ICME: Better than Pee Wee’s bike

pink fur
Pink Fur Covered Bicycle in SaMo - click to embiggen

I spotted this PINK fur covered bike in Santa Monica yesterday afternoon near the Promenade.  I loved this bike, totally impractical but so expressive.  I stuck around a bit for the owner to find out the why’s and how’s but unfortunately I had to split for a meeting before they showed.

Pretty Terrific stuff there.

Timelapse: Watts Happening Ride

The 2012 edition of my Watts Happening Ride took place this past picture-perfect Saturday, and it was my complete pleasure to share the following landmark people, places and events I’ve discovered there with the 28 cyclists who joined me:

  1. The last residence of jazz great Jelly Roll Morton
  2. The childhood home of Nobel Prize Winner Ralph Bunche
  3. The location of the 1969 Black Panthers shootout
  4. The Hotel Dunbar, centerpiece of the Historic Central Avenue Jazz Corridor
  5. The location of the 1974 SLA shootout
  6. The actual fictional location of the Sanford and Son Salvage Yard
  7. The Watts Towers of Simon Rodia
  8. The location of the incident setting off the 1965 Watts Riots
  9. The home of Eula Love, killed by police in 1979 as a result of a past-due gas bill dispute
  10. The motel where legendary singer Sam Cooke was killed
  11. The flashpoint of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots
  12. The location of Wrigley Field, demolished in 1966.

Unfortunately, the above annotated timelapse video abruptly ends at the third-to-last location we visited, leaving me to discover that I need to get a bigger memory card if I want to capture the entire 33-mile, six-hour tour on camera the next time — and there will be a next time. I hope you’ll join me.


The Watts Happening Ride Is What’s Happening February 18

The first Watts Happening Ride I organized five years ago was a simple there-and-back to Watts Towers from the Cornfield downtown, spurred on by the lamentable fact that as a native angeleno I had spent my whole life to-date never having been to the true treasure that is the amazing, inspiring and enduring work of Simon Rodia.

In its various editions since (the last one taking place in 2010), the Watts Happening Ride’s destinations have grown well beyond the iconic towers to include a variety of landmarks involving people, places and events in and around South Los Angeles.

The 2012 incarnation of the Watts Happening Ride will be departing from Silver Lake on Saturday, February 18 at 9 a.m., and will include the addition of a couple locations I’ve recently found. So if you’re not heading out of town for the long weekend and have a hankering to get your bike-riding discovery on, I hope you’ll join me.

For the latest info and any updates, the ride’s Facebook page is here.

When: February 18, gathering at 8:30 for a 9 a.m. departure
Start/Finish: Silver Lake’s Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign (northwest corner of Sunset Boulevard & Benton Way)
Distance: 32.95 miles (route map)
Pace: Casual
Terrain: Flat
Weather: In the event of rain that morning, the ride will be canceled and rescheduled to a later date.
Approximate Time: 5-6 hours
Optional Partial Ride: If doing the full route isn’t feasible, consider joining the ride at approximately 9:30 a.m. downtown on Spring Street (anywhere between 2nd & 9th streets) for the roughly 9-mile portion to the Watts Towers. The 103rd Street Blue Line station is near to the towers and can be an alternative to get you back into downtown.
Things You’ll Need (in no particular order): A functioning bicycle; $7 for the half-hour optional tour of Watts Towers; snacks and water for along the way; money for a late lunch at King Taco.

Pathtastic! Newly Discovered Bike/Ped Access In Burbank

In the past Burbank’s given me a couple big opportunities to balk at how that city’s done bicyclists wrong. The first time was major in the mid-2000s when its council responded to resident outcry that more bikes would somehow equal more traffic and more crime and roundly rejected what had been an already approved and funded route plan connecting the LA River Bikeway with the Chandler Boulevard Bikeway. The second was a couple years ago when Burbank political and law enforcement officials overly sympathized with a noisy contingent of Chandler Bikeway pedestrians who demanded that police officers should have nothing better to do than devote their limited resources to speed-trapping and citing all of us speeddemon cyclists who imperil the pedestrians’ entitled (and in some cases: irresponsible) use of the bikeway.

But on a trip to Burbank and back by bike this week, I have nothing to say but “Bravo!” to that burg after I chanced to discover an unheralded and entirely unmarked bike/pedestrian path that was so brand-spanking new it had to have only been recently completed. Paralleling the Burbank Western Channel between Alameda Avenue and Victory Boulevard, it’s short and sweet at barely a quarter-mile in length, but it provides a serene off-street shortcut connection between the two busy thoroughfares that not only serves cyclists passing through but also the residents of the neighborhood to the north of the channel.

Here’s hoping it’s the first of more to come.

UPDATE (1.24): I received an email from Cory Wilkerson, an assistant transportation planner for Burbank, who confirmed that more indeed is to come. He wrote, “We are planning to extend the pathway to the Burbank Metrolink Station, Top Priority Project #8 in our Bike Plan. The project was funded through Metro’s Call for Project and constrcution is schedule for FY 2015.”

After the jump you can find an annotated and embiggenable Google Map screengrab of the path’s location along with two timelapse clips of rides on the segment, the first traveling from Victory to Alameda and the second coming back from Alameda to Victory.

Continue reading “Pathtastic! Newly Discovered Bike/Ped Access In Burbank”

Timelapse: Sunriding

It wasn’t that long ago that I was biking 6,000-plus miles a year across this city. Then came the opportunity to work from home in 2010 and all that mileage evaporated. Case in point, with the close of 2011 I’d tallied only a few miles over the 700 mark. But I kicked off however comparitively little I’ll be riding this new year on the right note, with a 20-mile ride today that started in the pre-dawn, included a meet-up with the sunrise about nine miles in and then got me home via Chinatown in time to watch the Rose Parade. Here’s that 83 minutes of pedaling condensed down to a four-minute timelapse:

Midnight Ridazz 6th-Annual All-City Toy Ride Is This Friday

Electric Santa, 4th Street Bridge. Weeeell after midnight. All is calm. All is quiet.

It’s not every Friday night of the year I dress up in an electric santa suit and go biking around Los Angeles  — just this one upcoming Friday night for the Midnight Ridazz 6th-Annual All-City Toy Ride.

This yearly convergence of multiple rides starting at various points around the greater Los Angeles area will bring hundreds  of toy-bearing cyclists together December 9 at 10 p.m. at the historic Plaza de Los Angeles gazebo to donate their gifts to The Alliance for Children’s Rights a worthy organization serving children in need.

All participants are asked to bring an unwrapped toy valued at $5-$25. The celebration will then continue after the toy collection with a ride through downtown that will end up at what I’m feeling will be the most kick ass after-party in the history of All-City Toy Rides, where there will be delicious foods, drinks, musics and funs.

The satellite rides to Olvera Street that are presently organized are as follows, so find the one nearest you and get yourself some of the most unique holiday spirit to be found in town (with or without an electric santa suit):

IMPORTANT: The post-ride party will have a guest list and you won’t be able to get in if you don’t RSVP, so if you’re coming do so either through the All-City Toy Ride’s Facebook page or via email at [email protected]

I Took A Picture Of Gary Leonard Taking My Picture

After the press conference this afternoon to celebrate the completion and opening of Los Angeles’ first-ever buffered and bright green Class II bike lane running on Spring Street between Cesar Chavez Avenue and 9th Street, the cyclists in attendance then inaugurated the wonderful thing with a bike ride upon it. During my second lap my timelapsing handlebar-mounted bike cam snapped the above shot as I passed great Los Angeles photographer Gary Leonard crouched as he snapped me. Of course I yelled “Take my picture, Gary Leonard!” while rolling by.

Next In An Occasional Streetfiti Series: Swastika-Star-Swastika

One of the cool things about biking around Los Angeles is the stuff you get to discover that’s hidden in plain sight, with a favorite of mine being sidewalk vandalism. Most of the time you’ll just see a name and maybe a date scratched in the concrete or perhaps a decades-old shoe print. But sometimes you’ll come across more enigmatic stuff — like the following for example, written into the sidewalk by George, Bobby and Robert on the east side of San Fernando Road south of Figueroa Street, directly under the Arroyo Seco Parkway overpass (here) and right at the bottom of the steps leading up to what I like to call the “super-secret freeway bike/ped path” paralleling the southbound 110 between here and the what once was Chavez Ravine (click to enlargify):


I’ve accessed those steps easily a couple dozen times over the last few years, but it was only today that I looked down and found this odd permanent record of the existence of George, Bobby and Robert. That crack running around it like a frame is interesting, but I’m at little more than a guess at the significance of the comma-delineated numbers that follow each name: 28, 1969; 27, 1969; 29, 1969. Birthday date and birth year, maybe? Or their ages during that fateful year? Or perhaps a year yet to come in the lives of these future thinkers?

What’s most curious is the decidedly more faint shapes scrawled at the bottom: a five-pointed star bookended on either side of it by swastikas that mirror each other. Three names, three figures. Kinda makes you go hmmmm.

2012 Amgen Tour of California Bike Race to Finish in Los Angeles

Brentwood bike
Brentwood bike racers

This year, the Amgen Tour of California bike race got as close to Los Angeles as Mt. San Antonio a/k/a Mt. Baldy. Now, race organizers have announced that the 2012 Tour will finish at L.A. Live. Details are still sketchy as to just how the finish will take place next May, but it could be like the Tour de France finish in Paris, where the racers make a series of high-speed laps around the Champs-Elysees to the delight of cheering crowds.

The 2012 Tour will also again include a stage at Mt. Baldy, which is becoming the equivalent of the Alps in the Tour de France. So if you’re thinking of trying to compete in the 2012 race or ride the local stages of the route yourself, you have about six months to get those legs and lungs in shape.

The View From Here

Here being this spot around sunset yesterday, about three-quarters of a mile downstream from Fletcher Drive on the westbank of the Los Angeles River, from which I did not previously know that the Hollywood sign was visible. One gets so used to looking at the landmark straight on that it’s a bit of a surprise when it pops into view from such wider angles (click to embiggen):

After the jump I also caught a bit o’ video of a great blue heron successfully fishing in an eddy for dinner, and after that in about the same place as the shot of the Hollywood sign grabbed a really crappy still of a perching osprey, one of the rarest birds to be found around the waterway, who swept in for a landing while I stood there gaping.

Continue reading “The View From Here”

The Ebb ‘N Flow Of The Come ‘N Go

Need an 8-minute frivolous diversion?

With my camera rigged up to the eyepiece of my spotting scope (with duct tape and adhesive putty), from my backyard I pointed it at Sunset Boulevard between Descanso (just out of view at the bottom) and the Maltman bend in Silver Lake (at the top) to timelapse capture the afternoon traffic flow.

Proposal in Senate to increase driving & cell fines, including bicyclists too.

Image by WatchCaddy via a creative commons licence on flickr.
Image by WatchCaddy via a creative commons licence on flickr.

I was catching up on my blog reading and spotted this bit on Truth About Cars.  The maximum fine for driving and using a cell phone is increasing to a maximum of $528.  Bicyclists are being included for the first time as well though their fines are only a maximum of $50.  I think they should be on parity with each other but what the heck at least the disparity is being addressed now.

Link to the senate proposal HERE in pdf format.  Pages 2 and 3 are where the good stuff concerning the changes to the cell phone and driving proposals can be found.

I for one am glad to see some stiffer penalites coming for using the phone while driving.  What say you?

Timelapse: Bridging The Great LA River Bikeway Divide

There’s about eight miles of Los Angeles River separating its bikeways in Elysian Valley and the city of Maywood. Like most normal people you probably haven’t troubled yourself wondering if that entire stretch of riverbed between those two points is navigable by bike. But if you’re like me and my friend Andrew it was time yesterday to see if we could connect those two dots. We did.

A selection of stills from the trek are viewable here on Flickr, most notable among them is the Bicycle Monument installed below the Olympic Boulevard Bridge, the in-water river chair (full functionality proven by Andrew) south of the 10 Freeway overpass, and best of all: the fellow south of the Washington Boulevard Bridge sitting on a utility cable spool reading a newspaper who looked at us as funny as we looked at him. A map of the entire 22-mile-route we rode is here.

Today’s Timelapse: Arroyo Seco Creek Bed Ride

It’s not an invalid question to wonder why on earth would one want to pedal the length of the Arroyo Seco Creek bed from the Los Angeles River up under the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena and back. The answer is: why not?

This trek yesterday followed up on our Los Angeles River bed ride last week. My friend Errin biked over from Alhambra and and we literally met up at the Arroyo Seco’s confluence with the LA River before heading upstream about 7 miles to its spillway under the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena and then back. Errin split off by the stables at the top of the Arroyo’s bikeway to head home, and I continued on solo back to the Los Angeles River Center where I started. Trip total: 15 miles.

And in related news (that proves Errin and I aren’t the only freaks fascinated by our forgotten waterways): The Los Angeles Urban Rangers is hosting an LA River Ramble tonight at 7 p.m., meeting at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary.