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Saturday, May 28th
Possibly the Most Important Meeting of the Year
Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition announces a meeting on Thursday, June 2nd, that could be one of the most important of the year for the Los Angeles area. It will comprise a presentation to the Sierra Club of the GRID project, which conceptualizes an integrated transport system that could easily replace freeways for most freight and much passenger movement in the eastern part of the region, as well as underpin the development of car-free TOD villages and add to the countywide bicycle network, all using locally-sourced current technology and skills.

We have outlined GRID in an article at our sister publication, the New Colonist, titled Start Making Sense: Beyond Freeways, but this is a chance to hear about it directly from designer David Alba, and ask a few questions later.

Here is Bart Reed's invitation to you in his own words:
Dear Clean Air Colleague:

Recently I came across a simple solution to remove a huge volume of trucks that foul our air and clog the 710, 10 and 60 Freeways. It is just a different way to move cargo, that cuts out the trucks. Ship to Train or Train to Ship. It uses existing technology, labor and rail corridors in a different configuration, cutting out the trucks.

My colleague David Alba, GRID Project Designer will present, as the special guest speaker at the Sierra Club Transportation Committee this Thursday, June 2 with networking starting at 7 p.m. at the Sierra Club Lower Plaza Meeting Room. Everyone is welcome, Sierra Club Member or not at no charge, except for the paid parking lot. (Meeting Details)

Please see the Agenda for the Thursday, June 2 meeting (networking @ 7 p.m.), presentation starts promptly at 7:30 p.m., at the chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Boulevard, (the tall Equitable building across from the late Ambassador Hotel). Look for the meeting room on the lower plaza (LP) level which is on the parking entrance level, past the elevators toward Wilshire, then a left turn and straight to the end of the hall.

Paid parking is inside the building with the entrance off Mariposa, or you can take transit. Ride the Wilshire Purple Line subway or Metro Rapid bus #720 to Wilshire / Normandie). If you're coming via bicycle please call me in advance and we can make accommodations for space. My cell phone is 818-419-1671.

Thanks and see you all Thursday!

If you will be in Los Angeles next week, please try to attend this meeting.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 28 May 2011 08:42:42 -0800 [link]  

Friday, May 27th
Offsite Blogging XV
Will I never shut up?

About cycling, probably not....

Over at Orange 20, I cover The Santa Monica Museum of Art's delightful Tour da Arts Ride.

And Flying Pigeon LA hears me expound on why Beverly Hills Matters.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 27 May 2011 07:39:12 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, May 25th
Natural Progress
While Los Angeles, where I live, is far from being a bicycle city yet--very far--I do regularly see signs of progress. What I call "natural progress," ridership increases on streets that are not, or are not yet, showcase streets with obvious, perhaps brilliant bicycle-oriented infrastructure. Relatively ordinary streets.

My beloved Fourth Street, for example; though plans are in the works, as regular readers here will know, to transform it into a bicycle boulevard, and it recently received sharrows, it is really a rather neglected "bike route" still, with horribly broken pavements and two wide streets to cross without the benefits of traffic lights. Yet yesterday, as I rode it around the tail end of rush hour, I saw many fellow cyclists of all sorts, riding every sort of bike from the shiny to the pathetic, all apparently on their way somewhere.... (For while Fourth is a pretty street, it is not a recreational route. It does, however, tie several parts of town together nicely, from the densely-packed apartment streets on the east to job-rich Miracle Mile on the west.)

And the day before I was on Seventh, on my way to a meeting at the sewing factory, and once I got near downtown it seemed that nearly every one of the numerous sidewalk bike racks was in use.

And Sunday, the day before that, when I stopped for coffee on the far west side, on Abbot Kinney in the formerly boho realm of Venice Beach, the lanes were full of bikes, and the array of racks in front of Intelligentsia Coffee were nearly full. (They could use a bike corral there!)

Nothing spectacular--just more folks riding bikes to get somewhere. But the ordinariness of it is perhaps what is truly spectacular. And that aside from bike racks and some paint strips on a few roads, little has been done here to nurture this growth in riding. It is self-directed growth--people choosing to bicycle in spite of civic neglect.

Imagine how much more we could have with a little encouragement!

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 25 May 2011 16:28:06 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, May 22nd
A Visit to Linus
On a spin through the Westside this morning, I stopped for coffee on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, and before unlocking the Bottecchia and heading on toward the Bridge, I lifted my little camera out of the pannier and took a stroll up and down that still-bohemian street, to see what I could see.

What I saw was a phalanx of nice-looking little city bikes lined up behind the sidewalk, with a sign indicating that "Linus Bikes" could be found at the end of a narrow passage leading behind the streetfront stores.

So I went in, of course, and found the Linus Showroom, which is a trim little cottage with a workstand, a shelf of accessories, and a whole lot of bikes propped all around in the courtyard.

Linus makes what look like practical, lightweight city bikes, designed in Los Angeles (but made, as are oh-so-many others, in Taiwan or, as in this case, China). Simple, strong frames, a classic aesthetic, capable geometries (to look at them; I suggested they might cut one loose far one of my one-month road tests), and a variety of portage choices, along with (usually) fenders, make them look like a good choice for utility riding that will break neither the bank nor your back.

If I get ahold of one to torture for a few hundred miles, I'll let you know how it does; meanwhile, here are some pix of these inexpensive but classic-looking little bikes.

Linus Bikes on display on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, in Venice Beach

The secret passage....

A gaggle of city bikes

A squadron of scorchers, complete with flip-flop hubs for getting real!

Brooks saddles, baskets, sweet canvas panniers, and other stuff

I have been seeing Linus bikes all over town, too, so it seems that the folks who buy them actually use them day to day. Find a local dealer here.

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 22 May 2011 20:00:48 -0800 [link]  

Friday, May 20th
Offsite Blogging XIV
Couple more posts that I've insinuated into other people's blogs....

At Flying Pigeon LA, we talk about how LA's little siblings in the county seem consistently to outdo us in bicycle goodies...see They've Got Us Surrounded!

And at Orange 20 we suggest that maybe LA's first separated onstreet bike lane should on West Washington Boulevard, where there's a lot of Wasted Space.

More next week!

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 20 May 2011 16:00:21 -0800 [link]  

CalTrans Bike Exhibit in Downtown Los Angeles
Although I could never find out when it was going to open--it sort of just did--and no one seems to be sure when it will close, I still recommend dropping by the CalTrans building kittycorner form City Hall in Downtown Los Angeles if you can. They've put up a very good exhibit on urban bicycling in LA, including some very old historic photos, photos of current bike infrastructure (including a few by Bicycle Fixation), videos, posters, equipment and magazines, and of course bicycles. Really very nicely done!

To whet your appetite--or in case you can't go, or aren't in LA--I'll post some snapshots below.

Photos of current bikeways treatments, and police and fire department bicycles behind them.

Street design, bike sharing, analysis, brochures.

Historical photos, gear and magazines, and Dutch bike display.

New bike parking regulations, and more analysis.

Guidelines for bicycle boulevards--ironically, these are from the Minneapolis Department of Public Works!

Another view of the room.

Dutch bikes courtesy of our pals at Flying Pigeon LA.

CalTrans District Seven HQ, aka the Squatting Robot; LADOT also has its offices there.

The exhibit is in the building's "museum," a display space just behind the guard station in the lobby. You don't need to sign in to see it, and there are bike racks right in front as well as in the underground parking cavern.

It may be up till the end of the month--or it might not be. No one seems to know. Go soon if you can! The official address is 100 S. Main St. Open office hours.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 20 May 2011 15:46:37 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, May 18th
Pre-Summer Sale
With Spring still barely able to break loose from winter's soggy grip, and the economy likewise mired in recession, we've decided to do us all a favor and lower our knickers for a, wait a second, I mean lower our knicker prices for a while. Till June 6th, in fact.

All our Classic Wool Knickers and City Knickers v2.0 will be just $109.00 till next month.

The Classics are elegant and supremely comfortable, great for commuting to work or going out on the town--or just on a happy ride in the clearing spring weather--and the more casual City Knickers are fit for commuting, pub crawling, group rides, walking, or just hanging short, for anything you want to do where you'd prefer to look great and feel comfortable. And we still have some City Knickers available in ultra-tough hemp blend as well. They've been used on tours as well!

So check them out, along with our other bike-friendly (and eye-friendly!) products, on our shopping page.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 18 May 2011 08:09:28 -0800 [link]  

Monday, May 16th
Bio-Logical, and Right Purty Too
For months, a little stretch of the Ballona Creek bike path--which I use rather frequently to get to the marina area--was blocked for construction. A bit annoying to have to detour--the creekside path is fast and quiet, with no car traffic and no at-grade crossings--but now that it's done it feels really worthwhile.

Culver City--which is where this portion of the path lies--repaved and landscaped the path and installed a native plant garden and bioswale there--the latter feature serving to capture and cleanse runoff from the adjacent schoolyard.

Yesterday it was looking particularly good, as the flowers were blooming wildly under a brilliant blue spring sky.

Take a look:

Bioswale alongside bike path, Culver City

Southern California riding at its most pleasant today, despite the cold wind.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 16 May 2011 20:42:18 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, May 14th
Summer Clearance
Just a reminder that you can help yourself by helping us clear out some last bits of inventory to make room for upcoming goodies, including a couple of new products.

First off, we have a very few of the Town & Country Shorts left at a mere $56 each, but only in waist size 30. These have an inseam of 8.5", but can be taken in or let out by your local tailor or dry cleaner for five or ten bucks. Sturdy hemp blended with polyester recycled from beverage bottles, these are incredibly tough, durable, and long lasting, as well as supremely comfortable and, of course, fine-looking to boot!

When they're gone, we won't have any more for a year or two, so if you're slim and like to commute, tour, or ride cross country on your bike, or hike or walk, get yourself a pair of these while you can. They have four main pockets plus a small bellows pocket on the upper thigh, where it won't interfere with pedaling. I've worn mine for many thousands of miles, with only boxers underneath, but they are cut to allow padded tights and still look slick.

We also have a few left of our Four Season Jersey/Ninja Road Warrior Hoodie, a top so comfortable that some buyers have worn them every day for over a year straight, and a few report sleeping in theirs! Orange only, but available in extremely limited quantities in M, L, and XL. Comfortable in heat or cold, even extreme cold, so when your hot summer day turns chill in the alpine camp you end up at, you'll still be cozy.

Integrated balaclava that converts to a normal hood, extra length in back, one pocket on the left breast and another low on the back, plus the luxury and practicality of pure merino wool, imported directly by us from New Zealand. These jerseys look great on men and women both.

Again, these will be put on hold for a year or two as we cycle in new products that we held back on during the recession, so this is your chance.

Of course we also have a good stock of Classic Wool Knickers, City Knickers v2.0, James Black Hats, Knicker Socks, and more--see them all on our shopping cart page.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 14 May 2011 17:01:49 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, May 11th
Offsite blogging XIII
Two more as usual on Wednesday....

We take a first look at the Expo Line's adjacent bike lanes at Orange 20: First Mile, Last Mile.

And we enjoy the hell out of Flying Pigeon LA's monthly brewery ride in a post titled, Industrial-Strength Bike Love.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 11 May 2011 17:18:43 -0800 [link]  

CBC Fundraiser at Long Beach Bikestation May 12
The California Bicycle Coalition will be holding a fundraiser at Long Beach's Bikestation this Saturday, May 12th, to garner support for the three-foot passing law and for representatives of cycling, not just motoring, interests to be represented on CalTrans' Traffic Control Devices committee. This will also be an opportunity to explore Bikestation's glitzy new facility. Here are the CBC's own words on the matter:
Bikestation Long Beach will host a fundraiser this Thursday, May 12, to benefit the California Bicycle Coalition's two campaigns to improve road safety for all California bicyclists.

The event takes place at the new, state-of-the-art Bikestation Long Beach at 220 E 1st Street, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Alta Planning + Design, Bikeable Communities and Ryan Snyder Associates are co-sponsors.

At Thursday's party the CBC will introduce its statewide Give Me 3 campaign ( to promote passage of Senate Bill 910, authored by Long Beach Senator Alan Lowenthal. Co-sponsored by the CBC and the City of Los Angeles, SB 910 would require motorists to give bicyclists three feet of clearance when passing from behind under most conditions.

The bill is aimed at making roads friendlier for the many Californians who want to begin bicycling for transportation. The bill would help prevent passing-from-behind collisions that are the leading cause of bicyclist fatalities in California and the U.S. Sixteen other states have similar laws on the books.

The City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Los Angeles Police Department, Midnight Ridazz and Champion Studio have donated to the CBC the design for the citywide Give Me 3 public awareness campaign they created and ran last fall.

The CBC is also sponsoring legislation to make sure motorists aren't the only road users represented on the powerful Caltrans committee that sets standards for bike lanes, crosswalks and other traffic controls. Currently the state's two main automobile associations are the only roadway users with seats on the California Traffic Control Devices Committee.

That would change under Assembly Bill 345, authored by San Diego Assemblymember Toni Atkins, which would require all roadway users to be represented on any Caltrans committee created to advise on traffic control devices. Sponsored by the CBC, the bill is a first step toward enabling every community in California to implement the kind of innovative bicycle facilities that Long Beach is already famous for.

"We picked the Long Beach Bikestation to launch our campaigns because the city is an epicenter for both efforts. Its senator is the author of the safe passing legislation, and its commitment to innovative design, such as its new cycle-tracks, are a model that other communities will be able to follow, if AB 345 has its intended effect of changing the toolbox at Caltrans," said Dave Snyder, CBC relaunch director/CEO.
You can RSVP (and find a little more info) here.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 11 May 2011 07:46:22 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, May 8th
Normal and Comfortable
My, I get tired of Dutch bike jihadis telling me my bike is impractical and uncomfortable!

My little Bottecchia!
You know, it doesn't bother me a bit if someone wants to ride a heavy, upright Dutch-style bike. I've extensively road tested and reviewed a couple of them--a (Swedish) Kronan and a (genuine Dutch) Gazelle bakfiets--and given them props for the things they did well.

I've also taken short test rides on a Gazelle Toer Populaire, a very "standard" Dutch city bike, as well as a Batavus and the really quite nice in-between design from Public Bikes.

I liked them all, especially the Public, but none of them could come close to providing the utility I obtain from using my converted 1960s stage-racer, a Bottecchia Professional fitted with fenders, lights, and rack and set up as a fixed gear.

Big cruisers are often replacements for walking, not driving. Fine in a tiny city like Asterdam (or even much of Portland, whose east side is flat and which is only 8 x 8 miles wide anyhow), but not useful in a larger metropolis such as you find in much of North America and parts of the 3rd World, where distances are long and bicycle facilities few. The ones I've ridden were squirrelly at high & low speeds.

My path racer city bike, Trevor Wong
Upright bikes are hard on the back, with your spine taking all the load. (And below it your butt, hence the necessity for gigantic wide saddles.) I couldn't ride my 1000km a month on one. I'd certainly have one for neighborhood shopping, but I don't want to be forced into a car for my longer journeys.

Yes, I ride my quick, light bikes in rain, at night, over horrible roads, et al--and I carry loads on them. Sometimes big loads: once packed two rolls of wool gabardine totaling some 70 pounds onto my Bot, and I regularly use it for shopping. Panniers are panniers, and I can put all manner of panniers on my Tubus rack.

I've carried inventory twenty miles over hills in the SoCal heat to Flying Pigeon LA, my Highland Park retailer--that was on Trevor, a path racer (a form of heavy-duty track bike), also, like the Bot, set up with fenders, rack, and lights. We also recently got a trailer for really big loads.

Mind you, I'm no proponent of a full-on racer crouch, either. I've tried that too--I've tried almost everything in nearly fifty years of street riding. Here's what I've found works well: give me primary handgrips about level with the saddle, and enough forward reach to put my back at approximately a 45° angle, and I can ride comfortably fast or slow, near or far, laden or light.

My back never hurts, and I never wear Spandex. In fact, the only concession I make to "cycling gear" is to wear a pair of my own elegant knickers--which I often wear off the bike as well. Hey, they're comfy and they look great! But I ride in long pants too. If you listen to the Danish/Dutch contingent, you'd think this was absolutely impossible.

The gentleman in the photo below would disagree:

Besides, knickers have a longer history as men's wear than trousers do, so may (if you take a long view) be more "normal."

As to the alleged magisterial ride qualities of heavy bikes (a theme this week), well, that perception stems from a misunderstanding of physics. It's the wide tires always used on big roadsters that give that effect--the cushioning, the stateliness, and the stability--with the latter two the result of the greater pneumatic trail and moment of inertia inherent in wider and heavier tires. If you can fit them on a light bike, you will get the same benefits, regardless of style or seating position. This is what's behind the current practice of converting older road bikes to 650B wheels--which can give you the best of both worlds.

My little Bottecchia stage racer--21 lbs. with fenders, lights, & rack--makes every mile a joy. I'm shouting "Wheee!" inside as I crisscross LA visiting friends, going to work or city meetings, et al.

Okay, rant over. Enjoy your ride, whatever it is--and don't diss someone else's just because it doesn't suit your taste.

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 08 May 2011 13:07:05 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, May 4th
Offsite Blogging XII
Two more piles o' pixels from Rick on Other People's Blogs....

Wondering if there is such a thing as The Perfect Bike at Orange 20, and...

...Reporting on the BPIT Bashup at Flying Pigeon LA.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 04 May 2011 13:41:34 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, May 3rd
Twice Green Shopping
Bikes at West Hollywood Farmers Market
Click for bigger image
Yesterday morning we rolled, as we usually do on Mondays, to the West Hollywood Farmers' market in Plummer Park.

It was a bicycle morning in LA, no doubt: we encountered a number of cyclists on the way--including a very cheery looking gal whose bike was clad in plaid bags and wooden fenders--and a number of folks were trolling their bikes along as they browsed the stalls at the market itself.

Not quite sure why, as there are plenty of railings by the tennis courts to lock up to if you don't want to use the park's racks (which are rather far from the market)--those are our bikes in the background of the photo, with a pair of elegantly-spec'd singlespeeds in front. The only camera we had was Gina's iPhone, but if you look closely you can see the baguettes strapped to the luggage carrier of one of the bikes. (We favor panniers and baskets for this task.)

The owners sauntered up with more comestibles as Gina shot the image, and we compared bikes for a little while.

Then it was off to the local health food store and the Third Street Farmers Market, a seven-day-a-week institution that's been purveying fresh grub to the populace since the mid-Thirties.

Rolling "green" to shop for greens--a good start to the week in Los Angeles.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 03 May 2011 07:40:43 -0800 [link]  

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