Wednesday, December 20, 2006

BC bike powered billboard

Ah those Canadians and their bikes!

Check this one out:

For five days, a group of volunteers in a Vancouver parking lot kept Rudolph bright and shiny with pedal power, to demonstrate the energy efficiency of LED lights.

And bicycles, no?

Project was sponsored by DDB/Vancouver and BC Hydro, don't know anything about them, but (predictably) dig the concept - a festive way to illuminate our tremendous, often overlooked human power......

Granted, message was really about LEDs, but we velovangelists will fixate on the bike.

Judging by some of the comments, not everyone thought this was such a "bright idea", taking pity on the poor volunteers (doesn't their voluneer status imply a certain amount of willingness?), or finding it just plain "weird".....

Whats even weirder? LA's seasonal contribution to global warming - Xmas lights. The front lawn displays during the holidays is be....believed....

Highly doubt any Angelenos are pedaling to stay lit.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Bike Safari Re-post

Didn't think to bring my camera, but will borrow from Siel's post on our Sbx Bike Safari on Saturday.

She explains the reason behind our multiple Starbuck's visits (with own cups of course) in detail on Green LA Girl.....I'm repeat posting because our transport was bicycles.

Ron even rides an Xtracycle!

Next time anyone wants to organize a little bike-tivism, I'm game.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

60 miles a day and SINGin'!

Just came across this wonderful interview series on LA bike commuting.

NRDC's Daniel Hinerfeld chats with Slate Magazine editor Andy Bowers (who I remember from high school, though he was a few years my senior...) and local cycling guru Scott Sing, who commutes up to 60 miles a day on two wheels!

What makes these interviews so great is the difference between all three commuters, from their mileage, to the reasons they've chosen bikes as a viable form of transportation. Scott is definitely a hard core (life)cyclist, while Daniel and Andy ride distances that are perhaps more comprehensible to the average city dweller.

Which is a wonderful contrast, illustrating that we need not all be wiry, lean bodied, car eschewing distance riders to do our part.....simply replacing a few short trips - to the market, running a few weekend errands, etc. makes a difference.

Or how 'bout to the gym?

On that note, Andy makes a point that made me pound my fist on the table and shout "YES!", which is a little embarrassing in that I'm all alone at the moment. Nevertheless, I quote:

"How American is that, that you would drive your SUV to a gym, to use a machine that uses electricity to simulate a bicycle, when you could just ride your bicycle?"

An absolutely insane concept. Granted, we've got work to do yet to improve safety conditions for cyclsts, something I plan to address in greater detail for my bike-related contributions on the Worldchanging LA blog.....

Meantime, wear your helmet, choose chill streets, and light your bike up like a Christmas tree, 'tis the season.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ladies day at the track

Without a doubt, this was the biggest adrenaline jolt I've had in a long while.

This past Saturday, I went to a free womens clinic at the LA Velodrome, thanks to a random last minute invite by my adventurous cycling buddy Dora. Neither of us had the faintest clue what we were in for, but were intrigued to find that the Velodrome, one of the finest facilities of its kind, was offering free training sessions for women, part of a larger effort to promote women's cycling.

I had a look at the website the day before, saw photos of cyclists riding what seemed to me like impossibly steep walls.... and had crazy, anticipatory dreams that night.

We arrived with stomachs aflutter, to find about 50 other women all geared up, munching on snacks provided by the center. We were then greeted by Bonnie Bourque and Julia Cross from the Womens Cycling Challenge, who both assured us this would be a safe, rewarding experience.

This was the third in a 4 part clinic series (all free!) so about half the lasses had already been certified to ride, and headed straight off to the track. The rest of us had an hour Certification Class from Roger Young, who explained the basics of how to ride safely, proper etiquette on passing, and how to not slide off the track.


We were then fitted with a bike, and let loose to give it a whirl. Bonnie kindly let me use her custom built styley track bike, adding with a wink "just don't crash, I'll be keeping my eye on you!"

I must've spun around that track a good 20 times before I could muster up the courage to climb up the wall a bit. Kept chickening out. And then a clearly experienced woman rode up alongside and asked "how ya doin'?" with a friendly smile before zipping up the wall. This simple gesture was all I needed to force my body to just give it a try.

WHAT A RUSH!!!!! Thank you rider-chick, whoever you are.....its the little things - a kind word, a friendly wave, that make a world of difference.

I'm normally not much of a high speed, thrill seeker, and enjoy the outdoor aspect of cycling more than anything, but this was an insane, super fun sensation, had a blast.

The next clinic is January 6th, I definitely plan to be there, and so will Dora, judging by the huge smile on here face here......

Gettin' down and dirty w/ my ride.....

I've been a very bad bike parent of late. But I vow to change my ways, starting today....

Went to a basic bike mechanics workshop at Cynergy last week, which mostly covered the hows and whys of keeping a clean machine. Boy did I need this.

"A happy bike is a clean bike" was the overall message. A little weekly maintainance saves big time on long term heartache (and $!) and prevents the scene you see here - one hour and three filthy rags later, I could finally see a glistening chain 'neath the crud buildup.

To avoid this, a simple wipe down with a dry and a wet rag will mostly do the trick - wipe the chain clean with a dry rag before lubing, add your lube of choice, then give it another wipe down after a few minutes. You can certainly get more involved, a quick google search on cleaning your bike yields TONS of results, with detailed how tos for more hard core hygeinists.

Treat your bicicleta like the goddess she is - keep her lubed and purring, she'll thank you in the long run.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Cynergy Cycles

I think I've found what I'm looking for in a bike store.

Went on a ride Saturday morning organized by Cynergy Cycles - the newest bike shop on the West Side. Though just around the corner from my house, this was my first visit - somehow I had this notion that it catered to high end, performance racer types......

Our ride was awesome, John Wike - a road racer whose been around the BLOCK, you can read about him on the site - lead us down to PV, to the "doughnut" loop and back. On the ride, I learned more about Cynergy, and was impressed with what I heard. They are trying to promote education/service as well as just sell bikes, and offer ongoing workshops/clinics on bike maintainance, basic skills etc.

In fact, there's a clinic tomorrow nite, 6:30 - 8:00, basic maintainance, lord knows most of us need this.....

After our ride, they offered free coffee - a critical post ride perk, and get this: they sell two 100% FAIR TRADE/ORGANIC blends!! The Big Ring and The Early Break - major points. I'm so easy to please.

I learned about the Saturday ride from some of you ladies at Riley's art studio hangout last week, hoping some lasses will join me again this Saturday, 9:00 at Cynergy, 23rd and Santa Monica. Check out the shop, and sign up for a clinic!

Wheeled Wanderlust

Even trusty trailers get the travel urge....heres my friend Wendy's Xtracycle on a recent jaunt over to Catalina. Wendy and her man came along as chaperones - unsupervised bikes can get a little rowdy.

I learned from Wendy that you can ride over to Marina Del Rey, hop on board for Catalina WITH your bike, and then roll off on the Island ready to tool automobile necessary.

And with an Xtracycle, you can tote camping gear and be 100% self sufficient!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Election results have bikers pumped

"Bikes are going to be an integral part of our transportation network."

That's coming from Rep. Peter DeFazio, new chair of the surface transportation subcommittee, which plays an active role in overseeing the nation's roads and bridges.

Apparently this last election propelled a few cycling supporters into key transportation positions in the House. From a recent article in the Oregonian:

"Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., who helped author the 1991 law that opened the door to federal funding for bike projects, is in line to become chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee;

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., a one-time bike mechanic, expects to chair the surface transportation subcommittee;

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., founder of the Congressional Bicycle Caucus, will either hold a senior position on the transportation committee or move to the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee."

BTW, our president is also an avid bike enthusiast, evidenced by his wicked bike handling skills.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hauliday Toys 'n' Mittens Ride

Dec. 2nd: to kick off a holiday season of low impact giving mixed w/ bikes, check out this event C.I.C.L.E is organizing:

Toys, Wheels, and Mittens!

*Bring toys and gifts - warm clothes, hats, unwrapped toys, etc:

*Bring your decked out bike, and

*Cruise around to some tunes from the bike-based sound system (wonder if its a soulcycle?)

*Meet at 12:30 PM at the Vermont / Sunset Red Line Station, 1500 N. Vermont Av. Los Angeles.

Ride benefits the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic's Children's Family Celebration and the Homeless Family Christmas Day Luncheon. The Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic has been in existence for 38 years and provides over 87, 000 medical, counseling, and related visits to homeless, poverty-level, and low income individuals every year.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ode to the KITCHEN

Sadly, I missed the Bicycle Kitchen's latest fiesta/volunteer/cerveza session, which by the sound of it, was a PARTY.

Living vicariously through this poetic recap (below) by the Kitchen's famed founder Jimmy Lizama.Pretty sure this poem should turn into a song, maybe someones already on it?

Have yet to visit kitchen (!!!) which is just plain unacceptable. I'm in dire need, my Xtracycle is barely rideable, stuck in a super heavy gear.....I WILL go before 07! Thanks Jimmy and BK for your inspiration.


and there I am, there I am again
I ain't got no lights
I'm wearing my black woolie hoodie
black striped socks, which way don't matter


I'm riding home just past two thirty two in the morn' on a Saturday in L.A.
Aint no drunk driver can see me, but I'm safe
I'm safe
You know why?
Cause I never rolled by right pant leg down


I gots my black corduroys on
the right leg rolled up, you see
so it won't hit my one fly wheel there
and I never rolled it down this night

See I meant to go in there
to direct and to nail and to mount and to O'ganize
but it got so fast
so loud
so crrrrrazy

folks came from all parts with all their parts jiggling and jangling

artists and musicians and architects and cycle couriers and professors
and urban expansionists and regular ol' coffee drinkers
and some beer drinkers
and bikers!

bikers, the lot of them!

They came in and smiled
and toiled and grinned and grinded and for's I knows it
it's a bike party

and I never rolled my right pant leg down

I went in there intent
Intent on making a huge dent
but it was a little dent
We made

we got lots done
had us some bike-silly fun
and we used up a whole lot of energy

and then

we drank lots of beer
we made new and old friends
we laughed and hurrayed like old times

and I never rolled my right pant leg down

See, I wore my nice pants, thinking we'd get out
Find a place to roll that right pant leg right down
Somewhere where a party was
But the party
The Party

The party was right there the whole time

So here's to:

the teachers
the electricians
the nobodies
the somebodies
the environmentalists
the graphic artists
the manipulators of consciousness
the editors
the organizers
the administrators
the recyclers
the drunkards
the sober
the death rockers
the New Yorkers
the Angelinos
the homeless
the homefull
the hopeless
the instigators
the innovators
the pragmatists
the Cooks
the clients
the volunteers
the people who came
the people who didn't

for you I roll my right pant leg down
as I remove my weary socks from my weary feet
and slide into a warm bed and a warm dream

and I do this safe and sound
knowing that I never rolled my right pant leg down till now
cause y'all love the place as much as I do.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Surfin' cross the finish line

Por Fin!

Local cylists have all been eager for news of Tim Harvey's final stretch.

We learned about his amazing, cross-continental human powered journey months back, met him when he passed through LA, entertaining local greenies and biker types....and were inspired by his boundless energy and crazy committment.

Picture above says it all. He made it, in style! Now safely back home after close to 3 years on the road.

With his work still very much cut out for him. And for the rest of us as well.

The climate change scene: it's a bitch, and just heating up. Tim's message is a key reminder, to take some personal responsibility for reducing emissions, change up the petro habits just a wee bit, and use our bodies for some good clean fun in the process!

We'll look forward to reading his book, soon as his human-powered fingers crank it out!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Walk, Bike, Ride LA Campaign

Thanks to C.I.C.L.E. for spearheading this campaign - a forum for voicing your transport concerns to Tony V:

"Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks about his efforts to make Los Angeles "the greenest and cleanest city in America", yet his vision for a sustainable Los Angeles continues to neglect an emphasis on walking and bicycling as being part of this future."

To chime in, download and send this ready-made postcard Villaraigosa's way. Let him know that a "green clean city" can only be so if alternative means of transport are supported. Even encouraged.

You can also email or call - important thing is that you let him know in one way or another that this image to the right is your vision of hell. And its only gonna get worse 'less we get off our gas and stop guzzling.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

LA cyclist hit, community rallies

I first learned about Jen Diamond at last month's Santa Monica Critical Mass, and have been a huge fan ever since. So when I found out that she was recently struck by a hit and run driver, I was stunned, disturbed, and tremendously thankful that she will be okay.

Jen is a very prominent member of the LA cycling community - an active advocate, photographer, bikesummer organizer, former NYC/Boston bike messenger-- the list goes on.

So when the hit and run elicited little reaction from the cops, cyclists all over the city roared. And its seems to have had an impact......

Feels trite to follow up such grave news with fashion talk, but at the same time, anyone supporting Jen will want to check out her amazing velo couture. Most cycling gear leaves much to be desired in the style department - garish, logo plastered affairs, fine for Lance but few of us are sponsored athletes.

Jen designed a line that's both functional AND funky, and even gifted our favorite Canadian zero-emissions traveler with a retro-styley green jersey. Which he sports with pride on this sandy Norcal catwalk.....

Our thoughts are with Jen. We are truly blessed to have such a dynamic, creative, dedicated spirit working to make LA a more livable community.

You can show your support by dropping her a line, checking out her gear, and sending her your positive energy. Best wishes guapisima.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Meet my mom, the weekend warrior

Once a week, on Sundays, my mom hops on her Xtracycle, bikes to the Urth cafe on Main Street, meets my sister, father, or me for a pre-market coffee, and then loads up her bike with farmers market goodies.

She's not about to sell her car (granted, its a Prius), or become a hard core bike advocate, BUT she loves her weekly petroleum-free pilgrimage.

Why? Because its FUN, because it keeps her young (at 72, she out-energies me by a long shot), because people see her and think "Hmm, I could do that, whats that funky cargo bike shes riding?" and because she's so damn cute on her bike!!!

Oh, and she's a political animal, adamantly anti-war. So even replacing one car trip a week with human power is a step........

Go get 'em Mary Ann!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ride like a....butterfly

Nice little interview with Tim Harvey, now on the final stretch of his human-powered Odyssey. Thanks to Melissa and Averan from LA Green Living for putting this together:

Zero Emissions Traveler

Though few of us are about to hop on a bike and cruise to, say, Venezuela, our more modest actions can sometimes have ripple effects far beyond our comprehension. Picking up a 6 pack ring, eating vegetarian for a day/week/month, smiling at a stranger in the Tim mentions, it's the idea of the butterfly effect.

We are far more powerful in our infinitely tiny smallness than we realize.

saved by my Xtra!

Of course its on that rare occasion I need my car that the battery dies....

Had day planned to the minute: 8:30 am launch event for Santa Monica's new Green Business Certification Program, dash to farmers market to shop for my cooking class at New Roads, and jet to school in time for the teenage onslaught.

8:15 am: dead battery. Called a few car owners in a panic, struck out. Which totally 'derailleud' my timeline, so thought I'd try switching gears.

Fortunately made it to the Green Biz deal thanks to speedy road bike - an incredible 8:30 am! Made me appreciate again just how many people are interested in trying to green their company practices, to save $, energy, resources, etc. Go Santa Monica.

Timing the rest entailed a bike exchange. Sped home to grab the SUB, load up with kitchen equipment, hightail it to farmers market, and back to school (pant pant) in time, but it all worked out, thanks to the crazy loading capacity of my Xtracycle.

Was so worth it in the end, these kids are awesome, and we cooked up a fierce organic Moroccan feast - spicy vegetable stew, couscous, tomato/lemon-cucumber/onion salad, big fruit platter.....

The perfect cuisine solution to ditch disposables: you can eat with your fingers!

Since it all worked out, guess my only mistake was thinking I needed car in the first place.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Will the real congestion culprit please stand up?

Very cool images. Thanks to Yolanda for the heads up (love the new site girl!) and to Guy Chapman for synthesizing. Following sequence tells the true traffic tale.....


Thirty-five cars, stationary on the road. If they were moving at 30mph, each car would need at least 10m of headway, so this is about as densely packed as cars get.

This is the cargo. Thirty-five individual drivers.


And this is how much space they'd take up in a bus:

Here we have our thirty-five poeple getting on with life, some going into town on the bus, some cycling, some walking, a couple of small cars and a taxi.

Now, who was the problem, again?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

E bike: let's duke it out

Anyone whose ever visited knows what a Treehugger fan I am - whenever I see a bike-related post, I perk up. 'Specially when I see that they generate controversy, like this post about a new, super sleek line of electric bicycles, now at 17 comments - a sure sign of an incendiary topic.

Jacob, we miss you in LA!

Those naysaying the E-bike will argue that it defeats the purpose, "if you're gonna ride, well ride then dammit!"

Those in favor counterargue with, "anything that gets people out of their metal petro-boxes is a good thing."

Wherever you stand on the electric vs. human powered bike issue (must it be an either or?) must agree that this vehicle, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, is pretty slick.

I haven't done the full life cycle analysis (anyone?) but if it gets a few peeps outta their cars, I'm all for it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

New and naughty lives for old rides

You've ridden, wrenched, and finally thrased her beyond repair, but can't find the heart to banish your retired ride to the landfill - can you still find one more life for your trusy steed?

If you are a designer, mechanic, and cyclist like Andy Gregg, you might turn your bike into a barstool.

Gregg's three combined passions resulted in Bike Furniture Design - sleek, styley pieces made from recycled steel and aluminun bicycle rims, handlebars, and frames. Re-cycling in the truest sense of the word.

Got me wondering about other creative uses for old gear.....there's some cool, and even "racy" stuff out there made from recycled tires.

Like these hip bags,

this belt,

some DIY tips for craftsters on how to make your own recycled tire sandals,

and these sustainable sex toy paddles from "Burning Rubber".

Can't, um, beat that one for creative re-use.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Calgary U-bike program

If cyclo-mutting were as easy as grabbing the nearest striped style-mobile and hitting the pavement, I bet more co-eds would eschew the guzzler......see how the U of Calgary is testing that idea. The University started a free bike-sharing program last year, where students can ride designated bikes around campus, free personal taxis.

The bikes are single speed, yellow and red striped bikes - color intended to dissuade theft. I would SO ride one, how cute is that bike???

Theft prevention or sheer good will are on their side - program has grown from 10 discarded/rejuvenated old bikes, to a working fleet of 30 in one year. A great program, other US schools should emulate this one.

As so often, read about this on Treehugger, love it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

bikeTV: Bike Move

Missed this amazing little film at the C.I.C.L.E event film fest, thankfully discovered through SurviveLA blog. Video documents a residential move done entirely on bikes!!!

I tried to do this once in Santa Cruz, trouble was I didn't have a bike move posse behind me, just me and my Xtracycle. I spent a good 2 days doing trips back and forth, loaded to capacity, but enjoying the coastal view and the quizzical looks.

I caved in when it got to my heavy loveseat....and was frankly getting burned out on the project. Had Bike Move been around, we coulda banged the thing out in an afternoon. Awesome idea, and great little video illustrating the camraderie angle, will for sure bring a smile.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

C.I.C.L.E bration

Yesterday's adventure riding down C.I.C.L.E's Life Can Be So Car Free event (previous post) reinforced the "journey is the destination" idea. Whenever bikes are involved, getting there is at least half the fun.....

First headed to the first west side meeting spot, other girl there had a flat. I've actually never had to actually fix one - despite years of riding, have only had two flats, both of which quickly fixed by a friend.

Two of us started fumbling around, when Yolanda, biker babe extraordinaire arrived on the scene. She had that thing ready to roll in no time......flat?

We rode on to meet up with the next motley crew in Culver City. Some crazy bikes, like this fuzzy number,

and this amazing tall bike......rider has some serious balancing skills.

Heres the Roll With It crew, signing riders up to be bike coaches - a free service that matches less experienced bikers up with a personal escort on their morning commute.

And spotted a handfull of Xtracycles:

There were more but I wasn't very diligent w/ camera, was too distracted checking it all out.

The event itself was a gathering of bike enthusiasts at the LA Historic Park near Chinatown, wide open area from which you can see many urban perspectives. There was lots going on - music, films, sustainable tranport/green living booths, great mingling and people watching with a big crew of friendly, funky, fresh people....but I stopped taking pix here and just enjoyed.

I'm sure more recaps and pix will emerge on other sites throughout LA for a while to come. An awesome first event for C.I.C.L.E - here's to a super fun new annual fiesta.