Walk and Bike to School Day on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 #WalkToSchool15

The day is nigh! Wednesday, October 7, 2015 is Walk and Bike to School Day (according to the National Center for Safe Routes to School).

We’re helping to coordinate a walk and roll (probably more scooters than bikes) at San Rafael Elementary in Pasadena, CA. We’re meeting Wednesday morning at 7:10 to 7:30 a.m at San Rafael Park in Pasadena and going to school in a big group.

This is the first Walk and Bike to School event we’ve helped organize. The big day is almost here, but there were baby steps to get to this point. We have had to tailor our event to work with the large number of kids commuting to San Rafael Elementary from outside the neighborhood (ourselves included!). We’re hoping to make this a more regular part of going to school and efforts in both Los Angeles and Pasadena by local non-profits, city government agencies, and the LAUSD and PUSD have given us some hope. Following along with the days events is easier now that we’ve all figured out hashtags. I think #WalkToSchool15 is what everyone is using to spread the message.

Our journey to the big event this Wednesday morning started by talking to the PTA and the school principal – both of which sort of shrugged their collective shoulders, smiled, and said, “Great! Hang some posters. Sounds like a good idea!”

Talking with a parent involved in similar efforts at the Los Angeles Unified School Districts’ Ivanhoe Elementary in Silver Lake (controversial public meetings over the road diet on Rowena serve many noble purposes!) we were advised to give stacks of flyers to every teacher in the school to hand out to kids.

Our friend at Ivanhoe said, “Once the kids find out about it, participation will jump.”

This morning (Monday, October 5, 2015, two days before the event) we hung our posters around the campus and delivered our flyers (enough for every student) in the mail boxes of all the teachers at San Rafael Elementary.

Since most of the kids at San Rafael Elementary don’t live in the adjacent neighborhood, the plan is to meet three blocks away at San Rafael Park between 7:10 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Local kids and parents can do what works best for them – hopefully they will join our parade. With our group of kids together at the park we plan on walking and rolling on the sidewalk on a long, unbroken, side street towards the campus. We need to cross one small local street and we’ll arrive just as the first bell rings at 7:45 a.m.

After Wednesday’s event, we’re hoping to schedule a weekly or monthly walk and bike to school day. Additionally, there are a few intersections where a continental crosswalk and curb ramps would help with these efforts. I suspect that means circulating a petition amongst parents at the school and the local neighborhood association to have the city government install those amenities using Safe Routes to School grant dollars or some other source of funds.

Los Angeles Bike and Walk to School Day Flyer 2015

If you live in Los Angeles, their Department of Transportation is making a big push this year to expand their coordination with the school district (LAUSD). In 2014 they had 67 schools participate in their program. You can find out more about Los Angeles’ Walk and Bike School Day efforts here.

If you live in Pasadena, the city has prepared Safe Routes to School maps for every single school in the city (Los Angeles has done this as well), but municipal efforts there aren’t as focused on Walk and Bike to School day this year. Several local non-profits have gotten the city to designate this month as “Walktober” and to coordinate a bunch of pedestrian friendly events all month.

The days events will undoubtedly be documented on every social media platform out there. The hashtag to use to find all the photos, videos, and tweets is #WalkToSchool15.

We hope to see you on the streets this coming Wednesday, October 7, 2015 or online with all your fun pictures and comments. We will be re-tweeting like maniacs all morning long.

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Bike Down Fig


If you have a personal vendetta against somebody, recommending a bike ride or leisurely stroll through Northeast LA is a surefire way to remove them from your life. In fact, as time goes on Figueroa Street is getting increasingly unsafe, so your chances of riding to Valhalla have never been better. Ex-girlfriend? Micro-managing boss? Give them a bike or a new pair of Toms and send them off for a psychotic spin through freeway-like residential avenues.

How have we come so far, yet continually smash against Gil Cedillo’s unrelenting iron curtain of ignorance?

At least there are some government agencies out there that appear to have the public’s best interest in mind. The Metro Rideshare group has prepared some very interesting events for California Rideshare Week and paired it with the facts to back it up. They’ve even gone so far as to clarify exactly what it is they are doing:

Noun – ride+share – [rahyd-shair]
: the communal use of transportation
: the sharing of rides or transportation, especially among commuters

How do you Rideshare?

  • Just don’t drive alone. Instead you can ride the bus, take the train, walk to work, start a carpool, ride your bike, or join a vanpool.

Why should you Rideshare?

  • 37.3% of Greenhouse Gases are produce by transportation (CARB)
  • 71% of those emissions originate from passenger vehicles (CARB)
  • 72% of Angelenos drive to work alone (Metro Rideshare Surveys)

The idea is that if everyone brought just one friend along for their ride, then we would cut all those numbers in half, end congestion, defend children from debilitating asthma, and save the whales from extinction. What a deal!

Rideshare Week is usually a time in California when employers try and reach their employees and convince them that their free on-site parking isn’t is a great as riding the bus. But this year, Metro Rideshare has put a fun new spin on the world’s most exciting week of events. Now we have some creativity in the mix that is engaging commuters, documenting trips, providing means to non-car-travel, and giving out prizes to participants.

  1. Karaoke Rickshaw with free giveaways for commuters singing pop hits in English, Korean, Chinese, and Spanish.
  2. Guided bike rides and carpools sharing the ride to Ambulante Film Festival.
  3. Eastside Commuter Interviews gathered and published through social media to engage and discuss traveling in various communities in person and online. #Mobilizate
  4. Prize giveaways by logging your trip on the Commute Calendar at ridematch.info. You can win 7-day Metro passes, gift cards, handbags, and more!

You can view the full list of events on metro.net/rideshare. I know I’ll be singing my heart out at the Karaoke Rickshaw and joining online at #ShareTheRide.

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NUFF Said….

Here in NELA, we’ve been battling the obstructionism, the refusal even to consider facts, and even the outright lies of council member Cedillo and his ilk for so long now that it is depressing. Just this week, “Roadkill Gil” released a letter urging all of us misguided Safe Streets advocates not to use the hit-and-run death of Elena Espinoza-Lugo on North Figueroa Street as a “political opportunity for personal gain”—which, of course, is what the council member is doing with the tragedy. The lady’s family stood with community members—with Cedilllo’s constituents— at the vigil that called, yet again for a safer Figueroa. As most folks know, Figueroa’s road diet had already been engineered and funded, but Cedillo has consistently blocked its implementation while refusing to give explanations of why he does so. Now he plays the pity card in hopes of shutting up his neighbors who are tired of dying in the street—and he will no doubt use this show of calculated false compassion for his personal and political gain.

Sad to say, his colleagues on the City Council will probably fall for Gil’s crocodile tears. We are fast approaching the Joe McCarthy moment, when US Army lawyer Joseph Welch asked the truly evii senator, who spearheaded the witch hunts of the Fifties, “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

McCarthy ended up being censured by his Senate colleagues. We can hardly expect such simple honest nobility from LA’s council, which seems congenitally incapable of perceiving the slightest wrongdoing among its ranks. No, sir, they are angels in spotless white robes—in each other’s eyes. The rest of the world sees them differently.

The rest of the world sees cities and streets differently as well. If you want a break from the dreariness, and might enjoy seeing what neighborhood advocates and activists just like you are doing in other cities around LA, around the country, and around the world, you should get yourselves over to the New Urbanism Film Festival. This is a born-and-bred-in-LA event that is in its third edition now, and will be playing in the Mid-City area October 8 through October 11. It features, besides feature films, video shorts, lectures, and networking events, urban walks and bike rides, often with locally-crafted food mixed in with the motion.

While the Neanderthals of the council glower in their wood-paneled cave, you can sit in air-conditioned comfort watching what people all over the globe are doing to build stronger communities, vibrant local economies, and streets safe for walking and cycling, while breaking their neighborhoods free from the bonds of fast traffic, bad air, and unsustainable land and energy use.

There is more to life than sitting in a car in a bleak asphalt channel, listening to hate radio while your blood and your waistline thicken. Guys like Cedillo will never understand…but they represent the dead past.

Come to the New Urbanism Film Festival and see the future, where it’s already arrived. With a little inspiration, LA will get there too.

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Flying Pigeon LA inventory on September 25, 2015

Another video of me wandering around the shop and talking about what we have in stock and other stuff.

While I was recording my phone ran out of memory so I had to film a tiny little stub video to tack onto the end. I misspelled “whoops”. I can live with that.

Any questions? info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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Gil Cedillo’s North Figueroa takes another life; vigil for slain neighbor on Friday, September 25, 2015

A small shrine has been installed to remember Yolanda Lugo, the latest victim of North Figueroa’s unsafe street design.

The people of Highland Park, Cypress Park, and Eagle Rock are coming together at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 25, 2015 at 5504 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065 to hold a vigil and a short march on North Figueroa Street in memory of Yolanda Lugo and the many slain pedestrians, bike riders, and automobile users who have lost their lives on North Figueroa Street. Our requests for safe streets have been routinely ignored by Gil Cedillo and the rest of city hall. We hope to bring attention through our actions to the unsafe street design of North Figueroa and surrounding streets and to remember those who’ve lost their lives, or had their lives permanently damaged, due to traffic crashes on this street.

You can donate to help Yolanda Lugo’s family pay for the funerary costs here.

Background Information
On Friday, September 18, 2015 51-year old Yolanda Lugo was crossing the street at the corner of Avenue 55 and North Figueroa Street. A driver crashed into her and left her broken body in the street, later stopping to removes his license plates before continuing on in his flight from the scene. Yolanda passed away two days later – making her the 3rd fatality on North Figueroa since June of 2014, when Councilman Gil Cedillo cancelled the legally approved, funded, and designed road diet on North Figueroa Street road diet.

Just a few weeks after Cedillo’s action in 2014 octogenarian Bill Matelyan was crushed by a car at the intersection of Avenue 26 and North Figueroa as he was crossing the street to get his morning coffee.

In June of 2015 a local man in the crosswalk at Marmion Way and North Figueroa Street was killed by a driver going well above the posted speed limit. The driver was later identified and arrested.

As a community, we have had our needs for safe streets ignored by our elected representative Gil Cedillo. Our requests for safe streets have gone unanswered. The lives of our neighbors, our children, our friends, are ignored. Councilman Cedillo, Mayor Eric Garcetti, LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds – your street designs and politics have cost lives!

There is a Facebook Event for the vigil and demonstration.

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Now that Mobility Plan 2035 has been voted into law by the city council, the bikelash bozos are prancing around again blowing their rubber-bulb horns and shouting out all kinds of invented “facts” (technically called “lies”) to support their contention that it’s impossible—impossible, I tell you!—to live any semblance of a normal life if bike lanes are striped and cars have to slow down to the speed limit.

There are spurious claims that road diets will keep emergency vehicles from rushing to the scenes of the crashes that won’t happen as much anymore—yet it is cars that blockade firetrucks and ambulances right now; cyclists can pull off to the parking lane or even on to the sidewalk when the sirens howl. With road diets in place, there is more room for motorheads to get out of the way of serious drivers hurrying to save lives endangered by recreational drivers hurrying to show off.

There’s the even more spurious claim that road diets will “kill business.” This one’s been debunked by actual real-world observation so many times that it hardly bears repeating that No, road diets are good for business. Its been proven over and over again.

The latest favorite to float up in the swamp of disinformation is that “You can’t go grocery shopping on a bicycle.”

I can disprove that one myself: for over ten years, I did all the grocery shopping for a family of three, plus pets, by bicycle. I didn’t use a trailer, a cargo bike, or an e-bike either, just a normal everyday standard bicycle with two folding boxes attached to the rear rack. A full large bag of groceries in each one, and a big sack of potatoes or cat litter (or both) on top of the rack. Two trips a week to the supermarket, one to the Trader Joe’s. Easy enough. I still shop by bike, though less so now that I live a two-minute walk from two groceries.

I’m not alone. Here are a few of the photos I’ve snapped recently of bikes parked in front of grocery stores.

Yes, you can shop by bike.

Trader Joe’s in Hancock Park

Trader Joe’s in Hancock Park—another day

Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake (near the Rowena road diet)

Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake—another day

Grand Central Market on Broadway—I’ve started grocery shopping there myself

Shopping by bike in Osaka, Japan


Looking for a Fix

Monday, the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council held a meeting to “discuss” the Rowena Avenue road diet. The meeting seemed to be primarily a response to a group of NIMBYs, who blamed the road diet for congestion which long predated it, as well as almost everything else short of Islamic Jihad. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Inquisition…

It turned out that, as Streetsblog LA’s Joe Linton reports, about two-thirds of the comments recorded were in favor of keeping the road diet. Slower motor traffic speed was seen as having made the neighborhood not just safer but better—”more like Larchmont,” as someone put it—Larchmont Village being a delightful and very slow traffic street near Hancock Park, crowded with pedestrians and featuring a well-used bike corral.

It was, Linton reports, cut-through drivers on adjacent streets that most annoyed residents—and that’s more an artifact of the phone app Waze than of bike lanes, since the same phenomenon afflicts neighborhoods whose streets remain obese.

Of course Waze is just an enabler; like electric cars, it is a sort of methadone for road hogs. It doesn’t change the underlying addiction. And there’s no need for all that cut-through motor traffic on Rowena anyway: there’s a giant freeway only a block and a half away, with four wide lanes each way, a 65mph limit, and absolutely no cyclists or pedestrians at all. It’s specifically designed for speeding motor traffic, so drivers who don’t have business in the immediate neighborhood should just head for an onramp.

And yes, the freeway gets jammed—which simply disproves the baseless assertions of the NIMBYs. After all, if the usual drool of our neoneanderthal friends had any foundation in reality at all, freeways would be free and clear 24/7. Instead, the more lanes we build, the worse traffic grows. And it has been thus for decades.

Really, it’s just the entitlement junkies screaming for a fix. It’s kindest not to let them have it, because, no matter how much you give them, they’ll just want more and more and more and more and more….


NELA Kidical Mass family bike party on Saturday, September 19, 2015

Grab your bikes, scooters, skateboards, roller skates, inline skates, dogs, kids, trailers, and whatever else you think will work well with a family bike ride party and be a part of NELA’s “Kidical Mass” (like “Critical Mass” but way cuter and designed for lil’ ridazz) this Saturday, September 19, 2015 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Sycamore Grove Park (4702 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90042).

There is a Facebook Event for this party.

We’re rallying at Sycamore Grove (4702 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90042) park, hauling our rides over the Arroyo Seco on a secret footbridge, riding the Arroyo Seco Bike Path to Hermon (about 1 mile) and back, and then having a party at Sycamore Grove. Actually the whole thing will be one big party. Cargo bikes, kiddie bikes, helmets, hula hoops, bouncy balls, etc., etc. and a paletas man and his cart to sell us all ice cream in the shade of the beautiful sycamore trees.

Bring decorated bikes (tinsel, streamers, faux fur, etc.); costumes HIGHLY encouraged! Water, snacks, and helmets required for anyone under 18 years.

Meet at Sycamore Grove Park (at the playground by Ramona Hall), 4702 N. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles 90042 on Saturday, September 19, 2015 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Parking available on street. The Metro Goldline train stops right in front of the park at Southwest Museum Station. Go Metro!

Children and parents of all riding levels are welcome. We have plenty of sidewalk chalk for art along the ride. We’ll have games and goodies, too!

Last year’s kiddie bike rally at Sycamore Grove Park. Join the team!

This Kidical Mass is an effort to join with dozens of other Kidical Mass rides happening across the U.S. as part of “Kidical Massive“.

There is a Facebook Event for this party.

Any questions? Leave a comment below or email info@flyingpigeon-la.com


Riptide Warning

Riptide: that backwash of water at the beach, not always visible from the surface, that grabs swimmers and pulls them the wrong direction, back out to sea to drown.

Bikelash: a vicious undertow, not always visible from the surface, that pulls cities back from the progress they’ve made, to drown in a sea of cars.

The first tactic of bikelash is to blame road diets and bike lanes for the traffic jams that have dominated our city for nearly eighty years.

The second tactic is to refute without examination any mention of real-world studies and analyses showing that road diets save lives and smooth traffic.

The third tactic is to shout and keep shouting, and scare city officials into giving way.

When you’re caught in a riptide, what you do is swim across it, not against it, so that you don’t tire yourself out while never getting any closer to the shore.

When you’re caught in a bikelash, what you do is show up in numbers to rebuke the reactionaries by your mere presence…not by shouting, spluttering, and waving your arms. Speak softly, and carry a big crowd. The shouters and spouters won’t listen to you no matter how rigorous your research. But the others sitting silent in the room will hear you. And the politicians will count heads and, thus, potential votes.

And so, if you want to save the Rowena Avenue road diet, which has already cut traffic crash injuries in half during its brief existence, show up at the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council meeting at Ivanhoe School, 6pm on Monday, September 14th.

The backlash bozos will be there in force, hoping to reassert their right to speed, crush, and kill. You need to be there to reassert your right to live well and long, without your days being dominated by elitist drivers who value their bombast and impatience over your survival. Be there…or surrender your streets to the killers.

Details on Facebook.


The Turning Tide

Ted Rogers over at Biking in LA isn’t the only blogger with a Secret Correspondent. I have one too: a longtime resident of Highland Park’s Council District 1, involved in the neighborhood for over sixty years, a former board member of one of the local neighborhood councils, and a politically astute observer of City Hall shenanigans as well. And my SC reports that the tide seems to be turning against “Roadkill Gil” Cedillo, who has disappointed a broad range of his increasingly reluctant constituents, not just Safe Streets proponents and neighborhood advocates.

Quotes the SC:

I am very encouraged by the votes of “No Confidence” by the city council in regard to Cedillo. I see hints that the mayor and council have high-density residential development in mind for L.A. and tie this to slowing and reducing cars on the streets. But this will be a battle as I have seen in NELA with the development of the Marmion 50 unit apartment project being fought by residents who want continued (and expanded) free auto storage on the street and continued high speed movement of cars with the high body count being, “the cost of doing business”.

The general attitude of Garcetti and the council [is] in favor of traffic calming with Cedillo totally against it. In a private email message from CD1 to officers of the ASNC, [Cedillo’s office] stated that traffic calming would not have “made any difference” in the recent fatality on Fig/Marmion, even though a CD1 staffer stood on that corner with me and observed, first hand, the problems and conflicts caused by bad street design. I think Cedillo is also beholden to developers, but commercial developers for whom traffic calming is counter productive, as opposed to high density residential developers for whom traffic calming is desired.

I asked the SC to elucidate the “no confidence” votes mentioned; the SC responded that it was the votes approving Mobility Plan 2035 in toto, minus Cedillo’s and Koretz’s retrograde amendments, and the vote to implement bikeshare in Downtown, right in Cedillo’s district… which will necessitate the expansion of bikeways there.

The amendments could still be snuck in while no one’s looking, as they have been tabled, not outright denied, so we’d better keep watch. But the chatter I hear in local shops indicates that increasing numbers of residents are turning against Cedillo, and that they are nurturing the hope they can find someone to run against him and unseat him in the very next election…they don’t want to have to leave their beloved neighborhood in disgust.

So it does seem that the tide is turning—and it’s a rising tide that won’t float Cedillo’s leaky boat, which will remain stuck in the mud of his outdated concepts till it is submerged, to rot gracelessly away.

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