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Wednesday, March 28th
Offsite Blogging LVII
On Orange 20's blog, I am shocked to admit that it seems there's been Progress in Beverly Hills in regards to bicycle facilities...really!

And I send Flying Pigeon LA's blog to check out LA's first true town square in Sunset Triangle Revisited.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 28 Mar 2012 17:44:37 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, March 27th
Inventive Inventory
Just a reminder that we now have a good stock of our latest Bicycle Fixation Classic Wool Knickers and more, the perfect match for springtime rides to the bistro, the bar, or anywhere on the horizon that your front wheel wants to lead you.

This season's colors are Soft Black, a classic go-anyplace, match-anything choice, with a beautiful drape as always, and Olive Brown, a slightly lighter weave in a warm, slightly heathered hue that's hard to describe but easy to love.

We also have plenty of Knicker Socks to go with them, as well as the James Black Hat, and a few of our casual City Knickers v2.0 (almost sold out).

Plus odds and ends such a Kookaburra Wash, great for woolens or anything else, and our twist-grip Wring-Ring Bell from the Netherlands.

See 'em all right in our Shopping Cart.

Look Good, Feel Good, Ride Happy!

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 27 Mar 2012 19:09:13 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, March 25th
Rainy Days & Sundays
Or at least this Sunday....

Rode a thirty- or thirty-five-mile round today in weather ranging from the wispiest of drizzles to a hard rain driven by wild winds. Still, fenders, a raincape, and my Bicycle Fixation woolens kept me comfortable, though not exactly dry--the half-gales that occasionally blew through under thunderheads managed to get water under the cape. No matter: the ride was a pleasure, rain or not.

All the more so as I saw a number of other cyclists on the roads with me--especially in Santa Monica, which has enriched its roads with plenty of bikelanes, sharrows, and parking racks, and has just started putting in bike corrals. Despite the sopping roads, there were bikes parked in front of every store that sported sidewalk bike racks, and their riders were--to judge by the crowds seen through the windows--inside spending money.

Fixie Punks on the Bridge at Playa del Rey

The sporty folk were out in force, too--though generally minus raingear. More riders than I expected crossing the bicycle bridge in Playa del Rey--including the thoroughly wet, and broadly smiling, fixie punx in the photo. Some wore only T-shirts and shorts, as did the surprisingly numerous joggers.

But it was all the bikes parked in the Santa Monica shopping district that pleased me the most, on this cold, grey, wet, and windy morning. It shows how cycling is becoming the new normal there--clearly a response to the provision of dense networks of bikeways and parking.

A mere two miles away, in Venice, where LA is "implementing" bikeways and racks but is a couple of years behind Santa Monica, I saw few riders. Same weather, just as near the beach, plenty of attractive shops...but no culture of ordinary cycling.

I hope that Los Angeles and the other regional cities are paying attention. Santa Monica works!

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 25 Mar 2012 14:42:53 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, March 21st
Offsite Blogging LVI
This week on Flying Pigeon's blog, I once again look at Santa Monica and the truly wonderful and effective bicycle infrastructure it is putting in...see A Wink from the West.

And at Orange 20 we look at Two for the Ages--a couple of gentlemen who are still riding bikes every day though they are over 100 years old.

Keep on pedaling....

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 21 Mar 2012 08:12:12 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, March 17th
Something Better, Coming Soon....
The sign in the photo below will not impress anyone in Portland, or even Oakland, both of which have excellent bicycle wayfinding signage, but it's as good as it gets in Los Angeles County for now....

State of the art bicycle wayfinding for SoCal)

It's in Culver city, along one of the very few streets in that town that have any indication whatsoever that bicycles exist and, in fact, are free to use the roads. But it's something. It not only indicates a bicycle route, but it actually tells you where it goes! Nothing so comprehensively as the signs in the Bay area, which I wrote up here, but far better than the typical LA County sign, which just says "Bike Path" or "Bike Route," and leaves it at that.

I was in fact headed towards the Ballona Creek bikepath implied in the placard--though fortunately I already knew where it was, as the direction indicated takes you to a T intersection, with no further notice of whether the path you are seeking is to the left or right.

Well, I hear that things will be getting better, at least in the City of Los Angeles, and probably along our riverside bike paths as well. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has been holding public meetings to see what residents want in the way of wayfinding--though apparently (no one seems quite sure) wayfinding along the river paths will be handled by a separate agency, the city's River Revitalization Master Plan group.

Or maybe not.

But at this point, we'll be grateful for anything that works.

I've already mouthed off at length to the LADOT; now it's your turn. If you live and ride in LA, fill out the city's wayfinding survey. Who knows how long it'll be up, so get to it.

With more and more inexperienced people starting to ride and looking for comfortable bike routes, we really need a system of signage that states more than the plain obvious fact that you are on a bike route.

I wrote this up--with a couple of doctored photos to add sarcasm--on Flying Pigeon LA's website recently; take a look.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 17 Mar 2012 09:28:53 -0800 [link]  

Friday, March 16th
The Pedicab Chronicles
Today we introduce what we hope will be a new albeit somewhat irregular series, The Pedicab Chronicles, recounting the tales of a year-round Minneapolis pedicab driver. The first installment, Three Goldilocks, One Bare, is a whimsical recounting of a fare that exemplifies the old adage, "There's a first time for everything."

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 16 Mar 2012 16:05:44 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, March 14th
Offsite Blogging LV
This week in the wide world of other people's blogs I write on....

At Orange 20 I cover oppressed bike racks and how to free them in LA, in Free the Bike Racks!

And at Flying Pigeon LA, I yap about how more bike racks (yes, bike parking again....) can help change potential cyclists From Latent to Blatant, and how that will improve our city.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 14 Mar 2012 14:00:51 -0800 [link]  

Friday, March 9th
When VC Is PC
Vehicular cycling advocates, including Grand Old Man John Forester, have been taking a lot of hits in the blogosphere lately for their relentless attacks on bike lanes and separated cycle tracks. Though many years ago I agreed with them--and in fact I am still largely a vehicular cyclist, if only because I live in Los Angeles and do need to go places--I now feel they are wrong.

Decades of research, including many polls addressing not just cyclists but potential cyclists really do show that if you build more comfortable infrastructure for cycling, more of that now-notorious "interested but concerned" 60% of the population that is not yet riding will, and do, in fact start getting out on their bikes.

I think what VC riders really fear--and it is a fear I share--are mandatory-sidepath laws requiring all cyclists to stay in bike lanes, where they exist. Such laws are found in parts of England and a few other places.

However, they are rare and perhaps non-existent in the US. The Universal Vehicle Code, like the Calfornia Vehicle Code it was modeled after, expressly recognizes the right of cyclists to use street lanes. A right that, by the way, is morally, legally, and fiscally defensible, despite the rantings of the car-addled droolers infesting newspaper comment boxes.

Nevertheless, there are times when I realize that things really would be much better if cyclists adhered to the fundamental credo of the VC crowd, and ride as if they were operating a vehicle on shared roads. Which they are. Even if the roads are shared only with other cyclists.

Today, for example, I was riding down the Ballona Creek bike path, nine miles of velocipedal freeway unsullied by motor vehicles or intersections. As I approached Overland from the east and prepared to follow the path under the roadway, I noticed three fellows that appeared to be together pedaling up the path from the undercrossing. They wore similar clothing, were riding similar upright hybrids, and even looked a lot alike. The first one was a little ahead of the other two, reached my level ahead of me, and turned onto the off-ramp to Overland. I assumed that the other two would follow, and I also assumed that, since I was moving right along, they might figure I was a through rider and give way to me, as is both law and custom. Even on a bike path.

However, their vapid expressions put me on guard--and well it was that they did. Rather than wait for me to pass, they rolled right up and turned directly into me as I went by.

Since I was expecting some sort of boneheaded move, I was able to dodge them, though I skimmed the edge of the asphalt, barely missing an excursion into the gravelled planter.

I didn't bother remonstrating with them, as I figured I might have to draw pictures in the dust to get the message across.

A little VC behavior on their part would have been entirely appropriate--that is, simply assuming that someone riding along a path without signaling another intent might be intending to continue on that path, and so is likely to constitute through traffic. In which case, if you are the party turning left off the path, you just effing wait two seconds for me to pass.

A left cross is a left cross, whether you're in an SUV or on a bike. Even on a bike on a separated cycle path.

Fortunately, in true VC style, I was prepared for them to try to hog the road, and so evaded a crash.

I see similar behaviors all the time on the paths: riders suddenly coming to a dead stop in the lane, when there is a handy shoulder available for the purpose; riders (and joggers) making sudden unsignaled U-turns without looking; riders doing the opposite of the three I encountered today and surging blithely onto the path from an entrance, without the slightest sideward glance to see if someone be zipping along towards them on this popular and often very busy bikeway.... In short, behaving like oblivious three-year-olds.

It's a pity, since one of the pleasures of that bike path is the rare chance to ride in LA without having to deal with fools in cars. It's doubly discouraging, then, to have to deal with fools on bikes in our own sanctuary!

It was still a beautiful ride. You can't let every fool bother you, or you'll spend your entire life feeling bothered. But a smidgeon of attentiveness on the part of people who are, after all, operating a vehicle that augments their speed, would make the bikeways more pleasant, as well as safer, for everyone involved.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 09 Mar 2012 20:57:17 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, March 7th
Offsite blogging LIV
The big local bike news this week, as you might have guessed form my previous entry on this very blog, is the opening of Sunset Triangle, a new pedestrian plaza in LA's Silverlake district--featuring the city's second bike corral!

At Orange 20 I give my impressions of it just before opening day, in Whodunit? Who Cares...!, and at Flying Pigeon LA I recount my visit to it just after the ceremonies, in A Place in the Sun.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 07 Mar 2012 08:00:55 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, March 1st
LA's Second Bike Corral
It's taken over a year, but Los Angeles has just installed its second bike corral.

The first one, in Highland Park, was installed nearly two years after the City Council voted unanimously to approve it.

LA's not too swift, is it?

This bike corral is a little different, though, in that it is part of a new pedestrian plaza in Silverlake:

Bike corral in Silverlake

Though the plaza's design was inspired by the one in Manhattan's Times Square, the Living Streets LA website reports that the concept originated in the neighborhood in it's been hanging fire for six years!

And even now it is considered a "pilot project," and may be dismantled in a year....

Such is LA, possibly the most timid of world cities.

I suspect it will stay; the area is rich with cycling and walking and the kind of small businesses that thrive on street life. The neighborhood is giving up a few yards of street, where an angled avenue feeding into Sunset Boulevard leaves a little triangle of grass; now the hypotenuse of the triangle has been blocked off to cars and made into a real community space. This will concentrate foot and bike traffic in an area full of bistros, coffeehouses, and small boutiques. Car traffic, whether speeding or congested, kills street life and the businesses it supports, and isn't very good at bringing in customers; you can park twelve to fourteen times as many bikes as cars in a given stretch of asphalt. Give people a place to linger comfortably, and they will come and linger--and after lingering long enough, they will get hungry. Business should boom!

And so should community. The neighborhood will become safer, livelier, happier, and busier as more people visit it and perhaps decide to move in--and move through it slowly, on their own power, meeting each other and building strong hearts not just literally but emotionally.

It opens officially in a few days--on Sunday, March 4th; I think I'll be there.

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 01 Mar 2012 20:37:40 -0800 [link]  

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