner of Hillcrest Drive and Wilbur Road.

The ride begins at 7 p.m. The local ride is in memory of bicyclists Glenn Garvin, who was killed two years ago, and Mike Mikel, who was killed last year, both in Thousand Oaks.

The Ride of Silence acknowledges the deaths or injuries of cyclists involving bikes and motor vehicles. It involves a short 10- mile ride at a slow 12-mph pace to honor more than 600 cyclists who die each year on public streets.

The Ride of Silence is also occurring throughout North America and internationally. Helmets are mandatory and lights are recommended.

For details, see the official Ride of Silence webpage, http://www.rideofsilence.org/, or the CVC page at http://www.cvcbike.org/.

Amgen Tour of California Concludes May 23, 2010 in the Conejo Valley

Friday, April 16th, 2010
Route for the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California

Route for the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California

The Amgen Tour of California, a breathtaking 8-day cycling event covering California from north to south, is staging the final leg of its race in the Conejo Valley. Similar to the Tour de France, the Amgen Tour of California is known as the “greatest professional cycling event in North America.” The Cities of Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks, and Westlake Village have partnered to host Stage Eight of the thrilling race plus related events on Sunday, May 23 2010.

The Course: Beginning at The Oaks Shopping Center in Thousand Oaks, the race moves along Thousand Oaks Boulevard to Hampshire Road and enters into Westlake Village on Lakeview Canyon Road from Townsgate Road. The course continues down Agoura Road passing Westlake Village City Hall and into Agoura Hills. The riders then begin a 20-mile stretch, ascending more than 1,800 feet through the Santa Monica Mountains, including the famous “Rockstore Climb.” The fan-friendly course follows this circuit four times, for a total of 80 miles, giving residents several chances to see the action “up close and personal.”

The Finish Line and a Lifestyle Festival are located on Village Glen Road, near the Hyatt Westlake. Street closures to accommodate the many activities are planned; residents can bike, walk, or shuttle to the festivities with their families.

Organizers forecast large crowds for the entire weekend. Local hotels, shops and restaurants can expect heightened business, and streets will see an increase in foot and cyclist traffic. City officials are working closely with organizers to reduce traffic impacts. Traffic plans and closures will be announced prior to the event, however, delays when traveling in and around the race route area may occur.

This is a fantastic opportunity for people to experience the largest professional cycling event in North America. For more information on the event, including related local activities and a video of the race route, or to volunteer to help with the race, visit http://www.amgentourconejo.org.

Mexico City bicycle program pedals uphill

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Officials in Mexico’s capital have parked bikes in key areas and, for a fee, made them available to commuters in hopes of making a dent in the city’s aggressive car culture and improving the air.

The Ecobici program parks bikes in key spots in the capital for the use of commuters who pay an annual fee.

From the Los Angeles Times

 Take a vast, teeming megalopolis where the car is king, bicycle paths are few and motorists often seem determined to mow down anyone not tucked behind a steering wheel.

Now try talking residents into pedaling to work every day to help the environment.

That’s the task facing Mexico City officials, who have parked hundreds of bikes in busy neighborhoods in hopes of getting people to avoid cars and instead bicycle to the office, class or a lunch date.

The new project, called Ecobici, is modeled on bike-lending programs in such cities as Barcelona, Spain; Paris; and Copenhagen. Planners hope that by saturating certain Mexico City neighborhoods with the three-speed bikes, they can persuade residents to consider making cycling at least part of their daily commute.

Ecobici users pay a $24 yearly registration fee and get a membership card, which they can swipe across an electronic reader at any station to release a bicycle. Riders have free use for up to 30 minutes and are charged up to $3 an hour for longer intervals.

Yet it’s hard to envision a steeper road for bike commuting than chaotic, smoggy Mexico City, where 4 million vehicles joust for position and — this may sound familiar to Angelenos — many residents view riding the bus or subway as about as likely as space travel.

“A lot of people said, ‘You are crazy; bikes in Mexico City?’ But we have visited a lot of cities around the world that did it with success,” said Martha Delgado, environmental secretary for Mexico City’s government. “We have beautiful weather here. We need to recover space. We need to improve air quality.”

 So far, city officials have placed 1,100 bikes at 85 stations in several busy neighborhoods near downtown. The areas were chosen as promising proving grounds because they boast a mix of residences and businesses.

The sturdy-looking red-and-white bikes, outfitted with a headlight and rack for belongings, also are sprinkled along the city’s premier boulevard, Paseo de la Reforma. The bikes and equipment cost $6 million.

About 2,600 people have signed up, far from the eventual target of 24,000. But use is picking up, officials say.

On a recent day, Ivan Lemale, a 21-year-old student, pedaled one of the city-provided bikes along a tree-shaded boulevard in the La Condesa neighborhood as he headed to an appointment.

Lemale, a self-described environmentalist, said he was among the first to join when the program began in February. He said he has used the service regularly for short trips around the urban center.

Moments earlier, an aggressive taxi driver had nearly plowed into him on the busy avenue. But Lemale was looking on the bright side.

“Bicycles and cars can coexist very well. The only thing is respect,” he said. “That is the solution.”

The idea isn’t fun, but function. Mexico City leaders see bike borrowing as a key link in a public transportation chain that includes the 4-decade-old subway and a 5-year-old express bus system, called Metrobus, which operates on 24 miles of dedicated lanes.

The sprawling capital is too big to pedal from one end to the other on a daily basis. But officials hope commuters use the bikes for the first or last leg of their journeys, making it easier to rely on public transportation rather than driving or taking a taxi.

In a city that adds 250,000 vehicles to the streets each year, the goal of Ecobici is to increase the share of trips people take by bicycle to 5%, from 1% now. Residents make about 30 million trips a day.

Some people complain that the annual fee is too high. And a lack of information has many others scratching their heads over the rows of shiny bicycles that have popped up where coveted parking spaces used to be.

The biggest barrier to turning capitalinos into bike commuters is what cyclists say is the lack of a bicycling culture here. Though plenty of brave souls get around by bike, motorists often treat cyclists — and pedestrians — as irritants. Bike paths don’t always connect with one another and, in the most crowded areas, are often occupied by cars anyway.

Mexico City officials are trying to alter that thinking.

The government of Mayor Marcelo Ebrard clears traffic from Paseo de la Reforma and other thoroughfares Sunday mornings to make room for cyclists and joggers. The nearly 3-year-old recreational program is popular and has given residents a tempting taste of what a cycling life here might feel like.

In addition, authorities recently issued a new traffic code spelling out riders’ right to share lanes with cars and requiring motorists to slow down when passing bicycles. They envision a day when Mexico City — huge, tumultuous and car-centered — hops on a bike to get places.

“If we want to have a future,” said Delgado, the environmental secretary, “we have to open the door to bikes in Mexico City.”

Cyclists take on one of L.A.’s steepest hills

Monday, March 15th, 2010
Climbing Fargo Street in Echo Park is no easy task. One woman tipped over and tumbled into a bush. Other riders used a zig-zag approach.

At a whopping 33% incline, Fargo Street is one of the sharpest grades in L.A. Many never made it to the top. One man climbed the peak 51 times in a day.  

From the Los Angeles Times  

There are people who sprint with the bulls in Spain, and people who plunge into icy oceans on New Year’s Day.  

Then there are the several dozen men and women who gathered in Echo Park on Sunday morning at the bottom of a beastly hill and looked up. Before them stretched Fargo Street, one of the city’s steepest roads.  

The challenge: to climb it. On a bicycle. Without stopping.  

Some tried and failed. Falls were so common that no one blinked when a woman tipped over halfway up the hill and tumbled violently into a bush on the side of the street.  

But many triumphed. More than half of the 105 people who signed up made it to the top, where they were greeted with cheers and dazzling views of Griffith Park and the Hollywood sign.  

Dan Wyman was one of them.  

His chest was still heaving from the ascent when someone asked him, “Why do you do it?”  

Wyman, 58, raised a hand in the air and said he needed a minute to cool down. “Sorry,” he said. “Nausea is overtaking me.”  

A couple of deep breaths later, he explained: “It’s not something you want to subject your body to. But the feeling when you conquer the hill is so special. You know you can do something no one else can do.”  

Wyman has participated in the Fargo Street Hill Climb almost every year since the inaugural event in 1974, when someone bet bicycle enthusiast Darryl LeVesque $100 that he couldn’t make it up Fargo Street.  

In front of a crowd of about 50 members of the Los Angeles Wheelmen bicycle club, LeVesque and his wife, Carol, got onto a tandem bicycle. As they were preparing for their climb, a man on a track bike made a sudden, unplanned run at the hill and cycled to the top.  

LeVesque, 64, who came to watch Sunday’s ride, said he still harbors resentment. “He was some young punk,” he said. “He stole our thunder.”  

The LeVesques hold the record for first tandem duo to make it to the top, and Carol holds the record for the first woman to make the solo ascent. The record for number of climbs made in one day is 101.  

Kent Karnes was this year’s top finisher, with 51 climbs.  

With a grade of 33%, the street is so steep that the Fire Department and car manufacturers are said to test equipment on it.  

Many people make adjustments to their bicycles, putting cogs as big as pie plates on their back wheel, and tiny chain rings on the pedal cranks, LeVesque said. Riding techniques vary. Some go straight up, while others crisscross their way to the top.  

“You’ve got to watch out for the zig-zaggers and for all the looky-loos on the side,” cyclist Hazziz Ali told Andres Morales, a younger cyclist who was considering making a run at the hill. “The biggest obstacles are the other people.  

“You can’t pace yourself,” Ali, 64, told Morales. “This is a sprint.”  

Morales, 32, couldn’t decide whether he should try the climb. He plans to run in the Los Angeles Marathon next week, and he didn’t want to injure himself before that. Besides, he said, looking up at the sharp incline, “it’s intimidating.”  

“Man, people give too much respect to this hill,” Ali told him. “The truth is, it’s about 1% physical and 99% spiritual.”  

“Yeah,” Morales said. “My old coach said it’s not the size of the body but the size of the heart.”  

When Ali pedaled away to warm up for his second ride, Morales said he had decided to bow out. “I think I’m going to skip it,” he said. “I’m going to ride to the beach.”  

At the bottom of the hill, Bruce Bates and his girlfriend sat on a guardrail, smoking cigarettes in the late-morning sun. Bates, whose bare chest was pink from sunburn, took swigs from a bottle of whiskey and loudly heckled the bicyclists.  

He said he had tried to ride the year before. “Halfway up I said, ‘Nope,’ and fell over backward.’ “  

His girlfriend said she wasn’t crazy enough to attempt the ride.  

“It would take me about three hours to get up the hill,” she said, “and there would be a lot of stopping.”