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Mayor's injury brings biking issues to light

July 18, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
It was just before 7 p.m. Saturday evening that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa went down on Venice Boulevard in Mid-City.He was riding his bike between Hervey and Hargis streets when a taxi cut him off.

Villaraigosa slammed on his brakes and flew off his bike, causing him to break his elbow and be rushed to the hospital

Cyclists on Venice Boulevard said it happens all the time.

"They see you going on the lane and they purposely cut you off, like when they're going to make a turn," said bike rider Roy Vandegas. "We just have to react quick, but sometimes you can't react fast and you get into an accident."

But bicycle activist Stephen Box said the mayor's accident is a sign that more needs to be done to protect bicycle safety in Los Angeles.

Box, who's running against Tom LaBonge for city council, proposes portions of sales tax revenue be spent on more bike lanes.

"These streets are our public space," Box said. "Our ability to get along and share this public space is one of the greatest opportunities for us to grow as a community."

Councilman LaBonge, also an avid bike rider, said the city is already working on initiatives, but drivers also need to do their part.

"We all have to be aware of the ever-changing Los Angeles streets, where more and more cyclists are enjoying their rides for their jobs, for their work, for their recreation, for their good health, so we have to share the roads," LaBonge said.

As for the mayor, he's recovering at home.

On his Twitter page, Villaraigosa said, "Last night I broke my elbow in a bicycling accident. Thanks to everyone for the well wishes. It means a lot to me!"

In the follow post, he said, "Got out of surgery a couple hours ago, and I'm going to be fine. Thanks again everyone for the great support! I really appreciate it."

Some cyclists are now more aware of their surroundings.

"Now that I heard that, I have to be more careful and more alert for every time cars pass me by," said Manuel Perez.

It's unclear of the taxi cab driver will be cited.


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