Tag Archive for Department of DIY

Just another ride on the Westside, and the Department of DIY finds a way on the LA River

Please forgive yesterday’s radio silence.

I try to post something every day, or weekday, anyway; even bike bloggers need a little time off. But sometimes the demands of daily life get in the way.

And sometimes, I just need to get in a good ride on a perfect fall LA day. Good ride being a relative term, if Westside drivers have any say in the matter.

Then there’s the problem of the day’s designated Preventer of Productivity climbing up unbidden for an extended round of petting, ear scratching and belly rubs, forming an impermeable barrier between my laptop and lap.

Fortunately, I’ve learned to edit video one handed.

Sienna on lap

Then there’s another project that’s been occupying most of my time lately, which I hope to share with you in the coming weeks as progress allows.

Stay tuned.

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Meanwhile, Patrick Pascal sends word that the Department of DIY has been hard at work on wayfinding signage on the LA River bike path near the southern end of the Frogtown section, which he describes as “both professional and also informative, useful and long overdue.”

Word is that the city is working on a half million dollar wayfinding system of their own, which will cover bikeways across the city.

But whether they can do a better job than the person or persons who took it upon themselves to craft these particularly well-done on-path street signs remains to be seen.

la river path denbyA well-deserved tip of the hat, whoever you are.

Dept. of DIY strikes again and other missing links

Never seems to fail.

The most interesting stories seem to happen when I’m tied up with work, or busy writing something else — like last yesterday’s open letter to 5th District Council Member Paul Koretz.

Photo courtesy of Ubrayj02/Flickr

Which is why I’m late in reporting the latest efforts from the city’s leading producers of biking infrastructure, the Department of DIY. As well as the first sharrows to appear on L.A. streets, at an undisclosed location somewhere in the vicinity the Bike Oven.

The first report — at least, the first one I saw — showed up on the website of the Flying Pigeon bike shop, from whom I stole the above photo. And was soon confirmed on LA Streetsblog.

I’ll let them tell the story, since they got there first and told it best.

But consider this.

In just one weekend, the Department of DIY put in more sharrows than LADOT has (i.e., zero), with more money and years of planning.

And the phenomenon seems to be spreading to New York.

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Speaking of infrastructure, Richard Risemberg — aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation — urges business people to support the 4th St. Bicycle Boulevard, while Portland and Copenhagen offer innovative new designs. If you missed last weekend’s St. Anne’s Toy Ride, Midnight Ridazz offers the 4th Annual All City Toy Ride this Friday, converging on Downtown from multiple starting points. Altadenablog reports on last weekend’s Tour of Pasadena’s Northern Neighbor, while LA Cycle Chic covers the Black Kids on Bikes’ Freedom Ride. The Daily Breeze reports on the newly formed South Bay Bicycle Coalition. Will Campbell encounters a truly bizarre driver. The big-hearted people at L.A. Greensters transport more than just toys to St. Anne’s. Long Beach’s cycling expats offer a 2010 calendar with photos from their tour of the West Coast, while Russ offers a great discussion of the Great Fear. Flying Pigeon offers an end-of-year clearance, while Cynergy Cicles offers a free lecture on Nutrition, Hydration and Recovery Techniques Wednesday night. Levi looks forward to his 4th TofC title. NPR discovers cargo bikes. Evidently, you can transport anything by bike, even a stolen Christmas Tree. Milwaukee considers bowing to existing reality, and making bike licensing optional. Delaware is the latest to consider a three-foot passing law. A history of cycling in the Windy City. This Friday, you can take your bike into your office in New York. The University of Cincinnati may have finished the football season undefeated, but they can’t seem to protect bikes on campus. Next on the list of cycling celebs, a winter-riding Rachel McAdams. A writer in Prague regrets punching out the cabbie who ran them off the road. The Godmother of bicycling promotes designs for women. British cyclists are freedom fighters, not menaces. London police seek a naked cyclist. Finally, tomorrow’s bike-only Transportation Committee meeting — and Rosendahl’s proposed anti-harassment ordinance — makes news across the Atlantic.

Build your own DIY bike plan next Saturday, and today’s missing links

The official comment period may be over, but work on the city’s new bike plan isn’t.

Next Saturday, November 28, you can escape all those mounds of leftover Turkey — or Tofurkey, depending on your inclinations — while you help build a better a better bike plan at the Bike Working Group III at the Hollywood Adventist Church, 1711 N. Van Ness Ave:

The LA Bike Plan is in shambles. Point to a page and there’s a flaw, something missing, or just a careless error.

That’s why we’re creating our own bike plan. LA’s Best Bike Plan – for cyclists, by cyclists!

Join us Saturday, November 28th, at 1pm to continue that quest. The lonely souls who didn’t travel for Thanksgiving will be crafting the future of Los Angeles!

We’ll start with maps and markers – we’ll mark off a “Backbone Bikeway Network” that can get a cyclist from one region of LA to another, quickly and safely. We’ll persuade, share, and cajole until we’ve got a consensus, or nearly so, on what we need to connect all parts of LA by bike.

Then we’ll move on to look at some chapter introductions for the Best Bike Plan.

Come out and get involved in shaping LA’s future!

And along those lines, the petition I linked to on Wednesday urging UCLA’s Chancellor to implement the university’s 2006 Bike Master Plan is limited to staff, faculty and graduates. Thanks to commenter Herbie Huff for pointing out there’s a petition the rest of us can sign calling for better bike access to the UCLA campus in the city’s new bike plan. You’ll find my name at #179.

So what are you waiting for?

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After running two teenage cyclists off the road, an Escondido driver stops — then drives off after learning they were  injured. Bakersfield says the bike path belongs to everyone. San Jose plans to reduce car lanes to add another 200 miles of bike lanes. Austin, TX is about to get its first 16-block bike boulevard. A day in the life of Chicago bike lanes. A firefighter in North Carolina gets 120 days for shooting at a cyclist, and barely missing. A Massachusetts driver hits a cyclist and drags him and his bike under her car for another 300 yards. Are you really shocked to learn cyclists inhale twice as much dirty air as drivers? Google may soon add biking directions on their route to world domination. Yes, this sign means you have to stop, too. England swings like a pendulum do, bobbies — once again — on bicycles two by two (with apologies to England, bobbies and Roger Miller). Also from the UK, the Guardian puts the dangers of anti-social cycling in perspective. Kazakhstan pledges $22 million to rescue the now Lance and Bruyneel-less Astana cycling team. Finally, from the department of superfluous redundancy, in a clear attempt to target fixed-gear bikes, a Philadelphia councilman proposes a $1000 fine or immediate confiscation of any bike without brakes — yet fails to comprehend that a fixie is a brake.

The Department of DIY takes on the bike plan

Maybe the problem isn’t the bike plan. Maybe it’s trying to create a single plan that encompasses the entire city of Los Angeles.

Recently, I came across a Chicago Tribune story about a study by the League of Illinois Bicyclists. In it, they looked at 46 roads in the Chicago area that had recently been reconstructed, to evaluate them for pedestrian and bicycle travel.

What they found was the projects that rated highest were the ones that had been planned on the local level; the projects that rated lowest were managed by the state Department of Transportation. The clear conclusion was that people on the local level had a better understanding of the needs of local users than those at the state level, where the focus tended to be strictly on vehicular traffic.

Sound familiar?

Shortly after reading that, I came across this article written for Streetsblog by Siel of Green LA Girl, which seemed to dovetail neatly with the Tribune story.

In it, she suggests that cyclists could consider the bike plan on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis, rather than trying to tackle the entire 212 page document at once:

Byrne’s suggestion got me thinking: Would it be possible to get multiple bike plans going in various L.A. neighborhoods — with shorter drafts of the plans that cyclists in that area could get through more easily? Might that get cyclists more engaged and active in the areas that they live or work in?

It makes perfect sense.

I know Westwood, Century City and surrounding areas like the back of my hand. I can tell you what street would make a great bike boulevard, and where a minor change in signage would make a big improvement in ridability.

But I don’t know a damn thing about riding through Hollywood, the Eastside or the Valley.

So maybe the solution is to follow Siel’s suggestion. Let’s take the proposed bike plan apart, and look at it one neighborhood at a time, by the people who live and work along and ride on those streets. And then make our own map, using the proposed plan as a starting point — because there are some good ideas in there, watered-down and obscured though they may be.

Then we can put it back together, adding one neighborhood to the next, until we’ve built our own plan for the city from the streets up, rather than LADOT down.

And it starts this Saturday.

The LA Bike Working Group is inviting cyclists to meet at the Hollywood Adventist Church, 1711 N. Van Ness Ave., in Hollywood, starting at 2p — note the new time and location, which has changed from the ones shown in the link.

It’s your opportunity to break into groups and tackle a specific section of the plan, page by page, by cyclists for cyclists. And try to come up with something that will work for riders, rather than pushing us aside in favor of moving more motor vehicles.

I’ll let Matt from No Whip take it from here, since he’s written a better call to arms than I ever could:

Come to the LA Bike Working Group meeting this Saturday at (2pm at the Hollywood Adventist Church) as we work to improve the plan. 1000 come to a social ride, but we’re lucky to get 10 to a meeting. You can do both and you can influence how policy is written in our city. More info here and facebook is here.

Write a comment about the 2009 Bike Plan here: Los Angeles 2009 Bicycle Plan. Yes, they do read and note them. Imagine if we generated 10,000 responses demanding more bicycle infrastructure and actual implementation! You should review it and form your own opinions, but the most popular arguments are: lack of vision, no real plan for implementation and cyclists’ concerns are secondary. If you only read one article, read L.A.’s Draft Bikeway Plan: Non-Committal, Sloppy and Perhaps Illegal by Joe Linton.

Get involved with a campaign. There’s C.I.C.L.E, the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition, and even Midnight Ridazz has some advocacy plans. And don’t forget that the Department of DIY always has open positions (DIY bike lanes, DIY park).

Read. Seriously. We need substance beyond rhetoric and need to be educated on the case for bicycles.

Speak with cyclists, friends, activists. These ideas and events need to be given life. No one is going to do it for us. Tell others about what is going on.

Donate money. My least favorite of the actions. We need money for all that we do, but we’d prefer you and your energy. Donating money creates the mentality that others will do it for you, but those most invested in this have spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars of their own money because of their passion. Buy an activist a burrito!

Learn more and offer comments at labikeplan.com.

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Riverside decides to let local cyclists develop their bike plan; what a novel concept. The latest assault by young Hollywood on the people of L.A.: a TV star is accused of a drunken collision with a 17 year old cyclist. L.A. drivers are enough to make a grown woman cry. The hit-and-run plague hits our neighbor to the south. A truck driver in San Mateo had no idea he ran over and killed a cyclist. My friends at West Seattle Blog ask why put a bike lane on a crappy bumpy road? A Columbus, OH rider asks why don’t cyclists follow the law? A Chicago bike lawyer offers tips on what to do after a cycling accident. Portland cyclists reach an agreement with local police for fairer enforcement. Finally, the ultimate Halloween decoration — a man commits suicide on his balcony in the Marina, then lies in plan sight for four days because the neighbors assume he’s a Halloween display.

DIY bike activism in action

Don’t get me wrong.

I like living here in Southern California. Most of the time, anyway. Although I do wish my avian concerns had more to do with protecting baby bird brains than wondering why California’s Official State Bird — aka the police helicopter — is hovering outside my window right now.

And though it may not seem like it sometimes, I do like riding here.

Sure, things could be better. Okay, a lot better. But riding still beats just about anything else I could be doing on the streets of L.A.

Evidently though, word is spreading about the state of cycling around here.

Austin, Texas, cyclists have been cautioned about taking the creation of bike lanes into their own hands, in emulation of L.A.’s own Department of DIY. As the writer put it:

The problem in LA is a non-responsive local government to cyclists’ needs. On the contrary in Austin we have a staff that is very in-tune to requests from our community and a City Council that unanimously passed the new Master Bicycle Plan…

So while we’ve gotten some notable support from the city council, Los Angeles is rapidly becoming known as the poster child for dysfunctional bike planning.

It wouldn’t hurt so much if it wasn’t true. Even built-out cities like New York are putting us to shame.

At the same time, Dr. Alex Thompson’s Don Quixote-ish effort to encourage the League of American Bicyclists to revoke Santa Monica’s Bronze Award is starting to get attention outside the biking blogosphere, thanks to this article in today’s Santa Monica Daily Press. And frankly, I couldn’t agree more.

Meanwhile, a representative from one of the local neighborhood councils has started asking if it wouldn’t be a better idea to throw away the proposed Bike Master Plan, and start over with one of their own.

And I’m continuing to move forward — albeit far more slowly than I would like — with the creation of the Los Angeles League of Bicycling Voters, to provide a strictly political voice for our largely disenfranchised cycling community. Right now, we’re trying to navigate the complexities of the IRS’s rules regulating non-profit political organizations.

And trust me, that ain’t easy. Especially when your wife doesn’t want to find herself on the hook for a massive tax bill because you mistakenly dotted the t and crossed the i.

But as Yoda would say, happen it will. We’re planning to have an organizational meeting soon, once we work out the bugs. I’ll contact everyone who has expressed an interest already to let you know once we schedule it; if you haven’t expressed an interest yet, just leave a comment below and I’ll include you in the list.

Meanwhile, tomorrow — or perhaps today, depending on when you’re reading this — Metro will consider finally lifting its ban on bikes at rush hour. Which should go a long way towards telling us if there’s any real hope for change in L.A.

Or if it’s time for you to grab a can of paint, a petition, bullhorn or a ballot. And Do It Yourself, yourself.

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Streetsblog reports that the good doctor will finally have his day in court for last year’s infamous Mandeville Canyon incident. Russ Roca suggests improved signage for the new Long Beach sharrows; despite the fears of LADOT, no one seems to have slipped on the paint yet. Santa Clarita riders consider their safety in the wake of a serious accident over the weekend. Santa Monica hosts their annual Twilight Dance Series at the pier; word has it they’re offering a bike valet to make it more convenient. The AP asks if le Tour is really le clean. A New York writer asks what to do when you find your stolen bike for sale on Craigslist. A Columbia, MO councilman says not so fast about their recent cycling anti-harassment ordinance. Finally, the 90-year old cyclist who was struck by a car in Visalia has died from his injuries; not surprisingly, police blame the victim rather than the driver who hit him.

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