Category Archives: not rides

party for a good cause: FRIDAY!

Wanted to throw a quick heads-up announcement for anyone with a free Friday evening. Bikerowave, the bike co-op in Mar Vista staffed by some exceedingly patient people, is throwing a party Friday night (as in tomorrow night) and helping to sponsor a group ride on Saturday morning with the homeless advocacy group United Steps. Here’s the info:

Join us FRIDAY NIGHT — December 4th, 2009 and CELEBRATE the inaugural PEDAL WITH ME group ride!!!!!!

starting @ 8pm

Come by BIKEROWAVE in Mar Vista

12255 Venice Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90066

MUSIC + COOL PEOPLE + VOLUNTEERS + BIKE REPAIR TOOLS + LIVE ART = AWESOME!

Pedal With Me is a group ride that is being put together to address homelessness. The ride sponsored by United Steps, a non-profit organization seeking unique solutions for homelessness ( http://www.unitedsteps.org/ )
They are partnered with Bikerowave– a DIY, volunteer-run bike shop in Mar Vista ( http://www.bikerowave.org/ ). If you’d like to help out, ride, donate a bike, money or time to this event COME BY FRIDAY NIGHT anytime after 8PM! Or email info@bikerowave.org or call 213-624-7837

ON SATURDAY: THE RIDE!!!!!
9AM & 11AM

There are two rides. One leaves at 9 am and the other leaves at 11 am. If you’d like to help us, the Bikerowave, with getting everyone from point A (The Bikerowave) to point B (Venice Beach, less than 3 miles away) great! We need help getting folks fitted properly to bikes, escorting them safely to the beach for the rally there, and providing a valet service for the bikes. We’d love to see you there helping out.

THANK YOU!!! HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!!! DONATE A BIKE AND GET A FREE HUG!!!!!

Check it out if you have a chance (and thanks Lisa for the heads-up!).

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good things about bikes. and some less good.

First things first: Bikerowave = awesome.

A huge thanks to all of the volunteers working Saturday afternoon and into the evening. If you (faceless readers) haven’t yet been by to check out their space, please make an effort to do so. It’s open, well-lit, welcoming, and all of the volunteers who were helping out on Saturday afternoon were in good spirits (in spite of constantly being called to and fro).

Less awesome: The bike I was working on. I brought in an absolute clunker of a bike – an old Motobecane that had been sitting outside under the porch in Colorado for far too long and had then made the trip to California and spent most of its time sitting in our hallway. Less than awesome. There’s progress on the beast, and it was almost (briefly) rideable. But when I brought it home and inflated the tire a little more, I realized there was a slight issue. If the tire was inflated to the recommended psi (say, about 80), it bulged out seriously on the sidewall, so much so that it wouldn’t spin through the brakes. So I deflated the tire, tried to reseat the bead in the rim, then inflated the tire again. Same problem. Repeat, except this time I removed the tire and spread a little chalk on the inside between the tube and the tire, thinking that the tube might be getting bunched up when inflated. When I inflated the tire again (again, to about 80 psi, though the tire says it takes 90 psi), it seemed fine. I was psyched. Deflate the tire, slipped it back into the bike, tightened down the wheel a little, then pumped up the tire again. Everything seemed gravy, but within about a minute, the tire/tube was bulging back over the rim. I went to deflate the tire again to look at it when the tube (predictably?) popped.

So, as I see it, there are potentially three possible issues:

  1. My pump’s pressure gauge is off and what reads as 80 psi is not actually. Except I don’t this is really the case.
  2. The tire wasn’t properly seated at all and that’s why the tube pushed out on the side. This is maybe more possible, but I don’t think so, because I tried several times to reseat the bead and it seemed to be a consistent issue in the same place.
  3. Something’s fishy with the rim, so that it’s too shallow or something and can’t take the pressure (meaning that even though the new tires recommend 90 psi, the bike itself shouldn’t actually have that pressure.

Anyways, where things are is less than awesome, but I’ll be back by Bikerowave next time I have the opportunity. In the meantime, does anyone have any better advice? Are there things I haven’t tried yet that I should? Should I just get another tube and try to reseat the whole thing without taking the bike back in?

seen from the bus

In another place, some brief thoughts about riding the bus today. No claims to being anything but about riding the bus this evening, but what riding a bike means touched on some of the things I was trying to say:

And we’ve been talking through Goffman in class today, how Goffman sees the marking of the territories of the self. I don’t remember exactly how he phrases it, but he says something to this effect: That in all of our marking of territories, we’re trying to do both demonstrate our respect for others and establish a kind of regard in others for ourselves. And it’s not as though this is ever a simple process, but I think it’s easier to do in some places than others. What makes the bus such a heartbreaking place is how often you find the incommensurable moments between the territories of others and ourselves. More often than not, it’s something between the bus driver and passengers, some way in which the driver closes out passengers, refuses to open the bus’ doors, makes people feel acutely the sense of not being quite in control. And because I think there’s something to that, some way in which the bus requires us (as passengers, though my escape is always the bike, the recognition or declaration that I could always ride my bike if the press of people got too bad) to accept the fact that we’re on someone else’s time and in someone else’s place.

I don’t think you have to deal with that in the same way when you drive a car (Joan Didion’s quip that what makes Los Angeles unique is that it’s the only city you could drive to buy a hamburger at 3 a.m.). There’s something to the way in which cars become our territories of the self, and the way in which riding the bus forces people to confront the limits of their selves. And that maybe was what made this sight so heartbreaking: This man, when he got off the bus, would rather have walked calmly (be cool on the street, nobody wants to be the person running with your hands full, nobody wants to be seen as that guy) to catch his local transfer, but he would have missed his bus. And so something slipped, he broke into a shuffling run, hands clutching plastic bags of groceries, trying to make his way home.

And back to schoolwork. Thanks to those who commented on the Crank Mob thoughts – I’ve had some more stumbling thoughts kicking around but have yet to find the time to put things together. But best wishes to everyone.

not biking, water rationing!

So you’d think, what with all the crazy rain that we’ve been having, that we’re totally free and clear from that nasty little thing spelled D-R-O-U-G-H-T, right? (Actually, I don’t know anybody who’d say that we’re not in a drought anymore, but the rain does funny things to my head. I have trouble imagining 75 degrees in January for example, and I’ve been pretending that it’s been this wintry for what feels like months…).

In other news important to just about anybody paying money to the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, a vota just went through to impose the city’s first water rationing in more than two decades. Under the terms of the plan, every house and business would get its allotment. Once you go past that allotment, your rates would double.

But what I found most remarkable about the article was their mention that 40 percent of the city’s water consumption comes from outdoor irrigation. 40 percent. Think about that for a moment. All the wide lawns and palm trees that have become That’s So LA (or that’s so lame?), they’re using a water. A lot of it. Kind of makes you stop and think, at least for a moment. Right?

some thoughts about stops

Stop signs seem to be one of those things that cyclists can never entirely agree about. Of course, you show me a cyclist who stops at every stop sign completely and I’ll show you either a) a cyclist who doesn’t have very far to go or b) someone with a poor memory. For my own part, I run stop signs, but only if there’s no cross traffic. If I see cross traffic, I’ll yield at the intersection only if the other car is there first. If it’s close, I’ve taken to making sure cars see me and then trying to look at the driver when I roll through – I guess, following BikinginLA’s lead (parts 1 and 2), it’s an instance of me trying to control the intersection.

But to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of stop signs – it’s one of the reasons why I much prefer Santa Monica South in Beverly Hills to Charleville (you can see that route here). Even though I have to deal with a lot more traffic, I don’t feel nearly as nervous about meeting up with the fender end of some other car’s casual interpretation of the California roll.

All of that said, I came across an interesting article the other day making the point that all of cyclists’ complaints about stop signs – usually to make the point that we should be able to treat them as yields and not full stops – actually has a firm grounding in physics. Tom Vanderbilt of How We Drive explains:

Take a simple stop sign. For a car driver, a stop sign is a minor inconvenience, merely requiring the driver to shift his foot from gas pedal to brake, perhaps change gears, and, of course, slow down. These annoyances may induce drivers to choose faster routes without stop signs, leaving the stop-signed roads emptier for cyclists. Consequently streets with many stop signs are safer for bicycle riders because they have less traffic. Indeed, formal bike routes typically include traffic-calming devices like barriers, speed bumps, and stop signs to discourage car traffic and slow down those cars that remain. However, a route lined with stop signs is not necessarily desirable for cyclists. While car drivers simply sigh at the delay, bicyclists have a whole lot more at stake when they reach a stop sign.

Noting that riding a street with a lot of stop signs drops a cyclist’s average speed by a little more than 30%, he adds:

While a drop of a few miles per hour may not seem like much to a car driver, think of it this way: the equivalent in a car would be a drop from 60 to 45 mph. Because the extra effort required on California is so frustrating, both physically and psychologically, many cyclists prefer Sacramento to California, despite safety concerns. They ride California, the official bike route, only when traffic on Sacramento gets too scary.

And he ends by just making a fantastic point:

Car drivers say they are confused by the presence of bicycles on the road, and some wish the two-wheelers would just go away. Bicyclists know that cars cause most of their safety concerns. Traffic planners need to find ways to help bikes and cars coexist safely. A good place to begin is by taking the special concerns of bicyclists seriously, and not assuming that they will be served by a system designed for cars. Reducing the number of stop signs on designated bike routes would make bicycle commuting considerably more attractive to potential and current riders. Allowing bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, as some states do, could solve the problems in a different way.

Perhaps cities should buy bikes for their traffic engineers and require that they ride them to work periodically. There’s probably no better way for them to learn what it’s like to ride a bike in traffic than actually to experience its joys and hazards.

Wouldn’t that be great? LA traffic engineers being forced to bike to work.

UPDATE: The Bicycle Librarian has a couple of really helpful links posted in the Legal Research section. Especially helpful is the link to a page of FAQ about Idaho’s Stop Sign Law thingermajigger. It explains:

This law would make it legal for bicyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs. A cyclist approaching an intersection controlled by a stop sign, would be permitted to roll through the stop sign after yielding the right of way if there are other vehicles at the intersection.

Thanks for the comments!

wolfpack all city II race video

This was put up a couple of days ago by Zachary at SHLA (and he says by way of Leetard at LAFixed) – I didn’t even know they were running this (not that I was planning to go even if I did know about it), but the video is just hypnotic. Really well done, and I’m finding myself at the computer raring to get back in the saddle and go. So compliments to whoever put it together (after ten seconds of sleuthing, Bicykiller).

Wolfpack All City Race 2 from Bicykiller on Vimeo.

I’d include the video here but can’t figure out how to make the code display properly. Take my word for it and go watch the video.

not about my biking at all

But it is about biking. The New York Times had a short piece about Svein Tuft up the other day. He’s a Canadian who’ll be riding in the Tour of California and will probably ride in the Tour de France. The article’s well worth a read, but I wanted to quote a couple of lines from its end:

When this new life unnerves him, he said, he looks at a tattoo on his right forearm: We will never be here again. It was his mantra while on trips with Bear, who died seven years ago.

“It was by far the most content I’ve ever been,” he said. “My bike was a piece of junk. I had nowhere to go, no place to be. Didn’t have anyone telling me what to do. If I felt like lying on the side of the road, I did.”

To say more would take away from his story, but that ethic, that sense of taking responsibility for the present, seemed something that we (or maybe just I) could take for my life. We will never be here again as a way of saying embrace the moment of where we are because it might never come again in this way.