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Mayor Villaraigosa breaks elbow in bicycle accident

July 17, 2010 | 10:20 pm

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa broke his elbow in a bicycle accident Saturday evening, a spokesman said.

The mayor was riding in the bicycle lane on Venice Boulevard in Mid-City at about 6:50 p.m. when a taxi abruptly pulled in front of him. The mayor hit his brakes and fell off the bike.

He was transported to Ronald Reagan/UCLA Medical Center, where he was treated for the broken bone.

By 10 p.m. he had been released and was resting comfortably at Getty House, the mayor's official residence.

The mayor's accident comes as bicyclists in the city have increasingly been complaining about safety issues and pressing city officials to do more to make cycling safe.

Bicycle advocates have called for more dedicated bike lanes and appeared repeatedly before the City Council to argue that a specific share of funds from Measure R, the 2008 sales tax for transportation projects, should be set aside for bicycle- and pedestrian-related initiatives.

Bicycle activist Stephen Box filled out paperwork last week to run for City Council in the district represented by Councilman Tom LaBonge that includes Hollywood, Koreatown and North Hollywood. Box, who was run off the road by a bus while cycling on Sunset Boulevard several years ago, said Venice Boulevard already has bike lanes but needs considerably more attention from city officials.

"Venice Boulevard is notorious for having all of the trash cans block the bike lanes. Venice Boulevard is notorious for having motor homes block the bike lanes. And Venice Boulevard is notorious for having fast traffic that uses the bike lane to squeeze through even when bicyclists are in the bike lane," he said.

Police Chief Charlie Beck has made overtures to bicyclists, promising to make their safety a bigger priority and sending some of his officers to ride in the monthly Critical Mass bicycle ride in June. The LAPD issued a directive instructing officers that a motorist can be held responsible for causing a bicycle accident even if he or she did not make direct contact with the rider -- and can be arrested for fleeing the scene, Box said.

-- Andrew Blankstein and David Zahniser