Malibu’s middle finger to cyclists on PCH

May 4, 2015 § 41 Comments

When the Rolling Stones released “Some Girls” in 1978 I was in junior high school. Like most rock lyrics, the title track sounded like “Some girls blahblahblahblah some girls blahblahblah everything I own!” The ratio of blah-to-intelligible-words was about 27-to-one, which meant that I, like most kids, had to hum a lot.

Many years went by and thankfully rock music went with it. However, after moving to California and getting initiated to riding on Pacific Coast Highway I was able to encode one of the mystery lyrics of “Some Girls,” and it was the “blah” after “Let’s go back to blah beach, I’ll give you half, of everything I own.”

There it was, in living color: Zuma Beach. And the reason Mick was going to take the girl back there was to ply her with drugs and then, in the paternity suit/divorce settlement that followed, give her half of everything he owned because California is a community property state.

Even 1/10,000th of everything that Mick Jagger owns in Zuma Beach would be awesome because Zuma is stunningly beautiful. It has great surf. It has eye-popping scenery. The first thongs of spring usually alight here, and the section of PCH that runs through Zuma deposits cyclists onto the doorway of famed canyon climbs like Decker, Encinal, Yerba Buena, and the Beast of the Coast, a/k/a Deer Creek.

PCH also winds its way up to The Rock at Point Mugu, another stunning vista that also happens to mark the turnaround point for most 100-mile PCH sojourns from the South Bay. The stretch of PCH that goes through Zuma Beach is like the rest of PCH after you bust out from Santa Monica. It’s easy and safe and pretty much hassle-free as long as you have the presence of mind to take the lane. The flip side is that being a gutter bunny on PCH is nerve wracking and deadly.

What PCH isn’t, is susceptible to “bicycling infrastructure,” i.e. bike lanes that collect trash that you’re required by law to ride through and that make you fair game for motorists and buses who are only staring straight ahead. PCH is thankfully not susceptible to bike lanes because in most places along PCH to Zuma Beach the highway abuts cliff on the left and streetside parking on the right. There is no place for the misguided to build bike lanes into which cyclists must be corralled.

This is great because the absence of a bike lane really encourages you to take the lane and learn how to ride in it.

The City of Malibu, however, driven by bike-haters, non-cyclist city planners, foolish CALTRANS highway engineers, and I suppose a coterie of cycling “advocates” who are worse than ignorant when it comes to the reality of cycling on PCH, has put in a two-mile bike lane on the southbound section of PCH that goes through Zuma Beach.

For 25 miles in either direction there are no bike lanes and then suddenly, bam, a bike lane. To make things worse the bike lane is jammed up against a two-mile stretch of Zuma Beach streetside parking. All of the Some Girls and all of the Kelly Slaters park here. You don’t know fun until you whiz by a parked van at 22 mph only to have the door thrown open and some stoned dude tumbles out with a 7-foot surfboard. Then he yells at you and tells you to fuck off assuming you aren’t now on the pavement and awaiting a life flight.

After two miles the bike lane ends and you’re back where you started — hopefully in the lane, but more likely crammed over onto the shoulder because the bike lane has primed you to cower and huddle and avoid the passing traffic. This is an easy fear psychosis to fall into because the traffic is passing you at 60 when you’re in the bike lane, unlike when you’re in the travel lane and the approaching traffic slows, changes lanes, and passes you in the No. 1 lane with space and speed to spare.

Even if you’re a bike lane advocate (and I hope you aren’t) this one is complete rubbish unless you live in Zuma Beach. For anyone just passing through, and trust me, like Mick the residents really want you to keep on trucking, the bike lanes are the ultimate in confusion and stupidly incomplete infrastructure.

On May 9 I’ll be protesting the illegal harassment of cyclists by LA Sheriff’s Department at Malibu City Hall on Saturday, 9:00 AM and also complaining about these awful deathtrap bike lanes. I’m leaving the parking lot at Temescal Canyon and PCH at Will Rogers State Park at 8:00 AM-ish and will be riding slowly, safely, and legally — in the lane! I’m leaving the South Bay from the Manhattan Beach Pier at 6:30



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§ 41 Responses to Malibu’s middle finger to cyclists on PCH

  • marc causo says:

    When I heard about this lane from Gary Cziko. My first thought was this has to be retaliation. For the movement your started on PCH which has made cyclists safer. My first thought was they are trying to give you all cyclists along PCH the finger. Glad to see now that the BWR is over you have decided to write about such a critical issue. Give em hell this Saturday.

  • Winemaker says:


    • fsethd says:

      Getting on the bike and riding and protesting is the opposite of 0,1!

      • marc causo says:

        I’m probably the 0, 1 one of the people that reads your blog but will probably never ride with you being as i’m in eastern PA, and you are somewhere in western CA near the pacific. Getting on a bike to sweep Saturday about 3000 miles away from you.

  • gcziko says:

    Here’s a 30-second video example of how motorists typically react to a lane-controlling cyclist on PCH. But doing this when there is a hazardous door-zone bike lane on the side of the road will not be so pleasant.

  • LesB says:

    FYI for participants who want to join at Temescal, there is parking along Temescal Cyn Rd. That time of the morning there should be plenty available.

  • Johnny French says:

    Of course, of you’d been brung up to speak the Queen’s English (like what I do), you’d have understood Mick in the first place…..

  • dan martin says:

    The Law made sure we rode that bike lane this past sunday. G3 volunteered me to be his traffic side wingman leading a double pace line rolling 15+ deep through this section of 3 foot wide bike lane. I’m not sure if he wanted me because of my skinny ass, steady wheel, or eardrum bursting whistle that doubles as my tastebuds. Turns out it was all three. Cars were parked sticking in the bike lane. Doors were being flung open. Cars were flying by my left arm at 60mph. By the time we made it to Pt Dume we were both ready for a sedative.

  • gcziko says:

    Dan, by “The Law” did you mean the L.A. County Sheriff Deputies or the California Vehicle Code (CVC)?

    If the latter, you should know that the CVC lists exceptions to the mandatory bike lane law. These exceptions include:

    (1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle, vehicle, or pedestrian within the lane or about to enter the lane if the overtaking and passing cannot be done safely within the lane.
    (2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
    (3) When reasonably necessary to leave the bicycle lane to avoid debris or other hazardous conditions.
    (4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

    Sounds like you encountered some hazardous conditions in the new PCH door-zone bike lane, which falls under exception no. 3.

    • fsethd says:

      Talking to the sheriff’s deputies isn’t known for getting you anything other than more deputies.

  • R. C. White says:

    That’s a $900,000 bike lane. Federal funds to be used for “Bicycle Infrastructure” ONLY on PCH, North of Bonsal Dr.(South End of Zuma/Bottom of the hill). To be generous, let’s assume the turn lane construction at Morning View Drive qualifies “bicycle infrastructure”; the remaining “upgrades” are: Fog Line striping re-paint to Leo Carillo, and the Bike Lane/parking lane on the ocean side at Zuma. I wonder if that’s truly $900,000 of your taxes at work… I attended three of the four “meetings” during the planning stages of this project. As you do Seth, I had my doubts and concerns about building this bike lane(i.e.: positioning, increased car speeds, unridable debris zone, etc. etc.). I agree that it has only complicated the circumstances. There were other, more sensible plans, IMHO, but they were scrapped. When I approached Oliver, the Senior Design Rep from the engineering firm, he put his hands up and said “I was told to “back off””. Exhibit A: Malibu Politics. The one thing I lobbied hard for, and I mean I wrote ALL OVER the design maps: 8″ Fog Lines. All that scribbling at least got the existing 4″ lines boosted to 6″ lines. Highway studies prove 8″ reduce inter-vehicle incidents by as much as 35%. Hopefully the math will bear some of that out..
    One Malibu official promised me to my face that the “slurry” would be “as smooth as a tennis court”. He was either lying or ignorant. To quote a friend: “This bike lane is BULLSHIT”.
    In the beginning I had some faith that the Malibu’s democratic process would succeed. In the end it turned out just like the bike lane.

    While there were a few cogent minds involved, they were subverted by ulterior motives, narcissism, and possibly a financial black hole…

    So in a nutshell, that’s what happened. It’s 10:39pm now and my pizza is cold and my beer is warm. I just can’t win…

    • fsethd says:

      Malibu’s the 1% of the 1%, baby, and Cher don’t ride no fuggin’ bicycle.

  • um. says:

    Any chance getting Deppity Doofus’ autograph?

  • […] Malibu’s new door zone bike lanes on PCH are complete rubbish, and the equivalent of the city giving the finger to cyclists who ride the […]

  • Jim Baross says:

    Where is anyone? Pete and I are at Malibu civic center…?

  • jayne hathaway says:

    This is the stupidest perspective I’ve ever read. “Take the lane” ? PCH, in that area, which I’ve traveled extensively over a period of decades, is NOT designed for safe riding, and the designated speed limits on PCH in those areas are 45mph or greater, especially in the Zuma Beach area. What kind of fool thinks they have “the right” to “take the lane” and ride at (average)15-20mph, on PCH in those areas? This is not only arrogant and purely about some kind of misplaced sense of entitlement (“get out of my way, I have a right to be here”) but it’s just ridiculous from a common sense perspective. To qualify my statements, I’ve been a lifelong cyclist, both as a commuter and a recreational cyclist and this idea of cyclists forcing their way onto high speed highways because they think they have some kind of god-given “right” to be there is just unfathomable to me. Let’s face it, they’re not commuting to work riding from Malibu to Zuma, this is recreational riding we’re talking about. So everyone should just get the hell out of their way, or drive at 20mph behind them, because they want to go to the beach? But just for argument’s sake, no cyclist is going to “win” over a two ton car that doesn’t see them in time to stop, because they want to “take the lane”. This is the most retarded idea I’ve ever seen, and falls completely under the heading “beware of stupid people in large groups.”

    • jayne hathaway says:

      Instead of pissing and moaning about how they should have the right to “take the lane” and piss motorists off, these people should be out raising money to get the infrastructure built, that WOULD allow for cyclists and motorists to co-exist, instead of insisting that a board is a rock, when it will never be.

      • fsethd says:

        You’re such a stupid anonymous troll. Show up on a ride and quit hiding behind your Gilligan’s Island nom de dumb.

    • fsethd says:

      Hi, Jane. Read the law then get back to me. Or on second thought, don’t!

      It’s easy to hide behind a keyboard and spout drivel. I dare you to show the fuck up on one of my rides and try to foist off your nonsense in the presence of people who can marshal arguments and back up their words with effective riding skills.

      You’ll never show because you lack the courage of your convictions, just another flabby-brained wankette whose life has been enriched by the Internet to the detriment of everyone else.

  • Grow a set says:

    Thankfully Rock Music has gone? What r u, some dumbass suburban rap listener?

    • fsethd says:

      1. Dumbass, yes.
      2. Suburban, yes.
      3. Rap listener, not so much.
      4. Tired of the same 3 chords after 45+ years? VERY.

  • Roger Dodger says:

    Nope, Jane is not a troll. I just happened across this page in researching a longer than usual cycling ride up the coast, and I noticed she shares my views exactly.

    Mind you, I was on PCH not more than 6 months back, in Malibu, in a 50+ MPH section. I DID run into a few groups of cyclists “taking the lane.” Not really cool when you get up over a hill, see your lane is totally occupied below by objects that are basically stationary (compared to your speed), and you have cars to your left, and so have to get on the brakes and come to basically a crawl.

    I’ve never understood this idea of “taking lanes” that’s been bandied about in certain quarters, especially as of late. It seems to have somewhat gained traction, in a few select areas, such as some bits of PCH, and lots of the Bay Area. Sorry, even as a cyclist, whenever I come across it, it really does come off as an “I just have a right to be here” sort of attitude.

    And Jane is also right that hey, it’s really lack of infrastructure. Maybe we should have added 5 or 6 feet to main roads, and this wouldn’t even be a problem? And maybe a lot more bike paths along already available rights, rivers, washes, train tracks (those that have a lot of extra room), and so forth?

    But taking up lanes of traffic with a 15mph bikes is just nuts.

    • fsethd says:

      You think the law is “just nuts.” Many people feel the same way about freedom of speech, the 14th Amendment, etc.

      • Roger Dodger says:

        Generally, under the Cal. Vehicle Code, you can’t legally take a lane. Though it is not a legal question, it is a common sense issue. It is not good to completely take over traffic lanes, with tiny vehicles traveling usually at under 15mph, when motor traffic is doing 45+ mph in those lanes.

        And if every cyclist did this, all the time, there would be absolute condemnation of cyclists by motorists. And the cyclists would not win that battle. The reason YOU can do it is that the vast, vast majority of other cyclists DON’T dot it.

        If your objective is to “fight the good fight,” and you’re doing this lane taking as a form of protest to generate pressure to expand biking infrastructure, then great. But it is not a practical solution for all.

        P.S. The 1st and 14th amendments are false analogies to the instant issue. You can easily believe in freedom of speech, and still not think it is a good idea, in most instances, for a bike to take a lane on a major roadway.

        • fsethd says:

          The vast majority of the time you legally can. Check the exceptions to CVC 21202, which, given the 3-foot law, are almost always in effect.

          I’m glad you think you’re safer crammed up against the side. I avoided death and dismemberment today (again) by taking the lane descending PV Drive to the reservoir.

          I’m not fighting any fight. I’m riding my fucking bike and riding it smart and safely. It’s super practical. It works. Enjoy the gutter!

  • Gary Cziko says:

    Rodger Dodger can learn about the legal aspects of bicyclist lane control from this CyclingSavvy lesson.

    Bicyclists Position on the Roadway

    He (as well as all cyclists) may find the entire course useful, too.

    • Roger Dodger says:

      Yes, I’m aware that it can be legal. The 3ft rule may apply in many instances, but that doesn’t change the fact that in a lot of cases it will be legally “iffy,” at best. Overall, the law is clear that generally cycles are to be on the right, and are to share lanes.

      I personally don’t spend too much time in the gutter because I tend to plan routes that don’t force me onto roads that are the worst of all worlds (like some of PCH):

      A: Narrow, or otherwise very poorly setup to share lanes
      B: Tons of car traffic
      C: Car traffic is moving very fast

      Taking a lane that is normally occupied by fast moving traffic may be better then being squeezed into the gutter, I agree. But on roads that have all the A, B, C issues, it’s nerve wracking either way, lane or gutter.

      So, maybe I have a right to be there, but I try to avoid being on such roads (or portions thereof) if an alternate route exists. I just cycled about 60 miles to the far south tip of OC this weekend, and was never in a position were I felt I was forced to make a choice of “in the gutter” or “take a lane.”

      Anyway, I stand by my assertion that taking lanes only works if relatively few cyclists actually use that method, such as yourself and fsethd. One can only imagine if a large majority of those cyclists were taking lanes. Surely you can’t tell me that if all cyclists began taking lanes, in every case where it might be legal, there would not be unbelievable backlash from motorists? Then the practice would be stopped outright, through more pointedly clarifying the CVC, because motorists trump cyclists, economically speaking (sad but true). Which brings me back to my main point: lane taking may work, but it is not a universal solution for all riders.

      In South OC there is a pretty good bit of biking infrastructure. Especially in cities like Irvine, and other newer South OC areas, where wide roads with adequate biking lanes where planned from the start. There also are quite a lot of bike trails in South OC totally separate from the main road. It’s pretty darn comfortable to get around via bike if you’re lucky enough to live/work in the newer areas of South OC.

      But that sort of planning for cyclists was hardly done in the past, and what has been done more recently is mostly afterthoughts. Then, the population in California (and in manes cases speed limits too) has increased, only making it worse to be on the roads with cars.

      Let’s take the area at issue, PCH in Malibu. This is not an area were houses/business are generally planted right up against PCH. They are usually set fairly back. There is space along most of that route to add the needed room for cyclists (assuming the will and money). That’s what should have been done from day one. Instead, if you want to cycle that section of PCH, you either take a lane, which is not really everyone’s cup of tea, or you get fast traffic buzzing right along your left, while you are smashed up against park cars. Sadly, for many riders, there is no way to really make riding that part of PCH especially palatable.

      The bottom line is that in most of this country we have built our rights of way (roads) to be rather unfriendly to cyclists, and we have never really done much to correct that.

      • fsethd says:

        You say that there would be backlash if large numbers of cyclists asserted their rights, and that therefore we should not exercise our rights. In other words, don’t exercise rights if it makes people angry.

        Just so you understand, if you can’t exercise it, it’s not a right.

        Also, if you want future comments to be allowed, you’ll need to include your real name with a valid email. You can send it to me for verification at

        Otherwise, you’ll be marked for spam where you can enjoy the company of others who have strong opinions unsupported by, you know, conviction.

      • Gary Cziko says:

        Roger Dodger wrote: “Anyway, I stand by my assertion that taking lanes only works if relatively few cyclists actually use that method, such as yourself and fsethd. One can only imagine if a large majority of those cyclists were taking lanes. Surely you can’t tell me that if all cyclists began taking lanes, in every case where it might be legal, there would not be unbelievable backlash from motorists? Then the practice would be stopped outright, through more pointedly clarifying the CVC, because motorists trump cyclists, economically speaking (sad but true). Which brings me back to my main point: lane taking may work, but it is not a universal solution for all riders.”

        Although lane control as the default mode of cycling is an essential component of defensive bicycle driving, there is much more involved including communication and cooperation. On multilane roads with standard (narrow) lanes as on the PCH, there is seldom any reason to abandon lane control and motorists can easily pass in a left lane. Indeed, there is less inconvenience to motorists if a cyclist is clearly in a lane control position (center or slightly left of center of the lane) as the need to change lanes to pass is clear from a greater distance. It makes little difference how many cyclists are controlling the lane.

        On two-lane roads with standard (narrow) lanes, a defensive cyclist will control the lane but also look for opportunities to release motor traffic to the rear when it is safe to do so using lane position (moving to the right side of the lane) and hand signals. In CyclingSavvy we call this “control and release.” I am constantly looking for opportunities to facilitate motorists’ passing when I would be otherwise delaying a motorist for a considerable amount of time (more than 30 seconds or so). This is also part of defensive bicycle driving as delaying motorists for longer than this may lead to unsafe passing behavior with serious consequences for the cyclist.

        The more cyclists who adopt these methods of defensive bicycle driving including default lane control along with cooperation and communication, the better off all road users will be. Such techniques help discourage motorists from making the types of mistakes that can have tragic consequences for cyclists. You can see these mistakes encouraged by edge riding and cyclist countermeasures using lane control here:

      • um says:

        Where do I start? The more cyclists that ride in a way that keeps them safer the better! Then road benefits change due to increased demand. (think civil rights here, dude).

        Think sharrows. Sharrows happened when there are enough cyclists to warrant it. San Diego county (despite its right-wing leaning) is increasingly sharrowed. The coast road has sharrows through several coastal towns/cities. And it’s wonderful. And cagers have adjusted. It works. It’s safer.

        I hope more and more cyclists take the lane through Malibu and other northern coastal cities. Demand sharrows, folks. Just makes it easier to take the rights we already have with less debate about it.

        • fsethd says:

          But people will get angry when other people exercise their rights, so let’s just not exercise our rights because if people get angry at us that will be bad. Plus, it’s easier to hold onto bad ideas than to toss them.

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