(Of course I had a showercap on the saddle while I was in the office; there was, alas, and all too typically, no covered bike parking. In fact, there was no bike parking at all, but there was a handy bit of ironwork that accommodated my U-lock.)
Pleasant ride; LA is never so sweet-smelling as during rain.
While I was on the outward leg, another fixie rider--a carfree fellow--pulled up alongside and grilled me at some length about the cape. I was, of course, happy to oblige with information and opinions.
Then this afternoon Gina declared that she would just love to ride over to Village Idiot for a beer and a bite. She dressed up a bit in a slim knit skirt and chic Hunter rain boots, saddled up the Milk Runner, her 605B porteurish bike, and off we went. The streets were sopping wet but barely any rain was falling, so on the way out we left the rain capes in the panniers (she doesn't like hers, and indeed I am thinking that I would like to design an improved cape for Bicycle Fixation sometime soon).
On the way back it was raining quite hard, so we caped up for both the run to Susina for dessert, and the run home. The knee coverage the cape gave mostly overlapping the top of the rain boots kept her dry and cozy in spite of a cold and increasing storm.
Quite a pleasant day and evening after all! The rain still falls, making a gentle music in the downspouts, so sleep may be particularly felicitous tonight.
And best of all, it looks as though it will be clear, though perhaps chilly, for Sunday's birthday ride. People in LA tend to be rain wimps, so a clear Sunday will make for a more sociable ride. See you there!
...Just realized I may have been a bit unjust in that last paragraph: the notice for tonight's Mid-Wilshire Critical Mass stated that it was rolling rain or not!
I hope they do. They may just enjoy it more than they anticipate....
Richard Risemberg on Fri, 25 Feb 2011 19:53:00 -0800 [link]
It would also make the 605 and possibly the 710 freeways redundant, potentially freeing yet more land for intelligent development that could turn at least part of Southern California into a practical cycling paradise--all while employing thousands to build and alter operate the system, while spurring small-business development in the resulting new communities.
Read about it at The New Colonist in Making Freeways Obsolete.
Richard Risemberg on Fri, 25 Feb 2011 08:27:57 -0800 [link]
But on the ground it isn't a velocipedal paradise just yet. Few streets have any accommodation for cyclists beyond an occasional sign or long-faded stripe, and the traffic stream is still intimidating for the inexperienced. LA is very large, and the improvements have been very small, and the relentless barrage of car and truck traffic destroys streets faster than they can be repaired--especially considering the huge shortfall in taxes and fees asked of drivers, who pay only a minuscule portion of the costs their hobby imposes on the polity.
A case in point is my beloved 4th Street. One of the most-used bike routes in LA, and slated to become a "Bicycle Friendly Street" in the new bike plan, it also suffers a degraded paving that would shame a war-torn banana republic--even though it serves one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city, where numerous foreign consuls have their homes.
In other words, LA has not addressed the most basic aspect of an urban thoroughfare on 4th Street--its pavement--in anything beyond a manner so slapdash as to be insulting.
Here are some photos that I took a couple of days ago:
4th & Cloverdale (recently "repaired"):
4th & McCadden:
4th & McCadden:
4th & Hudson--the "Hudson River" (recently "repaired"):
Another view of 4th & Hudson:
I just have to hope that the projects outlined in the new Bike Plan (probably to be approved and signed into existence next week) will be built with a little more care and competence than these intersections have seen in the last few decades. The neglect began long before the budget shortfalls, as I know, having traveled this street several times a week for nearly twenty years now.
Los Angeles, we can do better than this!
Richard Risemberg on Wed, 23 Feb 2011 08:34:06 -0800 [link]
So here's the tentative plan:
- Meet at the Sabor y Cultura coffeehouse on Hollywood and Gramercy around 10:30AM on Sunday, February 27th.
- Suck down some coffee and then meander over to Highland Park for a spot of lunch at Good Girl Dinette.
- Ride through downtown and maybe University Park, catch Jefferson west, and end up at the mighty Pacific Ocean for a hangout and perhaps more coffee.
- Back to Hollywood to disband.
This being LA, rain will cancel, though I'll take some kind of ride myself anyway. But the weather will probably be dryish and cool enough for a mostly no-sweat ride.
If you're interested, please let me know through our comments page. If there's a biggish turnout I may have to alert the restaurants.
Looking forward to it!
Richard Risemberg on Sun, 20 Feb 2011 19:06:07 -0800 [link]
On Orange 20 this week I wonder where LA's second bike corral should go in Build It, and They Will Park, and over at Flying Pigeon LA I talk about Graffiti and Grace in the LA River, as seen from the new bike path.
Both with pix, as usual.
Richard Risemberg on Sun, 20 Feb 2011 18:48:37 -0800 [link]
Local council member José Huizar gave a very nice speech, in which, besides all the usual civic boilerplate, he noted that plans were afoot to install thirty more corrals ASAP, and that he fervently hoped LA would soon be the "largest bike friendly city in America"--a construction inspired by little Long Beach's claim to be the "most bike friendly city" in the US.
I myself rode to Hel-Mel to meet up with the LACBC contingent and LADOT's Chris Kidd (first photo), and we had a sweet ride following Colin Bogard along a meander of back streets through East Hollywood, Silverlake, Atwater, and Highland Park to the site of the festivities.
The corral is in front of Café de Leche, one of the friendliest coffeehouses I've ever visited (and one that has damned good brew as well); owner Matt Schodorf and his wife were primary sponsors of the corral, and have volunteered to take on the cleaning and maintenance thereof.
LADOT acting boss Amir Sedadi pointed out that the corral cost less than $4,000, while a similar car slot costs up to $30,000 to build; Joe Linton stepped up to clarify that (as the corral occupies a car space), the corral accommodates ten bikes and so parks far more people than the same space can when dedicated to private cars.
In other words, bike parking brings more people to an area by allowing them to arrive in smaller vehicles. Since even in the US most car trips (around 60%) are under five miles, and nearly half (40%) are under two miles, it really doesn't make sense to use cars for them.
So I'm glad to see that LA is finally starting to make sense.
It's nice to have a choice in travel modes, and not be coerced into driving by unconsidered infrastructure.
Okay, some pix:
At Hel-mel, getting ready to go--Chris Kidd, Alexis Lantz, Colin Bogard, and Carol Feucht
Owners of Café de Leche
Josef of Flying Pigeon LA--tireless advocate for bikes and community.
Come and get it!
And there's a few more on the Bicycle Fixation Flickr site.
Richard Risemberg on Sat, 19 Feb 2011 08:24:06 -0800 [link]
In any case, among the sponsors this year is Philadelphia's famed Bilenky Cycle Works (whose homepage presently features a beautiful porteur), and Bina Bilenky s coordinating some of the events. She has asked us to forward a call for volunteers for the fashion show, so here it is:
Promises to be a great show!
Richard Risemberg on Thu, 17 Feb 2011 17:10:51 -0800 [link]
This is the much-maligned Los Angeles River, which I rode along yesterday on my way home from South Pasadena. This section of bike path opened only a few weeks ago, and it almost immediately became my preferred route for the return half of my usual Tuesday journey.
It's far from perfect beauty--I cropped the concrete banks out of the picture, and the white flecks you see are styrofoam cups, the debris of drive-through culture--but perfect beauty is far less interesting than that symphonic elegance that "grace under pressure" composes out of a tension of opposites. (Hemingway used the phrase to define courage, but I think it serves admirably to describe as well the persistence of natural harmonies even in a most unnatural setting.)
The river persists, with its lives small and large, from bugs, fish, and birds to the arching trees that grow in the river bottom.
The water table is high here, and the river couldn't be completely paved, so we have these miles of grace, now accessible to almost all by means of the bike path.
It makes a good fast trip as well, faster than the parallel streets, with their intersections and red lights.
The path is far from perfect too: I wrote on the Flying Pigeon LA blog a little while ago to complain that there are no street signs to let you know where on the path you are, except at the biggest boulevards. I suspect that will be corrected eventually.
Meanwhile, it's still a great new path. I wish it went all the way to downtown, and probably it will someday, as well as onward to the path that starts a few miles south of the city center and continues on to Long Beach at the mouth of the river. At least it's another increment in the (very) slow process that began back in the '70s, when the first section of riverside bike path was put in. I'll enjoy it now, while hoping (and working) for more in the near future.
Richard Risemberg on Wed, 16 Feb 2011 07:42:41 -0800 [link]
Richard Risemberg on Sun, 13 Feb 2011 17:42:19 -0800 [link]
On the left side you have a parking lot in downtown Los Angeles. occupying some of the most valuable land in the county. The front row, as you can see, has room for about fourteen cars. The space around the cars is bleak and empty, and it's a long way to the nearest building entrance.
On the right you have a bike corral on 3rd Street in downtown Portland. It has room for twenty-four bikes. It's right next to an accommodating sidewalk, and no spot in it is more than a few steps from numerous store entrances. The Main Street feel of this very urban downtown is supported, not destroyed, by accommodating cyclists instead of drivers, and the space delivers more customers per square foot than car parking can ever hope to do.
Richard Risemberg on Sat, 12 Feb 2011 07:18:57 -0800 [link]
The image below is but a tiny sample of the sweetest mile in North East Los Angeles. I picked this spot not because it outshone all others, but because I wanted to pick nasturtium leaves for the supper we just finished here at Bicycle Fixation HQ.
This is a time of year when you want both to ride faster and see what's next, and ride slower to savor what is already beside you. Great ride, and a great visit with my old friend too.
More good news: while riding through Chinatown on the way to Harv's Hill, and on the way to the Garment District on my way back, I saw that LADOT had stenciled bike rack placement markers all up and down Hill and Broadway. As you know, I've been grumping about the lack of bicycle parking in Chinatown for a while now. I raised the issue with LADOT's Oliver Hou, and he promised to review the possibilities for adding racks (there presently being exactly none).
Well, I guess he did: I counted nearly twenty markers for future racks, and I looked at only one side each of Hill and Broadway, as I didn't have time to dismount and count, and couldn't see the stencils on the far sidewalk.
So Chinatown will soon be a little more bicycle-friendly--thank you, Oliver and LADOT!
Now, to get some racks placed inside Central and West plazas, which are apparently not city-owned...I haven't yet been able to find out who does own them, but I'll let you know when I do.
Gung hei fat choi!
And my usual reminder: if you want to call in sidewalk racks for your favorite store, shop, restaurant, or other business in the City of Los Angeles, just go to LADOT's rack request form.
Richard Risemberg on Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:41:56 -0800 [link]
On Orange 20's blog, I write up yesterday's LACBC-sponsored "I Love the Westside Ride," and...
...over at Flying Pigeon LA, I wonder why "The Other Figueroa" seems to be left out of the city's (slowly dawning) complete streets consciousness.
Richard Risemberg on Mon, 07 Feb 2011 17:45:24 -0800 [link]
Well, what about them? I haven't ridden a multispeed, or even a coaster, for almost five years now, and regular readers know that I'm up on Mulholland Drive and other crestline roads all the time. I'm no super-athlete, either; I'm just a skinny 58-year-old who's never raced and who assiduously avoids the anaerobic threshhold.
Fixies are fine. There's nothing better for wet weather or heavy traffic, they are fine on hills if you're geared sensibly--and they just plain feel good, so you ride more!
They get you around.
Last Friday I took a quick ride up (and up, and up) to the Griffith Observatory and took a few pictures. I like this one in particular for two reasons:
- It shows an area that I love to ride in, and
- It dispels the oft-quoted notion that "LA has no hills." (Note that these are the tiny hills; out of view to the left is a range of 8,000 foot mountains.)
You are looking over the Los Feliz area to the rump of Silverlake and the valley where the Los Angeles River flows towards Downtown. Beyond that, running off at an angle, is another valley where the Arroyo Seco runs down from Pasadena, and where one of my retailers, the delightful Flying Pigeon LA, resides, along with my good friend Harv Woien, and the Bike Oven repair coop associated with both of them. I'm riding in this area at least once a week.
By the way, on this day at least the mist was actual mist, not smog.
Nothing against road bikes--I plan to build up an old Eisentraut frame this year for Sunday riding--but for day-to-day velocipedal pleasure, I do love my fixies. Hills and all!
Richard Risemberg on Wed, 02 Feb 2011 08:08:10 -0800 [link]