Bikeshare Comes to Los Angeles…Sort Of

Here’s photographic confirmation that bikeshare has arrived in LA:

Not the City of Los Angeles, though; not quite yet. That’s a live bikeshare station in Santa Monica, on Main Street, next to one of the two bike corrals that grace the block south of Ashland. (There’s another and very busy bike corral two blocks north.)

This is a test deployment, with only a few stations, giving the city an opportunity to work out the bugs before going full-scale. But there they are, available for use by the public. And the distinctive bikes were in evidence on the road last Sunday when I snapped this picture.

You may not believe this, at least not if you live in LA, but the Westside cities have been coordinating their rollout of bikeshare, and have agreed on a single vendor, CycleHop, ensuring that, should riders cross a city line in search of food, drink, or shopping, they can still find someplace to leave the bike (and stop the meter) while patronizing some happy retailer or other. In fact, UCLA, West Hollywood, Long beach, and even (gasp!) Beverly Hills will all be using the same system.

You know what’s coming next….

That’s right: Los Angeles, represented in bikeshare by Metro, has chosen a system that is incompatible, at least at present, with CycleHop. It will roll out in downtown next year, and eventually reach Pasadena. There has been talk of Westside stations as well, which could lead to confusion.

This, of course, is right in line with LA’s famous no-bid award to a Tustin bikeshare company that collapsed before the project could even get started, just a couple of years ago. Metro’s system may, perhaps, eventually accept TAP cards, which would be good. The chaos that might be inflicted on bikeshare users when incompatible stations occupy the same territory would not be so good.

But, in the meantime, if you want to see real, live bikeshare in action, get yourself over to Santa Monica and see the competition’s system. If bikeshare isn’t quite here, it’s near…right now.

And the full-scale, 500-bike network should be running by November.

Read more at Santa Monica Next.

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A Visit to the Dream World

Sometimes you just want a dose of good news…. So, with that goal in mind, I pedaled out of the city of Los Angeles last Sunday and down the coast to the beach cities. Specifically, Redondo Beach, where, or so I had heard, a new cycletrack had been built bridging a gap in the Marvin Braude bike path, between Hermosa Beach and the rebuilt pier at King Harbor.

And, much to my surprise, the rumors were true: a wide, smooth bikeway, separated from the traffic on Harbo Drive by both a concrete median and street parking for cars. The street parking was hardly necessary, as the area is replete with parking lots, but maybe it helped make the plan acceptable to the unimaginative. In any case, here it is, photographed in all its August Sunday glory:

Conflict zones are marked with sharrows, and there are even bicycle-specific traffic lights at major intersections (although they are small and a bit hard to see). Furthermore, faster riders are not forgotten: note the sharrows on the general traffic lanes, reminding drivers that bikes are not confined to the cycletrack, but may use the main road as well. As is the rule on every road, except most freeways, in this state.

But wait, that’s not all: Redondo Beach has also added dozens and dozens of its distinctive and easy-to-use bike racks to the popular destination, in some cases upgrading parking spots from old wheelbender or wave racks, in others just planting rows and rows of brand-new parking.

True, some of the racks were placed rather far from the restaurants and shops people come to Redondo Beach to enjoy, and were empty despite heavy bike traffic, but I have no doubt that usage will increase as folks become accustomed to seeing the new bike racks.

It was a beautiful day, with bright sun and flashing white waves on a blue sea, hordes of relaxed and happy people wandering about, and bicycles everywhere. Coming home was almost like waking up from a very pleasant dream.

And if the Neanderthals on LA’s city council don’t club Mobility Plan 2035 to death and drag it off to their caves to die, it could even be a dream come true for Los Angeles as well. Someday….


Flying Pigeon LA inventory on August 13, 2015

Just past midnight August 13, 2015 I wandered through the shop pointing the camera at some of the bikes in stock in the shop, but mostly pointed it at small items in the shop I get a lot of phone calls about.

The video runs long at almost 11 minutes (sorry about that!).

There are some really neat thing in the video: Wald 3339 basket/rack; Thule Pack’n’Pedal racks, bags, and basket; Rustines tire patches; Klean Kanteens; Green Guru under-saddle tool bags made from upcycled material; Wald Pizza Racks; and some beautiful and useful bikes!

To answer some questions: yes, we have pedal clips and straps; yes, we have cup holders and water bottle cages; yes, we fix bikes; and no, we won’t buy your used bicycle.

Want to see more from the Flying Pigeon LA shop?

Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat: flyingpigeonla

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Additive Neglect

After the Kum-Ba-Ya giddiness fades, we’ll probably get back to fretting over the freshly-approved Mobility Plan 2035 and whether it will become a guiding document, a sort of Constitution of access—or another dust-gatherer whose only real purpose is to fill in sound bites during a procession of grinning politicians’ photo ops. Los Angeles has adopted great plans before, and nothing much has come of them; the very real advances in transit LA has seen have been designed and realized by Metro, which is a county agency. And no fewer than four council members tried to add amendments to the plan removing important bicycle facilities from streets in their districts, under the delusion that cramming more cars onto our roadways will somehow lessen congestion. (Just look at the 405 over the Sepulveda Pass, freshly widened and slower than ever, to see the folly of that sort of non-thinking.)

Koretz wants Westwood Boulevard reserved for cars, though of course by law it is not, and bikes will be there regardless. Curren Price wants Central Avenue off the plan, though it serves a neighborhood with low car usage and plenty of folks on bikes and in buses. Rookie council member Ryu is carrying forward termed-out LaBonge’s opposition to a neighborhood greenway on Fourth Street, heavily traveled by middle-class bike commuters—thus proving himself another shortsighted apologist for car hobbyists only a few weeks after taking office. And The Cedillo, as far-reaching as he is short-sighted, wants basically all bicycle facilities out of his district, including nearly all of Seventh Street. These amendments are still in play, and all these little nibbles at the plan will add up mighty fast.

Meanwhile the few stretches of bicycle infrastructure we do have in the city are wasting away, possibly from malign neglect. I wrote on this blog a few weeks ago about bike lane markings vanishing on York Boulevard and other streets; apparently we can’t even be granted the courtesy of durable paint. But there are other issues, one of which has been annoying and endangering riders on the easternmost extension of those York Boulevard lanes, where they cross over the freeway and arroyo just west of South Pasadena.

That’s what you see in the photo up top: tree branches growing over the railing from the freeway below, and blocking the bike lane. Unless you’re on a recumbent, you will be swerving into the traffic lane to get around the foliage, which includes some pretty solid limbs. Because South Pasadena forced LA to keep an extra and unneeded lane on the bridge, drivers see all that asphalt and take it as a cue to speed, which they typically do. (When it comes to speed laws in LA, every driver is a criminal…except where the visual cues of a road diet slow them down without the need for cops and signs.)

I had been under the delusion that the city would soon fix this, as i saw a crew sweeping up leaves on the other side of the bridge two weeks ago. Evidently I was naive: they were clearing the car lanes of debris. The bike lanes? Fuggedaboutit!

This goes on all over town. A Westside friend of mine has led clandestine gardening ops to clear bike lanes and useful shoulders of obstructing shrubbery on Lincoln Boulevard. This is a sign that we’re on our own here.

This is how we treat these facilities once they’re built: once the paint is dry, they are forgotten.

Will this be the fate of Mobility Plan 2035? I fear for LA’s future. The rats have already started nibbling away at the plan. Will there be anything left of it when the time comes actually to build a future? Are we serious about this, Los Angeles?


Help name our bike ride dance party ride, please?

After 9 years of hosting the Spoke(n) Art Ride and about as many years doing the Brewery Ride and Dim Sum Ride, we’re looking for some new bike ride ideas that will get us excited and will reach out to different groups of people in LA. The ride video above is our first attempt at something different from our shop rides of the past.

We’re still working on a good ride name, but my friend Eric Einem and I conspired to do a dance ride and pulled it off a few weeks ago. Thanks to Mikey Wally for the music in this video. Arturo Palacios of LA River Bike Tours, brought his awesome sound bike to help with the tunes. The next ride is tentatively scheduled for September of 2015. This first run was called “Nobody Can Hear You Scream in Space Ride” or NCHYSIS Ride. It was about 12 or 14 people, we were evenly split gender-wise and I think we had a weird and fun time dancing in public places both amongst people and by ourselves.

If you can think of a good ride name, go ahead and leave it in the comments below.

If you want to dance but don’t want to deal with club weirdness, love to ride bikes with people in the evening but don’t want to deal with drinking and weed-smoking focused rides, and simply want to get down and connect with other people who love to dance like animals amongst the splendor and the magic of this insane metropolis, consider joining us on our next ride/dance party.

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NELA to CicLAvia Culver City Meets Venice Feeder Ride on Sunday, August 9, 2015

CicLAvia is happening again this Sunday, August 9, 2015. We are so psyched we’re leading a ride from the doors of our shop all the way to the Culver City portion of the CicLAvia route.

Meet at our shop (located at 3404 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065) at a little before 8 a.m. We are rolling out at 8:15 a.m. Kids, cargo bikes, road bikes, tandems, eBikes, come one come all. No need to make a reservation.

The shop will be open for about 30 minutes before we depart for Culver City at 8:15 a.m. We’ll be able to inflate tires, do quick bike inspections, sell locks, helmets, water bottles, etc.

What you will need for this ride:

  • a functioning bicycle;
  • extra water;
  • and a smile!

What you will NOT need for this ride:

  • helmet (CA law = 18 and under need one; 18+ do as you please);
  • signed release;
  • reservations (no need to call ahead).

Parking at the shop is available on-street. We have a lovely cafe, Antigua Cultural Coffee House, as a neighbor if you want to get here early and relax before the ride.

The Flying Pigeon LA bike shop is located adjacent the Metro Gold Line between two stations: Cypress Park/Lincoln Heights or Heritage Square. Our address is 3404 N. Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90065.

The shop is also conveniently served by the 24-hour 81 bus and 83 bus lines run by Metro.

There is a Facebook Event for this ride.

Any questions?

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The Snow Job

Well, that was discouraging.

Last night I met Westside bike advocate Kent Strumpell for dinner at a cheap-but-good faux-Italian restaurant on the Miracle Mile. I usually walk there, but this time I pedaled over, since I’d go with Kent to the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting afterwards. Kent, an engaging, witty fellow and dedicated cyclist, is Council District 11’s appointee to the board. We devoured a pizza and downed a couple of beers, then I led Kent through the looking-glass world of Park La Brea (since my beard turned white the security guards assume I live there) and took a strictly-illegal wheeled shortcut through Pan Pacific Park to the meeting place.

I should have had another beer first. It would have made it easier to take.

There were some happy developments to report—well, okay, there was one: Reseda’s Great Streets project has been built, and the earth didn’t split in half and tumble into the fires of the sun.

But aside from that, the feeling was one such as a mime might experience if he suddenly noticed that the invisible wall had become an actual, tangible barrier, trapping him forever in a soundless new reality. Because mostly we heard about obstruction, inaction, and the futility of hope.

Reporting from LADOT was Rubina Ghazarian, while David Somers spoke for City Planning. Both are fine people, dedicated to the city and to bicycling, and I am happy to count David as a friend. But that didn’t make their words any easier to take—the litany of stalled projects and cancelled plans was grim enough; and added to that was reports of the Council’s incessant pandering to the all-cars-all-the-time constituencies that have kept LA mired in incessant congestion, the Western Hemisphere’s worst air quality, and a lifestyle that condemns every gathering of Angelenos to spend what could be real live social contact time discussing traffic jams and parking woes.

CD 5’s Council Member Koretz is still struggling to remove Westwood Boulevard from the bike network, refusing even to permit traffic studies of the proposal for a road diet; in his emailed pander to ignorant NIMBY’s who refuse even to consider that a road diet might even make life better for drivers, as they have been shown to do, Koretz wrote, “I can’t see any way that I wind up supporting the bike lane on Westwood […] I am going to just kill it now, rather than waiting for a study.” And, of course, CD 1’s reptilian Gil Cedillo, aptly nicknamed “Roadkill Gil” in commemoration of the numerous deaths and injuries scofflaw drivers have caused on his stretch of North Figueroa since he blockaded its ready-to-go road diet, is still struggling to remove that deadly street from the city’s transportation plan.

That plan, the Mobility Plan 2035, which was under discussion at the BAC meeting last night, was approved by the Council’s Transportation and Land Use committees, but faces the full Council next week. And that Council seems set on adding a number of “amendments” to the plan—most of them aimed at preventing any change to the crowded killing fields we call our streets.

The meeting devolved into bitter questioning of Ghazarian and Somers, with apologies for the harsh tone it often took—understandable, as the BAC consists of hard-working city appointees who make not a dime for their efforts. I certainly could not resist asking a question or two myself, though a mere observer…especially regarding the likelihood that an amended Mobility Plan would not comply with California’s 2008 Complete Streets directive, and pointing out that, in the case of North Figueroa, Cedillo was running afoul of a City Charter rule stating that Council members have no veto power over agency-approved projects such as NELA’s road diet, neither individually nor collectively.

None of this matters, of course. LA’s governing structure these days resembles that of 1930s Chicago. All we need now is fedoras and dirty snow.


On Broadway

Thanks to LA’s most progressive and responsive council member, José Huizar, we’re getting some actual commerce- and community-friendly streetscape changes in CD14.

The York Boulevard road diet, with its attendant bike lanes, is a grand success—at least, if you count the disappearance of empty storefronts, the refurbishment of existing establishments, and the crowding of sidewalks with shoppers and eaters to be a success. Some terminally crabby souls are still complaining about alleged “traffic jams” that seem to be so camera-shy that no one can photograph them, but those of us who live in the real world are mighty glad that York isn’t the gray and shabby speedway of the recent past.

Now it’s Broadway’s turn: in the heart of Downtown, but still in CD 14, the city’s old theater district is getting a makeover, starting with a road diet for its iconic boulevard. But not your everyday road diet: this one focusses on pedestrian space, in a district where sidewalks are jammed from early morning to the wee hours.

The four lanes of the old Broadway are now three, with one of them the essential two-way left-turn lane, but instead of bike lanes flanking them, we have, for much of the street, extended parklets! The travel lanes are sharrowed, inviting bicyclists to ride them and discouraging motorist bullying, and pedestrian plazas have been added, complete with planters, tables and chairs, umbrellas, and plenty of added bike racks. You can see some of this in the photo, taken in front of Grand Central Market.

In blocks that are more commercial than retail, painted loading zones keep trucks out of everyone’s way, facilitating both industry and mobility. But it’s the people-first bits of street that are the most interesting—and the most vibrant, in both the social and the economic sense. Grand Central Market is booming, as are independent stores and eateries all up and down the street, as folks crowd in to enjoy the park-like ambience of LA’s busiest blocks.

It’s a great project, and there are plenty of changes still to come. You can read about it all at the “Bringing Back Broadway” website….

Mr. Huizar deserves our thanks for pushing the envelope, because on LA’s Broadway…you’re the star!


To TOD, or Not to TOD

Transit-Oriented Development is one of the watchwords of the new urbanism, and the progressive development world in general. You know the drill: mixed-use, mixed-income buildings, Complete Streets, access to transit, bicycle facilities, reduced parking requirements, etc etc.

So what happens when the suits grant you a giant mixed-user in Los Angeles? One that looks like a typical TOD development in America? And one that is in the Miracle Mile, an area that wins a WalkScore of 94? (Yes, in Los Angeles!)

You get…business as usual! With a side order of questionable aesthetics. Here’s a snapshot of the new luxury condos and apartments at the corner of Wilshire and La Brea:

Despite looking like a convention center more than a domicile, and besides offering only “luxury” units—studio apartments start north of $2000, and while a cat or dog is allowed, a critter companion will cost you $50 a month extra, after a $500 deposit—this shiny lump will indeed feature ground-floor retail, and even has a tiny park way in the back, open to the public and featuring genuine AstroTurf! Be that as it may, poor people need not apply. (They do, though, feature “Hipster Design Scheme” apartments, as well as “Organic,” in the web gallery.)

If you yourself are transit-oriented, you’re in luck (assuming you can afford to move in): the bus routes assigned to Wilshire Boulevard already move more people down the corridor at rush hour than all the private cars combined; the La Brea lines connect to Hollywood and South Los Angeles (and the Expo Line); there are now rush-hour bus lanes on Wilshire that also allow bicyclists to use them; and a Metro Purple Line subway station is a-building as we type.

But is this massive new forward-looking development in itself in any way transit-oriented?

Here’s a clue: for 478 units and a few shops, this building holds 997 parking spaces.

Yes! It is a traffic generator, right on the corner of LA’s most walkable neighborhood! Across the street from what will soon be a major subway stop! The main garage entrance, on a hapless sides street, is not only ugly but nearly one hundred fifty feet wide! They are, to quote their website, “ROAD READY We’re close to Highway 10, which connects to highways 405, 110 and 101. Travel to the beach or wherever your mood takes you.” Just be sure you drive.

The words “transit,” “bus,” “subway,” Metro,” or “bicycle” don’t appear on their website.

They also claim to be “CENTRALLY LOCATED Wilshire La Brea sits at the center of the city, surrounded by Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles.” Apparently Koreatown and Leimert Park don’t exist, though they are closer than the other burgs mentioned….

In other words, another glittering fraud in a city famous for getting it wrong. The Wilshire and La Brea’s website (you can see that they’ve appropriated the intersection’s name for this building) says, “L.A. is always humming, always pushing the boundaries of what’s next.”

Just not here.


Shop Closed until Friday, July 24, 2015

The Flying Pigeon LA bike shop will be closed this coming week and will re-open on Friday, July 24, 2015 at 10 a.m.

You can follow our escapades on Twitter and Instagram by following @flyingpigeonla on either platform.

Me and my sidekicks are heading to Washtington, DC to ride Bromptons, play, cart wheel on as many lawns as the Secret Service will let us, visit an Arlington bike co-op, stop in at The Daily Rider, and take pictures of Capital Bike Share.

Make sure to put Gil Cedillo on blast while we’re away! Don’t let that hack get away with anything while we’re away! He’s only in it for the pension. Chale con Cedillo!

Any questions? Email them to

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    Flying Pigeon LA
    3404 N. Figueroa St.
    Los Angeles, CA 90065
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