Monday, August 30, 2010

One million trees minus one

It had to happen, they said, the sewer lines were clogged.
It had to happen, they said, the sidewalk was busted and people got hurt.
They promise to plant another one, and I believe them.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Los Angeles Critical Mass August 2010

Tall Bike Rider at LACM

I heard that the LAPD estimates the size of the August 2010 Los Angeles Critical Mass to be around 2500 cyclists! Perhaps someone will count them all in this video below.

LED Wheel Lights


AmPm gets cleared by LAPD

Tall Bike Riding LACM

Tall Bike Riding People's Ride LACM

LAPD letting traffic flow on Highland LACM

Man dances as riders wait to continue People's Ride

The ride was beyond huge. Fun, exciting and boisterous. The police valiantly tried their best to contain and monitor us, which I support now that the size has mushroomed into the thousands. Overall, I think that the LAPD was great, but I did see them tackle a kid who refused to leave AMPM and was trying to make an end run around a phalanx of motorcycle cops. I also saw some young cyclists detained by police near USC, but I wasn't sure what for. There was also a real sense of anarchy and danger, perhaps due to the nearly full moon. Whatever it was, I saw a lot of disturbing behaviour mostly by young male cyclists with aggression problems. A girl got knocked off her bike by a male rider who took off leaving her friends to care for her. She was keeled over in pain. I found the LAPD commander's SUV nearby and she called an ambulance immediately. I saw a rider repeatedly slam his hand on cars as he was passing them, almost getting run over by a van driver he pissed off, who happened to be a cyclist himself. I heard cyclists yelling needlessly at motorists and pedestrians. The problem seems to be mostly with young men who use the ride as an excuse to behave like total idiots. I blame myself for not taking a more active role in calling out and condemning that type of behaviour. I will say that I still see more smiles than frowns on motorists that are inconvenienced by our monthly event, but as I rode home alone on the streets I couldn't stop thinking if any drivers that were harassed by some of the jerks on the ride might mistake me for one of them. It only takes a few bad apples to spoil the public's perception of us.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No matter where I am, all I see is bikes

New York, Chicago, Sun Valley. I've been working and relaxing all over this country recently, and I constantly found myself comparing the way these places handle urban design as it applies to cyclists and pedestrians, and what lessons Los Angeles could learn from them.


New York Traffic

Wow, this town is going full retard for bikes!


Everywhere you look, there are green bike lanes carefully carved out of pre-existing car lanes (are you listening @mobilitymaven?) and sprinkled with amazing patio spaces for people to dine and relax behind giant planters overflowing with the street!


For all the talk about how crazy New York traffic is, I found cyclists, pedestrians and drivers were able to co-exist rather peacefully.


The streets seemed to be in much better condition than Los Angeles, where I sometimes prefer the comfort and safety of a full suspension mountain bike when navigating the million potholes of the city.


They also have trees that provide shade while managing not to tear apart the sidewalks, imagine that!


And the police don't seem to need gas guzzling Harleys for every situation. They've embraced the concept that radios outrun any vehicle, not that I'm calling these Vespas slow.

NYPD's finest on Italian muscle scooters!

Zebra stripe crosswalks are safer and smarter than the average crosswalk. Does LADOT need to spend a year studying that?




Here's a city like L.A. that has a river running thru it.


However, instead of turning it into a large hidden concrete open sewer known only to trivia buffs, homeless fishermen and a few daring kayakers...


there are wonderful parks along it's banks, with runners, walkers and cyclists enjoying the meandering waterway that defines the geography of the city.



Gorgeous riverwalk in Chicago


Everything is so green and beautiful, and there are parks with public art that inspire and cool the people!



Chicago Skyline



What can I say, this place is paradise!


A bike path runs along the river taking you anywhere you want to go, while keeping cyclists seperated from car lanes. In town, the speed limit is 20 mph, a speed designed for people and civic vitality, not to maximize the number of cars per minute. Some of the best mountain bike trails are right in town.


Or you can head into the back country if you so desire.



If you're lucky, you'll end up at a remote hot spring!


If hikers, horses can cyclists can learn to share these trails, why can't Angelenos in Griffith Park do the same? Oh wait, because someone decided for us that we're not allowed to share. Too bad, these trails are appealing to all sorts of users...

See you on the streets! Los Angeles Critical Mass is this friday!




Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sun Valley Morning

Sun Valley Morning

Happy to be in Sun Valley for the Writers' Conference and staying with the gracious hostess Margo! Her home is amazing and moose bathe in her pond.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A city worthy of a bike ride

Flat Iron Bike Path

Here's everything an L.A. cyclist like myself dreams of having in his own home town. New York seems to have become an oasis for urban cycling, at least when it's 78 degrees out and sunny.

a beautiful day
clean air
smooth pavement
grand architecture
green & lush landscaping
dedicated safe lanes of travel for cyclists side by side with motorized vehicles and pedestrians

I still haven't been able to ride myself around this town, but I did get catch a ride tonight on the way to dinner with the Nelson brothers!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hello New York

I hope to ride you while I'm here!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sunday Funday

Heather and I had a great day yesterday, and it all started with a bike ride!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Bike Ride with the LAPD

This past Tuesday I attended my local Night Out celebration, a nationwide series of events bringing together communities and law enforcement to "take back" neighborhoods from criminals and foster partnerships between police and the citizenry. When I heard there was going to be a bike ride with the LAPD, I couldn't resist hopping on my bike and riding straight to Chinatown to join in the fun!

I was reassured that any scofflaws that tried to steal my bike would have to deal with these people.

I was joined by many fellow cyclists, many of whom I had only met virtually on twitter including AliceStrong GraphikDeziner and Ohaijoe. The ride also had a celebrity drop mid way thru the ride, none other than the future council member of the 4th district, Stephen Box!

The ride was a microcosm for the way in which Los Angeles currently approaches cycling. The mere fact that the ride happened at all is a testament to the changing attitudes among the leaders of the city and police, and I am all for that. But the fact that the police felt they needed 2 bike cops, 2 squad cars and a fire truck to safely go on a bike ride says a lot about how "safe" cyclists are in this city. What message does it send that in order to safely ride thru town, you need that much "backup" to ride a 7 mile loop around the city core? I'd rather see a ride without motorized vehicles of any kind, a true "bicycle ride" in the purest sense.

In related news, I am very thrilled that my mayor has officially joined a fraternity of which I am also a member, that is to say he injured himself while riding on a bicycle. My injury was the result of poor road maintenance (thanks LADOT) and my own inattentiveness. His was the result of an inattentive driver. Hopefully the mayor will see the opportunity his injury presents. He can work to take this city away from cars and give it back to people. By reforming the LADOT and implementing proven urban planning reforms, Los Angeles can become the green city he speaks so eloquently about. But if it is to happen in our lifetimes, he'll need to turn the LADOT into a department of YES instead of NO. As I rode home on Tuesday, I took Fountain to avoid obnoxious Sunset traffic. I smiled as I rode over the fresh sharrows that were installed recently. I also wondered why it took over 2 years of fighting the LADOT for that paint to finally get laid down on the road. Mr. Mayor, seize the opportunity you have, if only that it may be your best chance to create a legacy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Eat This: Eastside Market Deli

I've stumbled across the Best Sandwich in Downtown Los Angeles! How do I know this? Because cop cars are parked outside at all hours of the day.

Welcome to Eastside Market Italian Deli is one of the last remaining true Italian deli in the Downtown Los Angeles area and surroundings. Eastside Market is considered a landmark and listed as a "must" of all the places to visit in Southern California. Don't wait! Come in and enjoy!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Los Angeles Critical Mass July 2010

This past friday's Critical Mass was a big one with and estimated 800-1300 cyclists showing up to have a good time, assert their right to the road and to pay a visit to the scene of the most recent failure of justice for cyclists and people in general. We rode to the Beverly Hills Courthouse to protest the weak sentencing of Celine Mahdavi, the woman who drove drunk, struck cyclist Louis Deliz and fled the scene leaving him to die. Deliz spent 49 days in the hospital. Judge Elden Fox sentenced Mahdavi to 90 days of community service. BikesideLA covers all the infuriating details of this all to common example of cyclists being treated as second class citizens by our government. For the 2nd time, the LAPD was in attendance, escorting the Mass all over town, except when we entered Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. The ride is certainly more organized as a result of their efforts and there seems to be less antagonism between drivers and cyclists, though I did hear of one incident. Overall, it was a great display of humanity and one of the few activities that can unify the disparate and frequently isolated groups in this sprawling metropolis! AMEN!

BikesideLA's Alex Thompson fires up the Mass


Regrouping at Olympic & Fairfax

Who's Escorting Whom?

Holding up on San Vicente

Entering Beverly Hills

Outside Beverly Hills Courthouse

Showing off on Hollywood Blvd

Gathering at CVS on Sunset

Recruiter for WNBR

Ironic collision outside Safety Cycle