Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cyclists have a lot riding on L.A. driver's trial

Like many avid cyclists, Rick Wurtz has his share of horror stories from the road.His closest call came as he pedaled along an open highway in Montana and a big rig rushed by within inches of his handlebars, passing so close that the truck's wake blew him off the road.There is little more terrifying to a cyclist than sitting astride 20 pounds of carbon fiber and aluminum when a motorist encased in 2 tons of steel makes a sudden right turn or bumps the riders.

Yet for Wurtz and other cyclists, few episodes have reinforced the dangers as powerfully as last year's crash in which a Brentwood doctor is accused of slamming on the brakes of his car in front of two bike riders, injuring both. One cyclist was propelled face-first into the rear window. The other was sent hurtling to the pavement.

For the last three weeks, the assault trial of Dr. Christopher Thompson has drawn the attention of cyclists nationwide but has especially galvanized the swelling ranks of Los Angeles' tight-knit cycling community, whose members have long felt like second-class citizens in a city in love with its cars.The case is being tried at a time when more people are turning to two wheels for commuting and recreation. Cyclists are asserting their rights as never before. In Los Angeles, advocates are pushing for more bike lanes and other road improvements, a cyclists' bill of rights and more protection from police.

As they demand more respect from motorists, many cyclists see Thompson's trial as a test of the justice system's commitment to protecting the rights of bike riders. They point to the case as an extreme example of what they see all the time: arrogant drivers who either unwittingly or deliberately push bike riders aside.

Full article,0,2835513,full.story

Monday, November 2, 2009

Two webinars on bicycle advocacy

Both of these will be in the MPC large conference room (4th floor of theCity-County Building.) Please let me know if you plan to attend because space is limited.

Nov 12th, 2 - 3 p.m."The Power of 25: Advocacy Strategies for Creating LivableCommunities"
Presented by Pete Lagerway, Senior Transportation Planner, Toole DesignGroup

This Webinar will articulate useful strategies for establishing and running an effective advocacy group in an effort to achieve safer streets and livable communities. Peter Lagerwey, the Seattle Regional Office Director for Toole Design Group and formerly the pedestrian and bicycle program coordinator for the city of Seattle for more than twenty years, will offer his formula for public involvement, demonstrating the effectiveness of 25 organized individuals. The presentation will address the challenges of developing a clear message, creating a work plan, and building and sustaining relationships among diverse communitystakeholders. Mr. Lagerwey has taught courses on pedestrian and bicycle safety inover 200 cities over the past eighteen years. Most recently, he led the effort to create the new Seattle Bicycle Master Plan, a planning document that will be used to guide future improvements to Seattle's bicycle network. He has co-authored articles in the ITE Journal, been interviewed by Tom Brokaw of NBC News and Juan Williams of "Talk of theNation," and is an author of How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety ActionPlan.

Nov 18, 3 - 4 p.m.
Building Political Will for Strong Bike/Walk Programs: Effective Use ofthe "Three-Legged Stool" model in Columbia, Mo.

This webinar will describe how elected officials, local government staff and independent advocates can work together to change the cultureof a community. Each partner in this powerful and stable "three-leggedstool" has its natural areas of strength, and these can be effectively leveraged by coordinating activities such as community outreach, mediaadvocacy, government services, public funding, political support, legislation and others. Columbia, Missouri, where this approach is led by five-term mayor Darwin Hindman, the Columbia/Boone County Departmentof Public Health and Human Services, and the PedNet Coalition, is presented as a case study. Recent successes, such as complete streets legislation, a national model Safe Routes to School program, a $22 million federal Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program grant, and a silver level Bicycle Friendly Communities award, can be attributed to the model.