After spending Thursday night with the LACBC at another successful Firefly Ball, I’m too exhausted to get today’s post online.
So lets take the day off. Go out and ride your bike, and come back tomorrow for an extra large Weekend Links.
After spending Thursday night with the LACBC at another successful Firefly Ball, I’m too exhausted to get today’s post online.
So lets take the day off. Go out and ride your bike, and come back tomorrow for an extra large Weekend Links.
Lately the bike news that seems to be increasing at an exponential rate, while find myself fighting to focus despite a change in medications that has me working at half speed.
Sunday it all caught up with me.
So let’s hit the reset button, to steal a phrase from our former Secretary of State. I’m taking today off in order to get some rest, and try to function like a normal person again.
That means no new post today.
Get out there and ride your bike, and I’ll see you bright and early on Tuesday.
The bill allows local jurisdictions to create diversion programs for traffic violations committed by non-motorists, such as bicyclists and pedestrians. Which means you could pay your penance with a few hours of class instead of a large fee.
But the real benefit is that it will provide a way to educate bike riders who may not be clear on the law, such as salmon cyclists who believe they’re riding the right way by facing traffic.
I’m told by police officers that many cops have been reluctant to ticket bike riders because they don’t think the relatively minor infractions are worth the large fees.
Of course, there are exceptions.
So you might be more likely to get a ticket when you roll that stop. But you could actually learn something from it.
That last link came courtesy of Cycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson, who’s been on a roll lately.
And I don’t mean with his new titanium pulley wheels.
He tells the story of accompanying a bike rider to court for a bogus ticket for riding inside the traffic lane, which is legal anywhere there is not a marked bike lane.
Anything right of the limit line is not considered part of the roadway, and you aren’t legally required to ride there, though you can ride on the shoulder or in the parking lane if you choose.
The single exception is that you are legally required to ride in a bike lane where one exists, though you’re allowed to exit it to avoid obstacles such as debris and parked cars, to pass another rider or pedestrian, or to make a left turn.
These kind of must-use laws should be repealed, as they have been in some more enlightened states; it should be up to the rider to decide where he or she feels safest, without second guessing from a cop who may not understand the many safety choices riders are forced to make.
Getting back to Seth, he finds the law on his side when he’s assaulted by a teenage ham and mustard-throwing car passenger, for a change.
He also pens a post dripping in sarcasm about a call to the courthouse on November 18th for the arraignment of a driver who aimed his car at a cyclist just for the hell of it.
And he’s hosting his own awards show at the Strand Brewing Company in Torrance next month, which should be a hell of a good time. If I win anything, I’ll expect someone to step up and speak about the plight of Native Americans on my behalf.
Seriously, Seth writes one of the best blogs on bicycling, here or anywhere else. Put it in your reading list, and make a point of checking in now and then, if not daily.
And I’m not just saying that to return the favor.
Mad Men producer Tom Smuts rode to the Emmys from his home in Santa Monica for the second time, accompanied by an entourage of actors and fellow producers, along with bike advocates and former pro cyclists, to send a clear message about everyday bicycling for anyone paying attention.
Peter Flax of the Hollywood Reporter went along for the ride.
Now if we can just get some of the many bicycling actors to join Ed Begley Jr in riding to next year’s Oscars.
Yes, I’m taking to you, Russell Crowe.
Not to mention Anne Hathaway, Patrick Dempsey, Liev Shreiber, Naomi Watts, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson and far too many others to single out.
Speaking of Peter Flax, the former Editor in Chief of Bicycling magazine offers a great overview of the current state of bicycling in the City of Angels for Los Angeles magazine. And pretty much nails it.
Which shouldn’t be too surprising for someone with his background.
Call it your must read for the day.
My understanding is he’ll be penning a regular column for the magazine, so let’s hope this is just the first of many.
Once again, CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo has blood on his hands.
A pedestrian was critically injured in a hit-and-run while trying to cross North Figueroa in a marked crosswalk Friday evening, in an area that would have undergone a road diet a couple year ago. Not just to install bike lanes, but to slow traffic and improve safety.
Instead, Cedillo arbitrarily cancelled the fully funded and paint-ready project for reasons known only to him. And personally guaranteed the street would remain one of the most dangerous in Los Angeles.
Nice work, councilman.
Copenhagenize sends word that you’re safer on a bike than on a sofa, at least in Denmark.
The Christian Science Monitor writes about the return of the world championships to the US, although a restaurant owner says the races are bad for business. And mixing the races with Civil War imagery? Probably not the best idea.
US women scored first and second in the under-23 junior women’s individual time trials at the world championships, while a Danish rider won the men’s title; the top American man finished 10th. WaPo looks at two young men competing in the U23 road races this week who could be the next superstars of American cycling.
American great Kristin Armstrong will attempt to cement her comeback from her latest retirement in today’s time trial; a podium spot would guarantee her a place on the US team for the Rio Olympics. But New Zealand’s top women’s time trial rider is out with a broken collarbone that refused to heal in time.
This is what the racers competing in the world championships might be riding if there were no rules limiting bicycle design. Thanks to Michael Eisenberg for the heads-up.
Not even a closed-off race course is safe from intoxicated drivers, as a Richmond driver with a long list of traffic offenses led police on a brief high-speed chase after somehow driving onto the worlds course; not surprisingly, police say he was under the influence of some unspecified substance.
A Westside Urban Forum panel tackles the question of healthy communities; bikes are just part of a very big picture.
Feeder rides are already starting to form for next month’s CicLAvia. This one from USC looks to be both educational and fun as they travel up from campus along the coming MyFig corridor.
A San Diego cyclist looks for the hit-and-run driver who nearly severed her foot.
It’s the age-old battle of bike lanes versus parking spots in Chula Vista, as businesses worry about the loss of parking for bike lanes that would help get riders off the sidewalk.
A Riverside welder turns discarded bike parts into art.
Cyclists from Santa Clara and San Mateo counties call for Vision Zero to eliminate traffic deaths in their area.
A majority of San Francisco supervisors support allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as yields; however, they can’t change state law, and the non-binding ordinance will need the support of the SFPD to have any effect.
The bike-riding ranger of Mount Diablo State Park has retired after 24 years of rescuing riders and ticketing scofflaws.
Chico makes a well-intentioned proposal to stop bike thefts by banning ghost riding and dismantling bikes in public. Nice idea, but it would also stop people from fixing their bikes in the driveway or riding home with a friend’s bike.
Protected bike lanes are popping up in unexpected places. A writer for the Green Lane Project says they’re are even more useful in snowy climates. Which is not a problem we’re likely to have anytime soon.
Caught on video: Dashcam view of a cyclist getting hit by a Seattle police car after the rider went through a red light; the cop was using lights and siren at the time.
Sales go up nearly nine percent after Salt Lake City installs a protected bike lane, though local merchants credit the overall street improvements; business in one store jumped 20% when a 20 mph speed limit went into effect.
What good is an Albuquerque bike lane if drivers are allowed to park there illegally?
Chicago’s bike plan improves equity after all.
New York’s mayor says he believes in bike lanes and they should be “well established” in all five boroughs, even though installation has slowed under his administration. If you say you don’t believe in bike lanes, does another one die?
A writer for the New York Times says bicycling doesn’t need to be a collision course, citing the need for better infrastructure, more alert motorists and safety-conscious cyclists.
More proof cyclists are tough: After a New Jersey man is shot in the back while riding with his nephew on his handlebars, he keeps going until he gets to a friend’s house.
The DuPont manager who killed a Delaware cyclist in a hit-and-run admits he was on the wrong side of the road, admits to drinking even though he swears he wasn’t drunk, and thought he just ran over some tree branches. You’d have to be pretty damn drunk to mistake a bike rider for a tree branch.
The Birmingham AL bikeshare system scheduled to start this week has been delayed due to inclement weather; a Taiwan typhoon prevented production of the bikes.
A 23-year old New York woman is taking a solo trip around the globe to collect stories about climate change.
Montreal proposes a revamp to its code for bicycling; one without mandatory helmets, unlike other Canadian cities, and allowing cyclists to roll through stop signs if no other traffic is present. But drunk and distracted biking is out.
When is a Canadian bike rack not just a bike rack? When it looks like a swastika.
Caught on video: After a British cyclist gets buzzed by a delivery van, the driver apparently tries, and fails, to do the same thing with the car stopped just ahead.
A Parisian writer offers lessons learned from learning to ride a bike at the ripe old age of 29 using the city’s bikeshare system.
An Indian cyclist makes a stop in Cameroon on his round-the-world journey to promote HIV/AIDS awareness; it’s the 106th country he’s visited since 2004.
A South African cyclist spends two years riding his bike 25,000 miles to see the rugby World Cup. Only to watch his team suffer the greatest upset in the history of the event.
Don’t argue with a man who nearly runs you over while looking for his cat, or you might both be charged with disorderly conduct after he whacks you with his cane. We may have to deal with angry LA drivers, but at least we don’t have to worry about kangaroos.
And if you’re going to pull up in your car and demand money from a bike rider, make sure he’s not a plain clothes cop first.
One last note. I really wanted to attend Thursday’s discussion on what Vision Zero means for LA, with LADOT maven Seleta Reynolds and Leah Shahum of the Vision Zero Network.
But it just happens to fall on the 30th anniversary of my 29th my birthday, so I’m going to be spending that night with my family, instead.
If you’re planning to attend and would like to cover it in a guest post for BikinginLA, just let me know.
Not mine. My dog’s.
The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind of vet visits, unplanned pre-dawn walks walks, and the scent of second-hand kibble wafting through our apartment.
Not to mention trying to comfort a sick puppy. And explaining to a hungry Corgi who hasn’t kept her last two meals down why she isn’t getting the next one.
So please forgive today’s absence.
Hopefully there will be good news from the vet today. And we’ll be back tomorrow.
In one of the most horrifying attacks in recent memory, a Los Angeles man may have kept his bike, but lost one of his thumbs.
And nearly his life.
According to multiple sources, a 43-year old man was walking — or possibly riding — his bicycle near the intersection of West 12th Street and South Burlington Avenue around 12:30 am Sunday, when he was attacked by four men who tried to steal his bike and wallet.
One of them hacked at him with a two-foot machete, resulting in a severe cuts to both arms, as well as a fractured skull, in addition to having his left thumb cut off; early reports suggest he was likely to lose his right hand, as well.
Despite his injuries, he somehow managed to run a few blocks to get help; at last report, he was hospitalized in critical condition. However, he was able to keep both his bike and his money.
The attackers were described only as young adult men, possibly 18 – 21 years old, who fled in a green four-door sedan. According to police, the attack did not appear to be gang related.
For some reason, the victim was initially described as an 18-year old man before police corrected the report.
Let’s hope he recovers quickly, and that police catch his attackers.
And let this be a reminder that no bike is worth your life.
Brace yourself for bad news.
A man was found dead on Hemet biking trail on Sunday, hours after a 33-year old mountain biker was reported missing.
The victim has not been identified yet, and here’s no confirmation yet that it’s the missing cyclist. But it doesn’t look good.
Hopefully, we’ll learn more soon.
Update: Authorities have identified the man found dead as 33-year old Hemet resident Shane Gainer, but for some reason, won’t confirm if he is the missing cyclist. No cause of death has been determined.
On Sunday, my wife and I made a short trip to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market at Ivar and Selma, just a few blocks from the Hollywood and Vine Metro station.
Sans bikes, since she doesn’t ride. And without the Corgi, since even well-behaved dogs aren’t allowed under LA County health rules.
The purpose of our journey was to find the elusive Bicycle Coffee Company.
Elusive, because the LA branch at Santa Monica and Western is only open Friday though Sunday. And despite our best efforts, we hadn’t been able to get there when the doors were open.
It took some searching to find their Nishiki-towed bicycle cart — yes, there’s a reason for their name — hidden back behind the other vendors near the Arclight, nee Cinerama, Theater, and just in front of Umami Burgers.
We left with a couple bags of what is reputed to be some of the area’s best coffee, each accompanied by a free cup of joe with purchase.
And the knowledge that next time, we can just order our beans and they’ll deliver by bike within a roughly 10-mile radius.
On the way out, I stopped to admire a bike belonging to one of the security guards with the BID Patrol at the farmer’s market.
And found myself talking with retired LAPD officer and dedicated cyclist Jim Rosales, who was happy to point out the 29” wheels and disc brakes, as well as the rear rack for the panniers he usually uses but decided to leave at home that day.
We talked about his volunteer work patrolling the Santa Monica mountains, the road bike he rides in his spare time, and the fixie he’s currently building. As well as his favorite bike shops, including the Performance Bike his brother-in-law wrenches for in Pasadena.
Then just as we were about to leave, I noticed the pink handgrips on his partner’s bike. So he called her over, and fellow BID security officer Cortney Kanagi was happy to show us her matching pink handcuffs and the pink grip on her handgun.
Proof that you can be feminine while riding a bike.
Or subduing a suspect.
But maybe not the way we expected.
LACBC board member Patrick Pascal sends word of what may be the city’s first real bike share system, which opened recently in Downtown LA.
No, not the Live Nation system promised by then-Mayor Villaraigosa what seems like ages ago.
And no, not the one promised by LA Metro, which is supposed to open sometime in 2016, even though a vendor hasn’t been selected yet. And even though it may or may not be compatible with the upcoming system opening soon in Santa Monica.
This one offers a single location, inside the office tower at 515 S. Flower. And membership is limited to the bankers, lawyers and other professionals who work within.
According to the sign inside, they just need to present their security badge to check out a bike, complete with optional helmet, for a free three hour ride through the city.
I don’t know about the men and women who work there, but I can go a long way in three hours.
Although presumably, the bikes will be used mostly to run errands, run out to a quick meeting or go to lunch in the immediate area.
But whatever they’re used for, it’s nice to see the building’s operators step up and provide a useful service for its tenants, without contributing to Downtown traffic.
Maybe some other businesses will follow suit.
And maybe, just maybe, we’ll actually see a public bike share open up one of these days.
Because it’s damn hard to ride promises.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
— Dr. Martin Luther King
Enjoy your holiday — assuming you get one — but take a few minutes to remember why we celebrate it. Then do something about it.
I’ll see you back here tomorrow.
When I started this website over six years ago, the first decision I made was that it was not about me, but rather, about bicycling. If I did write about myself, it was in the service of a larger point.
Today, I’m breaking that rule.
If there’s a larger message to come out of this, I don’t know what it is.
I have struggled with whether to write this. But I have been open in discussing my diabetes up to this point; to not finish the story seems somehow dishonest.
And it affects my ability to maintain this site and bring you the bike news you’ve come to expect.
So if you’re interested, read on. If not, no hard feelings; feel free to skip it and come back another time.
Either way, we’ll be back to discussing bikes in the next post. And you can find today’s Morning Links here.
Let’s talk pain.
As a long-time cyclist, I thought I knew what it meant to suffer.
From the pain of struggling to make it up a tough climb or somehow make it back home when you ran out of gas miles before. To nursing bruised and broken bones and flesh, or debriding a massive case of road rash.
But nothing I’ve been through in 30-plus years of adult riding — or anything that came before — prepared me for what I’ve experienced this past summer, and the months since.
But at least now it has a name.
Diabetic Amyotrophy, to be exact.
Which means I beat the odds once again. First by developing diabetes without any of the usual risk factors other than a family history. Then developing a form of diabetic neuropathy that affects just 1% of adult diabetics.
I should play the lottery more often.
Unlike most medical conditions, it’s easy to point to when it began. According to my calendar, I took my last recreational bike ride in mid-June; my last ride for transportation at the end of July, as the pain started taking over my life and forcing me off my bike.
Surprisingly — both to me and my doctors — it came as I was gaining control over my diabetes.
When I was first diagnosed in April, I had an A1C — the key marker of diabetes, measuring blood sugar levels over a three-month period — of 14.5. A figure that was, quite literally, off the charts, as I discovered recently when I noticed the graph on my doctor’s wall only goes up to 12.5.
In fact, one of my doctors — I have a virtual peloton of physicians these days — said the biggest surprise was I hadn’t ended up in diabetic coma. Or worse.
No wonder I’d felt like crap.
Yet, despite being repeatedly told it would be impossible, I was able to bring my blood sugar back down to normal levels less than three months after my diagnoosis. My most recent A1C was just 5.8 — a level that would be on the high end of the normal range for a non-diabetic.
And through diet and medication alone, without having to go on insulin.
In fact, low blood sugar is a more of a problem these days, as I have to carefully monitor myself to keep from crashing.
As my diabetes improved, though, the pain increased. Until it became the single defining factor affecting my life.
My doctor advised me to just wait it out, guessing that it was my body’s reaction to lowering my blood sugar too far too fast. And that it would simply go away in time.
Instead, it continued to get worse. So I finally got a referral to a physician specializing in diabetes, and was lucky to find one who takes the Sherlock Holmes approach to diagnostics.
As in, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
So we began a months-long journey through a wide range of exotic blood and neurological tests in an attempt to discover what it wasn’t. Including some very scary things.
And once everything else had been considered and dismissed, we were left with this:
Diabetic amyotrophy, also known as proximal diabetic neuropathy, diabetic lumbosacral radiculoplexus neuropathy, and diabetic polyradiculoneuropathy, occurs in patients with diabetes (more likely in those with type II than type I). It usually involves weakness followed by wasting of muscles, and excruciating pain in the muscles of the thigh, hip, and buttocks.
Bingo. Although excruciating is putting it mildly.
What it doesn’t mention, though, is that the pain comes in three distinct flavors.
The first is a constant burning or freezing sensation in my feet, like they’re alternately on fire or encased in a block of ice.
Next comes uncontrollable muscle spasms in my calves and thighs lasting hours at a time, and resulting in a sensation like the lactic acid build-up that follows a hard ride. But many times worse.
Finally, I’m subject to intense, sudden shocks that come with no warning, strong enough to drop a grown man — namely me — to his knees. And striking anywhere from the waist down.
And I do mean anywhere.
Yes, even there.
You know those movies where they torture someone by shocking him with a car battery? My body doesn’t need any help to torture me. I can do that all by myself, without the need for external electricity.
The pain is constant, without relief, ranging from moderate to, by far, the worst pain I’ve ever felt, feared or imagined. Sometimes it’s just one of the three forms, at other times, all three at once.
And it’s worse at night. Much worse.
Which meant I spent most of my summer on the couch; awake all night from the pain, trying, usually unsuccessfully, not to wake my wife in the next room with my muffled cries of pain. Then curled up in a ball all day desperately trying to get the sleep I didn’t get the night before.
Relief, when it finally came, was in the form of a powerful anti-seizure medication used off-label for neuropathic pain. But it would only help for a day or two, at best, as my doctor slowly ratcheted up the dosage.
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that it finally reached a level that offered any significant help. It doesn’t make the pain go away, but on a good day, helps bring it down to a more tolerable level.
Not that there are many of those.
Or more precisely, there are bad days, and less bad days.
On better days, I can function almost normally for a few hours, though even just going shopping with my wife is enough to wear me out. Going out on my own, unsupervised, requires cutting back on the amount of medication I take, and accepting the pain that comes with it.
And overdoing it means a relentless bout of pain that can last for days; it took over a week to get it back under control after spending just a few hours at the LACBC’s Firefly Ball recently.
There’s also a fine line between taking enough medication to control the pain and being unable to function. Too little and the pain knocks me on my ass; too much and I’m a virtual zombie until it finally wears off.
And even then, there’s no guarantee it will be enough to overcome the pain.
As a result, I’ve been unable to work, since I can’t commit to being anywhere, or being conscious enough to meet a deadline. Or guarantee that my head will be clear enough to be productive or that the pain won’t drive me back to bed.
Not that I have work to do. In fact, I haven’t worked a single day since the onset of my diabetes towards the end of last year.
Or an hour, for that matter.
It’s also kept me from making the changes I’ve wanted to this website; usually, it’s all I can do just to keep it going every day.
Or almost every day, as you may have noticed. Some days I’m just not up to the simple act of pounding out a new post.
And it’s kept me off my bike for nearly four months. While I’m determined to get back to riding, I don’t know when that will happen. Or if I can ever get back to riding the way I used to.
My life is now centered, not on the things I used to do, but the pills I have to take.
I’m finally starting to accept that.
Up to now, I’ve been fighting to overcome my pain and get back to normal. Now I’ve finally accepted that isn’t going to happen.
This is my new normal.
I have to accept that this is a chronic, and possibly permanent, condition. It may go away on its own someday, just as unexpectedly as it came on. Or it may be something I have to deal with all day, every day, for the rest of my life.
Fortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that I’m stronger than I thought I was. And I can endure more than I thought was humanly possible.
My challenge now is to find a way to live my life, regardless of what’s going on with my body. What that means, I have no idea.
But I’m looking forward to finding out.
And other people have overcome far worse.