NELA CicLAvia Feeder Ride on Sunday, April 6, 2014

We are leading a group ride from our shop on Sunday, April 6, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. to CicLAvia. 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 to the Downtown LA start point for CicLAvia.

We are going to close our shop for the day to enjoy CicLAvia but will be open for about 30 minutes from 8 a.m. until we depart for DTLA to inflate tires, do quick bike inspections, sell locks, water bottles, etc. We’ll be back at the shop after 4 p.m. to check in our rental bikes and hang out.

What you will need for this ride:

  • a functioning bicycle
  • and a smile!

Need a functioning bike for CicLAvia? We have got you covered! We rent bikes for CicLAvia.

What you will NOT need for this ride:

  • helmet;
  • signed release;
  • reservations.

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.

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? info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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The Infection is Spreading


The infection is spreading…and it’s good news! Since in this case it’s the infection of bicycle infrastructure, which, like the beneficial bacteria in one’s guts that people gulp down yogurt to feed, keeps the system healthy.

Last week, in Venice Beach, just around the corner from Santa Monica’s happy length of Main Street, a couple of LADOT bike corrals arrived, bracketing either end of Abbot Kinney Boulevard’s bustling little retail corridor.

They were instantly packed with bikes—which is no surprise, as the street swarms with velos day and evening, and the sidewalk bike racks are generally at capacity. Fixies, beach cruisers, and numerous city bikes spill over onto parking meters and signposts all along the street. (The city bikes are often the cheap and excellent Linus brand, purchased at the factory outlet on the boulevard itself, and available here at the Pigeon).

This was long overdue, as Santa Monica’s increasing network of bike lanes, green streets, and bike corrals is spurring ridership beyond its borders; so, even though the LADOT corrals are of a design I don’t favor, I’ll take ‘em! Better too-little-too-late than nothing and never, which is what LA cyclists put up with for decades.

And LADOT is making some sort of effort to establish a connected network in Venice Beach, with striped lanes appearing on several streets leading off from Windward Circle, though the ones I’ve explored don’t go far into the neighborhoods they seem intended to serve. It took a bit of a fight to get LA’s end of Main Street there a set of proper bike lanes, but they did go in a couple of years back. Now, if the city would just stripe Venice Way to past the library, where the sharrows already on Mildred (I suggestion I made years back) would connect it to the bike lanes on West Washington and the off-road path to the Marina! This route already sees heaps of bike riders, so it needs a facility.

I must say that we are finally starting to see these efforts at creating networks, not just freestanding bits of bike stripe here and there, in other parts of the city as well. Though there are still isolated bike lanes that start and end in blank gray space on Glendale in Atwater, on Rowena, through Park La Brea, on Crescent Heights for a few hidden blocks south of Pico, etc etc, the agenda for the April 17th webinar on the second year implementation of the 2010 bike plan shows a good number of projects dedicated to connecting open-ended network segments. This is vital to enticing the more-casual rider to use a bicycle on the streets for practical purposes.

It’s that more-casual rider who is the future of cycling…and a healthy city.

That is, a city not suffering from so much gas….

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Infrastructure Envy

Poor Los Angeles, having to put up with people like me whining and nagging about its slow ooze into the Bicycle Millennium.

The problem is that the whining and nagging are so often justified. LA does do some things well—the sidewalk bike rack program was going great guns until recently, when the city ran out of racks, and its sole and only bike rack installer retired. Now, the bike rack request page, which last year said installations would resume in November, updated the page to promise March, which has now been changed to April. I suggested a mason I know with whom I discussed starting a side business installing racks on private property (something DOT is not permitted to do), and they have referred him to the mazes of a General Services Department approval process. So now even sidewalk racks are on hold.

However, the city did sound the trumpets about the recent installation of two bike corrals on Venice Beach’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

While I have my reservations about the particular design LADOT has chosen (and already bought twenty of), LA is still at the sad stage where you take what you can get, and fight for better afterwards. (Though David Hembrow thinks that is a dangerous paradigm.) So I am happy that there are two bike corrals on Abbot Kinney, a street swarming with bikes, and one whose sidewalk racks are not infrequently full-up. Portland-style bike corrals are better, but we’ll take these for now, thank you!

But let’s face it: just around the corner from those new corrals, on Santa Monica’s segment of Main Street, are three bike corrals, which have been there for years, and which see heavy use—especially the one in front of Peet’s and the Ben & Jerry’s.

Meanwhile, the city has often stood in the way of progress towards a bikeable, walkable human-scale streetscape, with such well-known debacles as the initial institutional opposition to bike lanes on the Glendale-Hyperion bridge, the removal of 33 much-used bike racks from Larchmont Boulevard, the continued reluctance to put North Figueroa on a road diet, the abject bending over to a car dealership objecting to the MyFigueroa project joining Downtown to University Park, and the glacial pace of striping lanes on all but the easiest, widest streets. (Though at least the city is standing behind the bike lanes through the second Street tunnel, and finally went ahead with the Colorado Boulevard orad diet—all the above documented on this very blog as well as Streetsblog LA and many other venues.

It’s not just LADOT at fault here—often the agency is being held back by the city council or individual members thereof playing their own little political games. But the result is very slow progress.

In a way, it’s fortunate that LA has Beverly Hills to look down on—a city so backwards that it makes us look good. That town recently voted a decisive “No!” to bike lanes along the soon-to-be-rebuilt portion of Santa Monica Boulevard that creeps through Botox Central. Even though LA and West Hollywood themselves have bike lanes on their segments of Santa Monica leading up to BH on either end.

But being better than the worst shouldn’t be good enough for LA. We’re the county’s biggest burg; wouldn’t it be nice if Santa Monica and Long Beach and Culver City and Temple City could look up to us and wish they had what we have…instead of the other way around?

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Get Sum Dim Sum Ride on Sunday, March 16, 2014

Join us at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop at 10 a.m. On Sunday, March 16, 2014 for a slow paced ride to Chez Antoine in Highland Park. We are going for crepes!

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

We are going to make a stop at local councilman Gil Cedillo’s office to take a group photo and encourage the councilman to support a Figueroa For All.

There is a Facebook Event for this ride.

Any questions? info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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Green thumbs keep prisoners hands clean

The trend to start a garden, ride a bike, keep bees and chickens, mulch, collect rain water, brew beer, and the like should not be confused with the twee affectations of the much maligned “hipsters” of the U.S. Gardening, like riding a bike to get around, is a serious solution to many of the problems that we face as a civilization.

While hordes of Americans delude themselves into thinking that iPads represent the next great leap forward for humanity, it is a select band of prisoners in the state of Washington and here in California, at San Quentin Prison, show us the true way to a righteous and happier future. Lo, it all comes from gardens.

Great news about cost savings, recidivism rates, and reduction of environmental damage emanate out of the Sustainability in Prisons Project in the Washington State Department of Corrections.

Even better news out of San Quentin, where a similar gardening program has been implemented and has shown similar results.

It is pretty neat to think that the same trend that is sweeping the front and back yards of Angelenos is busy helping the incarcerated find a meaningful life after being in prison. As the noted permaculturist Geoff Lawton has said, “All the worlds problems can be solved in the garden.” I guess so long as those problems aren’t gardening problems, I’ll agree.

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Playing ball in Los Angeles is illegal

LAMC Section 56.16: “No person shall play ball or any game of sport with a ball or football or throw, cast, shoot or discharge any stone, pellet, bullet, arrow or any other missile, in, over, across, along or upon any street or sidewalk or in any public park, except on those portions of said park set apart for such purposes.”

I recently attended a talk by Dr. Richard Jackson, one of America’s leading experts in how the ‘built environment’, including architecture and urban planning, affect health. In his presentation, Dr. Jackson showed slides of the growing obesity rates in Los Angeles County and described what has happened to our kids health in the past 20 years as “child abuse”.

Along with the problems a kid faces these days when she wants to walk or bike around the neighborhood, that same kid faces a wall of cultural and (in Los Angeles) legal limits that prevent the most mundane activities of childhood.

Case in point is the law above, Los Angeles Municipal Code 56.16, which makes playing catch on the sidewalk or street an unlawful act.

We can have 100 CicLAvias a year but if kicking a soccer ball to your buddy on the sidewalk in front of your apartment building, or throwing a football in the street, is a crime you can expect nothing fundamental to change.

What would it take to strike down this ridiculous law? In Los Angeles, we have a 15-person city council and it only takes 8 of those 15 to agree on the matter to strike down a stupid law like this. Assuming we can build an effective “Legalize Playing” lobby (I can’t believe how ridiculous we are that we need a lobby to make playing legal in LA), I think we can get it done.

The first order of business should be play-ins wherein we all throw balls to each other in front of City Hall with signs to protest LAMC 56.16. Next, barring our arrest, we should walk the halls of the 3rd floor of city hall and create a simple list with councilmembers names, their lead staffer on this issue, and whether or not that councilmember supports a repeal of LAMC 56.16.

Our proposed amendments to LAMC 56.16? It should look like this after we’re done with it:

(Repealed by Ord. No. xxx.xxx, Eff. xx/xx/14.)

It’s either that, or childhood remains illegal in Los Angeles.

Many thanks to Jeff Jacobberger for posting this municipal code to his Facebook page.

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There it is … take it! York Blvd. to cross into South Pasadena by March 31.

When the water from the Los Angeles Aqueduct was piped into town William Mullholland is reported to have said, “There is it … take it!” to the assembled crowd.

Well, the LADOT bikeways division, Councilman Jose Huizar, and the Bureau of Streets Services are giving us bike lanes … and we’re going to take them!

I heard it in person tonight at the Highland Park Neighborhood Council Meeting at the Senior Center on the corner of York and N. Figueroa St.: Tim Fremaux from the LADOT gave a rundown of what is planned. Some parking in front of Rite Aid and the 99 Cent store is going to go (they have huge parking lots already), car lanes across the bridge will be a single lane and then widen to two. The whole thing is being timed with the Bureau of Street Services replacement of asphalt on this stretch of road. The work will commence on March 27. Two days for asphalt demolition, two days for everything else (we’ll see – I’ve heard so many deadlines for installation come and go when it comes to bike lanes).

The great part about this is that South Pasadena, which lies just across the York Blvd. bridge, installed bike lanes a short time ago. There are a lot of people who live, work, and shop across this bridge and are forced to travel via a car due to lack of comfortable options. There are also a heck of a lot of Sunday bike riders on either side of the bridge who will be able to safely adventure, and spend, into neighboring communities. Culturally, this will allow for a deeper and more meaningful mixing of the classes and ethnic groups that comprise Highland Park, Garvanza, and South Pasadena.

There are also plans to install a flashing crosswalk along York at a treacherous intersection for pedestrians – but those will take some time as the work order for that is still in the works in city hall.

As of this writing, I was unable to get an official comment from anyone in South Pasadena’s City Manager’s office or political leadership. Maybe a more mainstream reporter can find out what South Pasadena thinks – I am fascinated to hear their reaction as I am sure this whole thing will come as a surprise to them. LA has a tough time letting its neighbors know anything about what it is doing.

So, the Wolfpack Hustle might be shut down thanks to Mike Feuer, the North Figueroa bike lanes stalled because of dithering by Gil Cedillo, MyFigueroa cycle tracks killed by Curren Price, and momentum for walking and cycling drowning in the apathy of council president Herb Wesson BUT in the land of true leadership on walking and bicycling access to communities in dire need of transportation options and active means of getting about town Jose Huizar’s 14th council district shines like a beacon, like a another city entirely. Yes, there is a future; and, yes, bike lanes are a part of it.

Still, I wish they were cycletracks.

p.s. Is it legal for me to buy the LADOT Bikeways Division beer?

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Tweet your Congress members for bike safety and equity TODAY!

From the League of American Bicyclists:

Tweet your Congress members for bike safety and equity TODAY!

The League is currently hosting the 2014 National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. — uniting the voices of bicyclists on Capitol Hill.

Maybe you’re here in D.C. with us. Maybe you weren’t able to make it — but you still want to be involved. Either way, make sure Congress hears bicyclists’ voices loud and clear today.

If you’re here at the Summit, we appreciate the time and energy you’re putting into Lobby Day today. For those of you at home, we want to make sure you’re in on the fun. Tweet your members of Congress and let them know that, just because you can’t be in Washington, doesn’t mean you don’t care about bicycling.

Find your elected officials’ Twitter handles at www.tweetcongress.org, and tell them to co-sponsor these important bills that increase the safety and equity of bicycling.

Here is the official “ask” tweet you can use:

.[@MemberX] Please co-sponsor these bills for bicycling http://bit.ly/1i63UyJ #nbs14

(Don’t forget the period at the start, if you want the public to see. Without it, only your member will see the message.)

It may feel like one tweet to you, but it makes a big difference. Thank you for your help!

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Great City Bikes for $299

A good city bike should be: tough, comfortable, useful, and inexpensive.

Beater Bike’s Roadster single speed gets 100% on the city bike test. It comes equipped with a front and rear rack, full mud guards, and a stable double armed kick stand. A perfect work horse, an excellent grocery shopper, a vehicle made for bar crawls and wild midnight adventures in the city. It does pretty well as as Sunday cruiser as well.

We have three in stock at $299 (plus tax).

The frame measures 51 cm with a reinforced seat post – making the bike good for people from 5’2″ all the way up to 6’2″. Come take one for a test ride and see

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Backsliding

Rumor has it that the Beverly Hills city council stood against bike lanes on the city’s rebuild of Santa Monica Boulevard next year, going, apparently, by the usual “gut feelings,” ie, invented reality, that has guided so many of its decisions of late. There’s probably still a chance, but it is more likely that the street will become a slightly decorative speedway designed to sluice cars through Botox Central at the usual murderous speeds that kill not only residents but their neighborhoods and businesses as well. We’ll see what develops in the next few weeks….

Meanwhile, back in LA, the Marathon Crash Race has been cancelled after city officials threatened organizer Roadblock with arrest if it went on. This “race’ actually used to be an official part of the event—I went on it myself, riding with my neighbor, some fifteen years ago, when it was somewhat ironically sponsored by the Acura car company.

After Lord Baron McCourt, new owner of the LA Marathon and apparently looking for someone fresh to bully now that he’s lost the Dodgers, cancelled the pre-dawn bike ride, Wolfpack Hustle ran it as an alleycat, which became a city-sanctioned event for a couple of years. But now, with our new allegedly “bike friendly” mayor, Eric Garcetti, and his krew in place, LA has become noticeably colder towards cyclists, as events surrounding the Glendale Hyperion Bridge, MyFigueroa, the Spring Street green bike lane, the North Figueroa bike lanes, and others attest.

The list gets longer day by day. It looks as though LA is going to backslide, like a drunk who tells himself that just a taste can’t possibly hurt after a few heady months of sobriety….

So it’s no time to slump into complacency. The fact is, that supporting bikes supports healthy communities, healthy residents, and a healthy economy, and that building for cars holds back almost every aspect of life and business in the entire city.

Let’s start by making sure that civic “leaders” know that when they vote for cars, they vote for poverty, sickness, high taxes, and crime, by showing them the numbers in studies that are widely available now, and which we should be emailing to council offices and quoting at public meetings at every opportunity. You can find a lot of these at this link, and most of them aren’t even the tedious reading you might expect.

But more than that, we’ve got to start thinking about running our own pro-bike, pro-small-business, pro-neighborhood candidates for every city office that comes up. Start thinking about people you know who could run, win, and then actually work within the system to help move LA forward. Let’s start small, with neighborhood councils, many of whom held elections just this week. Here’s the city’s Neighborhood Empowerment website; find your council and start going to meetings.

On your bike!

LA is backsliding and really needs your help….

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    Flying Pigeon LA
    3404 N. Figueroa St.
    Los Angeles, CA 90065
    213-909-8986
    info@flyingpigeon-la.com
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