Friday, February 24

Mea Culpa

I am happy to make fun of distracted drivers as I ride self-righteously around the city, but last night I got distracted on Grand and almost kissed the back bumper of a delivery van. The funny thing was that it hadn't been rolling-it would have been like riding straight into a wall because I was looking backwards instead of forwards. So, my fault, I'll try to pay more attention next time.

And I got the address of the chief of police for Glendale in case anyone wants to write them a compliment or offer constructive criticism for that friday night:
Chief Randy Adams
Glendale Police Department
131 N. Isabel St.
Glendale Ca 91206

Thursday, February 23

Griffith Park Loop

So I mapped out this route from Silver Lake up around and over Griffith Park and back several months ago before I finished working on The Phoenix, my beloved single-speeder, and I've been hesitant to undertake the trip in large part because it sports an 1,100-foot elevation gain and it's a bit of a given that uphill and one-gears just don't mix very well.

But then I read Mack Reed rockin' about his latest roll over on L.A. Voice and I got the gumption up to tackle the trek, which I did this afternoon because my current state of joblessness allows me to do shit like that.

It was exhausting and exhilirating to climb so high, though at times it felt as if I was hauling my fat ass and a tractor up those winding roads. Funny thing was that my arms were actually wearing out before my legs. From a life spent dependent on granny gears seldom is it that I've had to stand and deliver like I did today and my arms were not at all happy about all the work they had to do.

Anyway, the distance comes to a little more than 17 miles and I finished up seven minutes shy of two hours. It's an awesome mix of urban and rural that lets you get up high and away before bringing you back down to earth.

Flickr photoset of the scenery can be found here.

Tuesday, February 21

Check BikeBoom Calendar for info on group ride down from LA proper.

Monday, February 20

Vicious Writing, part II

Regarding: The final paragraphs of “Vicious Cycling,” an article by Laura Hauther

At the end of the article entitled “Vicious Cycling,” in a recent issue of the Los Angeles Alternative, Hauther introduces a current campaign in Los Angeles to improve cycling conditions. The campaign is centered on the implementation of street markings called “Sharrows,” which is an abbreviation of their full name: “Shared-use arrows.” Shared-use arrows are: a picture of a bicycle, similar to the bicycle painted in bike lanes, with two arrows above it pointing in the direction that traffic should legally travel. This symbol is painted in the middle of the traffic lane. There is no delineating marker segregating this symbol from regular traffic. It is away from the parked cars on the curb. It is situated such that it runs directly under the middle of cars as they drive in the traffic lane. The message the sharrows unequivocally convey is that the traffic lanes are not “car lanes.” They are “shared-use lanes,” to be used by all vehicles under California Vehicle Code, which includes bicycles. The particular focus of the sharrow, rather than increasing awareness of bus or motorcycle rights to the streets, is BICYCLES.

Hauther states, “Detractors fear it could be a step toward segregating and restricting bikers, and since bikes are already allowed full use of the lane, certain cyclists feel it’s unnecessary.” Both of these arguments are irrelevant to sharrows. As for the “detractors,” there is no way that sharrows can restrict bicyclists, as- mentioned in the exact same sentence- bicycles are already allowed full use of the lane, according to California Vehicle Code. The sharrows are reinforcing a law that already exists, and creating no new distinctions between places that bicycles may exist and places that they may not. Sharrows increase the visibility of bicycles on the street by creating a lasting reminder, on the asphalt in front of all vehicles as they travel, that the streets are for bicycles just as much as they are for other vehicles.

As for the “certain cyclists” mentioned above, they either have not ridden their bicycles in traffic lanes for long in Los Angeles, or else they are more comfortable with hostility on the road than the majority of cyclists. While many cyclists are aware that they have the legal right to the entire road- to exist as a vehicle in every capacity: taking the entire lane when traveling, crossing the second and third lanes of traffic to reach a left-hand turn lane, etc.- most motorists are not aware of these rights. Any cyclist in Los Angeles that has traveled as a vehicle on the road for a month or longer has been honked at or yelled at to get on the sidewalk or to get a car or just called terrible names. This hostility, which has escalated into physically dangerous and even fatal situations (in the case of New York City), proves a very clear necessity. The necessity is for all controllers of vehicles on busy city streets to be aware of the legal imperative to share the road. Sharrows will do that necessary job, which is currently not being done by any infrastructural device in Los Angeles.

Hauther goes on to say, “The other option is the method of Vehicular Cycling-treating a bicycle as a form of transportation equal to motorized vehicles, with the same rights and responsibilities. These bikers follow the same rules as drivers: fully stopping at all stop signs and traffic signals, using the full lane of the road instead of bike lanes. Vehicular Cyclists believe this gives them greater visibility, making it more likely drivers will treat them with consideration and respect on the road.” This is the SAME option that sharrows reinforce, not ANOTHER option. Sharrows make vehicular cycling more safe and, hence, encourage vehicular cycling. There is absolutely no conflict between vehicular cycling and riding a bicycle on a street marked with sharrows.

“But the bike does not always win.” And so the final three paragraphs of the article go the way of so many recent articles about bicycling published in Los Angeles periodicals. Hauther describes the scene of a car-bicycle accident during a large group bicycle ride. This closes an otherwise thought-provoking look at some aspects of the Los Angeles cycling community with a reinforcement of the fears of otherwise well-intentioned Los Angelenos who just can’t seem to incorporate a bicycle into their arsenal of transportation options. We are invited to look at a transportation subculture, and marvel at the ingenuity flowing out of it into other aspects of life in Los Angeles, invited to ponder the thoughts and dreams and work of so many tireless, joyful and well-intentioned creators of culture and experience, and then given a foreboding, simplistic reason to not become a part of it. We might get hit by a car. Hence, we should keep driving our cars and leave the bicycles to those who don’t value their own lives.

In a car-bicycle accident, it is undeniable that the motorist is less likely to get hurt than the person on the bicycle. The physics of such a collision is clear: greater mass, sometimes greater velocity, give a car a much greater kinetic energy which will be imparted to / lost upon the body of a bicyclist in truly tragic ways, if a collision occurs. The beautiful thing about many of the bicyclists on the street in Los Angeles is that they do value their own lives. That is why they ride a bicycle instead of locking themselves in a metal box and spending hours of their week sitting still in that stale, monotonous routine that car-drivers almost affectionately label “traffic,” or waiting for the sometimes unreliable buses to take them where they need to go.

The bicyclists not only value their own lives, but they value everyone else’s life. To ride a bicycle in this place and time is a rejection of people being murdered for oil. Bicyclists may not have a big metal box around them, providing them limited protection from an oncoming metal box, but they also don’t have hundreds of dollars a month going to oil companies as an incentive for the companies to acquire more oil, with whatever means necessary. To ride a bicycle in this place and time is a rejection of the idea that only one’s own safety matters. A bicyclist will be hard-pressed to murder someone else in a collision. On the contrary, cars murder people every day. The larger the car, the more murderous . . . and, ostensibly, the more safe is the passenger inside.

So the real piece of foreboding, not very simplistic, information any would-be bicyclists in Los Angeles must accept is that, by deciding- yes, it is a decision- to drive a car in the city, they are making a declaration of their lack of concern for the safety of people around them. Bicyclists are aware that they may die in a car-bicycle collision. Motorists must be aware that they may murder someone in a car-car or in a car-bicycle or in a car-pedestrian collision. Cyclists sometimes joke about cars being the Weapons of Mass Destruction on the streets. The term car “accident” is farcical, because there is evidence everywhere that cars cause serious damage, in numerous ways. Choosing to drive is a direct denial of that evidence, or else an acceptance of it. The larger the vehicle a person chooses to drive, oftentimes for the express purpose of protecting themselves, the greater the affront to everyone around them on the street.

A friend recently made a graphic design of a bicycle with the subtitle “This is Our Sword,” perhaps delineating the transportation alternatives that exist in the typical Los Angeleno’s arsenal. There are cars- the weapons of mass destruction that are meant to get somewhere the fastest, with the greatest capacity for carrying. At the same time, they travel with much noise and excessive needs for fuel. They are a dirty technology and, in the end, especially in congested LA streets, they often don’t serve their purpose of getting anywhere fast. Then, there are bicycles- the swords of transportation, svelte and graceful, a classical technology that is still effective and requires no fuel input and produces no pollution.

The final paragraphs of “Vicious Cycling,” instead of focusing on bicycles “not always winning,” should give consideration to whether a car can EVER “win.” A cyclist or a motorist or a pedestrian lying motionless in the street is an all-around loss. In terms of fueling oil wars and in terms of polluting air with particulate matter and noise and in terms of contributing to the sedentary lifestyle that kills so many and in terms of causing tangible damage on our own city streets, cars will never “win.” It’s time for coverage of the fascinating bicycle subculture to get real about the options. Weapon of mass destruction or sword: here’s to consciously making our decisions.

Saturday, February 18

Vicious Writing

on the cover of the Los Angeles Alternative an article titled "Vicious Cycling,Struggling to ride on two wheels in a four-wheel city" by Laura Hauther. it mentions Midnight Ridazz and the Bicycle Kitchen, which by the way, are not officially associated. this is the kind of article that makes me think that L.A bicycle culture is reaching a boiling point (unlike others), which is cool. now, since i've been quoted in this article i feel i have the right to make some corrections:

-recycled parts are not free at the kitchen, as much as we would like to redistribute the bike love in material fashion we still pay for a lot of things, but we try to keep them as close to free as possible.

-as much as i like the iterations of my name "fRederico" is not my favorite one these days. you can call me however you want, francisco, felix, fernando, frouliano, you name it. i'm really bad remembering names myself so i don't put a lot of stress on that, but if you are going to cite me i will really appreciate the correct spelling: federico. now, i give the author extra points for spelling the name of my country of origin without U's involved.

"...Tobon’'s conversion to the bike-only lifestyle happened when he moved here from Colombia and couldn't afford a car. By the time he could, he didn'’t want one. Instead, he became a devotee of the fixed gear bike. Fixed gears are stripped-down bikes with no cables or controls of any kind, including brakes... "I feel more connected to the bike, I'm forced to be very aware of everything going on around me so I can easily flow with the traffic,” Tobon says. Even after talking about how fixed gears were declared illegal in Holland after a safety study found their braking ability inadequate, he insists he feels safer on his fixed gear..."
-i didn't move to L.A from colombia. and so far it is not true that i have been able to afford a car -it is true that i don't have the faintest desire to have one-. more important, a fixed gear bike does not imply lack of controls, cables or brakes. a fixed gear bike can have all of the above and still be a fixed gear bike. it can be a cool fixed gear bike, a hardcore fixed gear bike and a fun fixed gear bike and still have all of those things. i do not advocate or not advocate for the use of brakes. fixed gears have NOT been declared illegal anywere (thanks to the gods) that i know of. i did mention a story my good swiss friend told me about a law suit that happened in Zurich about messengers riding fixed gear bikes with no brakes; apparently the law states that you have to have brakes on your bike so the police was cracking down on those brakeless fixed gear riders so after law suits and ensuing tests it was declared that stoping using only the drivetrain of your fixed gear bike wasn't as effective as using brakes, so it didn't meet the safety requirements for street riding, and so it might not be "legal" to ride brakeless in zurich, not holland. i have no accuracy claims on this story and no sources that i can easily confirm, so lets take it with a pinch of salt. it might even be "illegal" to ride brakeless in L.A. if we follow closely the california vehicle code equipment requirements (CVC 21201)
a) No person shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it is equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
now, i do feel safer on my brakeless fixie, that was accurate. one of the reasons might be the usually mentioned feeling of connection. but these days i've been thinking that the constant kinetic feedback the lower part of my body receives from the fixed gear bicycle is a constant reminder of the consequences of my speed. i would go as far as to say that any device that lowers your perception of the consequences of your speed is making your mode of transportation less safe for you and for others. as an extreme, but unfortunately common example: most cars do a good job in numbing you to the deadly speeds you're dealing with. to a much much lesser extent freewheels also lower your perception of consequences of your speed. this enters the realm of subtlety since on a bike you are really out there feeling the wind and all but i choose to attribute my legs more perceptual power. and maybe, i am vicious about fixies.

-i do not have a boss. in my work with an electrician we are trying to defy the notions of boss /employe. i'm learning from him but yet even the notion of apprentice seems difficult to swallow. maybe we constitute the smallest instance of a community of craft. in many communities some people know more than others and monetary transactions happen without the need for established hierarchies.

-Paul Choppercabras, as we call him affectionately,acquireduired a new pseudonym in this article: Mr.De Verla. i won't reveal his real last name since it's possible he changed it on purpose, but beware.

-it is not true that the last midnight ridazz dissolved at sunset and echo park with the accident scene. many of us continued to the designated "make out spot" at the end of the ride and there were a lot of people. a lot.

Saturday, February 11

It Was The Best Of Rides, It Was The Worst Of Rides

Depending on who you spoke to, last night's Midnight Ridazz was comprised of anywhere from 500 to 1,000 cyclists. Certainly it was the biggest turnout I've seen (although I'm not one to judge really, what with this just being my third).

Last night's was as invigorating a trip as my previous two — I even volunteered to cork up traffic at a couple intersections. But the 20-mile route, which brought us up to invade Glendale and its popular Galleria before coming back down through Silver Lake and across Echo Park to climb up Stadium Way and deep into Elysian Park, was not without its low points.

First up, it was either a slow night for the Glendale PD, or the attending officers were just waaaaaaaay too smalltown uptight for anybody's liking. Several patrol cars lurked along our perimeter like sharks, and I heard they even brought a helicopter and its bazillion-candlepower high beam to the dance. Their message was loud and clear: Get The Fuck Out Of Our City. Have a nice evening officers.

Then came the spills. The first was south of the Silver Lake reservoir in which the rider in question emerged somewhat unsteady and incoherent after his unhelmeted head met the asphalt. Next came the telltale display of flashing red lights at the intersection of Echo Park and Sunset boulevards, in which another rider came into contact with a vehicle. He was already in the back of the LAFD paramedic vehicle and I assume was transported to an area hospital for treatment. My hopes to both fallen cyclists are for minor injuries and speedy recoveries.

For me at least, the remainder of the ride climbing up Stadium Way and into Elysian Park was done with dampened enthusiasm, and the damper air and fog blurred out what otherwise would have been a marvelous view from the vista point of the Peter Shire sculpture up the hiking trail from Academy Road.

UPDATE: Check out Stephen Roullier's excellent photo set of pix from the ride.

Tuesday, February 7


Mmm, mmm ... goddamn this burrito is good
And to think this is just what I wanted
Broiled onions, laying, glistening, sizzling
Pensively next to a voluptuous habanero, charred just so

just so

just so that the pastor collides with it like
a Black lowered Landrover and a Golden raised Expedition

When I tried to explain to Ms.Stazer
To explain why art was what,

was that

that That

The words didn't spill out like jesso unto freshly stretched canvas
No, just a meager,"It's like this band," and I point above me,

"this band of energy that flows constantly.
For some reason, I think I can be part of it; I can reach it."

And that was That, that That that had

No Definition.

No Delineation.

Perhaps amongst the swaying palmtrees
Banshees lulling the swarm of motor-locusts to gentle sleep
Among the Angeleno Archbishop's trunk of implored hope
Perhaps I finally surf-it-dude like I knew I wanted


There I am, finding myself again, as I keep on doing
I've realized the power of the band
I've toiled, inspired and championed under its tide
And goddamn! Mmm, mmm this day is so good

I ruminate

Mis amigos
Mis ambiciones
Mis exitos
Mi comunidad
Mi ciudad
Mmm, mmm ...

And I see another surfer
He's on Virgil, catching a yellow rip-curling pipe unto the next sidewalk
Whirls past me in a cyclone of stone-washed jean mayhem
From out of nowhere, a shark of a 70-pound pedestrian school girl!
He stops, politely miffed

My red, goes blue,

goes green, goes green, goes green

I take that moment to say to me-self, "he'd do better on one of My single ..."

Snap! Chain breaks, that is, his chain breaks as I say this

"Ha! I saw that!" I yell across the walkway.

He's looking like, "fuck off asshole.
I'm looking like, fuck it must be alarming having a strange 6-foot plus smiling messenger dork bicycling at you with unwarranted enthusiasm

I repeat, calmly, "I saw that."
He Peaky No Engli, so I stay quiet, cause I'm too excited to really say anything valuable
Swing left, snap center, poop, yeah poop and out comes my Federico Tool bag
He's incredulous till the chain-breaker says, "Yeah, this is your lucky day biatch!"

1, 2, 4, 10 ... dirty fingers and then some

Chain fixed.

Do not bother to tell him the whole story, at all
It was a private moment in the pipe, just call 976-...
"Cuanto?" me pregunta

"No. Nada, hombre. Asi esta bueno, " le digo.
And with a perfect "gracias" se va.

I'm late! But that was dope. Fuck, that was perfect.
I clean my hands, put the tools away, adjust my L.A. County Coroner cap
and "Toma. Funciona mejor que antes. Muchas gracias, " as he returned astonished and pleased.
Always aiming.
And he shoves a fiver into my hand.

Me pongo a rumiar.

My comrades
My lady
My aspirations:

Cool, Studio Fund!

I tell him the abbreviated whole story and
Mmm, mmm
Chinganda, este pinche burrito esta buenisimo!

also published here with a little introduction by f.

Saturday, February 4

RIDE-Arc / 02.03.2006

For the return (form a two-month absence) of SCI-Arc's monthly night train, the architectural theme of "Sex, Sexuality & Love" took us on a route from the heart of Hollywood, through WeHo across the 90210, to Westwood and UCLA and Holmby Hills before an invigorating sprint back through the vibrant night life of Sunset at the Strip.

Small Flickr photo set found here.

Wednesday, February 1

Fun Show this Tuesday

With Three Kitchen Cooks