Cash Mob to Strike NELA!


While council member Gil Cedillo works hard to keep North Figueroa safe for cut-through speeders, LADOT is working to support the local businesses that make NELA’s neighborhood culture possible. After all, no one here wants to live out their lives as anonymous blurs decorating the blank gray shoulders of a faux freeway. North Figueroa isn’t a corridor; it’s a community—something Cedillo and his puppet masters are incapable of comprehending.

LADOT, which used to be a mountain of incomprehension itself, seems to have grown up. Thye are ready to go with the Figueroa Complete Streets treatment that Cedillo so steadfastly opposes. As a friend of mine who is on the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council noted, why would Cedillo want to begin a whole other round of “studies” of a Marmion Way bike route, leading nowhere, when North Fig has been studied, vetted, discussed, designed, and funded, and is ready to go? Probably just to waste city dollars and everybody’s time.

Meanwhile, LADOT is sponsoring a Cash Mob Ride of sorts, to open neighbors’ eyes to the pleasures and possibilities of shopping by bike, and to enlighten local merchants ot the well-proven profitability of reshaping streets to entice more biking. Yes, a few of our retailers remain trammeled by the baseless clichés that undergird the dwindling prejudices against practical cycling.

And so the LADOT’s Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District Announces a Holiday Shopping Ride: Shop – Ride – Nela for December 13th!

Here are details, in the LADOT’s official press release:

Northeast La Bicycle Friendly Business District Announces Holiday Shopping Ride: Shop – Ride – Nela

LADOT is a proud partner in the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD) kickoff event: SHOP – RIDE – NELA Holiday Edition. The bicycle ride, led by C.I.C.L.E., will take place on Saturday December 13th, from 9:30am-12:30pm, and traverse 3.6 miles of Northeast LA’s most vibrant shopping corridors. The ride will meet at METRO’s Highland Park Gold Line Station and make shopping and dining stops at LADOT’s two local business-sponsored Bicycle Corrals: the York Boulevard Corral located at 5000 York Boulevard (sponsored by Cafe de Leche) and the Colorado Boulevard Corral soon to be installed at 2136 Colorado Boulevard (sponsored by Core Club). Riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join this leisurely ride!

“I’m proud that the City’s first Bicycle Friendly Business District is here in Northeast Los Angeles, including a large portion of Council District 14,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “Creating a safe and comfortable environment sets the table for an economically vibrant neighborhood. The addition of a bike corral on Colorado Boulevard compliments our improvements designed to increase safety, foot and bike traffic, while bringing more customers to local businesses. Those improvements include buffered bike lanes, the first three Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon pedestrian crosswalks in the City’s metro area and speed indication signs. A Big thanks to the bike corral sponsor, Core Club LA!”

The event has been spearheaded by the NELA BFBD Steering Committee of local stakeholders and represents a collaboration and partnership between businesses, the community, and the LADOT Bicycle Program. The primary goal of the partnership is to bring more people to local businesses by bicycle. The NELA BFBD does this by implementing bicycle infrastructure enhancements to the neighborhood like bike lanes, corrals, and repair stations; offering promotional incentives to people arriving by bicycle; and overall, encouraging customers and employees to take local trips to business corridors on bicycles rather than in cars.

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds says, “We applaud our partners in the Northeast Los Angeles Bicycle Friendly Business District for their support of safe, beautiful streets that offer a wide variety of choices to people getting around the neighborhood. In particular, we celebrate the connection between strong local businesses and walkable, bikeable streets. Hope to see lots of people out on Saturday morning, December 13th, enjoying the SHOP RIDE – NELA Holiday Edition!”

The NELA BFBD is the first pilot BFBD in Los Angeles and includes Colorado Boulevard, York Boulevard, N. Figueroa Street, and Eagle Rock Boulevard. Councilmember Jose Huizar has been a great supporter of people walking and biking to local businesses and this event will showcase the dynamic effect a walkable-bikeable neighborhood can have on invigorating economic activity, especially around the holidays. Ride participants will travel at a casual speed, slowing down to stroll, take in the local scenery, and explore local businesses and culture. Shopping by bicycle enables unlimited parking time, encouraging people on bikes to take their time and discover the amazing offerings within these business corridors.

Businesses that offer a shopping discount to ride participants and others arriving by bicycle on the day of the ride or through the Bicycle Friendly Business Program will be listed in a map distributed to riders. For more information about the event, email elizabeth.gallardo@lacity.org. To learn more about Bicycle Friendly Business, or to opt in to the Bicycle Friendly Business Program, click here.

Events like SHOP – RIDE – NELA would not be possible without those who have helped plan, sponsor, and facilitate the program. Special thanks to Cafe De Leche, Core Club LA, Big Mama and Papa’s Pizzeria, Councilmember Jose Huizar and Council District 14 staff, C.I.C.L.E., Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

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Cedillo Schedules Street Safety Meetings for Marmion Way, Avenue 26, Fig4all Potluck

Gil Cedillo stuffed many of our dreams of a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly North Figueroa Street into the recycling bin earlier this year and he is desperate for good press in his mediocre (at best) first year in office.

North Figueroa is off the table for now, it seems.

However, Cedillo’s office has scheduled two three meetings on street safety for early December of 2014.

Figueroa For All has scheduled a potluck to eat, drink, and talk about what we’d like to say and see at Cedillo’s meetings. Here are the details for our potluck get together:

Figueroa For All’s “Eat, Drink, and Talk about Cedillo’s Street Safety Meetings”
Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 6 p.m. at Flying Pigeon LA bike shop (located at 3404 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065). It’s a potluck and I’m going to fill a couple of growlers up at Eagle Rock Brewery before the meeting. Good times to be had.

There is a Facebook Event for this potluck.

Below are the details for Cedillo’s upcoming meetings. Keep in mind: these hit my inbox two days ago; there is no money set aside for any improvements on these streets; there are no active plans with LADOT (I checked); nor any active plans with LA Planning (yup, checked there too); and nothing in the LA City Council Files. We’re hoping that these two meetings are a turn towards a less antagonistic relationship between Cedillo’s office and the livable streets community – but we’ll see. They could very well be meetings and workshops in name only, being done to show a paper record to reporters in the future to say, “See I care about these issues! I held meetings!”

Rev. Fig4All looks to the heavens for hope after Gil Cedillo tossed safe street plans out for no good reason.

Avenue 26 (Gold Line to LA River Neighborhood) Public Safety Improvements
Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 6 p.m. at the LA River Center (located at 57- W. Avenue 26, Los Angeles, CA 90065). This is Cedillo’s first street safety meeting. The advertising for the event states that, “Together we can help make Avenue 26 Safer for Walkers, Bicyclists & Transit Riders.”

We are asked, “Come share your ideas and suggestions to: [slow or calm] traffic; make connecting to transit safer; improve pedestrian and bicyclist access to community destinations.”

I’ve gone and set up a Facebook Event for this meeting.

North Figueroa Corridor Public Safety Improvements Community Workshop
Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 6 p.m. at Monte Vista Elementary School (located at 5423 Monte Vista Street, Los Angeles, CA 90042). The advertising for this event ask us to: “Help us re-design Figueroa”. This re-design is supposed to: “make Figueroa safer for everyone; make Figueroa friendlier and walkable; slow/calm traffic; beautify Figueroa; re-energize historic Highland Park’s Route 66 downtown main street”.

That sounds pretty backhanded and incoherent to me given Cedillo’s history with this street, but don’t take my word for it! Come see it live and in-person on Wednesday night!

Yet another Facebook Event for another meeting.

Marmion Way Complete Streets Improvements Community Workshop
Monday, December 8, 2014 at 7 p.m. at the Carlin G. Smith Recreation Center (located at 511 W Ave 46, Los Angeles, CA 90065). The advertising for this event states, “Join your neighbors. Help us make Marmion Way safer for walkers, bicyclists & transit riders. Share your ideas and suggestions to: slow/calm traffic; make access to bus stops safer; improve pedestrian and bicyclist access to the Southwest Museum Station.”

Yup, I set up another Facebook Event and it’s for the Marmion Way meeting.

No matter what, I promise that our potluck and these two upcoming meetings will engage your senses! Food, drink, and exciting conversation. If Cedillo’s time-waster-in-chief, Sharon Lowe, shows up at any of these events, we’re going to have to have a contingency plan!

Okay you scruffy or not-so-scruffy livable streets advocates! Clear you calendar! See you on Wedensday, then the Tuesday night after that and the Monday night after that and be prepared to have some fun!

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What is in your bicycle tool bag?

I was fixing a bike at home and thought somebody out there would be interested in seeing what I carry in my bicycle repair tool bag. At the Flying Pigeon LA shop I have a full assortment of tools but out on the road I have found my own idiosyncratic collection of stuff to carry along just in case of a mechanical breakdown.

Any questions? info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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Carfree Cargo


One of the most diligently-repeated delusions of modern America is that, “You can’t live here without a car.” This phrase is in heavy rotation not only in Los Angeles, the city that invented sprawl, but almost everywhere in the country.

I remember an Internet friend telling a story on a cycling forum ages ago. He lived in upstate New York where he was advised that “You can’t live here without a car” because of the suburban distances and the frigid winters. So, as he was a bit of a wag, he eventually bought an old used car that didn’t even run, parked it in the driveway, and…never drove it. Bicycled everywhere, year-round. But he had the car without which you couldn’t live there.

About fifteen years later he finally sold the old hulk, having let the joke play out long enough. He’s getting older now, but still happily “lives there” carfree.

Other excuses for continued car-addiction (addicts always have a good long list of excuses, as I’m sure you know) include having to buy groceries or carry kids around. Of course cargo bikes do both quite adequately, as the Pigeon Master, Josef, himself proves every day, and they too are becoming popular, despite the “great cost”— about one-tenth the price of a new cheap car. Flying Pigeon has a number of them on the showroom floor, including a glitzy CETMA at the time of this writing, which should easily carry a washing machine should you need to do so.

I myself shopped for years for a family of three using an ordinary bike with those folding grocery panniers hanging on the rear rack (The weekly bag of potatoes was bungie’d onto the top of the rack.). No problem, ever, keeping us fed; in fact, mom and I gained a bit of weight. I’d do two trips a week instead of one—but that was a good thing, or I’d have packed on even more pounds. And the ride was a pleasure in a life otherwise filled with work and chores. Of course I rode to work and chores as well. It made the daily grind more than tolerable.

People are “getting it” more and more. Millennials and their older siblings show themselves uninterested in cars, and their parents are getting tired of wrestling the steering wheel themselves, as traffic gets more frantic even as reflexes slow. In the photo above, you see a premier Complete Streets treatment in Santa Monica, lacking only a physical buffer for the bike lane, but featuring a permanent Sunday bike valet by the Main Street Farmers Market. A cargo bike is being parked while its pilot dedicates himself to some heavy-duty shopping.

In fact, it seems that the world is round, that the Earth does revolve around the sun, and that you can, after all, “live here without a car.” Wherever “here” might be.

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Getting Friendly on the “Friendly Ride”

Last Sunday I broke with my long-ride routines and joined the Friendly Ride,” put on by the Mid-City West Community Council and the New Urbanism Film Festival. It was a neighborhood ride, designed to showcase a proposed micro-network of Neighborhood Greenways in Hollywood and the Miracle Mile. I say “micro-network,” because the ask is for only two streets, one of them already almost devoid of motor traffic. The streets are Rosewood, from just east of La Cienega to Formosa, and Formosa and Alta Vista/Cochran (one of those maddening LA streets that changes its name at random intervals) to Wilshire Boulevard, where the new rush-hour bus/bike lanes are almost done. The chosen stretch of Rosewood is so narrow that cars going opposite directions can barely pass, but of course there’s plenty of room for bike traffic!

Scott Epstein of the MCWCC hosted the ride start, and Taylor Nichols gave a spiel on each proposed treatment at the several stops, while the New Urbanism Film Festival’s Josh Paget distributed maps and flyers showing the suggested (not at this point planned) facilities. These include diverters, roundabouts, active crosswalks, bike boxes, and intersection sharrows, all designed either to shunt through motor traffic off the routes, or to make it possible to cross such difficult streets as Crescent Heights or Third.

There was a moment of unplanned irony as Council Member Paul Koretz explained that he was a “timid cyclist,” who was comfortable riding only on “this kind of infrastructure.” He did not then explain why he’d blocked even a study of “this kind of infrastructure” for Westwood Boulevard not long ago. That moment was followed by yet another, as Carolyn Ramsay fervently expressed her love for Neighborhood Greenways. Ramsay is running in Council District 4 to replace the termed-out Tom LaBonge, whose Chief of Staff she was for years. LaBonge, who also fervently expresses his love for biking infrastructure whenever a camera or microphone is apparent, is the man who blocked the Fourth Street Neighborhood Greenway, who stands against the Lankershim Boulevard road diet and a bike-friendly Glendale/Hyperion bridge, and who uprooted thirty-three heavily-used bike racks from Larchmont Boulevard not long ago. Ramsay is his anointed successor, which, despite her fine words Sunday, worries me.

But the ride (which neither politico actually pedaled along on) built my hopes back up a little bit. We started and ended in true bikeonomics mode, buying java at Alfred Coffee on Melrose Place, and stuffing our faces with cookies from Milk Jar on Wilshire at the end, with a stop at La Brea Bike Works‘ grand opening along the way.

The two streets show promise; Alta Vista/Cochran especially would provide a vital north/south corridor that should probably continue well south of Wilshire to Washington Boulevard. It would connect bikeways on Fourth and Venice along the way. And Rosewood is a quiet alternative to the narrow lanes on busy Melrose Avenue. Of course, this project is aspirational, and there is no funding yet. But the strong support of the Mid-City West Community Council, which represents a prosperous and densely-populated part of town (ie, one with plenty of voters and political donors) gives it half a chance of getting done. If it doesn’t happen, it won’t be because of neighborhood fears, but of LA’s old internal enemy, political timidity.

Let’s hope for the best. Meanwhile, here is a handful of photos:

Taylor Nichols (left) and Josh Paget at the ride start:

Paul Koretz explaining while Scott Epstein looks on:

Carolyn Ramsay emoting while Scott looks on:

Talking with a friendly neighbor at Rosewood and Crescent Heights:

Cookie fest on Wilshire Boulevard:

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Flying Pigeon LA inventory on Friday, November 7, 2014

This inventory video shows some of the bikes we carry that are made in places other than China, which is an interesting achievement given just how many bikes sold in the U.S. come from that one country.

First up is a pair of bikes from Detroit Bikes, the A-Type and the B-Type, made in (surprise!) Detroit. These elegant and pared-down city bikes are ideal for commutes and weekend trips in the city or on paved paths.

We’ve got Bromptons in our shop (made in Brentford in London, England) as well as a special extra-small Pedersen (for riders in the 5’0″ to 5’2″ range) with 24-inch wheels.

A couple of 22″ Pashley bicycles (made in Stratford-upom-Avon in England) are right next to a Worksman LGG (made in Queens, NY) commercial delivery bike.

Our cargo bikes from Babboe and CETMA cargo are made in Holland and Marina Del Rey.

Any questions or comments? info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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Dance of the Dinosaurs

Another election is over, the earth has stopped trembling, and the dinosaurs are licking their wounds as they contemplate their new territories. But while they glare at each other, the furry little fellows scurrying around their feet keep multiplying. Climate change is in the air, and the weather doesn’t look too good for cold-blooded types. The dinosaurs don’t pay it any mind. But at the end of the day, it is the end of their day. Ignorance is bliss, they say—but they forget to point out that it’s bliss for only a very short while.

Most disappointing to me in this local election was Sheila Kuehl’s victory in the race for County Supervisor in the Third District. Kuehl, a former television actor who most notably played the ditzy surfer girl Zelda in the ancient Dobie Gillis series is not a bad person, and there was not all that much substantive difference between her and Bobby Shriver, her opponent. She’s more inclined to support unions, Shriver’s more inclined to support business and development. Unions are a good thing—our country was never so prosperous as in the Fifties, when unions achieved their greatest strength (and when Kuehl herself was coming of age)—but Big Labor has always necessarily been a response to Big Business, and so defined by it. Shriver—who boasted a number of endorsements from labor himself, from the ILWU and the Ironworkers among others—was also involved in healthy development, and showed himself unwilling to sacrifice environmental and community health for mindless growth. In particular, “he fought against a six-lane toll road that would have decimated San Onofre State Beach and Trestles surf break. He won and protected one of our most pristine coastlines. He helped create two state parks near downtown Los Angeles,” and helped clean up the Santa Monica Bay.

Kuehl has doen a great deal of work on social justice issues, enough so that you’d think there had been little to choose between the two, both being, overall, forward-looking persons.

Except that Kuehl is a transportation reactionary.

In answer to a survey that I helped write as a member of an LACBC committee, Kuehl emphasized not once, but twice, that she would support a bikeway only “so long as it doesn’t reduce the total number of lanes available to cars.” In other words: no road diets, no matter that they often increase a street’s motor vehicle capacity and reduce the number and severity of crashes. In a world where driving is helping drive us towards extinction, Kuehl will refuse to consider anything that might restrain unfettered motor vehicle use and make alternatives to the car and its inherent wastefulness more attractive.

Well, she won’t be in office forever. Like NELA’s notorious obfuscator Gil Cedillo, she ran for local office only because she was termed out of Sacramento. Apparently, when the their natural ecosystem goes sour on them, the dinosaurs head south. Maybe she’s educable, and if so, we ought to try to help her evolve. But I fear the windshield perspective may be genetically locked into the modern Mesozoic mindset. We’d probably better find us a handy mammal to run for the Third District office four years from now, when Kuehl defends her seat.

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Spoke(n) Art Ride on Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hot chocolate and pan dulce is the theme for this Saturday’s free-of-charge Spoke(n) Art bicycle tour of art galleries in NELA. Show up at Flying Pigeon LA bike shop (3404 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065) on Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 6 p.m.

The slow-paced trek to art galleries leaves at 6:30 p.m. The route is planned just before the ride leaves, but we’re going to stop and have some pan dulce and hot chocolate along the way in a local park.

More information about the ride can be found on the Bike Oven’s Spoke(n) Art Ride page:

http://bikeoven.com/spokenart/

There is a Facebook event for this ride.

Want to rent a bike for the ride? This month we’ve got a few single-speed beach cruisers for rent – $20 each including blinky lights.

Any questions? Email info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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Kill ‘Em Already; Can’t You See I’m Waiting?

There’s a new and particularly abhorrent behavior spreading among the scofflaw-motorist community—and I’d say, judging both from statistics and what I see on the streets every day, scofflaws comprise a plurality, if not a small majority, of the motor vehicle operatoros out there.

The scenario plays out thusly:

One of the increasingly-rare law-abiding drivers is waiting to turn right at an intersection. He or she is waiting for the eminently acceptable reason that a fellow human being is crossing the street on foot in front of them, or in the path of their turn. Waiting, in this case, is prescribed not only by law but by that human decency we foolishly, and against all evidence, believe to be the common characteristic of all minkind, and not merely an ideal quality we plan someday to aspire to…at least when others are listening.

So the kindly driver waits.

And the moron behind him lays on the horn, effectively saying, “Kill ‘em already; can’t you see I’m waiting?”

It doesn’t matter—and of course it shouldn’t matter—whether the pedestrian is a vigorous young man or woman, a respected elder hobbling on a cane, or a mother pushing a baby carriage. And in fact it doesn’t matter—to the self-entitled narcissistic apes who have made a sacrament of impatience. They blast the horn anyway. Just yesterday, I saw (and heard) one do it in an effort to cajole the drivers in front of him to plow through a line of schoolchildren crossing Western—with the walk signal in their favor. As seems inevitable now, he was in a luxury SUV.

I guess they feel they really do own the road, though of course they don’t—drivers don’t and never have paid for the vast network of wide multilane roads, freeways, and parking spaces both government and private entities provide for them. I don’t need a wide array of lanes and an aggregate of eight parking spaces allocated to me; I travel by bicycle and transit—and even buses need less road space per passenger than the typical car, which in California operates three-quarters empty. Trains are even more efficient, and subways use almost no surface area at all. Small Parisian-style two-lanes are enough for both foot and bike travel and reasonably-sized delivery trucks. Even on arterials, wide lanes are not for efficiency, but to facilitate speeding. My taxes are higher than they need to be to keep all those bloated roads and curbside parking spaces available for the motorized moochers. And the prices I am charged at markets, stores, and restaurants include the cost of the parking spaces that they provide and that I don’t use. Private parking costs $20,000 to $80,000 dollars per space to build, and occupies land that could be put to far more profitable uses. And while many places charge something for parking, there is no place in Los Angeles that charges the market rent of those spaces to those who actually occupy them.

The horny bastards don’t own the road. They don’t even have a “right” to drive. It has been established for over one hundred years that driving is a revocable privilege, granted on conditions, and has never been a right.

Yet drivers have driven almost all others off the vast public spaces known as our streets.

It’s time that this false entitlement were beaten back. Perhaps we should employ the “broken windows” paradigm, and actually enforce the law that says horns may be blown only to warn of danger. And revoke the driving privilege of repeat offenders.

Save them from themselves, before they turn into hit-and-run murderers…as so many already have.

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The Beat Goes On

Despite all the crabbing and caviling of the knuckledraggers, spewing their spurious warnings of a “war on cars” even as they continue to arrogate all public space, and the lion’s share of tax dollars, while blithely mowing down pedestrians, bike riders, and even other motorists who get in their way…the world is changing. History is, in fact, leaving car culture behind. It isn’t a war; it’s evolution. The dinosaurs are afraid of the monkeys, but it isn’t the monkeys that are killing them off; it’s simply evolution. The human world’s attitude towards transport is maturing.

To shift metaphors as smoothly as a Mercedes shifts gears: homo americanus is getting out of the motorized baby carriage and learning to stand—and travel—on its own two feet. A late bloomer, to be sure; the Dutch and Danes figured it out decades ago. Better late than never.

The photo above is of the Ralphs supermarket on the Miracle Mile. Yes, right along Wilshire Boulevard, a markedly bike-unfriendly street at present. Yet there are five bikes locked to the railings at the eastern entrance to the store’s portico. There’s another bike that I didn’t photograph at the western entrance, and yet another locked to the sidewalk bike rack in front. The riders aren’t lycroids out “training”; they are neighborhood folks stopping by to shop, or who work in the store. It’s actually a minor problem, all those bikes parked there, as hordes of neighbors also walk to this store. The market’s parking lot is underground and matches the footprint of the store; it is never full. The store itself is always full. And that’s in keeping with the years-long trend of Americans driving less. I know you’ve probably seen the charts, but here’s a link for those who haven’t, from Streetsblog.

Down the street one block is the Wilshire Courtyard, an office complex with an outdoor bike corral of its own that is usually close to full, as well as more bike parking in its underground garage. And the sidewalk bike racks all up and down the Mile are pretty generally occupied, especially in front of office buildings.

The beat goes on. The “different drummer” is now setting the pace for change.

Welcome to the future!

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