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Wednesday, September 29th
Try Our Twitter
We have been experimenting with Twitter for several months now, and so far the experiment seems to be a success!

Despite no publicity we are closing in on 1,000 followers and nearly 100 lists, and our Tweets are re-Tweeted daily. The practice has also inspired us to scour the news each day for cycling-related articles, especially those concentrating on transportation policy and the community of cycling worldwide, which has been a gratifying education for ourselves as well!

Whether twitter is fad or not, or even economically sustainable as a company, it is, for the present, an excellent resource for us, and we recommend that you all join up and give it a try. It's easy enough to quit if you don't like it. And if you choose to read it online, you don't even have to join up.

Just go to

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 29 Sep 2010 08:53:34 -0800 [link]  

Friday, September 24th
Not Quite Carfree in Curitiba
Here's a note on the Carfree Day Critical mass in Curitiba, Brazil, from my cousin Fabio Riesemberg. He notes that Curitiba doesn't quite live up to its "eco city" reputation,, but that at least there's a strong and growing bicycle culture there despite the difficulties. In his own words:
We had The 1001 Bikes March last Wednesday, in Curitiba, Paraná, state capital, South Brazil, where I live. I'm sending you two pictures. One of them it's me, riding my bike with a placard on back: "one car less". The other one is a fellow passing his fixie over a taxi which insisted in breaking through us. At that moment, hundreds of bikers were crossing the street. However we didn't have any violence that night.

Our Critical Mass movement in Curitiba is one of the most active in Brazil. But Curitiba also has the worst car/inhabitant rate in the country: 1:1.7. Nothing changed during our No Car Day (Sep, 22) in terms of number of cars on the streets. Municipality at the moment is more worried about favorite candidate who is running for state government. It seems there's no time to spend with traffic, specially with cyclers. They didn't even do a serious publicising on this matter.

Our known "Ecological Brazilian City" has 1.7 million people, hitting 3 million if you consider nearby cities attached. I believe we will have some kind of traffic collapse within a [short] time. Many of the people engaged on critical mass movement here use bikes for commuting every day, just like me. We are run over, sworn at and disrespected by drivers almost every day on our way to work or home. Certainly that's not new for you who experience it as well. But this is my statement. Maybe you want to publish as a note on your website or blog.
CFD2010_curitiba_1 (135k image)

CFD2101_curitiba_2 (154k image)

The photos are by Oscar of Bicicleteiros.

Though the numbers are still small worldwide, more and more people each day are realizing that we've been bamboozled by car culture, whose airy delusions promoted in a million print and TV ads have metastasized into a dreary thralldom that saps the joy and strength out of our lives.

Maybe thanks to Curitiba's cyclists that town may someday actually deserve to be called an eco-city.

Keep it up, folks! We're with you!

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 24 Sep 2010 14:05:00 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, September 22nd
Carfree Day in LA?
Well, it's World Carfree Day today, though you wouldn't know it here in Los Angeles, neither by looking out the window nor by reading the Times. Nor by watching me, since I get in a car only about ten times a year, and those only to please nagging relatives.

All my personal and business travel within the city, and most of it out of the city, takes place on foot, on a bicycle, or on a train or bus. And every rare time I do get in a car, I realize how much I do not miss it. I don't miss being trapped within a seat within a box within a lane, sequestered from world and channeled by rules and curbs. One is so much freer on a bike--and yet more free, though slower, on foot. Even on a train, one can get up and walk around (and on Amtrak head to the dining car!), and the world outside is closer at hand, there not being all those lanes between you and the scenery, nor any parking. Equally important, neither you nor your companion is focussed on playing the unpaid chauffeur, and you can actually pay attention to each other. And meet new people, however briefly.

Of course I also meet people all the time while cycling and walking--little interchanges of smiles and small talk, of directions asked and given, of whole human beings chatting face to face, not "through a glass darkly," as it is with motorists in their boxes. It is those interchanges that hold together our communities as mortar holds bricks; together they are in fact the bricks and mortar of civilization, and it is precisely civilization that our car culture kills. I have made friends in these casual meetings.

So, while the rest of LA rolls along in its armored playpens, desperately blasting the twelve-speaker sound system to lessen the tedium of their lonely drives, I'll be out on my bike, as usual: reveling in the simple blessing of being free and alive in one of the few communities that really exists in this town, my fellow cyclists, who have shaken off the shackles of the car.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 22 Sep 2010 07:45:14 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, September 21st
Way to Go, Atwater!
I mentioned recently that, thanks in part to my nagging, our own Miracle Mile received twelve new bike racks.

Now, on my way to Northeast LA to stop at Café de Leche before looping round to downtown on garment biz, I saw that Atwater--poor gray little Atwater!--has been graced with a good number of new bike racks as well.

And, despite my gentle mockery, I have to say that Atwater Village has been turning its once-dreary commercial strip along Glendale Boulevard into a very pleasant place to shop, eat, and hang out, with a number of clever restaurants and comfy cafés and bakeries opening in recent years.

It was once served by a branch of LA's famous and much-lamented Red Car railway, which was sacrificed to the God of Carmageddon. Maybe now our city's burgeoning bike culture will help revive its dormant spirit.

Congratulations, Atwater, and my compliments to whoever put the bike-rack bug in LADOT's ear--or to LADOT directly if they thought of it themselves.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 21 Sep 2010 18:01:52 -0800 [link]  

Monday, September 20th
Coasting Downtown
And it's the only coasting I've done in months, or really years.

woolcart (84k image)This is the cart I borrowed from my wool broker to transport a couple hundred yards of delicious wool gabardine over to the factory about a mile away through the bumpy, busy, bustling streets of the "Fashion District"--which I still call the "Garment District" in my mind. I detoured along the way to pick up some trims as well, and it all would have been great fun if the front axle of the thing hadn't kept slipping out of its journal.

As the rolls of cloth kept piling up, and the cart kept getting heavier, the task of re-inserting the axle became more and more tedious. Every time I stopped for another item I'd borrow a hammer from the shopkeeper.

When I got back to the wool broker's I pulled the multi-tool out of my bike's saddlebag and did a quick repair to it. Too late for me, but what the hell.

This is for another project I'm doing for Clever Cycles up in Portland, a spiffed-up successor to their Belmont Stealth Pantaloons, which we also made. Keep an eye on this spot (and on Clever's website) for details, once they're sewn up.

I'm also very glad to say that at one of my suppliers, where not a single employee arrived by bike four years ago when I started this business, there are now three workers who commute by bike. Saw two fixies and a comfort bike parked by the door, and spoke with two of the riders. Things are looking better in LA! Bit by bit....

Tomorrow I'll be swinging by there again, after my ride to South Pasadena, for a few more pants bits...and then it's all over but the sewing.

For now!

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 20 Sep 2010 20:12:46 -0800 [link]  

Friday, September 17th
Street Tire Survey Released
It took us a year, but we finally got the Street Tire Survey collated (thank you, Gina!) and coded (thank you, me!). But next time we'll use Survey Monkey or just buy some survey software...oy!

We've folded the results into our old but regularly updated article, A Few Good Tires, and will probably keep updating it now and then.

Please note, we were interested only in tires used for utility riding, so racing rubber is not well represented here. The Pasela and the Marathon were the most popular...'nuff said!

A Few Good Tires

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 17 Sep 2010 21:41:44 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, September 16th
Red Run, Red Run
This morning, as I was crossing La Brea, I saw yet another scofflaw motorist run a red light--boldly, blatantly, and with a banal indifference to all around him. it's pretty common among motorists, though honestly not as common as red light running by those "scofflaw cyclists" so often foamed over by Mr. Anonymous in blog and newspaper comments sections. It led me to think of some of the reasons it's a really bad idea to run red lights, even on a bicycle, and to wonder why so many of us do it.

Among them:So I'm left pondering why so many cyclists insist on running red lights when it's dangerous, boorish, and bad for the cause. Are they all the "rebels without a clue" that Tom Petty sang of a few years ago? Are they really in that much of a hurry? (And if they are, why are they on a vehicle that can barely surpass 25mph?) Have they somehow gotten the impression that acting like a toddler is somehow "cool"? I'm really not sure.

But I did get a hint from several encounters over the past two weeks.

In each case, I was riding along a road with numerous controlled intersections, heading across town on my trusty Bottecchia fixie. In each case I ended up in the company of fellow riders going the same way. Some were on road bikes, some on hipster fixies, all were in their mid to late twenties. And all were blowing red lights, repeatedly, for miles on end.

How did I know they were doing this? Because, despite my habit of waiting at red lights till they turn green, I repeatedly caught up with them at the next red light. Which they ran. For miles on end.

It finally penetrated my aging brain: They were slow! They couldn't match the acceleration and cruising speed of a scrawny 57-year-old on a fixed-gear. That must be why they kept running reds, stupid as it is. They were just desperately slow.

It seems to me that the answer, then, is not running reds, but getting some legs. Isn't it?

Of just not hurrying so damned much.

One way or another, I hope they figure it out.

Because a cycling culture is a terrible thing to waste.

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 16 Sep 2010 20:35:13 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, September 12th
Sunday Singularity
This being Sunday, I left somewhat early to ride westward, towards the sea. Business and family usually take me eastward, and both have been all to complicated lately, so my quiet triangle ride--Wilshire to Santa Monica to San Vicente (with a coffee stop in Brentwood), then an amble along the beach bike path to the Bridge at Playa del Rey, thence home. Thirty-five miles more or less, sometimes fast if I feel like it, mostly flat, mostly pretty. Good stress relief.

On Sunday mornings Wilshire--usually one of the more heavily trafficked roads in the US--is fairly empty, and as I rode into Beverly Hills I saw another cyclist far ahead of me.

Usually bike traffic along Wilshire early on a weekend morning comprises mostly flash roadies in full kit, but when I caught up to this fellow I was gratified to see an elegant-looking man about sixty, wearing dress slacks and shirt and a tie, on an older road-sport bike equipped with numerous headlamps and a rack. A voluntary utility cyclist, one of my own clan! Riding along slowly enough not to work up a sweat, so possibly heading in to the office for a bit of Sunday catching-up.

Now if we could only get a few hundred thousand more of him out on the roads, we'd be somewhere...and I suspect we will, eventually.

But for now I'll celebrate this singular fellow as a harbinger of the better times to come.

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 12 Sep 2010 17:28:46 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, September 8th
City Knickers Back in Town!
It's been a while, but we squeezed enough capital out of a moribund economy to make a run of our City Knickers v2.0!

This is our more casual design, perfect for picnic rides, laid-back tech offices, visiting relatives, shopping, or just about anything else except looking formal. (And we offer our Classic Wool Knickers for that.)

No gusset or buttons at the knee, just a removable cinch cord and a couple of darts to help it bend. Two version now: wool gabardine in True Black, and hemp in Urban Gray. The hemp cloth we used this time is much improved over the original run; it's now a twill weave blended with 23% polyester--and the polyester comes from recycled beverage bottles!

The hemp is definitely heavier than the wool but still drapes nicely once broken in a bit, and is very comfortable. It's also one of the toughest cloths we've seen, and can take a lot of wear and tear without wearing or tearing.

The wool is, as our wool always is, among the most comfortable weaves you'll ever put next to your skin, and still very strong; it drapes beautifully (and is the same wool we use on our elegant Classics).

We've already snagged one for ourselves. Get yours while you've got the chance!

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 08 Sep 2010 17:11:38 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, September 7th
One Step at a Time
Nearly a year ago I posted a complaint about my local Trader Joe's market, which had installed an almost unusable bike rack that was not only placed so close to a curb as to prevent an effective lockup, but which was all too often blocked by pallets, carts, and planters left there by store employees as well as careless customers. This, though I had gone out of my way to provide them a copy of the APBP's bike parking guidelines, as you can see in my original post.

Well, it took them only a year, but they came around. Gina went there today and took a couple of iPhone pix before she went in to shop, and here they are:

tjrack_01 (153k image)

tjrack_02 (163k image)

Nicely done, and eminently usable!

I still had to move junk out of the way before I could park last time I went by, but I can live with that.

At last, real racks, well placed, and with enough room to lock, unlock, and load up your panniers or baskets.

Third and La Brea; check it out, buy a little something, and let them know how glad you are they finally made the bike parking easier.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 07 Sep 2010 15:42:39 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, September 4th
The Rest of the Pictures....
Okay, now there's a decent number of photos in the Bikes of Larchmont article, so take a look. (And yes, my Bottecchia snuck in there somehow....)

Bicycles of Larchmont

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 04 Sep 2010 14:34:21 -0800 [link]  

Rackin' 'Em Up
A while ago, I mentioned that LADOT's Carlos Morales had marked out spots for new bike parking racks on Wilshire boulevard at my request.

Well, I'm glad to say a big "Thank You" to Carlos now, as the racks have arrived only a few weeks later (mere seconds in bureaucratic time)--twelve new racks, plus a damaged rack replaced. Here's one below:

johnnies_rack (89k image)

There were only six racks in this stretch of Wilshire before--the eastern half of Miracle Mile between La Brea and Curson--and more and more people have been riding here on their bikes to eat, shop, work, whatever. So, although there are still blank spots--no racks for the Ralphs market or the Rite-Aid--we're a lot better off than we were before.

There is a bike corral at the office building at 5750, but that's on private property for tenants and guests only, and of course is far from most of the restaurants, stores, and shops. So we really needed this.

Thanks again, Carlos and LADOT!

Since Carlos is leaving for another agency, I'll think of this as his LADOT testament--a fine parting gift to the mid-city cycling world.

Ride 'em in, lock 'em up, and let's party!

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 04 Sep 2010 09:09:41 -0800 [link]  

Friday, September 3rd
The Bikes of Larchmont--Part 1
Just posted the first half of a little photo-essay on the Bicycles of Larchmont--that is, Larchmont Village in Los Angeles, not the Long Island Larchmont. Ours is a lively little shopping street but one block long, just south of Hollywood, which has been seeing a great deal more bicycle traffic in the last couple of years, with everyone from punks to producers rolling in on a variety of wheels. In fact, I often run into Pure Luck's Lonnie or Moth Attack's Megan there!

I plan to shoot more photos, till I have twenty or so, but figured I'd start with these and add more by the end of the month, along with some shots of the boulevard atmosphere itself.

So click on over and take your first taste of The Bicycles of Larchmont!

(And yes, the cruiser in the sample shot above is in fact parked next to a rack dispensing a pornographic tabloid....)

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 03 Sep 2010 07:59:54 -0800 [link]  

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