Hats, Rings, and You

Well, Flying Pigeon LA’s own Josef Bray-Ali has been modest about it, but the happy fact is that he’s thrown his hat in the ring: he is an official candidate running to replace Gil Cedillo as Council District 1 representative. (And he’s not the only one; Cedillo’s autocratic misrepresentation of his electorate has drawn a number of other candidates to the race, which you can read about in this LA Times article, which also details upcoming races in CD5 and CD7).

Apparently, years of empty promises, blatant lies, and hasty excuses every time blood flows in the gutters yet again have worn out Roadkill Gil’s welcome, which he never really had anyway.

Bray-Ali is an ideal candidate for this district: no carpetbagger he, he lives in NELA because he loves it, and has lived there for ten years without previous thought of running for office. He’s a regular visitor to the downtown portions of CD1 as well, has worked in NELA as a developer—a white-hat developer, not the ones who’ll sow the district with bloated monstrosities that clog the streets around them with more traffic than a thousand road diets could ever manage—and he has operated a small neighborhood business on Figueroa for years. He’s also been a tireless advocate for safe streets, cohesive neighborhoods, and his fellow small business owners.

Most of you reading this will think o fBray-ali as an advocate for bicycling, and that he is; and it is likely that Cedillo will try to paint him as a single-issue candidate. But Josef is far more than a “bike guy,” and the changes he advocates would make the streets safer and more effective for all users, including walkers and drivers: although the four recent deaths on Fig were all on foot or on a bike, the street sees a disproportionate rate of car-on-car violence as well, inflicting injuries and heavy costs on car users.

Here’s an article that shows a broader view of Josef’s interests and experience: Putting Parking in Its Place, by Josef for the Los Angeles Business Journal (subscribers only, I am sorry to say).

And of course, there’s a Twitter feed with links and pix aplenty: https://twitter.com/joe4cd1, or @joe4cd1.

Support has been building, albeit discreetly, given Cedillo’s vengeful nature, among neighborhood groups in Silver Lake, Highland Park, and elsewhere, and this will not be a symbolic campaign. Josef aims to win…and if he wins, we all win. Even Cedillo’s supporters will be better off with Bray-Ali in the Council.

Well, maybe not all those outside interests who bankrolled his last campaign&helip;.

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NELA Kidical Mass Latino Heritage Pachanga on Saturday, May 28, 2016

NELA Kidical Massive rolling in September of 2015 (above) was a fun day.

NELA Kidical Mass is rolling again this coming Saturday, May 28, 2016 from 12:30 p.m. until 3 p.m. at Sycamore Grove Park (4702 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065) in conjunction with the Click here to see the Facebook Event for the NELA Kidical Mass

Kids, bikes, scooters, hand wagons, skateboards; meet us at Sycamore Grove Park at 12:30 p.m. We’re going to play on the playground, eat snacks, dance, play, have a rolling wheel rally and bash open a pinata in a celebration of family, community, bikes, and each other.

We’re co-hosting this event with our friends at Si Se Mueve, a community run series of bike rides, hikes, tours, and social events.

Meet near the bandshell in the park. No reservations required, nor sign up sheets, nor waivers, nor fees. Bring something to eat (and share!), a picnic blanket to sit on, etc.

Ample street parking available at the park. Two public free lots also available at the park (one beside Ramona Hall, the other at South Avenue 49). Gold Line access right across the street from Southwest Museum Gold Line station. Metro 81 bus access available 24/7 on Figueroa.

There is a Facebook Event post for this party.

Any questions? info@flyingpigeon-la.com or ask us on Twitter @flyingpigeonla

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My Workcycles Bafkiets cargo bike was stolen – AND RETURNED!

Stolen Bakfiets Poster

My bakfiets cargo bike was stolen a few hours ago between 6:35 p.m. 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on May 21, 2016 from right in front of my shop (while I worked inside on a complicated antique bike repair).

I’m still in shock, but thanks to friends who’ve retweeted it, contact me, and shared my posts online, I’ve been able to remember the advice I’ve given people in a similar situation: go hard.

Flyers are going to be printed tomorrow morning and I’m going to be walking the area around the shop posting them up and talking to everyone I come into contact with about this. If you want to join, 9 a.m. at the Flying Pigeon on Sunday, May 22, 2016.

Help me get my bike back!

More details about it here on BikeIndex.org:

Flickr photoset of my bike here:

Stolen Bakfiets Returned

The NELA neighborhood watch came through. An acquaintance haggled with a the guy who stole it, called me up, got the bike back.


Your Fate Is in Their Hands

Your fate is in their hands…at least it is if you ride Sixth Street in the Miracle Mile. I do, nearly every day, and so I had a natural interest in tonight’s “town hall” exploring options for one of the more crash-prone streets in LA. If you follow me at all, you know this is a subject I follow closely.

And since I was just elected to the board of the Mid-city West Community Council, I suppose I have a civic responsibility to attend such meetings. Especially since the board, chaired by Scott Epstein, called this meeting.

The two gentlemen in the Spheerisoidal photo above are Tin Frémaux of the LADOT, and David Somers of City Planning, and they were there to answer questions from the stakeholders who attended. In the past, such meetings seemed almost to draw people holding actual stakes, which they were poised to drive through the heart of any progressive traffic plan anywhere in LA—as well as through the hearts of the messengers. So I went to this meeting feeling almost as much foreboding as must have weighed down Messieurs Frémaux and Somers. In addition, Sarah Dusseault, CD4 Council Member David Ryu’s Chief of Staff, would be in attendance—and the council member has recently shown himself rather indifferent to street safety plans that might compromise driving speeds.

However, the evening did not turn into the typical NIMBY rage-fest. Not even when Frémaux bravely, if with trepidation, proceeded to explain the details and ramifications of the long-proposed (and long-delayed) road diet for Sixth.

The vast majority of attendees favored traffic calming on Sixth through the Miracle Mile, and even seemed gladly accepting of the bike lanes that would accompany it. (Frémaux was quick to explain that the bike lanes were only an extra added attraction that the road diet made possible, but not by any means its prime motivation, oh no!)

In fact, audience members asked for more bike lanes than proposed, and for an extension of the road diet ot the part of Sixth east of La Brea. And for narrower lanes if possible!

And many, many neighbors spoke of how they wouldn’t let their children walk the sidewalks along Sixth street, while not a few admitted that they themselves were scared to use the street.

In other words, it was actually a community meeting about street design that didn’t leave me feeling like I’d just awakened into a dark Russian novel.

Amazing how a corpse or two, piles of broken glass and twisted sheet metal in the gutters every other block, and an inordinate number of cars flying over the sidewalks and into buildings, can open one’s eyes to the real cost of fast driving. (And I am not exaggerating in the first half of that sentence.)

Is LA growing up, at long last? I can hardly believe it myself. But it was a good meeting, and I am proud of my neighbors.

Miracle Mile will finally deserve its name if this keeps up.

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Azor Bakfiets for Sale at Flying Pigeon LA

Two gleaming new Azor bakfiets arrived at our doors on May 12, 2016 and we couldn’t be prouder. One of our owners, Josef, has become a neighborhood personality for using his to ride his daughter around town since 2007.

The bikes are both equipped with internal 8-speed hubs from Shimano, internal brakes, wheel locks, dynamo head and tail lights, as well as Brooks leather saddles and matching grips.

The red bike is a short john, the matte blue is a long john (about 18″ longer).

Both are incredibly well built, beautiful, and fun to ride. Stop by and take one for a test ride!

We’ll have some more, and some electrified models, later in the summer.

Any questions? info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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Behold How Good and Pleasant

The full quote goes, “Behold how good and pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity!”

…Which may not even be something to hope for. A lust for” unity” seems to lead to fascism, and whether of left or right doesn’t matter, because it is inherently oppressive. I prefer to think that what would really be good and pleasant would be solidarity: working together towards common goals, while making room for, and use of, the exhilarating diversity of thought and talents in our bustling little communities here in LA.

Sad to say, we don’t even get that, as our (sort of, in one case) elected leaders play us off into factions that fight each other over quibbles and intuitive but usually incorrect gut feelings, while the powers-that-be make their own quiet plans.

That may be changing. For now, CD 1’s Gil Cedillo (who squeaked into office by fewer than 800 votes, and then immediately backstabbed the good folks he’d pandered to in the safe streets community), gets to play tin god in the council chambers, blocking road diets and bike lanes, then grudgingly tolerating a traffic signal or two after enough bodies pile up, while keeping North Figueroa the perfect model of a modern Slaughter Alley. But opposition is rising….

As the LA Times noted a couple of days ago, not one, not two, but three candidates are gearing up to oppose him after what many in NELA hope will be his single term. They are former opponent Jesse Rosas, Miguel Amaya, and our own Josef Bray-Ali, the owner of Flying Pigeon LA, a former white-hat developer, and a tireless advocate for safe streets, local businesses, and a healthy community. Although the Times article characterizes him as a “bicycle advocate,” we all know that he is much more, and that the original road diet plan would have strengthened commerce and neighborhood solidarity and made the street safer for all—cyclists, yes, but walkers and drivers as well.

All Cedillo’s efforts have done is paint the street with blood—literally.

Meanwhile, across town, Paul Koretz is seeing opposition, as Beverly Grove lawyer Jesse Max Creed prepares a run for CD 5. Koretz has been steadfast in blocking bike lanes on Westwood, refusing even to permit an impartial study of the matter—which leads you to wonder what hidden interest he is “protecting” in his busy Westside district. Even Ryan Snyder’s plan for the street, which would have left all car lanes an parking intact, was refused consideration.

Creed is not running on a pro-bike ticket (at least not yet), but there’s a chance he’d be more reasonable than the ever-obdurate Koretz.

So it looks like, with a little bit of solidarity, we might be able to vote a couple of neanderthals out of office, and move in folks who believe it is people, and not traffic jams, that make a city great.

Don’t forget to vote local on March 7th next year!

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Gil Cedillo’s Incompetence Highlighted at Upcoming Press Event, May 12, 2016 at 2 p.m.

Vigil and Protest of conditions on North Figueroa on Septmber 25, 2016

This Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 2 p.m. at Avenue 55 Gil Cedillo is doing a press event that will include: unsuspecting school kids, a phalanx of city staffers, and select media invitees.

Nobody invited to the event will cite the cost of $250,000 for the lights as being equal to the cost of a road diet for the entire street.

Nobody invited will highlight how the other pedestrian deaths at Avenue 26 (William Matelyan in 2014), at Marmion Way (Jose Luna in 2015), and at Avenue 60 (Andres Perez in 2015) all took place in marked cross walks at intersections with traffic lights.

More traffic lights add to the problem of motorists speeding between red lights. More traffic lights mean more traffic. More traffic lights mean that the money that could have been used to improve 2.1 miles of street is now being used to paper over horrible design decisions at one intersection.

If you weren’t invited to Cedillo’s potemkin press event, show up anyway. Tell the story that needs to be told.

It is not okay to feign interest in the very real concerns of people in this community. The street will still have excessive speeding between red lights; it will just have more traffic and pointless waiting in between bouts of unsafe speeding.

Take the time to stop by Avenue 55 on Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 2 p.m.!

¡‪#fig4all y #‎chaleconcedillo‬!

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Flying Pigeon Inventory on May 10, 2016

Wandering around the shop again, with a quick rundown of what we’ve got in stock. The video ends with Rosie the dog and boxes of rims for Dutch bikes and old fashioned roadsters – Westwood profile rims and more in 28×1-1/2″, 28×1-5/8″ and 26×1-3/8″.

Any questions? info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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Bicycle Millennium Interrupted for Bike Month

May is Bike Month, something that always seemed odd to me here in SoCal. There is no defined “biking season” in the Southland, and the concept doesn’t make sense anywhere, really. If the good burghers of Copenhagen can ride to work through February snowstorms, if commuters costumed in goosedown and wool can clackety-clack their studded tires down Minneapolis bikeways in January, why do we in La-La Land have Bike Month? What, it was too cold to ride in December, when it was 80 degrees, or in January when it was 70, or in March, when the headlines read, “Drizzle Batters LA”?

So, while in cities with crappy weather, from Boston to Detroit to the baking heat of Phoenix, people who want to ride just ride, often on nice new bikepaths, here in LA we gear up for the start of a mythical window of opportunity that somehow makes cycling “practical,” in a region where the weather barely changes month to month.

And where what would really make riding practical—ie, more bike lanes and paths, and traffic calming—are dismissed as, oddly, “impractical.” So we keep shoveling money at more car lanes, and watch traffic grow worse and worse. For eighty years, we’ve built more lanes, and watched traffic grow worse. Making more room for bikes instead seems more practical to me….

But, Bike Month events are good PR, much needed in a city whose media and commentariat still devote extraordinary efforts to looking wide-eyed with amazement when some middle-aged cube dweller does something so unheard of as pedaling to work. So, I guess LA does need Bike Month, if only to get a few more folks actually to try riding, and see that it’s not in fact “impractical.”

CicLAvia is the prime force in allowing Regular Folks to try riding on real streets without having to get a prescription for anti-anxiety meds first. The event is patterned after Bogotá’s famous ciclovias, which have been a weekly occurence since the late Seventies, and now liberate 80 miles of that city’s streets every Sunday.

LA’s CicLAvias are (for now) much smaller and far less frequent, but they have a huge effect. And there’s one coming up on May 15th, bringing the love to the Southeast partions of Los Angeles county, including parts of LA proper, Huntington Beach, Lynwood, and South Gate.

There’s also the Bicycle Culture Institute’s LA Bike Fest, coming this Sunday, May 8th, to Grand Park downtown. This is a party, not a ride, but it promises to be one hell of a party, so get your tix now. There will be music, art, and beer! And rides will no doubt form up as the day progresses.

And the Los Angeles County Bicycle coalition has a roster of activities for the month, including Bike to Work Day Pit Stops on May 19th, the “Blessing of the Bicycles” on May 17th, and the Ride of Silence on May 18th, plus outreach, workshops, and more.

Farther west, Santa Monica Spoke lists a number of events, some ongoing, on their calendar; you might get a chance to try out the city’s Breeze bikeshare system while you’re there.

Metro, the county’s transit agency, co-sponsors many of these events, and runs a couple of its own, such as Bike Night at Union Station on May 27th. Check out their main event page at The Source for more.

And, of course, just get out and ride your bike everyday….

Wait— you say you already do?

Of course you do. Because every month is bike month, everywhere!

See you on the road….


Ride Your Bicycle to Ride Your Bicycle

It will come as no surprise to the readers of the blogs I infest, including this one, that I complain a great deal about The State of Things. The city’s roads, the city council, the LADOT, the incivility of discourse, the agreement among the Windshield Set willfully to ignore the pervasive evidence of Driver Privilege (which, like White Privilege, sets teeth to gnashing among those so privileged every time the subject is so much as mentioned)….

Today is different. Today I feel compelled to celebrate the mere all-suffusing joy of a bike ride along a dedicated path through a beautiful place and time…for we all need a break from the struggle now and then.

Sunday afternoon I headed west, as I usually do, but this day I chose not to visit anybody; I decided simply to ride along the Ballona Creek bikeway to the jetty between Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey and look at the ocean.

Of course, I knew it was springtime—with jasmine sweetening the air all over LA, only the most obtuse would miss it—but I had forgotten that the Ballona Wetlands (saved from development by the concerted efforts of hundreds of ordinary folks like you and me) would be in bloom. And indeed, the world seemed a fabric of bright yellow flowers for miles and miles as I rode. Even my usual weary cynicism was shattered by the sight, on that cool and gray afternoon, so I took a few snapshots, which fill the rest of this page.

All I can say is that sometimes you’ve just got to get out and ride for the sake of your own soul. Do it soon: the bloom won’t last. Take the Expo Line to Culver City and get on the Ballona path and just ride. No need to hammer: the slower you go, the more you’ll enjoy. A little R&R to give you respite from the battle….

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    3404 N. Figueroa St.
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