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.


Will said...

Thanks for the info on the article. I would've missed it otherwise.

Though I mounted a fixed gear on one side, I still have yet to flop my flippable Surly hub over and crank it. One of these days I'll discover that joy and wonder what I was so afraid of, but for now my single speed freewheel works for me.

As to whoever's saying the last MR ended at the scene of the accident in Echo Park, it most certainly did not. I'd estimate hundreds continued onward and upward to the final destination of Angel's Point in elysian Park.

roullier said...

Yeah . . . & there are pictures to prove it!

L. Michele Knapp said...

Thanks for the corrections...inevitably every article will have a few, since we have no fact-checkers on staff. We're, uh, kinda a skeleton crew over here...but we do try our best. I hope your overall impression of the article was positive. Laura is a personal friend of mine and I was thrilled when she wrote on this--it's been something I wanted attention on for quite some time.
Keep us updated with what's going on with you.

managing editor, la alternative

federico said...

thanks for stoping by Michele. i did get a good overall impression from the article. i'm glad that bicycling is getting (more media) attention wich gives all of us the opportunity to debate and to explore places to do so. discussion is for the good of the cycling people, and the more places it happens the better.

Droogy* said...

I am very sorry I spelled your name wrong in the story, but as for the other issues - I recorded our interview so I could be as accurate as possible. The things I wrote came directly from that.

The final paragraph was not mine, it was an editorial decission.

I got Paul's name from his own Zine.

I wrote the article to celebrate LA's growing bike culture. I hope it achieved this end.

Droogy* said...

oh, and when I went to the Bicycle Kitchen to fix my bike, the recycled parts were free. Don't know if that changed or it was true for the type of parts I needed.

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