Monday, September 29, 2008

Car Free, For Reals

I did not have to move my car for street cleaning this morning because I no longer own a car! I signed the DMV liability release and parted with the keys yesterday. I spent the first 22 years of my life without owning a car, but quickly let my self feel like it was a necessity once I finally had one.

Falling into the fold of cycling culture in Los Angeles made me realize again, that I don't really need a car. With combination of bicycle, walking, skating, bus and train, I can get where I need and want to go just fine. Without the costs and stress of driving, and with the health benefits of an active lifestyle. Not to mention the benefits to the environment and society.

Oh and parking, that was the worst for me. I hate searching for parking spaces.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Santa Monica Successes & Failures In Bicycle Policy & Infrastructure Pt. 2, Light Detection

Light detection is a consistent problem for cyclists, and is one of the glaring examples of bias toward cars. Most intersections use a magnetic loop buried in the asphalt to detect vehicles, but they are generally tuned to a dull sensitivity that only picks up automobiles, sometimes even missing the presence of motorcycles. With the proliferation of lighter metals like aluminum and completely non-metal materials like carbon fiber in newer bicycles frames and wheels, the likelihood of bicycle detection is even lower.

Some intersections operate on a combination of timers and detection, and if nothing is detected it will change at the end of the timer. However many intersections have no such timer and if your bike is not detectable, than it will never change for you without the presence of a car. At some hours on certain low traffic roads (low traffic roads are appealing to cyclists) cars are seldom. At this point your left with the option of running the red light if it is clear, or getting off the bike and walking over to the cross walk button (which is even less realistic for the motorcyclist with trouble triggering a light). This can be frustrating particularly when you are trying to make a left turn and then have to cross the street from the middle of the road.

So I give a careful look both directions and run the light generally when this happens. This is not ideal, but on rides home at night, to stop and get off at the cross walk at every intersection would add considerable time and frustration to my trip. As far as I am concerned these lights are inoperative for bikes and so I treat them like stop signs. The legality of this is a little fuzzy as the definition of what is an inoperative light is somewhat unclear.

Some might question why make a fuss over signal detection, but I feel it is important for the convenience and legitimacy of legal road users who are not in giant metal boxes. Signal detection problems send a message to cyclists, motorcyclists and the users of scooters and mo-peds, that they are not legitimate forms of transportation. In fact section (b) of C.V.C 21450 specifies:
"Upon the first placement of a traffic-actuated signal or replacement of the loop detector of a traffic-actuated signal, the traffic-actuated signal shall, to the extent feasible and in conformance with professional traffic engineering practice, be installed and maintained so as to detect lawful bicycle or motorcycle traffic on the roadway."
Addressing this problem is a pretty monumental task since it is just about everywhere in our road network. So I want to focus on where it is most glaring; streets with bike lanes or that are considered "bike routes". One might think that a road designed specifically to accommodate bikes would use sensors that can detect bikes, or at the very least always have a timer so non detected traffic can receive a green, but that is not always the case.

Signal Detection

Failure:
One such place in Santa Monica that fails to detect bicycles and has no timer, is 17th and Colorado. 17th St., which runs North/South has a bike lane and low motor vehicle traffic, making it a common place to spot bicycle commuters. This intersection is on my commute to and from home, so I know it well. Sometimes on my heavy commuter bike I can trigger the light if I ride straight for the ground loop and brake right on top of it, but usually it does not work. If I'm on my carbon racing bike, it's hopeless. The lack of proper bicycle detection and it's proximity to my home makes this the most common intersection where I have run red lights (stopping and looking both ways of course). Usually this problem is later in the evening with no cars in sight that can trigger the light for me, but even in the day there are times with few cars on 17th.

Santa Monica Successes & Failures Map (work in progress)


View Larger Map

If you know of any other intersections in Santa Monica on roads with bike lanes, or roads considered class III bike routes that lack detection or timers, I'd love to hear about them in the comments. I'm also looking for Santa Monica locals who would be interested in contributing data to the map I am building of these various cycling successes and failures in Santa Monica. Right now it is pretty incomplete, and I have limited time to fill it in. Ideally I would like a database I can later present to the Santa Monica City Council. So that I can very specifically point to where things are going right, and where they are going wrong and how they can fix it. Let me know if you are interested and willing to help out.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Saturday, Riding In A Daze. MS Century & C.R.A.N.K. Mob.

This Saturday I rode with my girlfriend Meghan for team KFI, the radio news station where she works. The ride was a charity benefit for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Using their media influence KFI was able to bring in a lot of donations for the MS cause. We rode the 100 mile ride option from Camarillo to Santa Barbara. I hadn't had much sleep in a while so mostly what I remember about the ride is that it was really pretty, had some hills in there somewhere, and was lacking vegan food options at lunch and post ride. Meghan and I ate lots of extra pistachio nuts and plain chips to try and compensate for this.

When we finally returned home, it was just about time to leave for the epic anniversary of C.R.A.N.K. Mob. Being tired was discouraging, but I had to see what all the fuss was about. I was glad I made it out and hung around for the Festival (for lack of a better word) in the Costco parking lot east of Lincoln on Washington. More details and photos soon.

After returning from shooting event photography the next day on Sunday, I went to sleep around 4:30 in the afternoon. I then hibernated until Monday morning. Another epic weekend of bicycles.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Today is Park[ing] Day

(Photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid)

Once a year communities in various cities around the world commandeer metered parking spaces and convert them into miniature parks while feeding them quarters. The event highlights the land use space issues associated with providing cheap parking spaces for cars. No where is this disparity between parks and parking spaces more apparent then Los Angeles. In L.A., the per capita parkland space is 10% of the recommendation of 8-10 acres of parks and open space for every 1000 residents [LAist].

Props to the LACBC for taking over a parking space and installing bike racks, demonstrating that twelve bikes can park in the space normally reserved for a single car.

Links:
Park[ing] Day L.A. [Official Site & Map Of Parks]
Take a break for Park[ing] Day [green LA girl]


Update:
Streets Blog L.A. Documentation Of Park[ing] Day 08

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Car Comes Back To Haunt Me

Fellow L.A. cycling blogger Bike Girl has been writing about her ups and downs of going a month car free, inspired by others who have, or are in the process of going car free. I'm effectively car free in that I never drive anymore, but still own one. I had made the choice to finally ditch owning it, and renting one for any special occasion that really necessitated driving. But that hasn't gone entirely to plan.

Being the oh so busy bee lately, I haven't actually gotten rid of the car yet as I was planning to do. I've been considering selling it cheap to my brother, but both of us are procrastinators about things like meeting up and paperwork. So alas the car has continued to sit and collect droppings from the sky, both tree and bird. This presented a problem yesterday when I needed to do the weekly chore of moving the car across the road for street cleaning. I turned the key, and doh, my battery was dead.

I didn't have time to deal with the problem just then or I'd be late for work. So I biked to work as I always do, knowing I would return home to another parking ticket. Fortunately, my work has a parking cash out program for commuters who don't require subsidized parking (which certain classes of businesses are required to offer by law in CA). It would take 3 parking tickets in one month to cancel my incentive for not driving to work due to the high value of parking spaces in the Santa Monica business district.

Later, a friend of mine who just got a used bicycle after not owning one for many years drove out to see me so I could take a look at it and diagnose any issues with it on my repair stand. So I asked if she could help use her car to jump start mine. The moment the prongs made the connections between the two cars, a car alarm I didn't even know was installed on my car came back to life and proceeded to make a terrible racket late at night, right by apartment windows. I didn't have any kind of key fob to turn it off, and at the time had no idea how to operate the internal kill switch in the car.

So then a lady from the near by apartment comes down to hover over the scene and interject comments about my "piece of shit" car, which she had developed a hatred for. Apparently since it was dirty and parked in front of her window for two weeks. Just before AIDS LifeCycle, I had received my renewal notification for my vehicle registration, and during the stress of getting ready for the ride I totally forgot about it. So now I am over due by a couple months and need to update it with the DMV. This also came back to haunt me, since the upset neighbor was then pointing it out with the threat to have it towed.

I didn't want to deal with trying to go any further now that I had a car alarm to content with, which quite literally made me feel as though my car had turned against me in retaliation for it's neglect. So I got up bright and early. Not to get in a training ride before work like I was planning to do, in preparation for the MS ride this weekend, but instead to call AAA to help me get my car to a different parking space. I wanted it done and done quickly before the angry lady followed up her brewing contempt with action.

The technician came and jump started the car with his magic portable battery. Then he quickly disabled the alarm with the kill switch, which he showed me how to use. Then I drove the car around in circles for a half hour to get a charge. So now after hours of wasted time, stress, and loss of sleep, I have moved the car to another parking space, and out of eye shot of it's previous home.

I can't wait to get rid of the car, and I now have a new found motivation to expedite that process.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ALC Day 6

Day 6 - Lompoc to Ventura, 85.5 miles
(Complete Photo Set On Flickr)

Danny, Meghan & Jared
(Danny, Meghan, and Jared)

The sixth day of AIDS LifeCycle was the toughest day for me. The terrain wasn't more difficult than other days, but physical and mental effects of 5 days of non stop riding had sunk in. My left knee had begun hurting during hard pedal strokes and hill climbing. So already starting in day 5 I had begun to preference lower gears and keeping my cadence as high as possible. Spinning faster rather then harder is easier on the joints and also reduces lactic acid build up.

Johanna & Meghan

With L.A. feeling just around the corner, many on the team used the complimentary face paint from the Rest Stops to write L.A. on their bodies. Johanna and Meghan pictured here with their calves determined to reach Los Angeles.

One of the reassuring things about riding that Day was seeing the beaches that had now taken on that Southern California look. It was a tough day of riding, but large sections of it seemed to have slipped my memory as I was almost on auto pilot. I spent less time taking photos on Day 6 then any other day and didn't write down any notes. I do remember stopping to see an an extremely elaborate art car, or van in this case, that was parked near the beach bike path. At this point I got separated from any riders that I knew, and was starting to regret stopping. In the state of mind I was in at the time I really wanted to be riding with someone familiar, but due to how crowded the beach bike path was, it was unsafe to sprint up to speed and catch up like I always did when I stopped for photos. This made for the most frustrating stretch of riding for me on the trip.

Then finally there was a stopping point. A giant line to cross the street for a big free ice cream stop, but by this time I was just feeling really grumpy. Not even being reunited with friends, colored balloons or free ice cream could cheer me up. I just wanted the day to be done with.

Pacific Coast Hugging
(Meghan and I at rest stop 4)

Finally by rest stop 4, the last stop, I was starting to cheer up. The Rest Stop 4 guys had made the stop into a party, complete with a bouncer checking rider wrist bands. I had Meghan take a photo of me looking smug and indifferent with the guy dressed like Andy Warhol.

Back at camp I was not really in the mood to take any photos. I also remember our team's tent site was as far away from the trucks as it could be that day, and the trucks were even further from bike parking. Walking in my stiff cycling shoes was taking it's toll on my feet. To add insult to injury, this day the porta potties were also the furtherest away from our tent site of any day. I suppose for everyone at least 1 day everything is all wrong.

There was a candle light vigil everyone talks about on the 6th day, and I grabbed my camera in the interest of getting some beautiful shots of it. There was a sand dune near the site that I thought would be the perfect vantage point. I had no idea that apparently an announcement was made while I was taking a shower that absolutely no one was to get on the dunes, which are protected Ventura habitat. An ALC staffer who saw me climbing up it, interpreting that I was simply disregarding the rules. Though in fact had no idea such a rule existed, and the sign for it was not visible at night. He proceeded to yell at me in a pretty condescending manner as I was making my way back down even though it was obvious I was at this point trying to comply. In my already unusually terrible mood, that was the last straw for me, so I left without taking any photos. In hind site I wish I had stayed and not let the staffer bother me so much, but at the time I really weirdly emotional and irrational. Perhaps my pale skin was letting too many UV's into my brain.

Thus concludes Day 6, my least favorite day. But I was also thrilled because it meant the next day would be the home stretch. I don't think I had ever been so excited to return to Los Angeles.

Monday, September 15, 2008

C.R.A.N.K. Mob's First Birthday, This Saturday

C.R.A.N.K. MOB

It's been one year since the now infamous
C.R.A.N.K. Mob had it's first monthly ride. The crafted route planning, wild abundance of often unrelated themes and costumes, rest stop games, and staged events, revitalized the social ride scene on the West Side. The most amazing parties I've ever been to, bikes or no bikes, have all been nights with C.R.A.N.K. Mob.

I've been made privy to tantalizing top secret planning by the ride organizers, however I have been sworn to secrecy. I feel I can safely say without spoiling anything that this is shaping up to be awesome on a level that extends into dimensions almost unfathomable by human consciousness. Don't have plans on Saturday night? Come out and ride. Have other plans? Change them.

So get your bike, or other human powered rolling device (I have been known to rollerblade), and come party like there is no tomorrow!!!

F.U.N.


Ridazz Calender Listing

WHERE:
Sawtelle and La Grange (Map)

WHEN:
Sept. 20th
Meet at 9:30 PM
Ride at 10:00 PM

Friday, September 12, 2008

Trains Are Awesome. Every Train Is A Bike Train.

TrainHeader

For regular readers and friends of mine, you may be aware that I'm also a proponent for other forms of alternative transit besides cycling. As mentioned in my update on the Metro community meetings, I'm passionate about the role of trains to move people in and between cities. In the coming election there are two major ballot initiatives effecting the future of trains in California and L.A., Prop1A for a European style statewide bullet train and Measure R for Metro expansion. So I felt compelled to start separate blog to promote rail transportation. There will likely be some overlap on occasion, since I feel trains and bikes compliment each other. For the scoop on trains check out my new blog, Trains Are Awesome.

I'll try to keep the posts coming on bikes as much as possible, and it is still my number one passion. But if there is a slight dip in frequency for a little while it's because I'm also trying to get some more freaking trains built around here. Our city needs them bad. Choo CHOO!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

ALC Day 5

Day 5 - Santa Maria to Lompoc, 42.5 miles
(Complete Photo Set On Flickr)

Nice Socks and Cape.
(Caped woman with rad socks welcomes riders into Rest Stop One)

Every day of AIDS LifeCycle had it's share of spectacle. Although Day 5 was especially spectacular thanks to a tradition known as Red Dress Day. The tradition began when it was realized that seen from above, one of the sharp bends in the road on the route of day 5 looked much like a folded ribbon, the symbol of the AIDS movement when colored red. If the long stream of riders all wore red together it would become a giant icon. Not content with simply throwing on a red jersey or t-shirt, it became tradition to wear red dresses regardless of gender. Since Midnight Ridazz are no stranger to spectacle many of us packed for the occasion, and I brought a red jersey to go with my red skirt used for the Halloween ride last year.

Big Hair Meets Big Headdress Yay For Colors!
I hung around Rest Stop 1 for a while snapping photos of the commotion of crimson riders. I was hoping to run into some more of my teammates, but apparently nearly everyone slept in that day and I was up as early as I could be as usual. So I hit the road again, with my skirt flapping wildly in the wind.

Horses

Just before the turn off in the road to go to Rest Stop 2, I spotted a field of horses on the side of the road. I love animals and taking their photos, so naturally I pulled off the road and walked through the bushes to get as a close a shot as possible. Apparently they liked me, because several walked right up to me and put their head over the fence, and let me pet them and pose for the photo below while I handed my camera to another rider who came to see the excitement. I don't ordinarily consider my self a trend setter, but before long many riders had pulled off for some time petting horse. So I went on my way to let others have their chance for horse play.

Horses

Once heading over to the small town bake sale and Rest Stop 2 I filled up on some cookies. I was not vegan at the time, and I have hard time passing up any opportunity to put cookies in my face. Nom nom nom!!!

Bake Sale Bake Sale

When you travel roads that are off the beaten path you tend to run into where the Government likes to put military bases. Here is one of several we passed during ALC, Vandenberg Air Force Base. This being a 42 mile "rest day," the camp was not much further by this point, and the lunch stop which was usually in the middle of a ride, was only a few miles short of camp.

Air Force Base

During lunch, and back at camp I finally caught up with more of the team. Giving me the opportunity to snap some photos of our ridazz in red.

Drew Red Pimpin
Steph Danny
Meghan Johanna
Derek Lance

Back at camp teams were being gathered for group photos. Throughout most of the trip our team tended to hang out together, but usually in different sub groups of riders going different paces, or interested in different things to do back at camp. As we walked to the photographer, all together and all wearing our jerseys, it was really cool to see the a strong presence of unity with the team (except for Shaun who showed up late). The official team photos were very regimented and stiff as everyone was positioned into a grid of gradating heights. So we also shot the team on our own in a big tree nearby, which reflected the energy of our group a lot more. We also like to climb things like monkeys and had fun at the park play ground.

Team Tree Photo
Danny & Rich Drew

Day 5 was a special evening at camp with the AIDS LifeCycle talent show. We didn't know about this tradition ahead of time or otherwise I'm sure some of our more out going team members would have prepared something. Lets just say some performances were better then others, but it was a fun time. Highlights for me were the song and dance routine by Rest Stop 4, a guy who preformed poi with LED glow balls, and the song "On Your Left", starring the rides oldest female rider.

Talent Show
Talent Show Talent Show

Meghan and I were getting too sleepy to stay to the very end of the long line up of performers, so we went back to camp to get some sleep for Day 6. There were only two more days left by this point, so L.A. was feeling well within reach.



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Well F%*K Off...

Bike Lane Icon

Encouraging safe and proper riding while on the street seems to be a tough sell to some people. Bike Girl has politely pointed out problematic riding behavior to other cyclists only to receive the response, "Oh Well". Other cycling folks I know have received feed back from other cyclists that was a little more antagonistic in similar circumstances.

I'm quite used to motorists yelling obscenities at me, whether it's because I pointed out they didn't use their turn signal, made an illegal turn nearly causing an accident, or passed just shy of clipping me with their mirror. Sometimes they yell at me for no other reason than that I exist on the road, but that is a whole other issue. Being told off by another cyclist is not something I'm accustomed to.

Well today I was finishing the last leg toward my house after returning from a night in Hollywood, and I made a left turn onto the 17th bike lane from Broadway in Santa Monica, like I do all the time. Only this time I was surprised to make the turn and come face to face with another cyclist riding the wrong way in the bike lane. After swerving to avoid nearly hitting him, I tried to say as politely as I could given the circumstances, "Wrong way dude." To which he replied "Well fuck off", in a mumbly unconcerned voice, that gave the impression of someone sleep walking only to suddenly be confused when confronted with reality. Even though I was doing the perfectly normal thing by riding you know, in the direction the arrow on the ground is pointing, he seemed more annoyed by me than I of him.

The Santa Monica Police Department invests thousands of tax payer dollars employing officers to follow Santa Monica Critical Mass every month and write tickets. Some of these tickets are legitimate, but it seems just as often that these tickets are bogus accusations that get thrown out in court, or obscure technicalities that are never enforced in any other context. Most critical mass riders know the basic rules of the road and move with the flow of traffic. However, douche bags like this guy this morning roam the streets freely every day defining the rules of the road how ever they want to, because they feel immune to ridicule or punishment by anyone else and certainly not law enforcement.

The whole situations reeks of politically motivated selective enforcement. If you make your voice heard about cyclist issues, you can expect a ticket no matter how silly it happens to be, like Alex C. who was given a ticket for no lights on his bike at night when his bike in fact had 5 of them. Break the law blatantly, but keep your mouth shut, and you can expect the law to turn a blind eye.

The SMPD seems only interested in enforcing the laws for cyclists one day a month, and only against a particular group, presumably to make some kind of example. That is some dubious logic considering most people who rides bikes in Santa Monica every day have likely never been to Critical Mass, and probably never will. Even if they have heard of the "crack down," all it communicates to them is that cops target a group who rides once a month. I've also heard of cops doing isolated busts of certain high traffic sidewalks where cyclists (who shouldn't be there in the first place) often fail to yield to pedestrians or on the Promenade, where cycling is expressly forbidden.

So as long you don't ride with Critical Mass, on the side walk along Ocean or at the Promenade, everything else is pretty much fair game. Could you imagine if law enforcement only ticketed motorists one day a month and only at certain places to set an example for everyone else? Like lets set up a drunk driving trap once a month and ignore drunk driving every other day.

I don't think necessarily going around writing high dollar amount moving violations for bikes is really necessary, but at least give some of these people low fine warnings so they know what they are doing is against the law. People only receive rudimentary knowledge of the road laws in drivers education, which is also devoid of cycling issues, and there is no such thing as mandatory cycling education. So at the very least people need to be made aware of these things and know that cops are paying attention.

I still feel hazardous driving is the larger problem due to the potential for lethal repercussions in car accidents, but ass holes deserve to be called out for their behavior whether they are behind the wheel or gripping handle bars. Since many cyclists also drive, I'm sure some of them are guilty of being ass holes in both modes of transit.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

ALC Day 4, Part 2

Continued from ALC Day 4, Part 1
Day 4 - Paso Robles to Santa Maria, 97.7 miles
Pacific Coast View from the gazebo
(The Pacific Coast is sexy, yes?)

Completing Day 4 of AIDS LifeCycle took a long time in part because it was 97 miles. Also it took a long time because as mentioned in the previous post, amidst the beatiful scenery I couldn't help but pull off the road, and a in a few cases even veer off course a little for some snap shots. One such excursion was pulling off to Gull Cottage American Folk Art. I perused their galleries of arts and crafts for a bit and picked up a small gift I could carry on the bike for my lady.

Gull Cottage American Folk Art Gull Cottage American Folk Art

One of the things about cycling that is inherently different about driving, is that when you are cycling great distances you have no choice but to pace your self. Taking it slow allows you to really take in and appreciate the landscape. I remember road trips in the car as a kid, and being interested in things outside the window, but never being able to interact. Only seen for a fleeting moment as we flew down the highway. I might admire a cow grazing in a mostly empty landscape from the car, but while on ALC, it was so easy to just go right up and say hello.

Cows
(Hello)

The team at Rest Stop 3, perhaps feeling the heat from the awesome productions at Rest Stop 4, put on an especially elaborate theme of the Adams Family. As I'm sure many readers are aware, proper hydration and nutrition are essential to long distance cycling, so these periodic rest stops as essential to making sure everyone completes the ride safely. Props to the volunteers who always made sure we had plenty of snacks and water.

Rest Stop 3 (Adams Family) Rest Stop 3 (Adams Family)

Did I mention the ride was 97 miles after having biked 3 days in a row? I'm a strong rider, but even I at times would get to feeling burnt out, especially after the taxing effort I made to keep up with Bruce on Day 3. Head and cross winds, as were often the case on ALC, were a more fierce enemy then the hills, so it came with great relief when I saw the markers for Rest Stop 4. Never letting their guard down, RS4 did not disappoint with their Top Gun air force theme. Complete with coned off landing strip and air traffic directors flagging in riders to the entrance.

Rest Stop 4 Does Top Gun

Before making the turn onto the final stretch before camp we ride by a beautifully maintained cemetery, with many tombstones dated at or before the turn of the 20th century. A cemetery can be a creepy place for some, but I find them often be great places to explore and reflect on life. Stopping here was one of the highlights of the ride that day for me.

Cemetery

As luck should have it the last leg to camp, much like day 2, was a turn that made what had been bitter crosswinds, become a forceful tail wind. Also like day 2, I can rarely resist the opportunity for hitting some serious speeds. So despite being tired, I actually pedaled much harder so that with the combined advantage of the tail wind, I could rocket at 30+ mph speeds for as long as the winds were with me.


Back at camp, after posing at the pirate ship that just happened to be there, it was a bit of a rush. Taking so long to finish the route with all my meandering meant for the first time I was in danger of missing dinner! I wasn't really noticing the time, and I always preferred to set up camp and shower before eating. When I realized how late it was getting after the shower I rushed to camp services so I could put food in my face. Sleep soon followed, ending another day of AIDS LifeCycle. Three more days to follow.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Uneventful Rides


A lot of us die hard cyclists spend a fare amount of time pointing out the wrongs of reckless driving and the failures of public infrastructure, all to try and make the world a perfect place for bikes. The problem is, like the sensationalized media stories that make biking in L.A. out to be warfare on wheels, it can skew the perception of reality. Yes in L.A. if you ride a bike you will encounter ass hole drivers, poorly planned streets, and hazardous road conditions. It's the nature of things here.

However the mass majority of riding is pretty uneventful, especially in my home town of Santa Monica. Most drivers give plenty of passing room, a few in fact give too much passing room, and I worry they are going to crash into some center divider trying to give me more space then necessary. Most rides to work, nothing notable happens, especially since I rerouted most of my daily commute to Broadway instead of the more direct but hazardous Olympic. It should be noted here that route planning is absolutely one of the most important factors in having a safe commute.

There is certainly a lot of room for improvement, and in L.A. especially. So we'll keep on fighting for safer streets and more accommodating infrastructure. The truth is though, that everyday millions of people in cities across the country ride their bikes to work, for errands, for recreation, and have a great day. My rides to and from work went by without a hitch all last week and nothing to report on this morning as per usual. So ride a bike, and leave the flak jacket at home.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Metro Westside Extension Community Meetings

(Proposed Route Alternative 11 with Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvd. Connections)

This is a blog about bicycles, but I want to emphasize the importance of expanding public transit to reduce our city's dependence on cars. Bikes and trains complement each other, with bikes being an ideal way to cover shorter distances, and trains being a fast and efficient way to cross greater distances within a city without generating a suffocating atmosphere of automobile gridlock and parking lots. In a future post on transit diversity in the city, I'll talk more on the relationship of cycling to other alternative transit modes.

Last night at the Santa Monica library was the first of a series of meetings this week to discuss the latest incarnation of the proposal for a subway connecting the West Side to the rest of the Metro rail network. It was a great presentation that explained the thought process and community meetings that led up to the current proposal, and the challenges moving forward. Speaker Jody Litvak also emphasized that despite criticism that this is only for Westsiders, such a connection would benefit all of L.A. County. Nearly 3 times as many people commute into the West Side for work as those who commute out of it, so it would in fact benefit Angelenos spread across the city. Compared to current public transit times to UCLA from various parts of L.A., the subway would save as much 11 full 24 hours days of commuting for a daily transit user per year according to one of the charts they had on display.

10 Freeway
(A typical summer Sunday afternoon in Santa Monica)

During the public comment portion I put in my two minutes to talk about the failure of our Automobile dependence and the need for efficient alternatives such as the proposed subway. I spoke of beating average car travel times from Hollywood to Santa Monica on my bicycle at rush hour by as much as 20 minutes and the Crimanimalz beating freeway traffic on the 10 and 405 with bicycles and even in-line skates. Siel of green LA girl, was at the meeting live blogging the event until her laptop died, so check it out if you're curious to read more about what was discussed.

There are still more meetings, today and later in the week so if you have a chance I recommend checking it out, and if you've got something to say, go exercise your 2 minutes.

Sept. 4, 6 - 8 pm (Today):
Plummer Park, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood.

Sept. 6, 2 - 4 pm:
Beverly Hills Public Library – Auditorium, 2nd Fl., 444 N Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills.

Sept. 8, 6-8 pm:
Los Angeles County Museum of Art West - Terrace Room, 5th Fl., 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

Sept. 10, 6 - 8 pm:
Westwood Presbyterian Church, 10822 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

For more details about the meetings and which transit lines serve these meeting locations check out Metro. If you are looking to bike to one of these meetings and are having trouble, let me know in the comments, and I might be able to offer some route suggestions.

Although Metro is not allowed to use these public meetings as a campaign platform for the next election, it is obvious that building such a subway is going to cost a lot of money that Metro doesn't have right now. If you want to see a Los Angeles future with a fast and efficient transit network, I suggest you read up on Measure R. This measure will appear on the ballot for L.A. County voters this November.



Links: