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Wednesday, February 26th
Offsite Blogging CLVIII
Go to Orange 20's blog today to read my writeup of A Sunday in Hollywood, the first edition of the Los Angeles Bicycle Commuter Festival and Summit.

While at Flying Pigeon LA you can contemplate the Crossing Curves of car and bicycle usage in the country, how Seattle is wasting billions to make more room for cars that aren't there, and what it could mean for Los Angeles.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 26 Feb 2014 19:53:42 -0800 [link]  

Monday, February 24th
Carrying Things Too Far?
Surfboard, cellphone, and beach cruiser, Venice Beach

This is actually a common sight along the beachside bike path in Los Angeles. as well as on the nearby streets: a fellow (or often enough) a gal carrying a surfboard on their bike. This gentleman has a basket full of civilian clothes as well, though I'd say he's carrying things a bit too far to be chatting on his cellphone as he pedals along a bikepath that pedestrians regularly cross and even walk along (though they have their own path nearby).

The bikes used are often beach cruisers, though BMX bikes and even '70s bike boom ten speeds get the treatment—anything unlikely to be stolen when it's left locked up by the beach for several hours, and that won't cause too many tears if it is in fact nicked anyway. Some folks use surfboard-specific bike trailers, but most use the brackets employed here.

In other words, it's not that hard to carry even something a bulky as a longboard by bike.

I myself have carried items as diverse as a microwave oven, two 60-inch rolls of wool gabardine, or a cello (which I picked up from the repair shop for Gina). Also two hundred pounds of steer manure, but I did use a trailer for that. For the rest of the stuff I mentioned, just an ordinary bike with bags of various sorts.

It's not that hard. In fact it's not hard at all.

I'm hoping that within a few years, even Los Angeles's addled thralls of motordom won't be particularly surprised or unbelieving to see a big load rolls past them at the stoplight on a bicycle. We're getting close to that point. Shop after bike shop is adding baskets, racks, panniers, and cargo bikes of various sorts to their inventories, from butcher's bikes to longtails to bakfietsen.

Just pocket the cellphone while you're portaging your washing machine, okay?

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 24 Feb 2014 21:12:55 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, February 19th
Offsite Blogging CLVII
This week we focus on San Diego, the good and the bad, starting off with an Orange 20 post giving the city props as LA's Competition on the Border, while at Flying Pigeon LA we pull back to look at backlash in our southern neighbor, including the usual tired comment about Spandex-clad invaders; click on Look, Ma! No Bike Shorts!

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 19 Feb 2014 18:58:08 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, February 12th
Offsite Blogging CLVI
On Orange 20's blog this week, we examine The Real Danger on our streets (and it ain't bikes!).

While at Flying Pigeon LA we compare the eastern portion of Sunset Boulevard with North Figueroa for lessons on how To Build a Neighborhood…with the help of bikeways, of course.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 12 Feb 2014 21:01:10 -0800 [link]  

Monday, February 10th
Success on Sunset
Sunset Traingle

Sunset Boulevard is one of LA's few cycling success stories right now. Not the famous part from the movie—most of that's in Beverly Hills anyway, and the 90210 is notoriously unfriendly to anyone not traveling by limousine. I mean, of course, the portion meandering through Echo Park and Silver Lake, through hills densely packed with mid-last-century apartments, houses, and bungalows, and fronted by a wealth not of glitter and gold but of diverse and clever restaurants, bars, shops, boutiques, and neighborhood services of all sorts.

Need a white-tablecoth vegan meal? You've got it. Need an old-school French dinner? You've got it. Just need a cuppa joe and a sandwich? You've got that, too, and at a decent price. Prefer ethic food? Well, choose a culture, and it's likely somewhere along the strip. Need to buy a dress, a shirt, a pair of shoes, a book, a bicycle, a rare craft beer? You won't have to go far to be satisfied. Hair getting shaggy, teeth aching, worried over taxes, or you've just run out of clean clothes? All taken care of. There's a library too, an obscure but jam-packed Asian grocery, a movie theater, even furniture shops—not to mention a public school.

It's a small city unto itself—perhaps a bit too diverse in both population and merchantry to embody the small town cliché—nestled in the hills west of Downtown. It is also one of the few parts of town where bicycling is prevalent enough to seem routine. (Santa Monica's Main Street is even more replete with velos, but that's technically a different city.)

There are bikes everywhere—in the bike lanes, locked to the many bike racks, coming into and out of side streets. I often choose to ride back from my visits to South Pasadena or Highland Park along this road, simply because one feels at home here on a bicycle…and because the architecture is diverse and often interesting, if also often ramshackle. There are also three or four bike shops along the way, though a couple of them seem somewhat dubious, with their seemingly undiminishable supply of used bikes. The only one I go to is Golden Saddle, run by ex-Orange 20 employee Kyle Kelly and pals, and a friendly, airy shop with lots of city bikes and accessories. (Orange 20 itself is only a couple of miles off.)

One thing I always notice when riding through Echo Park and Silver Lake is how many women are pedaling along the bike lanes. The current perception is that lots of women riding indicates a healthier velovironment, and that's probably correct, though I don't think that women are inherently timid, as that seems to me to imply.

In fact, Sunset may argue that they are not: the bicycle facilities here are nothing more than the usual Door Zone Bike Lanes, and Sunset sees a lot of motor traffic, often fast traffic, as well as hosting two major bus lines. It's also hilly. So why does it work?

I suggest that it works because it offers a rich variety of small, personable retailers. There's a plethora of small shops, bars, restaurants, and service establishments, typically offering unique and often locally-made products and a stunning range of cuisines and atmospheres, staffed by friendly and lively employees. There are almost no "national chains," with their standardized offerings and clock-punching wage-slaves; nearly every business owner and his or her employees are as much a part of the neighborhood as their customers. And there are dozens upon dozens upon dozens of these shops and restaurants, all different, all very good. As a result, hundreds of interesting people roll and stroll from storefront to shop to plaza all day long. It's a place to go to, and it's by far easier to go there, and navigate through the wealth of choices, by bicycle than by car.

The city, recognizing its character, put LA's very first pedestrian plaza—which includes a bike corral—at the west end of the strip, in a bit of reclaimed street now called Sunset Triangle. It was just made permanent, after a year-long trial.

And there are bike racks all along Sunset through this exhilarating neighborhood.

So you have bikeways, though minimal ones; lots of bike parking; lots of people living nearby; and someplace for all those people to ride bikes to. Result: lots of people riding bikes!

Not so unusual—in fact it's a lot like Portland, most of whose bikeways are also just stripes on streets, but which also has a fine-grained retail structure and fairly dense housing, with local offerings outweighing the ever-tedious "national chains" most dimwitted cities pander to.

In other words, bicycling is supported by real neighborhoods and attentive local businesses—and supports them in return. It helps create and maintain real neighborhoods with real neighbors in them, healing the wounds that car culture has gashed into the body politic.

And that appears to be happening along Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park and Silver Lake, in, of all places, Los Angeles!

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 19:07:41 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, February 5th
Offsite Blogging CLV
Big news today, as I report on an independent review of the state DOT, known here as CalTrans, in Cast in Concrete: the CalTrans Mind, over on Orange 20's blog.

Then, at Flying Pigeon LA, I carry it forward a bit in Studies Have Shown, where I examine the matrix that nurtured that mindset, and link you to a plethora of studies that look at human-scale development versus Carmageddon.

Makes for a lot of very useful reading.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 05 Feb 2014 22:27:27 -0800 [link]  

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