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Tuesday, July 27th
Two Brief Notes
When I rode to Santa Monica/UCLA hospital to visit my mother, yesterday, I was delighted to see that their handsome new building (yes, a hospital that actually fits in with and enhances the streetscape!) includes a nice portion of well-placed bike parking. Right by a busy entrance, under a portico, hidden from the street but not from the eyes of staff and visitors. And it was full of bikes!
Also, I received another note from my friend Bill that I'd like to pass on. It's part of his reaction to the hullaballoo that followed our mayor Villaraigosa's bicycle accident last week:
Since the mayor's bicycle crash last week, while driving and riding around the town, I have been paying attention to both motorists and bicyclists on the mean streets of LA just checking to see who is the real problem: my findings; it's the motorists fault...and the bicyclists fault. Every LA intersection is the bar scene from Star Wars. While bicyclists are running red lights or at best giving it a Chicago stop (in Chicago, they may call it an LA stop), there are three more cars making a left hand turn after the original car turned left on the red light. So, wake up LA, everyone is at fault; everyone should lighten up on the pedal. So, do you get to be the kettle and I get to be the pot; or do I get to be the kettle....

I also was aware that one of three motorists was talking on his cellphone while driving; and one of three bicyclists had his iPod bug in his ears: everyone is driving/riding distracted. It is the bar scene from Star Wars (in LA, it may be the bar scene from Sodom and Gomorrah...on wheels).
I personally have seen four motorists (and at least as many cyclists) blatantly run reds in the last week, sometimes after having stopped first. And a few pedestrians as well! There's little excuse for throwing of first stones on either side....

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 27 Jul 2010 07:13:41 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, July 24th
LA's 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard Ride
Today was the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition's 4th Street ride, led by yours truly, an easy ramble nearly the full length of the proposed bicycle boulevard, from Cochran in the west to Shatto Park on the east. (4th continues on a couple more blocks to Hoover.)

I arrived in front of the Pan Pacific Auditorium a half an hour before ride time, but there were riders already trickling in, with the trickle becoming a torrent within minutes, and soon we were handing round those silly waivers that are de rigueur for these rides, meeting and greeting, and preparing to warm up the crew with a bit of hot air before sounding the bugles.

A number of stalwarts of the LA bike scene showed up, despite the earlyish hour, with mr. rollers, John Vu, Brian C., Johnny Lam, and others having rolled in from far and wide, as well as LACBC folk, of course, including Ross Hirsch, Colin Bogart, Ramon Martinez, and of course JJ Hoffman who was co-leader (but had to speed ahead to get things ready at the other end). I was particularly glad to see Jeff Jacobberger of the Mid City West Community Council and LADOT bike blogger Chris Kidd as well, and too many other wonderful folks to name in a quickie blog post.

We took off on time, staring back at dozens of cameras and camcorders aimed almost ominously our way, wound through the back streets east of Pan Pacific Park, and gathered in a glittering heap at 4th and Cochran, where the ride, and the prospective boulevard, officially began.

Riders ranged in age from around 5 years old to quite elderly, and there were women along, and whole families. There were road bikes, fixies, hybrids, cruisers, tandems, and at least one recumbent, touring bikes, and one pair of training wheels (whose perky little pilot insisted on riding the whole route, though her mother offered to lock up her bike and carry her the rest of the way in the kid seat).

Among the highlights of the ride:Dorothy Le, Ramon Martinez, Council member La Bonge, mom Meghan Hirsch, Jeff Jacobberger, Howard Krepak, a lawyer specializing in bicycle accidents, and Mike Russell, a representative from the Wilshire Business Improvement District, held forth on the benefits a bicycle boulevard would bring to the area.

Everybody loved 4th Street, loved the ride, and more important, loved the idea of a bicycle boulevard for Los Angeles.

Now, the hard part: getting it done!

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 24 Jul 2010 16:08:17 -0800 [link]  

Friday, July 23rd
Morning Musings....
Here's a pair of ideas that I'll cast wriggling into the sea like salmon fry and hope they survive....

One comes from my friend Bill, a lifelong cyclist and staunch old-school conservative (not one of those neander-cons we're afflicted with nowadays); a few days he ago emailed this to me:
Here's an idea for "instant bike lanes" all over Los Angeles. Eliminate on-street parking; and dedicate that lane for bicycles. Suddenly, new parking structures and parking lots will pop up all over the city in places where vacant buildings, etc. etc. now stand as landlords are always wanting to make a buck.
Not bad, huh? Costs the city little--a publication and some paint and signs--and at the same time would help rationlize parking by removing the hidden subsidy it presently enjoys. (Even parking meters don't charge nearly what it costs to provide and maintain public parking spots and structures; the shortfall is made up, as with roads, out of general taxes.)

Then there's an idea that came to my mind when I mused to local council candidate Stephen Box that it would be wonderful to implement the idaho stop law in LA. (That's the law that allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs.)

He pointed out that that would be a state, not a city, matter.

But then I began to wonder: perhaps the city could just make current four-way stops into four-way yield intersections. The degree of uncertainty that would intorduce might just get all users--cyclists and drivers alike to approach the intersections more cautiously. Both groups almost universally roll stop signs anyway, especially four-ways, under the assumption that cross traffic will stop, leaving it clear for them. Of course the cross traffic is thinking exactly the same thing.

There is one very short stretch of 4th Street here in LA where I have come across three crashes at four-way stops--twice involving pairs of SUVs driven by well-dressed, obviously wealthy (and quite indignant) women, and once where two thirtysomething male cyclists had tangled and were standing in the middle of the street by their tumbled bikes, swearing at each other.

Four-way yield might make everyone slow down a little more and look around a little more thoroughly. Takes away any comfortable assumptions about what the other guy will do.

My two cents' worth for this morning....

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 23 Jul 2010 07:33:21 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, July 21st
Tourmalet Sale!
Thursday, July 22nd, the Tour de France attacks the Tourmalet, one of the Great Climbs of the race, and one that has been part of a stage more often than any other in the Tour's long history. Eighteen kilometers at an average gradient of 7.5%, it would be a tough climb even if it were not preceded by two other Category 1 mountain passes.

So, in honor of the Tourmalet, we are putting the Four Season Jersey/Ninja Road Warrior Hoodie on sale for $25 off for one day only--the sale ends at 10PM pacific time on Thursday, the 22nd

Why a sale in honor of a climb?

Well, after all, in the mountains you can be in warm weather riding through the foothills only to find yourself in bone-chilling cold at the crest, so why not associate a a paradigmatic climb with our jersey for all seasons?

Though it's summer where most of our customers are, it's still a good time to buy, since fall is coming apace, with winter not far behind--and the jersey's price goes back up after the end of the stage.

And oh, yeah: this offer combines with our Tour de France Free Shipping Offer for purchases delivered to a US address for the entire duration of the Tour de France!

So, $25 off, and free shipping. Your jersey's waiting....

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 21 Jul 2010 19:33:51 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, July 20th
Bike Racks in the Embryonic State
So sometimes things work the way they should.

A few weeks ago I was whining to Chris Kidd, the LADOT bike blogger, about (can you guess?) the sad state of bicycle infrastructure in Los Angeles, and he referred me to a Carlos Morales, the coordinator presently in charge of bike racks at LADOT. In particular I was nagging about a damaged rack in front of Black Dog Coffee a couple of blocks away.

Carlos said he'd get on it, and suggested I send him a list of other locations that I thought deserved bike parking in my 'hood.

Poor fellow, of course he got a comprehensive list!

Well, we went back and forth, and today he sent me an email suggesting I go look at the spots he marked for bike racks.

Damn me if he'd not only marked nearly every spot I'd mentioned, but had added a few on his own! So, within a couple of months the stretch of the Miracle Mile between La Brea and the Tar Pits will receive twelve, maybe more, much-needed bike racks.

In case you want to see what a bike rack looks like in the embryonic state, I've appended some snapshots below. The orange blobs with the legend "LADOT" between them...that's where they'll go.

Particularly ironic since I received Carlos's email shortly after spending a couple of hours bitching and moaning to Stephen Box about the sloth of the DOT bureaucracy. (And of course the racks aren't actually in place yet....)

Speaking of which, I also extracted a lot of history from Box--how he became an activist, what projects he's worked on besides the bike advocacy my crowd is familiar with. He's looking much more like a viable candidate to me as I learn more. But you'll hear about that in detail later on, when I've dug a little deeper.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 20 Jul 2010 20:24:58 -0800 [link]  

Recycle Your Blown Tubes for $$ in LA This Weekend
Performance Bike shops have lately gotten into the habit of celebrating their new store openings by giving folks a little store credit for each blown bicycle innertube that's brought in for recycling. This weekend, they're doing it in Los Angeles, opening a new store in Woodland Hills, and re-opening a refurbished one in Santa Monica. From their press release:
This weekend, from July 23rd to July 25th, Performance will celebrate the grand openings of its new Woodland Hills and completely remodeled Santa Monica stores with the Bike Tube Blow-Out, a recycling program sponsored by Performance and Liberty Tire, the largest scrap tire recycler in the country. During the weekend, anyone can bring their used or blown-out inner tubes to the store and receive up to three $5 money cards for the tubes they recycle.

Liberty Tire Recycling, the nation's largest collector of used and scrap tires, will turn the bike tubes into mulch for playgrounds, athletic fields, railroad ties and highway asphalt, among other uses. The company collects and recycles nearly one-third of all of America's annual scrap tire material and has cleaned up more than 150 dump sites littered with nearly 40 million scrap tires´┐Ż"more than any other organization.

"We estimate that a major city can annually generate several tons of used rubber just from blown out bicycle inner tubes alone," said Jim Thompson, CEO of Performance Inc. "Our aim is to make bike inner tubes a proven reusable resource for playgrounds, manufacturing and other applications."

Performance's Woodland Hills store is an entirely new location. It's located at 6400 Owensmouth Avenue. The Santa Monica store, one of the most popular Performance stores in the country, is located at 501 Broadway, at the intersection of 5th Street and Broadway.
I find it a little puzzling, as most blown tubes can be patched and re-used, which is considerably better than putting more energy into recycling them. But since in real life folks do throw away so many tubes, it's still worth bringing them in.

But it would be much better if they'd accept worn-out tires for recycling as well,; those can't be revived with something as simple as patching, and contain a lot more rubber anyway.

Ya might suggest that to them if you drop by....

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 20 Jul 2010 12:17:04 -0800 [link]  

Fixed Gear Gallery's Fifth Fixed Gear Symposium
Fixed Gear Gathering
Click for full-sized image
Looks like Dennis Bean-Larson, the mastermind behind the Fixed Gear Gallery, is at it again!

He's announced the 5th Fixed Gear Symposium, a gathering for fixed-gear fanciers of all sorts, to be held as usual in his home base of Traverse City, Michigan. It's a "celebration of cycling simplicity," spread out over the week of August 24th to 29,v, 2010. Right around the corner, you might say....

Doings include rides, hillclimbs, races, contests, polo, films, food, and just plain hanging out and socializing with fellow fixie aficionados.

So if you're a fan of the fixed wheel, check it out right here, at Dennis's Fixed Gear Gallery. The gallery, of course, is also host to over ten thousand photos of fixed-gear bicycles of all sorts and, from antiques to neon whips fresh out of the UPS box, from pure track bikes to tricksters to fixed-wheel touring rigs--one of the most pleasurable distractions on the Internet!

Sounds like fun; wish we could go!

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 20 Jul 2010 06:50:28 -0800 [link]  

Monday, July 19th
Soft Day, Hard River
Another ride down the Los Angeles River bike paths yesterday, on a set mild day that actually turned a little cold when I got to Long Beach, where the river simpers into the walled-in waters of the San Pedro Bay.

The river, as most know, is presently encased in concrete for most of its length, and most people see it as grim. I see it as an accidental sculpture, a kind of circumstantial aesthetic expression of the engineer's love of balance and order at the expense of everything else. Yet it is nonetheless beautiful in its own way, as a balance of light, space, and surface, a stolid counterpoint to the crisscrossing nervous movements of birds, electricity, freeway traffic--and bicycles.

There is a surprisingly fine bike path alongside most of the lower stretches of the river, and that's where I ended up after wandering through the streets of South Los Angeles for an hour or so, past the taquerias and the storefront churches, the welding shops and furniture outlets, the Sunday-morning barbecue drums swirling their perfumes on the streetcorners....

One minute in on the river path, and I was away from the diesel clatter of the flats and in a nearly silent world, the river's shallow humidity gleaming beside me while white birds wheeled in twittering multitudes and stately egrets posed.

Seventy miles down and back, with a stop at a friend's house where a ride was gathering--one I didn't have time to join that day.

Then back up, this time past Imperial Highway, where I'd gotten on the river, to where the path, its last northern miles paved with spray-painted gang tags, presently ends.

Finally slanting across the absolutely blank flats of Vernon, Slauson, and the other industrial townlets, shuttered for Sunday rest, till I found downtown and familiar territory.

Someday, they promise us, the river path will grace the full fifty-five miles of the river's length, and will connect with a grid of bikeways, and be restored to something more recognizable as, in fact, a river. But for now, this is what it is, and it's not too bad, if you look at it with a neutral eye.

So, since I took my little pocket camera, here are some photos of this grand industrial assemblage that is both river and work of art at once....

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 19 Jul 2010 21:08:14 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, July 15th
4th Street Ride, Walk, & Press Event
Things may be looking up for 4th Street; LACBC's project to optimize it for bicycle transit by making it a bicycle bouelvard is starting to build momentum!

4th St. Walk & Ride
Click on the image to see the full-sized flier
On Saturday, July 24th , LACBC is hosting a ride, walk, and press event to familiarize neighbors, cyclists, business owners, city officials, and the press with 4th Street, the bicycle boulevard concept in general, and the specific benefits to local stakeholdersof making 4th LA's first bicycle boulevard.

So grab your bicycle and join us on Saturday, July 24th , at 9:45AM in Pan Pacific Park, in front of the auditorium. LACBC will be there to provide information and support, and we will hear from residents, business folk, the police, and city officials--including City Council member Tom LaBonge.

Don't have a bike? There is also a guided walk meeting at 4th and Normandie at 10:15AM.

Both walk and ride will end at Shatto Park at 4th and Vermont for the press event and refreshments at 11:00AM.

Learn why a bicycle boulevard is a simple and inexpensive way to make 4th Street cleaner, greener, quieter, and safe for residents, local drivers, joggers, dog walkers, kids and old folks, and LA's commuting cyclists, and how it can reduce the need for ever-more-expensive road widenings in your neighborhood.

And by the way, Bicycle Fixation editor Rick Risemberg will be leading the ride, with Larchmont Village's JJ Hoffman riding sweep to help keep everybody safe.

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 15 Jul 2010 14:20:35 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, July 13th
Outsider Box

LA Really Needs a Jolt Right Now!
In a move that will have progressives and neighborhood-minded folks giddy with anticipation, well-known bicycle and transit activist Stephen Box announced that he will run for Tom LaBonge's seat on the Los Angeles City Council, in Council District 4. (CD4 includes Griffith Park, much of Hollywood, all of Hancock Park, and all of our own Miracle Mile.)

While incumbent Labonge often talks up bike issues, arranges constituent bike rides in CD4, and seems genuinely to love riding his own blue Miyata, he hasn't really delivered on cycling issues such as lanes, parking, sharrows, and bicycle boulevards, beyond offering lip service--or so it seems to me. Every move LA has taken to broaden transportation choices has been met with either a leaden inertia or straight-out stonewalling, so that while cities big and small even within our own county--Long Beach and Santa Monica, for example--implement sharrows, install bike corrals, and open bicycle boulevards, LA's administration, from the Council down to DOT, keeps saying that such things just "can't be done."

Though it seems that road widenings, speed limit increases on neighborhood avenues, and massive automobile-dependent developments always can be done, and no expenses spared.

Transportation is the dominant feature in Los Angeles's development. From the days when we destroyed one of the finest rapid transit systems the world had known, through the dissection of entire communities by ten-lane freeways and their interchanges, to the struggles of rebuilding what is becoming an effective though not yet comprehensive Metro, and now the growth of our present efforts to nurture the widespread use of bicycles that the city is ripe for, "mobility" has defined the character of LA. And has defied it as well, making of us less a city than a collection of lost souls entrapped in rolling tin purgatories.

Box, if he wins, would be the strongest voice not only for cycling but for sustainable development in general on the Council. But can he win? LaBonge has been in the administration as staffer or council member since 1976 and is well-entrenched; he is also one of the best friends the old-school development community has ever had here in recent years.

Box could bring a new style of development to LA--one that in the long run would result in a more efficient government and more prosperous communities--but will the business-as-usual crowd, who have been living a continuous birthday party in LA at the city's and its neighborhoods' expense, understand that, or will they reflexively oppose his candidacy?.

If you live in LA, and particularly if you live in CD4, check out Box's platform on his new website today:

While his platform is still not well defined, he has somewhat of a track record, and this may be our first real chance to own the future.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 13 Jul 2010 07:15:35 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, July 11th
The Purest Hybrid?
The Ultimate hybrid?
Click image for larger version
I made a quick and early run to the Bridge at Playa del Rey today, to get a little quiet time in before Gina and I pedaled to the Farmers Market on Third to watch Spain beat the Netherlands in the World Cup Finals. (You can imagine that it was a noisy occasion--left us a bit deafened, in fact!)

While at the beach I saw this bike, an old Shogun, that one could only call comprehensive.

Prefer front loading? Rear loading? Knapsack? Why not all three!

Low spoke count wheel in front, Aerospoke in back, and cyclocross tires on both--why not?

Lock, lights, mirrors, and a big bell.

I spoke to the owner briefly, a fellow named Greg. The low-spoke front wheel had been part of a set taken off a carbon road bike that "snapped in half" during a collision; the rear one had pulled spokes through the rim and eventually cracked its hub under the heavy loads Greg carries when he's going out camping, so he snooped around the internet and went for the Aerospoke in back.

The frame is an old Shogun touring model. The fellow puts on the miles, and loves the bike.

More power to him!

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 11 Jul 2010 17:14:53 -0800 [link]  

Friday, July 9th
Free Shipping Threshold Lowered
We've lowered the threshold for our Tour de France Free US Shipping promo!

Now, any order totaling $100 or more will qualify for free US shipping--that's to anywhere in the US, as well as APO/FPO addresses. And we ship by Priority Mail, so you'll get your stuff right quick!

Shop Here Now....

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 09 Jul 2010 20:46:16 -0800 [link]  

4th Street Bicycle Boulevard Ride
As part of LACBC's endeavor to have LA's 4th Street remade as a bicycle boulevard, we are having a ride, walk, and press event to familiarize both "stakeholders" (ie, residents and businesses owners on or near the route, as well as cyclists from all over LA who would be using it in transit) and local news organizations about the project.

This will take place on Saturday, July 24th, with the ride starting at 10:00AM, and the walk half an hour later (but much closer to the endpoint, of course!). See the flyer below:

4th_st_flier_v3_web (243k image)

Your Bicycle Fixation editor will be ride leader, and we'll have an easy, sociable roll through some of the prettier neighborhoods in LA, starting in Pan Pacific Park (near the Grove and the Farmers Market), passing through Hancock Park, St. Andrews Square, and Koreatown, to end up at Shatto Park just east of Vermont Ave. There will be refreshments!

So come on over and represent for LA's first bicycle boulevard! You'll keep feeling the love for years to come, every time you ride down 4th Street!

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 09 Jul 2010 16:18:08 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, July 6th
A Life's Work
Indeed, maybe trying to get the City of Los Angeles to fix the infamous "Hudson River" on 4th Street will be my life's work after all...since they seem completely uninterested in doing anything more than dumping some cold patch into the water and dancing around on it a little bit.

I have personally called it in to Bureau of Street Services five times, and, bless them, five times they have indeed come out and patched it.

The last two times the patch has lasted less than two months. And now it's back to its traditional nastiness, as you can see in the picture below....

Yes, that's a 700C wheel shod with 32mm tires in there, resting on the jagged, algae-slick bottom of this Pit of Doom:

hudson_river_wheel (161k image)

It has been filled with water day and night for over a decade, the result of outflow from a sump pump half a block up the street. This on a designated bike route heavily used by LA cyclists, and which the LACBC (with whom I am working on the project) is hoping to make LA's first bicycle boulevard.

Several cyclists have broken bones here, and at least one is suing the city.

My question is, Why can't LA put a trench drain across 4th St. here, so that the water doesn't pool and undermine the pavement, and no longer nurtures algae growth during the warmer months? (And in LA, most months are warmer months....) There are plenty of them on streets surrounding the Hudson River.

I'll call it in again, but it would be nice to have it fixed for real, you know.

If you want to help, you can join us at LACBC in our project to make 4th a bicycle boulevard...or if you live in CD4, contact council member Tom LaBonge's office about it--but only if you've had personal experience of the Hudson River.

It's almost insulting that they've treated this problem so casually for so many years....

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 06 Jul 2010 18:32:57 -0800 [link]  

Monday, July 5th
Tour de France Promo
We are happy to announce a Tour de France promotion of our entire Bicycle Fixation product line!

For the duration of the Tour, we will offer free Priority Mail shipping to any US or APOP/FPO address for any order over $150.

Priority Mail generally arrives within 1 to 3 business days, including Saturdays, to any address within the United States. (The closer you are to Los Angeles, the sooner you'll get your order.)

So you won't have to wait long to enjoy your knickers, jersey, shorts, hats, or whatever combination thereof adds up to a hundred and fifty bucks.

Just click on over to our shopping page and check out what we've got!

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 05 Jul 2010 10:54:37 -0800 [link]  

Friday, July 2nd
Oh, Those Law-Abiding Drivers!
You know the ones I mean: they write all those anonymous online comments to news articles and blog postings that have anything even slightly positive to say about bicycling, complaining about evil velocipedal fiends who run stop signs and don't pay for the road. Who are, oh my, arrogant!

I get tired of that BS, I really do. For one thing, cyclists of course overpay for the share of the road that they use, since car and fuel taxes never cover more than half of the costs of just building roads, and usually far less--and it's cars, not bikes, that need all that asphalt and tear it up so damn fast. That's right, Driving is socialism!

And as for road manners, whom are these clowns trying to fool?

I regularly see drivers weaving around doubleparked cars on my residential street at forty and fifty miles an hour, or more. And I've been watching drivers at stop signs--if one out of 200 in LA actually comes to a stop, I'd be surprised. (A little more formal count in Milwaukee showed 70% of drivers as well as 70% of cyclists blowing stops.)

Just today, as I was riding through a residential area on my way to visit Mom, I saw three cars in a row blow through a four-way stop, and a little later I was cut off (in the bike lane on Venice) by a fool making a right turn from the center lane.

It isn't cyclists who kill 40,000 people a year in the US, after all.

I wish they'd just shut up, sometimes.

Sorry to vent online about it, but really, I don't know whether ti's the willful ignorance or the hypocrisy that irritates me more.

No wonder cyclists can get a little self-righteous, after listening to this crap over and over again, and comparing the mouthings of motorheads to experiences in the real world....

Okay, back to somewhat more reasoned discourse in future blog posts...cheers!

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 02 Jul 2010 22:40:51 -0800 [link]  

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