Road Warrior: Los Angeles Edition

What is it like to bike in a much more hostile environment than New York City?  Conan Nolan reports for NBC TV, Los Angeles:

CONAN NOLAN: It’s just the start of the afternoon rush hour, and the fight begins.

MICHAEL CLARK, BICYCLE COMMUTER:  There is no sense of sharing. I have to battle for my five inches out there while the automobiles are trying to get where they’re going.

NOLAND: It’s a battle for space, and it can get bloody. Clarke has scars from an incident when a driver suddenly cut in front of him. (His was) one of 3,000 bike accidents each year that occur in Los Angeles County alone. There are an average of more than two dozen deaths a year.  But plenty of drivers are frustrated, as well — with bicyclists who, they say, run stop signs or red lights or ride against traffic.

DENISE MCKINNEY, MOTORIST: I just think they should be on the sidewalk. Bikes are for sidewalks, not for streets.

Photo: gbasilio/Flickr

  • And where would Denise have pedestrians go? Only in Parking lots?

  • Bike = vehicle.
    Vehicle goes on street, not sideWALK.

  • Charlie D.

    Have some bicyclists whiz by her at 15 mph on the sidewalk as she’s walking there, and we’ll see what she thinks then.

  • Dan Icolari

    Denise wants the entire roadway reserved for cars. Maybe some of that stems from her nervousness about sharing the roadway; from her fear of hitting a cyclist; from the prospect of having to negotiate not only with other cars, but with other means of transport using the roadway as well.

    Of course her comment is absurd. But what it suggests to me is the need to revise how drivers ed is taught–particularly now that the movement for alternative transportation forms is international and growing.

    Signs and roadway markings are not enough; drivers need to understand they’re no longer kings and queens of the road. Though it will outrage them, they will have to learn to share the street with everybody else–pedestrians included.

  • I don’t think anyone walks on the sidewalks in L.A., Charlie.

  • Look at the picture of him bicycling: no helmet, black clothes.

    If I lived in LA, maybe I would also have a death wish.

  • cb

    His helmet status is not really relevant. I cringe when I see cyclists with no lights at night, but riding in broad daylight with dark clothing and no helmet, to my mind, is no big deal. I stopped being a helmet fanatic after a trip to Copenhagen and Stockholm. I resented having to gird up like a warrior to ride my bike in SF. Now, I wear a helmet or not depending on the ride. Slow cruise to work in work clothing – no helmet. Road ride on the weekend or after work with steep climbs and desents – yes on helmet. After dark in the City to go to a movie or meet friends – always lights and reflective clothing, and sometimes a helmet.

    Also, I find that drivers treat me better when I don’t have helmet on, it’s as if they recognize me as a human. And for much better treatment, wear a skirt (if you’re a woman, for men, wear a tie).

    For those who ride with a child on the bike, do you find cars are nicer?

  • Aaron has a point: so many sidewalks in LA are underutilized. That makes them a perfect example of well-protected bike lanes!

    So all we have to do here in NYC is get all the people off the sidewalks so we can use them for safe cycling space!

    Kidding, of course.

  • keri

    I am sure Aaron is being sarcastic saying nobody walks in LA. While that was a good song back in 1983 or whatever, a lot of peeps are walking in LA today. I only lived there (without a car) for 2 years but I walked (and biked) a lot. I also had a lot of company on the sidewalks, obviously more on the commercial strips, which every neighborhood has. My time in a Persian Jewish West LA nhood with loads of walking on Fri/Sat and well-timed Shabbat ped signals was particularly pleasant. Downtown is full of peds, too. Btw–my old bikesummer pals just pulled off LA bikewinter this month. Also, the LA City Planning Director is great and the city should be doing a pedestrian master plan any day now. The bike master plan update process is rolling. I wish someone would do a streetsblog for LA…also LA has BRT everywhere…hmm, maybe I should move back.

  • paola

    I think LA is GREAT for biking. I biked around for 4 days and nobody honked or bullied me or flipped me off. Not like NY. Streets are huge with lots of room for everyone, and that laid back attitude that’s so annoying on an individual basis makes drivers collectively less stressed out.

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