Actual Usefulness–OMG What Next?

I saw something last Sunday in our little neighbor to the west that impressed me mightily…. I was in Santa Monica hunting down a couple of bags of Caffe Luxxe coffee beans as a gift for my wife when I passed by a Breeze bikeshare doc.

This is not an uncommon occurrence in SaMo—the docks are everywhere—but what particularly impressed me was that this dock was in the middle of a purely residential area, surrounded by blocks of low-rise apartment buildings. Right at 4th and Washington; that’s it in the photo above.

This makes sense—if you want to make bikeshare a viable replacement to car trips, users have to be able to start from home, or at least a short walk from home. (In my neighborhood, the Miracle Mile, drivers often park their cars a ten-minute trot from the front door. How about bikeshare, here, to help folks transition to transit?)

I haven’t yet seen too much of that from Metro Bike Share, the system serving the City of Los Angeles. There is one very large dock in front of the glitzy Promenade Towers complex at 2nd and Figueroa, just outside the famous tunnel, and it seems to be well-used, but it also seems to be an exception. I hope I am wrong, but I haven’t yet seen much attention to purely residential placements of bikeshare racks.

SaMo’s homely Breeze dock in front of the sort of places everyday folks can afford is exactly what all bikeshare systems need. SaMo’s are on a street with bike lanes—but that seems to be about half the streets in that city. The Promenade’s dock is also on a street with bikelanes, though if you’re heading west on 2nd they disappear within less than a mile. In the other direction, the tunnel takes you to the busy and very crowded center city, as well as Grand Central Market and loads of other destinations, so what we have here would be a good model for other, high-density but not wealthy parts of LA. I will dare to feel optimistic.

Even more so because this morning I saw a Metro Bike Share dock across the street from Evans Adult School—another good placement. At last bikeshare is getting away from the parks-and-offices-only placement paradigm.

Who knows? Given a few more progressive City Council members, and LA, the region’s 800-pound gorilla, might be able to lead the change to a cleaner and more equitable future…instead of always playing catch-up.


Will North Fig Return from the Dead?

North Fig may be back from the dead, it seems. For a long time, the long-planned (and approved, and funded, and…) road diet for NELA’s main drag has languished, treated with malign neglect by DC1’s malignant Gil Cedillo, and considered, if at all, with resignation by our city’s battered bike advocacy world. Only Joe Bray-Ali has kept it in the news much at all, with this blog and his Fig4All campaign….

But now, The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition seems poised to make some sort of statement on the issue, though what it might entail, we don’t know yet. Could be a bold push, could be a timid accommodation. But, we have a chance to find out!

The LACBC’s Tamika Butler has announced a “Meetup with Tamika” at the Arroyo Seco library, the handsome riverstone building on Fig just west of York Boulevard, and North Figueroa will be one of the subjects to be discussed. This is scheduled for Thursday, December 8th, at half-past six. Yes, two days from this posting….

This is not, then, a meeting to miss if you’re a NELA stakeholder with any interest in bicycling specifically, and transportation issues generally. It will be a chance to let the county’s self-proclaimed bike advocacy leadership know what it is you, as NELA residents, want from them when they march into city offices on your behalf.

The event page shows only nine RSVPs so far; let’s see if we can make it ninety, with the grassroots advocates who have been working so hard on the North Fig Road Diet representing the community viewpoint. We don’t want two-block demos; we want the full-length road diet that the Council approved and funded years ago, before Cedillo’s ascension!

Be there, and make sure your voice is heard.

Meetup with Tamika
December 08, 2016 at 6:30pm – 8pm
Arroyo Seco Library
6145 N Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90042

With Joe’s campaign heating up, this is a good time to make another push for the North Fig Road Diet.

Because North Fig is a Near-Death Experience for every user now, even those in cars….


Building the Future, One Slice at a Time

Of course you want Flying Pigeon’s heart and soul, Joe Bray-Ali, to win the District 1 City Council seat this spring. After all. not only is he the “Bike Guy,” but he’s so much more: the “Safe Streets for All” guy, the “Thriving Small Businesses” guy, the “Development without Displacement” guy, the “Parks for People” guy, the “Strong Local Communities” guy, the “Good Schools” guy….

You might wonder how he’s going to do all this; you might have a few questions for him. Is he an easy guy to talk to? Yes, he is, when you can catch him. He’s out knocking on doors a lot these days, but you don’t have to stay home waiting him to turn up on your doorstep. Because he’s inviting you to his door, tomorrow, in fac. And he’ll even feed you pizza!

Check it out: You—yes, you!—are invited to a Pizza & Petition Party at campaign HQ tomorrow,Wednesday, November 30th, right in Cypress Park at 7pm, at 3346 N. Figueroa St.

Be there, and Joe will feed you body and soul…and you’ll get a chance to help him line up the petition signatures he needs to qualify for matching funds from the City—something that’ll really help move his campaign along.

Here’s the announcement page to keep you in the loop:


And if you miss that one, on December 10th, there’s a Joe4cd1 Campaign Party!

Same place, 3346 N. Figueroa St., at 6pm this time, and you can party on till 11pm. Meet Joe, question him, challenge him, dance with him, build a better future with Joe Bray-Ali.

It’s about time we took over now, isn’t it?

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Ending the Runaround

Here’s a little something for Josef Bray-Ali to take with him to the city council when (wth your help) he takes over the District 1 seat currently occupied by Dr. Donothing, ie Gil Cedillo. It doesn’t address bicycling directly, but it would benefit active transport since it would minimize traffic on local streets in many high-density neighborhoods by eliminating most drivers’ perceived necessity to cruise the ‘hood in frantic search for a parking spot. It would also reduce resistance to road diets and other street rationalizations that might call for the “sacrifice of a few (tax-subsidized) curbside parking spots.

I developed this with my own Miracle Mile neighborhood in mind, and hope to shepherd it through our community council, on whose board I sit. However, it would work in most of the more populated neighborhoods of the city, which generally include extensive commercial areas, and would include Chinatown, Pico-Union, Downtown, and parts of Lincoln Heights in District 1.

Shared Parking Plan

Lack of parking is one of the major complaints I hear from residents in my neighborhood, ans fear of lack of parking is one of the reasons most frequently given for opposing higher-density development, even in TOD areas.

Yet most commercial areas actually have abundant parking, as has been shown in survey after survey. The problem is, most of it is hoarded by its private owners. So parking lots and parking structures remain half-empty all day, and almost entirely empty all night, while residents living a block or tow away, or even right next door, cruise needlessly round and round looking for an unencumbered street parking space.

This piles up vehicle miles traveled of the worst sort, for they serve no purpose at all, and it stokes resistance to healthy development.

Many other cities have begun to experiment with “shared parking,” wherein owners of private parking spaces offer excess capacity to the public for a fee. There is at least one building in our neighborhood that already does this, and before the lot behind the a nearby office tower was developed, the back two rows were rented to residents.

I suggest that our council develop a proposal asking that a formal protocol be developed to promote shared parking in high-density districts such as ours. The essential elements would be this:

1) A formal inventory of all off-street parking in a proposed shared parking district.

2) A city-maintained clearinghouse for parking data, matching verified residents with available parking.

3) Guidelines for fees to be charged, so that parking operators (who are often not the building owners) would be assured of making a reasonable profit that they would share with parking owners, so that everyone have a stake in the process.

4) A city-backed liability insurance plan protecting parking owners from claims brought by parking customers.

5) Persuasive materials detailing benefits of parking and building owners of the plan, such as:

a) Increased income to building owners and parking operators
b) Guaranteed customer flow twice a day, supporting retail tenants
c) Increased security from added neighborhood foot traffic in parking structures, and from watchful eyes of residential parking customers in buildings adjacent to lots they are likely to use

This is an incremental step towards a more sustainable neighborhood, increasing physical and social safety, reducing the need to cruise for a parking spot, and boosting business income in the area.

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Taking Back the Future

I hope you noticed, amid the sound and fury of the national campaigns, that Measure M passed in Los Angeles County.

That means an extra half percent of sales tax for the next forty years or so, all to be dedicated to transportation. Yes, your latte may cost you two pennies more, but we’ll get a healthier, more accessible Metro system, better sidewalks and bike paths, and even a bit of road repair done.

This is a very good thing, because Federal transportation support may dry up during the darkness to come. Sure, the Unnamable One promised infrastructure spending, but if it happens at all—given the draconian nature of the tax cuts promised—it’s likely we won’t be able to build so much as a plywood tollbooth with whatever funds are left after fattening the military and the security state.

Assuming we’ll still be permitted to travel, we’ll have to pay for it ourselves&heliip;and that is what we’ve chosen to do in LA. Like grown-up polities everywhere, we’ve assessed a tax on ourselves for our collective benefit.

The Teabaggers who engineered this coup want to take us back to medieval times, when starving peasants cowered around the lord’s fancy castle, waiting for a crumb or a whipping. Those knights of old that seem so romantic? They were the SS of the wealthy, who considered themselves anointed by a god that Jesus sure would never have recognized as Dad.

LA didn’t go along. We passed measures supporting not only transportation choice, but affordable housing all around and extensive help for our homeless neighbors.

But, we have to make certain the money is well-spent. And a big influence on how it is spent comes from the City Council. And too much of the City Council suffers from its own medieval mindset.

So I’m going to remind you once again: support Joe Bray-Ali’s campaign to take over the Council District 1 seat in March. Donate some cash, chase down signatures, walk door-to-door with Joe. And vote!

Don’t know whether you’re in District 1? Put your address in at this page and you’ll find out.

Want to learn more about Joe’s campaign and how to help? Got to

See you in the future!

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Regroup, Re-Form, and Renew

I worked sixteen hours at a polling place yesterday, and I didn’t even get a stupid t-shirt.

Instead, I got watch the electoral college system throw another election to the loser of the popular vote.

Still, Clinton’s majority was paper-thin; there are plenty of folks in the US who need to feel that they are better than some “other,” be the designated underclass immigrants, blacks, queer folk, or just plain liberals. Trump’s fervid acolytes have at various times promised to rid Ammurica of liberals, Jews, and immigrants, and in fact I qualify on all those counts…but I promise I won’t make it easy for them if they try.

Still, even if the popular vote was just barely for the more-humane candidate, it still represents the good in the country. Bernie Sanders and Tim Kaine are still senators, and true-blue California is still the world’s seventh-largest economy. Measure M passed in LA. Black and queer folk and immigrants will not cower in the shadows hoping to weather the storm. Progressives will still fight. We have a good base. Now is the time to put in work.

The hard right was willing to spend decades gerrymandering districts to ensure conservative domination of congress. It is time for the rest of us—the small but real majority of the United states—to spend our days and dollars building a new progressive coalition, one that will take the country forward. Start local, start small. Don’t forget that Bernie began in local politics, and still works from his base in Vermont.

Don’t sulk, don’t fret, don’t run: get to work on neighborhood-level campaigns such as Joe Bray-Ali’s and Jesse Creed’s runs for City Council, campaigns that could change the way we work and live in the most powerful city, in the most powerful state, in the most powerful nation on this weary Earth.

The time is now. As the old saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

See you on the road to the future…. Don’t be late.

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Stripped Down for Racing

You can’t help but notice that the Flying Pigeon LA website looks a bit more spare these days: and it is. The shop is closed for at least the duration of the campaign—not the national campaign that winds down in a week (we hope, though these days you never know), but the local campaign to put the Flying Pigeon’s own Joe Bray-Ali in the city council, representing District 1.

Accordingly, this blog will focus more on campaign issues as they relate to bicycling, discussing the candidates’ positions on cycling, transit, street safety, planning, and more, and reminding you of events that combine urban cycling and city policy in ways big and small. (See last week’s post for an example.)

Meanwhile, let me remind to read Steve Lopez’s summary of how just one developer manipulated the city council through what you might call a “distributed denial of ethics rules” attack, using proxy donors to “convince” the council that City Planning, the Planning Commission, and the site’s heavy industrial should be ignored so he could build his project.

Sure, you’d think LA was already too friendly to mega-developers, but apparently the developers don’t think so…. CD1’s Cedillo figures in only a minor way in this particular scandal. but we know that his contributors are almost entirely from outside the district, and heavily larded with real-estate interests, so…..

So it’s time for some honest faces in the council chamber. You’ll be hearing more about one of them right here, week after week.

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Post-election Purge and Cleanse: Saturday Special!

Let’s face it: no matter whom you plan to vote for on November 8th (or 28th), you wont’ be pleased with the result, even if they win.

But another election’s coming up in March of 2017, when you’ll have the chance to vote for real change at the neighborhood level. After all, you can’t have missed my endless reiteration of Joe Bray-Ali’s candidacy and the good his winning would bring to local streets, local businesses, and local lives.

But you still need a break from electioneering, and what could better give you that han a friendly local bike ride, sponsored by your friendly local library!

Yes, the Arroyo Seco branch of the Los Angeles Public Library is hosting an Open House on Saturday, November 12th, and a spart of the festivities they’ve organized their own very first “Community Bike Ride,” a three-and-a-half mile tour of Highland Park along quiet side streets relatively unencumbered by car traffic or hills.

Get to know parts of your neighborhood you might have missed while grinding down our raucous boulevards, meet people you never knew were your friends, and learn about the programs and resources the Arroyo Seco branch keeps on hand for your own personal enlightenment.

Meet at 10am on the 12th in the library parking lot behind the classic river-rock building at 6135 N. Figueroa.

Chances are pretty high that Joe will be there himself, with his beautiful wife and daughter, so you can, if you feel up to it, meet the man who could remake LA into a human-scale city if you vote him in next March.

Or just enjoy the ride and a world of new friends….

(And forgive the crappy scan below, which is my fault….)

Library Bike Ride in Highland Park

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Duty Now for the Future

“Duty Now for the Future” was the title of a Devo album from way back in ’79, and of course it was redolent of the cynicism and pure snark that pervaded much of New Wave.

But we can look at the phrase a little differently today, now that Bernie Sanders has shown us that the “Audacity of Hope” Obama spoke of can really make things better…if we raise the level of audacity.

Sanders really did fail to gain the nomination; there was no fix. He says so himself. But he got close. Just as Trump’s swell of race-driven nationalism (and when have we seen that before?) exposed the morass of fascism that underlies much of the US mindscape, so Sanders’s progressive populism showed us that our diverse polity has stronger urges towards compassion than towards hate.

Hillary Clinton, however much, and for whatever reasons, you may dislike her, will keep us from going backwards eighty years and to another country. Meanwhile, we can work on the future—a future in which the human scale supersedes the economy of scale.

This future is beginning to blossom in the most unlikely of places: Germany—a country with a history of militarism , fascism, and corporate domination, but one now the world leader in modern environmentalism. A country which is likely to pass a law banning all new internal-combustion vehicles by 2030, and one which recently ran a full day almost entirely on renewable electricity. Clean energy is real and routine in Germany.

It’ snot coincidental that the Green Party holds significant power in Germany. And they got there by running candidates for councils and mayor’s office in towns large and small for decades.

Doing the groundwork, in other words.

Here’s where you come in. Because “third party” candidates will get nowhere nationally till they get somewhere locally. And you’ve got one running for City Council right here in your own front yard. (You may have encountered him literally in your own front yard in recent weeks!)

Joe Bray-Ali, owner of the Flying Pigeon bike shop, former white-hat developer, once an aide to an Assembly member, and now candidate for City Council, is running in District 1, which he’s called home for over a decade.

A true progressive, champion of local businesses and neighborhood empowerment, safe streets and transportation diversity advocate, and probably the one soul who knows the LA Municipal Code better than anyone else.

You want a future that belongs to neither the pinstripes nor the brownshirts? Bray-Ali is your man. But he won’t get into the council chambers unless you vote for him.

Look at his campaign website, and you’ll see why you want him to win.

So get ready to vote for the next four years in November…and for the next forty in March, when the city votes for local offices.

And sling Joe a bit of cash if you can. Or better yet, volunteer, hit the streets, and change the world.

One council seat at a time.

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Misplaced Opportunity

I’ve been taking a bit more transit than usual these days, as a bit of a change of pace from pedaling the Brompton absolutely everywhere.

(My changes of pace, by the way, never involve a private motor car, which I drive for or five times a year under marital duress; I’ve put in enough miles behind the windshield—that is to say, over a quarter-million or so—to know exactly what I’m missing by avoiding the driver’s seat, and it is absolutely nothing. Physical and emotional stultification just don’t tickle my innards….)

So there I was on the Wilshire Rapid, making good time to my dentist’s office in SaMo, when we crossed Westwood Boulevard. And of course the intersection hosted a lineup of people on bikes, waiting to proceed to UCLA. A cyclist had just gotten off the bus, presumably for the same purpose; bikes were rolling up and down Wilshire ; and the bike racks around the intersection were full to overflowing.

It naturally brought to mind the lack of bike lanes connecting UCLA with the new Expo Line station at Westwood. This vacuity comes to us, of course, courtesy of chairwarmer District 5 council member Paul Koretz, who has been kowtowing so vigorously to a cabal of Cheviot Hills homeowners that he probably needs a live-in chiropractor. The Chevioteers failed in their attempt to block the entire Expo Line—yes, they tried to hold the entire western half of LA County hostage to their fear of “those people” crowding onto the train to steal their porch decks—but cyclists are an easier target than ethnic groups, especially since “cyclist” is often (in white pseudo-suburbia) a code word for “dark.” Saving car lanes and parking was the ostensible excuse, but that excuse flew out the window when Ryan Snyder presented a bike lane plan that removed no car lanes or parking, cleverly entitled the “Remove Nothing Plan.”

“Remove Nothing went nowhere. Koretz and his puppeteers ignored it, and Koretz went further, saying he would permit no study to be made of any plan including bikeways of any sort on the southern portion of Westwood.

People will be riding bicycles on Westwood anyway, and probably slowing traffic in a way they wouldn’t with a bikeway in place. Angelenos old and young, of every shade, will want to get from the Expo Line to UCLA, and, of course, the many delectable restaurants along the way. Fewer will choose to do so lacking a bikeway; a number of those will opt to use cars, further clogging traffic. Stoopid, ain’t it? Opportunity misplaced.

I won’t call it a lost opportunity, though, because I think we can find it again, and soon; it hasn’t been lost, but simply hidden from view for a while. After all, Jesse Creed is running against Koretz for the council seat in CD5, and he is a strong supporter of transportation choices, including bikeways. He himself endeavors to pedal anywhere within a two-mile radius of home.

Remember that, come March and the election. If you live in CD5, Creed’s the real deal.

Naturally, if you live in CD1, the home district of this blog, its Joe Bray-Ali, running to retire “Roadkill Gil” Cedillo.

If you live anywhere else, send a little cash to these two gentlemen. Two more progressive voices added to Huizar’s on the city council might be enough to transform LA. No more rubber stamp votes against the future! Bray-Ali and Creed for city council!

Grass roots vs. trickle down: which side are you on?

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