The sting of defeat

October 19, 2017 § 17 Comments

I winced when I saw a couple of recent tweets by Peter Flax and Ted Rogers acknowledging that their support for the road diets in Playa del Rey and other parts of Los Angeles have been beaten back by the entitled cager class. Peter has written a great article about the fake democracy, fake news, and relentless trolling that has played an outsized role in perverting government on the local level into what it mostly is on the national level: Everything for me, nothing for you, with “me” being the wealthy and “you” being everyone else.

Flax, Rogers, and a whole host of advocates are feeling the pain that South Bay cyclists felt last year when the PV Estates City Council, fueled by the trolling of Garrett Unno and his horrible wife Zoe, the unprincipled rage of bad people like Cynthia Zaragoza, and the anonymous, pseudonymous trolling by Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., voted to shelve any proactive steps that would make PV safer for vulnerable road users. Flax and Rogers have come to grips with two nasty realities:

  1. The trolls oppose policies that can prevent killing or maiming vulnerable road users.
  2. The trolls see such bloodshed as a reasonable price for their convenience.
  3. The trolling powerfully affects the levers of governmental power.

When the realization hits, it’s devastating. Voting, canvassing, public debate, even modest funding by advocacy groups … all of these things lose to the power of the trolls. The power of a few moderately wealthy, angry trolls who have lots of time on their hands and limitless spleen to vent can galvanize entire voting blocs and can steamroll the needs of the many for the selfish wants of the few. Facts, data, logic, and republican ideals of protecting the weakest in society are laughable concepts that mean nothing when it comes to making transportation decisions regarding bicyclists and pedestrians.

With regard to making LA’s streets safer for vulnerable road users, though, the defeat is largely a function of advocates’ failure use existing law. Road diets, road striping, segregated cycle tracks, and bike lanes are the byproduct of a cyclist-inferiority pathology that has been vigorously promoted by cagers and motordom. Thanks to relentless fearmongering, many cyclists now believe that the only way they can safely use the roadways is by being segregated from it, and their overwhelming fear is of being hit from the rear, even though statistics show that such collisions are a minority of all car-bike collisions.

The bitter truth is this: Whether or not cyclists think that lane control works, road diets and bike infrastructure won’t work in Los Angeles’s angry, white urban areas. White and affluent cagers have shown that they are more than happy to subsidize the perception of speed and efficiency with more pedestrian/cycling deaths. It’s no different from the blase attitude towards the Las Vegas Massacre and Terrorist Attack. Such deaths are the well known, well accepted, and perfectly irrational price that America is more than happy to pay for the unrestricted right to have and use guns. Why should additional dead and maimed vulnerable road users be any different?

Hint: They aren’t.

Unlike the road diets that are never going to happen and the citywide carving out of bike lanes from normal traffic lanes that will never come to pass, lane control uses existing law to empower cyclists and make their activities safer. But empowerment isn’t something that comes and knocks at your door. You have to take it.

This means knowing the circumstances under which you are entitled to take up the full travel lane, when you have to ride as far to the right as practicable, and when you have to pull over to let faster traffic through. Learning these things and pounding them into the heads of cyclists is a task that few advocacy groups want to do because they are so committed to the infrastructure policies that angry cager Angelenos have proven they will never accept. I challenge anyone in LA County Bike Coalition to come to PV Estates or Rancho PV, two of the best cycling destinations in America, and make any headway at all against the evil mayor and her callus henchwankers. To add to the impossibility of positive policies, monstrous and slothful bike hater Zoe Unno now sits on the traffic safety committee. It’s like putting the wolf in charge of the henhouse and giving her a carving knife and gas range to boot.

If bike advocates haven’t gotten the message, they need to listen again: Los Angeles isn’t going to cede an inch of roadway for your exclusive use. So admit defeat and take up arms using existing law: Teach your friends and fellow cyclists, and most importantly teach yourself how to ride safely and legally in the traffic lane. After my years of experience with this technique, I’m confident you’ll find that the water is fine.

Another harsh reality has gradually become clear. As unfair as it may be, and as much of a double standard as it is, we are at a point in cager-bike relations when you have to take care of yourself first. This means lights. If you’re running anything less than two powerful headlamps and anything less than 3-4 powerful lights from the rear at all times, day and night, you are heaping additional risk onto yourself, especially if you are still riding in the gutter or in the door zone. As much as the PV cagers may hate cyclists, the chances are slim that they will kill you intentionally–with the exception, of course, of John Bacon, who appears to have died precisely because of an intentional hit.

In short, the people have spoken: They hate you and don’t care if you die. But at the same time, they don’t want to get your blood on their hood or, even worse, see an increase in their insurance premium. So take the lane. Ride like a Christmas tree. It still beats living on Mom’s couch.

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Car death

October 12, 2017 § 58 Comments

Once you go electric, you’ll never go back. Ever since I got a Chevy Volt, my car life changed. Most Americans drive 29.2 miles a day, and that fits with my wife and my driving habits. Since my Volt gets about 70 miles per charge, during the week we use zero gasoline. Once a month we have to fill up the 8.9-gallon tank, which takes a couple of minutes and a fistful of dollars. I have a small fist, too.

I used to drive by gas stations and marvel at the people standing there, or jockeying for position, or scowling because their card got rejected, or, my favorite, simply waiting in line. I don’t notice it so much any more, but for about a year, every time I passed a gas station I thought, “Wow, it sure does suck to be them.”

Now it’s a simple fact of life. Gas stations are, in the main, no longer part of my existence. People who choose to hang out at them are, like smokers, simply making bad choices.

Even more than a Prius, electric cars generate huge amounts of superiority complex. You’ll hear a car’s engine and think, “What an outdated clunker.” So what if it’s got a black horse-on-a-yellow-background or if its badge is a three-pointed star?

Or, “Wow, your car is so noisy. What a junker.” Or, “Don’t you know that your car stinks?” Basically, electric cars generate all the superiority of commuting by bicycle without all the sweat and health benefits, although not getting run over by a car is a pretty big health benefit.

Electric cars are going to massively increase bike ridership. This is because they will morph into self-driving cars, and once you take the idiot out of the driving equation and replace it with electronic avoidance systems, cagers will mostly stop hitting people on bicycles. This will also put bicycle injury lawyers out of business, another benefit on the immediate horizon.

Gas carophiles think that the full electrification of cars is a long way off, but they’re wrong. Why? Because China.

China has a big pollution problem, and unlike Trump, they’re trying to address it, not perhaps because they see intrinsic value in clean air, but because the regime sees intrinsic value in people not being furious about having to live in a carcinogenic soup. China, Inc. also recognizes that every place “USA! USA!” drags its feet on clean technology, it is giving China, Inc. a massive head start in the global sales war and the global mass production war.

According to Forbes, “…there are now more than 140 EV [electric vehicle] battery manufacturers in China, busily building capacity in order to claim a share of what will become a $240 billion global industry within the next 20 years. As in all things auto, EVs and the batteries that will power them promise to be big industries in China.” What Forbes doesn’t add is that if it’s a big industry in China, China is going to be a gargantuan player in that industry. Tesla’s big Nevada battery factory, with its 35-Gigawatt/hour production capacity, is a newt compared to China’s capacity, which today stands at 125 GWh, and in two decades will double to 250.

Oh, and another little detail: It’s a zero-sum game. Each new electric car replaces a gasoline one.

Of course my secret agenda isn’t simply to get rid of smoky cars, it’s to radically increase safety and bike ridership. Thank you, China, Inc.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 350 guests, so get there early.

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Getting ready

October 11, 2017 § 18 Comments

In a few days we’re going to celebrate the 5th Annual South Bay Cycling Awards. This means many things to many people, but to me it only means one thing: Angst over tying my bow tie.

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Every year I get on YouBoob and watch the 3:42 video showing me how to tie my tie. First problem is that it’s all backwards. They need to stand with their backs to the camera so I can exactly copy them. Second problem is that I know the video by heart. It’s been viewed 4,260,062 times, and 4,260,061are by me. Third problem is that tying a proper bow tie is like truing a wheel. You get good at it by doing it a bunch, preferably on other people’s wheels, not yours. But I don’t know how to suggest that other people let me tie their bow ties; it’s almost like asking a dude if you could help him with his zipper.

Many unhelpful people are always ready to offer unhelpful suggestions, the first and most obvious one being “Why don’t you use a clip-on bow tie?” followed by “Why don’t you use a pre-tied bow tie?” followed by “Why don’t you wear a t-shirt?” followed by “You look like an idiot.”

The reason I don’t use a clip-on tie is because when I was a kid I always used clip-on ties. I had six of them and I wore them all the time. When I dressed up for cowboys and Indians I would always get my holster and my gun and my cowboy hat and my cowboy sneakers and my clip-on tie. In other words, I associate clip-on neckwear with childhood, which is why I stopped wearing clip-ons shortly after I turned forty.

The next most obvious move is to use a pre-tied bow tie. Do I really need to go there? Pre-tied ties are lame. They mean you are lazy and incompetent beyond all reason. If you are too lazy to learn to tie a bow tie, then why are you even wearing pants? Pre-tied bow ties also look horrible. They are tied perfectly and don’t match your slovenly approach to everything else, and everyone knows at a glance that you are too lazy and inept to tie your own tie. Why did you spend all that money on the green tux and the orange shirt and the purple cummerbund and the white braces just to garf it all up with a pre-tied bow tie? Please.

Also, pre-tied bow ties take away a lot of the formality of your special event, for example, your funeral. Special events are formal and therefore stressful. As they’re wheeling in the coffin you are likely to wonder “Is my formaldehyde okay?” or “Did they cover up the stab wounds on my face?” or “Gosh I hope they glued my eyes shut.” It’s that anxiety that forces you to take the time to tie your funeral bow tie right. Formal events are special in large part because they tell you know that if you screw up you’ll be embarrassed and feel bad and etc. So there you are getting all formally dressed up, carefully putting on your fancy clothes, and when the most stressful part comes you cave and stick on a fake bow tie. If you had prepared all year for your big bike race and gotten all nervous and then at the last minute rolled up with a secretly motorized bike, wouldn’t be anticlimactic? Oh. Never mind that example.

The next option is alt-Clothing, i.e. t-shirt and jeans. Well, you clearly don’t understand the Wanky Awards. It is a very prestigious and formal affair. From the very first iteration, when it was held in the luxury facilities of Naja’s dive bar (100 taps!), shoehorned between the pool table and the record machine, I insisted on wearing my tux and bow tie, not because any of the drunken slobs celebrating the inaugural Wankys would care, but because my vision was that eventually people would rise to the occasion and show respect for this august gathering by dressing appropriately.

So here we are in the fifth year, with a rented dance floor, a Brazilian DJ, free food and beer for the first 350 wankers and wankettes, held in a giant beer warehouse in which to swill tacos and munch IPAs. If you wouldn’t get all gussied up for that … what would you get gussied up for?

Now with regard to that “You look like an idiot” observation. Hmmm. Carry on.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 350 guests, so get there early.

south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

 

Guns ‘n bikes

October 5, 2017 § 38 Comments

There’s a reason that Stephen Paddock massacred 58 people in Las Vegas. There’s also a reason that people driving cars have killed 49 people so far this year in Southern California. The reasons are the same.

In the first instance, Americans have decided that mass shootings are a reasonable and acceptable cost of being able to easily and legally obtain weapons of virtually any kind. In the second, Californians have decided that individual killings of cyclists are a reasonable and acceptable cost for being able to drive as fast as possible to get where they want to go.

The shootings appear gruesome but they are not. Bullets do not make nearly the mess of a car smashing into a cyclist. But shootings are better for news media because they correspond to TV, movie, and video images that we have internalized as “dramatic.” Shootings are also better entertainment because the good guys always get the bad guy with even more shooting, even when the bad guy shoots himself.

Shootings are also more entertaining because victims get prayed over, flags get lowered, and the human story behind each victim gets told in horrifying detail. Memorials spring up and the event is commemorated each year by survivors.

Not so with people who kill bicycle riders. As the rider’s family finds, there is rarely any criminal proceeding of any kind. The killer almost always walks free and goes back to his or her job. “Sorry I’m late for work. I killed a bicycle rider and had to talk to the cops.”

Dead bicycle riders don’t get their stories told much beyond their club or their family or the local paper. President Trump certainly doesn’t visit their next of kin to offer condolences and paper towels.

Despite the difference in treatment, the cause is the same. Both are acceptable and reasonable costs of the activity that society has chosen to permit. When I read about people who have been killed using guns, I have no expectation that guns will somehow be limited in any meaningful way. Americans like guns. Americans like killing people. Americans like the entertainment of mass shootings. In order to have those things, you have to allow mass murder. Freedom isn’t free, and in this case, neither is slavery. In the same way that Americans believe health care is a privilege and guns are a right, Americans believe that cars are a right and bicycling on roads is a privilege.

You cannot discuss or negotiate this latter point with drivers any more than you can negotiate the unlimited right to weaponry with those who choose to misunderstand the 2nd Amendment. Deaths and horrific injuries are not mishaps, tragedies, accidents, or collateral damage, they are a necessary product of a system that everyone embraces in more-or-less democratically enacted laws.

If it is your right to drive as fast as possible to get to a destination, then your exposure to civil and criminal penalties for killing people should be minimal. If it is your right to own any weapon you choose, then mass killings will happen. If you think that there should be fewer mass murders and it disturbs you greatly, or you think that bicycle riders shouldn’t be killed with impunity, then perhaps this is the wrong society for you.

As Senator Thune wisely said, and I believe it applies to bikes as well as Las Vegas concert goers, the only real protection in America today is simple, if hard to achieve: “Get small.”

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 350 guests, so get there early.

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The choice of no choice

September 27, 2017 § 15 Comments

I got my mail-in ballot today for the Rancho Palos Verdes municipal election. We have to choose two city council members out of six candidates.

I like elections and try to do a little homework before I pencil in my choice, so I got on the ol’ Internet and started looking up candidates. Of course I didn’t have very high expectations. The RPV city council is led by a bike hating mayor and they recently replaced David Kramer, a fantastic cycling advocate on the transportation safety committee, with a bike hater.

But even though my expectations were low, they sank the minute I pulled up the guy at the top of the list, David Emenhiser. In an online interview, his main “issue” is that people in RPV are happy to live there. It’s a unique platform: We live in paradise, what’s to fix? Oh, and road improvements and city staff pensions. Plus, he wants to be “welcoming” to people who come to speak to the city council. Where was he during the great traffic safety committee paper wad assault of 2017? No mention of dead cyclists, harassing, fake enforcement by Lomita sheriffs, or a traffic safety committee that sees bikes as Public Enemy No. 1.

Next on the list was Eric Alegria. He is vice-president of an unnamed “Fortune 500 Company” and owns two (count ’em, two) small businesses. His hopes and dreams for RPV are to keep it safe (no poor people driving through, please), and to limit development. This last one is important, because once you get your plot of land you need to work like hell to make sure no one else gets theirs. No mention of bikes, bike safety, the miserable work of the Lomita sheriff’s department, or multi-modal transportation on the hill. Of course. I’m guessing he won’t support any plans for low income housing on his street.

John Cruikshank is also running for city council, and has about a zillion Facebag posts on his candidate’s page. John has raised $23,000 (but still needs more!), loves law and order, supports our fire department, believes RPV is a great place to live, and would kiss your baby and eat some apple pie if you offered it to him. My favorite part of John’s campaign is his “Get the Fuck out of RPV” platform, diplomatically phrased on his web site as “I know that public roads must remain public but there is a limit to how much each neighborhood should have to open their arms to others.” In other words, poor people and black and brown people GTFO. Plus everybody in Gardena. His position on bicycles? Probably too far forward with the saddle tilted up, but there’s no way to know, as he’s silent on the issue.

Moving right along we got to Krista Johnson, who is running for RPV City Council and wants to be on the city council so she’s a candidate for city council in order to be a council person. She has two kids and a husband and she wants to listen to your needs and be on the city council and be elected. She is also eagerly soliciting support for her city council campaign to win election to the city council. Bikes? Lame harassment by Lomita sheriffs? Zippo. But she really does want your vote so she can be on the city council.

Down in the gutter of the ballot I dug up Ben Kelly, a student. According to his GoBribeMe page, “Kelly wants to bring a youthful perspective to his hometown’s council, which has a vastly different mindset of politics and community. He has reached out to everyone in his community to start a true grassroots movement. With your help, Ben Kelly has a very good chance of winning this election to make history and inspire countless others to pursue their dreams in politics.” I have a few problems with this quote. First of all, he sure AF hasn’t reached out to me. Second, what exactly is the history he’s going to make? And will it involve bikes? Third, what is the vastly different mindset? Telepathy with aliens? Or is he simply ripping off Krista Johnson’s candidacy–elect me because I’m a candidate for election? Issues, experience, substance, bikes … zero. But new thinking! Yay!

Finally I got to Matthew Vitalich, whose occupation is “writer.” I know from personal experience that writers are the sketchiest, least trustworthy, most worthless people on the planet. James Joyce died from syphilis, for fuck’s sake. Anyway, Matt almost had my vote simply on the hope that he was also a diseased writer, but I googled him and found out that he 1) Wears a suit and tie and 2) Is a blogger and 3) The blog is for “libertarians.” You know, those people who think everyone should be free to not pay taxes but that the government should still provide free services. Anyway, three strikes for him, and a spanking for being such a liar: Everyone knows that bloggers aren’t writers.

So that’s the state of the slate, and a stinky one it is. The only person who seemed like he might not actually hate cyclists enough to run them over was Emenhiser because he has a nice smile, and Kelly because he may not yet have a driving license. It’s gonna be a long few years.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.

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You’re fired

September 19, 2017 § 19 Comments

My friend and former boss Barbara Radnofsky wrote a book about impeachment. It is called “A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment.” It explains impeachment.

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Her book is crazy short. Eighty-eight pages short. I don’t know if it was intentional, but 1788 was the year that the U.S. Constitution was ratified.

This book isn’t partisan any more than an elementary physics textbook is partisan, i.e. here is how shit works. The only beef I have with the book is the title. It should be called “How to Fire the President, Judges, and Assorted Fuck-ups.”

Barbara’s book is beautifully written. It is timely. It is informative. It is written by someone with overwhelming faith in our democracy at a time when faith like that is hard to come by. It only has a couple of typos and one subject-verb disagreement.

Barbara’s book is important because we need to fire the president. Most people don’t understand how to fire the sonofabitch, including the saps in charge of firing him, i.e. Congress. What confuses people most are the reasons for which a president can be fired.

You won’t be confused after reading “A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment,” because Barbara goes over every single impeachment case, all nineteen of them, that has happened since 1788. Each has a lesson. Each shows how the system has evolved. Each shows how the system works. Each shows how Madison/Hamilton/Jay/Mason/Morris et al. were so fucking smart. Each historical example shows why, without naming him, Trump should be fired, shitcanned, tossed out on his ass, shown the door, terminated, relieved of duty, discharged, dismissed, booted, given the axe, and sent packing.

I am not an especially fast reader and I blew through “A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment” in two short sittings. It’s fine and flowing writing, unheard of for anything since the history of time that had the word “impeachment” in it. If you have two hours to spend on Facebag this week, you have two hours to save our democracy.

Barbara will be in Manhattan Beach on October 13 for a book signing at {pages}: a bookstore. I’m springing for delicious snacks and beer from Strand Brewing. You’ll learn how to fire incompetent officials, but you’ll also learn that Barbara is a lovely person, a fine speaker, and a real smarty-pants. There will be a Q&A afterwards and a big dose of fun.

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

Don’t get hit and then what?

September 15, 2017 § 24 Comments

There are a lot of dark stories in the world today about the cager v. biker wars. And they are wars. The bikers get killed and maimed and the cagers get a speeding ticket. The bikers put in an imaginary magic protection road stripe and the cagers rip it out. The bikers say “You’re killing us!” and the cagers say “Exactly!” Cf. Jennifer King and the troll triumvirate of Garrett Uno, Cynthia “the Beast” Uno, Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., and the unbearable heaviness of cager hate and stunted lives of those who wage it.

Maybe I will get around to expanding on this article by Peter Flax, but I doubt it. How do you expand on the universe? Read it and bleed.

However, on September 21 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM at Performance Bicycle in Long Beach, I will be expanding on my own tiny little universe of how not to get killed while riding your bike. If you’re in the neighborhood I hope you can make it.

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Performance Bicycle, Long Beach

Cycling Savvy, led by Big Orange’s own Gary Cziko, has been instrumental in the last two years teaching people the very best in Bee Gees riding techniques, i.e. “Stayin’ Alive.” Gary’s techniques work. There are two parts of the Cycling Savvy curriculum, however, that are either ignored or lightly addressed, kind of like not enough vinaigrette on a mountain of salad, and I’m going to talk about them at the event in Long Beach.

  • What to do if you’re a victim or witness to a bike-car collision.
  • How to protect yourself and your family if you or they get hit while cycling.
  • How not to get hit through insane use of over-the-top lighting, day and night.

Performance is supporting the seminar with some killer deals on, guess what, lighting. There will also be covfefe to keep you awake. However, I can promise that you won’t need it, or you’ll get your money back at this free event.

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could.

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