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Thursday, February 28th
James Black Hat Irregulars Available
We had a large number of irregulars from the last batch of James Black 3-Way Hats. I finally got around to sorting them out and putting them on the website.

The flaw consists generally of a crooked seam at the very front of the hat; if that won't bother you, you can get a fine, versatile hat for only $18.50 (plus shipping, of course).

There is also a small number of hats sized Small but marked medium, which I have personally corrected with a permanent marker pen; these are also on sale.

Go to the irregular hats page if you want one.

The selling price for a regular James Black Hat is $29.00, so these are a very good deal. And when they're gone, there will be no more. (At least, I hope there will be no more!)

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 28 Feb 2008 07:14:21 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, February 26th
Los Angeles Bicycle Master Plan Survey
If you are a cyclist in Los Angeles, please fill out the survey at the following link:

Los Angeles Bicycle Master Plan Survey

The city is gathering information for the Los Angeles Bicycle Master Plan Update. This is your chance to be heard by the folks who will decide on infrastructure and regulatory changes affecting transportational cycling in our city.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 26 Feb 2008 15:55:28 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, February 24th
Pumped Up About Parking Rack
As you know, Bicycle Fixation has a strong interest in bicycle parking, so we were particularly tickled to see the following example of clever bike rack design featured on the Cycleiciousness blog:

Yes, that's a bike parking rack with a working tire pump integrated into it! Superb idea, brought forth by Studio HiMom, who wished to "stimulate an interaction between neighbours while pumping up the tyres of their bicycles."

Read more at Cycleiciousness.

(Sorry, don't know the source of the picture....)

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 24 Feb 2008 09:55:28 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, February 23rd
Another Beach Run
So why live in Los Angeles if you're not going to ride to the beach? So I did--again--this makes probably five hundred times, I'm sure--and snapped a couple of nice photos, which I'll paste in here for your pleasure.

The folks in orange are probationers doing their community service cleaning up trash from the banks of Ballona Creek; you can see the bikepath along the causeway. This follows the creek all the way back to the east end of Culver City, only a few miles from where we live and work. Branches go up the coast to Malibu and down to Pacific Palisades, and it's a mighty nice place to ride--when the bubba with the gun ain't watchin' you.

That being the view in the other direction, with the Pacific beyond, and my old Bottecchia in the way.

And the view to the southwest made me think of Holland, so I fiddled it a little in PhotoShop to make it moody and serene in the way the old Dutch engravers had--or as close to it as I could manage.

One of these days I'll write up a ride report on my longer beach ride, down to Redondo and back by various routes.

It's a mighty nice way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning in LA.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 23 Feb 2008 14:01:24 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, February 19th
Lance Promotes Bike Commuting
In what may be a first in the cycling world, a former racer--seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, of all folks--has opened a bike shop dedicated not to racing bikes, but to bicycle commuting! And in Texas, no less!

The shop is called "Mellow Johnny's," after an American mispronunciation of "maillot jaune," the famous yellow jersey worn by the TdF leader, and will feature, the article from the Austin American-Statesman says,
...commuter bikes, mountain bikes, triathlon bikes, fixed-gear bikes, low-riders, cruiser-style bikes and even hand-made "art bikes" that look as good hanging on a wall as they do rolling down the street. Stock will also include gear by Giro, Nike and Oakley.

Showers and a locker room will allow commuters who don't have facilities at their offices to ride downtown, store their bikes at the shop, bathe and catch a ride on a pedicab or walk the rest of the way to work.
The newspaper quoted Armstrong as saying that "he'd like to see Austin evolve into a place like Portland, Ore., where biking is part of the culture and people pedal to work, to restaurants and to run errands. 'Walk outside, and the streets are lined with bikes--because they have a safe place to ride'...."

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman website.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 19 Feb 2008 16:50:22 -0800 [link]  

High Speed Rail and the Modern City
Let me refer you to an excellent interview with Andy Kunz in TreeHugger, talking about the present state of High Speed Rail and ntegrated rail systems in Europe, and the hope for something similar that alleviates the US's desperate dependence on automobiles, with all the personal, social, and physical harm they cause. A quick quote:
There is no shortage of money for transportation in America, and there never has been. We have always spent big money on state-of-the-art roads and airports in America. The problem is we have been locked into a roads-cars-airports-only investment mode for more than 70 years, and now are stuck with systems that are beginning to fail, and because they are all dependent on oil, have a very bleak future.

In Europe, they spend the majority of their transportation dollars continually expanding and advancing their train systems. While their countries become more sustainable and productive each year as a result of their train investments, our country becomes less sustainable and less productive as a result of our road and aviation investments.
Read the entire article at

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 19 Feb 2008 06:56:59 -0800 [link]  

Friday, February 15th
London to Boost Cycling
Excellent article in the Guardian last week, which we quote:
London is likely to become one of the most cycle-friendly places in the world, with a series of two-wheeler superhighways cutting a swath through traffic and congestion. Plans for the super-cycleways will be unveiled next week as part of an initiative to stimulate a 400% increase in the number of people pedalling round the capital by 2025.
Read it all at: City's Two-Wheeled Transformation.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 15 Feb 2008 19:29:32 -0800 [link]  

Monday, February 11th
Int'l Bicycle Fund's Annual Student Bike Essay Contest
The International Bicycle Fund, which promotes bicycling worldwide, has announced its Annual Student Bicycle Essay Contest.

Although essays should be in English, students under age 17 from any country may enter. There's a small cash prize, and the greater prize of helping to advance bicycling in all its forms. The contest is divided into three age groups, so even grammar school kids can enter.

So, if you're a student, or know a student, who has something to say about bicycling's place in the world, download the announcement (PDF), or simply to go the IBF's contest page for details.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 11 Feb 2008 14:38:14 -0800 [link]  

Friday, February 8th
Not Quite What I Expected
Yesterday, the cell phone rang, and it was a police officer calling to take a report on my very modest hit-and-run sideswiping of January 23rd. After I got home, I had written a letter to the captain of Central Traffic, expecting that their response would be the usual nothing. So I am happy to report that the LAPD did call back, and did take a report, and did say that detectives would call me "in a few weeks."

If the driver had apologized, I wouldn't have bothered writing the letter. My shoulder was a bit sore for a week and a half, and I had a tiny cut on my ankle, and that was it. But she not only refused to apologize, but was indignant that I should expect her to!

And the cops really don't like hit-and-run drivers.

Of course there's no hard evidence, so nothing further is likely to happen. But when she does hit someone hard enough to hurt them or their vehicle--be it another car, or one of us or someone just trying to cross the street--her plate will be on record. It'll count.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 08 Feb 2008 01:42:49 -0800 [link]  

Monday, February 4th
Sheldon Brown, 1944--2008
Sheldon Brown, know as "Captain Bike," resident maven of Harris Cyclery, died yesterday, apparently of a heart attack, following a struggle of several years with a rare form of Multiple Sclerosis.

Sheldon was a passionate cyclist, photographer, musician, family man, and countless other persons all in one; he was a particular champion of fixed-gear riding, and greatly responsible, in my opinion, for its resurgence after decades of being the province of messengers, winter-training racers, and old codgers pottering about on England's byways.

Sheldon also amassed possibly the greatest database of cycling technical and historical references on the Internet, housed in the warren of sites he maintained for himself and Harris Cyclery, and which included anecdotes, humor, rare photos, and more.

Furthermore, Sheldon was immeasurably generous with his time and knowledge, answering phone calls and emails from sometimes hundreds of cyclists per day, while still working full-time at the bike shop.

He and I met only by email a few times, but his humanity and kindness always shone through his words, even when his life must have been deeply discouraging.

He was knowledgeable, generous, straightforward, a real mensch. Cycling is far the better for his having been with us.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 04 Feb 2008 22:14:19 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, February 3rd
Fixies & Faces
On February2nd, 2008, the Rogue Status gallery in Venice, on the wild western edge of the city, held an exhibition of fixed-gear bicycles called "Maximal Reduction, Minimal Boundaries." Hundreds of riders showed up for the opening--everyone from old farts like your editor here to the hip & high--sometimes literally high, on the inevitable tallbikes.

There were good measures of music, conviviality, good-natured rowdiness, tattoos, and bikes and riders of every sort. Take a look at the moment at Fixies & Faces now--then go for a ride!

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 03 Feb 2008 21:01:40 -0800 [link]  

Friday, February 1st
Rail, Bikes, and Portland
As many of you might know, I had been planning to ride Amtrak to Portland for the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show.

Unfortunately, Amtrak has cancelled the Starlight till at least Feb.15th, because of a mudslide on the Union Pacific tracks south of Eugene.

Therefore, I am cancelling my trip. Walking with as light a footprint on the earth as possible is one of my primary goals, and the practice that we sell knickers and write articles to support. Flying causes over twice the carbon emissions per passenger/mile than even Amtrak's diesel trains, considerably more than even driving, so I'm going to walk my talk and stay home.

Will be very sorry to miss seeing all my Portland pals, but maybe in summer, if sales hold up, Gina and I will take the Starlight up and just visit all our cycling pals there for a week or so.

It's pathetic that in this country Amtrak has to be the stepchild of the freight lines rather than owning its own tracks--this would never happen in Northern Europe or Japan. Considering the incredible savings not only in energy cost but in spatial presence trains have over both road vehicles and aircraft, we are fools not to throw billions at Amtrak instead of carping over its paltry $500 million endowment. (Highway users get $60 billion in Federal subsidy; airlines $30 billion.)

To illustrate:
  • A two-track heavy rail line (such as a subway running at typical headways) has the passenger capacity of around 35 traffic lanes.
  • Shinjuku, a rail/metro hub in Tokyo, logs 4,000,000 boardings per day, as opposed to LAX's 165,000. Shinjuku takes up about a city block and is surrounded by residences and business; LAX takes up 3,500 acres, and depresses property values for miles around it.
  • Property values in every US city that has metro rail service go up around rail stations; values go down around freeway interchanges. Each affects a city's tax receipts accordingly.
  • Freight trains are three to four times more fuel-efficient than trucks for moving the equivalent tonnage of goods or commodities, and use up vastly less land surface to do so.
  • Even medium-speed passenger trains can replace all air travel for runs of up 500 to 700 miles, especially as they drop you off in the center of town rather than at a bleak airport on the outskirts; bullet trains (a mature technology now well over forty years old) can do so over much longer distances.
Meanwhile, cars not only cost the earth (and our treasuries), but destroy culture--something they would do even if they ran on magic. You cannot build a viable culture upon a principle of personal isolation and public waste. Trains, like bicycles, are convivial as well as clean. We should be promoting them heavily.

Think about that, along with everything else, when you vote next time. And every time.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 01 Feb 2008 19:55:23 -0800 [link]  

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