Archive for the ‘Bicycle Advocacy’ Category

Another CicLAvia

Posted: August 9, 2011 in Bicycle Advocacy

(This is the second “catch-up” post to my blog that I am completing during my downtime due to my recent injury.)

This past Sunday, 04-10-11, exactly six months after the first CicLAvia on 10-10-10, some friends and I got to enjoy a sunny and slightly brisk day in downtown Los Angeles. Once again, this was to be a completely car-free day for me. I made arrangements to meet Joy on the Blue Line train line that goes from Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles. I rode from my house to the station and brought my bike on the train. On my way to the station where Joy was boarding, I sent her a text to let her know which car I was in. Somewhat surprisingly, she had no trouble finding me, and we soon found ourselves at the end of the line at the downtown Metro Station.

Our good fortune with logistics continued when we exited the station at Figueroa Street and almost immediately saw Greg who had ridden from his home to downtown. From there we joined the masses and rode to the west end of the route in the Melrose District. On our way, shortly after waiting at one of the car crossings, I saw some guy on a fixie riding somewhat erratically towards me and just as he passed me I heard, “Don’t take out the leader dude!” In an instant I recognized the voice, it was Lance Armstrong. Just as quickly, Lance and his cycling entourage were passing me. We had to stop again a bit later at another car crossing and Lance was maybe 10 yards in front of me. Greg and I started calling out his name (not many people recognized him) and he turned around. Unfortunately, the quick shot that I tried didn’t come out very well. One thing that surprised me is that Lance is shorter than I thought. He really didn’t seem much taller than me.

When we got to the Melrose District I saw Lance in the distance getting ready to jet off to his next engagement and I saw a local TV news reporter interviewing one of the guys in Lance’s entourage.

Greg and Joy and I absorbed a bit of the scene at that end of the route and then we headed towards the east end. On our way, as in October, we saw a wide variety of cyclists. One thing that we saw that I didn’t see nearly as much in October was fallen cyclists. That was kind of distressing especially since some were being carted away into ambulances. It was still a very small percentage of the total participant but it was still distressing.

It was also a bit more difficult to deal with the crowds this time but I could still deal with it and enjoy the overall atmosphere. We made it to Hollenbeck Park and milled about a bit before heading back towards downtown. On our way we were looking for a lunch stop and we finally went with a “green” noveau asian noodle place. The food was good and the prices were commensurate with its downtown location.

Joy decided to depart as we rolled past the Metro Station and Greg and I headed back to the Melrose District. We did a little more absorbing of the atmosphere and took a stroll through one of the more famous fixie shops in Los Angeles. From there we rode back to the Metro Station and caught the Blue Line heading back towards Long Beach.

The last bit of our day’s adventure was being on a train that was having mechanical problems. Eventually we got off at a station that was about 12 miles from my home. Instead of waiting for the next train (which probably would have been impossibly crowded) I decided to ride home from there. I also decided to go all the way to downtown Long Beach so that I could check out the new separated bike lane on Broadway which wasn’t officially opened yet. It looked pretty good even though there was hardly any traffic on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Overall it was another enjoyable CicLAvia experience and I am looking forward to the next one.

My 10-10-10 CicLAvia Story

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Bicycle Advocacy

This was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in cycling. I heard about CicLAvia through the web a couple of months before its historic date, 10-10-10, and I anticipated the day with hope and some fear. I hoped that it would be everything that the original Ciclovias were in their native Columbia. I feared that something unfortunate would happen that day that would tarnish the running of the event and dampen the possibility of future CicLAvias.

In the end everything went far better than I could have imagined and there are now plans to conduct four to six CicLAvia events in 2011.

My journey to downtown LA started a bit later than planned. I rode my Bianchi Roger from our house to the Metro Blue Line Station in downtown Long Beach and took a long-ish train ride to the end of the line at the 7th and Metro station. Going from the train platform to the street required navigating my bike through a turnstile and up a couple of sets of escalators.

Emerging from the station at the corner of 7th Street and Figueroa Street, I was immediately on the CicLAvia route on 7th Street. Without any hesitation, I got on my bike and started riding west (knowing that I’d be heading towards the East Hollywood end of the route). My initial reaction to what I’d just joined was amazement.

The rolling mass of cyclist was not dense and it certainly wasn’t fast. It was far from the “serious” centuries in which I participate from time to time where cycling egos clash with the limited space on the road and speed “deadlines” to meet. The were no start or finish lines. There were just ends on the map and people joined anywhere and left anywhere.

As I worked my way towards Melrose Avenue, I saw some racing friends, Jordan and Crystal, along the route. I was almost stunned that I was able to pick them out in the crowd and I kept pedaling instead of stopping to chat as I was still lost in my amazement of this event. A bit further on, I saw Charlie Gandy, Mobility Coordinator for the City of Long Beach. This time I had the mental wherewithal to stop and chat with him for a couple of minutes. After that I pressed on.

One of the more interesting aspects of the event was the automobile crossings (I love the irony of that term). Certain cross streets were open to traffic and at these intersections, LAPD officers and traffic control officers, ensured that cyclists and motorists did not mix and allowed for safe passage by both. I was impressed by everyone’s cooperation at these intersections. I also made it a point to thank them for what they were doing.

There were organized water and first aid stations at a couple of spots along the route and at either end. However, one of the points of CicLAvia was to have impromptu gatherings along the route and there were several of them. Local restaurants were the focus of some gatherings. Another gathering was an interesting offshoot of the street closures. On a small cross street leading into the CicLAvia route, there was what looked to be a pickup game of dodge ball. It reminded me of my childhood in suburban Long Island, NY, where we would play football and stickball on the street in front of my house. I can guarantee you that these folks wouldn’t have been able to play dodge ball in the street on this sunny October afternoon without CicLAvia.

When I finally arrived at the Melrose Avenue end of the route, I was somewhat surprised to find that I was in front the semi-famous Bicycle Kitchen bicycle maintenance co-op and Orange 20 bicycle shop. I didn’t know that both shops were across the street from each other and it was immediately obvious to me why the route ended here. It was a street festival with the now ubiquitous LA catering trucks and a street-side DJ. The fixie hipsters were quite prevalent but there was also an assortment of riders from very casual to fairly serious.

From the “northern” end of the route I backtracked to downtown LA and continued to the “southern” terminus of the route at Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights. On my way there I got to see Japan Town and ride across the 4th Street Bridge. The bridge was one of the most difficult “climbs” on the route and it was entertaining to watch people holding their bikes over their heads for a photo-op to document their conquering the climb.

After spending a few minutes at Hollenbeck Park I headed back towards the Melrose end but this time I took a lot more time to take in the sights and take some photos. I was still mesmerized by the joy of the participants and their good behavior. How often do you see 100,000 Angelenos participate in any event without significant incident?

I was actually on the 4th Street Bridge on my second “lap” when the roads re-opened. I made my way back to the Metro Blue Line Station and caught the train back to Long Beach. Exiting the train I rode a few more miles back home and was very happy to have participated in the first CicLAvia.

SoCal Sharrows

Posted: August 14, 2010 in Bicycle Advocacy, Bicycling

About a year ago, Long Beach christened their first sharrows in Belmont Shore on 2nd Street. Now there are sharrows popping up throughout the LA Basin. Dan Gutierrez has photographed many of these installations and shows why all sharrows are not created equal.

(For various reasons I have had several unfinished posts sitting in my queue on Blogger. This is the third of three old posts that I am finally finishing.)

I have tried to get more involved with bicycle advocacy to promote cycling as a lifestyle; as a way to reduce our use of automobiles as primary transportation. To that end I have supported events related to the Long Beach Bicycle Master Plan. I also read the book, Pedaling Revolution, by Jeff Mapes.

Jeff presents a pragmatic view of how we can convert our American car culture into a more bicycle-centric culture that promotes better health, reduces dependence on foreign oil, and improves many aspects of our social structure.

Read the book (please).

Will cycling be safer?

Posted: January 10, 2010 in Bicycle Advocacy

About 1-1/2 years after Dr. Christopher T. Thompson caused two cyclist to smash into the rear of his luxury sedan by slamming on his brakes after passing them on a residential road, Superior Court Judge Scott T. Millington sentenced Thompson to 5 years in prison. During this time there have been a lot of discussions on the internet about the incident, Thompson’s trial, his conviction, and his sentencing.

Bob Mionske, an attorney and former pro cyclist, has written the best piece that I have seen to date on the topic. Bob closes his blog entry by writing:

“Clearly, it’s time for some real leadership on making our commons safer for all who use them. Although Judge Millington was speaking directly to Los Angeles when he called for improved protection for cyclists, this isn’t just a Los Angeles issue—it’s an issue everywhere. Is Los Angeles ready to provide that leadership? Is your community ready?”

To me, it’s clear that as cyclists, we must work with local and state governments to improve the ability of automobile drivers and cyclists to co-exist on our streets. The city government of my current hometown of Long Beach is very actively trying to improve the city’s infrastructure to make this co-existence happen.

I will be doing as much as I can to help.

(For various reasons I have had several unfinished posts sitting in my queue on Blogger. This is the second of three old posts that I am finally finishing.)

Saturday was the official opening of the “sharrows” in Long Beach. Sharrows are green-painted lanes in the right-hand lane of traffic. These lanes denote where cyclists are legally allowed to ride (whether painted or not) per the California vehicle code.

Of course, since most motorists don’t know (or maybe even care) about California vehicle code as it applies to cyclists, the sharrows are a great way of showing people where cyclists can legally ride. My main hope is that automobile drivers start to understand cyclists rights and that cyclists using the sharrows obey all traffic laws.

Why Commute by Bike?

Posted: November 16, 2008 in Bicycle Advocacy, Bicycling

There are a lot of ways that all of us can help save the planet. Here is one.