Friday, February 27, 2009

An Art & Bike Filled Weekend, ArtCycle & Red Riding Hood

Red Ridding Hood Was Here

I'll be out of town on adventure this weekend, but for those of you in L.A. this weekend, the Bicycle District, Heliotrope at Melrose, will be closed to car traffic and made into an art festival. The East Hollywood ArtCycle. In conjunction with this event, my friend Ashira Siegel, a.k.a., Red Riding Hood, will be debuting her DIY photo book "BIKE LIFE" at Orange 20. So if you have the chance, go support your local artistic cycling folks, and maybe grab some Scoops while you're at it. Yummm, Scoops.

East Hollywood ArtCycle:
February 28th from 2-10pm

Red Riding Hood "Bike Life" Release Party:
6-9pm @ O20

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tour Of Califronia, Stage 7

Stage 7 of the 09 Tour Of California, my first time watching a professional road race, was a blast. Riding up into the hills, high enough to see snow on the ground, was a great way to watch the race. Then came the fun part of following after the race passed, to bomb the final decent to the Rose Bowl. It was one hell of a steep drop, but oh so fun. Riding along the course, sometimes spectators who had set up would cheer you on even though you weren't part of the race. My favorite moment while climbing into the hills was a little boy shouted to me, "good job, ride fast, fly in the sky". That's what's it all about.

The stage win went to Rinaldo Nocentini, but Levi Leipheimer held on to the yellow jersey. After stage 8 in San Diego Levi has pulled a hat trick winning the Tour Of California 3 years straight. For complete results check out the Tour Of California website, and for my photos of the day click to view the complete set, or just enjoy some of my favorite pics below.

Waiting In The Hills For The Race


Break Away Hauling Ass

Francisco Mancebo Goes Down

Rose Bowl Circuit Laps

Rose Bowl Circuit Laps - Astana Leading The Pack

The Only Clear Shot I Got Of Armstrong

Levi Leipheimer

Finish Line And Podium

Chalk Drawing - Amgen Tour of CA Rocks!!!

Mavic Team Cars

Penny Farthing Track Stand

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tour Of California Comes To Pasadena

(Creative Commons Photo by Ken Conley)

I get my self so wrapped up in following the politics of cycling and transportation issues that it can be a downer sometimes, but this weekend it will be nice to just forget about all of it for a little while and be awestruck. There are few opportunities to see world class road cyclists racing in America, but lucky for us, the Tour Of California has grown in popularity to become one of the highest profile bike races in the country. So if you want to see the likes of riders like Lance Armstrong, who just came out of retirement this year, in the flesh, this Saturday is your chance. I'll be riding with some friends up and then up some more to the Millcreek Summit to watch where king of the mountain points will be awarded. We're hoping the route reopens to traffic fast enough that we can bomb the same hill the racers will descend and catch the finish before they are done whizzing laps around the Rose Bowl, where the stage closes. Excited!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dumb Ass Cyclist Of The Day

Bike Lane Icon

Broadway in Santa Monica is a very popular route for West/East travel by bicycle commuters thanks to it's bike lane and relatively tame driving speeds compared to some streets. The threat of doors from parked cars is still present, but Broadway is the route of choice. Lots of bikes go by, no where near as many as someplace like Portland, but enough to be note worthy. In case the arrows on the ground were not obvious enough, it should be obvious which way bicycle traffic flows, by well looking at what all the other cyclists are doing. However not everyone understands the perils of wrong way riding, since most bicycle traffic fatalities involve wrong way riders. Perhaps this should be a mandatory lesson in physics class. If a cyclist is traveling 15 mph and is hit from behind by a 35 mph car it will be as though they were standing still and hit by a 20 mph car, but in a head on collision with the same speeds, it would be as though standing still and being hit by a 50 mph car. Which hurts more, hmmm? All this on top of the fact that drivers, or other cyclists for that matter, do not expect something coming straight at them, which reduces time available to react and increases the risk of accidents occurring in addition to increasing their severity.

We cyclists often rant about the drivers we see on the road, but cyclists are far from being free of deserving ridicule. Despite what should be obvious, common sense and logical, I encountered my first wrong way cyclist on the Broadway bike lane coming right at me at a decent speed this morning. This is all kinds of wrong, and behavior like this could get him killed or someone else, or him and someone else. In unexpected head on traffic it is a common problem that both people may make evasive moves that counter each other, but I decided the moment I saw him coming to signal and leave the bike lane to enter the flow of car traffic. I then yelled at him as he deserved some yelling at before he hurts somebody. The next time I see this, I don't care how hostile the other person is, or how much a hurry I am in to get to work, I am tracking that person down and giving them a lecture whether they want it or not. Somebody has to teach these people since parents, the DMV and law enforcement have all dropped the ball. If he wants to take him self out Darwin award fashion, that's his own deal, but I don't want to see someone like this drag others with him.

Why 5 MPH Matters

Over on the How We Drive blog, a video campaign from the U.K. was featured highlighting just how important speed limits are. I think somewhere down the line in America the concept of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness came to mean get out of my way, I'm in a hurry. On 65 mph speed limit highways we go from an 80 cruising speed on off times to the other extreme of 5-10 mph nail biting at rush hour. On surface streets, synchronized lights, a technology for moving traffic in the morning, turns streets into drag strips at off times. Even in school zones, one of the most highly labeled areas for traffic speed regulation, cars above the speed limit and chatting on cell phones while sipping a latte are not that uncommon a sight. There are very damn good reasons we created speed limits in the first place, and no matter how much air bag puffery protects the driver, that doesn't do shit for everyone else using the road without a protective bubble.

Speeding in accidents is obviously more then just a reaction time and braking distance issue, it significantly influences the damage should an accident occur. "A pedestrian has an 85 percent chance of death when involved in a motor/vehicle collision at 40 mph, a 45 percent chance of death at 30 mph, and a 5 percent chance of death at 20 mph." [National Highway Traffic Association] This problem is exacerbated tremendously by the proliferation of SUVs, a vehicle many people have bought into thinking it will make them safer despite a significant increase in roll over crashes (creating a whole field of roll over accident attorneys).

The wide spread popularity of SUV's if anything make the road less safe for everyone. No where is this more apparent than in pedestrian collisions where the tall boxy shape of SUV's tend to trample over people rather than flip them onto the hood like on a conventional car. A few months ago in Glendale a woman driving her son to school was distracted and killed a sixth grade girl who was walking in a marked cross walk after other vehicles had already come to a stop. The driver was apparently going 10 mph, but due to the pedestrian trampling design of SUVs and short fragile bodies of the young, that's all it took to kill. The title of Ralph Nader's famous book skewering the auto industry, Unsafe At Any Speed, comes to mind when thinking of accidents like this.

In California if a surface street is monitored by radar for average speed, and it is found that 85% of drivers are above the speed limit, the speed limit is considered too low and recommended to be raised. This goes to show how ass backward stupid, heartless, and automobile centric California can be sometimes. They call this concept voting with your gas pedal. This is so ass backward as to be borderline insane. Shouldn't the fact that 85% of people are speeding show that law enforcement has completely neglected enforcing this street, and traffic engineers have failed to implement design that slows driver down. If 85% of people walk into a convenience store and steel a candy bar we don't legalize stealing candy bars.

Despite this obvious fault of logical reasoning, under this notion the Los Angeled Department Of Transportation has been hard at work trying to raise speed limits on dozens of streets despite community opposition by residents in many areas. In at least one of these cases a street with a bike lane would have it's speed limit raised to 50 mph. The LADOT apparently values the voting power of the gas pedal over the voting power of the parents or the Neighborhood Council.

Wreckless Driving! Weeeeee!

Reducing speeding requires changes in behavior and attitude, but those changes will be hard to come by without real and substantial enforcement of our existing laws. Laws that are rarely taken seriously because even our own government doesn't take them seriously enough. The city and on a larger scale our whole state is in a budget crisis. I propose that we can fill some of that gap with increasing speeding tickets, both in quantity and in fee amounts. Perhaps with a sliding fee scale based on income bracket like in some European countries to punish the rich more proportionally since small infractions do not effect their budget enough to matter to them.

It's not hard to find people speeding in Los Angeles, and even easier in the outlying suburbs with their long blocks and wide lanes. Besides the obvious benefit to government revenue (which I would propose stay limited to transportation spending), this would have the added benefit of making the road safer by discouraging reckless behavior. Which in a round about way saves the government yet even more money by reducing demand for emergency response and medical care. It's a win win policy for everyone except those who think their getting around above the speed limit takes precedence over consideration for human life, whether that be their own or someone else.

(Here's a look at how a very small difference in speed can significantly effect safety for the driver as well. Keep in mind this is kph, not mph, so these are not even very fast speeds. This is not computer effects either, this was a real set up with stunt drivers and real crashes. )

So maybe you are driving an automobile when the speed limit in a residential area says 30 mph, traffic is kind of light so you feel like it would be no big deal to go 35, maybe even 40. That very well could mean the difference between life and death should the unexpected occur.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Update: Concerning Viper Spin Out Incident

I have removed the spin out photos and previous post by request. It turns out as one of the commenters suspected, the Dodge Viper was in town for a photoshoot. What I did not realize until today, was that a division of my own company in a different studio space, was the one using the car for promotional photos. As it turns out the driver of the vehicle actually had years of experience with powerful cars and even race track driving. However, the Viper was the first car he felt nerve wracked to be driving around for the photoshoots.

The car is notoriously hard to control with an out of this world tremendous accelerating power under the hood (Can do 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and through the quarter-mile in only 11.8 seconds, holy crap), has a sensitive pedal and a light frame. In the driver's considerable time with the company he has never previously had such an incident with one of the sports cars and is otherwise known to be a conscientious driver. The car is still in town, but they have got someone else to drive it, and the original driver, whose name I will not mention, was very shaken up by his loss of control of the vehicle.

So the moral is there is always two sides to a story, and that Dodge Vipers are by design, insanely powerful, but incredibly difficult to control. So if by chance you see one of these rare beasts of a machine on the road, give it some breathing room, and that goes if you are driving, cycling, or even just standing on the sidewalk. I hope the video game likeness of the Viper is thrill enough for most people, and I'm glad the bar for entry of ownership is so high (2009 MSRP: $88,590-89,340).

To clarify, I did not mean to absolve the driver of responsibility, it is ultimately regardless of the kind of vehicle or circumstance, a drivers responsibility to drive safely. Inspired by witnessing this spectacular wipe out of a Dodge Viper making a simple right turn, I'm considering later writing a more detailed post concerning high end performance cars on the road.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Free Documentary Viewing For First 100 Cyclists To Opening Of Fuel

There is a new film opening in L.A. fresh from an Audience Award for best documentary at Sundance. Fuel takes a look at the history and present of America's dependence on petrol chemicals for fuel, and solutions to the problem. Obviously transit by bicycle, the best invention ever, is one way to significantly reduce fuel consumption even if only used for some trips. True to the spirit of the film's intentions, free tickets to the opening are being handed out to the first 100 cyclists to show up to the Santa Monica pier this Friday at 6:00pm to ride to the 7:00pm showing at the AMC Loews Broadway 4.

Seems a little odd to me that they are meeting an hour in advance to go about 3 blocks on bikes when the estimated walking time is 6 minutes between those points. Speaking of walking, pedestrians & transit users seem like good candidates for this incentive as well, but do not appear to be included in this offer. Their role in reducing fuel consumption should not be overlooked. I actually walked to work today because I just didn't feel like dealing with Los Angeles drivers in the rain today and am fortunate enough to live 2 miles from work.

Thanks to green LA girl for the tip, who also foresees a problem with where are those 100 cyclists going to park their bikes? I would have to agree considering even on a normal evening the bike racks all up and down the 3rd St. Promenade are typically full and many people attach to trees or other random objects. Although cyclists have been known to get creative in the absence of adequate bike parking infrastructure...

Bike Parking

I may not be able to see it opening night, but I definitely want to check it out. The more more mainstream attention we can bring to alternative energy issues the better, and a successful opening can lead to wider theatrical release. As I like to tell people, my alternative energy source for getting to work is breakfast cereal.

When: Friday, Feb. 13, 6 pm
Where: Meet at the top of Santa Monica pier by the cannon in Palisades Park, the corner of Colorado and Ocean, Santa Monica
RSVP: Required to

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bikerowave Seeks New Base Of Operations

The Bikerowave

The most awesomeist bicycle co-op this side of the 405, the Bikerowave, is looking for a new home. So if you know any good places on the West Side for a community run bike shop, be sure to drop them a line. If you are unawares what a community bike shop is, check out this video. The Bikerowave has been a focal point for the growing community of cyclists on the West Side, and any neighborhood that they move to will become more bike friendly by proxy. So let's find them a good home, maybe one with a little more visibility.

"Bikerowave is looking for a new location. We seek 800+ sq. ft, with high ceilings, and potentially a store front. Bikerowave is based in West LA, so locations West of the 405 and North of Washington Blvd are ideal. Unfinished industrial space, and odd spaces are welcome. Our present rent is $1350 per month, and we probably be unable to pay more than $2000 per month. If you have resources or leads, please email"