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Saturday, August 28th
Routine Riding
It's been an exhausting week--the apogee of some fairly depressing doings in the extended family, though I expect that the strain will taper off some now.

I've been riding everyday, but the rides have all been oriented around chores and duties of various sorts. In a way it's exactly what I hope bicycling should become for America, just the best way to get around and get things done, but I've had all too few of the gratuitous rides that take you from the quotidian to the transcendent.

At least Thursday I took a break to ride with a friend I hadn't seen for many, many years, under a sky that embodied the very poetry of light and air, a paradigmatic California day.

So, despite my complaints, I have little to complain about--thanks in great part to the bicycle, so that no matter how dreary a task I face at the end of the road, the road itself is always exhilarating.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 28 Aug 2010 17:34:25 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, August 22nd
A Good Kind of Problem
Rode to Larchmont this afternoon for coffee with my son, and there were so many bikes on the boulevard that I had to park farther from the coffeehouse than is my wont...and that's a good kind of problem to have! Especially considering that when the city took out the parking meters there to put in a pay station, they added 33 more bike racks by bolting conversion kits over the old meter poles.

Anyway, Larchmont is an ideal strolling street, and the kid and I ended up talking on our feet as we ambled about. Worked out well.

Bikes all up and down Fourth Street on my there and back, as well. Then when I walked over to the local supermarket, enough folks were loading groceries into bike baskets that it made me take notice.

Again, LA has a long way to go...but at least we're going there now.

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 22 Aug 2010 19:55:52 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, August 15th
Review of MKS GR-9 Pedals
Take a look at our quickie 20,000-mile review of the MKS GR-9 pedals, the only ones we've found that both hold your feet well and don't tear up rubber-soled shoes!

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 15 Aug 2010 15:52:59 -0800 [link]  

Show Me the Way to go Home....
When we visited Portland last spring, I was pleased by the highly effective wayfinding the city had added to its bike route networks. As you see below, it not only designates the route itself, but indicates destinations ahead of you and on cross routes, as well distance and estimated time to them:

Wayfinding in Portland

We found this most useful on a little 55-mile jaunt we made with Portland acquaintances during our stay, since we lost our guides in the wilds of North Portland, and had to find our way back alone in a city neither of us knew. (They had suffered two flat tires while we were ahead of them and just out of earshot)

More recently, wife Gina was in San Francisco on a business trip and photographed this sign, which, though kindly, provides considerably less information than Portland's:

Wayfinding in San Francisco

I guess bicycle infrastructure must get worse as you go south, because you all know what we get here in Los Angeles: a paltry green rectangle with the words "Bike Route" on it, usually hanging crookedly behind a drooping branch somewhere. Not even worth photographing....

This in spite of LA being a far larger and more complex city than our northern neighbors, one with streets that appear and disappear almost whimsically, and with vast distances for cyclists to traverse.

You'd think that in the second-biggest city in the country, one with an economy that outstrips several states and a few small countries, we could do better....

Sure, LADOT mentions "wayfinding" as a category in its endless studies on how we can reinvent the wheels already in daily use in other towns...but it's famous for footdragging.

So don't just suck it up: get involved! Contact LACBC, LADOT, and your city council members and ask them: Why don't we sign up LA for the future?

Remember, representative government is based on citizen complaints. Be the squeaky wheel!

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 15 Aug 2010 14:07:08 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, August 14th
Town & Country Shorts on Sale
It's time to clear out our stock of hemp blend Town & Country Shorts, the toughest and certainly the most stylish hiking and biking shorts you're ever likely to find.

Eco-friendly hemp blended with polyester made from recycled beverage bottles give you a clean and comfy fabric that just lasts and lasts, and our cut works great on bike or off, with plenty of practical, handsome pockets. Wear them with plain underwear for brief rides (forgive the pun), or slip padded bike tights on underneath for "epic" rides.

There's still plenty of summer left so you can enjoy them this year--and you'll be enjoying year after year for years to come.

An excellent product, one of our favorites--but cashflow is calling during this recessionary year, so on sale they must go!

Just $56, stock on hand, and we won't make them again for at least a year--so get them while you can.

Bicycle Fixation Town & Country Shorts

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 14 Aug 2010 08:14:29 -0800 [link]  

Friday, August 13th
Conflict & Progress
Just read an excellent little article in Seattle's Crosscut, whose author was reporting on the conflicts engendered by a proposed bike lane in Vancouver, BC.

As reporter Peter Ladner points out:'s hard to justify these piecemeal improvements by counting cyclists versus cars. These are still small havens of safe riding, and the cars are still vastly more numerous, even though cyclists' numbers are moving up. (Latest numbers show bike crossings of the Georgia viaduct/Dunsmuir route up from less than 100 to 1,500 a day.)

Instead, these new lanes should be measured as progress milestones on the road to this British Columbia city's goal of a 10 percent share of all trips by bicycle.
Quite so. Even nowadays most potential riders are intimidated by traffic, so that, unless you're a vehicular cyclist, there isn't really any bicycle infrastructure. So of course numbers are low. So were numbers of motorists, until they clamored for, and received, a vast and staggeringly expensive network of automobile-oriented roads, at great inconvenience to business and neighborhoods, and often by use of eminent domain.

As good solid conservative Walter Lippman noted back in 1939:
G.M. has spent a small fortune to convince the American public that if it wishes to enjoy the full benefit of private enterprise in motor manufacturing, it will have to rebuild its cities and highways by public enterprise.
While I myself consider city streets as they are to form a perfectly fine network of bike paths, I have been riding them since I was fourteen and am quite used to traffic. But to the average commuter thinking of riding a bike the prospect is as daunting as the prospect of walking blindfolded across a busy trainyard. So, bike routes, lanes, et al will work to bring up the level of cycling to something near what it might have been had we not employed huge government subsidies to wrench the market towards favoring cars-and-only-cars.

Ladner goes on to address business concerns, noting--as have we ourselves--that contrary to business owners startle reflex when confronted with the prospect of bike infrastructure--accommodating bike users is generally favorable to business income. He notes that the one business that claimed to have closed because of a previous bike lane project in Vancouver had been dying on the vine already.

Finally, he looks at bikeshare programs (one is also in the works for Vancouver), noting that "These systems work: in Lyon, the number of bike trips has gone up 500 percent, boosting the bike mode share to 9 percent and reducing car traffic by 5 percent."

Good, reasonable article, apparently well-researched; I strongly recommend it:

In Vancouver, B.C., new bike lanes and soon public bikes

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 13 Aug 2010 07:04:42 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, August 12th
Knicker Socks Back in Stock!
No more goosebumps in winter, no more sunburned shins, in summer, no more outraged staring at your bare and hairy shins--our Bicycle Fixation knicker socks are back in stock!

We've chosen a new color, Dark Charcoal, that will coordinate with just about anything, and a new size--The Sock Guy's One Size Fits Most, rated at 7 to 11 US, but fitting perfectly onto my size elevens as I sit here typing this. (I wouldn't be surprised if you twelves could fit them too, but I'm not guaranteeing anything.)

If you're a believer in compression garments for sports recovery, these will particularly please you; and if you're not, they'll please you anyway. Handsome, cozy, durable, flattering, and not too expensive either. What more could you want?

So check 'em out; they're just what your knickers have been asking for!

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 12 Aug 2010 17:03:27 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, August 10th
From Carmageddon to Los Amsterdam? Well, Not Yet, But....
It was pleasing to see so many bikes out today as I made my rounds. This being Tuesday, I indulged in my usual ride to South Pasadena (across the river and over the hills, there being no woods here of course), after which i went downtown and to Larchmont for various meetings.

Fourth Street, the invariable first segment of most of my commutes (my "commute" is different every day) saw, as usual, more bikes than cars on it--but even in the most car-smothered parts of town the bicycle remained a strong presence, with riders crossing my path every block at least, sometimes two or three at a time. Okay, Los Angeles is a long way from being Los Amsterdam, but still, there are bikes everywhere now, when they used to be quite rare.

The pattern persisted all the way to South Pasadena, where, oddly, I saw few bikes though there are usually plenty of them there. But once I hit the road again--bikes all around! Especially downtown, where besides the usual messengers and restaurant delivery riders I saw quite a number of fairly obvious transportational cyclists--well-off as well as poor, if one may judge by bike and clothing--and at least two old-fashoined cargo trikes, in the British pattern, one of which had been retrofitted with a very large wooden box, and one gleaming silver bike with full fenders and rack, and the cruiser bars rotated rather oddly forwards to a somewhat painful looking position. But what the hell, the guy was riding!

There was also a fellow I've seen before, a cleancut twentysomething ridign what appeared to be a fixie with a long woodsided trailer following behind, and moving quite briskly. I've seen him before, but he always turns off into an alley or sidestreet before I catch up with him, and I'm always on the way to a meeting so can't diverge from my own route. One of these days....

Back to 7th and then 4th for my ride home, and again more bikes than cars on 4th Street.

All in all pretty encouraging sights, here at Ground Zero of Carmageddon.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 10 Aug 2010 21:11:00 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, August 7th
Fourth Street Bicycle Boulevard, that is....

A few days ago I was interviewing Michelle Mowery, LADOT's Bicycle Program Coordinator, who is the one stands in between all the conflicting parties in the great debate over how to allocate LA's street space most effectively--not an easy seat to occupy by any means. I was looking for a history of 4th Street's status as a bike route, and its future possibilities as a bicycle boulevard.

As regular readers will know, I have been volunteering on an LACBC committee dedicated to the project, and I am assisting Patrick Miller ("Trickmilla") with an article he's writing about it. I had been wondering just how much of a struggle might lie ahead, especially if, as i feared, Los Angeles perhaps had no administrative description of the sort of thing the bicycle community here envisions as a "bicycle boulevard"--encompassing traffic diverters as well as more normal traffic-calming features.

i was happy to see, on the record and on official letterhead, a description titled "Bicycle Friendly Street--Level Five," which pretty much covers the full-scale bicycle boulevard we're hoping for: cut-through car traffic shunted aside, local car traffic slowed a bit, through access for bikes, et al.

So that's one less bureaucratic impediment to one less car!
On another note, I wish I had brought my camera last night, when Gina said, "Let's dress up and go out!" You should have seen her, in her flirty dress, sunglasses, and heels, looking like an Italian fashion model as she pedaled her mixte down the street.

A fine pair of boulevardiers we made, except perhaps for the glaring orange of my bike. And a fine dress-up dinner we had, while our bikes waited outside the restaurant.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 07 Aug 2010 09:49:20 -0800 [link]  

Monday, August 2nd
Sox & City Knix Back Soon
Good news for non-naked riders: we are awaiting a fresh batch of Knicker Socks, which are being knitted at this very moment and should be here before the end of the month.

Not only that, but the downtown LA factory is busy stitching up a run of our City Knickers v2.0, due around the same time!

The city knickers will be available in both wool gabardine and the same sturdy hemp and recycled polyester blend that makes our Town & Country Shorts so comfortable and long-lasting.

We haven't offered the City Knickers for a long time now, and are really looking forward to seeing them again. (And snagging a pair for ourselves!

We'll put the City Knickers page back up as soon as they're available. Meanwhile, we do have Classic Wool Knickers, James Black Hats, the Four SEason jersey, and more, available in our shopping cart right now.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 02 Aug 2010 17:44:26 -0800 [link]  

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