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Tuesday, March 29th
W/S Bike Killaz
AKA another in our desultory series on Los Angeles Killer Potholes.

This one is on Wilshire in the Miracle Mile--in fact, around the corner from Bicycle Fixation Central. I am just flabbergasted that such a thing is permitted to remain.

And yes, there is quite a bit of bicycle traffic on Wilshire Bouelvard.

One Nasty Pothole

There's a lead-in of a series of bad patch jobs creating a mini-mogul effect to get you ready for this beast...I'm going to drop a dime on it at the usual Bureau of Street Services webpage, so with luck it may be gone in a week or two...or three, or....

Keep your eyes open. The recent downpours have made small potholes bigger, and big potholes humongous...and they're all hungry!

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 29 Mar 2011 17:02:44 -0800 [link]  

Monday, March 28th
Offsite Blogging VIII
Two more, as usual....

At Orange 20, I report on progress in the effort to get a bike corral installed at Hel-Mel; see Round 'Em Up.

And at Flying Pigeon, I moan and groan about a well-meaning but incomplete expansion of LA's bicycle parking requirements: A Half Step Forward.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 28 Mar 2011 08:18:15 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, March 27th
Selling Us Short
Missing Bike Valet in Santa MonicaWell, a little rain seems easily to confuse the good folks in Santa Monica.

The city has run a bike valet service in conjunction with its farmers' market every Sunday for quite a while. I've been there before on wet days when it was still open and crowded with bike, so you can imagine I was a bit dismayed when I arrived there today, after a twelve miles' ride in steady but not heavy rain, to find a row of SUVs parked right in front of the "Bike Parking Only Sundays 7AM to 1PM" sign, and no other sign of the bike valet service.

Though it was still early, a number of cyclists had locked up to parking meters and signposts, as you see. A number mroe had parked behind me or otherwise out of camera range.

Several others were huddled at the information desk, asking where they could park their bikes. And cyclists kept arriving in twos, threes, and fours as I strolled about (pushing my fixie along) taking pictures and eavesdropping.

Really, Santa Monica, give us a little credit! We're not going to let a bit of rain keep us off our wheels.

I hope they learn from their mistake.

Sure, I could see keeping a smaller area clear during the rain. But to let the whole thing, go, when Santa Monica cyclists have come to expect a bit of bike parking when they come to shop?

How many cyclists turned around and took their money home with them today?

Santa Monica, you blew it!

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 27 Mar 2011 19:25:42 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, March 22nd
Hudson River Update V
So, after two years of reports, recriminations, and repairs, the notorious "Hudson River" on LA's 4th Street Bike Route, soon (we hope) to be a bicycle boulevard, has come full circle. We see it in all its original glory, all the vain asphalt botox blown right out by flowing water and the passage of careless cars. It's the same cracked and jagged canyon that it was two years ago, when council members and departments vied to assure us that it soon would be fixed.

Indeed, the permanent water flow has, to all appearances, been stanched--the water in the photo below is from two days of hard rain--but the hole, the cruel and persistent pothole, remains...waiting to break a few more arms of unwary cyclists. (It has broken at least two already.)

I stuck my Bottecchia's front wheel in it this morning, so you can see how deep it is:

Hudson River Death Pit

And then I photographed it as it looks on wet days (which can also mean days when the blithe and wealthy denizens of Hancock Park enthusiastically overwater their lush lawns to fight off the effects of summer heat on tender grass). Pretty, ain't it?

Hudson River Death Pit

Pretty...till your wheel goes in.

Well, I have a meeting soon with the 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard committee of the LACBC. I'm going to suggest we do some serious bitching at the city and see if we can get this fixed.

For now, it remains a constant menace.

Fourth Street is a beautiful ride and a handy crosstown route. Just be careful there, y'hear?

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 22 Mar 2011 17:14:36 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, March 20th
All Kinds of Rain
It's been a day of all kinds of rain, from drizzles to downpours, starting before dawn. I didn't do a big ride today, but instead had the pleasure of rolling around with Gina, pedaling up 4th Street to Larchmont, then back to our neighborhood to Trader Joe's, then over to the Farmers market on Third for a canning jar and some vegetables. (We parked at the adjacent Grove, however, as their array of bike racks is inside the parking garage, making the lockup and transition to pedestrianism easier.)

So, while we were enjoying our coffee at Larchmont, Gina snapped a couple of iPhone shots of the bikes waiting patiently in the rain outside:

milkie_rain_GSM (84k image)bambi_rain_GSM (80k image)

Gina's been much more enthusiastic about rain riding since she got her stylish new rubber boots!

The capes kept us dry even under torrents of heavy rain...though Gina's is just adequate, and a trifle cumbersome, and will be replaced soon. My feet got wet, though; I envied Gina those rubber boots by the time we got home!

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 20 Mar 2011 15:23:15 -0800 [link]  

Offsite Blogging VII
Two new articles on the local blogs to which I contribute....

At Orange 20, a report on progress in bike parking in Los Angeles: Racking My Brains.

And at Flying Pigeon LA, a detailed view of those new bike racks in Chinatown: Bike Racks Invade "Lost Province."

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 20 Mar 2011 09:15:58 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, March 15th
Hudson River Update IV/Asphalt Death Cake II
The Hudson River, at 4th & Hudson on LA's 4th Street Bike Route was flowing again today, though it seemed to be lawn watering overflow rather than the notorious sump pump from the house at 345.

But the Asphalt Death Cake remains, somewhat diminished by the passage of speeding cars (despite the stop sign, "scofflaw motorists" roll through and hit it pretty hard); it now appears to have devolved to a knife-edge island, which you see peeking through the water in this photo which I took this morning.

I'd guess the water's five inches deep there at least. Today it was too muddy to see into even when I was standing in the street right by it.

Here it is:

Evolution of the Asphalt Death Cake

A week and a half after I called it in to the Bureau of Street Services.

I know we're in a budget crunch...but they have spent more, I'd guess, repairing this pit haphazardly six or eight times in the last couple of years than they would have fixing it properly once.

Penny wise, pound foolish. And thoroughly dismissive of the constituents who use this street--which includes many, many bike commuters.

Note: As of March 16th, the Death Cake has vanished entirely--though whether it was intentionally removed or just pounded out by the hammering of countless car wheels, I don't know. The buckled concrete Death Pit remains, as does the pea gravel and assorted debris.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 15 Mar 2011 16:56:29 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, March 13th
Offsite Blogging VI
New posts from ol' Rick on the local blogs to which I am a contributor:

At Flying Pigeon LA, I wonder, "What Do You Do When You Get There?"--if there's no bike parking at the end of the bike lane.

And over on Orange 20, I present a brief "Bike Lane Primer."

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 13 Mar 2011 18:06:14 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, March 12th
Bike Parking Benefits
Lately I've been pushing for more bicycle parking facilities to accompany the coming build-out of bike lanes in Los Angeles--be they simple sidewalk racks or in-street bike corrals--or even, eventually, covered and guarded bike parking where demands supports it.

This morning I encountered an article in from March 2nddescribing a couple of new corrals, and in the course of the story author Jonathan Maus mentioned an interesting statistic given by Portland's bike parking program manager Sarah Figliozzi:
Portland now has 64 on-street bike corrals that provide space for 1,140 bicycles in what was previously room for only 107 automobiles.
This is an enlightening figure, for it shows that even in the highly-unlikely event that every car in Portland carried four people (instead of the typical solo driver), transforming a car parking spot into bicycle parking would still be a far more productive use of valuable street space.

One hundred seven cars with four occupants each could still bring only 428 persons to the areas serviced by bike corrals at any given time. The corrals can accommodate well over twice this number, so even if every bike corral was never more than half full, it would still provide more customer parking than giving that space to motorists would even if every car ran full instead of three-quarters empty.

When I was in Portland, last April when it was still cold and rainy, the corrals I saw were almost always close to three-quarters full if not full. In fact it was often difficult for Gina and me to find space for our own bikes.

When the corrals were not heavily occupied, neither were the car parking spaces.

You can read about our trip to Portland in Portland 2010: Both More and Less than Paradise. (Note: contains iPad-unfriendly Flash slideshow.)

And while you're at it, take a look at the results of Gina's Great Bike Rack Hunt Contest.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 12 Mar 2011 09:21:16 -0800 [link]  

Friday, March 11th
Halfway Isn't Quite Good Enough (Hudson River Update III)
I've got to give the city some credit: a year after I ferreted out the source of the "Hudson River's" constant flow of water, which has bred slick algae and undermined the street at this corner of 4th and Hudson along one of LA's most-used bike routes, they finally got the homeowner responsible to hook his sump pump directly to the storm drain, as I wrote here.

The flow, which had run for a decade and a half at least, has been absent for an entire week. (There has been occasional water there from lawn sprinklers, but that is typical and not constant.) I had, perhaps foolishly, assumed that now the Bureau of Street Services would repair the jagged pothole, and do a proper job of it, and especially remove the Asphalt Death Cake that stood in the center of the pit like a black, broken fang in some monstrous jaw.

Just to make sure, I got on the BSS website and sent a notice of the hazard in, which has usually resulted in pretty quick action, I must say.

But not this time. Today I went back to the "Hudson River" and took the photos you see below, hoping to show exactly what the cyclists of Wilshire West have to deal with on this otherwise tranquil, tree-shaded, sharrowed street.

Take a stiff drink now, and scroll down....

This is how it looks as you approach it:
Hudson River Death Pit

This is how it looks if you land in it:
Hudson River Death Pit

Try to go around it, and the city left some deep, soft gravel for you to ride through:
Hudson River Death Pit

Really, this is a death pit for the city can let this continue to exist for years on end on what is planned to be a showpiece of local bicycle infrastructure is beyond me. Bones have been broken here--bones of the very bicycle commuters the city claims to be encouraging.

The city employs thousands of engineers, skilled workers, laborers, and contractors.

So how come we can't fix this hole in the street?

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 11 Mar 2011 18:39:49 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, March 9th
Box on the Out
The election results for my Los Angeles City Council district are in, and bike activist Stephen Box has lost, and lost resoundingly, with less than 14% of the vote. The incumbent, Tom La Bonge, a political careerist, won easily with 55% of around 16,000 votes. (A third candidate, Tomás O'Grady, won 31%.)

You'd think that as a cycling advocate myself, I'd be worried. But I'm not.

In fact, La Bonge has been a cycling advocate himself for years--not as passionate nor as vociferous about it as Box, but steady. I remember taking my son along on Mayor Richard Riordan's rides (which La Bonge organized) when the lad (now in law school) could barely straddle a BMX bike. And while La Bonge's support of bicycling programs has seemed to me to be responsive rather than pro-active, it has always been there. He does need to be pushed into action, but once pushed, he does act.

(Well, usually--4th Street is still pretty sad despite a decade of pushes.)

The truth is, I voted for Box primarily for non-cycling reasons, especially his support of small businesses. I was in fact uncomfortable with Box's strident opposition to the Community Redevelopment Agency, which suffers many real flaws (especially its taking of private properties, under a variant of eminent domain, not for public use, but to grant to private developers, a practice I do abhor)--but which also has done great good for the poorer communities of this city--communities almost universally snubbed by local developers. In the end perhaps Box was too conservative (in areas other than transportation policy) for a solidly liberal district.

La Bonge is a cheerleader more than a policy wonk, and I think we would have done better with a policy wonk for a least a while--but La Bonge has been cheerleading for bicycle programs and infrastructure for at least twenty years, so, while there is cause for cyclists to be a little disappointed, there is no real reason for us to despair.

The new Bike Plan (which La Bonge supported enthusiastically) won't fall into a giant pothole and break a rim.

That is, as long as it stays off 4th Street....

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 09 Mar 2011 07:37:46 -0800 [link]  

Monday, March 7th
Hudson River Update II
It's drying up nicely now--I took this photo yesterday morning, and when I passed again just before dusk the intersection was almost completely dry.

Still nasty, though, as you can see in the photo below:

hudson_river_030611 (126k image)

That "cake" of asphalt in the middle of the pothole is 6 inches heigh on some edges! Literally a bicycle deathtrap on one of LA's most-used official bike routes.

I'll drop another (virtual) dime on it through the Bureau of Street Services website and see whether the next temporary patch will be a little less temporary, now that the water flow has (apparently) been redirected straight to the storm drain.

What we really need, when this is repaved as part of its conversion to a bicycle boulevard, is a motor traffic diverter here--built as a bioswale!

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 07 Mar 2011 07:51:27 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, March 6th
Offsite Blogging V
This week on the Flying Pigeon LA blog: In the Zone.

And on the Orange 20 blog: Seventh Heaven.

Both covering aspects of the new LA Bike Plan.

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 06 Mar 2011 19:22:46 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, March 5th
Hudson River Update
Dare I hope? As I rode home tonight from the CicLAvia benefit party in Atwater, I noticed that the "Hudson River" was dry. Yes, that eternal labyrinth of broken asphalt and algae-slick puddles, caused by flow from a sump pump at 345 Hudson up the street, as I determined a year or two ago, was dry.

I'd nagged about this through every agency I had at hand--indirectly through this blog and the LACBC, and directly to LADOT, Sanitation, Bureau of Street Services, councilmember La Bonge's office,and all gods and demons as well for good measure.

And I'd recently heard noises through LACBC folk that the city had at least both persuaded and permitted the offending owner to hiik the damned sump pump directly to the storm drain under the street, thereby no longer using the intersection as a private drain channel.

The intersection itself is still a mess, and still dangerous, and possibly the dryness is coincidental, and the sump pump broken or the power out--but I'm going to let myself hope that years of concerted nagging have borne fruit, and that the next time the gaping holes are patched, the fix will last a little longer.

Of course, we still have to get a bike boulevard in there--but since that requires paving the horrible street surface, which would be useless if the water were still undermining the roadway, we're a little bit closer now.

I hope.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 05 Mar 2011 19:18:07 -0800 [link]  

Friday, March 4th
San Diego Custom Bicycle Show Coming in April
From the press release:
Bina Bilenky
(c) 215-740-7068

Countdown to San Diego

2011 San Diego Custom Bicycle Show just weeks away

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (San Diego, CA) Anticipation and excitement is growing as April 8, 9, 10 races into view on the calendar. That's when Brian Baylis and Bina Bilenky will present the 2011 San Diego Bicycle Show at storied Golden Hall on the San Diego Concourse, 202 C Street, San Diego, CA.

Sharing the weekend with the thousands of riders participating in the Colnago Gran Fondo just blocks away, the 2011 San Diego Custom Bicycle Show promises to be bigger and better than ever.

A third of the exhibitor space filled up in the first month following the announcement, and the latest additions can be viewed on the show website.
In addition to the tall-bike jousting, kinetic sculpture parade, and bicycle rodeo, activities include a vintage parts swap with framebuilder's only swap before the swap opens to the public.

Nan Eastep and Sherry Koyama of B. Spoke Tailor will present the Bicycle Fashion Show proving that today's bike wear is indeed runway worthy.
There will be parties with live music by the Offbeats (a British invasion tribute band) and a unique performance by the yet-to-be formed MotherFluxers: Brian Baylis (Baylis Cycles) on drums, Stephen Bilenky (Bilenky Cycle Works, the Notekillers) on bass, Eddi on saxophone, and Paul Sadoff (Rock Lobster Custom Cycles) on guitar.

A special Women's Panel convenes to discuss the topic of "Empowering Women Cyclists". Featured panelists are: Samantha Ollinger, Editor of, and co-organizer of San Diego Streets for People (, Diane Lees, Co-owner HubBub Custom Bicycles, Mia Kohout, Co-Publisher, Marketing Advertising Director Momentum Magazine, Megan Dean, framebuilder and owner Moth Attack, Sarai Snyder of GirlBikeLove and Andrea Garland, Bicycle and Pedestrian Professional at Alta Planning & Design.

Dave Bohm of Bohemian Bicycles will demonstrate framebuilding skills in "Brazing Illustrated" a live brazing demo.

Interesting and informative seminars continue to be added to the schedule. Bill McCready, of Santana Cycle will deliver "Tandem Frame Design & Materials Technology. Richard Schwinn, (Waterford Precision Cycles) together with Ted Ernst will present "Paramount - 70 Years of Handbuilt Glory". There will also be a Schwinn Paramount Concours d'Elegance showcasing an impressive array of historic and collectible Paramounts.

With something for everyone, the 2011 San Diego Custom Bicycle Show is a fun-filled celebration promoting all aspects of bicycle culture.

San Diego Custom Bicycle Show
April 8, 9, and 10, 2011
Golden Hall at the San Diego Concourse
202 C. St
San Diego, CA 92101

Press passes available upon request.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 04 Mar 2011 08:40:09 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, March 3rd
Boxed In: a Critique and an Endorsement
I live in Los Angeles, as many of you know, in City Council District 4, which is on the ballot in next Tuesday's election. The incumbent, Tom La Bonge, has been in his seat since 2001 and worked as district deputy to the prior council member before that. The upcoming term is the last one he may serve under the term limits rules. He's being challenged by Tomás O' Grady, a previously little-known landlord and green-living enthusiast, and Stephen Box, an independent producer, community organizer, and bike activist well-known in the Los Angeles bike scene.

You'd think my choice would be obvious, especially as I'm personally acquainted with Box, but it hasn't been easy--although I'll say up front that I am intending to vote for him next Tuesday.

I have not been pleased with La Bonge for some time now; he is full of friendly bluster and obviously understands that a Reaganesque affability is his greatest asset, but has done little concrete except to climb onto bandwagons that others have gotten rolling and wave and smile to the cheers of the crowd. He does genuinely love bicycling--and he also genuinely loves big corporations and developers, which has not always been good for urban cycling or neighborhood life. He truly loves the city of Los Angeles, there is no doubt of that--but he hasn't been all that good for it, or for the district. (The segment of 4th Street that I constantly rag about in this blog is entirely within District 4 and has been in abominable condition throughout La Bonge's tenure.)

O'Grady seems to have no program except for unspecified "cost cutting," and cost-cutting alone never saved a business or a city; his responses to newspaper and forum survey questions have, like La Bonge's, consisted mostly of studiously vague rambles about what a good guy he is and how much he loves us.

Again, my choice should be clear--but it wasn't.

Along with his undeniable intelligence, and a firm grasp of the city's administrative procedures and its dark maze of funding and spending practices, Box brings some negatives to the podium.

He has a tendency to use ad hominem attacks and diversionary anger in argument--something that may be effective for a gadfly working from outside to stimulate action, but far less so in a member of a collegial body that has to achieve consensus in a huge and astonishingly diverse city such as LA. (I must say, though, that in last night's forum in Park La Brea, which Gina and I pedaled to through a delightful light spring rain, he took only the most modest digs at La Bonge, none of which was out of line under the circumstances.)

His past unwillingness to compromise could, if carried forward should he win, stall the process in council, and leads me to worry that in reaching for pie in the sky, he'll neglect putting bread on the table. ("The perfect is the enemy of the good.")

He shares with La Bonge a tendency to take more credit than is due him for accomplishments largely driven by others in our community--and this has alienated some hardworking and effective players in the local advocacy scene, making the sum total of our efforts less effective.

Nevertheless, while Box is not my "ideal" choice, he is by far the best of the three candidates for this position.

He knows the city and how it works, showing a grasp of civic mechanics that seems far to outstrip that of the veteran La Bonge; he has knocked a couple of bricks out of the walls of complacency and obscurity that afflict our administration; and he will shake up a city council that has spent far too much time sitting on its hands the past couple of decades, slowly dawdling into the future while other cities rush past us at bullet-train speeds.

He supports neighborhood empowerment, intelligent transportation infrastructure, transparency in governance, and the small businesses that are the lifeblood of any city. Working from outside, with little money and while simultaneously operating his own small business, he has already done great good on the ground, pushing all the while against the institutional inertia that has characterized city government here for far too long.

Come Tuesday, he'll get my vote.

And if he doesn't work out, there'll be another Tuesday four years hence.

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 03 Mar 2011 11:26:36 -0800 [link]  

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