Tag Archive for infamous beachfront bee encounter

Hunt for killer driver in anti-bike rampage, police search for Metro-riding bike shop burglars, and NoHo CicLAmini Sunday

It’s the 16th anniversary of the Infamous Beachfront Bee Encounter, the solo crash that laid me up for four months. And in a roundabout way, set me on the path to bike advocacy, and starting this site. 

Yet somehow, I’ve never thanked those bees properly for not killing me that day. 

Image by Gerd Altmann for Pixabay.


No update yet on the search for a rampaging hit-and-run driver who appeared to intentionally run down three bike-riding men in separate incidents in Huntington Beach Sunday night, killing one man.

Keep your eyes open for a black Toyota four-door sedan, with significant damage to the front bumper on the passenger side. Even if the car turns out to be stolen, it could provide vital clues leading to the killer.

If you see the car, or have any other information, call the Huntington Beach Police Department’s WeTip hotline at 714/375-5066, or submit an anonymous tip to OC Crime Stoppers at 855/TIP-OCCS (855/847-6227).

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times quotes Mario Obeja, vice president of the Southbay’s Beach Cities Cycling Club, saying attacks from road-raging drivers are all too common.


Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying two men photographed riding the Metro A (Blue) Line with several brand-new bikes that appear to have been stolen from Irwindale Cycle, with price tags from the shop still attached.

The men, apparently part of a group of five who burglarized the shop early Monday morning, were last seen as they exited the train at Pasadena’s Memorial Park station at 5:30 am.

A crowdfunding campaign is raising money to help the shop, which faces the risk of closing after losing $40,000 worth of bikes in the theft.


CicLAvia is hosting their second CicLAmini open streets event on Sunday with a one-mile excursion along NoHo’s Lankershim Blvd, along with brief legs extending along Magnolia and Chandler.

There’s easy access from B (Red) Line subway at the North Hollywood Metro Station, directly across from the CicLAmini route.

Meanwhile, SAFE, aka Streets Are For Everyone, is looking for volunteers to help them work the event.

And while we’re on the subject, SAFE is also looking for volunteers to help assess the condition of LA County bike paths.


Streets For All is hosting CD10 Councilmember Heather Hutt for their latest virtual happy hour tomorrow evening; Hutt was appointed by the council to replace recently convicted councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Streets For All is also calling for support for a pair of motions at tomorrow’s LA City Council Public Works Committee meeting to the accelerate the design, construction, and implementation of transportation infrastructure projects, and create better coordination between city agencies who build and maintain public infrastructure.


The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

A British man accused the local police of doing nothing after thieves broke into his home and stole four high-end mountain bikes worth more than $54,000; he spent the equivalent of $7,500 to track them down and fly to Poland to recover them.

But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

A Singapore driver complains that many cyclists think they’re “king of the road” and expect everyone else to give way, after a spandex-clad bicyclist taking part in a group ride pounded on his car’s hood in retaliation for honking at them. No, he shouldn’t have honked. But violence is never the right answer. 



A producer for LAist’s How To LA podcast discusses how he lives carfree in the car capital of the world.

Altadena residents discussed local traffic safety issues at a popup event that featured a demonstration bike lane, mini-park and a curb extension.

Culver City’s newly conservative city council is trying to abuse California’s CEQA laws as an excuse to rip out the existing Move Culver City protected bike lane.

Santa Monica councilmembers will discuss a proposed study of how to keep drivers out of bike lanes at tonight’s council meeting, along with repurposing taxi stands and extending the city’s shared mobility program.



Calbike is calling on you to contact your state Assemblymember to support SB50, which would ban the sort of pretextual traffic stops too often used to target Black and Latino bike riders.

Streetsblog calls for everyone to complete Calbike’s rider survey of Caltrans Complete Streets efforts, or the lack thereof, as the statewide advocacy group prepares to issue a report card of state-controlled routes that double as local streets.

The CHP says a 71-year old Paso Robles man suffered a concussion and broken nose when he rode his “performance bicycle” into uneven pavement on the shoulder of a state highway near Cambria, blaming his unfamiliarity with the roadway and riding too fast for conditions. But not for Caltrans’ failure to maintain a safe road surface. 

A crowdfunding account for a 55-year old Hayward bike rider killed by a hit-and-run driver has raised over $36,000, as police continue to look for the Mercedes driver who left him dying in the roadway.



Cycling Weekly says the sport has a body image problem, as bicyclists face pressure to conform to a lithe physical standard.

Electrek offers tips on how to ride your ebike around cars and the people who drive them, and live to tell the tale.

This is the cost of traffic violence. A 47-year old man killed by a Nebraska driver while riding his bike on Sunday was identified as a “talented and compassionate” Omaha cardiologist.

Police in Massachusetts still haven’t filed any charges against the driver who killed an 86-year old man as he rode his bike last week.

A 13-year old Long Island boy is clinging to life, the victim of a cop responding to a 911 call with lights and sirens as the boy was riding his bike.

A Baltimore basketball player faces charges for the hit-and-run crash that injured a bike-riding man, but still hasn’t been served with a warrant a full year later.



Momentum lists the top ten bicycle-friendly North American cities to visit this fall. Needless to say, Los Angeles isn’t one of them.

More proof we face the same problems everywhere, as a bike rider in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan decries the city’s hostile environment for bicyclists after a 36-year old man was killed by a driver while riding his bike.

British Cycling, the UK’s governing body for all things bike-related, joined with a law firm to publish a paper in Parliament complaining about a “hazardous leniency” in sentencing drivers who kill or injure bicyclists and pedestrians, which “enables even the most persistent and reckless offenders to evade justice.”

Volkswagen is the latest carmaker to get into the ebike business, announcing a bike-building partnership with the Netherlands’ Pon Holdings.


Competitive Cycling

When you’re finishing the final climb of a major stage race near your hometown, you might as well enjoy a beer with your drag-wearing brother.


Chances are, your mountain bike won’t look any better with a mullet than you would. Biking along an LA River wall of mulch.

And that feeling when you singlehandedly halt a slow speed stampede.

Although maybe they’d just never seen anyone in spandex before.


Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Oh, and fuck Putin

Morning Links: Shooting on LA River bike path, Emerald Necklace opens, and write your own anti-bike screed

In case you missed it over the weekend, two bike riders were shot on the LA River bike path Friday night when they refused to give up their bikes to suspected gang bangers.

Let that be a reminder to always be careful riding through unlit areas after dark, especially when you’re out of view from the street and can’t be seen by other people.

And it can’t stressed it enough. If someone tries to take your bike, let them have it — especially if they’re armed.

No bike is worth your life, no matter what it cost or how much you need it.


The first phase of the San Gabriel Valley’s Emerald Necklace bike path officially opens this Thursday.



Great interactive piece from Chicago magazine on how to write an anti-bike diatribe without the inconvenience of actual thought.

It’s more than worth a few seconds of your time to write one of your own.

Here’s mine.



Speaking of great pieces, a British cop explains the real problems on the roads — hint, it ain’t the people on two wheels. And offers advice that includes don’t bother looking drivers in the eye and don’t count on hi-viz to make you seen.

Although it can be challenging to muddle through for those of us on this side of the Atlantic, where English isn’t the English the English use.


A 56-year old man went out for a bike ride, and accidently ended up leading the fourth stage of the Tour of Britain.

Caught on video: A fan steps out in front of the Peloton at the Vuelta, knocking a rider off his bike.

The head of the International Cycling Union swears that cycling is on top of the doping problem, unlike other sports. Maybe they should be checking the fans, too.

Semi-banned Lance Armstrong is keeping a hand in cycling anyway by creating a new Aspen CO mountain bike event.



Los Angeles unveils a vision of the city’s transportation future that relies heavily on self-driving vehicles, making street parking obsolete and opening space for bicycles. Before you hold your breath, make sure you have an oxygen tank on hand.

Caught on video: CiclaValley captures the bumpy pavement on the 7th Street bike lane in DTLA. Having ridden that one several times, I can attest that it was one of the most desperately needed bike lanes in town, yet is usually blocked by cars and delivery trucks, with pavement that would be rejected in most third-world countries.

The wife of fallen cyclist Rod Bennett has sued LA Fitness, alleging that they knew or should have known that hit-and-run driver Lucas James Guidroz was addicted to heroin; he was sent home from work early on the day he killed Bennett because he appeared to be under the influence, putting him behind the wheel without a chance to come down first.

Good news from Playa Vista, as Councilmember Mike Bonin announces a bike plan for the area, including a new bridge on Lincoln and a bike bridge over Ballona Creek; Bonin was one of just two councilmembers to vote against removing Westwood Blvd and Central Ave from the LA Mobility Plan.

Cycling in the South Bay says, to paraphrase in as few words as possible, don’t be such a dick when you ride.

The contribution page is now up for city council candidate and bike shop owner Josef Bray-Ali, who is running to unseat anti-bike incumbent Gil Cedillo. Bray-Ali is hosting a fundraiser at the Good Girl Dinette Tuesday evening.



San Francisco bike riders continue to push for safer infrastructure.

Ford is looking beyond the private car by buying a San Francisco crowdsourced shuttle bus company and investing in the city’s bikeshare system.

The Bay Area’s BART system comes up with a brilliantly simple idea, installing straps on train cars to help keep bicycles upright.

Napa is working to improve plans for roundabouts to make them safer for bicyclists.

A Sebastopol cyclist was killed during a police fundraising ride when the driver of an oversized pickup allegedly insisted on passing without room to get by, sideswiping her boyfriend before killing her.

More kind hearts, as a Lodi pub gives away 13 bicycles to children under 13.

A Davis columnist says the solution to dropping gas tax revenues is to raise the gas tax, rather than charge a vehicle mileage fee, then complains that cyclists don’t pay for the roads they ride. By that standard, neither do the owners of $75,000 Teslas or other e-cars, who still won’t pay a gas tax no matter how much you increase it.



The Christian Science Monitor says a bicycle is one of the things you should never go too cheap on, but says you can get a decent commuter bike for $300 to $400 — pretty good savings over the $8,698 average cost of operating a car.

Now that’s more like it. An Iowa driver gets 35 years — yes, three and a half decades — for the drunken crash that killed two motorists while driving over twice the speed limit. Now if we could just get them to take crashes involving bike riders seriously. Or better yet, keep people like this off the roads to prevent them in the first place.

Evanston IL officials respond to complaints about a new protected bike lane by saying it would cost nearly $1 million to rip them out, while noting that the lane is improving safety just like it’s supposed to.

NPR looks at bicycling in Reading PA, where it says most people ride out of necessity, despite a lack of infrastructure.

A North Carolina columnist gets it, saying drivers need to by hyper-vigilant on the roads, and expect to see cyclists any time of the day.



Ten laughably bad bikeways from around the world.

I want to be like her when I grow up. Reuters talks with a 90-year old Chilean grandmother who still rides regularly, calling her bike her compadre and the reason for her longevity.

A Canadian bicyclist gets a speeding ticket for riding too fast in a school zone.

An editor for London’s Express gets it, saying all hit-and-run cases should be treated as manslaughter.

Once again, a bike rider is a hero, as a Brit bicyclist saves the life of another rider who was trapped up to her waist in mud after falling into a ditch.

Someone is sabotaging Welsh mountain bike trails, yet a regional land manager just says they’re aware of a dispute between riders and local residents. More like an act of terrorism that could get someone seriously hurt. Or worse.

Nice piece from Ireland’s Lovely Bicycle on the many different meanings of cycling and cyclists.

A news columnist takes to the streets of Berlin, where he says everyone rides a bike, but the dangers on the streets demand more and better bike lanes. Which sounds a lot like LA, except for the first part.

A New Zealand bike shop chain got busted for charging full freight for bikes that were supposed to be on a half price clearance.

Singapore residents still view bicycling as a leisurely pursuit rather than a means of transportation, complicating government efforts to create a car-lite society.



We may have to deal with LA drivers, but at least we don’t get mistaken for road kill. Another reason to wear a helmet — it protects against getting bashed in the head with a skateboard.

And your next bike could be a shapeshifter, which you could ride in your lovely new glow-in-the-dark knitted vest.


On a personal note, today is the anniversary of the worst bike wreck of my life, when a massive swarm of bees didn’t lay a stinger on me, but I ended up in the ICU with a tube up my you-know-what and a massive blood bump on my hip anyway. 

I may have my problems these days, but I’m glad as hell to still be here. 

Today’s post, in which I take the day off. And am very grateful I still can.

Okay, so I’m taking the day off.

To be honest, Thursday was a rough day. From the collective emotions of 9/11, to being painfully poked and prodded in yet another attempt to figure out what the hell is going on with my body.

But mostly, it’s the realization that Friday marks seven years to the day since I encountered a massive swarm of bees while riding along the beach, and ended up spending the night in the ICU.

And in between, suffered what undoubtedly would have been the worst bicycling incident in memory, if only I could remember it. Let alone the most serious injuries of my riding career.

I won’t go into the details here.

I’ve told the story before. And in more detail just a year ago.

I even wrote about it for a leading magazine, only to have the manuscript returned to me, unread.

C’est la vie, mais non?

In retrospect, it changed the direction of my life. And led me to dedicate whatever time I have left on this planet to making it a safer place to ride a bike.

Even if there’s not a lot you can do about bees on the beach.

It also reminds me to be grateful for the men and women who dedicate their lives to helping others. Even if they’re just doing their jobs.

Because without them, I probably wouldn’t be here to write this.

And to thank God, once again, that I am.


Rider on the swarm, the extended version — it’s been six years since the beachfront bees tried to kill me

This is what I looked like once I left the hospital — and trust me, you don't want to see the other side.

This is what I looked like once I left the hospital — and trust me, you don’t want to see the other side.

A bee flew across my path as I was riding Wednesday afternoon.

Normally, I wouldn’t give it a second thought. But it was just feet from where I encountered an enormous swarm of bees along the beach, leading to the worst wipeout of my riding career.

And today is the sixth anniversary of that crash.

I’ve told the story before. But as I read it again, I realize I left out a lot of details.

So if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to set the news aside for a day to tell it once more, with feeling.


It was one of those perfect L.A. days. The kind people back east think we have everyday, and we hardly ever get in real life. I was just relaxing with an easy spin along the coast, when something zipped past my face. Then another…and another.

It didn’t take long to realize I’d run into a swarm of bees.

I was riding along the beach north of Santa Monica, on the beachfront bike path approaching Temescal Canyon.

By the time I realized what was happening, I was deep inside the biggest swarm of bees I’ve ever seen, or ever want to. A living, swirling mass at least 30 feet wide, filled with more bees than I could begin to estimate.

I had no way of knowing if they were angry or docile, and to be honest, I have no idea if I’m allergic to bees or not. But I figured this wasn’t the time to find out. So I just put my head down and pedaled as if my life depended on it. Because for all I knew, it did.

There had been several news stories in the weeks prior about Africanized bees attacking people, stinging them hundreds of times — sometimes fatally. For all I knew, that was what I’d encountered.

Thank God, it wasn’t.

As it turned out, they were docile. But I had no way of knowing that at the time.

I rode as hard as I could, finally emerging on the other side of the swarm after what must have been a few seconds, but seemed like an eternity as I watched bees bounce off my riding glasses.

Then just as fast, I came out on the other side, thinking that I’d made it out okay, when I looked down and saw that I was literally crawling with bees everywhere I could see. And I could only imagine what there was where I couldn’t see.

And then, nothing.

That’s not entirely true.

I remember looking down and seeing hundreds of bees on my arms, legs and chest. I could feel them crawling across my face, and recall reaching up to brush them off as one walked along the lens of my glasses.

What came next wasn’t the nothing I described, but the most profoundly spiritual experience of my life.

To be honest, I’m not ready to discuss just what I saw as I lay unconscious on the bike path. Chances are, I never will. It’s far too personal, and you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway.

But let’s just say there was a bright light, and someone there to meet me.

Yeah, I know. But still.

I came to with the most remarkable feeling of absolute peace. And confident in the knowledge that I was going to be okay.

Because that’s what I’d been told while I was out like a light.

The next thing I knew, a lifeguard was placing an oxygen mask over my face and asking if I knew where I was.

Fortunately, I’d picked a good place to land, just a few feet from the new county lifeguard headquarters next to Will Rogers State Beach, right where they used to film Baywatch. They’d found me unconscious, off my bike and laying flat on my face, and said I’d been out at least a couple minutes.

Just my luck.

After all those years of watching Baywatch in my youth, I found myself passed out on their former set. But instead of Pamela Anderson or Brooke Burns giving me mouth to mouth, I found a burley David Hasselhoff equivalent with an oxygen mask staring back down at me.

And remember watching him absentmindedly brush a bee off my chest.

The swarm was gone; in its place was a dozen or so spectators crowded around watching the lifeguards resuscitate me.

He said I’d been out for several minutes; maybe five, perhaps as long as 10.

When I tried to sit up, he gently pushed me back down. I argued that I was fine, and just wanted to get back on my bike and ride home. I could see my bike leaning against the door to the headquarters, though I couldn’t tell what kind of shape it was in.

Better than me, as it turned out.

Instead I was told that the paramedics were on their way, and I couldn’t leave until they checked me out. And the paramedics insisted I was going to the ER, whether I wanted to or not.

Which, in retrospect, probably saved my life.

It’s a unique feeling to ride in the back of an ambulance, strapped down to the gurney, watching the ceiling as they haul ass to the nearest hospital with sirens blaring.

And that’s when my wife called.

We have a long-standing habit, going back to when we first started dating, that she calls me every day on her lunch break. On the days she knows I’m riding, she’ll call my cell phone.

Except this time, the voice on the other end wasn’t mine.

One of the paramedics answered the phone. “Now don’t worry,” he said. “Your husband is going to be fine. But he’s been in an accident, and we’re talking him to the Emergency Room at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.”

Needless to say, she worried.

I vaguely recall a flurry of activity when they rolled me into the ER. There was none of the usual waiting around for someone to see me; a doctor and a handful of nurses met the ambulance at the door and took me right into a room to check me out.

They started off checking cognitive function, looking for signs of brain damage. And probably thought they’d found it from the jokes that I kept cracking as they examined me.

But like I said, I knew I was going to be fine. So I was the only one in the room who wasn’t worried.

After a few minutes, my wife got there and they ushered her directly into the room.

And trust me, I don’t ever want to see that look on her face again.

Then it was off for the first of several CAT scans looking for brain damage, and MRIs looking for broken bones and internal injuries. Although, as it turned out, they missed one of those.

They found a bulging disk in my neck, and diagnosed a moderate traumatic brain injury, placed my left wrist and thumb in a splint, and finally, cleaned and bandaged my many cuts and scrapes.

It was about 7 pm, roughly 6-plus hours after my crash, when the ER doctor came into the room to discuss my injuries, and said they were going to send me home soon.

That’s when he saw it.

As I moved out from the blanket I’d been under for the past several hours, he happened to look down at my spandex riding shorts, and asked if I had something in my pocket. His smile went away completely when I told him bike shorts don’t have pockets.

What he’d found was a massive hematoma on my right hip, slowly filling with blood from a broken vein under the skin.

So much for going home.

Within hours, it had grown to the size of a football. And I went into shock twice from the loss of blood, my blood pressure crashing to as low as 56 over 38 while the ER staff scrambled to stabilize me.

So if I had gotten back on my bike to ride home, chances are, I might not have survived the night. Even if, by some miracle, I actually managed to get there. And if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, I wouldn’t be writing this now.

The doctors explained I probably would have bled out if I’d tried riding home. Or died of a heart attack along the way.

And that’s if I didn’t pass out and fall off my bike, possibly causing further harm to my already damaged head or falling out into traffic.

Still, I was the only one in the room who wasn’t worried. Or in my wife’s case, scared shitless.

Then she was sent home, and I was off to the ICU.

Let me give you one word of advice.

If anyone even mentions the term urethral catheter in your presence, tell them you’d rather have them cut that part of your anatomy off, instead.

I’m serious.

A sleepless, and extremely unpleasant, night was followed by more CAT Scans, MRIs and repeated neurological exams the following day.

They sent me home with firm instructions not to leave the house for next two weeks, and no exercise — at all — for the remainder of the year.

The two weeks of home confinement was due to my brain injury, while the remainder was to give my body a chance to re-absorb the blood packed into my hip in order to avoid a transfusion.

Six years later, I still have scars on both knees, as well as one on my upper lip in the shape of a Hitler mustache when the light catches it right. And I have pain and swelling on my right hip, and probably always will, for reasons that have thus far defied the efforts of countless doctors and numerous medical exams to find an answer.

Let alone do something about it.

And I still have no idea what happened.

My injuries suggest that I must have fallen hard to one side, flipped or rolled over to hit the other side, and somehow ended up doing a face plant on the asphalt. But hey, your guess is as good as mine.

For all I know, Godzilla could have risen up out of the blue Pacific and slammed me down, before slinking off to ravage Tokyo once again. Though you’d think something like that would have made the local news, at least.

I’ve ridden past there hundreds of times. Each time trying to remember what happened after I tried to brush off those bees.

But there’s just nothing there.

Meanwhile, my extended recovery led to the realization that I’m closer to the end of my days than I am to the beginning. And that end could come at any time, in any way.

Which means that if I want to leave this world better than I found it, I have to do it now, in whatever time I have left.

Whether that’s another 30 days, or 30 years.

Oh, and the bees? Not one sting.

Go figure, huh?


I know I’ve said it before. But let me once again thank the LA County Lifeguards, the paramedics of LAFD Station 69 in Pacific Palisades, and the doctors and nurses of St. John’s Hospital, without whom this story could have had a much different ending.

And a special thanks to the folks at Beverly Hills Bike Shop — especially Chris K, now with the Santa Monica Helens — for fixing my bike following the crash. And at no charge, I might add.

I hope this attitude of gratitude never goes away.

Four years ago today, a swarm of bees tried to kill me

I’ve told the story before, so I won’t waste your time getting into it again.

But it was four years ago today that I left for an easy ride along the beach on a beautiful late summer day, and woke up to a lifeguard placing an oxygen mask over my face.

And just my luck, after a lifetime of Baywatch fantasies, I got a David Hassalhoff-equivalent instead of a Pamela Anderson.

Four years later, I still have a few lingering health and fitness problems stemming from that solo collision that started with a massive swarm of bees and ended with a trip through the ER and ICU. Although anytime I make a mistake, I’ve got a built-in excuse thanks to the moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) I received that day.

And no, I didn’t get stung. And no, I still don’t remember what happened in between.

But it wasn’t the concussion that threatened my life. It was the internal bleeding from a massive hematoma that nearly sent me into shock three times, and could have bled out or lead to a heart attack if I’d followed my instincts and tried to ride home.

But I’m here, I’m alive and I’m healthy. And on days like this, I’m reminded just how lucky I am.

And after all these years, my wife is finally starting to find the humor in the phone call she made to my cell phone that afternoon. The one that was answered by a paramedic saying “Now don’t worry, your husband is going to be fine, but right now he’s in an ambulance on the way to the emergency room…”

So let me take a moment to thank the L.A. County Lifeguards, the fire fighters and paramedics of LAFD Station 69, and the ER and ICU staff at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. The care I got from each and all of them was truly exemplary, and kept a handful of moderate injuries from becoming something more.

And thanks to Trek for making — and replacing — the helmet that limited my head injury to a moderate concussion; it’s exactly this kind of relatively slow speed impacts that helmets are designed to protect against.

You can read about the Infamous Beachfront Bee Encounter here. And if you haven’t already, you can still catch up on last weekend’s long list of links and upcoming events.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s a beautiful day, and I have to ride.

And hopefully, I won’t run into any bees along the way.

A meditation on bicycling, advocacy, failure and mortality, and your weekend events

“There’s no place in this world where I’ll belong when I’m gone
And I won’t know the right from the wrong when I’m gone
And you won’t find me singing on this song when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.”
— Phil Ochs, When I’m Gone

My father died a failure.

At least, that’s what he thought. Although a funeral that filled the largest Catholic church in town, in what was then a largely Catholic town, would tend to suggest otherwise.

But as a lifelong mechanic and mail carrier, he struggled to feed his family; a meager pension and social security meant there was nothing left to pass on to his children when his time came, far too soon at far too young an age.

Twenty years later, it still feels like a knife to the heart to know that those were among his last words and thoughts.

Yet he left behind four strong, healthy children more than capable of fending for themselves, and not one of whom ever doubted for a single moment that they were loved.

And I can’t think of any better definition of success than that.

But lately, I’ve come to understand the feeling.

After three years of battling the current economic meltdown, I have almost nothing left to leave my wife if anything were to happen to me.

It wasn’t always like this.

A dozen years ago, I was on my way to becoming a VP of Marketing, with the six-figure salary that came with it, for with a company so cool that Apple’s engineers and designers turned to it for inspiration. But internal politics and a corporate bankruptcy put an end to that.

It didn’t take long to bounce back, though. Within a few years I’d built up a lucrative freelance practice, writing advertising, marketing materials and strategic briefs for accounts ranging from local builders to Fortune 100 companies.

Yet over the past few years, the recession has taken its toll. Almost all of my clients have either gone belly up or zeroed out their marketing budgets; the few that haven’t have seen a 100% turnover in their marketing departments, so the people who would have to hire me now don’t even know who I am.

Yes, I could rebuild yet again.

But just as the economy started to go south, my close call with the Infamous Beachfront Bee Encounter caused me to confront my own mortality. And accept that, at this point in life, the time I have left on this planet is shorter than it is long.

Like anyone else, it could measured in days or weeks, or it could be decades. But no one gets out of this world alive.

And I’m not likely to be the exception.

Fortunately, I have never feared my own death. I was lucky to discover The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius in my early teens; if an emperor of ancient Rome could accept his own mortality, I could as well.

So when my time comes, I expect to greet it like an old friend. On the other hand, it’s one I hope not to meet for a very long time.

I also accepted long ago that it may come while I’m riding my bike.

Not because bicycling is inherently dangerous, but simply because I spend more time on my bike than almost anything else I do. If I spent that much time behind the wheel, it would be just as likely to happen there.

Then again, with a family history of heart disease, diabetes and cancer — and exposure to second-hand smoke for the first 12 years of my life — it’s far more likely I’ll have my own family to blame.

As I slowly recovered from my injuries, though, I came to the conclusion that whatever time I have left should be spent trying to make a difference in this world. And that it was time to redirect my life from convincing people they can’t live without this thing or that thing to doing what I can do to improve bicycle safety, and ensure that everyone who sets out on a bike comes back home again. And in one piece.

As a result, I’ve focused most of my efforts on writing this blog, as well as doing what I can as an advocate for bicycle safety, on my own and as a member of the LACBC Board of Directors.

Yet even though it’s become the equivalent of a full time job — plus overtime — it seems like it’s not enough sometimes. Every cycling death or serious injury feels like a failure; every rider run off the road is a reminder of just how far we have to go.

And yes, I do take it personally.

Every meeting I can’t attend, every day I don’t write something for this blog — this past morning, for instance — it feels like I should be doing more, even though it already seems like I’m doing more than I can.

There are others who would agree. And still others who do far more that I do.

But after all these years, it finally feels like I’ve found my calling. Simply put, there’s nothing I would rather do than what I’m doing right now. Even if, three years later, all I have to show for it is a $25 gift card and a pair of bike socks.

Some days, when the bills outweigh the funds on hand and the news and inattentive drivers conspire to remind me just how vulnerable we can be out there, I understand all too well how my father felt, and why.

But I also believe the solution is an inherent part of every problem. And tomorrow is a new day, with opportunities blooming like bougainvilleas if we can just see past the obstacles in our way.

So let’s keep up the fight.

And maybe we’ll finally reach that day when the last bike death will be the last bike death.

“And I won’t be laughing at the lies when I’m gone
And I can’t question how or when or why when I’m gone
Can’t live proud enough to die when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.”


Bike Talk airs every Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

This Saturday, August 27th, Santa Monica Spoke will answer all your questions about biking in SaMo and the new Draft Bicycle Action Plan at the 10th Street Neighborhood Potluck Block Party from noon to 4 pm on 10th Street between Olympic and Michigan.

Also on Saturday the 27th, the Culver City Bicycle Coalition is hosting their monthly Family Ride starting at 10 am at the Culver Hotel, 9400 Culver Blvd in downtown Culver City. The easy ride will travel from downtown to the annual Fiesta La Ballona, where you’ll find a free bike valet hosted by Palms Cycle and the CCBC.

The Beverly Hills Ad-Hoc Bike Plan Update Committee meets from 5 pm to 7 pm on Monday, August 29th at 345 Foothill Road. Cyclists who ride through the biking black hole that is Beverly Hills — or would like to if it was more inviting to cyclists — are urged to attend.

Tuesday, August 30th, Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse will host a benefit for Streetsblog LA from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm; a portion of all food and drink purchases will benefit Streetsblog; 2911 Main Street. Events will include a raffle, drink specials and possibly a bike valet.

Flying Pigeon hosts three popular rides each month, starting with the Brewery Ride at 3 pm on Saturday, September 3rd, followed by the Spoke(n)Art Ride at 6 pm Saturday, September 10th and the Get Sum Dim Sum ride at 10 am on Sunday, September 18th. All rides meet at Flying Pigeon Bike Shop, 3714 North Figueroa Street in Highland Park.

On Sunday, September 4th, the LACBC will hold the next monthly Sunday Funday Ride, hosted by LACBC Board President Chet Kostrzewa; the ride starts at 9:30 am at the Wolf Creek Brewery in Valencia, 27746 McBean Parkway. Or join the riders at the end of the ride for beer and brunch at Wolf Creek Brewery; a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the LACBC. (Note: an earlier version said the ride started at 11:30; it actually begins at 9:30 and will conclude around 11:30.)

Wednesday, September 7th, Victims Impact Statements will be held in the case of Stephanie Segal, charged with felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and felony hit-and-run in the death of cyclist James Laing; Segal reportedly had a BAC of .26 at the time of the collision. The hearing starts at 8:30 am in Department 1 of the Malibu Courthouse, 23525 Civic Center Way; cyclists are urged to attend wearing bike jerseys, but no shorts are allowed in the courtroom.

Saturday, September 10th, the Santa Monica Spoke hosts the Dinner & Bikes Tour from 7 to 9 pm with leading bike scribe and advocate Elly Blue, vegan chef Joshua Ploeg and Joe Biel, founder of Microcosm Publishing; tickets are $7 to $20 on a sliding scale, location to be determined.

The 2011 Far West and SCNCA Elite Track Cycling Championships comes to the Encino Velodrome on Saturday, September 10th and Sunday, September 11th at 17301 Oxnard Street, at the edge of Balboa Park in Encino. Gates open at 8 am; racing starts at 9 both days.

Elly Blue’s Dinner & Bikes Tour repeats on Monday, September 12th from 7 pm to 9 pm, this time hosted by the LACBC in the 1st Floor Edison Room of the MALDEF Building, 634 S. Spring Street. This time, the admission is free, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Flying Pigeon LA.

Also on Monday, September 12th, the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils is hosting a town hall meeting with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the Felicia Mahood Senior Citizen Center, 11338 West Santa Monica Blvd. Light refreshments start at 6:30, with the Mayor’s presentation & questions and answers from 7 pm to 8:15 pm.

Saturday, September 17th from 8 am to noon, Amigos De Los Rios hosts the easy, family-friendly Healthy El Monte Community Bike Ride at Pioneer Park, 3535 Santa Anita Blvd in El Monte. Register before September 8th and get a free T-Shirt, raffle ticket, lunch and bike bottle; children $5, adults $10.

Also on Saturday the 17th, C.I.C.L.E. LA invites you to join in the Made in L.A. Bicycle Tour from 1 pm to 4 pm starting a the L.A. State Historic Park, 1245 N. Spring Street in Downtown L.A. The eight mile family-friendly ride will visit sites including Homeboy Industries, El Pato Factory and the Angel City Brewery.

Head up to Palo Alto on Saturday, September 17 for the Echelon Gran Fondo, with rides of 65, 80 or 95 miles, as well as a fundraising walk, run or ride and A Taste of Palo Alto. The ride benefits Bikes Belong, parent organization of both People for Bikes and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. The goal is to raise $10,000; if you can’t make the ride, you can still donate and get some cool Bikes Belong swag.

You’re invited to Think Bikes with the Dutch when the General Council of the Netherlands joins with the LACBC and the City of L.A. to present ThinkBike Los Angeles. The public is welcome to the Opening Session from 9 am to 10:30 am on Thursday, September 22nd at the LADOT, 100 South Main Street, and the Closing Session, from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm at LAPD Headquarters, 100 West 1st Street. Preregistration is required for both the Opening and Closing sessions.

Mark your calendar for L.A.’s Ultimate Bike Weekend, as the 2011 L.A. edition of the Tour de Fat comes to town on Saturday, October 8th, followed by the next CicLAvia on Sunday, October 9th, offering an expanded route taking participants another 3 miles north into Chinatown and south into South L.A.

You’re invited to participate in the Gladiator Rock’n Run at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, October 1st. Not bike related, but at least they’re offering a discount for cyclists; enter code GLADIATORZ10 (all caps) to save $10 on registration.

The LACBC is co-hosting a weekend-long training program for bicycle and pedestrian advocates with the Alliance for Biking and Walking from Friday, October 14th through Sunday, October 16th, 634 S. Spring Street, Suite 821.

The LACBC’s award-winning City of Lights program will host their 2nd Annual City of Lights Awards/Fundraising Dinner on Thursday, October 27th from 6 to 11 pm at CARECEN HQ, 2845 W 7th Street. Tickets will be available for $45 later this year.

Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13th, the Eastside Bike Club hosts the LA Tamale Throwdown at a site to be determined, offering a chance to sample some of the city’s best tamales, coffee and pan Mexicano; bike valet courtesy of Flying Pigeon LA.

And mark your calendar for Sunday, November 13th, when the LACBC unveils a marriage of bikes and food with the 1st annual Tour de Taste in Culver City.

The infamous beachfront bee encounter: The sequel


Open on establishing shot from offshore. Camera pans across water, shoreline and beachfront, zooming in on a lone bicyclist riding along the beach. Just then, a large commercial jet roars overhead; he’s beneath the runway at LAX.

He’s two-thirds of the way through what will be a 45-mile ride from Westwood to Hermosa Beach and back. He rides with ease, comfortable on his bike and confident in his abilities, despite fighting the winds that had been at his back on the way down.

Suddenly, something appears to mar this placid scene. A swirling, almost ethereal mass blocks his path, looking like electrons orbiting a massive invisible nucleus.


We see his concern as the muscles in his face tighten, his eyes hidden by riding glasses. He’s seen this once before.



The swarm pulsates directly over the bikeway, completely blocking his path.


A brief moment of fear crosses his face as he recalls his previous encounter with a similar, though much larger, swarm. It did not end well. Though he has no memory of the actual accident, he recalls the ambulance ride, followed by two nights in the ICU, and an extended rehab which is only now reaching fruition.

As he considers his options, he realizes it’s already too late, as bees envelope his head and body. His expression shifts to one of determination.

He’s committed now.


But has he learned anything from his previous encounter?

Before, he tried had tried to speed through as quickly as possible, ending up covered in bees…then, nothing, until waking up with an oxygen mask over his face.

This time, he will do things differently. Recalling the bees that had bounced that bounced off his glasses and crawled across his face last time, he leans forward as far as possible, lowering his head onto his handlebars to minimize exposure.

At the same time, he purposely slows down and pedals steadily.


He rides cautiously as bees bounce off his shoulders and helmet.

Finally, we see the swarm thin as he reaches the other side. He gradually slows down even further, riding his bike at a crawl before pausing to examine himself.

The news is good. Only a few stray bees have hitched a ride; a quick brush with a gloved hand sends them on their way.

A look of relief crosses his face. This time, he has survived.

He relaxes as he picks up speed. After this, the rest of his ride will be a breeze — though he will frequently swat at his back and shoulders on the way home, shooing away a host of imaginary insects.

And once again, not one sting.



Metro considers lifting the ban on bikes, but limiting the number that can use it. Don’t they know the whole point is to encourage people to use their services (and yes, bicyclists are people, too)?  A local rider asks if anyone can diagnose his pain in the butt. San Diego releases the pedicab driver without charges in the death of a tourist. Once again, Oregon demonstrates why it’s a cyclists paradise, as the local AAA extends their services to cyclists. Another example from the Department of DIY, as an Oklahoma physician donates bike signage to the county. Virginia Beach cyclists push for changes after a local rider is killed. South Africa considers including bikes in their transportation networks. San Francisco police reach out after a local cyclist and his 4-year old son are struck by a hit-and-run driver. Finally, Enci and Stephen Box are looking for bike volunteers to assist in making their latest film with virtually no carbon footprint.

The amulet from which I gain my super powers

It was probably the funniest book I’ve ever read.

Madonna del Ghisallo medal, which currently resides in my pocket when I ride, until I get a stronger chain

Madonna del Ghisallo medal, which will reside in my pocket when I ride, until I get a stronger chain

Not the best book. Not even the best funny book. That would probably be Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, or maybe its sequel Sweet Thursday, though Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 wouldn’t be far behind.

But hands down, the laugh-out-loud funniest pages I’ve ever turned were between the covers of A. C. Weisbecker’s Cosmic Banditos. To over simplify the synopsis, it’s the story of a couple of small time drug smugglers who stumble across a collection of physics textbooks, and decide to live their lives according to Quantum Theory. Meaning that anything can, and probably will, happen at any given time, if it hasn’t already.

Something I learned the hard way as a result of the infamous beachfront bee encounter.

I mean, look at it this way. A totally random event — a massive swarm of bees — occurs out of the blue at what would normally be the safest place to ride — a quiet stretch of off-road bike path along the beach — at what should be the safest time to ride — the middle of the day after tourist season is over and the kids are back in school.

The result was a couple nights in intensive care, with no memory of what happened. Or how. Or why, for that matter.

And that’s been eating at me ever since.

You see, every accident I’ve ever had, every near accident, every mistake I’ve ever made on the saddle, I’ve analyzed to understand exactly what I did wrong. So I could make sure I never made that same mistake again.

But it’s hard to figure out what not to do when you have no idea what you did. Or didn’t.

And how you avoid something as random as a massive bee swarm suddenly materializing in from of you — and disappearing just as quickly — I have no idea.

So when a fellow bike blogger mentioned in passing that La Madonna del Ghisallo was patron saint of bicyclists, I was sold. Even if I haven’t managed to sit through a Catholic Mass since my mother died just after the millennium.

That’s the beauty of a Catholic upbringing, though. Once you’re in, you’re in. No matter how much you try to escape, or how hard you rebel against the doctrine of papal infallibility.

So, I may know on an intellectual level that a few bucks worth of sterling sliver won’t keep bees, or cars, or falling anvils away.

But I believe with every fiber of my being that if you truly believe something will work, it will. Whether that’s a lucky charm, a rabbit’s foot, or faith in a patron saint.

And in a world like this one, you’ve got to believe in something.


Streetsblog reports on the LAPD’s report on the Hummer incident, which evidently suffered only minor damage from the cyclist. LAist covers the meeting as well, and Alex rebuts most of the LAPD’s report — including offering a photo proving the Hummer had no plates, despite what the report claimed. L.A.’s ex-parking meters are reborn as bike racks, some of them, anyway. Tucson Bike Lawyer relates how local police threaten to ticket semi-conscious cyclists after a collision. After all these years of Portland envy, now we have to turn green towards Minneapolis, too. Denver police ask cyclists to obey the law on their local Bike to Work Day, as roughly 6% of local downtowners regularly commute by bike. After three dead cyclists in one month, Boise authorities say it takes time to investigate them thoroughly. San Francisco tries to make 18th Street more bike, pedestrian — and yes, even business — friendly. Finally, North Carolina police say cyclists are starting to cause problems, too.