Friday, March 19, 2010

lastreetsblog fun-- delighting in being quoted, because I am superficial.

I have, in the past couple weeks, begun to comment on This is partly because there is no and I am lazy. Why not basically appropriate the for my own nefarious lb uses? And there are lots of Long Beach people on there, anyway. It's not like Long Beach isn't part of the LA scene.

Today, I was criticising a poster who talked about how dangerous the streets were, and expressed my amusement at how so many bike advocates are invested in the idea that the streets are inherently unsafe for bikes. People like this advocate for infrastructure, but I said:

“At some point, protected bike lanes end, sharrows end, bike lane paint ends. And people have to ride on the street. The horrible, bonecrushing, bloody streets of certain death.”

Which Damien, the editor of, immediately put up in the 'word on the street section.' And he immediately appropriated it in HIS comment he posted to the thread, saying "... were literally getting killed out there, on the horrible, bone crushing, bloody streets of certain death and our elected leaders and government bureaucracy only seems to care when a big stink is made."

Anyway. Perhaps the streets of LA ARE "horrible, bone crushing, bloody streets of certain death." I have only ridden on them at night, in the rain, and that one time I rode to my dad's around LAX. Perhaps I don't know the truth about the deadly streets of LA.

I do, after all, live and ride in the LBC.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Testing Google Maps Bicycle Directions

I have spent a few minutes testing Google Maps directions for bicycles. What it's doing in my area seems to be the following.

1) Whenever possible, use a separated bike path
2) When that's not possible, use a bike lane
3) When that's not possible, use a street

which results in directions that pretty much follow the way I tend to do things for really big trips that are primarily N/S -- for those trips, it routes me up the San Gabriel or LA River bike paths, and this is what I'd do. I am not afraid of riding on the street, but the LA and SG River trails are like bike freeways. You can ride on them full-speed for as long as you can handle with hardly any traffic. Why ride in the street and deal with traffic when you don't have to?

But E/W gets more interesting. For instance, if I do directions from my mom's place in Huntington Beach to my home, it is exactly how I'd do it (Garfield to Seapoint to PCH to 2nd) until it gets to Belmont Shore. Then, seeing that there's a segregated bike path along the beach, it sends me down that way, rather than up a perfectly quiet street like 1st or 2nd. That adds real distance to my trip where it really makes little sense.

It would be helpful if it let you decide how agressive it should be on choosing separated paths vs bike lanes vs surface streets, so people could get maps more geared towards their preference and comfort level.

That being said, this is a new tool, and it works pretty well already. As they get feedback and tune things up, it should prove to be a really useful tool.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Why Portland rocks, in a somewhat large nutshell:

I went to Powell's City of Books and went to the Cycling section. They had several copies of Forester's Effective Cycling, one used. They had several copies of Mapes' Pedaling Revolution. They had several copies of tons of books about bicycle repair and about commuting by bike, all the various bike sports figures, bike touring memoirs, etc. And they had copies of Boneshaker: A Bicycling Almanac.

I am old-fashioned. I could have gotten these books from Powell's online. Or from anyone online, really. But I was stubborn. I went all over Long Beach trying to find Forester and Mapes. I went to places in LA, Phoenix. Whereever I happened to be. Nope. Now, Santa Cruz was close. There were tons of bike books at Logos, but not Forester or Mapes.

The fact that Powell's has these books says, first, that Powell's is awesome. But also it reflects that there is a real cycling culture in Portland, with numerous people reading books about cycling.

I could have figured this out by the racks outside of Powell's, made to look like various famous books involving bicycling, and crammed full with various pretty bikes, but that would have been lazy.

Anyway, so now I have my Mapes and Forester books, and can go back to Long Beach happy.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Advocacy Irritations and being 'full of sh*t'

The Long Beach Cyclists Book Group is currently reading chapters from Cycling and Society (2007), by Paul Rosen, Peter Cox, and David Horton. One of the chapters we haven't reviewed yet is Chapter 4, "Hell is Other Cyclists." This cute riff on Sartre's "L'enfer, c'est les autres" has been on my mind recently, as I become more knowledgeable about bike advocacy and more irritated by some of its practitioners.

I will write more about this later, as I can't figure out exactly how to write about it now, beyond saying that damn, advocacy people can drive me up a wall...


The funny thing is I wrote this BEFORE Umberto Brayj told me I was full of 'sh*t' for saying something he didn't agree with in an lastreetsblog comment.

And the disheartening thing is that first, I hadn't posted to lastreetsblog before, that I can think of. And second, that Umberto, or whatever his name is, started the Bike Kitchen and Flying Pigeon store in Lincoln Heights.

The worst thing is that I seriously had been fantasizing about getting a Flying Pigeon from his store. At this point, I doubt I'll set foot in his store, let alone buy anything from the guy.

And this perfectly illustrates my point about Hell is Other Cyclists. In this case, a pretty famous guy in the LA scene, who has done a LOT of good and is doing a lot of good, but this is the way he chooses to respond to someone he doesn't agree with, someone he has never met. Not cool. Not encouraging.

Perhaps I am just ignorant and full of 'sh*t.' But I think we can be advocates for cycling in general, and our positions in particular, without calling each other names when we disagree.