Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Resolution: Move My Money

Yesterday, I visited a nearby branch of Chase, where my old WAMU checking account now lives. I deposited my paycheck in person at the teller and then checked my balance. The funds, my funds, were not reflected in my account balance. When I asked the kind bank rep who says hello to everyone who walks in what's going on, her brightly lit eyes faded a bit and the word "Oh" barely escaped from her quickly pursing lips. "The funds were being held by Chase for 24 hours."

Large banks like Chase spend money creating the veneer of local and friendly places to bank. A smiling person greets you when you walk in. But their policies are anything but. It used to be that a hold was placed on funds for a specific reason. Chase places holds on all non-cash deposits so that they, not you, can have 24 hours to use your money any way they wish. Perhaps the money from my paycheck was used yesterday to lobby Congress to limit financial reforms, or to pay a large bonus to an executive. When you multiply millions of paychecks, you can see that with this one policy, Chase is able to leverage their customer's money in a very powerful way.

It was in this visit to a gleaming new Chase branch that I realized by my choice of financial institution, I was contributing to the pushback against financial regulation reform. By simply switching my bank to a small, local institution, I could prevent my money from being used against me.

It turns out I'm not the only person coming to this conclusion. Hopefully, you'll decide to move your money like I did. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Compost in the Round

A few years ago, I picked up a couple metal drums for free on Craigslist. They carried high quality olive oil from Italy to Spago in Beverly Hills. I thought I would turn them into rain barrels. Time went by and they sat behind the garage rusting in silence. These drums deserved more, and one day wandering around Instructables, I came across this design for a rolling drum composter.

Compost Tumbler - More DIY How To Projects

After a few hours of cutting, drilling and screwing, I had a large composter that tucks into a quiet corner of the yard, slowly creating rich soil from our kitchen scraps and yard waste! Sweet!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wasted Infrastructure? Northeast Valley Animal Care Center

The Northeast Valley Animal Care Center is a beautiful facility. It's mission style architecture recalls an earlier time in this valley's history, before strip malls and liquor stores. I drive by this building all the time, and wondered why the native vegetation that was obviously carefully selected and planted on the site was becoming overgrown and downright ugly. It turns out the shelter is closed to the public. People do some sort of work in there, I think. From what I could find out online, it seems to be a staging depot for Project Flying Chihuahuas, and even got national press for their efforts. I wonder if the city is being well served by a $10 million dollar mission style building that for all I can tell is used to deport mexican dogs to the east coast. When will this animal shelter be opened to the public, Councilman Alarcon? Maybe you could at least mow the lawn in the meantime...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Myopia strikes AAA's Westways Magazine

Dear Westways,

My family has been members of AAA for over 48 years. We drive cars, and not only that, we occasionally find ourselves identifiable as pedestrians and bicyclists. It was with great interest that I picked up the latest issue of Westways and read Peter Bohr's article, Sharing The Road. In it, I found many puzzling, disturbing and incorrect statements:

1. The illustration accompanying the article features a cyclist holding a phone with one hand heading straight toward a crosswalk filled with pedestrians, apparently walking against a red light. What message is this illustration trying to convey?

2. What evidence does the author have that "cyclists often ride on the wrong side of the road"? LACBC's recent bicycle count in Los Angeles shows a very low incidence of this activity.

3. Cyclists often proceed at a red light because the light only changes in the presence of an automobile. This is legal.

4. Sharrows are a good start, but dedicated bicycle lanes are a better solution for all. Does AAA support more dedicated bike lanes if it means losing lanes for automobiles?

5. A critical safety tip for bicyclists is to TAKE THE LANE. It is allowed in many circumstances, such as approaching an intersection, which reduces the chances of being right hooked or not seen by drivers turning left.

6. Riding single file is not a law! All vehicles, including cars should move to the right if they are moving less than the speed of traffic. There are many exceptions and Westways should make AAA members aware of them.

7. The author writes that drivers should give 3 feet of distance when passing cyclists, if possible. That's a very dangerous bit of advice. Instead, drivers should give AT LEAST 3 feet distance to cyclists when overtaking. If they are unable to, they should wait and pass when it is safe.

Let's be real, distracted and drunk drivers are the main cause of injury and death on the roads. Road rage is also an overlooked problem. Take the story of a doctor who was recently convicted of intentionally harming cyclists in Los Angeles. This much publicized crime would have been an excellent addition to the article. Why was it not included?

Westways could better serve it's readers with an unbiased analysis of the reasons that roads are unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists, in addition to drivers. AAA could be doing a better job educating their members and advocating for safer roads for all users. Safety should be the paramount goal. After all, every AAA member is also a pedestrian and a potential bicyclist. My father, now in his 80s, rides his bike many times a week. It's his personal fountain of youth. I ride my bicycle as often as I can, both for recreation and to run errands around Los Angeles. I mention this to reinforce the idea that AAA members are not just behind the wheel, and they deserve more than that single perspective in Westways.


The Engaged Observer

P.S. I am the guy riding in the illustration. What you don't see is that I am aware of all roadway users around me and making the safest decision I can, with full understanding of the laws governing the operation of vehicles on public roads. It's in my best interest to strive for zero incidents while I ride my bicycle, and I know it better than anyone else.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Got Bike? L.A.'s cup floweth over with local, independent bike shops

(Project Ride, Ojai, CA)

Don't fret if you didn't find an '83 peugeot road bike under your tree yesterday. In L.A., there's many opportunities to get two wheels between your legs. Whether you're looking for a customized anodized singlespeed (LA Brakeless) or a more practical multigeared approach to riding (Athena Cycles), there is a shop/owner with the expertise and merchandise to supply your every whim. Here's just a short list, by no means comprehensive, of locally owned and operated independent bike shops in Los Angeles. It came to me courtesy of the Los Angeles Critical Mass twitter feed:

Athena Cycles Studio City
Atomic Cycles Lake Balboa (read the quote on their website)
Bike Factory Sherman Oaks
Cycleworld Northridge
Echo Park Cycles Echo Park
El Maestro Downtown
Flying Pigeon Highland Park
LA Brakeless Mar Vista
Orange 20 Hel-Mel
Safety Cycle Hollywood

Take time to identify what's important for YOU. Where will you be riding most often? What are the road conditions of your favorite routes? Do you want versatility to do other things with your bike, touring, farmers market shopping, stylin' in echo park, riding dirt trails in the Santa Monica Mountains?

Always beware, you get what you pay for, whether buying online (ebay, Bikesdirect, Craigslist) or Big Chain Bike Shops or Locally Owned Bike Shops. The key is to inform yourself. Personally, I hate craigslist. It quickly becomes a full time job trying to get a decent bike there. Deals do come up, but they sell quick. If you have the patience and endurance, you can get a great used bike on Craigslist.

My advice is to make use of the city's bike co-ops, which arguably provide the most affordable, educational and fun way to get exactly the bike you want. An added bonus is that you'll learn how to repair and maintain a bike, invaluable knowledge when you need it most!

Bicycle Kitchen Hel-Mel
Bikerowave Mar Vista
Bike Oven Cypress Park
Valley Bikery Chatsworth

Build it yourself, for little money, and ride it everywhere. After a while, you'll know what you like and dislike, you may crash a few times or even get the bike stolen. Eventually, you'll be ready to get something more substantial, and hopefully you'll spend your money wisely.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Grinch of the Year poll includes LADOT's rising star

In a last minute surge of unpopularity, LADOT's Bicycle Coordinator Michele Mowery has earned herself a spot in the running to become L.A. Metblog's Grinch of the Year. It's been a tumultous month for Mowery, who saw her star take off following her comments at a recent City Council meeting:

BILL ROSENDAHL: Alta Planning is reportedly one of the finest consulting groups in the world for bike planning. How is it that the City of Los Angeles kicked off the Draft Bike Plan process with Alta but did not incorporate the robust Bike Plan process that Portland used/is using to develop their own Bike Plan? For example in Portland Alta maintained eleven working groups, and they used community bike rides to engage and survey.

MICHELLE MOWERY: With all due respect the City of Portland is 450,000 people. It’s a homogeneous community that is very white, and very progressive with respect to transportation. They have a trolley system that works very well, as well as their transit overall. We are a very diverse, disjointed city of 4 million people. They are 30 years ahead of us in the development of their, well, they’re not quite 30, they’re more like 20 years ahead of us in the development of their bikeway. So we’re a step behind Portland in what we’re trying to do. Granted, several of us would like to see a lot of changes in the city happen very quickly, but again we have a very diverse city with a lot of needs.

quote from Westside Bikeside

Ouch! Whatever Mowery intended to say, it sure sounded like she thinks L.A.'s diversity is a hindrance to a robust bike plan process. The anger and outrage came quick for Mowery, resulting in calls for her termination and more recently, a fake twitter account has been tweeting the thoughts of one Michelle Meowery, complete with cat ears and whiskers. While some view this as a childish response from the rascally wing of the L.A. cycling community, I believe it represents much more.

Due to her inarticulate response to a single question, Mowery catapulted herself into a figurehead position. She now embodies the City and LADOT's attitude of disinterest and outright disregard for the needs of cyclists in Los Angeles. She is the machine incarnate and the cyber rotten vegetables are coming fast and furious. I am sure Michelle Mowery is a nice enough person, who may be genuinely interested in promoting cycling in Los Angeles. But this is not about her. This is about a city bureaucracy, that time and again, drags its feet and fails to deliver meaningful and lasting improvements for cyclists. Whether she deserves it or not, Mowery is now the face of that bureaucracy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dear Mayor, This bike plan sucks!

SF gets Cyclovia events in 2010 and so far all Los Angeles cyclists get is a boot to the ass out of Griffith Park and a bullshit bike plan that promises nothing and proposes less lanes than previous plans, because we're not white enough?. The mayor (who admits Los Angeles needs to do more to encourage cycling) needs to hear from L.A. cyclists that this is not acceptable. Thankfully, the Los Angeles Bike Coalition makes it easy to send an email to the mayor outlining why the bike plan is in need of improvement. Some additional points you can bring up include:

L.A. deserves a cyclovia of our own

Given it's blatent disregard for cycling, the LADOT is not the agency to head Los Angeles' Bike Plan. Case in Point: They actually brag about installing bicycle friendly sewer grates. Gosh, I'm soo lucky to ride in L.A.!

Michelle Mowery needs to go, and an actual L.A. cyclist should replace her

Police should protect cyclists, and thus need education and ongoing (re)training. Police bias against cyclists is an ongoing problem in Los Angeles.

Push for adoption of the Cyclists Bill of Rights

Push for adoption of the Cyclist Anti-Harassment Ordinance

Push for continuing the 2010 LA Bike Tour on the morning of the Marathon as is TRADITION in Los Angeles.

Click the link below and ride safe!

A history lesson on your feet: Pro Keds Bobbito Royal Flash

Shoes perform many functions. They cover feet, protecting them from the elements, while adding grip and traction. In addition, shoes communicate cultural messages of status, wealth, education and clan. A 40,000 year old invention, shoes have evolved in shape, material and ergonomics, yet are still essentially unchanged from their humble origins.

That is, until now.

In early 2009, Bobbito GarcĂ­a, famed New York sneaker historian and DJ, collaborated with Keds to bring humanity a shoe that distills 40,000 years of shoe technology into a styled, comfortable object, more talisman than footwear. The example you see above, in the Nugget Gold colorway, features luxe-suede lateral and vamp, contrasted by white accents of diagonal lines, heel and midsole. Adding to the rune-like quality of the shoe, cryptic messages are inscribed throughout, referencing the history of the man and the sneaker cult he embodies.

Donning a pair of Add On Royal Flash Mids, one feels as if your feet are enshrouded in the excitement, energy and passion of pickup games played on the basketball courts of Spanish Harlem 30 years ago. In the video below the Bobbito explains his transition to manhood was the day he got his first pair of Pro Keds, an experience he describes as becoming "true deal, true article." I cannot say it any better myself. While I don't share the cultural experiences of Bobbito, I do feel a kinship and solidarity with the vision he espouses of manhood, maturity and positivity that comes with wisdom and experience.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Affordable Carbon: Bottecchia CF-66Pro

For months I obsessed over a new bicycle, laying on the couch with my broken thumb in a cast, my 'beater' imprisoned in the garage, bent up and bloodied by my fall from grace. Craigslist promises unfullfilled by flake sellers and elusive size and condition requirements. I visited local bike shops, admiring the top brand flagship all that models that promised featherweight flickability, mountain crushing ascents and shock absorption technology derived from stealth bombers, with a price to match!

Those reasons and more led me one afternoon to press the "buy it now" button on an eBay listing for a "no name" bike sold by someone in Texas. I wasn't sure what I was actually buying, for the bike wasn't sold locally, and I had never seen or touched one personally. Bottecchia is a famed name in bicycling lore, but Wikipedia assured me that the name is perhaps the only thing it has in common with it's supposed ancestors:
Bottecchia USA assembles bicycles of Columbus aluminum and carbon frames manufactured in Taiwan. It is related to the long-time Italian bicycle manufacturer, Bottecchia, by an agreement to distribute bicycles in the USA under the Bottecchia USA name. The bicycles are sold by an eBay merchant in Houston, Texas.
Wow, why on earth was I buying a bike I never saw and never rode? How would a $1,200 all carbon bike actually perform and hold up over time? Was I being fooled into buying something too good to be true?

The answers are still being revealed, but after a couple hundred miles, I can happily report that I am the proud owner of a carbon bicycle made in Taiwan and decorated with stickers that read Bottecchia Sprint CF 66Pro. The bike is an exercise in compromise. For $1,200, you get an all carbon bike that's much heavier than the top brands that sell for 2-3 times as much. You also get excellent components, including Shimano Ultegra derailleurs front and rear, Cane Creek Dual Pivot brakes and Vuelta XRP Wheels with Aero Spokes.

Now I have to stop right there and confess I am not an expert in the latest cycling technology. There are certainly people out there that will say my bike is rubbish through and through, and that I wasted my money. I will tell you that every bike mechanic I've shown my bike to marvels at the price I paid, and each one says the same thing: " The components alone are worth $1,200."

As for the ride, simply put it's a dream. Coming from a 1980's steel Schwinn, this bike feels like a fast moving cloud hovering hither and tither, carrying me along for the ride. The transfer of energy is unlike anything I've ever experienced. I am sure that I am getting a taste of what a $3,000 bike feels like, and that's just fine with me. For now, this is a leap forward in ride comfort and speed, and I'm stoked with everything the bike is and is not. At a touch over 20 pounds, it weighs about the same as my friend's steel single speed, but it's a versatile, quick and capable road bike that can climb, descend and take me anywhere FAST.

You would think that customer service would be non-existent. Not so! After putting the bike together (using assembly instructions that are beyond basic and not at all specific to the actual bike), I discovered a frayed derailleur cable. After a couple emails and a few days, an envelope arrived from Texas with a replacement cable.

Time will tell how this bike holds up, but for now, it continues to bring a smile to my face, and beckons me daily to be ridden.

Essential Accessories: Bell, Computer & Light

Never ride alone. Homie got my back.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Poetry of Los Angeles

Last week, Heather and I attended a mixer hosted by the Academy of American Poets. Our gracious host was Geneva Overholser, director of USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. She warmly greeted us in her "new-york-esque" flat in the heart of a renewed and revitalized downtown L.A. We had no clue what kind of a treat we were in for. In addition to learning about what an important mission the Academy is pursuing throughout the country, we got to hear Dana Goodyear read poems about Los Angeles, my native land. She read a poem by Bertolt Brecht that felt as fresh and relevant today as it was in the 1940s. Dana also read a couple of her own poems, including one exploring the psychics that ply their trade in L.A. She then revealed her investigations into the psychic industry in Los Angeles, apparently run by two feuding families of Roma.

It was a magical experience spending a couple hours meeting incredibly interesting artists, writers, advocates, musicians, and of course poets, contributing to the cultural fabric of L.A. in so many ways. And the setting could not have been more inspiring, overlooking a downtown core that is rapidly turning into a vibrant and exciting place to live, work and be inspired within.

One more nugget: The academy recently published an innovative book of poetry that encourages you to tear out poems to share with friends, coworkers and relatives. Poem in Your Pocket: 200 Poems to Read and Carry.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shimano M086 MTB Bike Show Reviewed

A few weeks ago, I was riding from Hollywood to Santa Monica to meet Meg and Heather for a yoga class with Anaswara.* On my feet were 9 year old bike shoes that I had long since outgrew, but persisted in using because they worked fine...that is until my right foot started to feel numb. I instantly realized that my general cheapery and laziness had once again caught up with me. Off to Helens in Westwood I went with the goal of buying a quality shoe at a reasonable price. After passing on the SIDI Dominators that were out of my budget, I gladly settled on this pair of Shimano SH-M086 Mountain Sport Off-Road Shoes.

After a hundred miles of riding, I can report that the shoes strike a nice balance of stiffness to transfer your power to the wheels and comfort to keep your feet happy. The SPD clips work with my road and mountain bikes. The shoes are surprisingly easy to walk in, even on dirt slopes. What else can I say, the shoe does everything you expect it to. Sweet!

*For now, all I'll say about Anaswara is that her class is transformative and transcendental...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Neither Critical Nor Massive, SMCM went on anyway!

Stardate 109012.05

Michael and I rode hard to get to the start of SMCM on time, only to find we were 20 minutes early. Seeing only a handful of riders hanging out, we grabbed some cheeseburgers and made our way back to the starting point. Still, only 10 ridaz were present for tonight's SMCM. (Where was the party tonight?) Our paltry group was neither critical nor massive, yet we managed to lift our spirits with a gently ride around Venice and the Marina, riding along the beach bike path, and then went to Abbot Kinney to check out First Friday. Then everyone split up and called it a night. Good people and good times, now we just need 50X more people!

Door to door, I rode 35 miles last night. My friends and family will say they're impressed, but I'll need double that distance now that I'm seriously thinking about doing the AIDS/LifeCycle this summer. I've only attempted one other multiday long distance ride, and my knee gave out 3 days in. This time, I'll train first and hopefully not experience malfunctions. If you're interested in doing the ride, check out the ALC Holiday Party happening tomorrow in L.A.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cyclists! Be heard by LA City Council Dec. 9!

Straight from the LACBC:

Cyclists! It is important that you come to Wednesday's LA City Council Transportation Committee meeting!

Here is the announcement sent by Councilmember Rosendahl's office:

Rosendahl To Host Bicycle Town Hall at Upcoming Transportation Committee Meeting

When: Wednesday, December 9, 2009 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Where: Los Angeles City Hall
200 N. Spring Street, Room 1010
Los Angeles , CA 90012

Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl invites
the public to attend an upcoming meeting of the Transportation Committee that will focus its agenda exclusively on cycling issues.

Items on the agenda will include:
● An update from the Planning Department and DOT on outreach efforts relative to the Draft Bicycle Master Plan
● Report from LAPD on bicycle incidents and conflicts between bicyclists and motorists
● The Sharrows pilot program
● A bicycle sharing program for the City of Los Angeles
● Bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance
● Revisions to the Zoning Code that would increase and refine bicycle parking requirements for new development

The public is encouraged to attend and participate in the discussion of these important issues. Please join in the conversation and help us shape a cycling friendly future for the City of Los Angeles.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Science confirms Intuition: Cycling Calms the Mind, Meditation & Medication on Wheels!

My brother recently shared an amazing article in Bicycling Magazine. Written by Bruce Barcott, it shares the experience of a young boy diagnosed with ADHD. Adam Leibovitz discovers on his own that bicycling did a better job at controlling the symptoms of ADHD without the side effects of Ritalin.

Anyone who exercises regularly appreciates the mental clarity and overall sense of well-being one derives from working out, but scientists have only dabbled in researching the effects of exercise on the brain. Thankfully, this is now changing. The article quotes a few doctors studying this phenomena:
"A bout of exercise is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin," says John Ratey, MD, a Harvard Medical School professor who has treated and studied ADHD for more than 20 years. His most recent research is chronicled in his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. The Prozac effect comes from endorphins. The Ritalin effect, Ratey says, has to do with boosting the concentration of neurotransmitters in the basal ganglia. "Regular exercise can raise the baseline levels of both norepinephrine and dopamine," he says, "which are the same neurotransmitters that Ritalin and Adderall go after."
And it's not just any exercise. Some activities are better brain boosters, and cycling is one of the best. David Conant-Norville, MD, a psychiatrist in Beaverton, Oregon, who specializes in adolescents and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, recently surveyed his colleagues about the best and worst sports for athletes with ADHD. Cycling, swimming and running are tops. At the bottom are soccer, hockey and baseball. The best sports demanded constant physical exertion and a suite of technical movements that engaged brain functions dealing with balance, timing, error correction, decision-making and focus.
It's gratifying to read that the sport you love so much is not only personally satisfying but may also provide beneficial side effects for mental health in general. Were it not for the disturbing method whereby the selection of scientific research inevitably skews towards marketable pharmaceuticals, perhaps we would all be proscribed a bicycle instead of pills in a bottle.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Survey for Los Angeles Cyclists

From a friend comes this survey for L.A. Cyclists. Please take it and pass it on!

Dear friends, colleagues, and fellow cyclists,

I need your help in order to complete my master's thesis. I am conducting a survey of cyclists within the City of Los Angeles in-person and online. Below is the link to the online survey. If you ride a bicycle in the City of Los Angeles, please take a moment (about 12 moments to be exact) to complete the survey. If you don't ride a bike but have friends who do, please pass the survey on to them.

survey link -

The survey will also support a "white paper" that will be released in February on behalf of the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative ( The Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative is a non-profit organization that funds graduate research on environmental issues in an effort to promote sustainable development in Southern California and bridge the gap between local urban issues and local academic research.

The data from the survey will help create and support policy recommendations to encourage and improve the cycling experience in Los Angeles, beyond just the obvious need for more/better infrastructure.

I appreciate your time and help in the effort.

survey link -

Every cyclists counts!

Alexis Lantz
MA Candidate '10
Urban Planning
UCLA :: School of Public Affairs

Monday, November 2, 2009

Guilty on All Counts!

Today Dr. Christopher Thompson was found guilty of 7 crimes as a result of intentionally using his car as a weapon against 2 cyclists.

07 203 PC MAYHEM

What a relief! Even though he basically confessed to the police right after he maimed two cyclists, you never know what the jury might have been thinking during their deliberations. Thankfully, the evidence was overwhelming and the correct decision was made. The judge should also be credited for denying bail, and sending the doctor straight to prison to await sentencing. Hopefully, he'll get the 5 years he's eligible for.

These streets don't belong to cars or bikes or horses or raccoons. They belong to all of us, and with a little patience and consideration, we can share them peacefully. The good doctor made the mistake of thinking the road belonged to him exclusively, and this false assumption formed the basis of his anger at the cyclists he injured. He couldn't handle the thought that another vehicle could ever dare infringe on his use of it. He forgot that driving is a privilege, not a right.

Now if we could just get the Cyclists' Bill Of Rights incorporated into the Bike Plan...

so this is what heaven looks like

Sunrise on Matilija Creek at Ojala in Ojai

If you're looking for a quick escape from Lalalalala land, head up to Ojai and stay a couple nights at the Love Shack in Ojala.

The "Love Shack" is a cozy cottage, rustic but tastefully furnished with the work of local artists. The cabin has many windows with river and canyon views, as well as a wood burning stove and a screened in porch overlooking the stream (a raging river if it rains heavily). Nestled among ancient oaks and sycamores, it is on the grounds of Ojala, an old resort that is now our private retreat.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Momentum Grows against the (Anti) Bike Plan

Councilman Bill Rosendahl

Over at Westside BikeSIDE!, Dr. Alex Thompson, (not the guy who runs over cyclists on Mandeville Canyon), has a great post up detailing the bike related motions passed by the Transportation Advisory Committee that he was able to attend. Two motions passed that should thrill cyclists in L.A.:

1. The Committee stated that the agency tasked with developing the Bike Plan, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, has a bias towards cars that prevents it from carrying out a fair bike plan. The committee called for another agency to lead us to a bikeable city.

2. The Committee endorsed many of the critiques of the bike plan that Thompson and other bike activists have been pushing through neighborhood councils recently:

  1. The new LA Bike Plan should extend and enhance the 2007/2002/1996 plan. Currently it is a step backward from previous plans in both language, and bike lane mileage.
  2. The deadline for public input must be extended from November 6th (42 days of input) to January 8th (in excess of 90 days.)
  3. Every street is a street that cyclists will ride. This is the language of the Long Beach Bike Master Plan, currently a great success.
  4. The LA Bike Plan should go through a full programmatic EIR. This will make its ambitions eligible for off the shelf and last minute funding, as well as open the possibility of reducing parking and travel lanes in some locations.
  5. Retail should be a positive element in scoring streets for desirability of bikeways. Cyclists want to go to similar destinations as motorists.
  6. Bike routes should be eliminated as a designation for the City of Los Angeles.
  7. The LA Bike Plan should have predetermined annual performance measures included within it. These performance measures should not allow for the spontaneous designation of streets as Bike Friendly Streets without significant enhancement.
  8. Neighborhood pilot projects must be included as an approach for experimenting with street treatments.

This is just one more city entity to speak out against the bike plan and hopefully will continue to pressure our elected officials into taking action. Bill Rosendahl, this is your committee. Will you publicly call for these motions to become more than words? Will you work to create the bikeable city we know L.A. can become? As Dr. Thompson eloquently states, "The whole community is asking for a deadline extension, and all it takes is for you to make a statement publicly on it and it will happen - for sure. Will you do it? We’ve heard nothing official from your office."

Let's let Bill know what he can do to help our cause. As head of the Transportation Committee, his voice carries a lot of weight. He can do a lot to help fix the broken bike plan and give Angelenos a real bikeable city.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Teaching Lessons on Mandeville Canyon

July 4, 2008. 2 experienced cyclists are riding down a narrow canyon road, enjoying their reward for a hard climb, the long downhill back. The road they're traveling on has 2 lanes, one in either direction. It's a narrow, winding road that meanders through a neighborhood of homes nestled in a steep canyon, whose walls form a tight V. Wealthy Angelenos, doctors, lawyers, titans of business all call this canyon their home. At some points the lane is no more than 12 feet wide, which classifies it as "sub-standard."

Back to our cyclists. They were enjoying the long descent, riding side by side, at a brisk pace of 30 miles an hour, exceeding the speed limit. Their ears pickup the sound of a car approaching from behind. A long, sustained honk signals the aggression and anger of the operator, a man who they later find out is a physician. Before this man was allowed to practice medicine, he swore an oath that's over 25 centuries old, written by Hippocrates. In it, it says "Primum non nocere," latin for "First, do no harm."

As a courtesy, the cyclists fall into single file to allow the car to pass. This is just a courtesy, as the width of the road, the speed limit (which they were meeting and exceeding), the constant turns are all conditions that make it unnecessary and too dangerous to allow 2 vehicles to share a single lane. Legally, cyclists are allowed to "take the lane" and travel using the entire lane in this instance (CVC 21202(a)). Cyclists routinely offer car drivers this courtesy, and car drivers routinely drive well into the oncoming lane to give a wide berth to the cyclists they are passing.

The doctor passed the cyclists and slammed on his brakes directly in front of them, intentionally using his car as a weapon, sending one rider into the back window of his car and catapulting the other clear over the car onto the pavement in front. The doctor, one Christopher Thomas Thompson, later told a police officer that he stopped his car in front of the cyclists to "teach them a lesson."

I guess Thompson forgot the lesson and oath he took long ago, Primum non nocere. Hopefully our justice system will teach him a lesson as well.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Weekend Guide to Cycling in Los Angeles, sponsored by Chanel

The weather is looking epic for this weekend whether you're planning a century to Santa Barbara or seeking out singletrack in the moonscape of the Angeles forest, err burn areas. It's going to be a great weekend for cycling. I'm eager to get riding again, but I have some tweaking to do on my new road bike, and a clicking torque wrench is my new holy grail of must have accessory.

Speaking of accessories, have you stopped by your local Beverly Hills bike shop to see Chanel's latest "dutch" offering? Complete with quilted chain guard, pump, side saddles and tool pouch. And it woudn't be complete without a custom Brooks saddle also done up in Chanel black quilted leather. If you have $13,595 burning a hole in your pocket, head straight to Sak's and pick one up today! Then ride your 401K on Saturday to the LA Bike Working Group.

Saturday, October 17, 2009
Bike Writers Collective hosts the LA Bike Working Group

Location: Hollywood Adventist Church
Address: 1711 N. Van Ness Ave., CA 90028
Time: 2pm-5pm

This event will crystalize all the complaints over the city's miserable Bike Plan, which in the eyes of the city, is merely a document that allows them to easily obtain transit funding. Among other goals, cyclists want to see a plan that actually results in a bike plan that serves all residents of the city, because if L.A. truly supported cycling, there would be less traffic, safer streets, more local business activity, less pollution & greater community involvement.

Connect with BWC on Facebook

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Charlene Liu and the Brambles

Charlene Liu has an upcoming show at the gallery next month. While looking the the jpegs arriving from Eugene, I'm reminded of the word bramble.
Brambles are thorny plants of the genus Rubus, in the rose family (Rosaceae). Bramble fruit is the fruit of any such plant, including the blackberry and raspberry. The word comes from Germanic *bram-bezi, whence also German Brombeere and French framboise. In popular UK usage the term primarily refers to the blackberry bush; in Scotland and the north of England it refers to both the blackberry bush and its fruits.
Back in the day at UC Santa Cruz, I recall a conversation I had with my photo teacher Norman Locks. He had a love for the "brambles" he encountered in nature, the twisty thickets of undergrowth that people so easily overlook. They are the thorny bushes that usually scratch at your arms as you make your way towards the majestic overlook point that a nature trail usually leads to. I remember his number one complaint of a trip to the Rockies in Colorado was that it lacked the brambles that so inspired him in the Sierra Nevada in California.

Charlene Liu celebrates brambles in a way that I think Norman would appreciate. If It Were a Slow Echo opens November 7th at Taylor De Cordoba.

God's Pharmacy

From an email I just received from Mukti Ma!

It's been said that God first separated the salt water from the fresh, made dry land, planted a garden, made animals and fish... All before making a human. He made and provided what we'd need before we were born. These are best & more powerful when eaten raw. We're such slow learners..
. God left us a great clue as to what foods help what part of our body!

A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye... And YES, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.
A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopine and are indeed pure heart and blood food.
Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.
A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than three (3) dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.
Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.
Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.
Avocadoes, Eggplant and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it b alan ces hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine (9) months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).
Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the mobility of male sperm and increase the numbers of Sperm as well to overcome male sterility.
Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.
Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries
Oranges, Grapefruits, and other Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.
Onions look like the body's cells. Today's research shows onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes. A working companion, Garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body.

2 minutes to support cycling in Los Angeles

Good News from my friend Alex Thompson, a bike activist working to improve cycling in Los Angeles:

The Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) unanimously voted last night to demand that the deadline for public input on the Los Angeles Bike Master Plan (LABMP), November 6th, be extended to January 8th. With the support of the BAC, the only official body representing cyclists in the city, the campaign for sufficient time is looking better.

Please send a short email to Rosendahl (Councilman for District 11, Chair of the Transportation Committee), Reyes (Councilman for District 1, Chair of the Planning Committee), and Jordann Turner, requesting an extension of the deadline. You might also CC your councilperson while you’re at it.

Here’s their emails:,, - and here’s the letter I’m sending:

Dear Councilman Rosendahl and Councilman Reyes,

I’m writing to request that you officially extend the deadline for public input on the Los Angeles Bike Master Plan from November 6th to January 8th. The plan was released on September 25th, which leaves only 42 days for public input. This makes impossible, or extremely difficult for many bodies to participate in forming the plan, and as you know, this undermines public support for the plan’s proposals. Moreover, it violates the terms being drafted for the LADOT Memorandum of Understanding with the Neighborhood Councils, which specifies a minimum of 60 days notice. The Bureau of Street Services is offering the public 120 days of public input on sidewalk repair program - surely we can have 90 days for cyclists!


Feel free to forward this message to all progressive like-minded individuals, groups and pets!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Golden Rule

Last night, we were treated to real gold covered chocolate twinkies courtesy of BonAppetempt. A glass of chamomille infused grappa only adds to the golden deliciousness of the dessert. So complete was my amazement that I totally forgot to photograph the amazing salad and soup we ate as well.