Nobody Can Hear You Scream in Space Ride on Saturday, June 27, 2015

Nobody Can Hear You Scream In Space June 2015
Saturday, June 27, 2015 at 7 p.m. we are bringing the sound bike party back to #bikeLA with the Nobody Can Hear You Scream in Space Ride (NCHYSIS Ride or #NCHYSIS). Bike with us to some cool places to dance like animals on a unique bicycle-audio-electromagnetic experience. We will go some places where you never thought you’d be dancing. Costumes STRONGLY encouraged – space travel clothes or caveman chic. Don’t be the guy/gal not dressed up!

Heritage Square station of the Gold Line (3545 Pasadena Ave, Los Angeles, California 90065) on Saturday, June 27, 2015 at 7 p.m.


  • Space travel clothes or your Caveman/woman Finery
  • A bicycle in good working order
  • Front and rear lights for your bike

What to expect:
Expect to be surprised, to dance into the night, to leave no trace, and disturb no resident. We only have hints of some of the locations, and we’re not allowed to tell you – it will be a surprise!

This will not be a fast ride. It will be slow or moderate paced. We WILL be getting down.

No need to make reservations, just show up and bring your friends, lovers, cavemen, space travelers, mom, uncle, FM radio, and make sure your bike and bike lights work!

There is a Facebook Event page for this ride.

If you have questions, post a comment or email

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Lesson to Be Learned

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote on this blog about the “first mile/last mile” role that the bicycle can play in making transit use more effective and more attractive.

In short, this simply means that the average Joe and Jane are willing to pedal much farther to a bus stop or train station than they can be bothered to walk. A planning study summary from Fairfax County, Virginia, notes that a comfortable walking distance to a transit stop is about half a mile, where a comfortable biking distance is two miles. (Yes, many of this blog’s readers are willing to pedal much, much farther, but we’re talking typical americans here….)

So, if you calculate the area of the circles thus defined, you discover that, by making transit stations and the streets surrounding them bike friendly, you make the bus or the train accessible to people in an area sixteen times as large.

And if you consider how many bikes you can fit into a space that could park only one car, and how many bikes you could fit into a lane that could accommodate only half a car, you’ll see (assuming you’re not an LA city council member) that encouraging folks to pedal between transit and home, school, or work is probably the best thing you can do to encourage a shift from space-wasting private cars to clean and efficient buses and trains.

But would it work in LA, the way it works in Northern Europe, in Portland, and in the Bay Area?

Peruse that photo at the top of the column again. That is the little bike corral at the Allen Avenue Gold Line station in Pasadena. It is on a decided un-bike-friendly street: a vast, bleak boulevard with wide lanes, fast traffic, and no more sophisticated bicycle facility than a series of tin signs, each about the size of a shoebox, diffidently naming the boulevard a “bike route.” If you’re coming from the south, the street is a steady climb. The weather’s usually hot and often smoggy. If you need to cross the street, the markings are vague and the wait for a signal long.

Yet the racks are so full that bikes are locked to the fence as well.

There’s a lesson here. And the lesson is, that if you build decent, well-thought-out facilities for bicycling at transit stops, folks will bicycle to transit stops.

There’s a further lesson here: because there is a bigger bike corral just outside the station (which is housed under a freeway crossing that also holds the Gold Line tracks). That bike parking area comprises a bleak battered fence around a bunch of staple racks similar to the ones that are full right by the station entrance. But they are in the blazing sun, hard by a freeway onramp, and constantly battered by traffic noise from the lanes immediately above. They also see little foot traffic, and so provide no “eyes on the street” protection from theft. There was one bike parked there that day.

The racks in the shade, by the station entrance, where people bustle by all day, were beyond full. They are new racks; I didn’t see them there two months ago. But someone, somewhere decided to do it right—and even on a crappy fast street, they drew bike traffic.

It doesn’t take too much. But it does take more than the usual token effort. And that’s the lesson to be learned.


Flying Pigeon LA inventory on June 10, 2015

This inventory video, shot on June 10, 2015, features a shop helper making strange noises and one of our regular customers knocking on the door in need of some assistance. I thought I’d chosen the perfect time to film!

Anyway: XDS Nadine city bikes, Linus Mixte in Medium, Gazelle Toer Populair 51cm, Beater Bike Roadster, XDS Explorers, cool bike gear and books; what else?

Oh yes! Some dynamo hubs (Shimano’s mid-range and Sturmey-Archer’s X-FDD) and some very nice dynamo headlights from Busch and Muller.

Any questions?

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LA’s Very Own Death Panel

As I approached the cluster of flashing fire trucks, a vivid red LAFD ambulance pulled away, sirens howling. That was a bad sign, as was the presence of a police car, as were the people hugging each other by the battered cars. There was a Mercedes sports sedan, with the passenger door crushed open and dangling by a single twisted hinge, and a crumpled minivan up on the sidewalk, right where you would wait for the light to change if you were walking. The firefighters directing traffic couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me anything. I pedaled on home.

Another bad one on Sixth Street in the Miracle Mile, a road I use every single day, on foot, by bike, very occasionally in a car. It has a bad record—plenty of crashes, being a fairly straight passage with four wide lanes feeding into four narrow one, curbside parking, and many, many intersections. Drivers speed madly on it, swerve, jump lights, and all too often crash into each other, or into pedestrians. Plenty of cyclists use the road as well. People have died, have been maimed, have suffered. Over and over again. The road parallels Wilshire Boulevard, which is a block to the south, but, because of its configuration, Sixth draws the more self-centered and impatient of motorists.

It is a perfect candidate for a road diet, this particular stretch of Sixth Street between Fairfax and La Brea. A road diet would temper the madness while increasing the street’s capacity, not just by adding bike lanes, but by moving the numerous left-turning motorists out of the flow of traffic. And in fact this very stretch of road was slated for a road diet.

What happened? The city council’s obstructionist-in-chief, Tom LaBonge, quashed it—insisted he wants to keep Sixth as an overflow for Wilshire till some vague time in the future when the (underground) construction for the subway extension is finished.

Insists again and again that fast car traffic is the supreme good on Sixth Street.

Just as he insists for Lankershim Boulevard. Just as council member Koretz insists for Westwood Boulevard. Just as council member Cedillo insists for North Figueroa Street.

Just as eleven members of the council voted in lockstep yesterday, at the urging of LaBonge and his partner in crime, CD13’s O’Farrell, to insist for the Glendale/Hyperion bridge complex. With four members, including the more human Huizar, absenting themselves that day…perhaps not willing to buck the tide of council conformity.

The death panel has voted. The bridge shall not have safe sidewalks, nor adequate bike lanes; speeding will be the primary value preserved in the span’s refurbishment. Those who die will be mourned, briefly, and forgotten…forever.

Welcome to LA. Be sure to sign up for your health and life insurance. You’ll probably need it.


Getting There

Colorado Boulevard woke to a beautiful dream last Sunday, as CicLAvia liberated Pasadena’s main drag from its usual clutter of heavy metal, and made room for hordes of people strolling, rolling, and smiling in a three-mile long celebration of simple joie de vivre.

I was there only briefly, as I had a book signing to go to in South Pasadena, but its bigger sister was definitely feeling relaxed and happy when I pedaled through the curb-to-curb smiles on my way to Fair Oaks Boulevard. I regretted not having more time to spend relaxing while exploring a street that’s usually a nervous mass of cars.

But more than CicLAvia impressed me: on the way over from the Miracle Mile, I hopped onto Metro’s Purple and Gold line trains…and I was far from alone: my subway car held eight bikes (and their riders, of course), along with a number of regular Sunday riders. On the Purple Line, there’s plenty of room, but I wondered what I would face when I transferred to the smaller light rail cars. The Gold Line, of course, feeds directly to Pasadena, and Metro had put up large signs in Union Station directing pedalers to “Gold Line–CicLAvia,” with handy blinking arrows.

I soon found out that even the less-roomy light rail trains have plenty of space for bikes, even with a healthy bike-free crowd also present. The photos show you the scene in my train car, looking both fore and aft. It seems like a tight fit, and it was, yet no one had any problems getting on or off, with or without a bike in tow.

This is an important lesson for LA’s traffic-harried residents: for bikes have the salutary effect of making transit systems more effective, by extending the reach of each stop to the distance the average Jane or Joe is willing to ride a bike—which is farther than they’ll walk.

The now-famous “First Mile/Last Mile” function.

Let’s hope the lesson takes. And that Metro and LADOT start putting more–and more secure–bike parking at train and subway stops.

As in The Netherlands, where a new train station in Delft features just under nine thousand bike parking spots.

Nine Thousand….

Union Station has about…twelve….


NELA to CicLAvia Pasadena Feeder Ride on Sunday, May 31, 2015

The NELA to CicLAvia posse from CicLAvia South LA.

Yes! Yes! Yes! CicLAvia is coming to Pasadena!

We are hosting a feeder ride from NELA to CicLAvia Pasadena from the Flying Pigeon bike shop on Sunday, May 31, 2015. Ride departs at 9 a.m. Meet at our shop (located at 3404 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065) and join a large group of neighbors on a peaceful and safe ride from NELA to the Old Town Pasadena start point for CicLAvia. Plan to arrive in Old Town Pasadena around 11 a.m.

The shop will be open for about 30 minutes before we depart for Pasadena at 9 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?


Shaking Up the City Council?

Congratulations to David Ryu, winner of yesterday’s run-off election in Los Angeles Council District 4.

CD4 has long been saddled with retrograde gladhander Tom LaBonge, an expert schmoozer who never met a photo op he didn’t like, nor a bikeway he couldn’t block. He would talk with wide-eyed enthusiasm about cycling in LA whenever crowds gathered—even if, as at the opening of CD1’s Seventh Street road diet a copule of years ago, he had nothing to do with the project being celebrated. He jumped and pirouetted like a cheerleader at meetings for the Fourth Street Neighborhood Greenway—but then, despite the pep talks, shut the project down when a small knot of five or six Hancock Park homeowners started to feel nervous and called in complaints.

LaBonge also opposed—still opposes, as a lame duck—the Lankershim Boulevard road diet, the Sixth Street road diet (along one of LA’s more crashworthy corridors), the green bike lanes on Spring Street (still in place but no longer green, at the behest of Hollywood movie brats), and the most livable proposal for the Glendale/Hyperion bridge refit, Option 3, supported by thousands of residents, dozens of local businesses, and most of the involved neighborhood councils. LaBonge also can take credit for removing thirty-three sidewalk bike racks along Larchmont Boulevard; they had been retrofitted to the poles of decommissioned parking meters when LADOT installed paystations along that charming little shopping street, but some rich folks huffed and puffed that thirty feet was too far a walk from their cars to swipe their Amex cards for parking, and Tom gleefully ripped out the bike racks and put back the old-fashioned meters-on-a-stick.

Ryu’s opponent, Carolyn Ramsay, was LaBonge’s anointed successor, and while she came to all the right meetings, and said all the right things (mostly), so did her mentor LaBonge. Ramsay also had some off-base ideas about bikeways proposed for Hillhurst in Los Feliz and for Hollywood Boulevard in the heart of Tinseltown; apparently she believes that cyclists should be shunted off to secondary roads, out of the way of motorheads and out of sight of the destinations they might be wanting to pedal to.

Let us hope that Ryu, who often refused to elucidate his positions in any precise manner, saying that he “had to study the issue further,” will take a clear-minded look at what the future must look like if LA is to become more than just a traffic sump. Ryu has, in fact, not attended many meetings with bicycle and pedestrian advocates, and the City Council has a bad record in traffic management generally, favoring anything that makes more room for cars, and apparently ignorant of induced demand and the inability of driving to transport people effectively in densely-populated, built-out cities. Honest traffic engineers have known for decades that the more roads you build, the more lanes you provide, the more traffic jams you gain for your efforts. Cities that prioritize walking, cycling, and transit are the ones that will grow not only wealthier but healthier in coming years. Constantly building infrastructure that makes active transportation unpleasant, difficult, dangerous, and often impossible is a superhighway to the dead and decaying past. LA has built itself into the poster-child of jammed roads and crusted lungs; we will not escape that fate by endlessly repeating the mistakes that created this mess.

A Wal-Mart economy based on poverty and sprawl will not lift LA into the ranks of the world’s most desirable cities.

Ryu (like Ramsay) supported Option 3 for the Glendale/Hyperion bridge, and this has been a litmus test for neighborhood activists throughout the city. The Board of Public works last week ramrodded through approval of car-centric Option 1. Maybe Ryu can do a reverse Cedillo once he’s sworn in, and blockade a project that would be truly harmful to the community, to offset Roadkill Gil’s suppression of Fig4All.

Or did he support Option 3 knowing that the decision would be a fait accompli before he took office, and that he could gain support without risking controversy?

Guess we’ll know soon enough….


They’re At It Again

Council Member O’Farrell’s car blocking pedestrian access to the press conference—Freudian slip?

Yes, our so-called representatives on the city council are at it again: trying to keep the Hyperion/Glendale bridge complex a speedway for cut-through drivers, at the expense of anybody hoping to walk or bicycle across the great chasm caused by the I-5 and the LA River between Atwater and Silver Lake. What will be in effect a one-mile freeway between the two communities will dump road-raging motorists onto two popular shopping streets, with predictable results. So, yesterday council members Tom LaBonge and Mitch O’Farrell held a press conference at which they grandly announced a “bicycle and pedestrian bridge” over the river on the old Red Car trestles, roughly paralleling the soon-to-be-rebuilt Hyperion/Glendale road bridge.

The problem is that the two have no functional relationship. The bike/ped bridge is an access point to the bike path on the right bank of the river, and as such is very nice. But: it doesn’t cross the freeway, and if you do manage to wind your complicated way through various half-hidden paths, and then cross a number of busy lanes with bad sightlines, you find that it doesn’t even provide decent access to or from Silver Lake. Unless you climb several long flights of stairs, it dumps you onto a bleak section of Riverside Drive. It’s fine for Atwater-based roadies who want to work out on the river path, but useless as a transportation facility.

In other words, pretty much a Bridge to Nowhere.

In exchange for this short stub of concrete, we are to surrender protected bike lanes on the real bridge, and make do with floppy plastic bollards to guard us from speeding motor traffic. And at that, cyclists will be lucky: pedestrians will lose an entire sidewalk from the popular Option 3 plan that the latest LaBonge/O’Farrell proposal hopes to replace. Yes, our bikeless brethren would have to cross four lanes of speeding traffic to the north side of the bridge, and then all too often cross back at the other end to reach their destinations. Crosswalks, by the way, are not included (so far) in the plan, so walkers would have to trudge to the nearest traffic signal to get across in one piece.

All so drivers can imagine they save a few seconds while crossing the bridge at 55mph instead of the 35 that fewer and narrower lanes would mandate.

And they might not even be faster with all that: studies of road diets have shown that, while top speeds decrease, transit times are often faster than they were with more lanes, since people now drive more rationally and don’t hurry themselves into mini-jams. (See page 8 of this PDF studying a Kentucky road diet, just one of many.)

But LaBonge and O’Farrell can only think of “cars” when they see roads. And they know the community disagrees—after all, the Option 3 folks have dozens and dozens of letters and petition signatures from residents and businesses in both Atwater and Silver Lake supporting a fully multi-modal, traffic-calmed bridge. So they scheduled the press conference at 9AM on a workday…at the same time as the popular “Blessing of the Bicycles” at Good Samaritan Hospital miles away. They directed news crews to interview only the four opponents of Option 3 who had shown up, ignoring the much larger crowd of Option 3 supporters. And they hustled themsleves away before anyone other than the fatuous broadcast agencies could confront them with questions.

So the fight against the Death Bridge concept is not over. In fact a big battle may take place this Friday, when the city council reviews a “Mitigated Negative Declaration” that will somehow claim that drawing more and faster traffic to the bridge won’t harm the communities at either end of it, nor the remnants of natural environment it crosses.

The meeting is at City Hall downtown, Friday, May 15th, at 10AM. Take a day off from work and be there. It’s your city. You can’t let them ruin it. Can you?

Here’s the Facebook page, courtesy of Don Ward: Huge Step for Hyperion.

Read more, and see the list of Option 3 supporters, in this excellent Streetsblog LA article by Damien Newton, who was there.

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Lincoln Park chaos rewards law breaking motorists, punishes pedestrians

We’re spending $833,425 so an acre of Lincoln Park can be paved, even though a measly $500/day rents 100+ parking spots from the DMV across the street.

I called Gil Cedillo’s field office in Highland Park last week to find out more about the paving of over an acre of the interior of Lincoln Park for a new, unneeded, $833,425 parking lot for patrons and staff at Plaza de la Raza.

I heard back from one of his deputies. His office promises to manage construction in the park so that pedestrians in the area are safe. I imagine their management couldn’t do much worse than letting people drive in through an unpoliced entrance to the interior of a historic park. I guess we’ll see.

As to the mechanics of why this parking lot is being built … it is just sort of a shoulder shrug from the authorities. Walking around the park is atrocious – utility poles block access; high-speed arterial street designs make it dangerous; crossing points are few and far between with long delays to wait for signals; curb ramps are in short supply or nonexistent. Within the park, the pavement is gravelly, uneven, broken with gaps that make it unusable for those with not fit and able to jump over cracks. The bathrooms are rarely cleaned. The playground dotted with deferred maintenance, smears of melted ice cream from weekends long past. Concession stands long closed. A pool that has been drained. A carousel sold off for parts. A boathouse shuttered forever.

The cost to rent the large paved parking lot across Mission Drive from Plaza de la Raza? A measly $500/day, the addition of the DMV to the Plaza’s liability insurance, and a shifting of the Plaza’s security guard from the illegal parking lot in the park to the DMV’s lot.

To spare the Plaza this expenditure of the money the City gives it to fund its operation, the city is going to spend $833,425 paving the park interior to build a parking lot. To save a couple thousand dollars a year in fees (how many special events will they do? 10? 20?), we’re going to build a parking lot at a cost hundreds of times that amount. We’re going to pave the interior of a historic park … for what?

How many dance and music classes does one have to teach before your can drive onto the lawn in the middle of Pershing Square? Can you imagine someone cruising on the paths in Echo Park in their BMW and NOT having hell get raised? Is it acceptable in MacArthur Park for people to drive onto the lawn by the lake, uncontrolled, for free, whenever they want? Is Penmar Park open to drivers in the middle of it? Do people get to park wily nily in Grand Park downtown or drive through the park on Spring and 5th?

Where in this city is it okay to pull directly onto pedestrian paths and drive through a park like this? Where would we reward this mismanagement, this law breaking, with $800,000+ in pavement?

Lincoln Park, that is where.


Join us on the NELA Living Museum Fundraiser Bike Tour on Sunday, May 17, 2015

We’re co-hosting this ride to raise money to restore this once-beautiful mural of native peoples on Marmion Way.

The Living Museum and Flying Pigeon bike shop are celebrating MOTA day by co-sponsoring ‘Museum Riders’.

The ride meets at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop (located at 3404 N. Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90065) on Sunday, May, 17, 2015. at 12:30 p.m. We roll out at 1 p.m. Suggested donation is $20 to benefit restoration of the Southwest Museum Mural.

RSVP at Simply select ‘The Living Museum‘ from the drop down menu and type ‘Museum Riders’ in the memo field below it.

My bakfiets cargo bike will dispense refreshments along the ride! Food and drink on wheels!

We will tour the greater Sycamore Grove area via an easy bike ride with stops at the Southwest Museum and the Lummis Home. The ride will also feature pit stop conversations that will explore local art, architecture and history along the way, including Avenue 50 Studios and the historic Cycleway with author Dan Koeppel (a contributor to “LAttitudes: an Atlas to LA.”), plus other fascinating luminaries. Enticing refreshments provided. Family Friendly. Enjoy a Car Free experience with Easy Metro Goldline access.

RSVP at Simply select ‘The Living Museum’ from the drop down menu and type ‘Museum Riders’ in the memo field below it.

Suggested donation is $20 to benefit restoration of the Southwest Museum Mural. All donations are tax deductible.

The Flying Pigeon LA shop is located at 3404 N. Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90065.

By Metro:
The Gold Line has two stops, Cypress Park/Lincoln Heights and Heritage Square that are equidistant from our shop. We prefer Heritage Square – exit station on French Street, left on Arroyo Seco, right on Loreto and stop when you get to Figueroa.

The 81 bus runs up and down this portion of Figueroa 24 hours a day. Cypress and Figueroa is the closest stop. If you miss it, Amabelle and Figueroa is still pretty close.

We have a huge bike parking rack out front.

Car parking is available on the side streets and it’s free!

Link to buy tickets:

Living Museum fundraiser ride on Facebook May 2015


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    3404 N. Figueroa St.
    Los Angeles, CA 90065
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