Hooniverse PSA- LA Bike Week: Spanning the City in Spandex

Los Angeles has always been very auto-centric, its surface crisscrossed with freeways and the general topography being spread across miles and miles of hills, valleys, and ethnic neighborhoods. Despite being engineered with the car in mind as the primary mode of getting from point A to point B, it still takes seemingly forever to get anywhere because there’s just so damn many of us out there driving those cars.
And this week, the city plans to exacerbate that  by throwing a bunch of spindly two wheelers into the mix. That’s because this week is Bike Week in the City of Angels. Usually it’s only weekend mornings that our roads are infested with spandex-wearing two-wheelers clogging the car lanes like swarms of angry yuppies. Now they’re going to be out there on weekdays making the slog to the old nine to five even more of a challenge, and every light post and newspaper machine in town an impromptu bike rack.
There are a number of bike-related events scheduled throughout the week, but two days that you should be particularly prepared for are Wednesday, which is Bike to Work day, and Bike to School Thursday. Bike to work Wednesday will be the worse of the two because not only will scores of Huffiies and Schwinns vie for space with your car on the road to work, but you run the risk of spotting your co-workers changing out of their constraining spandex and into work clothes when visiting the washroom. Yikes.
So, be forewarned should you happen to call LA home – this week might be a little tougher to get around town, and you’ll have to be prepared for the angry looks of bike riders revolted by your lack of participation in their week of wobbly wheels to work. If, perchance you want to participate, you can find a good source of event info at Streetsblog Los Angeles. Otherwise, this might be a good week to call in sick.
Image source: [monkeybar73 via Flickr]

0 Comments

  1. By the rest of polite society do you mean all the drivers who always obey the posted speed limit, always indicate when changing lanes, come to a full stop at stop signs, don't burn yellow lights, don't use their horn except to warn others of danger, stop for pedestrians and pedestrian crossings, etc.?
    C'mon seriously, just like drivers there's a minority of crazy cyclists who don't look out for their own or other's safety but the vast majority of us (driver and cyclists) bend the rules a bit when it's safe to do so but don't harm anybody.
    Next time you are stuck in traffic look in front of you, what do you see? A car. Look behind you, what do you see? A car. Know what this means? You aren't stuck in traffic, you are traffic.
    Each cyclist you see is one less car blocking up the roads for you.

    1. Usually what I see in front of me is a crosswalk, because I ride a motorcycle whenever possible and can filter up to the front of the line. 😉
      I agree that there are idiots in every group, but that small and very visible minority is what gives the majority a bad name. One big pack of brightly-colored spandex riding side by side, blocking up a lane on a busy street just so they can socialize with one another is not smart or safe but it's a very common sight around here.

  2. It's a whole class of people that I really don't want to have to deal with. They think traffic laws don't apply to them. Jackasses!

    1. Ya know, it's funny, but there are a lot of jackass car drivers, too, and I've never heard a car driver refer to the "whole class" of car drivers as "jackasses."
      Yea, think about it. We'll come back later.

      1. This. There are quite a few cyclists who are total lawbreaking, self-endangering pricks, but they're only a vocal minority.

        1. Maybe I just pay more attention to the bikes, but around here it does seem that a higher percentage of cyclists blow though stop signs, etc. I'm not saying cars don't do this too. Considering cars far outnumber bikes, I seem to at least notice a much higher percentage of cyclists disobeying the traffic laws, at least things like come to a complete stop at the stop sign and don't go until the light turns green. If you count cars doing things like speeding or not using turn signals, then it might be a different story.

          1. not that ignorance is an excuse, But I didn't learn that bikes had to follow the same traffic rules as cars until I got cited for it in Cambridge, Ma. Also, don't you DARE to ride your bike on the sidewalk in Cambridge, Ma. Even if there are no peds on the sidewalk, the police take it wicked seriously

          2. I won't pretend I don't roll stop signs at <5 MPH if they're on an uphill slope, after looking, of course – but I stop at lights, stay on the outer edge of my lane on two-lane roads, and even stop for pedestrians. Safety first, conservation of momentum second, all other concerns far behind.

          3. I do appreciate considerate cyclists, but either the rules of the road apply to bicycles or they don't. If I roll my car through a stop sign and get caught I get a ticket. I've seen other cars get a ticket for this. I've NEVER seen a bicycle stopped for anything around here. Also, if I am in a car or on a motorcycle I can't just pass everybody to be first in line at the light, I don't think I have ever seen a bicycle NOT do this. If you want to be treated like a vehicle while riding a bicycle, play by ALL the same rules as other vehicles.

          4. I'm with you. I won't roll a stop sign unless there's very clearly nobody anywhere near coming – in a car or on a bicycle. I almost always stop either way, and would accept a citation in either case if I was caught – just as I'd expect someone else to if they ran a stop sign in front of me.
            As far as lane splitting is concerned, its legality depends on your jurisdiction. In some states it's blatantly illegal; in others it's lawful (neither prohibited nor allowed). It's legal in Japan and much of Europe, where things are denser on average, as well as the state of California. Its safety depends on road conditions – alongside parked cars, it's generally stupid because of the hazard of opening doors; where fast-moving traffic may approach from behind, it's probably safer due to the narrower profile of a bicycle/motorcycle and rider compared to a car. The largest issue is that most Americans aren't used to the practice and are therefore less likely to look before they merge for a two-wheeled vehicle sneaking past.

          5. I guess I am referring more to filtering forward. I just checked the Georgia code and it looks like it is illegal here. At least the vehicle code doesn't make an exception for bicycles in this area, and it is illegal for motorcycles. Almost every bicycle I see does it though. It usually just results in the same vehicles just making yet another dangerous pass of the same bikes. If it was legal I guess I could tolerate it, but I just see it as "breaking in line" and rude. Unfortunately I don't respond well to rude behavior.

          6. With bicycles, I'm okay with it provided they keep to the outside of the lane they're in, and the outside lane (if applicable) so that traffic isn't held up. I know when I ride I usually pull to the edge, sometimes alongside the right rear flank of the car ahead, so that I can avoid being struck from behind without risking someone turning right and taking me out.
            Motorcycles… just be quick and out of the way about it. In either case, it really depends on whether it gets the biker out of everyone's way and to his/her destination quicker (good) or whether it puts them at risk and holds up traffic (bad).
            And yes, it's filtering when it's at a light/intersection. I didn't remember the term when I posted and knew it'd be in the article anyway. To me that's less dangerous and more justified than lane splitting on the highway, but I'm no traffic engineer.

  3. I started biking to work a few days a week several years ago because traffic was so bad. It would take me the better part of an hour to drive and about the same to bike. Add a shower in the office locker room and it does take a little more time than just driving but it's worth it.

  4. It's called Bike To Work Week here in Flagstaff, and there's a huge competition amongst all the businesses in six different divisions ranging from the big multinationals like Purina and W.L. Gore to the little Ma and Pop's based on # of employees. The prize for each division is a really super nice Cruiser/One Speed that is intended to be used by that company for local errands, and the criteria for awarding it is based on percentage of employees participating over the entire week, not just Bike To Work Day, with the tie-breaker being Total Miles Ridden.
    The company I used to work for until recently has won it the last two years in it's category (15-30 employees), but that's only because the company that won it the previous five years in a row quit making it Mandatory for every employee to ride their bike every single day not only because it crushed morale, but they were running out of room to park all the bikes they won.

  5. We get a lot of bicycle riders around here in the winter, riding in big groups along the two lane highways between the widely scattered towns here in Southern Arizona. The only time they irritate me is when they ride in a big cluster in the middle of the lane, and you can't pass because it's a hill or curve. That's just plain rude. Makes me want to scatter a bunch of thumbtacks when I do get to pass the rolling roadblock.

    1. Up until this year, around the end of April they had the La Vuelta de Bisbee, the biggest bike race in AZ and a major qualifier for the bigger stage races and for the Nationals, which in an Olympic year pretty much determines who makes the team. Teams would come from all over to train because of the weather and because there wasn't anything else going on until the Tour of the Gila in May. As a semi-pro racer who used to ride with those guys back in the Eighties, I can confirm that many of them were total douche bags, especially the guys that insisted on riding out in traffic when there was absolutely no need to, or indeed any benefit. I also know you well enough to know that when you say, "…..wanted to….., you definitely weren't going to. Back to + 1.

  6. Bike week is only seven (or perhaps five) days.
    Two-wheel Tuesday happens 52 times per year.

  7. Well, if people in cars were a little less eager to run them off the road, they might feel more obligation to play nice.

    1. We've got dedicated motorcycle parking at the bar that the company I work for owns. The bikers love it, it makes it easy for them to keep an eye on their bikes. It's good for business.

    1. I kept saying to myself: "I won't comment on this article, I won't comment on this article" I'm trying REALLY hard to be nice and not go off on my whole anti-bike rant.

      1. Everybody play nice. Try not to break your pace, and try equally not to break anybody else's.

  8. Anyone who thinks it's cool to eff with a cyclist is a real D-bag. Find something positive to do with your life and stop punishing other legal forms of traffic with your insecurity.
    And, yeah, I noticed you looking at my huge bulge.

  9. Sometimes I have to take the center of my lane for safety. For example there is a pot hole and storm sewer grate 1-2 punch shortly before a stop sign where I make a left turn on my commute home. I don't feel too bad about that place though since the cars should slow down for the stop sign anyway. Also at an intersection with a light on my way too and from work, if nothing is coming I get going while there are still reds at all lights. The reason is again for safety, I don't want the guy in a car clobbering me making a right turn. when it turns green, I already want to be clear if I can.

    1. You're doing it right. Safety is paramount, but you're also aware and considering others around you. You wouldn't blow that red light past a line of stopped cars and through cross traffic would you? I've watched that happen in my neighborhood.
      Having been a cyclist, motorcyclist, and driver for many years, i have perspective from each of those sides. There are idiots in all camps, but the "pedal out and meet Jesus" cyclists are the ones that 1) give cyclists in general a bad name and 2) are frequently the ones that get hit and then wonder why.

  10. And all the gas they're saving just means more for awesome, not-strictly-for-commuting cars!
    But the infrastructure needs to be there. We can advocate for a bike-centric city, but there has to be parking posts, locks, bike roads, bike traffic directions, bike laws and enforcements, adverse-weather ability, etc. I'd love to bike to school (and for the stuff I carry sometimes I can justify a ute-like bike, which would be awesome), but it's just not practical as it stands.

    1. It's definitely a slow process, though I think a couple of city administrations in a row can get much of the hard lifting done in most cities. Still, yeah, more like fifteen or twenty years to really change practices and help make the kind of decision you describe easier. And it works best if the city also dramatically expands public transportation and is plugged into good intercity rail. Dirty euro socialism talking? I don't think so, I think it's just the most effective policy to make large cities work efficiently and keep them economically competitive. It's perilous not to do it.

      1. But- but – but if we let them put light rail in near our neighborhood, that'll let all the POOR PEOPLE come in and RUIN it!
        …Sorry, just channeling the local NIMBY contingent for a second there.

        1. Where I live, light rail forces out the poor people because they just take the bus.

  11. I have no problem with this program, and no problem with bicyclists. But what I have a problem with is those elitest asshole bicyclists who act like complete dicks and block traffic and etc. on PURPOSE, like that Critical Mass bullshit.

    1. I was walking back from work during a Critical Mass and there were bikers all over the road. A family was trying to cross at a cross walk and wasn't having much luck as no bikers were stopping. The dad walks in front of the bikers and puts his hand up to get his family across, and some of the bikers stop, but most don't. The ones that did not stop, started yelling "F you! Get outta the road! This is our road now!" Terrible.

  12. As a non-cyclist whose car has about as much of a visual profile as a bicycle, I don't have a dog in this fight and I do have some sympathy for cyclists. However, I do have a story to relate!
    Last summer I worked at the main office of a smallish business in a college town with an avid cycling community. Also in this office were the company CFO (a BMW enthusiast who brokered cars on the side, and believed all road-clogging bicyclists were the spawn of Satan) and the company attorney (an avid bicyclist who rode to work every day clad in spandex and probably fantasized about slapping magnetic pipe bombs on any automobile that crowded the bike lane). The two got along decently, but rather studiously avoided any discussion of cars sharing the road with bicycles, so as to preserve office harmony…
    …Until one day, when the attorney showed up for worked late and angry. As it happened, traffic had been unusually light that morning, and the attorney had approached an empty intersection and decided that, since it was clear, he wasn't going to stop at the white line. Unfortunately for him, there was a police officer parked in the shadows near that intersection, and the department is keenly aware of how traffic laws apply to bikes.
    The discussion around the office was brief and cordial, but for the rest of the week the schadenfreude coming out of the CFO's office was so thick you could practically swim through it.

  13. As a avid cyclist, motorcyclist and car owner got to say i feel sorry for those that go on rants about cyclist.
    You are taking yourself way to serious if you think you do not have the couple seconds to spare that it takes to pass a bicycle in a safe manner.
    Yeah there are douchy cyclist that do not obey traffic laws. Alot of these bikers that i know personally are probably acting the same manner when there driving there cars.

    1. A bicycle isn't the problem. The problem comes in with large packs of dozens of bicycles. Especially those that insist on riding in large packs at peak commuting hours on roads used by commuters that don't have bicycle lanes. These aren't guys going back and forth to work either.
      Imagine you drive the highway home from work everyday, the speed limit on the express way is 70mph and you usually get to go that speed. How would you feel if the local AARP chapter decides to do a group drive in their Avalons and Buicks at 45 mph and block most lanes? They are obeying the law. The minimum speed limit on an interstates is 45mph. You would be pretty frustrated if you got caught behind them with a line of a couple of dozen or more cars. You might even go off on a rant.
      (Still trying really hard to be nice and civil.)

      1. Of course, if I recall correctly, there are laws on the books requiring slow traffic to pull over after a certain number of cars are held up, at least here in New Hampshire.
        And the left lane on expressways, unless there's a left-lane exit upcoming, is intended exclusively for passing, though this isn't enforced often enough. Your point's a good one, though – if bicycles can't manage the speed limit on a given road, they ought to go single-file on the edge of the lane to let cars go past if it's safe to do so.

      2. And how often do you really get trapped behind a group ride?! Once a minute, hour, day? Howsabout once a year?
        Yeah, you're angry for no reason. Try taking a look at all the times you inconvenience someone else before you direct your hostility toward a completely unarmed cyclist.
        And keep in mind that they're used to having things thrown at them, being buzzed (near-grazing), honked, and screamed at CONSTANTLY. I wouldn't be surprised if they're tired of your abuse.

        1. See my other comment, once a week if I leave work on time on Tuesdays when the weather is warm, some Thursdays too.
          Also, it would go a long way if cyclists would obey ALL the rules of the road ALL the time. There is NOT an exception in the law: to ride 4-5 abreast at stop lights, start before the light turns green, pass all the cars that just passed you when you come up to a light so they just have to pass you yet again, etc. If you want to be treated with the same respect as any other vehicle, act like any other vehicle. I would get mad if you drove your car 20mph under the speed limit, blew though a stop sign, or passed me to get in front of me at a light too. I discriminate on the behavior, not the bicycles.
          I'm sure I inconvenience other people sometimes, but I try very hard not to do so. Cyclists seem to take a smug pride in inconveniencing everyone else.

          1. I can see your point. There are some really annoying cyclists out there, they bug me too. I wish you would write use some modifier like that, I swear most of them try to be polite like me. And yes I do violate traffic laws on my bike, probably every time. But I try to be safe first and considerate. I've messed-up though, and I try and use those as learning experiences. It helps to to ride to see where there might be a fuzzy line. Like those guys that rightfully bother you on your commute. They bug me too, what really gets me about them is when they blow through stop signs and one will stop in the intersection. Trying to get law on his side, like he's a pedestrian at that point, grrrrr. But for example when I come to a red light, I do work my way carefully forward. Like I wrote earlier, it makes a whole lot of sense for me to be in front where cars can see me, where I can get going right away so that they do not hit me making a right turn, and also I'm out of there before they get a green light even so I am not holding them back (assuming someone is not racing a red from either side). Anyway, I sorry those guys bug you, we're not all like them, I wish I could offer some suggestion, maybe talk to the police that have jurisdiction there and they can stop the pack sometime? I don't know.

  14. You are missing the damn point. Those bikers are all cars off the road! How can you complain about that? You really think there's going to be packs of cyclists clogging your commute? I live in LA, will let you know, but I doubt it… I actually am seriously considering getting a motorcycle just to make my commute more bearable. I would bike if I could. And I actually like to drive more than ride a bike, but commuting in LA aint driving.

    1. If I leave at the right time on Tuesdays there IS a pack of cyclist clogging my commute. It is a group ride organized by a local gym that seems to think 5:30pm on a Tuesday is a good time to ride on busy roads with no bike lanes. I've learned to leave a little later, it keeps my blood pressure down.
      I don't live in LA either.

    2. Not everyone can get comfortable with filtering and lane splitting, but if you can, I highly recommend it. Rain is like a liquid lobotomy for SoCal drivers, so I'd still drive (or telecommute) on those few really bad days. I commuted Orange County to the South Bay for about 10 years, 15-18K miles a year.

  15. We humans built roads to get from one place to another long before there were cars. Some of the early lobbying to get roads paved came from cycling groups. I live about 4 miles from my work and ride a bicycle to work quite often. I also enjoy driving my car and respect the fact that I share the road not just with other cars, but with trucks, tractors, combines, the occational equistrian and, yes, bicycles. It's a road, not a slot car track.
    As far as the argument that you shouldn't be using the public roads for your recreation, be careful what you wish for. I admit that I tend to avoid the "lunch rides" primarily because I don't like those large packs too and they DO sometimes act less than considerate. But if we say that you can only ride on the road if you're commuting, then we should outlaw towing your boat to the lake too. Or driving to the pub to watch the football game. Only serious use of the public roads please.
    So by all means call in sick this week if cyclists bug you that much. We'll all be happier.

  16. Another avid cyclist and car freak combo here. I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves both modes of transport. To be blunt, I didn't like the thinly-veiled anti-bicycle tone of this article at all, but I am generally happy with the comments that have followed thus far, not the usual hate fest that I see on other gearhead sites when bicycles are mentioned.
    My two cents on the subject that apply equally to motorists and cyclists… emphasis on equally:
    1) Any time you're on the road, the No Jerk Rule applies. Leave your attitude at home… lives are at stake.
    2) Be consistent and predictable. Don't make me guess what you're going to do next.
    3) Go with the flow. Don't impede someone else's movement unless you absolutely have to.
    4) Would it really kill you to wait? To slow down or stop for a second or two? A little courtesy goes a long way.
    I could go on, but those are the big ones in my book.

  17. As a Truck-Driver and cyclist, one thing that the League of American Wheelmen has advocated forever that astonishes both camps is the removal of all bike-lanes. If you ride very much you realize pretty quick that all the crap that's on the Road gets shucked off into the bike lane by all the Cars-Trucks-Buses, but those lines mean that it'll never make it over to the curb/shoulder. This makes a cyclist want to "ride the paint' (the innermost white line) not only because the painted line offers less rolling resistance but there's a whole lot less shit there. This pisses people off because, "Godddam, he's got his own f*cking lane there, but he has to ride in mine, too?"
    Ideally, a single White Line would be all the way at the the curb/sidewalk/shoulder and the lanes would just be wider (Slower Traffic Keep Right!), and there wouldn't be all this hate about staying in your lane and then having to make a Left (He's Out of His Lane, Bowser! Hit Him, Hit Him!) A bike lane is segregationalist, and not in a good way.

    1. There's a bike lane on the most direct route to the theater where I live. I avoid it ever since I rode it once. Not only was there broken glass all over it, there were cars street parked on the right of it! There were signs not allowing cars to park on the other side of the road though. It made no sense, I had to watch out for crud on the pavement, cars on my left and right, and kids could jump out from between parked cars or a driver could open a car door right into me. So I end-up taking a loop though a subdivision to avoid that bike path. In the place I used to live, there was a bike path that got separated from the road for a bit, so then you had to cross driveways where people had evergreens blocking visibility and the worst you had to cross the street where cars making right turns would not expect you. I'd ride in the street there going out on the first drive-way. Sometimes the people that plan neighborhoods because they are not cyclists think they are making things better and then really they make them worse.

  18. I get so fed up picking cyclists out of the grille of my Bentley every time I drive in London.
    I keed, I keed.
    I was a keen cyclist, very keen. And then I got my driving license, and the poor old Raleigh Dakota was sentanced to hang from the garage roof. However, in my new, post-30, healthy-living, look-after-yourself frame of mind, it may well be coming out of retirement.
    Right after I've done the cambelt on the old Rover, and carried out the KO4 turbo upgrade on the Audi.
    Priorities, priorities.

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