WeHo says: Sharing is good!

The L.A. Times reports that West Hollywood is struggling with what to do with bikers who have no bike lanes to ride in, or where the congestion is so dangerous that they prefer to ride on sidewalks.

WeHo is thinking is that the bikers share the sidewalk with pedestrians.

Bicyclists sharing walkways with pedestrians will be required to be careful — and courteous to senior citizens and others who have long walked to Santa Monica and Sunset boulevards to shop and dine.

Local traffic laws and the state’s vehicle code have traditionally lumped bicycles into the same category as motorized vehicles, meaning they must be ridden on streets, not sidewalks. An exception is Los Angeles, where only willfully careless bike riding is prohibited on sidewalks.

But bicyclists in West Hollywood have complained that traffic congestion and narrow roadways in some areas make it dangerous to ride in the street. [full story]

I’m sure that bikers and pedestrians alike will have plenty to say about this.

14 Replies to “WeHo says: Sharing is good!”

  1. BIKES ON THE STREETS, DAMMIT.

    I swear to god if I enounter one more motorist who thinks bikes belong on the sidewalks I’m gonna pop.

    Certainly I’m not going to fault any cyclist from taking to the sidewalks if that’s the limit of their comfort zone. I would rather see them able to legally ride to get to and from an errand that they’d otherwise resort to driving to because they perceive the roadways as too dangerous.

    But ultimately, making West Hollywood sidewalks available to bikes is just a whole lotta not much that doesn’t require anything to be phyiscally implemented. No wonder that city’s council is all gung ho — because it gives the illusion of progressive change.

    Until the municipalities get together and make the actual streets more accessible for cyclists unwilling to ride them these are just flimsy solutions.

  2. Whoa. Bikes belong on streets now mowing down peds. The cities need to educate drivers to share the road, make it possible for bikes to do so safely with designated lanes and throughfares first.

    Peds have no chance sharing a sidewalk safely with a bike. That idiocy needs to stop fast. Ticket cars that don’t know how to share the road first.

  3. When in Koln, Germany I noticed that there were bike lanes on the right of car parking. It seems to integrating a bike lane into the outside portion of a sidewalk would be the safest way to go. Maybe something like this – http://www.zombiezodiac.com/rob/ped/dublinparis/18a.jpg (this one’s from France, I believe) – where guarded lanes are not possible, maybe taking the time to paint the lanes so they’re actually visible, maybe yellow or something…

    What would the impact of designating certain side residential streets as “resident” traffic only and opening ’em up as bicycle routes during rush and commuting hours?…

  4. I personally don’t see a problem with bikes on sidewalks. Especially since most streets simply don’t allow for bikes and cars to fit in the same lane. I understand people’s safety is at risk, but a douche on a bike that’s gonna mow people down is gonna be the same douche to cut off 3 cars on his bike in the street, causing an accident while he gets away scott free.

    I use the sidewalk more frequently than the street and have NEVER put a ped in danger. It’s their sidewalk, I’m just using it to avoid people trying to put their bluetooth earpiece on while driving.

    AArt-I like the res. street idea!

  5. The biggest improvement in cycling safety would come from driver education. Remind drivers using billboards, radio advertisements, pamphlets in windows, blogs (thank you MB), tv, police enforcement, whatever, that cyclists are allowed to use the street. When you pass a cyclist you are passing a vehicle. When passing a slower vehicle you CHANGE LANES TO PASS. Drivers who drive too close or aggressive around cyclists should be aggressively ticketed. Get some cops on bikes and conduct sting operations where a cop rides down the street and radios ahead the details of any close call. Put it on the news and make sure everyone knows that passing a cyclist unsafely could get you a big ticket.

    It will generate revenue (which the cities like) it’ll make cycling safer (which the future will like). WeHo, just enforce the California Vehicle Code.

    But the problem with every bike lane I’ve ever traveled is they are the width of a car door. So cyclists must ride on the left edge of a bike lane to maintain a safe distance to react to opening doors or avoid the parking tards blocking the bike lane. Then there’s that section of the Venice blvd. bike lane where residents leave their trash cans in the bike lane for collection.

    As for sidewalk riding, I guess it’s OK as long as you’re moving the speed of a jogger so everyone has time to react to the unstructured pedestrian traffic.

    I can maintain 20 MPH and am FAR safer (for myself and others) as part of the relatively predictable (compared to the sidewalk) street traffic.

  6. From reading previous posts about cyclist encounters with law enforcement, somehow I don’t think any sort of pro-cycle policing is in the immediate future – or even the distant future… Also, I don’t have much faith that attempts at education of drivers would prove effective. I’d be extatic if it weren’t so.

  7. AArtVark. First, we (humans) often remember and recount negative experiences more often than the positive, especially when we are seeking change.

    I have probably had equal parts good/bad interactions with cops. The good is never stellar (I mean, what do you expect, cops to stop and help you fix your flat?), but cops are not universally against bikes. I find it’s more the idiot cops who make up the laws as they go along. The cops everyone fears anyway.

    As for education/enforcement not working, I feel you’re talking out of your ass. Or did you miss that whole “hands free cellphone earpiece thing” campaign? Or seatbelt laws. Or the water saving measures of the late 80s, early 90s (wtf, when are those coming back?). You educate, then you enforce. It’s not perfect but increased enforcement and an advertising campaign is way cheaper and politically viable than city wide infrastructure changes. Ideally, we get both. But my pragmatic side says we can gain a lot using tactics that have been used in California before.

  8. Ollie, in conferring with my ass, we are in concurrence that we still see drivers actively clutching their cell phones as they blow through the red left turn arrow at Fairfax & 3rd on a daily basis. My ass reminds me of the conversation we had with a sergeant from LAPD Wilshire division about the fact that he doesn’t have enough officers to actively patrol west of LaBrea as long as they’re tied up with more serious crimes east of there.

    All I’m saying is that hedging one’s bets by implementing safer lanes for bikes can only help. It only takes one door opening or a numbskull swerving as they spill their late in their lap to cause a rider to have a very bad day – reducing the potential for unpleasant interaction doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

    I’m sorry that my ass and I seem to have a gloomy opinion of Los Angeles drivers and the funds available from the city for continuous pro-cycle projects. We’ll try to be more positive in the future.

  9. AArtVark, sorry to offend. trying to be silly :)

    I understand the sentiment that we can’t change driver behavior in a cycling positive way. I just think it’s inaccurate. I believe that the cellphone law will, over the long term, reduce the number of drivers holding cellphones to their ears. Whether or not that makes anyone safer is another question. But we’re eight days in. This will take some time.

    And I’m agreeing with you that it would be SOOOOOOOOO awesome to have a network of safe bike streets. And I think we should move in that direction too. I also want to see better public transit and with that, better accommodation for bikes on it.

    I’m suggesting we not overlook simple, easy to implement and cost effective measures like enforcement of the current laws which can make a difference nowish. At least, the sooner we start the sooner we change behavior. New well thought out bike infrastructure will take lots of planning, impact assessments, and combating the inevitable pockets of neighborhood opposition to the routing of those sweaty cheapskate cyclists (or whatever form it takes). And bike advocates are working on better infrastructure — I’ve heard about organizing focused turning 4th into a bike street (hooray!).

    There are lots of things that can be done and as a commuter cyclist I do want them all now. But considering the obstacles, maybe we can pick the cheap and easy ones first.

  10. No offense taken – you just lobbed that whiffle-ball of “ass” so beautifully and I was kind of bored at the end of the work day so I decided to take my best swat at it with the over sized yellow bat of language…

    Indeed – enforcement and education – those should be easy primary priorities, but taking into account how the city is run – they’d hire an expensive advertising agency to “craft” a message that says, “Don’t hit people on bicycles.” – and not remember to save some money for actually getting the message to the citizens. If someone in government were clever, they would talk to CalArts (or another local university) and have students work on crafting an educational campaign as a class project…

    I do think that the city would cop the “no money” plea when it came to enforcement – the active enforcement of vehicle violations is pretty much non-existent as far as I can tell, with the city preferring to concentrate on subcontracting the cash cow of parking tickets to roaming ghouls in those little white cars. Periodically I do see cops on bicycles at Fairfax & 3rd. It seems that they mostly ride around a one hundred yard stretch on the east side of Fairfax looking for people without seat belts (and now cell phones?) to pull over – they’ll also ticket the occasional jaywalker. But this is maybe once a month, if that. In the actual intersection there is no enforcement of the left turn lights… As an aside – last week I was crossing the street with a friend and an SUV blew through the left turn light and almost lit an old lady that had started across. When a bunch of us started yelling at the idiot – and I shit you not – he took the phone from his right ear and waved it at us as if to say, “Can’t you see I’m busy talking on the phone!”

    I think one of the keys to bettering the cycle situation is just achieving a critical mass of cyclists on a daily basis – what that number might be I don’t know. If our mayor wanted to champion a cause, doing something (for real) to encourage more cycling at a time when gas prices are through the roof could be a winner…

  11. AArtVark, cool.

    Probably (hopefully?) my last post in this post…

    I think the message needs to stop being “share the road” with cyclists. Car drivers are only the de facto owners of road infrastructure. But under the law all vehicles have a right to be there. The message “share the road” reinforces the perception that drivers own the road and that cyclists should be accommodated if you’re feeling generous.

    My perspective is that a bicycle (piloted responsibly) is entitled to the road as much as any car. Drivers don’t “share the road” with other drivers. When a car is using a lane, it is unavailable to the other drivers — no sharing. Cars drive the road until they’re done. Follow behind or go around but there is no sharing.

    I was hauling myself into work at 22mph this morning down a two lane, 35mph road with light traffic. A 20 ft long box truck passed me too closely. By the time the rear of the truck was passing me, it’s side panel was less than a rear view mirror’s length from my shoulder. Any sensible driver passed by a big truck at this distance would be irate.

    As usual, I caught the driver at the next light. I politely told him he passed me too closely and next time, would he please change lanes when passing cyclists. He rolled down his window, awkwardly apologized and drove off. I really hope he listened.

  12. Not only is riding at faster than a jogging pace on a sidewalk dangerous to pedestrians, it’s dangerous to cyclists as well. Driveways are very dangerous if you’re riding your bike on the sidewalk. Cars turning in and out of parking lots and driveways aren’t expecting someone to be cruising along on the sidewalk any faster than a walking pace. So they don’t look as far down the sidewalk as they do the road and won’t notice oncoming bicycles. If a car is baking out of an area they (should) go slow enough to make sure they don’t mow-down any pedestrians who pop out, but they can’t stop soon enough for a bike traveling towards them at 15 mph that they can’t even see until the cyclist is 2 feet away from them.

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