Get Sum Dim Sum Ride on Sunday, October 19, 2014

Join us at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop at 10 a.m. on Sunday, October 19, 2014 for a special outdoor picnic version of our Dim Sum Ride.

The ride departs at 10:30 and returns around 1 p.m.

This month we’re going to take our dim sum to-go (I’m loading up the cargo bike before the ride) and have a picnic along the LA River. $8 per person for the food, the ride is free. Food is meat-based (i.e. not vegetarian and not vegan).

There is a Facebook Event for this ride.

RSVP and questions to:

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Shakespeare Nailed It

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the title character, on being appraised of his uncle’s treachery, moans that “one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.” And so it is, even in the brightly-lighted chambers of our city council, where the media-savvy minions of power put on their smiling faces to assure us that they have only our good in mind—even when that is manifestly untrue.

Sometimes that manifestation is all too bleak, as in the photo above, from Sixth and Burnside, in Tom LaBonge’s CD4. Here in NELA, we are accustomed to blood on the streets resulting from councilmember Gil Cedillo’s steadfast obstruction of a road diet for North Figueroa. He bizarrely claims that “safety concerns” are holding him back from approving what the Federal Highway Administration calls a “proven safety countermeasure,” and so residents keep dying as heartless cut-through drivers keep on speeding. Figueroa should lighten the hearts of the community, not stop them. It doesn’t have to be this way, but, thanks to Gil Cedillo, North Fig remains a deathtrap.

Over in Council District 4, it’s possibly worse. Tom LaBonge intrudes his bulky self into every bike-related photo op anywhere in or near his district, often wearing his signature red sweater to catch the eye (and the cameras). But he has stopped the Fourth Street Neighborhood Greenway, is trying hard to stop the Lankershim Boulevard road diet, and stands stubbornly against a community-friendly Glendale/Hyperion bridge rebuild.

And now, Sixth Street in the Miracle Mile, a narrow four-lane that impatient scofflaws use as a fast alternative to Wilshire one block away, sometimes hitting speeds of 60 and 70 miles per hour. There are many, many crashes here; I walk or pedal along this street nearly every day, and piles of car parts, clusters of rescue trucks, and even traffic lights tumbled into the roadway by careering Beemers are commonplace. And, unfortunately, deaths and injuries. I live just off Sixth, and came upon the scene in the photo above two days ago.

The woman lying by the car is considered “lucky.” A cop I asked reported that the paramedics thought she would live. But if that’s “lucky” in LaBonge Land, I don’t want to know what “unlucky” gets you, besides an ambulance ride with no need for lights and siren.

Sixth Street was slated to receive a road diet, but—yes, you guessed right!—Tom LaBonge chose to “defer” it. His rationale? Road work on Wilshire might send more traffic onto Sixth. But his presumptions have led him into error: road diets, while they restrain top speeds, often smooth out traffic flow and result in quicker, if calmer, A to B transits of a street.

So our faux-benevolent council members are just imposing their arrogant ignorance on the public they claim to serve.

Shakespeare nailed it again in Macbeth, where he calls life “a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/Signifying nothing.”

Which describes life—and death—in Cedillo’s and LaBonge’s districts very, very well.


From the Top Down

I have a remarkable happenstance to report from yesterday’s Bicycle Plan Implementation Team meeting….

We had received the usual reports on how many miles of what type of facility had been striped, how close we were to the original goals of our city’s hard-won (and still embattled) bike plan, and what we could expect not so much to see as to hope for in the next year or two. The mood around the table was not quite glum, but it was marked by suspicion—openly expressed—that the City of Los Angeles was pursuing the development of a usable bicycle network with a notable lack of enthusiasm, as well as a distressing tendency to slouch towards the easiest projects rather than the most necessary ones.

A representative of USC, for example, noted that the area around that university already sees the highest bicycle mode share in the city; that the neighborhood residents are highly transit-dependent and overwhelmingly in favor of added bikeways; that streets have been selected and money allocated for implementation…and that nothing has happened, and that apparently nothing is expected to happen, to create a bikeways network serving this hotbed of daily bike travel by both students and residents.

And so it went around the long gray table: residents of Highland Park bemoaned the local council member’s blockade of a much-needed road diet on North Figueroa; Fairfax area neighbors pined for a north/south route through the area, and wondered what had happened to the Sixth Street road diet (blockaded by yet another baronial council member); longtime Bicycle Advisory Committee member Glenn Bailey asked why meeting attendees were no longer given the photocopied charts showing streets finished and streets planned for each sector of the city, such as were for the first few years a part of the meeting’s landscape; others asked about studies showing the effects of road diets on crash rates, traffic flow, and neighborhood economies—which are available, by the way, on the BAC’s Google Drive page here, something none fo the official persons in attendance seemed to remember.

Of course your correspondent butted in regularly with both complaints and suggestions.

And during the course of all this maundering, one woman sat quietly near the back of the room watching it all.

At one point she was finally introduced to the table as Seleta Reynolds, brand-new chief of the LADOT.


I’ve been going to BPIT meetings since their inception four years ago, and I have missed only one or two. I can’t remember ever having seen an LADOT General Manager in attendance before. And given Ms. Reynolds’ record in her previous posts, why…it’s enough to give one hope for this great gray city.

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Brewery Ride on Saturday, October 4, 2014

Magic lighting along the LA River on a Brewery Ride of yore.

We’re going on another mellow bike ride to sample high quality beer. Join us! This month we’re going to make a little picnic down by the LA River with some growlers we’ll get filled up (before the ride) at Eagle Rock Brewery.

Meet at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 4, 2014. We are going to roll out at 6:30 p.m. on a slow-paced cruise down North Figueroa, across the miserable new Riverside Drive bridge, and onto the pleasant LA River Bike Path to a local park.

Plan to be back at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop at around 8:30p.m.

Don’t have a bike? No problem! We rent them on our rides for $20.

More information about our rides can be found on our Shop Rides page.

There is a Facebook Event for this ride

Any questions?

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LA at Loose Ends

Los Angeles’s approach to its putative bicycling network is sometimes incomprehensible—except, of course, when the city is facing outright stonewalling, such as on North Figueroa, as NELA knows all too well.

But even when there seems to be a clear field, the efforts it makes are often…well, you might say lazy, if you were feeling uncharitable. The LADOT’s famous “low-hanging fruit”—the agency’s own phrase—has mostly been plucked, peeled, and eaten. Now, its time to cook: because certain things are just not digestible without an effort.

LADOT tends to set up charts-and-graphs technical presentations, given in halting speeches by engineers who’d rather stay behind their desks. And the LACBC’s presentations seem dedicated to inoffensiveness, even when dealing with NIMBYs whose greatest delight is using extravagant shows of indignation as a way to shut up proponents of happier, healthier, wealthier street designs.

And no one seems willing to call rogue council members on their exercise of a veto power over street projects that is never mentioned in our burg’s charter.

Still, a few things do get done, though still, after all these years of meetings and input, in a piecemeal fashion. A case in point is illustrated by the header photo: a brand-new road diet on Oxford Avenue, between Beverly and Third. Well-done work, as you can see (even though it’s not quite finished, with no bike symbols in the bike lanes). There’s even a car using the center left turn channel the way it ought to be used, keeping itself out of the way of through traffic.

But for some reason, the facility does not extend one block further south to the heavily-used Fourth Street bike route!


There are orphan bikeways all over town. Crescent Heights has an odd one that runs from little Guthrie Avenue and aims at, but falls far short of, Pico and its wealth of shops. Los Angeles Street has fine bikelanes that begin at Union Station but disappear at First Street, which does at least have a bikeway of its own. However, the busiest parts of Los Angeles Street are in the Fashion District, and lanes continued south would connect to the well-used Seventh Street lanes. Of course they don’t. Hauser has two blocks of bikelanes that run through Park La Brea from Sixth to Third—which have no lanes of their own. (District Four’s weathervane council member, Tom LaBonge, first proposed a road diet with bike lanes on Sixth from La Brea to Fairfax, but now has them “on hold,” and has actively blockaded the road diet for Lankershim in NoHo.)

It’s almost as if los Angeles is allergic to connecting bikeway segments, perhaps out of fear that people will then actually use the network, and then we’d have to build more of it, and life would become better for all, and we can’t have that in LA, no sir!

I wish we weren’t so afraid of doing things right….


CicLAvia NELA Feeder Ride on Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pinch us, we must be dreaming! CicLAvia is happening again this coming October 5, 2014.

Want to ride to CicLAvia from NELA in safety and peace? Us too! We’re doing a bike caravan from our shop to the CicLAvia route at the Chinatown Hub. Join us and be a part of the rolling party.

We are leading a ride from the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop (located at 3404 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065) that will leave at 9 a.m. and head to the Chinatown hub of the CicLAvia route. We’re rolling at 9 a.m. with a small fleet of mama and papa cargo bikes with attendant supply chain bikes, kids, and kid wranglers.

The shop will be open for one hour in the morning from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. The shop will then be closed for the day (vacation for our staff!). We will return at 4 p.m. in the evening to take in bike rental returns.

If you have a bike, and it needs some tender loving care – please drop it off as soon as possible! We will get your ride ready before the big day, with 10% discounts on repairs for law enforcement, military, LACBC, KPCC, KCET, KPFK, and KCRW members.

Need a bike for the CicLAvia? We are renting single speed beach cruisers! Make your reservations now before we run out! Sorry, no adult tricycles, no kid hauling trailers, and no baby seats available for rent. Just single speed beach cruisers available.

The Flying Pigeon LA bike shop is located at 3404 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065. We are located between the Heritage Square and Cypress Park/Lincoln Heights Gold Line Stations. The nearest major intersection is Cypress Avenue and North Figueroa – served by the 81 and 83 Metro bus lines.

There is a Facebook event page for this event.

Any questions?

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North Fig Needs You!

This is critical: if you live, work, or own property on or near North Figueroa Street in Cypress Park or Highland Park, get yourself to the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council meeting tomorrow, Thursday, September 25th, and speak out for the North Fig road diet. You owe it to yourself, your family and neighbors, your employees, and even your bosses, because this is the meeting at which District One Council Member Gil Cedillo will try definitively to move the bike lanes proposed for our main drag over the Marmion Way.

Okay, Marmion Way is a nice ride, even though it winds through some rather desiccated landscapes, but it doesn’t get bicyclists—and potential bicyclists—to the shops, schools, eateries, and amenities they need to reach.

But this is not solely about bicyclists: road diets serve the entire community and all its visitors. Although Cedillo steadfastly and mysteriously refuses to accept the conclusions of decades of observations, road diets reduce crashes, deaths, and injuries; they improve community feeling and public health; and they bring new prosperity to local businesses.

In fact, it is high time that the City of Los Angeles implement the already approved, designed, and funded road diet on North Figueroa Street, so that the communities it serves can enjoy the following primary benefits:

Road diets reduce the number of crashes, and make the crashes that do occur less deadly. This is not opinion; this is fact. See what the Federal Highway Administration has to say about it here.

Road diets bring prosperity to local businesses, boosting sales, which in turn boosts tax income to the city. This is not opinion; this is fact. See what the Wall Street Journal has to say about it here.

Road diets often even reduce the time it takes for cut-through drivers to cut through your neighborhoods, by raising average speeds while reducing deadly peak speeds. This is not opinion; this is fact. See what New York City’s DOT has to say about it here.

In short, there is no reason, logical or otherwise, that North Figueroa should remain the bleak and murderous speedway that it is today.

If you’re reading this after the meeting, or if Cedillo has filibustered the meeting as he has so many others, to prevent road diet advocates from speaking, click here to send a preformatted email exposing the above three points to Cedillo’s office, the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, and the LADOT. And you can edit the letter if you wish. Just be sure to sign it and note your NELA home or work address.

We’ve wasted enough time…and lives.

Meeting details:

Thursday, September 25th at 7 pm
Montecito Heights Senior Center
4545 Homer Street, 90031

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Flying Pigeon LA inventory on September 19, 2014

This video features a couple of new (for us) cargo bikes in the shop.

We obtained a demonstration CETMA Cargo bike, made in Marina Del Rey on the Westside, and it is an excellent and, dare I say, fast cargo hauling solution.

Of course, a couple of bikes from Linus and Pashley.

Worksman’s made in Queens, New York Low Gravity Bike (the LGG model) with a 150 lbs. carrying capacity is a metro-ready kid and cargo carrying beast (they fit on the trains in LA really well, too heavy for buses!).

We also have a Babboe Curve – a deluxe family carrying bike along with a rain tent.

There is a Pedersen bicycle made for someone under 5’4″. Brompton demonstration bikes to test ride and help configure a sweet folding bike (ETA for custom bikes is 6 to 8 weeks at the time of this writing).

Some other odds and ends in the video and a peek at a special Soma Lisa childrens touring bike I am building up for someone near and dear.

Any questions? Comment below or email us at

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Bike to the Bowl–Free Bike Valet and Ice Cream!

Ride Your Bike! Free Bike Valet! Free Ice Cream!

The L.A. County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and the Hollywood Bowl invite you to gear up for “Bike to the Bowl” on September 21st and September 28th!

Find out more here:

September 21st concert features:
Caetano Veloso, Andrew Bird, and Devendra Banhart
Buy tickets here

September 28th concert features:
The Pixies, Gogol Bordello, and Cat Power>
Buy tickets here

See summer off in style!

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It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

It didn’t have to happen at all. It certainly didn’t have to happen twice, and in so short a time. There was already a plan in place, vetted by community and Council both, paid for, ready to go.

The road diet on North Figueroa would have slowed peak driving speeds while making more room for bicyclists and pedestrians. These changes have been proven over and over again to make streets safer, friendlier, and more prosperous. (New storefronts have been filling old vacancies on York Boulevard since its own road diet.) They have even been shown, in recent analyses, to get cars through an area more quickly even as they roll more slowly.

This is not some ignoramus’s “gut feeling.” This is verifiable fact, observed on real roads in real cities the world around. The sun rises in the east, and road diets make communities safer, healthier, richer.

But Council Member Gil Cedillo chose to ignore the facts, perhaps in deference to his puppetmasters from outside the district. He decided, based on nothing he has been willing to express in public, to stop the road diet. In fact, he went so far as to set his staff to phoning residents of the district and cajoling them to oppose the plan. He was not uninformed: I myself, as well as dozens of others, including the LADOT, presented information that anyone not an abject fool—or a cat’s-paw for outside interests—could easily comprehend.

This is not a religious issue, which is basically a competition of opinions about the invisible and uncountable. This is science: concrete movements observed, counted, correlated, laid out plain and simple for all to see. The facts are clear: slowing traffic from 40mph to 25mph saves lives; encouraging bicycle and foot travel saves neighborhood businesses. There is no disputing this except by lies. Or by silence.

In July of this year, William Matelyan was killed by a speeding driver on North Figueroa Street. The road diet that Cedillo blocked, and which would have been in place for several months by then, would probably have saved his life, as road diets have saved lives everywhere from San Francisco to New York City. Instead, Cedillo chose to exploit Matelyan’s death for political capital.

And now, a few days ago, Gloria Ortiz was killed by a hit-and run driver, just off North Figueroa Street: by a driver who believed that speeding was his right, and that those who stood in his way deserved no consideration. This is the message that the roads-as-freeways Cedillo favors send to the motorists who traverse them.

It doesn’t have to be this way. And it wasn’t going to be this way! We could have had a safer, healthier, richer Highland Park, a place where people could shop and eat and visit and go to church without fearing that they’d meet their God ahead of schedule courtesy of a speeding car.

No, North Figueroa doesn’t have to be a Slaughter Alley. If not for Gil Cedillo, it would be better now. But it is not. And so we keep on dying for a delusion of hurry.

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