The rumors drifted in late Saturday night, carried on the acrid smoke from burning buildings.
By morning, they were confirmed.
On a night when we could smell the smoke from the fires on TV, and social media was filled with looters in LA’s normally sedate and formerly kosher Fairfax District, fears grew that local bike shops may have been among the victims.
Along with anyone who may have left their bikes with them for service.
Because it wasn’t just the shoe stores, computer stores, Whole Foods and Nordstrom that got looted.
It was bike shops like Spokes ‘N Stuff, I. Martin and later, Santa Monica’s REI.
My Sunday with a pair of emailed photos, above and below, that hit like a punch in the gut, revealing the front gates ripped off Spokes ‘N Stuff, with anything of value gone.
The LA Times spoke with the shop’s owner.
He’s had his store on Melrose for 20 years. It stayed open during the pandemic because it was considered an essential business. But, now, he estimates his losses from one night of looting could total $100,000.
“They not only took my bikes, they took customers’ bikes as well,” he said.
The owners of I. Martin could probably cite a similar figure.
I’m told looters broke in through the back door and emptied the bike shop in a matter of minutes.
Although in their case, the shop had been closed since March, so hopefully there were no customer’s bicycles still inside.
Then Sunday afternoon, as people peacefully protested near Santa Monica’s Tongva Park, looters were busting into businesses just a few blocks away.
REI seemed to be saved when some of the legitimate protesters stood in front of the store to turn looters away.
As looting takes place in Santa Monica on Sunday, a couple of protesters put their lives in danger by standing in front of the REI store to stop the ransacking. More info: https://t.co/f5veEdZl6p pic.twitter.com/eqRgBduFCf
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) May 31, 2020
Except the looters came back. Later images showed the store had been ransacked, with racks and shelves emptied.
Presumably, the store’s bikes went out the door, as well; it’s not clear if REI was open for service or if any bikes belonging to customers were inside.
It’s also not clear when, or if, these stores will reopen.
Just like hundreds of other businesses, owned by major corporations and individual, often immigrant, proprietors through this troubled city.
Needless to say, bicycling took a back seat to the protests for many people across the US this weekend.
Apparently forgetting what started the protests to begin with, a Seattle bike cop puts a protester in a chokehold after attempting, and failing, to squeeze by on his right on a sidewalk.
Same thing happens a few blocks later. Bike cop tries to pass a marcher on his right with nowhere near enough room. Marcher inevitably makes contact and the officer puts him in a headlock pic.twitter.com/5aZ4jKweyW
— MaxOnƬwitter (@The_Stepover) May 31, 2020
Turns out John Cusack is one of us, too. His bike took a beating from Chicago cops during the protests over the death of George Floyd, even if he didn’t.
And even if you can only hear it on the video.
Cops didn’t like me filming the burning car so they came at me with batons. Hitting my bike.
Ahhm herea the audio pic.twitter.com/tfaOoVCw5v
— John Cusack (@johncusack) May 31, 2020
Thanks to Megan Lynch for both of those.
When an Atlanta bike cop shoved a black woman with his bicycle during a protest, a white woman defended her by shoving him right back.
This is who we share the roads with. A Denver driver responds to a protester jumping on the hood of his car by intentionally trying to run him down. Thanks to Robert Leone for the tip.
A Philly bike cop was injured when he was run over while attempting to stop looters.
And a concierge doctor is setting aside his practice for now, responding on his bike to triage pepper spray victims during the DC police protests.
LA bike clubs team up with advice to help keep you safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thanks to David Huntsman for the link.
Tobey Maguire is one of us, doing a little offroad riding in the hills above Brentwood with his girlfriend, model Tatiana Dieteman.
Aussie actress Isla Fisher is back on her bike on the streets of Los Angeles, though it’s hard to tell who’s behind that mask.
Soccer great Christiano Ronaldo is one of us, going for a family bike ride under blue Italian skies.
Turns out Crocodile Hunter scion Robert Irwin is one of us, most likely to his mother’s chagrin, after separating his shoulder in a “massive” mountain bike crash.
LeBron James took advantage of LA’s Covid-light streets to get in a bike ride, accompanied by fellow NBA stars Anthony Davis and J. R. Smith. Thanks to Jeff Vaughn for the heads-up.
Although J.R. seemed a tad less relaxed later as he beat the crap out of someone for breaking his truck window.
GCN takes a long look back to a forgotten age of bicycling before Strava, GPS and power meters.
The war on cars is a myth, but the war on bikes goes on.
An English letter writer describes a punishment pass by a speeding driver, accompanied by a shout to get out of the way.
A 15-year old Irish boy was chased down by a BMW driver and pushed off his bike, which the driver then threw at him.
Pro cyclists have to deal with punishment-passing jerks, too.
This isn’t a first. It’s terrifying and it’s harassment. I’m just out here doing what I love. We are humans, not objects. Better laws need to be in place to protect cyclists. #BeKind #BeSafe #BeSeen @usacycling @LehighValleyPA @PennDOTNews pic.twitter.com/09tHSwhGVq
— Mandy Marquardt (@MandyMarquardt) May 30, 2020
Streetsblog looks at the slow expansion of Slow Streets throughout Southern California, as well as repurposing streets for outdoor dining and retail.
A Pasadena writer warns about increased dangers on Angeles Crest Highway as traffic increases and parking lots reopen.
Zagster has pulled the plug on Santa Clarita’s Pace bikeshare program.
The experimental app that turned traffic lights to green for Santa Clarita bike riders has proven successful, and is now being rolled out nationally.
Tragic news from Tulare, as a woman became collateral damage when a murder suspect rolled his car during a police chase, striking her as she rode her bike.
Sad news from San Francisco, where a 31-year old bike rider was killed when he was doored by one driver, then hit by another.
Vogue offers a beginner’s guide to buying the right bike for the ultimate two-wheeled fashion accessory.
Forbes lists six relatively cheap bikes you can buy online right now. Actually, with a foldie starting at just $269, they can lose the “relatively” part.
A writer for HuffPo says the bike boom offers less obvious benefits for cities, including boosting business, greater efficiency and increasing sales for everyone.
Bicycling and trampoline injuries have spiked during the coronavirus crisis, as kids stay active while they’re home from school. Although hopefully not doing both at the same time, although that would explain the injuries.
The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay says bikes are so hot right now, you’ll probably ride one this year. If you can get past the paper’s paywall, that is.
Red Bull wants you to build mountain bike jumps like a pro.
There’s a special place in hell for whoever painted swastikas on a Lincoln, Nebraska bike path and nearby trees.
Boston experts offer advice on how to fit a big bike into a small apartment.
When a kindhearted Mississippi sheriff’s deputy and the other deacons at his church raised $250 to buy a new bike for a young boy after his bike was stolen, a bike shop owner stepped up to donate one.
The Guardian offers tips on how to make bicycling a delight.
Canadian network CTV says yes, bicycling is one of the safest things you can do outside during the pandemic.
Kindhearted officials with a Calgary towing company raised $1,000 to buy an adaptive bicycle for a special needs girl after the one she received from the local cerebral palsy association was stolen.
A new Brit rider says pop-up bike lanes aren’t so great for beginners.
Life is cheap in the UK, where a judge took pity on an unlicensed and uninsured driver, rather than the person he sent to the hospital for two weeks.
The British edition of GQ offers their list of the best helmets to keep you stylish and protected. Because all that really matters is how good you look on a bike, right?
A Scottish secondhand bike charity is changing lives by donating bicycles to employees of the National Health Service and other key workers.
The UK edition of Wired recommends their picks for the best bike helmets.
Cycle chic is reinvented Down Under as CLOB — Chic Lady on a Bike — as “cute” 1950’s inspired bikes fly out the door. Unlike LA, where bikes are flying out of doors and windows that are supposed to be locked.
Some people collect bikes. This Aussie collects cycling kits, with 250 and counting.
The group that oversees the unofficial Everesting record says we almost had yet another new world’s record, but German pro Emanuel Buchmann fell just short of mountain biker Keegan Swenson’s record, which just beat Phil Gaimon’s record.
That feeling when you’re trying to outride that woman on the bike, without realizing she’s a former Olympic champ.
When you get back up after falling off your bike, try to take all your fingers with you. It looks like a little mountain biking is in the cards — and on the board.
And we all have to work from home these days.
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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask, already.