Archive for General

LA bike rider attacked with machete, bad news from Hemet, plus Bicycle Coffee and pleasant private bike cops

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. 

………

Bicycle-Coffee-1Now let’s switch to a happier subject.

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.

Bicycle-Coffee-3On the other hand, we knew they were at the farmer’s market every Sunday, just a short subway ride way from our apartment.

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.

Rosales-1And 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.

Kanagi-bikeAll in all, a pleasant talk with another rider. And one more example of a conversation that would never have happened behind the wheel.

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.

Kanagi-2

Bike share unexpectedly opens in DTLA

All photos by Patrick Pascal

All photos by Patrick Pascal

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.

515-S-Flower-Bikes-3This 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.

515-S-Flower-bikes-2

 

Do something today to make the world a better place

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.

 

Today’s post, in which I talk pain and what the hell is wrong with me

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.

 

Morning Links: What DTLA can learn from NYC, guilty plea in Fallbrook hit-and-run, new distracted driving app

Local

What Downtown LA can learn from New York City — starting with road diets and pedestrian plazas.

Metro wants your help to plan possible bike share locations.

Setting an example by what you wear when you ride.

The LA Times endorses closing a loophole that allows hit-and-run drivers to buy their way out of criminal charges.

The LACBC offers photos from Sunday’s Hot August Bikes at Amoeba Records.

The sixth edition of the Santa Monica Museum of Art’s popular Tour de Arts rolls this Sunday.

 

State

Laguna Beach city councilmembers get on their bikes to get a feel for bike safety.

Anaheim opens up for comments on the city’s proposed bicycle master plan.

San Diego cyclists plan to recreate last week’s ill-fated Fiesta Island ride that sent several riders to the hospital, thanks to an allegedly drunk and possibly high wrong way driver.

A Fallbrook driver pleads guilty to a hit-and-run that seriously injured a cyclist.

 

National

Not surprisingly, the more cities invest in bicycling infrastructure, the more they get out of it in the long term.

New heads-up display app gives drivers something to pay attention to. Other than what’s on the road in front of them, that is.

How to claim your place among the wealthy elite on bikes.

Bike lawyer Bob Mionske rebuts arguments that call for licensing cyclists.

The 18-year old Aspen kid who beat Lance on a mountain bike rides his first year as a road pro, while Taylor Phinney is back in BMC colors, albeit far from ready to race.

A Pittsburgh shopper goes on strike against his favorite store until they install bike racks.

A scofflaw Jared Leto illegally rides on a New York sidewalk. As has been pointed out before, though, few cyclists will ride on the sidewalk if they feel safe on the street. Celebs included.

 

International

A look at what may be Britain’s most dangerous bike lane.

London’s Evening Standard looks at bike bells.

A New Zealand political party calls for scrapping the country’s mandatory helmet law to boost bicycling.

 

Finally…

A British gang drives off with a woman’s car after tricking her into thinking she’d hit a cyclist. Of course, that wouldn’t work in LA, because the driver probably wouldn’t stop.

 

Morning Links: New e-book from bike writer Rick Risemberg, conviction in Phillip Richards hit-and-run case

Our-Own-Day-HereWe have a lot to catch up on after this weekend’s breaking news, starting with a new e-book from one of LA’s leading bike writers.

If you’ve been following this site for awhile, you’ll know that we link to pieces written by my friend Richard Risemberg of Bicycle Fixation on almost a daily basis, whether on his own site, or as a guest writer for Flying Pigeon and Orange 20 Bikes.

Now he’s collected some of his best essays for the new volume, Our Own Day Here.

While many of the chapters focus on bicycling, the tome goes beyond bikes to examine “how the way we travel, live, and shop shape our lives and our souls, and reveals the richness of experience he finds in city living.”

Among the subjects covered in these sometimes poetic, sometime humorous essays are cars, transit and bicycling, economics and politics, development, as well as the sense of place and the places that make it happen.

As he notes, some of the pieces have appeared on various websites, as well as in the pages of local and national publications, while others have never seen print or pixels before.

I haven’t had a chance to read it myself yet, though I hope to offer at least a partial review soon.

But knowing Rick, and the insightful quality of his writing, I’d highly recommend giving it a read. Especially at the low download price of just $4.99 — with a 10% discount through Smashwords with the code BU84L through the end of August.

It’s also available through Apple’s iTunes Store, and for Kindle through Amazon.

So what are you waiting for, already?

………

The driver charged with killing popular Beaumont cyclist Phillip Richards has been found guilty on charges stemming from the fatal hit-and-run.

Jurors convicted William Donald Johnson of both gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence and hit-and-run causing injury, with enhancements for leaving the scene of a collision and causing great bodily injury.

However, the jurors split on an additional murder charge; the Riverside County DA is unsure if he will be retried on that charge. He will be sentenced October 3rd; no word yet on how much time he faces.

Johnson’s wife Kari had previously pled guilty to aiding in Johnson’s escape in the hit-and-run, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years probation.

………

Tragically, the bike rider most seriously injured in that wrong-way collision on San Diego’s Fiesta Island that sent eight cyclists to the hospital is paralyzed from the chest down as a result.

Meanwhile, the driver responsible pled not guilty to felony DUI with injury and possession of a controlled substance after meth was found hidden in a very private place.

………

That other notable cyclist from my hometown sets out today to win his second USA Pro Challenge, while Jens Voigt says this will be his last pro tour after 33 years.

Caught on video: A nasty crash in the Eneco Tour takes out Italian cyclist Eugenio Alafaci, as well as the cameraman filming it.

And former world champ Mario Cipollini is hospitalized after a car turns in front of him on a training ride.

………

Local

CityMetric looks at a tale of two bike lanes on North and South Figueroa.

A virtually unrecognizable Kesha goes for a bike ride on Venice Beach.

LAist offers photos from the opening of the Levi’s Commuter pop-up in DTLA.

Now you, too, can slug your java from an Every Lane is a Bike Lane mug.

Streetsblog and Santa Monica Next will host a forum for SaMo city council candidates next month.

The San Gabriel City Council holds a special session on Tuesday (pdf) to discuss the city’s proposed bike plan.

 

State

A Desert Hot Springs man is under arrest after police found him riding with bolt cutters on a stolen bike. And it wasn’t even the one he was seen stealing on surveillance video.

Sad news, as the San Francisco bike rider seriously injured in a collision with a fleeing car thief last month was taken off life support on Saturday.

After his custom-made bike is stolen, Redding residents pitch in to help a developmentally disabled man build a new one.

 

National

Our slow cycling, casually dressed president goes for a family bike ride on Martha’s Vineyard.

An OpEd writer for the New York Times reminisces on her life on two wheels, while a writer for Crain’s New York, who lost his own son in a bicycling collision seven years ago, explains the city’s new Vision Zero policy.

The New York Post applauds the NYPD’s crackdown on cyclists who “terrorize pedestrians and endanger life and limb,” and calls on the city to make it permanent. On the other hand, they seem to be fine with the lawbreaking drivers who kill a hell of a lot more people than cyclists ever could.

Caught on video: Continuing today’s New York theme, an NYPD officer is caught leaning in to deliberately block a bike lane, evidently just for the hell of it.

Finally leaving Gotham, a Maryland cyclist pens a powerful open letter to the hit-and-run driver who cracked his ribs and ran his bike over.

 

International

CNN lists the world’s best cycling cities; only one US city is on the list. And no, it ain’t LA.

A Montreal office building cuts a cyclist’s lock and impounds her bike, even though it was parked on public property; if they have such a problem with parked bikes, maybe they should put in a decent bike rack.

Britain’s Top Gear host calls for separated bike lanes and greater tolerance on the roads.

Turns out cyclists are human beings, too. Who could have imagined?

At least they’re showing an even hand, as Aussie police target scofflaw cyclists and the law-breaking drivers who pose the greatest risk to them and others.

 

Finally…

Breckenridge CO hosts a replica of the Eiffel Tower made entirely of bike parts. And Ford learns the hard way that using a convicted bike doper probably isn’t the best way to market their cars.

 

Morning Links: Bike-friendly LAPD chief reappointed, suspected DUI driver hits 8 riders in San Diego

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has been reappointed for another five year term.

It was Beck who worked with cyclists to establish the department’s bike liaison program and bicycle task force when he was first appointed five years ago, resulting in a training module to teach patrol officers the rights and responsibilities of cyclists.

And helping to make the LAPD one of the most progressively bike-friendly police departments in the US.

They may not always get it right.

But things are a hell of a lot better than they used to be.

……..

A wrong way driver crashed head-on into a group of cyclists on San Diego’s Fiesta Island, sending six riders to the hospital with undetermined injuries; two others declined to be transported. Reports are as many as 16 riders hit the pavement trying to avoid the car.

Not surprisingly, the driver has been arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Meanwhile, Riverside hit-and-run victim D’Andre Sutherland remains on life support as police looks for suspects.

……..

The latest round in the battle over bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd in the Biking Black Hole takes place on Thursday, August 21st at 8 am as the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce takes up the debate.

……..

It seems like the whole world is mourning the unexpected death of Robin Williams. But the loss may be hitting a lot of cyclists a little harder than most.

Because, as Cyclelicious notes, he was one of us. And he’s got the photos to prove it.

Williams never hid his love of riding, even going so far as to describe himself as a bike-sexual.

Red Kite Prayer notes he was a customer of Santa Monica’s Bike Effect and City Cycle in San Francisco; I saw tweets Monday saying he was favorite customer of I. Martin, and had stopped by the Bicycle Kitchen at least once to buy T-shirts.

The mere fact that someone like Robin Williams had even heard of the Kitchen — let alone stopped by to support it — speaks volumes about who he was and how important bikes were to him.

He was even stopped by police in New York for riding on the sidewalk. And let go with a warning as soon as officers realized who he was.

As for myself, I had one wordless, non-bike interaction with Williams when I worked in a jewelry store in Denver’s most exclusive hotel back in the 80s. The one where everyone who was anyone stayed when they passed through what was still an oil and cow town.

And where I met celebrities ranging from politicians and religious leaders, to the day’s leading movie stars and models, rock stars and blues immortals.

I was polishing rings in the back room, which faced a secluded hallway often used by hotel guests to escape the press and hoi polloi.

I looked up to see Robin Williams coming down the hall in the company of a woman. And was startled to see his stricken, almost fearful expression when he realized I recognized him, as if begging just to be left alone.

So I nodded, and he looked back at me with a half-smile and a look of relief, clearly grateful to retain a brief moment of privacy before disappearing out the door.

And I learned a lesson that has served me well in my life here in the figurative, if not literal, Hollywood. That being famous shouldn’t mean a loss of privacy, and that even the rich and famous have a right to be left alone.

Robin, you will be missed.

……..

Local

LADOT expands their Bicycle Friendly Business program throughout the city.

Downtown bike shop Just Ride LA forms a new cycling club.

An online petition calls on the DA to prosecute the sheriff’s deputy who killed Milt Olin on Mulholland Highway. Personally, I’m less concerned with prosecuting the driver than holding the department responsible if it can be shown that their policies, official or otherwise, put us all at risk.

The new LA Times new publisher is one of us; former assistant mayor Austin Beutner suffered a serious biking injury while riding in the Santa Monica mountains a few years ago.

Wolfpack Hustle calls on everyone who cares about safety to write city officials to demand buffered bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the soon-to-be rebuilt Hyperion Bridge.

 

State

Bid on a one-of-a-kind 8-speed Linus + SeaVees bike, and all the proceeds will go to benefit the California Bicycle Coalition.

Paso Robles votes to install a four-block bike lane.

A 14-year old Fresno-area bike rider riding with his father is killed in a collision with an 82-year old driver; needless to say, the driver insists the victim inexplicably swerved in front of him.

The leader of the state’s most successful bicycle advocacy group, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, will leave at the end of the year.

Here’s an idea. Keep a bike on both ends of your commute, and you never have to take one with you on the train.

 

National

Thirty-six bike share programs throughout the US, resulting in a combined 23 million rides — and despite the panicked predictions, not a single fatality.

After a Spokane man steals a bike when his gets stolen, the internet helps bring him to justice.

A DC blogger says the Post’s bike-hating columnist may have ridden a bike, but he didn’t learn much.

 

International

A Belizean cycling legend is executed during a rash of gun violence in the Central American country over the weekend.

A new app could help design bike lanes in Germany’s most bike-unfriendly city.

Bike share is booming in Poland.

 

Finally…

Even the trees are out to get us, as a Brit rider barely survives a falling branch. Athens GA police chase a drunken, lightless bike rider.

And two German artists finally claim credit for the white flags that appeared on the Brooklyn Bridge last month, and led the Manhattan DA to subpoena the Bike Lobby parody account.

 

Morning Links: A brief visit to the Santa Monica Bike Expo, and bicycling loses a good friend over the weekend

SaMo Bike Expo 1For a first time event, it seemed to go pretty well.

I stopped by the Santa Monica Bike Expo on Sunday, wife and Corgi in tow, since neither seems inclined to let me out of their sight for too long for fear I’ll drop dead from my newly diagnosed disorder, and/or the multiple meds I’m on to treat it.

Not that I don’t appreciate their concern.

There was a good selection of bike shops and manufacturers represented, including Xtracycle, Tern and Linus, who had the classiest booth by far. And there was a heavy emphasis ebikes; evidently beachside biking no longer requires actually turning the pedals yourself.

While the turnout wasn’t huge, there were quite a few people strolling the booths in the pier parking lot where the Cirque de Soleil tents stood until recently. I’m told Sunday was busier than Saturday; then again, it’s hard to compete with the day-long Long Beach Bike Fest a relatively short ride to the south.

SaMo Bike Expo 2And the beachfront location seemed to work in their favor, as a number of riders stopped in as they were riding by on the bike path; one rider even purchasde new grips to cover the bare handlebars on his long-neglected cruiser.

All in all, it seemed to be a good start.

Hopefully organizers will bring the free event back again next year, and encourage greater participation from shops and groups beyond the Santa Monica borders. And maybe pick a date that doesn’t conflict with other major bike events next time.

This is something LA has needed for a very long time. Let’s hope it proves successful for everyone involved.

……..

Sad news, as the best friend bicycling ever had in the halls of Congress passed away on Saturday. Former Minnesota Representative Jim Oberstar died in his sleep at age 79, after serving 18 terms in the US House.

We owe him a round of thanks for all he did to promote bicycling and alternative transportation over the years. He will be sorely missed.

Thanks to Patrick Pascal for the heads-up.

……..

Okay, so it has nothing to do with bicycling. But this is probably the most breathtakingly beautiful video of Los Angeles you’ll see today. And make sure to click on the full-screen option for full effect.

……..

Local

A 53-year old North Hollywood bike rider is seriously injured in a Mission Hills hit-and-run on Sunday morning.

Orange 20 Bikes urges you to fight to save the North Figueroa bike lanes, and questions why bike riders who have a stake in the area are considered “outside interests.” Very good question.

The LAPD’s Rampart Division celebrates Star Wars Day, aka May the 4th, with a badly Photoshopped photo of cops wielding light sabers — lifted from a 2009 Bikeside post criticizing the department for not giving a damn about cyclists in the relatively recent bad old days.

A gossip website says celebrities are avoiding rising gas prices by riding their bikes. Yeah, that’s the reason they ride, because they can’t afford to fill the tanks on their Bentleys. Then again, we can all be glad Lindsey Lohan is choosing not to get behind the wheel these days, for whatever reason.

 

State

The CHP encourages everyone to be a Roll Model — get it? — on the streets. And thankfully, directs the message to motorists as well as bicyclists for a change.

Five women’s riders were injured in a crash just 100 feet from the finish line at Sunday’s Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling; three riders were transported to a local hospital.

Santa Cruz County held an open streets event — aka ciclovia — in Capitola Sunday.

Eureka is named a bronze-level bicycle-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists.

 

National

The Centers for Disease Control calls on Americans to walk or bike instead of driving, in part due to the risk of car collisions.

Bicycling lists 50 rides of a lifetime around the world; PCH checks in at number four, while Mt. Baldy ranks 42nd.

That’s one way to stop a dangerous driver. After a Las Vegas motorist struck a 12-year old bike rider, a nearby man opens fire, claiming he shot to protect the boy and other neighborhood kids. Fortunately, no one was hit.

In 1897, one out of every five Chicago residents rode a bike. No wonder they call it the good old days.

The Washington Post conveys a bike-friendly safety message from AAA. Yet somehow overstates the number of bike riders killed each year by a factor of seven.

 

International

Injury rates are up for Montreal bike riders. So are traffic tickets. Then again, there’s no point in fixing dangerous streets when you can just tell cyclists to ride on the sidewalk.

A new video offers advice on how to be a gentleman cyclist. Evidently either women don’t ride, or they already follow the rules.

A record-setting Brit cyclist celebrates her 100th birthday; in 1938, she set out to ride every day of the year, eventually covering nearly 30,000 miles.

An Oxford, England cyclist is shocked! shocked! that the U-lock he swung at an angry driver actually hit him. Is it just me, or is the best way to ensure you don’t hit anyone is not to swing your effing lock at them in the first place?

An Aussie website says a government minister’s call to license cyclists is an “exceptionally silly idea,” noting a recent study found drivers at fault in 79% of cases.

 

Finally…

Must be one hell of an app. When a New York bike rider is arrested for — legally — filming a cop with his cell phone, the cop claims iPhones are being used as guns.

And a blogger says please stop blaming me for what other bike riders do.

Indeed.

Born in West LA — LABAC member traces the beginnings of BMX to a Westside park

The Palms neighborhood has a long bike history dating back to the 1890s; click and zoom in to read. Thanks to Jonathan Weiss for the image.

The Palms neighborhood has a long bike history dating back to the 1890s; click and zoom in to read. Thanks to Jonathan Weiss for the image.

Let’s give notoriously auto-centric Los Angeles the credit it deserves.

Santa Monica’s Z-Boys have long been credited as the fathers modern skateboarding, and the city’s self-proclaimed Dogtown neighborhood its birthplace.

But who knew BMX — aka Bicycle Motocross — racing was born right here in the City of Angels? And that a city employee gets credit for turning a kid’s pastime into one of the most exciting events in the X Games and Summer Olympics.

At least, that’s what a new history from Jonathan Weiss, chair of the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee’s Advocacy & Education subcommittee asserts.

The official history of BMX racing dates the beginning of the sport to the late 1960s or early ‘70s when kids took to their Schwinn Stingrays on a vacant lot somewhere in Southern California. But according to Weiss, the first organized race took place right here in 1969 at the Westside’s Palms Park before evolving to a full-fledged racing season a few years later.

By 1973, BMX racing was thriving. Los Angeles Recreation and Parks youth counselor Ronald (Ron) Mackler, who had planted the seeds for its success with the initial race in ’69, organized a full 10-week Thursday-night racing season. Mackler, who passed away in 2010, is remembered as someone whose “main thing was getting kids on the right track.” Palms Park was the “right track” for pioneering BMX champion Perry Kramer, who had been racing around the park’s sandbox and trees and up a hill on his own modified Stingray. Perry became one of BMX racing’s earliest stars. His namesake PK Ripper bike is still in production, and Perry’s now a Giant Bicycle sales representative and mountain biker.

Meanwhile, racing continued on what Perry described as the ‘prehistoric’ Palms Park track through the ‘70s and into the 1980s.

When Weiss found a nugget about BMX racing and Palms Park, he contacted Kramer to get a first-hand history from one of the sports founders, and started a Palms Park BMXers Facebook Page, which now connects BMX fans from around the world.

Some of what he put together on BMX racing’s birth can be found the History section of the ExpoGreeway.org website. He started that website to support the new water-cleaning, sustainability-demonstrating, open-space preserving Westwood Neighborhood Greenway about a quarter mile west of Palms Park and adjacent to Expo’s Westwood/Rancho Park station, expected to open in 2015/16.

And of course, there’s a Facebook page for the Greenway, too.

According to Weiss, Palms is already one of the most bike and pedestrian friendly neighborhoods in the City, and he sees it being even more so when the Expo bike path opens.

Once it does, he plans to bring BMX royalty and fans together to mark the birthplace of BMX where the bike path connects to Palms Park. And hopes publicity from the BMX connection will encourage school kids to take the new bike path to Hamilton High, Palms Elementary and Overland Avenue Elementary schools.

In addition, Weiss wants to help Angelenos appreciate their city’s history – something that can be missed by those speeding past Palms Park at the northeast corner of the Santa Monica Freeway at Overland Avenue.

Then again, that’s not the area’s only page in LA bike history.

Weiss also notes that “The Palms,” which was subdivided in unincorporated Los Angeles County in 1886 and annexed to the City of Los Angeles in 1915, played an important part in late-Nineteenth Century bike racing.

Palms was the midpoint of the Los Angeles to Santa Monica bicycle races, and its depot — now relocated to Heritage Square — provided convenient access to those who wanted to watch early racers barreling down Palms Hill.

That, too, can and should be marked on the Expo Bike path, though there are currently no plans in place.

Thanks to Jonathan Weiss for sharing his research with us, and his help in putting this together.

Look for the red arrow marking reference to Palms; image courtesy of Jonathan Weiss.

Look for the red arrow marking reference to Palms; image courtesy of Jonathan Weiss.

Ditto.

Ditto.

.

Today’s post, in which a terrified little dog reminds us what it means to be brave in the moment

Sienna Profile

The hero of today’s story.

There’s one image from Monday’s early morning Shamrock Shake that sticks out in my mind.

Living just a few miles from the epicenter, we were awakened by some serious rocking and rolling that jolted everyone instantly awake.

The Corgi had been sleeping on the floor next to my side of the bed. At the first jolt, though, she flew to the foot of the bed and, adopting her best firmly planted, I-shall-not-be-moved-by-man-or-God stance, bravely barked out a warning about the earthquake. As if we were somehow unaware of that our bed and building were shaking around us.

Still, this is a dog that takes her self-appointed guard duties very seriously. And she took it upon herself to let everyone within hearing range know that something was very, very wrong.

And in this case, that hearing range was undoubtedly a several block radius.

She did not cower. She did not flinch. She did not hesitate.

Then as soon as the shaking stopped and we’d gathered our wits about us, she came back up into the bed and buried her head into my chest, remaining there until we got up a couple hours later, since my wife had the morning off.

Clearly, she’d been terrified and turned to me for comfort. Which is understandable, since at seven years old, this was the first serious earthquake she’s experienced.

But she overcame that fear to do what she felt was her duty, barking out her warning until the shaking stopped.

And I found myself thinking how many times we do just the opposite, allowing a little fear to stop us from what we want or need to do.

Whether that’s riding in traffic, commuting to work or school, tackling that hill or speaking up in front of government groups to demand safer streets.

In years past, my problem was just the opposite.

I was a human kamikaze, throwing myself headfirst into whatever bike-borne whim struck a nerve and worrying about the possible consequences afterwards. From light-free rides through the Colorado plains illuminated only by the moon, to bombing down a mountain pass in pre-helmet days, passing startled drivers on the right as if they were standing still. And knowing one stray piece of gravel could be catastrophic.

More than once I paid the price. But still, if there was a chance, however slight, I took it.

That changed the day I got married. And realized that there was someone counting on me coming back home again from every ride.

It changed even more the first time she picked me up from the ER after a failed ride, and I realized I never wanted to see that look on her face ever again.

As a result, I became more conservative in my riding. I now wait for a clear space in traffic instead of shooting through a gap if I’m reasonably sure I can probably make it. I feather my brakes on a downhill to control my speed, rather than hoping no one pulls out in front of me at the bottom.

And I no longer turn with my knee just inches off the ground in absolute confidence in my abilities and a smooth and dry road surface.

Because if I get it wrong, the cost could be too damn high. And not just for me.

I have a wife and dog that depend on me.

Yet over the course of the past several years, I, like so many others, have been battered by the absurdities of life and an uncaring economy. And that caution has sometimes turned into a trembling reluctance and experienced-based fear of taking unnecessary risks.

And not just on the bike.

Yet the funny thing about fear is that most of the things we worry about will never happen. And those that do are usually nowhere near as bad as we’d feared.

Even if the worst occurs, we can usually withstand far more than we think we can.

It’s been a hard few years for a lot of us. But I hope you’ll join me in recommitting to confront the fears that hold us back, and keep us from attempting, let alone accomplishing, the things we desire most.

So let’s try to be like that brave little dog. And focus on doing what needs to be done in the moment.

Then deal with our fears after it’s over, instead of letting them keep us from even starting.

“It’s better to make a mistake with the full force of your being than to carefully avoid mistakes with a trembling spirit.”

— Dan Millman

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