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Saturday, January 31st
"Prepare for the Best"
Here's what might turn out to be one of the best articles of the year: Prepare for the Best

Great ideas from Philadelphia--which had some pretty great ideas 250 years ago too, which led to the founding of the US. The article covers urban farming, equitable health care, independent local economies, housing insulation, transport, and much more, just a wonderful compendium of things we ought to be doing, with credits to those who are already doing them...which means many if not most of you reading this!

...Ride a bike. Hop on the bus. Revive street rail with ultralight passenger cars. Restore regional freight routes. Raise transit funds with local gasoline tax. Make pathways for bicycles, rollerblades, skateboards, Segways, scooters and wheelchairs. Restore canals. Zone for mixed use, to reduce travel needs. Live near your work. Employ multitudes making mosaic sidewalks. Convert paving to playgrounds.
Today is the only part of the future we can affect directly. So let's get with it, gang!

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 31 Jan 2009 07:16:47 -0800 [link]  

Friday, January 30th
Hippie Kitchen Capitalism
Cyclist/chef James Cox appears in our sister publication, The New Colonist, with a short article on Portland's "Domestic Food Service Kitchens," a great way to build real community and create worthwhile jobs at the same time. Many of the "hippie entrepreneurs," as Jim calls them, supply their kitchens by bike, too!

Read all about it in Chef Jim's own words, in The New Colonist: Hippie Kitchen Capitalism.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 30 Jan 2009 09:18:50 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, January 29th
On-Street Bike Parking in Seattle
pedal-powered Seattleites will no longer be orbiting the block looking for a sturdy post, according to this press release from Seattle DOT:
SEATTLE - Working to support the city's growing number of bicyclists, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will create on-street bicycle parking in neighborhoods around Seattle. With a goal of having one to two per neighborhood, the department will install these unique bike facilities at three locations starting next week.

Taking the place of one to two motor vehicle parking spaces, on-street bike parking will be filled with bicycle racks and surrounded by a raised curb. Bicyclists can enter the parking area from the sidewalk and each car-sized space will accommodate up to eight bikes.

This new program addresses the expanding need for bicycle parking and is part of the ongoing implementation of the Bicycle Master Plan, which seeks to triple the number of people bicycling in Seattle over ten years.

By mid February the new bike facilities will be installed:
  • Mid block of Broadway E between E Harrison Street and E Republican Street (by Broadway Market)
  • At the corner of 12th Avenue and E Spring Street (by Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Café Presse)
  • At the corner of Woodlawn Avenue NE and NE 70th Street (by the Greenlake Condominium)
SDOT is planning additional on-street bicycle parking locations for 2009.
Construction details are skimpy, but one hopes that, given Seattle's weather, some kind of cover might be included; doesn't look like it, though. Still a great move in the right direction!

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 29 Jan 2009 07:14:45 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, January 27th
The 650Beast
nishiki_10 (249k image)
Click image for larger view
Well, he's really no beast, just Gina's Nishiki Custom Sport converted to 650B and dressed in French fashion: aluminum fenders, Belleri porteur handlebars, and a nice of course Gina's inevitable Carradice, which she moves from bike to bike depending on what she's riding that day. This sweet little mixte's yclept "The Milk Runner," and mostly sees duty at shops and restaurants...a good little city bike. What looks like a mess of cabling in the basket is actually a cargo net, which serves very nicely to hold purse, coffee mug, and once even a very tall potted orchid!

Future plans for the Milk Runner include a chainguard and a skirtguard, prettier pedals (that are still girly-shoe-friendly), and eventually a paint job, for which Gina is planning pinstripes.

Of course we'll report on progress here. Meanwhile, you can see a photo sequence on our Flickr page.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 27 Jan 2009 20:11:10 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, January 24th
Limited Edition Herringbone Knickers
Sometimes you want to dress up just a little bit more, so we've made another Luxury Limited Edition of our Classic Wool Knickers, this time in imported 100% wool herringbone. The result is comfortable elegance in a sturdy, understated garment, with a rich black satin gusset and an elastic insert in the rear of the waistband to keep you comfortable on bike or off.

Understated elegance is the theme with these classic yet bike-friendly breeks.

They're $175.00, and they're online now, so click on over and see our LLE v2.0 wool herringbone knickers now!

Very dressy, very nice (but note, they still have the elastic insert in the back of the waistband, so they're still comfy on the bike!).

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 24 Jan 2009 17:07:36 -0800 [link]  

Friday, January 23rd
Bikestyler Customs
Went to the press-only pre-opening at Bikestyler customs Quamen Bike show tonight. Bikestyler provides custom painting, powdercoating, and anodizing, as well as some wilder stuff, and seem to be making a buzz in LA after being open only a short while. I couldn't stay too long, but took a few photos, which you'll see below. You can just drop by if you're in LA, or visit their MySpace page and get to know them a little bit.

Visit their Bikestyler Customs MySpace page. The show is up through February.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 23 Jan 2009 22:03:22 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, January 22nd
Classic Wool Knickers Back in Stock!
Bicycle Fixation's flagship product, the Classic Wool Knicker, is now back in stock in sizes 30 to 40, so if you've been waiting, now's the time to order a pair.

Same price as before! Only $125.00, for 100% wool gabardine, double-stitched for toughness, cut for elegance.... Why not get a pair now?

We'll also be releasing the the LLE2 version, in dark charcoal herringbone wool with a rich black satin gusset, next week, once we get photos; it will cost $175.00. Very elegant (but, elastic-haters note, it still has an elastic insert in the back of the waist to facilitate bicycling.) Watch for it--it's nice!

And of course we've still got a good stock of City Knickers v2.0, the James Black 3-Way hat, and our elegant merino Knicker Socks as well, plus the smaller sizes of the Four Season Jersey/Ninja Road Warrior Jersey still available.

Check us out!

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 22 Jan 2009 10:24:19 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, January 21st
Something for Saturday (Los Angeles)
A few weeks ago a tiny bicycle customizing shop opened up on Melrose Avenue, right by Larchmont Boulevard, in one of Hollywood's older studio districts. We visited them, and we're probably going to use them when the time comes to paint Gina's mixte project. But meanwhile they've decided to have a party where they can strut their stuff and show some velocipedal artwork as well, and they're inviting everyone to come. In their words:
Bikestyler Customs, a Los Angeles based custom bicycle building and styling service, in collaboration with Quamen Bikes, a leading contender in BMX and mountain bike manufacturing from Buena Park, will showcase custom bikes, new product, and a photo gallery on January 23rd, and 24th 2009. On display will be a collection of art enhanced Quamen Bikes completely stylized by Bikestyler Customs.
Should be a lot of fun, and the samples of their work that we've seen are truly striking. So put it on your calendar:

Bikestyler Customs Grand Opening
Saturday. January 24th, 2009, 7pm to 11pm
Group ride afterwards
5621 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 960-0236

Near Melrose & Vine. Bike culture's spreading throughout LA!

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 21 Jan 2009 20:25:35 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, January 17th
Training on Your Bicycle
I'm posting this here because intermodal travel combining bicycles and trains is among the cleanest and most satisfying way to travel, taking you where you want to go with minimal degradation of the environment, and carrying your bicycle for you with an ease no other overland mode of travel--not car, not bus, not plane--can match. And of course the bicycle gives you nearly unlimited short- to middle-distance mobility wherever you may end up, and actually uses less energy than walking.

The Surface Transport Policy Partnership has announced a new coalition called OneRail, which is dedicated to improving both passenger and freight rail service in the United States. The US is far behind other industrialized countries in its use of rail, especially when compared to Germany, France, or Japan, and of course a consequence of this is America's status as the world's premier energy glutton. In their words:
  • The nation's passenger train network must be strengthened and expanded. Expanding intercity and commuter passenger train options for travel between and into the nation's urban centers would substantially reduce vehicle miles traveled, aviation and highway congestion, fuel consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions.
  • A sound and balanced transportation policy should encourage the development of passenger train options for the public, addressing a critical missing link in our nation's surface transportation system. Investments must ensure safety, achieve reasonable service levels, provide enough capacity to protect the operations and future growth of both rail freight and passenger service, and address liability concerns. Going forward, capacity will be a critical factor shaping the freight rail/passenger rail interface. Access to freight infrastructure and rights of way for new passenger service should be achieved on a cooperative, voluntary basis, without infringing on Amtrak's existing rights. To ensure that both freight and passenger service is maximized in high-density corridors, public policy should also envision separate rights of way for freight and passenger operations where separation is warranted.
  • OneRail supports state efforts to seek an ongoing, dedicated funding source for intercity passenger rail expansion, including a federal-state partnership and cost sharing agreements similar to the partnerships that built the nation's federal-aid highways and transit systems. Rail freight capacity must expand to meet projected economic demand and increase the railroad industry's current traffic share. Private investment in the nation's freight rail network has been, and will remain, the primary means of maintaining and expanding freight rail infrastructure.
  • To ensure that freight rail capacity meets growing demand, Congress should enact policies and programs that expand public and private investment in rail freight mobility and assure continued growth in private investment in rail freight capacity.
  • The OneRail coalition supports additional investment in the nation's rail infrastructure to create American jobs, de-congest chokepoints, put more freight and passengers on fuel-efficient trains, and reduce our nation's greenhouse gas emissions.
Friends of mine (and we ourselves) frequently integrate rail travel, whether local or long-distance, with our bike rides--and in fact it was quite a tradition in England years back, as this impossibly charming Cycle Tourists Club film from the mid-Fifties shows on YouTube: Cyclists Special.

Bringing that sort of thing back in a big way would do much to help put "civil" back into "civilization."

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 17 Jan 2009 08:10:58 -0800 [link]  

Monday, January 12th
Horizon All Around
Far off in the distance, the flat blue Pacific Ocean lay under a thin haze. Near at hand, just below the rumpled green sandstone hills and their fur of chaparral, lay the multitudinous streets and buildings of Los Angeles, an endless jumble of pale tiny cubes merging into the distance. Streets lay like tattered ribbons among them, and trees raised dark round heads among them, while palms reached above the dusty clutter of concrete like fenceposts with no fence. Far to the south, a long low hill marked the Palos Verdes peninsula, and out at sea lay the blurry stain that was Catalina Island. At intervals, rows of skyscrapers rose up, dark blue in the distance, huddled together as if fearful, except for the somewhat martial ranks of the landmark buildings downtown.

Halfway down the hill from my feet lay the three copper-green domes of the Griffith Observatory, where my bicycle waited, locked to a grill next to a bored parking lot attendant who sat reading a textbook under a small canvas pavilion.

I'd left home late for a Sunday, just before ten, and before I even began the hard climb up Ferndell Canyon to the Observatory, I'd had to stop and take off my outer T-shirt, though it is January.

It was worth it; it's always worth it. Once I'd got past East Hollywood (the ride there duplicates my last commute, when the end of the ride marked the death of pleasure, for I worked for an ignorant, pompous, and most unpleasant fellow at that time), the hills immediately rose up. It's a good bit of work on a fixed-gear but is far from impossible, and there's joy in the firm working of the body even at my age. Also, the ride is beautiful: it begins in a well-watered canyon, leafy with sycamores, oaks, and eucalyptus trees that shade dozens of picnic tables by an artificial stream.

Once past the picnic grounds, you are suddenly in California as it was before the European invasions (except for the road and the occasional sign, of course): short, fragrant, spiny plants, glossy-leaved and discreet, made for weeks of hundred-degree weather; sharp perfumes, the smell of clean dust; the chatter of invisible birds.

This continues till you near the Observatory, where the American obsession with cars makes itself suddenly felt: the crowds who had driven up the shorter road that passes by the Greek Theater are parking on the last quarter-mile of the western road, directed away from the overflowing Observatory parking lot by the fellow who was sleepily watching my bike while I hiked. I passed by the cars as they rumbled and bumbled along, nose to tail, and found my parking attendant and my opportunity.

It required, oddly, quite a bureaucratic battle to have bike parking racks installed at the Observatory, though the city installs them free in front of businesses on request. That the powers-that-be begrudged LA those racks shows in their placement: hidden behind a restroom building, where a thief could work at ease and unobserved should he venture to steal bikes on such a stunning day as Sunday was. With the bike locked to a heavy grill, and the attendant no more than ten feet away in his chair, I felt unburdened by care as I began the short hike to Mt. Hollywood.

There was plenty of traffic on the trail, but since everyone had had perforce to leave their cars behind, it was quiet, and the mix of people--young and old (and even positively ancient), men and women, every race, and all sorts of costumes--all gave the day a festive air. Of course the warm sun, clean air, and halfway-to-eternity views put everyone in a good mood. I wound along the sandstone trails till I came to the top of Mt. Hollywood, with its views not only of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, but Burbank and the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains to the north, and the long valley leading to the San Gabriels themselves, with their 10,000 foot peaks, to the east.

And everywhere the clutter of little white and brown cubes that close up, contain so much passion and pain, but from far away are only texture. Here and there the narrow lacuna of a freeway, insignificant beside the long-fingered ridges rising out of thin gray mists in the east.

All of it beneath my feet now, as I stood with a scatter of other walkers. A pair of shoes, a bicycle, and a willingness to sweat a bit, and I can see the world from the realm of eagles, and even, while I'm riding, feel a little bit the surge of flight. No metal box or noise of motors hems me in; I am free to become the poem that is this day.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 12 Jan 2009 15:09:44 -0800 [link]  

Friday, January 9th
Los Angeles Suspends Enforcement of Bike License Statute
Streetsblog reports today that LAPD William Bratton, in response to an outcry from both the cycling community in Los Angeles and the City Council, has recommended that the LAPD no longer enforce the requirement that bicycles sold and operated in the city bear a license sticker.

The law has been on the books for ages (I remember buying a license as a kid), but has never been seriously enforced. It seems to have originated as a way to help trace stolen bikes (though the sticker is easy to remove), but lately the LAPD has been using it as an excuse to harass cyclists--and we're not talking Lycra-clad Richie Riches on Cervelos, of course, but cyclists seen as political or countercultural, such a fixie punx, Midnight Ridazz, CMers, etc. (Yours truly, though an anarcho-syndicalist, has a white beard on his chin and fenders on his fixie, and so gets friendly nods from cops....)

To add injury to insult, LAPD assessed fines of up to $200 for an "infraction," though the regulation calls for a $10 fine at worst. And furthermore, though police stations (as well as bike shops) are supposed to sell the licenses, almost no police stations carry the licenses, and those that do sell them only a couple of hours a week.

Obviously a rotten rule. Even the Los Angeles Business Journal this week published an article scorning the law and its effect on the bike business in LA.

Read all about it on Streetsblog, which should also carry followup news on the matter.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 09 Jan 2009 21:26:03 -0800 [link]  

Receive Blog Updates by Email
Please note, you can now receive updates from our blog by email--very handy if you find having to check a blog or aggregator on spec annoying. The notice lets you relax and check the Bicycle Fixation blog only when you know there's something new on it.

Just fill in your email address in the box on the upper right of the page, just under the ad.

The email will include short synopses of the updates.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 09 Jan 2009 06:57:41 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, January 8th
Knicker Refreshment
A quick heads-up- it looks like the new batch of Classic Wool Knickers will be ready by the end of the month, and possibly as soon as the 15th, so keep an eye on the blog here for the announcement.

As usual, we're including a limited number of Special Edition knickers--this will be another depression-fighting Luxury version, the details of which we're keeping secret just for the fun of it!

And you may as well know that we're road-testing another special jersey right now, slated for a summer release. We're pretty sure you'll like it--we sure do! (Except for the purple zipper they put on the sample, just because it was handy--rest assured that won't be part of the production run!) the final will be in 100% New Zealand merino again, and should be destined to become a favorite for many of you.

Bike commuting just gets more comfortable every year, doesn't it?

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 08 Jan 2009 19:18:32 -0800 [link]  

Monday, January 5th
Random Bits for Monday
Just came back from the local library, where I was heartened to see six bicycles parked, two in the official rack by the sidewalk, and four more owned by more suspicious types locked to the grillwork of the portico. All adult sizes.

Saw on Xtracycle's Twitter site that the Wall Street Journal published an article encouraging you to "escape your car." Couched purely in terms of saving money--not a word about pollution, sprawl, social alienation, or other ills cars engender or facilitate--but we all know Streeters don't believe anything but money exists anyhow. Maybe if you get them thinking at all, their minds will eventually broaden. (It's obvious now that they have been operating by rote, like any other religious fanatics.)

We'll know more tomorrow, but I expect that the new run of Classic Wool Knickers should be done within two weeks. As is our tradition, we'll be including a limited edition of a one-off variant. (This will be another "Luxury" version, but bargain hunters can still nab a pair of LSD Knickers for $95.00--as long as you can fit a 34 or 36.)

And just for fun, here's an old photo Chuck Schmidt sent me of a couple of hipsters from a hundred years ago--fixies, knickers, and all:


Richard Risemberg on Mon, 05 Jan 2009 16:13:25 -0800 [link]  

Friday, January 2nd
Big Black Socks Back
Say it fast!
Big black socks back.
Why buy black socks?
Socks make knix slick,
wick sweat when wet.
Yes, we got our order of custom of black knicker socks in L/XL (men's US shoe sizes 9 to 13), and these are made to our specifications in chilly Toronto, so they contain 70% merino wool, yet cost no more than the 37.5% merino socks we have carried up till now.

So if you've been waiting for our L/XL knicker socks in black, wait no more: go to the Knicker Socks page and order up!

Other sizes and colors are still the 37.5% merino version for now, and are still excellent!

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 02 Jan 2009 17:29:52 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, January 1st
Electra in the Mall
 Click on the images to see them larger
At the Mall

At the Mall
Went to the Farmers Market on Third & Fairfax for a New Year's Day lunch at Ulysses Voyage this morning. We almost always parking in the garage at the adjacent mall, which has much better bike racks than the primitive comb-style racks at Farmers Market itself. The garage is the usual hideous concrete magalith, bigger and taller than the mall it serves (the Grove, with its pretentions of being a bunch of quaint shops along a pedestrian street, though most of its shops are chains, and the pedestrian street is patrolled by shaven-headed security guards in Smokey hats...).

Nevertheless, never underestimate the draw of a competent bike rack, so there we were. When we came back from lunch, we saw the pretty little electra Amsterdam in the photos (pix courtesy of Gina's iPhone, which has a much better camera than my generic cell). We both thought it would make a nice New year's greeting to the Bicycle Fixation readership, so here it is: built-in rack, fenders, generator lighting, skirtguard, chaincase, and more, and a pleasant flowers-n-may paint job to offset the lingering chill of the last storm.

If you're going to hit the mall, this is definitely the way to do it.

Happy New Year to all!

Gina & Rick

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 01 Jan 2009 14:55:49 -0800 [link]  

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