Tuesday, May 30

No Greater Gift

There I am on my 42nd birthday yesterday with my trusty Ibex at 1,386 feet above sea level on the floor of the Panamint Valley at the end of my 17-mile downhill on Wildrose Road, which began at Mahogany Flats Campground at 8,133 feet. The Panamint Mountains of Death Valley are in the background and I’m pointing to the 11,049-foot Telescope Peak, which is where I had hiked to with my wife and friend Rachel about 23 hours previously.

I have never been so high, literally and figuratively.

Saturday, May 27

Subcultural Sensitivity

Last night I joined up with the central LA critical mass ride. There were about 60 of us, including the always-fabulous sound system that turns our rolling conversation into a rolling saddle-dance party. After some tug-of-war at the front of the ride, we veered towards South Central, to visit the South Central Farm [or] and show support for the struggle happening there. [In (very) short, the Farm is the largest contiguous urban farm in the entire country. It has been producing for 13 years, and it supports 350 families of very low income, mostly recent immigrants. It is an irreplaceable resource for the 350 families, South Central, the city of Los Angeles . . . for the planet.]

For the last 3 years, the families and organizers have been applying themselves full-time to staving off eviction by the city after the city decided to sell the land out from under the farmers. Myriad paths have been traveled in an attempt to save the farm. As of a few days ago, what appeared to be the final path had ended up short and now the farmers are awaiting, in a hypervigilant state, the sirens of the police as they arrive to forcefully remove the farmers and allow the bulldozers onto the land to tear up their livelihoods/community/culture and replace it all with a large concrete warehouse.

Our ride through South Central residential streets was met with confusion, mostly, but also the cheering and clapping and reciprocated “peace” signs that we get from pedestrians and some motorists when we go the usual north or west direction from our starting point. In reality, the “confusion” I just ascribed to most who witnessed our passing last night was something more than that. Most people don’t know what critical mass is, so there is some confusion for people who see a very motley group of people NOT in racing clothes (for the most part), on bicycles and trailing a large sound system. We aren’t carrying signs or passing out xerocracy, lately, so there’s really no indication what we are riding for. In fact, that is our most commonly received question: “What are you all riding for??” My usual response: “Fun!”

While everyone has some confusion about us, the majority of folks we saw last night in South Central met us with suspicion. Like the farmers, the whole of the low-income people of color in this city (this nation) have reason to be suspect of unusual people entering their community. In short, their own hypervigilance begs, “are these people here to exploit us?” So the joy of sharing a different vision of a Friday night with the children who were running on the sidewalk, cheering at us, was sharply counterweighed by the squinted eyes and crossed arms of the weathered men in front of their humble homes and the momentary stress our large group with no obvious purpose caused them.

And so our mass birthed out of 41st street heading east, crossed the blue line tracks and took a sharp turn north on Long Beach Ave., past the main entrance to the farm as a whole line of activists were walking around the perimeter of the farm, holding candles and cheering at the vision of us flooding into the street and past them. We did a loop around the entire farm in the opposite direction of the marchers, and on the far side of the farm the people on watch with walkie-talkies took notice and quickly picked up their radios to report / get feedback on what all the people on bikes with a sound system was about. Hypervigilance.

As we rounded the bend back towards the main entrance, our cacophonous and blinking mass of cyborgs was in distinct juxtaposition to the tranquility of the quiet vegetables and the palpitating candlelight at the farm. Then, out of our group, came a loud “beeeoooooop!” police-car-imitating yelp originally meant to get the attention of motorists who might otherwise crush us, as cyclists, if they weren’t forced into attentiveness by the threat of a cop car in the vicinity. Most people have no idea about this sound, so any non-cyclist who witnesses it has nothing to conclude except that there is a cop car behind the mass of cyclists . . . or, in the case of THIS situation, if someone saw that it was, in fact, a cyclist’s mouth that made the sound, that the farmers’ hypervigilant state was being mocked. It’s like entering a sweatshop in downtown LA and yelling “La migra!” Insensitive, idiotic, or both. As the cop car imitation is now a greeting in the cycling community, another cyclist shot a loud “beeeeeooooooooop!!” back. I did what I could to quickly shut those people up, and I think no hard feelings were experienced by the farmers guarding the front gate, as they allowed us in. We all stayed for some amount of time, hearing the speakers, eating some food, touring the farm, enjoying the music, checking to see how Julia Butterfly Hill, up in the oldest tree at the farm and on her 11th day of a hunger strike, was doing.

The night was not ruined, but the issue arose: as a subculture in this city, we have a responsibility to be sensitive to other subcultures. We, of all people, should be able to identify with the vulnerability and concomitant hypervigilance that being in a subculture can cause. While a large group of our cyborg beings of flesh and bicycle steel might be considered threatening in some places, we’re usually roaming the city by ourselves, and, as such, we are vulnerable to the much larger and sometimes much faster-moving cyborgs known as people in cars. Whether we dwell on it or not, we are aware of our vulnerability. If someone behind us honks, we jump because we are in, even if we don’t know it, a hypervigilant state. If we hear a skidding car somewhere behind us, we think “oh SHIT . . .” because the car could be heading straight for us. It is ironic and appropriate that from this vulnerability was spawned the cop-car-imitation as a weapon against those that could harm us.

We are imitating a (multi-leveled) oppressor in order to manipulate another oppressor. And so our weapon was inadvertently turned last night, for a moment, against a sister subculture in this city: some recent immigrants of low income that are finding sustainable, culturally appropriate ways to exist.

It’s easy to be caught up in one’s own experience, regardless of who you are. This is a call to each of us, as members of some cultures and some subcultures and as over-privileged in some regards and under-privileged in others, to THINK . . . about those around us and their positionality and to be sensitive to such, particularly when they are inhabiting a more oppressed subculture than we can claim.

[This post cross-posted with Really Deep Thoughts and published on CICLE.]

Thursday, May 25

Ditty Bops depart for US tour on bikes

As you may or may not have seen here, The Ditty Bops are going on tour across the US. The majority of the distance will be covered by the two singers - Amanda and Abby on their Surly Cross Check bicycles. Sponsor New Belgium Brewing provided the bikes which will be carrying them through a broad range of experiences over the next few months. It should be an amazing journey.

Today was the launch ride, heading north from L.A. with a show planned tomorrow in Santa Barbara. Fans, family, friends, and well-wishers were all invited to join and ride along, and so we did just that. The group gathered in Venice beach at 10am PST and began the trip through Venice and Santa Monica towards Malibu.

Abby, Amanda and accompaniment at the start.

Rolling out


Amanda chats with a fellow rider

The band rejoined us at the first rest stop, although they had gotten high since we saw them last. Tunes included "O When the Saints" and "Happy Trails". Great stuff.

The girls christen the new bikes in the Pacific ocean.

We continued on up Pacific Coast Highway, which required stowing of the camera and paying full attention to the road. The shoulder width varies and traffic flies by at a crazy rate of speed. My buddy and I turned around at a rest/gather spot and wished them a great tour and a safe ride.

Returning to the city via PCH. Not a bad way to spend a Thursday. ;)

You can keep up with tour updates here

View their archived live show on KCRW this week here. Bicycles! Shadow puppets! (requires Real Player)

Wednesday, May 24

Inaccurate Bike Lane Signs (cont...)

Here are a few more examples of inaccurate Bike Lane signs. Today I rode west from Hoover on Venice Blvd. Then I took Redondo south to Jefferson, then Jefferson to La Cienega and my office.

Venice at Arlington. At this point the sign says Bike Route.

Venice at 2nd Ave. Now we have Bike Lane all the way until the Bike Lane is actually there at San Vincente.

Venice at 4th Ave

Venice at Norton

Venice at Crenshaw

Venice at Wellington

Venice East of San Vincente

Redondo at Washington. Metro's new Bike Maps for the city have Redondo listed as a Bike Route. Well, the signs say Bike Lane so I will ride them as the law states I can.

Redondo at Bangor

Redondo at Jefferson. This is the 1st sign on Redodno headed south that says Bike Route. Once you turn the corner, if you refer to earlier posts on this topic, the signs become Bike Lane again, but of course - there is no Bike Lane on Jefferson.

More to follow, as well as a summary of what I have been thinking about while shooting these and the possible implications for riders rights and the city/county's responsibilites. Ride on and Ride safely!

Tuesday, May 23

Ashira Siegel interview

Here's a short interview with Ashira Siegel, who did the Even the Girls doc.

Monday, May 22

Changing Times?

Though it's come out after Bike Commute Week — oopsie! — there's little fault to be found in today's (May 22) L.A. Times Health section, which features a nice package of features on commuting by bicycle. Of course, I would have liked to see Bicycle Kitchen mentioned more but it is nice to see the Times finally promoting bikes as a viable transportation option rather than demoting them.

Here's the link (registration may be required to read the stories).

Saturday, May 20

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs!

Tommorow (May 21) is the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition's annual Los Angeles River Ride and while prior obligations prevent me from participating, I did pitch in this morning and help in the mounting of roadside course markers to help keep riders rolling right, left or straight ahead.

So if you happen to find yourself from mile 12.4 to mile 17.5 between Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights and the L.A. River Bikeway entrance south of Vernon, you have the team of Howard Hackett (left), Bruce Dobb (right) and yours truly to thank for keeping you headed in the right direction.

Friday, May 19

Wednesday's Ride of Silence

To honor Morgan's suffering

And the lives of the three (known) cyclists that have been murdered by motor vehicles in last nine months in Los Angeles

And the fear that many cyclists in the city face every day

And the fear which imprisons millions of would-be cyclists in small metal boxes as they suffocate themselves and the planet

We rode in silence.

May our actions change the face of the city and turn fear into hope and suffering into joy and suffocation into lungs filled deeply with high levels of nourishing freedom and low levels of particulate matter.

Monday, May 15

let the stencil speak

stencils by f.a.g. and th3Cybr4rian

Sunday, May 14

master of the sword in the extended battlefield

fuck man. fuck, my friend morgan got hit. and tears run through my face. man. i'm listening to something he likes, and i'm reading something he likes. and fuck man (or woman). i'm even eating something i think he would like. Dark Throne bleeds though my stereo. fucking Dark Throne man, Transilvanian Hunger. and i'm reading the third issue of the bikepLAgue zine. and plexe's intro was great. and the zine has that detached fashion of too white ghostly pages and black fucking precise letters crawling like fragile -too fragile- ants on the fucking white wall of destiny. and i loved all the contributions: camryn's lovecraftian bike crash recount, ms.spindles advice column, matt's politics and Liz's from C.I.C.L.E "How the Po-Po Set Us Car Free". and you see, the day i heard about morgan's crash i couldn't ride my bike for a few hours. it was like a bucket of lead attached to my feet. and this sadness/insecurity. and, what am i doing? and is this sense of despair... and i had to confront myself, for where there is sadness there is beauty. for beauty is a fucking cruel monster. and then i knew i had to write this shit:

this is our sword manifesto

as published originally in BikepLAgue #3

this is our sword.
this is our tool for disarming the wars being fought across the planet. the magnitude of the weapons used grinds everything to pieces. bloody messes, and meat from all species torn across the land and the streets and the sky. this is no time to stand disarmed. the bicycle is the ideal weapon for the transnational citizen. a simple non-destructive means for liberation, a tool for internal and external battles, a companion and critic. a Way. our form of iron. our form of irony.

when in the streets, alone on the battle field, the warrior tempers her spirit confronting weapons of mass destruction with the simplicity of his self powered weapon. a candle that dares to shine like ten thousand suns. such is our stupidity and our glory. and such is the humor the world has given to us: an autonomous form of transportation that is at the same time a weapon of Mass creation.

non-violent battles with non-violent weapons in ultra-violent contexts for daily metaphor bending are being fought. and we fall to pieces. and we paint the soil-asphalt with our blood and bone and we dare others not to paint it with the blood and bone of the oppressed, of those for whom the simplest way out of war is death.
the transnational-citizen/warrior rides knowing that his life and the life of others are at stake with every decision. that's what we call riding at sustainable speeds. and within the limits of her weapon the transnational-citizen/warrior pursues elegance in motion. and this is how freedom occurs in the interstices of slavery, like riding in the gaps of a traffic jam.
many of our swords come from places where metaphorical wars are confounded with real ones. where bikes are meant for competition and pride seeking. we gave our bikes nakedness and taught them the humble ways of the streets. our bikes are swords to deconstruct the war metaphor. and like swords of the past they have names and mythical stories to be told, and some of them have been the companions of warriors who lost their lives in the battle field.
bicycles are our vehicle in the mythic grid

our vector in and out of the integrated circuit
our passport as transnational citizens
our cybernetic implant for recrafting bodies
our strategic advantage
our mighty pen
our sword

To our friend Morgan, master of the sword in the extended battlefield.


Saturday, May 13

El Ridazz Fantastico

Man I'd guesstimate at least a thousand cyclists took part in last night's Midnight Ridazz and it was a sight to behold. The high point for me was that awesome mariachi concert at El Mariachi Plaza de Los Angeles.http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

Photos from the ride are up on Flickr and viewable here. And Stephen Roullier's ever-evocative imagery can be seen here.

Friday, May 12

Badge Of Honor

I was justly accused of being militant in nature by some nameless commenter objecting to my post last month in which I dared express incredulity at the perennial pedestri-tards and the casual disregard they exhibit by walking/jogging along the BIKES ONLY beach path.

The laid-back anonymite who is blessed with far more forgiveness than I urged me to just chill and scolded my aggravated attitude as having the potential "to do more harm than good."

Fair enough. But folks, I've rocked both sides of sanity's thin centerline. I've been a veritable Ghandi on two wheels nonviolently internalizing the frustrations of those who trespass and transgress against me, and I've been the raging roadie who's externalized my anger against the innumerable automotive asshats who've cut in front of me or honked at me or forced me off the road or otherwise almost killed me and then been unfortunate to get stuck at that red light up ahead where I catch up and confront them wielding a tire pump in one paw and swinging a cable lock in the other and suddenly it becomes "easy there, dude!" and "whoa there man!" and even occasionally "I'm sorry, please don't hurt me!"

Let me tell you, externalizing beats internalizing every time. If it doesn't get you killed in the short term, all that blown steam adds years to your life in the long run. But in this day and age I've mellowed substantially. Not just because I'm getting older (which I am), but wiser, too. Nowadays I strive hard to keep in mind that everyone has the potential to exit their driver's side strapped and ready-aim-firing to finish what almost running me over didn't.

Ain't easy though. Yesterday I rode from Silver Lake to and through downtown to the convention center and then up across mid-Wilshire and north into Hollywood and I guess I missed the memo about it being Cream A Cyclist Day In L.A., because I had to work hard to avoid getting crunched on six occasions in the 90 minutes I was on the road — far above the norm for me. I had to work even harder to keep my emotions in check and I was mostly successful. Mostly. The worst I did was fly the bird at one turd. Oh yeah, and I did spit in the general direction of that Taurus with Pennsylvania plates.

What I've taken too long to communicate is that being badged as militant is a good thing to me. A necessary thing. I don't let such a stance ruin the fulfillment and satisfaction I get from riding, but I don't lay back and chill as its ruined by others either. Maybe it's hyperbolic but I consider every one of us who saddle up and crank it out there to be rebels with a cause. Warriors. Righteous even. It's a battle out there every day, and while I'm ever more careful to pick mine I refuse to accept a single incident where cyclists and their rights and privileges are marginalized or relegated or dismissed or demeaned.

Wednesday, May 10

Union Station

I work near Union Station, and I'm having some trouble locking up my bike in a good place.

Here are my options:
1. MTA building by the aquarium (too far, requires a walk under the train concourse)
2. Union Station bus loading area (Lame, 1983 style racks with moving parts that don't work with U-lock technology)
3. To a banister in the walkway between the South wall of the Union Station ticketing area and the bit MWD office Building (this is my preferred alternative)

The problem with option #3 is that the security guards are all atwitter over it. I'm getting whispered comments from the MWD security guards about how the Union Station security guards are just going to go apeshit one day and destroy my bicycle, and the other bike that locks up there too. Of course, nobody has left a note on my bike, but I'm starting to wonder how far I should push it. My other bike was vandalized there a few months ago--maybe it was the security guards.

Anyway, I figured I'd post this to see if anyone has Union Station Bike Parking tips.

More details:
I've contacted LA DOT (Michelle Mowery at MMowery@dot.lacity.org and they say they no longer have a program to install bike racks in partnership with private properties. --that's kind of the central conflict here--Union Station is PRIVATLEY OWNED. There's no governance structure or board meetings where I can show up and speak before a panel of people who might be able to do something-- I've also contacted the property manager (Molly Carlson of ProLogis 213-473-3102). She might consider installing a more modern bike rack on the property if it is free... but I think she'll balk at shelling out money or spending too much of her time.

Saturday, May 6

Cinco de Mayo Heart and Soul

Here are a few photos from RIDE-Arc's travels through Los Angeles.

The starting point at the Sci-Arc parking lot.

More Photos can be seen here.

A Spate Of Bike Hate

So during yesterday's infinitely enjoyable edition of the monthly RIDE-Arc group roll and its nicely sized contingent of riders that traversed the town from the Arts District to Chavez Ravine to Koreatown and back downtown, we had the distinct displeasure of being verbally accosted by not one, but two individuals — each of them from disparate ends of the socio-economic spectrum.

The first tirade came from a substantially distraught and obviously destitute woman who laid into us unprovoked as we came off of Main Street and coasted past the Lady of Guadalupe mural outside the La Placita Church near Olvera Street. Spouting such maximum volume endearments as "Fucking bikers!" and "I fucking hate fucking bikers!" and "Get the fuck out of here you fucking bikers!" we bathed in her unconditional aggravation. And when I dared correct her saying "We're not bikers... we're cyclists, she reeled from the retort and mewed something about how we shouldn't be mean to her because she has the cancer.

Oh, sorry. See ya later hater.

The second incident came near the end of the night's journey as we cruised up through the Theater District past the packed and happening Broadway Bar. A dapper and definitively drunkifed dingleberry who had just exited the establishment on his way to unwisely operating a motor vehicle was apparently able to focus his blurred vision long enough to see us pedaling past him and was kind enough to take the time to scream out how he really felt.

"Bikers!?" he said. "Fucking bikers! Gawd-dam liberal treehugger sunzabitches! I fucking hate you all!"

"Well we love you!" I yelled over my shoulder, to which he demonstrated some sort of Brokeback Broadway-type conflict. "I love you too..." he blurted out, "but I hate you more you self-sufficient retard liberal jackasses!"

Man, but it ain't easy being green.

UPDATED: Stephen Roullier's pix of the ride are here.

Rider Temporarily Down

Morgan from the A-house had a serious accident a few days ago. The doctors say he will not have any permanent damage, but after he has surgery tomorrow he will have a long recovery.

So . . . now is a good time to step up and turn out your love for Morgan and your support for his housemates at the A-house and his family that has flown in. Drop by the A-house with any of that love and support. Get well wishes for Morgan. Vegan food for the house. Whatever you think you would really appreciate in such a situation. Or send positive intentions through the many dimensions of the universal fabric for Morgan's quick return to being the most insane distance cyclist (that still manages to keep it real) in LA.

210 N. Rampart Blvd, LA, CA, 90026

His housemates have a lot going on, what with finding a new A-dwelling and regular life and stuff, so be sensitive to their time when showing support.

Bike Love,

Thursday, May 4

the pLAgue

if you thought the L.A. bike scene didn't have a zine, well, you are wrong. it probably has more than one. i know of this one, the bikepLAgue bikes in L.A zine issue number two march 2006. the good Matt handed me a copy the other day when we were ready to leave for the bad idea ride and it took me a while to process it but that's what i like about zines, you can have them around for a while untill you get to them. flat flipping little creatures.

bikepLAgue is published under a creative commons licence and it has a bunch of reports of bike events, news, and random stuff. my favorite section is Ms. Spindle's problem page, good answers. i suspect she makes up some of the questions, but that's ok.

there is an excellent interview with Cole Coonce some writer dude who has been droping bicycle articles in our not so dear mainstream media. well done.
i also liked this short description of a long touring adventure between seattle a S.F. some down to earth recomendations there. like: "iPods. If you're riding with other people, sing to each other okay?". sweet.

support the pLAgue. if you want more information or want to contribute or distribute write to bikeplague@gmail.com cash donations accepted i hear. and don't forget zines stay around thanks to your writing too.

get a PDF of bikepLAgue here.
Thanks Max!

Wednesday, May 3

Look Who's Jumped On The Bike Bandwagon

Having successfully tackled "the homeless problem," L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez has now set his sights on getting people outta there cars and onto their bikes by writing in today's edition about joining Ed Begley Jr., former Mayor Richard Riordan and others for a roll down San Vicente Boulevard and along the beach to a diner in Playa del Rey:

People tell me I'm off my rocker, but it seems to me that since L.A. is mostly flat and the weather is good year-round, thousands of people could get out of their cars and onto bicycles.

It would take vision, if not wild imagination. I say we shut down a lane of Arroyo Parkway now and then and open it to bikes. You can't get anywhere on Wilshire Boulevard in a car, so let's get them out of there altogether.

Welcome aboard Steve! Now leave Ed and Dick and the daylight come on out for some Midnight Ridazz action!

Tuesday, May 2

In the biciblog inbox: 279 dollar ticket

hi, I was carrying an antiqe chair that i had cane'd for nine days(to get paid a mere 50)and was pulled over for ?. I was searched for crack and my hair was pulled the whole time by a trainee cop. I protested about the severe hair pulling and no probable cause and was told the ticket was for riding with one hand and no long beach bike licence.( of which I have bought half a dozen) then I got a change of date ( the whole gestation is almost 4 months) and a written explanation of being on the wrong side of the street. I go to court on may 16 , pulled over 2/4.

Also does anybody want to help me rescue an American white pelican from the san gabriel river near the 405? In lakewood/long beach has been in heavily cloramie water for 4 years according to wildlife management. has broken wing and beak abnormality. I dont have time to blog and am virgin to blogging bu feel free to add this. thanks

by Mark Ayers (radman3[at]webtv.net)

Inaccurate Bike Lane Signage (continued)

I am going to first give some examples of Accurate Bike Lanes:

Hoover South of Venice
Hoover Near Washington
Sunset At Benton
Sunset At Maltman

Now for some more Inaccurate Bike Lanes:

Jefferson At La Cienega Headed East. Starts as a Bike Route.

Jefferson At Hauser Headed East. Becomes a Bike Lane

Jefferson West of Redondo Headed West

Jefferson At Clyde Headed West

4th At Arden. Says there is a Bike Lane on Arden.

4th At Arden Looking South

4th At Arden Looking North

More to Come...

Riding A Bicycle Can Save The World?

This is great. Follow the link for the full article!
Riding a bicycle can save the world

by Dana Green
Killer storms. Glaciers melting. A rapidly disappearing snowpack.

The signs of global warming are here, and they aren’t pretty. With the U.S. spewing 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air last year – one-quarter of the world total – a global meltdown, Day After Tomorrow-style, doesn’t seem farfetched anymore.

But getting on a bicycle saving the planet? Call me a skeptic, but I wasn’t buying it. Jim Sayer, Director of Adventure Cycling, a national bike advocacy group headquartered here in Missoula, was giving a lecture during Bike Walk Bus Week claiming bike travel could save humanity from its own excesses. So I hopped on my cruiser, with its cute little basket, and biked over.

I left convinced that, if I would only drop my car keys in the toilet and flush, a revolution would sweep the globe. One person at a time. With happy, smiling people across the planet riding bicycles everywhere.