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Wednesday, December 30th
Chip's At It Again....
Occasional Bicycle Fixation and New Colonist contributor Chip Haynes of Florida sent in a picture of his latest project--latest of hundreds, since he loves to salvage old bikes, make them into viable transportation, and give them away.

Another Happy RiderIn his own words:
Just finished this bike on Christmas Eve morning and was able to hand it over to its new owner before Santa showed up. The lugged frame began life as a Sears Free Spirit three-speed, and it got The Full Chippie: the bike was stripped down to nothing, and the nothing was stripped down to bare metal. The dropouts were re-formed, the cable housing guides were ground off, holes were filled and the whole thing got rebuilt as a sleek satin black fixie. I even taught the new owner to lace the front wheel. (I did the rear wheel.) Needless to say, the new owner is one happy boy with a shiny new bike, and if you are anywhere in central Clearwater, you'll probably see him fly by. And this bike does fly!

I've built and rebuilt dozens--if not hundreds--of bikes over the years and simply given them away. In this a particular case, the new owner bought the old bike on Craig's List and rounded up the needed parts from several different bike shops and online sources. The build took maybe six weeks total--after he found the right frame. (Finding the right frame took some doing.) My goal is what it always is: To show people that bicycling is more fun than driving a car, and even the simplest bicycle (like this fixie) is an absolute joy. The new owner is really putting this bike to good use every day.

By the way, my current workbench project is the rebuild of a classic (mid-70's) Schwinn Sting Ray I found on a trash pile the other day. This one's a keeper, and I will ride it to work--at least once!
I'll take a thousand more Chip Hayneses over any amount of cap-and-trade greenwash any day.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 30 Dec 2009 16:14:06 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, December 29th
The Future is Neon Bright!
It was most gratifying to see all kinds of folks on all kinds of bike today, as I rode my Tuesday loop to South Pasadena for coffee with Chuck and added a few stops on the way home--a busy, noisy, fragrant store in Chinatown for some rice wine, my wool broker and the contract factory downtown about various projects, and my mother's house to gather mail.

It seemed that every corner I turned showed me a new group of cyclists--some together by intent, some by random chance--and a variety of old and new bikes, and old and new riders. To wit:In fact, I'd guess that half the riders I saw were on new, inexpensive fixies, and they were all riding in the street looking like they were heading someplace.

Of course, I was on one of my fixies myself, and Chuck had ridden up to Buster's on his keirin bike.

So I guess what I'm saying is, Enough with knocking the fixie fashionistas and their bikes--those bikes have gotten more folks pedaling for transport than anything else since the '70s Gas Crisis.

For more about fixies in the city, read my little article, "Alpha and Omega: a Fixed-Gear Primer."

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 29 Dec 2009 16:42:53 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, December 26th
Year-End Ninja Hoodie Sale
A little heads-up: we're doing the Traditional Retail Thing and having a little year-end sale, so from now till New year's Day our four Season Jersey, aka the Ninja Road Warrior Hoodie, is on sale for $154.00.

Quantities are diminishing, but we still have all sizes from XS to XL in stock, and both Burnt Orange and Charcoal in every size except S.

The catalog page is all set up and waiting for you, so click on over and take a look at our Four Season Jersey--elegant, cozy, and featuring a discreet hood that converts to a balacalava!


Richard Risemberg on Sat, 26 Dec 2009 10:36:43 -0800 [link]  

Friday, December 25th
The Copenhagen Failure
The Copenhagen conference just ended, COP15, was a disgrace. After all the hopes, dreams, and hard efforts to prepare, the world ended with what seems to be an agreement to do nothing. I suppose that,if you consider the vast quantity of airline miles racked up by attendees--and flying is the least energy-efficient form of transit--you could say that COP 15 ended up adding to global warming overall.

The villain of the piece, according to Mark Lynas's article in the Guardian, seems to be China, whose efforts to preserve its remarkably high rate of GDP growth depend on burning lots of coal and keeping lots of ships crisscrossing the ocean carrying its exports.

This is dismaying--China had of late been looking like a good guy: trying to put the brakes on runaway roadbuilding and car sales, re-emphasizing the bicycle, freeing the unions, and building out a huge intercity rail network, including high speed rail, to obviate the need for more driving and flying as its population grows richer and begins traveling more.

And now this: was China's representative who insisted that industrialised country targets, previously agreed as an 80% cut by 2050, be taken out of the deal. "Why can't we even mention our own targets?" demanded a furious Angela Merkel. Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was annoyed enough to bang his microphone. Brazil's representative too pointed out the illogicality of China's position. Why should rich countries not announce even this unilateral cut? The Chinese delegate said no, and I watched, aghast, as Merkel threw up her hands in despair and conceded the point.

China, backed at times by India, then proceeded to take out all the numbers that mattered. A 2020 peaking year in global emissions, essential to restrain temperatures to 2C, was removed and replaced by woolly language suggesting that emissions should peak "as soon as possible". The long-term target, of global 50% cuts by 2050, was also excised. No one else, perhaps with the exceptions of India and Saudi Arabia, wanted this to happen. I am certain that had the Chinese not been in the room, we would have left Copenhagen with a deal that had environmentalists popping champagne corks popping in every corner of the world.
So, promises without commitments, the appearance of action with no obligation to act.

This leaves it to us, which is why I'm posting this in an urban cycling 'zine. Again and again, I've come to the conclusion that we can't wait for the powerful to save the planet for us--because in this era power (not authority, which most of them lack) comes from pollution or pain: the oil well or the gun barrel.

But, to echo what my friend who works on environmental issues in Bangladesh says, and which was a rallying cry on the streets of Copenhagen (under the truncheons of those cute Danish cops), if not in the conference halls: "Change behavior, not the climate."

Our own behavior.

Riding your bike, instead of driving your car, will do more for the climate than a thousand million promises.

And maybe, at this point, avoiding Chinese-made goods (hard to do in cycling, but not impossible) might help undercut China's rationale for gutting any global environmental protocols. (Meaning People's Republic now....)

Keep it near home. Why ship shaped tubes of steel 8,000 miles to save a few bucks, if it costs you the planet in exchange?

Ride your bike.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 25 Dec 2009 09:38:38 -0800 [link]  

Monday, December 21st
The most delightful morning of velo-conviviality today, with chores interrupted by the happy happenstance of meeting up with fellow LA cyclists by purest chance, no Tweeting, Facebooking, IMing, or any other kind of industrial relationship infrastructure required.

atpeets (84k image)Gina and I had some minor business to take care of near Larchmont, so we rode out under smooth gray skies to the notary public I know there, took care of the paperwork, and then spent some time helping her set up her passport camera. (I've known this notary, who also runs a mail stop, for over twenty years.)

That done, we rode a block down the street to Peet's coffee on the boulevard, and as we roll up on the sidewalk to look for a bike rack, I see my friend Lon standing on the sidewalk talking on his cell phone (with my friend Brian, as it turned out). Talking bikes, in fact....

I was happy to find it difficult to park as there were bikes at almost every rack; but I finally clicked the Kryptonite shut, and we ran in to get some coffee for me and G. By the time we were out, Lon was off the phone, and we started jawboning.

Within seconds, another bike rolled up, bearing Meghan of both LACBC and the Moth Attack framebuilding shop.

So our little ten-minute coffee stop turned into an hour with friends, and relaxing hang, and plenty of good words passed around.

So that's us (minus me) in the Crappy Cellphone Photo: Lon with his hand in his ear, Gina with her face in her cup, and Meghan taking a break from al fresco accounting.

And a couple of our rigs in the far background.

Made my day!

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 21 Dec 2009 15:44:12 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, December 19th
Too Much of a Good Thing....
A couple of days ago I saw something both amusing and a little sad on my way home from a meeting downtown.

I was riding west on 4th Street (the same 4th Street many of us in Los Angeles hope will be the city's first real "bicycle boulevard"), when I saw a fellow riding along ahead of me pulling a trailer.

Nothing unusual in that; but when I caught up with him I saw that he was pulling the trailer with an Xtracycle!

I am always glad when someone shows that the need to haul lots of stuff is not an argument against practical cycling: better an Xtracycle and trailer rig than an SUV, after all.

But in a world where Americans' hyperactive acquisitiveness is responsible for so much environmental, social, and political degradation, perhaps a better primary message would be that bikes are practical because you don't really need so damn much stuff.

So I'm torn between admiration and a slight touch of despair....

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 19 Dec 2009 14:35:56 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, December 16th
Bedford Avenue: Brooklyn Cycling Advocates Morph into Donald Rumsfeld?
A brief backgrounder:
NYDOT striped bikelanes recently on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, which street passes through a very conservative neighborhood of Hasidic Jews.

The Hasids complained, claiming (speciously) that they should not be subjected to "scantily-clad cyclists."

Said Hasids could of course just not look, which is the accepted technique among Hasids in Los Angeles, where for much of the year nearly all women, not just cyclists, parade around scantily-clad. But no, they bullied the city to remove the stripes (which will not remove the cyclists, of course), and the city cravenly agreed.

Brooklyn cyclists clandestinely repainted the stripes, and the city removed them again.
Bad situation so far, yes? One that calls for meetings of the minds, negotiation, etc, right?

Well, apparently not: apparently it calls for Donald-Rumsfeld-like in-your-face arrogant cluelessness, as some half-wit in the hipster haze of Brooklyn decided that the best way to make a bad situation far, far worse was to plan a naked bike ride down Bedford Avenue!

Nice way to solidify the opposition and alienate your allies in the city government, the neighborhood itself, and among actual, effective NGOs.

Read all about it on the Gothamist blog.

Cyclists will still use Bedford, of course; they are as much stakeholders as the Hasids, and have as much right to the street. But they've just added enemies, rather than gained allies, in their quest for more bicycle infrastructure in NYC. Here in LA many Hasids travel by bicycle; a little respect might just have gotten Brooklyn's brethren on the cyclists' side, or at least quieted their opposition.

Incredibly stupid move.... Hope it's too cold for them to pull it off.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 16 Dec 2009 13:04:18 -0800 [link]  

Monday, December 14th
A Blustery Day
Yesterday was gratifying in another sense besides its visual clarity (such as comes to hazy LA only after a storm).

Despite the blustery winds, which were really quite extravagant much for the day, and cold for SoCal, there were bicycles everywhere, and I don't mean on the beachside bike path, which was actually rather thinly populated; I mean on the streets, where it counts.

Nearly every restaurant, bistro, diner, and coffee shop I passed on my twelve-mile ride home had bicycles clustered outside or just arriving or leaving. And not hipster bikes mounted by the terminally hip, but the sorts of bikes ridden by middle-aged middle-class folks, the ones for whom driving has heretofore been as automatic as breathing.

Bikes were rolling up to the Surfas Café at the famous fancy kitchen supply store where I had left Gina with her bike while I rolled to the Bridge, and when we arrived at the Third Street Farmers Market we found the bike rack nearly full.

And that gives me far more hope than the disingenuous blither of corporate puppets at Copenhagen; butts on bikes will make more difference than cap-and-trade, today and in the future.

And it looks like it's happening....

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 14 Dec 2009 08:07:23 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, December 13th
What It's Like Sometimes....
The photo below has no literal bicycle content, except that I rode to the beach today on this beautiful day after a good hard rain, and that I had a camera with me, and that this is one of the photos I took.

But that's how today's ride felt...!

bridge_seagull (42k image)

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 13 Dec 2009 15:07:31 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, December 12th
Cape-and-Fender Weather
On and off rain here the last few days, often heavy, occasionally torrential--the new pattern we seem to have on the still-rare occasions when it actually rains. The air is sweet with it, the plants are burgeoning (winter is the growing season for native plants in Southern California), and the astoundingly oblivious citizens are once again walking about with umbrellas or even raincoats, and riding their bikes in nothing more than jeans and heavy jackets.

Happens every year, and every year it still surprises me.

Every time I've gone out I've had the rain cape in the saddlebag or pannier, though so far I've only been sprinkled lightly upon. I've taken the Pseudobecane more often than the Bottecchia, as it has longer fenders and a generator, so no puddle-splash reaches my shoes and I don't have to worry about batteries. And it's easier to wipe down: no chrome to worry about rust-speckling. But damn, it's a slug compared to the Bot! Tomorrow it's the Bot's turn, rain or no rain. It's too sweet a bike to let languish.

I love this weather,and riding in the rain is delightful unless it's a real downpour, and even then it's not really too bad. Rain cape and fenders keep you pretty dry, except for nose, chin, and sometimes neck. Wool keeps you cozy, and the rain keeps you feeling fresh and alive.

I can hear it as I write, chuckling in the gutters....

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 12 Dec 2009 20:06:35 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, December 9th
Copenhagen, Bikes, and Climate Talks
On Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviews John Hickenlooper and Damon Moglen about what the US is bringing to the climate talks. Both interviewees noted the significant use of bicycles in Copenhagen, and the insignificant offers the US is bringing to the table. About bikes:
AMY GOODMAN: This is why you're actually here in Copenhagen, is that right?
MAYOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Well, the transit side of it, right. We're talking about what are those ways that you integrate transit with bicycles. I mean, here we are in Copenhagen. Thirty-seven percent of the people in this city, when they go to work in the metropolitan area, ride a bicycle to work. I mean, it's remarkable. Their goal--I met yesterday for an hour with the deputy mayor of the environment and transportation, Klaus Bondam, and Klaus Bondam described how their next goal is to hit 50 percent. I mean, to have half your population, when they go to work on bicycles, they're healthier, the air is cleaner, there's less carbon emissions, you save money. I mean, the benefits are dramatic, and you can see the difference just when you walk down the street.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, we were just in the city council last night at like 10:30, 11:00. The whole bottom floor of this century-old building is filled with not only bicycle racks, but bicycles that fill them.
AMY GOODMAN: And city council members, the guards, everyone are riding in and out of the city council on their bicycles.
MAYOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Yeah. When I flew in, the fellow next to me on the plane is a hotshot young technology expert, makes a huge amount of money--doesn't own a car, rides his bike. You know, he says, "It's healthier. Its more fashionable." It's--you know, it's what his friends do. And I think that's the whole thing that--when you get to public sentiment, I mean, what Lincoln was talking about. We need to change our public sentiment so people want to do these things. And it's not government coming down and being punitive, but it's creating a change, a transformation in our attitudes.
To read the transcript, or hear the audio, go to Democracy Now.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 09 Dec 2009 08:45:51 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, December 8th
James Black Hats Back in Size Large
Rode downtown today (on my way home from South Pasadena and Tuesday with Chuck Schmidt) and filled my messenger bags with fresh, new James Black Hats in charcoal wool gabardine, so: now we are no longer out of size Large!

Buy 'em, wear 'em love 'em, right here: the James Black Hat

We also have XL in charcoal and forest green wool gabardine as well as urban gray hemp blend, all good stuff.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 08 Dec 2009 19:08:51 -0800 [link]  

Monday, December 7th
Closing Facebook Page; New Article in LA Business Journal
When I attempted just now to post a notice of my new article in the Los Angeles Business Journal to Bicycle Fixation's nascent Facebook page, I was slapped with a window claiming that the "content in [my] post was offensive to Facebook users," and that I could not post there.

Well, it's within Facebook's rights to censor what is said in its private space, and it's within my rights not to use that space--presented as a sort of forum, after all--under those conditions. So I have deleted the Bicycle Fixation Facebook page.

Our Twitter account is still open, of course, and going well, with hundreds of followers, and there is still the blog you are reading now, as well as the announcement list, hosted by Yahoogroups. So you still have plenty of ways to keep up with Bicycle Fixation news!

Meanwhile, here's the announcement that caused the problem: the Los Angeles Business Journal has published another editorial of mine, this one on the economics of bicycle infrastructure in general, and in particular on the benefits from a "bicycle boulevard" treatment of a section of 4th Street here. To read it, go to the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 07 Dec 2009 13:04:11 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, December 5th
An Article and a Review
We have two new uploads to offer you today, an article and a product review.

First up, we present what you might call the "director's cut" of the article on cycling in Los Angeles, written at the request of Momentum Planet and published there last month. Momentum being a print publication, they had to cut it severely, but they graciously gave us the go-ahead to publish the full version online. So here it is: Cycling in Los Angeles.

And we had the chance to road-test a couple of cycling caps from Spokepunchers, who offer not only stock and custom designs or their own, but will print your designs onto Pace brand cycling caps. Check out the Spokepunchers offerings and enjoy!

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 05 Dec 2009 21:57:57 -0800 [link]  

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