Bicycle Fixation Weblog

Home » Archives » October 2010 » Going Dutch....

Saturday, October 30th
Going Dutch....
Well, my "Pseudobecane," aka "Trevor Wong," tried something a bit risky today, seeing that he has track geometry and a cheap, cheap rear rack on him....

Gina was running a little late on her lunch date downtown with my father, and she asked whether I might give her a ride on Trevor the half-mile to the Rapid bus stop on La Brea.

So I said, "Let's try it and see what happens."

She hopped sidesaddle on the rack and, after a bit of a wobbly start, we were on our way!

Cheated a bit and rode the sidewalks, but we did just fine with 120 pounds of wife and a great big purse aboard, catching green lights the whole way.

Drop bars and all!

Sorry, no photo....

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 30 Oct 2010 18:09:21 -0800 [link]  

Two Important Bike Meetings in Los Angeles
With cities such as San Francisco, Portland, and even Long Beach, Santa Monica, and tiny Hermosa Beach surging ahead with bicycle infrastructure, it's frustrating to see Los Angeles dawdle. But a number of groups, such as the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, are working hard to help LA catch up, and if you’d like to add some momentum of your own, join us this Thursday, November 4th, at 7pm at Halal Tandoori Restaurant (401 S. Vermont Ave) on the corner of 4th and Vermont. The food is excellent, too!

Bicycle Fixation has been working on the 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard project with LACBC, and we've done a lot to bring its benefits to the attention of residents, business folk, and the city itself in the past two years. Now is the time to move towards action.

Meanwhile, a little farther west, the City of Beverly Hills is in even greater need of sensible transport options, and Better Bike BH is on the job. First on their list is getting bike lanes on the portion of Santa Monica Boulevard that passes through BH and joins the excellent lanes that continue on from Century City to Sepulveda. That section is up for repaving--the first repaving in a very long time--and it would of course be much easier to integrate bike lanes into the street when it's going to be torn up, reshaped, and re-striped anyway. This is how the Century City to Sepulveda lanes came to be--after a lot of citizen input!

This is a major connection to the Westside, and a dangerous gap in bike lanes (West Hollywood's lanes lead to the section of road in question from the east), so it affects everyone, not just 90210ers! Their meeting's this Sunday--tomorrow!--October 31st, 2pm, at Peet's Coffee, 258 S. Beverly Drive.

Bicycle Fixation will aim to be at the LACBC meeting for sure, and probably at the Better Bike BH meet as well.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 30 Oct 2010 08:12:21 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, October 28th
Hurry Up and Wait....
We're all too accustomed to that imbecilic "hurry up and wait" type of driver who roars past you in a cloud of smog and hormones as you pedal peacefully along, only to be brought up short by a crowd of his fellow cagers at the next red light or stop sign. I once followed such a fellow for three miles, repeatedly passing him as he enmeshed himself and his big black SUV in congestive road failure at the intersections, then watching as he roared once again past me--and often one or two of his fellow roadblocks--only to roll gently past him again at the next cross street.

What a waste of fuel and nervous energy!

And how much more of a waste when we do it ourselves on our bicycles!

Because I've encountered the same mindset in my fellow pedalers now and then, and not just the silly red light runners I mentioned a few weeks ago. Just today I met an otherwise very nice roadie, a somewhat lost tourist who was looking to find the way to the Pacific Coast Highway. He was bombing down Wilshire as if pursued by leopards, only to be caught at the red lights (which are generally stop-or-die red lights, given our traffic in the Wilshire Corridor), where I woould catch up to him.

Good for him that I did, for he was about to turn the wrong way on Santa Monica and once again head away from PCH.

He explained he'd already made a wrong turn earlier, and quite possibly his sense of hurry had distorted his memory and judgment to lead him astray, as often happens. I gave him directions, and went on my way.

I see this fairly often, though, and I suspect it diminishes the civility otherwise inherent in the use of a slower and more open form of transport. I can move right along myself, and just recently was timed by a fellow rider in the mid-20mph range as I chugged along the Santa Monica bikes lanes towards the sea. But I wasn't hurrying then, nor sprinting from light to light with grim-set jaw and narrowed eyes. I was just cruising fast, without hammering.

Eh, if you're in such a hurry, get a motorcycle. Otherwise, enjoy the blessing of the pedal bike, which allows you to move at running speed with walking effort and get places quickly enough without missing the world in between as you go.

From what I've read of hurry and anxiety, the psychological pressure one puts oneself under in rushing cancels out the aerobic benefit of the sprint.

If you're going fast but not feeling a smile on your face and a "Wheee!" in your heart, it's time to slow down. In most cities, you'll still beat the cagers there--and outlive them, too. And, be glad you did.

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 28 Oct 2010 11:35:17 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, October 24th
San Francisco Racks 'Em Up
A couple of images from our recent trip to San Francisco, where the bicycle's mode share of transit topped 6% in 2008, which Portland--a smaller city with less traffic--did not achieve till a year later.

I don't know the numbers for this year, but I was last in San Francisco in 2009, and cycling seems to have increased dramatically by my eyeball estimates, and by some reports as well. Certainly there were bikes everywhere, on the road and locked to racks and meters. Here are a couple of shots; more will show up in a week or two when I've had time to process the images. Bike racks like these are everywhere, and heavily used; there are plenty of single racks as well.

Bikes Parked on San Francisco's Market St.
On Market Street on a cold drizzly day

Bikes Parked on San Francisco's Embarcadero
At the Ferry Building, on a cold rainy morning

Even when the drizzle turned into a hard steady rain, folks were riding blithely along on their bicycles (and scooters and motorcycles), a phenomenon I've noted as far back as ten years ago.

The difference is, most of them don't look like enthusiasts now, but regular working people, office workers, folks who would otherwise be driving but who have discovered a better way. I think there was a lot of latent desire to start living outside the (metal) box, and SF's diligent buildout of bike infrastructure in the last few years simply made it easier for the timid to start riding.

The multitude of bike racks alone would be enough, but the bike lanes I've seen here are the excellent, far better than anything we have in LA. Except maybe the ones on Santa Monica, which I'll be riding in an hour or so myself...

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 24 Oct 2010 08:15:21 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, October 21st
Watch Out, Portland!
In San Francisco for a couple of days....

The city is now crawling with bikes. Velos are everywhere, parked in bunches of four, five, and six, ridden in accidental platoons as cyclists accumulate at stop lights. Even SoMA, which is mostly a cager's playground, is full of bikes. The rain and cold don't stop the flow.

Fixies, mixtes, singlespeeds, new bikes and vintage, internal hubs, folders, road bikes, BMX, Dutch bikes, cruisers; fenders, panniers, baskets, baskets, and more baskets; knickers, denim, suits, and skirts...everything. Even one stout lady in office dress riding along with a little windshield on her roadster.

I suspect that a survey taken now would show San Francisco's cyclists taking a bigger piece of mode share than Portland's.

It's astounding, gratifying, and wonderful.

San Francisco hopes to raise the bicycle's share of urban trips to 20% by 2020. I think they're going to do it.

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 21 Oct 2010 21:28:22 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, October 19th
Fall and Rise
All day the skies were heavy with deep gray clouds promising rain, and once in a while they fulfilled the promise. It came as a sweet, impossibly gentle rain that kept the streets thoroughly wet (and soaked deeply into the soil), but which you could walk or ride in with neither umbrella nor raingear.

And the good folks of Los Angeles did. This morning I met my friend Hoosh at Massimo's before heading out to South Pasadena to pick up t-shirts form Chuck Schmidt. Hoosh and I both arrived by bike--and so apparently did everyone else at the coffeehouse as both the two racks on 8th Street side of Massimo's and the two in front of the bar next door were full of bikes.

Once back here, and dinner finished, I went out for a walk along Wilshire Boulevard (we live on the Miracle Mile near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), and I was rewarded with yet more signs of velocipedal acceptance. First was not one but two Bromptons, half-folded and locked to the new rack outside the sushi bar...Bromptons are expensive little folding bikes, and not a casual purchase for anyone; it was good to see that the upper-middle class, the ones who drive so much and who have pushed so many freeways through poorer people's neighborhoods, are finally seeing the light and getting out on bikes, even in the rain, even in LA!

Then there was the fellow riding eastwards through LA traffic on Wilshire on a bike dressed with fenders, bags, and a dynohub lighting system--again, not purchases to make unless you actually mean to use your bike a lot.

When I crossed the street in front of LACMA, there were two hipsterish bikes locked up in front of the entrance, and on the way back home I saw a pretty young woman in a dress (and fuschia skate helmet) pedaling a well-lighted step-through up Hauser.

And most of the Rapid buses carried a full load of bike son their front racks, as usual.

A few sidewalk riders, a bike or two locked up at the Ralphs supermarket (which in this neighborhood has a grand sidewalk entrance and underground parking), and then, to wrap it all up, yet another Brompton, zipping south on Ridgely.

Looks like LA is growing up. Watch out, Portland!

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 19 Oct 2010 20:13:22 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, October 17th
Rainy Day Rhapsody
The streets are drying now, but all this morning and into the afternoon a steady drizzle kept the avenues sopping wet, and the skies deep grey.

I love this weather, so I suited up in elegant wool and got on my bike. threw a rain cape and a wind shell into the pannier in case the drizzle became rain, but as it turned out I didn't need them: the weather was soft enough that my own warmth and the breeze of passage were enough to keep me from becoming too damp.

Outside  Intelligentsia coffee in Venice
Bikes waiting outside the coffeehouse this morning
In fact, I remained presentable enough to stop in for coffee at Intelligentsia Coffee in Venice, probably my favorite such place after Caffe Luxxe--one of whose baristas I met hanging out in Intelligentsia!

What really charmed and pleased me today was just how many people were out riding their bikes in the rain. And I don't count the roadies or the homeless here--the first won't miss their workout no matter what; the latter have little choice. I speak of the vast population in between, people who have chosen the bicycle out of neither necessity nor obsession, but simply because it is the best choice for urban travel and a rich experience of the streets.

Stylish women and tidy men, twentysomethings and fiftysomethings, stout and slim, most of them remarkably well dressed, and riding everything from MTBs through flatbar roadbikes to vintage fixies.

Riding to restaurants, to coffeehouses, to boutiques, to the farmers market (whose bike valet was indeed being put to use), and, I suppose, to the beach, after all. Bikes parked everywhere along Main Street where it runs through Venice and Santa Monica, and even for quite a ways inland--in fact, till I came into West Los Angeles on my way home.

There's something that Santa Monica is doing right (and perhaps has done right for decades in managing its growth, I suspect). Venice of course is part of Los Angeles, but, like Echo Park, has always been "different," bohemian, the haunt of beatnicks, hippies, and bums, till its recent gentrification began. But Santa Monica has been its own staid little city, and I fear that the prevalence of bikes in Venice may result from a mixture of historical forwardness and spillover from Santa Monica, and not perhaps from much that the City of Los Angeles has done.

Well, as you know if you have been following my Twitter account, LA has been getting better...but it also has a long way to go.

It's therefore comforting to be able to drop down to Santa Monica and see the future closer at hand than in that other coffee-crazed town up north....

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 17 Oct 2010 15:41:22 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, October 14th
Ride to the Art Walk in LA
If you live in LA, you might be interested in the Miracle Mile Art walk, which takes place quite literally around the corner from the Bicycle Fixation headquarters!

I've been doing some volunteer work for the committee that puts on the art walk, and built their website, and currently we're trying to tempt more folks into riding their bikes to the art walk instead of driving.

The next Walk is this Saturday, October 16th, and will include a dance performance by LA troupe IN/EX.

And while there's no bike valet yet--we're aiming for next spring--there are all those new bike racks LADOT just installed on the Mile. If enough people show up by pedal power, we might just be able to get the Walk combined with a mini-CicLAvia starting next year!

That would be a wonderful gift to the neighborhood, and would allow art in the streets as well.

Some resources from the Art Walk's blog:
Suggested bike routes to the Art Walk here.

Art Walk schedule of events here.

IN/EX dance preview here.

Download flyers to print out here.
See you there!

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 14 Oct 2010 15:02:30 -0800 [link]  

Monday, October 11th
CicLAvia in Words and Pictures
We finally processed the better shots from yesterday's CicLAvia and gathered them into a little photo essay with some text....

Take a look now, and see what all the fussing--and smiling!--was about:

CicLAvia: a First for Los Angeles

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 11 Oct 2010 19:42:09 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, October 10th
Sneak Preview--CicLAvia Report (More to Come)
It was, perhap, the most wonderful thing to happen to Los Angeles, in decades...cicLAvia, a liberation of the streets from the automobile, a street opening designed to let human beings mingle freely as they move under their own power, on bicycles and skates, in wheelchairs and pedicabs, or just on foot, on quiet, clean, wide-open boulevards.

Inspired by the ciclovías that transformed Botogá, Colombia, from a poster child of urban degradation to a fashion leader in the new urban paradigm, CicLAvia will, with luck, begin LA's transformation into a cleaner, happier, more productive city where there's room for people on the streets, unboxed, untrammeled, unfrowning, healthy humanity.

Here's a little bit of of New Hampshire Boulevard populated with a multitude of smiling souls enjoying the weather and the neighborhood:

ciclavia_101010_newhampshirebl (135k image)

Imagine how it would look with that many cars in it....

That's all for now...expect a full report with many more photos in a day or two.

I rode the whole route once, and the western two-thirds a couple more times...and I wish I were still out there, but chores were calling.

LA's first, but--let's hope--by no means its last Ciclavia. Thanks to all who helped make it happen at last!

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 10 Oct 2010 15:18:07 -0800 [link]  

Friday, October 8th
There's Always a First Time
There's always a first time, and Sunday will be LA's turn: we're going to open some streets to all residents with a ciclovía, inspired by thirty years of street openings in Bogotá, Colombia--a weekly practice that has transformed that city into a South American showcase of civility.

Called "CicLAvia," ours will meander on a variety of streets from Boyle Heights in the east to Heliotrope and Melrose, aka "Hel-Mel," aka the Bicycle District, on the west. Streets will be liberated from the usurpations of the automobile from 10AM to 3PM on Sunday, October 10th, and people will be biking, skating, walking, dancing, picnicking, and possibly even cooking in some much-needed public space.

Click on the image below to go to the CicLAvia website for information, maps, and so forth:

CicLAvia Map

There's only one first time for anyone, so if you're going to be in Los Angeles, be there...we will be.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 08 Oct 2010 19:46:42 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, October 7th
Bad Sign
While there's no arguing with the good intentions of LA's new "Give Me 3" campaign, we could quibble a bit with the placement of many of the signs....

gimme_3 (145k image)
Click for larger image
It's a notable idea with a noble goal: increase awareness of cyclists on Shakytown's roadways, and serve (with luck) as precursor to a statewide "Safe passing" law, mandating what is called for by common sense and simple decency: that motorists leave at least three feet between their vehicles and "vulnerable users" when they pass.

Unfortunately, so far, the majority of the signs I've seen are not facing the street, where they will be seen by habitual, they are facing the sidewalks, where they will be seen by walkers and bus riders. While in Los Angeles, cyclists are often drivers as well, there is a much greater divide between transit users and drivers, with little overlap (though that is changing as we add more fast and comfortable rail lines).

So while bus riders may find the suggestion laudable, they have little opportunity to put it in to practice. And the drivers whizzing by on the street (almost always above the speed limit, of course, except at rush hour) can't see the damn signs!

I've also seen the signs facing the street, but the wrong way: aimed at the backs of passing cars. The one that Streetsblog photographed also faced away from motor traffic.

This is odd since both the sidewalks kiosks and the bus shelters where these are installed include panels oriented towards the street so that drivers will easily see them.

Maybe those panels are more expensive? Perhaps it's mere cluelessness...or (cue ominous music) actual subversion of the campaign?

I don't know, and I hope future installations will actually face the drivers the signs address in most, not just some, cases. But right now I see it as a wasted effort.

Then again, I've come across only a dozen or so of these so far, so I could very well be wrong. I hope I am.

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 07 Oct 2010 16:19:08 -0800 [link]  

Monday, October 4th
First Rain
First real rain of the season today, though it was barely more than a drizzle at best and often less. Still, it left the streets thoroughly wet and the air sweet, and made that gentle mumbling in the gutters that is the accompaniment to wet days in LA. A very restful sound.

But we didn't rest: Gina and I slipped on our rain capes and saddled up for a ride to the little farmers' market at Plummer Park about three miles north. All our current bikes wear fenders, so we could ride what we wanted, but we took the Milk Runner and Trevor Wong, as both were set up to carry stuff.

Though somehow everything ended up loaded onto my bike....

Eggplant, onions, tomatoes, peaches, nectarines, fennel, apples, avocados, and more tumbled into the panniers as we strolled the pavilions, while the drizzle gathered on the canvas roofs and dripped onto us when we stepped away from the tables. I bought a samosa from an Indian food stand, which warmed me up nicely.

Our whimsical stop at a new coffeehouse on Beverly as we headed back warmed us up even more.

We weren't the only cyclists out there, either; most gratifying to see a few folks riding to work or, like us, to shop on a drizzly day. LA folks can be such rain wimps....

I wrote up a rain riding few tips for LA cyclists over on the Orange 20 blog; take a look if you haven't got it all figured out already. Or you can look up my ancient article on rain riding right here on Bicycle Fixation, called The Wet Look...from 1997. Although my bikes are fixed now, they all still wear fenders, and I still use a rain cape (though not the same one).

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 04 Oct 2010 14:47:12 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, October 2nd
You Don't Need a Weatherman....
Bob Dylan once sang that "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," and the winds of change are certainly blowing through Los Angeles, especially on the streets (and all too often the sidewalks), where bicycles are taking over more and more of what transpo geeks call "mode share."

Rags of Storm CloudPhoto by Gina Morey ©2010
Even in the last three days, when thunderstorms have ringed the city, brewing a profound and thick, damp heat.... Gina took the photo two days ago, and right afterwards we got on the bikes and rode through the sprinkle to the turtle pond to watch the last of sunset. We were not alone; in a city notoriously wimpy in the face of even the mildest little rain, there were other riders rolling happily about. Not just people who had to ride, either.

Yesterday I was pretty busy and my rides were short and local, getting things done, but I had plenty of fellows out there on two wheels also getting things done...and today--still hot, still muggy--cyclists everywhere, bikes parked everywhere, by stores and shops and offices, rolling up to the bank, cruising across the bleak streets of Hollywood.

It's not really so much that bikes are "taking over mode share," as I said above--doesn't that sound aggressive? It's that people who need to get around are simply choosing bicycles even when they have other choices and when the weather isn't the best.

Because when you do you casual calculation in the back of your mind, you realize, what the hell, better to sweat a bit on a bike saddle and be free, than to sweat strapped into a tin can in a traffic jam.

When you ride your bike, you make you own sweet winds of change, with every pedal stroke.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 02 Oct 2010 14:53:45 -0800 [link]  

Search the Blog Archives

Browse the Archives

Environmental Activism Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

A Few Good Blogs....

Kent Peterson
LADOT Bike Blog
Lovely Bicycle!
Saddle Americana