Sunday, April 30

Guilty Again

"Will you guys please stop telling me that I should stop when an officer tells me? Notice that I am standing still on the sidewalk right now!" But I thought: what is this "obey" shit?
I am the Schmuck that got a ticket during Critical Mass yesterday for totally ignoring a bright red stoplight. I think my declaration here will help me work through the annoyance I have felt for about twenty four hours.

First, I want to express my gratitude for the dozen riders who actually turned around and witnessed the interaction I had with Officer Castro and his rookie Officer Booker. They turned out to be OK folks but it could have turned sour with my bad attitude. Thanks also to those who contributed to what will surely be a large fine. I was, after all, guilty as charged and intend to pay what I owe.

As I rode back home I thought that it's only the suckers that get the tickets. I still think I could have escaped because bikes are not worth chasing. I actually got away on that crazy Glendale ride after a rough rolling yelling match with the first of six patrol cars--all alone in the back of Ridazz to prove a point to the police. This time, I do not know why, it seemed better to stop and take it. At the end of it all maybe I just wanted to be listened to. Those guys have become so accustomed to lecturing us outlaws that my arrogant ass wanted to plant some humility. If the soil is good maybe it will take root and produce something beautiful.

Even now I am not sure what I accomplished. My dear mother is proud of me for changing the world for the better or some shit. She will probably always love me, 'nuff said. I vaguely remember turning my back on the superior officer because he wouldn't change his condescending tone.

Later, I had a chance to lecture him about my ideas about the way the world should work: that I was fully aware of the potential consequences of my actions and I did not need his help to determine that putting a bicycle in front of a moving car may be a bad idea-my bad idea, that I was giving up some of my safety for the good of the group as slow cars are easier to stop than fast cars, and that in a perfect world he (West Traffic Division) and I would be working together to create safety and to keep traffic moving.

At the end when he offered to shake my hand with his palm up (readers of business etiquette will see the submission in this gesture) and said he was looking out for my safety I believed him and took his hand. He smiled a little like he appreciated the innocence of my youth. I hope that it wasn't my whiteness that kept me from arrest. I hope that he heard me through the chaos of Sunset Boulevard and can see some lighter way of creating compliance. I hope I made a difference by accepting this pink slip of paper.

Wednesday, April 19

Inaccurate Bike Lane Signage

Yesterday I began photographing inaccurate "Bike Lane" signs on my commute. I will be photographing these for 1 month and posting them here. If you would like to add your own photos of innaccurate signs, please feel free, I am only focused on "Bike Lane" signs for now. The following codes are from the California Streets and Highways Code. I believe the portion I am focusing on is 890.4.(b), and how a "bike lane" is "restricted right-of-way" versus "bike route" is "shared with pedestrians or motorists." After the codes are my first examples of innacurate "Bike Lane" signage. I will include a correct "Bike Lane" shortly (Sunset Blvd West of Downtown, Venice Blvd west of Crenshaw, Santa Monica Blvd in W. Hollywood, etc).

890.4. As used in this article, "bikeway" means all facilities that provide primarily for bicycle travel. For purposes of this article, bikeways shall be categorized as follows:

(a) Class I bikeways, such as a "bike path," which provide a completely separated right-of-way designated for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians with crossflows by motorists minimized.

(b) Class II bikeways, such as a "bike lane," which provide a restricted right-of-way designated for the exclusive or semiexclusive use of bicycles with through travel by motor vehicles or pedestrians prohibited, but with vehicle parking and crossflows by pedestrians and motorists permitted.

(c) Class III bikeways, such as an onstreet or offstreet "bike route," which provide a right-of-way designated by signs or permanent markings and shared with pedestrians or motorists.

890.6. The department, in cooperation with county and city governments, shall establish minimum safety design criteria for the planning and construction of bikeways and roadways where bicycle travel is permitted. The criteria shall include, but not be limited to, the design speed of the facility, minimum widths and clearances, grade, radius of curvature, pavement surface, actuation of automatic traffic control devices, drainage, and general safety. The criteria shall be updated biennially, or more often, as needed.

890.8. The department shall establish uniform specifications and symbols for signs, markers, and traffic control devices to designate bikeways, regulate traffic, improve safety and convenience for bicyclists, and alert pedestrians and motorists of the presence of bicyclists on bikeways and on roadways where bicycle travel is permitted.

891. All city, county, regional, and other local agencies responsible for the development or operation of bikeways or roadways where bicycle travel is permitted shall utilize all minimum safety design criteria and uniform specifications and symbols for signs, markers, and traffic control devices established pursuant to Sections 890.6 and 890.8.

Redondo North of Jefferson

Redondo South of Washington

Redondo at Pico

La Brea at 6th

4th 1 block West of Highland (I included this to show how one sign say "Bike Route" and the next is "Bike Lane"

4th East of Highland

4th and Rimpau

3rd and Arden

More coming in the month ahead...Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, April 18

Mo Better . . . Street Corners

NE corner of Fairfax and Pico. For over a year I passed by this Mo Better Meatty Meat Burgers place on my bicycle commute home from work. A vegetarian for 12 years, this was at once disgusting to me and at the same time reassuring because it was boarded up and locked behind gates, graffitied and clearly not . . . serving dead cows. Anymore. Of course, the McDonald's down the street still is, but that's another story.

Anyways, two months ago I actually had my camera with me because I had needed it at work, so I stopped at various points of my commute to document some oddities. This was one of them. Today, on my commute, I stopped at my usual corner, one foot on the curb, the other on my pedal, scanning the lights to anticipate the perfect moment between cars and photons that I could safely jump my light and be on my way, when my eyes picked up a certain emptiness . . . on the NE corner of Fairfax and Pico . . . and my jaw dropped as I realized that the entire Mo Better Meatty Meat Burgers building was GONE, some broken pieces of urbanite and a bulldozer in its stead.

Tonight I will pray to the infinite goof and to the goddess of cosmic irony that Mo Better is not going to be replaced by a McDonald's. Please feel free to do the same . . .

Monday, April 17

Spring Fevered Glaze, No Haze

Last Wednesday I had a beautiful spring bike ride home. It started when I was rolling west down Jefferson along through Culver City at the industrial part just before it heads north. The sun was casting a honey glow from behind me—my bike shadow stretched out long and lean in front and my knees pump pumping and I thought, “This light reminds me of an Alaskan summer late evening twilight glow.” Then I looked up into the full moon hanging there in the clear blue sun and I remembered ah that’s where it’s at. The full moon has a way of pulling the energy to the front of my skin. Propelling me forward. Suspending my stress and exhaustion for this instant. Then I’m heading north on Redondo and I hear “grrr!” “GRR!” and “scamper, scamper,” and the shouts of kids behind. Aware suddenly of an impending ankle clamp, I look down to see this small brown dog veering off like his job was done, heading back to the arm waving shouting kids and I yell “Tough dog!” And go on. At Washington I decide to head east as I wish to continue riding into the full moon and away from the sun—I like being between this energy, and not my usual route up to Pico. At the stoplight at LaBrea, this dude crosses the street with a peculiar drug addict posture: just his clothes, a cigarette in one hand, lighter in the other and a destination in his eyes. He sees me and says, “You only got one brake?” “Yeah,” I say. “It’s a fixed gear so I only need a front brake.” He nods his head and tells me how a few days ago he rode the marathon. Then looks sideways and says, “Well, I joined up with it.” I say, “Yeah, I’d like to do it. I just can’t get up that early.” The light changes—“take care, man.”

Later on down Washington near western maybe, on the north side of the street there’s a semi-circle huddle of folks on the corner. Could be a tour group or Jesus proselytizers, but as I pass I notice they are huddled around burning candles and one of those flower-covered crosses. To my right coming out of what has always struck me as a promising “thrift” store is this elderly black couple out to see what the fuss is about—possibly the owners and I say, “What happened over there? Somebody get killed?” “Beg your pardon,” he says. And she of the oversized black frame glasses waves her hand dismissively and says, “Shot. Last week.” “That’s terrible.” And I keep riding. The sun lowering now. I pass that really amazing old brown Victorian haunted house with the two scraggly trees at the front porch on the southside of Wasington. Its got a big lot and i want to live there. Then I head north up Alvarado. I need a donut for phase four, the climb home. So, I stop at yum yum just before Pico and pant, “Donut with sugar.”


“Sugar, coated in sugar.”

“You mean glazed.”

“Yeah, that’s the word I’m looking for. Glazed.”

I stand outside watching the pink of the sun edge towards dark and all this activity passing by and I think, “Man, I love this town.” Home.

Saturday, April 15

A Good Friday

More photos from this and other rides can be seen here.

Two random moments from the ride can be seen below.


Monday, April 10

The Eternal Infernal Question

What part of BIKES ONLY are you falsely entitled, egregiously ignorant, doesn't-apply-to-me shmucktards having trouble with?

Saturday, April 8

g for Punk not D.

it might not be entirely bicycle related, but here we go:

so last night i went to see my friend scott aka vladimir play with his band glassel park 3. first time i heard them was through a cd scott gave me at the kitchen. scott is cook, wich is the way we call volunteers at the kitchen. the first time i heard scott was when he was playing the banjo on this old timey band he and other two cooks have called triple chicken foot. anyway. GP3 is cool to the point of dancing. three dudes: bass player, tricked up six string banjo through almost distorted amp, and wooden box-snare-two cymbals for percussion. bluesy-old timey-punk filling the place with the energy, with the energy, let me say one more time, with the energy of a train going through the dessert as its being robbed by the reincarnation of some sex pistol with a fake water gun, riding a bicycle.
so i get there with my friend Kirlian who is out of breath after the rushed 7 mile ride. and GP3 and friends are sitting there sipping beers. Scott aka vladimir is pretty buzzed, or so he says. we have another beer and then they jump on stage. and they JUMP on stage. banjo flyes and bass kicks ass from the hands of slick looking dude wearing johnny ramone t-shirt and the box (cajon) thumps in the empty glendale night through electrosensitive microphone and scott aka vladimir SINGS and screams. and there is no name for this music and do i like things for wich there are no names.
so when S. comes down he's sober as a legal code and we give thaks and hurrays. and kirlian and i go through the avenue of car dealers to L.A on our bikes. and it makes me sad to think that he's leaving to the northwest in a few months. may GP3 play again, and again.