biking


The last bike commute of the year was also the first of the year, now that I’m gainfully employed with a brand new full-time job. And with a resolution to pedal more miles than I drive there will be many to come in 2014.

Since I’m on the verge of going another two weeks without posting, here’s a little stopmotion somethin’ from August 17:

I broke my long streak of not going on night group rides to saddle up and ride the streets in memory of one of the bike community’s most unique members — EddieBoyinLA, nee Edward Alvarez — who succumbed to illness and left us earlier this month.

The news of his death galvanized riders young and old. The turnout to celebrate him was incredible and the ride reminded me of how much I used to love getting out on my bike to course through the dark city with a bunch of loveable miscreants, ne’er do wells, degenerates, and rabblerousers. In general, saints all.

Rest and ride in peace, EddieBoy.

Notes: I did something different dimensionally this time and inserted portions of real-time footage “replays” into the timelapse. The first is at the 2:55 mark when we went through the 2nd Street Tunnel. The second is at 5:20 as we rode out of Chinatown north past the Cornfield park where a huge rave-style event was taking place. Lastly at 7:29 at Lincoln Park using a still I shot I got, I paired it with audio of that rider who scaled the statue with a megaphone to lead everybody in an “I say EDDIE, you say BOY!” cheer.

Though not without cause given how little I’ve been riding this year, any reports of my having forgotten how to ride a bike all over the dang place have been greatly exaggerated, as seen in this to-Whittier-and-back of 46-miles Saturday, split in the middle by eight hours of classroom instruction at Rio Hondo College.

I must say that the “out” half beginning in the near-deserted early morning was much more enjoyable than the “back” portion in the late afternoon, which involved scads of traffic, a ceaseless headwind along the entire straightaway length of Valley Boulevard, and me riding in something of a zombie-fied state due to fatigue and my internal fuel tank being almost completely empty.

The morning ride was also enjoyable because of the nearly six-mile-long game of leapfrog you’ll see in the above vid that I have on the nearly Valley Boulevard with an MTA bus that began near Cal State LA and didn’t end until I bailed onto the Rio Hondo Bikeway in El Monte.

But the other thing that ran out of gas too early was the camera, konking out after a brief respite spent at Lincoln Park.

Full roundtrip route: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5953724

There’s velo drama in Northeast Los Anglees, and you know it has to do with bike lanes because that’s the SINGLE MOST GALVANIZING ISSUE to communities across the city nowadays. In this case, it’s the proposed, supported, vetted, approved, and funded plan to add Class II bike lanes on North Figueroa across Northeast Los Angeles.

All was going accordingly until a righteously indignant area mouthpiece orchestrated and staged an anti-lanes campaign citing the complete and total devastation that would be wreaked upon area businesses and stakeholders if any vehicular traffic lanes were sacrificed for dastardly cyclists.  The bike community reacted initially with something of a collective “Pfffft!” a bit like the way Gov. Gray Davis dismissed the recall campaign that ended up successfully putting a “Former” before his title and a Schwarzenegger in his chair. And sure enough the rhetoric proved loud enough to gain the traction needed to get the noodle-spined Highland Park Neighborhood Council to reject the proposed, supported, vetted, approved, and funded lanes in favor of an alternative route that, of course, stays off Figueroa, and is ironically as weak as those naysaying councilmembers’ aforementioned backbones.

That in turn has gotten Los Angeles City Councilmen Jose Huizar and Ed Reyes — both of whom who have been very pro-bike in the past — to suddenly backpedal their support and slam on the brakes pending additional input regarding the alternative route.

In short the lanes are in serious danger of being disappeared.

It is entirely similar to the actions taken by the Burbank City Council in the mid-2000s, when they ignominiously caved to resident pressure and outcry (with claims that more bikes would bring greater gridlock — and crime!) and slaughtered a proposed, supported, vetted, approved, and funded route connecting the LA River Bikeway with the Chandler Bikeway.

So you know I sat myself down and tapped those councilmen out a letter, the gist of which is if you guys wanna deny the entire city those bike lanes I’ll still ride there, but when I do I’ll deny the business in your districts my entire wallet. And the point being that the decisions they make not only effect their constituents but those beyond their jurisdictions:

Councilmen Huizar and Reyes,

I am an avid urban cyclist who has ventured all over this city on two wheels. I am disheartened by the tactics used by some in the community against the proposed bike lanes on North Figueroa, and I am dismayed that it is having the desired effect in getting both of you to step back and suddenly qualify your previous support.

Personally, I ride all over the greater Los Angeles and Southern California areas with or without bike lanes beneath me. And if, like the Highland Park Neighborhood Council, you bend to the pressure being exerted to kill these lanes in your districts — lanes previously approved and funded — you can bet for sure I’ll continue to utilize Figueroa through the Northeast area.

But here’s the problem. Axe those lanes and I also guarantee that whenever I’m on those rides, I will make it my own personal mission to purposely avoid doing any business at ANY establishments on those routes throughout your districts.

If I’m dying of thirst coming back from a ride around the Rose Bowl I’ll either quench it somewhere in South Pasadena or wait until I’m west of downtown. If I’m on a ride that’ll leave me hungrier than a bear I’ll either pack a lunch with me or just suck it up through Eagle Rock and eat in Glendale.

It’s not much money for sure, but it’s mine. And I for sure won’t spend it in districts led by purported bike-friendly councilmembers who can so readily backpedal on what is clearly an IMPROVEMENT to the communities they serve.

Do the right thing, gentlemen. Support and build the North Figueroa bike lanes.

Sincerely,
Will Campbell
Silver Lake

photoMy friend David and I have made it something of an irregular tradition to walk to Tommy’s for lunch every few months, and schedules conspired to allow us to do that today, joined by his brother-in-law Mark who was in town to participate in Sunday’s CicLAvia.

So after we got our burgers and fries and drinks, we settled into a section of counter near the end, and conversation included my TAP card travails and, of course, CicLAvia, which apparently caught the attention of an elderly gent a few feet away, who approached after I mentioned coming back to downtown via the Blue Line that day.

He stepped toward us saying how he heard me mention the Blue Line and that it’s his firm belief that bikes have no business being brought on the trains.

I held myself back from saying something impolite  and instead curiously inquired as to why he was so firmly against the acceptable and encouraged practice. He replied that cyclists already have a form of transportation at their disposal and they shouldn’t be crowding up the train cars.

Wide-eyed at such an idiotic statement, I started to point out that by his logic walking was a form of transportation, so why wasn’t he an equal opportunity hater in feeling the same about all those pesky pedestrians loading up the trains, but realized I was in a battle of wits with an unarmed geezer.

And the fact is, there is a kernel of truth buried deep under his bullshit. MTA rail cars are really not designed to accommodate anything but passengers, and I don’t think they ever will be. One needs to remember that back in the early days of our reconstructed light rail system, bikes were not only allowed on trains during limited time-frame windows, but you actually had to be registered and carry an MTA-issued picture ID card that had to be presented upon demand.

We’ve come a long way since then, baby. But it’s been an uncomfortable integration.

Today sure, a couple cyclists with consideration can position themselves out of everyone’s way, but it’s still awkward, at best. Add more cyclists and compound it with the inconsideration that is too often demonstrated in blocking aisles and doors and seats, and to a degree I can appreciate where this grumpy old man is coming from. I could just imagine him on the Blue Line on Sunday with a train car overloaded with raucous bikes and riders coming to or going from the event, and all he can do is get progressively grumpier as the trip went along.

But instead of  commiserating with him, I asked him next if he felt the same about bikes and buses. And he was quick to say they had no place there either. When I mentioned the bikes are stowed outside the bus, that didn’t matter to him. He just shook his head vehemently, spitting out some more generalized negativity that concluded with this doozy:

“Bikes are the reason for everything that’s wrong in this city.”

I stood stunned for a moment, trying somehow to understand how someone could wholesale equate cycling to “everything that’s wrong…” to the city’s struggling economy and to its crime and to its homelessness and to its school drop-out rate, and its gridlock. How does one even begin to counterpunch such a ridiculous haymaker? People with more patience and smarts might know, but for me there is simply no way or reason to continue a discussion or debate with so spiteful an intellect of such a small caliber.

So I didn’t.  Instead, I wished real hard to myself that I never be so hateful and stupid about anything if I’m fortunate enough to get to be this kook’s age, while out loud I brought it to his attention that by insulting and demonizing cyclists as a whole he was in fact insulting and demonizing me — to which he replied that he didn’t care and restated that all of us are inherently detrimental to his way of living (or at least what little living he’s got left).

With that clarifying point of order out of the way I then admonished him for making such a despicably baseless judgment and criticism, adding that though I was personally raised not to make such uninformed criticisms, he and his insults were making it hard for me not to formulate one about him. Raising my voice well over his and in no uncertain terms I insisted that in the interest of stopping his senseless jawing so that he could return to gumming the remainder of his Tommy’s burger, he vacate my vicinity as quickly as was physically possible for a man of his years.

That caught him off-balance, and some flustered words fell out of his mouth whose syllables quickly broke apart into gibberish, before he realized we weren’t ever going to be friends and complied with my directive to cease and desist being audibly inane in my specific direction.

David, Mark and I hung around long enough to finish our meals and for my hackles to lay back down, before taking our leave to ruminate on the walk home the fact that no matter the issue, some people will find a way to magnify it out of proportion and hate on it all the harder.

 

 

This incomplete video tells the story of my incomplete plan to ride the full CicLAvia route from downtown to the sea and still have plenty of time to get to a volunteer appointment at spcaLA’s adoption facility in Hawthorne at 1PM.

I didn’t get on the route until 10:45AM, and basically had to bail an hour later when epic bicycular gridlock left me only able to traverse about a third of the 15-mile course. With my appointment looming I headed south from Venice Boulevard at Arlington in the Mid-City District through West Adams, Jefferson Park and Leimert Park, getting on Crenshaw Boulevard for the rest of the journey up over the heights of Morningside Park and down past the 105 Freeway to El Segundo Boulevard.

On the way back I biked only to the 105 Freeway and boarded the Green Line to the Willowbrook Station where I boarded the Blue Line back to downtown. Detouring over to the Bicycle Bread Company, afterward the uncharacteristically balky camera only records a brief stretch up Union to 7th Street before powering down.

This Sunday is the next CicLAvia, in which a route through the city is closed off to motor vehicular traffic and open only to the wide variety of self-propellers: cyclists, walkers, joggers, skateboarders, skaters, and the like.

I’m looking forward to this one in particular because of a couple firsts. The first first is that the course is brand new, spanning between downtown and the beach mostly via Venice Boulevard (click the graphic below for the bigger picture).

ciclavia

The second first is that contrary to every one of the past five CicLAvias I’ve participated in, I actually don’t have the day to myself and instead have someplace to be. Fortunately that place is down South Bay way and thus I’m relieved that I can avoid missing my first CicLAvia by incorporating it part of my overall roundabout outbound commute.

Specifically, I have to be in Hawthorne by 1 p.m. ready to participate in an spcaLA-offered beginner dog training class. So my plan is to roll downtown around 9 a.m., and just get meandering west until I arrive at Venice and then make my way around the marina and across Ballona Creek onto the bike path that winds its way alongside the sand out of Dockweiler State Beach. From there I’ll bail inland and back onto the streets via Imperial Highway, working my way onward via a staircase of eastbound/southbound/eastbound/southbound streets until I arrive at my destination, like so:

restway

Depending how I’m feeling about pedaling the entire distance home afterward, I may head up Crenshaw to Leimert Park and roll back home across the basin, or I’ll just ride the rails back into downtown by intersecting with a Green Line train to the Blue Line (perhaps working in a stop at Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers since I’ll be in that area).

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