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Wednesday, June 27th
Offsite Blogging LXX
Why live in Southern California if you don't bother riding your bicycle to the beach? So i do, as often as possible. And so you get to read posts about Santa Monica all the time....

Fortunately, there are many, many good things happening in the Bay City, and this week I report on a couple more:

At Orange 20, I actually complain, not about Santa Monica itself, but about the hordes of drivers who are willing to spend more time inching towards a parking spot in their cars than actually visiting the beach, the pier, or the town—why suffer the Idles of the Parking when there's such good transit service and bike infrastructure in SaMo to make it easy for you to avoid it?

Such as the ongoing transformation of Ocean Park into a "Complete Green Street," which I look at in The West Is Green, on Flying Pigeon LA's blog.

Things are looking up around least when you're looking west.

Saddle up and take a look yourself....

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 27 Jun 2012 12:02:01 -0800 [link]  

Monday, June 25th
The Bicycle Film Festival Is Back!
Looks like the Bicycle Film Festival is ramping up again, kicking off in New York City in a few days before moving on to other villes. Here's their press release with all the relevant info:
Bicycle Film Festival
June 28-July1
Anthology Film Archives
2nd and 2nd New York

This is THE SUMMER OF BIKES in New York City! And the BFF is back! The BICYCLE FILM FESTIVAL WORLD TOUR commences in New York for its 12th consecutive year!!

The Bicycle Film Festival launches in New York and then will continue to Helsinki, Moscow, Istanbul, Hong Kong, London, Buenos Aires, Milano and more than 20 other cities.

The film programming this year is stellar. The shorts programs are hugely popular and are not to be missed.

Feature film highlights include the world premiere of the feature length LINE OF SIGHT [trailer] (Dir. Benny Zenga) by legendary cycling cinematographer Lucas Brunelle, and SHAY ELLIOT: CYCLE OF BETRAYAL (Dir. Martin Dwan) about Ireland’s first professional cyclist and the incredible events surrounding his career and life.

In 2001 Brendt Barbur, Founding Director, was compelled to start the Bicycle Film Festival after being hit by a bus while riding his bike in New York. He was inspired to turn this negative experience into a positive one, and created a festival that celebrates the bicycle through music, art, and film. The festival merges many creative communities, including fashion, music and art, as well as various bicycling communities—road cycling, city biking, fixed gear, BMX, cyclocross—over a shared passion for bike riding.

For the most up to date information, see the Bicycle Film Festival website,
Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

Press Inquires, image and interview requests may be directed to

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 25 Jun 2012 20:38:47 -0800 [link]  

Friday, June 22nd
Merino T-Shirt Available Now!
Our All-Merino V-Neck T-Shirt is available at last!

True, we had to use me as a model, which will probably reduce initial sales, but I promise you that better-looking models should appear within a week or two. We just wanted to make this available as soon as we could, and that meant using your ancient editor in front of the camera.

I've been wearing prototypes for months now, through summer heat and winter chill, through rain and wind and over hills, and it is just plain wonderful: comfortable in all weathers, and better-looking than a t-shirt has a right to be. Pays well with others too: you can use it as part of a layering scheme, with a light button shirt over it in fall or spring, or sweaters, jackets, or wool jerseys in the winter.

Just click here to check it out and order one for yourself today.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 22 Jun 2012 17:29:11 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, June 20th
Offsite Blogging LXIX
Sticking closer to home again this week, I write up how Santa Monica is going Beyond the Basics in its next wave of bicycle infrastructure implementations, on Orange 20's blog.

And at Flying Pigeon LA, I write about Secrets Round the Corner—neighborhood treasures I can in fact thank the Pigeon's Josef Bray-Ali for showing to me!

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 20 Jun 2012 15:40:37 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, June 19th
Waiting in the Wings: Merino T-shirts!
Okay, they're actually here, at Bicycle Fixation Central, but we still need to count them and take some photos before they can go on the website.

We have two colors—charcoal and a sort of olive that the mill in New Zealand calls "kalamata," but which more like a green olive. May just change the name ourselves. Available in XS, S, M, and L. Pure New Zealand merino wool, cut for cycling and good looks, stretchy (of course), and very, very comfortable. Made here in LA, but they'll be priced about the same as the outsourced stuff. We imported the knits ourselves, but they were still pretty pricey.

Keep an eye on this blog for an announcement!

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 19 Jun 2012 21:41:02 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, June 17th
Up the Creek
Yesterday Gina and I indulged in an odd bit of hybrid outing....

I'd wanted to take her by Primo Passo, a new coffeehouse in Santa Monica on snooty Montana Avenue but not at all a snooty place itself. Great coffee, house-roasted I believe, with Kaffeemeister Katie Poche (who is also a cyclist) keeping it real. Gina doesn't like to ride the fast mad miles I favor, so she took her folder on the 720 Rapid bus and met me in Santa Monica, after which we rode together to the coffeehouse, had a couple of cups, and bought some bean for home

Thence we pedaled together to the city's bike-busy Main Street for lunch, and home via Ballona Creek.

Halfway back along the creek route we stopped at one of the new bioswales going in on the banks. These are little gardens meant to catch rain and runoff an deplaned with selected species that actually process pollutants out of the water. The bioswales then hold it so it can filter back into the soil rather than simply be flushed out to sea via the creek, as has been the case since the little watercourse was straitjacketed in concrete decades ago.

This is a wonderful advancement in our thinking and building—why throw away water in an eternally drought-stricken desert town?—but it is a slow process. And, as I mused to Gina, it is more necessary higher up the alluvial slope, in places such as Pasadena and La Crescenta.

Bioswale alongside Ballona Creek bikepath in Culver City

There are some projects building similar structures far upstream—Elmer Street in Sun Valley is one example—but LA has a long way to go.

Two-thirds of LA's land surface is given over to roads, mostly to make room for space-wasting private cars to drive in and park on; this means mile after square mile of hard, impermeable surface that kicks rainwater and garden runoff into storm sewers to be thrown away. Or to overflow and cause local flooding, very common during LA winters.

More bioswales are needed—and more bicycling and transit, both of which move plenty of people with little demand for acreage—before we can think of Los Angeles as an earth-friendly city.

But at least we've made a start. Better late than never.

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 17 Jun 2012 07:50:06 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, June 13th
Apple Drives Us Crazy Sometimes
We admire and use many Apple products, but sometimes they are downright clueless, it seems.

You may have heard that in iOS6, the new operating system for the iPhone, Google maps will no longer be used, in favor of a house-designed Apple mapping and directions function. Given Apple's history, this could be good--but as it now stands, it's not. Certainly not in a country where driving is falling out of favor with citizens of all regions, races, and income levels, and most age groups.

Because this function will offer only driving directions for now, and add walking directions at some unspecified time later on. Transit directions--now really quite good in Google maps--will be up to users to enable through the use of third-party apps (apparently a different one for each system), and we cyclists will be ignored altogether. Since we have become accustomed to having directions for the cleaner and more convivial modes of transport available online for quite a while now through Google, this can only be considered a step backwards—3D "flyovers" be damned.

There's a good overview of the situation on Velbusdriver's site, entitled, "Apple helping me to choose Android."

And there are the inevitable Twitter and Facebook campaign, led by Walkscore through their website here.

You can click a button and send a Tweet with an #apple hashtag, or post to Facebook.

But the canned Tweet doesn't mention cycling, so just add it in! Our suggestion is to replace Walkscore's text with the slight edit we used on our Bicycle Fixation Twitter feed:

Note to #apple -- Keep walking, cycling, transit directions in iOS6 maps. Driving is so last century!

Someone at Apple is monitoring Twitter, so word might get across.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 13 Jun 2012 19:45:31 -0800 [link]  

Offsite Blogging LXVIII
Time for more comparisons among western cities big and small, thanks to our recent train trip to Denver and SF. This week I'm concentrating on the desert cities, with a mention of Albuquerque in Orange 20's post, called Greener Grass in Drier Deserts, and a look at differing attitudes towards urban rivers and their bike paths, comparing LA and Denver, in Respect and the River on Flying Pigeon LA.

Sometimes travel can be too enlightening.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 13 Jun 2012 09:23:34 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, June 12th
Two Rivers, Two Cities
I've been musing a bit over the photos I took while in Denver with borrowed Bromptons, and another I snapped today on my way home from South Pasadena. I realized I had a good comparison set in these pix of riverside bike paths running through the middles of western cities.

Here's the Los Angeles River bike path in the Elysian Valley section closest to downtown that it gets for now:

Los Angeles River bike path in Elysian Valley

And here's the Cherry Creek bike path in Denver, in the vicinity of Union Station, where the warehouse district is undergoing a shift to lofts and work/live spaces, much as our own Old Bank District has done:

Cherry Creek bike path in Denver

I can't help but think that Denver has treated its central watercourse, and the bike path along it, with much more respect than LA has given its own. Denver's is a central feature of the central city, while ours looks like an afterthought.

It wouldn't be so bad if Denver weren't a sprawling automobile-centric city itself...for now. It's certainly not San Francisco or New York.

LA's administrative culture hates to admit that it could learn anything from other cities, and that's been holding us back. Still, that may be changing...we actually let a Dutch delegation show us a thing or two about urban bikeway design last year, lessons that seem to have stuck. So there's hope.

And there's Amtrak, to carry us to places where bikeways and street culture work, and we can relax and enjoy life without always battling cars and civic inertia.

I do love LA, but I've been feeling frustrated lately....

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 12 Jun 2012 16:51:32 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, June 7th
Morning Ramble, San Francisco
Back in San Francisco for the first time since last October, when I was riding a Public D1 demo that I reviewed in this rag. This time I'm riding a borrowed Brompton folder, as is Gina; you'll find our review of those a little later--once we write it.

Meanwhile, I took a spin around the western portion of the city this morning, and saw a couple of interesting sights worth noting in Bicycle Fixation. Unfortunately for you, I was sans camera--I did want to put some vacation into our working vacation. But I was missing it a little....

I probably wouldn't have been quick enough to snap the very large bakfiets I saw at Church and Market, but it was notable. I think the fellow was a delivery rider, as the box seemed to be insulated.

In the same line, but yesterday, when I met my friend Eric A. at Café de la Presse near Chinatown, he pedaled up on a Big Dummy longtail equipped with not one but two child seats! He had one daughter with him, and was picking up the other at school on the way home. That I've got a photo of, taken during a post-prandial roll along the southern portion of the Embarcadero:

School run on a  longtail

Back to today: as I rode back to our inn from the Richmond district, I decided to follow the Wiggle home--that's SF's famed sneak-through-the-hills bike route, which has been around as a cultural artifact for decades but which now has official signage. Last time I often had trouble locating the tiny bike route signs--which are often obscured by stickers anyway--but today I noticed that much of the route had been graced with sharrows placed in large bright green rectangles to mark the route--with markings placed at an angle within each intersection to show you which way to turn. As there are many, many intersections along the Wiggle, and it turns at most of them (hence the name), this is pretty handy. Good move, SF!

With luck, Gina and I will head to the Golden Gate Bridge and lunch in Sausalito later today. We'll see if things have improved on the far side of the Bay since last year--when they were already pretty good. You can read about our October 2011 visit here.

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 07 Jun 2012 11:36:03 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, June 6th
Offsite Blogging LXVII
On the road via Amtrak this week, but there's no relief for readers of this blog, or of the others I infest. I posted to Orange 20 a few days ago on how Denver Gets It, and followed up with a few Invidious Comparisons among Denver, the Bay Area, and LA on Flying Pigeon's website.

And now I'm off to ride around San Francisco a bit, in search of lunch and a friend of mine who lives here. Cheers!

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 06 Jun 2012 10:00:15 -0800 [link]  

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