The point-one percent

August 16, 2016 § 27 Comments

Here’s a quick rundown of things that have happened in the last couple of months:

  • Three cyclists killed in PV
  • Crazy road rager assaulted a man and his kid for riding their bikes
  • Friend #1 got run over on PCH in Malibu
  • Friend #2 got terribly injured by hit-and-run in San Diego
  • Friend #3 got run over in PV
  • Entire club ride narrowly avoided being taken out by road-raging Tesla
  • Group of angry NIMBYs tried to ban cyclists from public roads
  • Surfer gang member advocated death for cyclists who break traffic laws
  • Wealthy citizen compared cyclists to “dog shit”

It’s easy to think that the world has gone crazy. When bicycles are the enemy and cars are the hero, we’ve literally turned the Imperial Stormtroopers into underdogs.

Except, we haven’t.

These same last few months I’ve been riding almost exclusively in PV, ground zero for the bike wars, and I’ve been sticking to some of the most controversial residential areas where opposition to cyclists is supposedly fiercest. What I’ve found is surprising, and it’s this: Most people are friendly.

I make a point of waving and saying hello to everyone I run across. Except for a couple of incredibly sour people for whom death will be a huge relief (for them and for us), people invariably wave back and smile. I’ve stopped and chatted with Mark the Dude with the Two Giant Poodles, and Bob the 80-Year-Old Dude Who Has Run Across America Twice.

What’s more interesting is that I’ve had zero car-bike incidents. This doesn’t mean they aren’t happening; video from other cyclists proves otherwise. But by and large, people in PV are fine with bikes, especially when the cyclist is highly visible.

Since I began riding with super powerful daytime front-and-rear lights, I’ve become visible at all times. A 1200-lumen flashing headlamp gets your attention no matter how distracted you are, and a 100-lumen red taillight does the same.

What’s more interesting is that some very low-grade detective work has revealed that the “horde” of bike haters in PV is actually one guy using multiple fake aliases on social media to create the impression that many in the community share his views. The police know his identity, and although he’s noxious, crude, and wants to incite trouble, he’s nothing more than a harmless crank afraid to show his face in public, not to mention a terribly inept surfer.

At their worst, people may be slightly bothered by having to slow down for bikes. But the 99.9% hardly get enraged, and they certainly don’t wish for death and catastrophic injury as the penalty for pedaling a bike. Of course the .1% that do can do incredible damage, and they have.

But most people are on our side, and recently, so are the police. And 99%? The odds could be a lot worse.



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Old guys drool

August 12, 2016 § 38 Comments


If you’re one of the 300,000 people who saw this video clip, you can go back to bed now reassured that the Internet did its job.

A few hours after we posted here about the greedy, violent, hostility of Lunada Bay surfers towards outsiders and cyclists, this saggy fellow from Corona del Mar showed that bullies and road ragers in Newport Beach got game, too.

And then Mr. Sagbottom discovered that videos on smart phones can quickly be uploaded to the Internet, which then results in this pathetic, babbling, self-debasing blibber-blabber which seems less an apology than a psychotic CYA self-flagellation tailored to a potential jury pool.

Yes, the Internet did its job, which, lest we ever, ever forget, is to entertain. We got the innocent victim, a cyclist out riding with his son. We got the caricature of a caricature of a caricature of a buffoon — angry, stupid, obese, dentally challenged, thinning hair, waddling, homophobic, and parroting a line from a cowboy movie, so ironic because he’s the opposite of the tough guys in the movie he obviously idolizes. Oh, and he was the perfect cardboard cutout for all that is bad about surfing and surfers, a fellow who is obviously too large and unfit to surf well, if at all, nonetheless pretending to speak for the surfing community.

If nothing else, it gave me pause to think how one asshole claiming to be a surfer can tarnish a whole bunch of people, not unlike the rude cyclist giving the finger to a housewife with a car full of little kids.

Robert Lewis gave every aggrieved cyclist the chance to happily and viciously punch the “like” button on Facebag, and to add a searing comment, piling onto a stinking heap of shit that smokes and smells just fine on its own. And then to watch the Newport Beach Police Department go from “We don’t care about this,” to “We’re taking this seriously and investigating” added a finale that was as unexpected as it was appreciated.


Justice may or may not be done, but Sir Sagbottom will spend a few more sleepless nights wishing he hadn’t made such an ass out of himself.

Entertainment is fun and the Internet delivers it. For that, I’m appreciative.

But for anyone who lives or cycles or cages in the South Bay, there’s a big load of work ahead, because the city of Rancho Palos Verdes has begun work on its bike safety master plan, and it is seeking clubs and cyclists who might be interested in collaborating.

I was gratified beyond words when Chris Rovin, Marvin Campbell, Tom Duong, John Wike, Greg Leibert, Chris Tregillis, Jose Godinez, Craig Eggers, Tara Unverzagt, Delia Park, Geoff Loui, Bob Frank, Mark Maxson, and Jaycee Cary responded within minutes when we reached out for potential volunteers.

They did so without knowing the commitment or even what was involved. What they knew was that it won’t be Internet entertainment. A group of RPV residents has already belittled cyclists as the residents attempt to illegally ban bikes from a public road; one fine fellow compared cyclists to dog shit. What these cyclists know is that it will be hard, it will take time, their asses may go numb from hours of sitting (free chamois cream and Junk Jam for all) and it will stretch their abilities to compromise and find common ground. It will also likely require them to spend actual face time with a bully or two like Mr. Sagbottom.

Thanks for stepping up. It’s not YouTube entertainment with a happy ending in less than 24 hours but it’s going to make cycling a lot more fun for others.



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The bravest among us

August 9, 2016 § 34 Comments

The worst thing that can happen to you isn’t being tortured and killed. It’s having that happen to the people you love.

You’d think that no matter how testy things got between the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch and cyclists on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, there would be a line in the sand that even spoiled, failed, class action defendants wouldn’t cross.

You’d be wrong.

The latest spitball in the classroom melee over the world-shaking, hard to answer question of whether or not it’s okay to kill cyclists with your car was flung by the anonymous goon who maintains a hatesite dedicated to attacking everyone and everything that challenges the white supremacy of the PV Peninsula.

And of course, being a bully and a coward (but I repeat myself), he attacked a child.

Let me back up.

The Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch really is a thing. In a recent Daily Breeze article in which the LBBOMC were sporting afro wigs and blackface on MLK Day, one of the alleged perpetrators was defended by … his mom:

According to the lawsuit, a local surfer named Anthony Beukema wore blackface and an Afro wig to the protest, telling organizer Chris Taloa, “You don’t pay enough taxes to be here.” Beukema could not be reached, but his mother vehemently denied the allegations to a reporter.

In addition to defending the public coastline that they’ve stolen from the people of California, which is right in line with what their soul-brethren in Rancho Palos Verdes Estates are seeking to do with Crest Rd., i.e. convert public roadway to private property so that bikers can’t ride there, the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch have taken up the anti-bike cause on the peninsula as well.

One local realtor has gone on social media sites such as NextDoor and proclaimed that if cyclists get killed when disobeying traffic laws, it’s simply Darwinism at work. It makes you wonder what this must mean for his real estate pitches (“You’ll love this house. Great view, nice pool, friendly neighbors unless your kid’s on a bike then they will kill you.”) A small cadre in PVE have even brought into the cycling discussion such ideas as the Hajnal Line, and have pointedly suggested that that the reason PVE is so nice is because it is so white.

By now you’re probably wondering, “All this over a couple of bike signs?”

Answer: Yes. Oh, yes.

Anyway, at the last two PVE City Council meetings, one of the pro-bike speakers spoke, followed by his 12-year-old daughter. A few short weeks later the kid had become a target, with offensive and false comments posted about her on social media, comments so awful that the NextDoor admin took them down and even (Gasp!) admonished the poster.

So we’ve descended into 21st Century Online Hell, where grown men defendants sleeping on mom’s couch and their enablers are actually targeting children who dare to approach the lectern at a public meeting. And as repugnant as that sounds, well, maybe it’s not.

The first lesson in civics reminds me of this Japanese proverb: The nail that sticks up will get pounded down.

There are no risk-free public lecterns, whether you’re a kid advocating for safe streets or the parents of a soldier killed in the line of combat. Democracy and the defense of free speech mean that in order for good people who stand for justice to be heard, we must also hear the voices of Westboro Baptist Church.

It’s painful on a personal level when a surf gang member of the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch attacks your kid (but less painful, perhaps, when you consider MMX’s question, “Have you seen them surf?”), but as a parent and a citizen you’ve already won. Your kid has stood up to the bullies, just like this kid did, and when the Palos Verdes City Council had to take a vote on making the streets safer, they voted to make the streets safer.

Take note of that, Boys on Mom’s Couch: The city council sided with an articulate 12-year-old and rejected the rantings of droopy, failed, defendant old men who are guilty of the worst crime you could ever commit in California, i.e. crappy surfing.

The Kooks on Mom’s Couch were too fearful and outnumbered to show up at the council meeting, and they lost. Their only recourse was to make some ugly videos, spew a little hate, and yell at mom to pick up another tub of ice cream at the Malaga Cove Ranch Market. And a sixer.

We teach our kids that sometimes the right thing is the hard thing, but maybe we’ve lied to them a little bit: The right thing is always the hard thing. The right thing is the Gandhi thing, the MLK thing, the Lincoln thing. It’s the path everyone wants to take until they note it’s overgrown with weeds, and each blade of grass is the serrated edge of a knife.

Like every leader, this kid has made the rank and file who support her dig in. If she’s willing to go to the lectern and advocate for safer streets, the nameless hundreds in her corner are willing to dig in, too, from the elected officials to the police to the Lycra-clad to the overwhelming majority of decent people in PVE who are sickened by these clowns.

Doubt me? Just watch. ‘Cuz three feet, fellas, it’s the law. Even in good old PVE.




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10 Steps to a Revolution

August 6, 2016 § 40 Comments

None of this happened overnight. John Forester got it all started in the 1970s when he laid out the theory behind riding a bike utilizing traffic laws applicable to other vehicles. Communities from Long Beach to Kalamazoo have shared their plans and their experiences with what it takes to change community attitudes towards bikes.

Advocates in LA like Don Ward, Dan Gutierrez, Eric Bruins, and Jim Hannon, and advocates in Michigan like Paul Selden are just a few of the people who have shown the way to cooperating with local government to make roads safer for bikes. The daily drumbeat of advocacy and activism in our local CABO forum relentlessly highlights the solutions to the problems we face.

Most importantly, the people who think the wages of cycling should be death, as enunciated by a local PV realtor recently, and the people who believe that cyclists should be banned and public roads should be privatized, are on the defensive. More to the point, they’re being routed as they stand on an isolated little spit of meanness and greed, heaping hatred on people for pedaling bicycles even as the waves of change gradually eat away at their last sandy redoubt.

The final piece of the puzzle, i.e. acceptance of safe cycling by every community, awaits. It’s not that far off, and the real progenitors for this final change are bike clubs. They are organized, they are community based, they are composed of long-time residents, they are mostly too tired from cycling to scream and yell, and their ass-conditioning means they can outlast any opponent in a city council sitting contest.

Here’s what you and your club have to do to make the revolution complete.

  1. Take a bike education course like Cycling Savvy that teaches you how to ride a bike in traffic.
  2. Get your club leaders to take a class.
  3. Make completion of a cycling in traffic class a condition for leading any club ride or being a board member.
  4. Ultimately make a cycling in traffic class a requirement for membership in your club.
  5. Establish a permanent community liaison in your club whose job it is to attend every city council meeting and/or traffic safety committee meeting that deals with anything bike-related. If your club encompasses multiple jurisdictions, establish multiple liaisons.
  6. Recruit other club members to join your liaisons on an ad hoc basis for various meetings so that there’s always a cycling contingent of 4-5 people to counterbalance the crazies.
  7. Start using cycling in traffic techniques on all your club rides; don’t back down because a few refuseniks prefer the gutter.
  8. Begin using cycling in traffic techniques on non-club group rides by discussing with the chain gang bosses beforehand. Cooperation is generally frowned upon in cycling, I know, but this actually matters, almost as much as who’s going to win the imaginary sprunt.
  9. Sponsor 3-4 cycling in traffic safety classes per year and make them available to the community, which includes law enforcement, local government, and local schools. Think of how much your club members spent on beer in 2016. For a few hundred bucks you could actually save a life or two.
  10. Make cycling traffic techniques at least as high a priority in every club meeting as the annual club bibs/jersey order. Ridiculous? Perhaps, but possible. Maybe you could lead off with, “We’re going to discuss a new jersey design for ride leaders who’ve taken the education course … “

The prophets are in from the wilderness and the unwashed and somewhat-washed cycling herds are ready to receive the message. Go forth and spread the seed, but spread it as traffic, controlling the lane.




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The existential crisis of bicycle clubs

August 2, 2016 § 33 Comments

I always thought bike clubs were dumb. Why does anyone need an organization to ride a stupid bicycle, drink beer, and pedal around outdoors in your underwear? These things can all be done unaffiliated.

That’s why even though I’ve belonged to many clubs over the years, they’ve been racing clubs that got me a $5 discount on a pair of socks, a couple of free bottles, and the Always Promised But Never Delivered Race Reimbursements At The End Of The Year.

Your club is probably a lot better than the ones I’ve always belonged to, but it’s still dumb. I mean, think how goofy you would look if you went to dinner with your family and everyone was wearing identical clothes. Now multiply it times a hundred, and make it matching underwear worn outside. Really.

Also, you don’t need matching undies to make friends, although I certainly understand that there are situations in which it helps.


My outlook has changed, though. Over the years I’ve noticed that bike clubs really can have a purpose other than underwear coordination. One of those should be education. As I’ve noted before, the Old Ways Have Changed. Cycling is no longer a lunatic fringe activity where a few newbies join each year and are carefully disciplined by grizzled old-timers like Jack and Phil and Jeff who teach you the rules with sharp words.

The newbies are everywhere. They’re in your club. They are swirling around in traffic, mostly oblivious to how badly they can be hurt. Some of them may have even joined a club–your club–under the illusion that they’ll get some friendly instruction. (Note: Screaming “Hold your line!” followed by a wheel chop isn’t instruction.) Often, they assume that the skills they had at age 9, plus SRAM Rred and a bunch of carbon, are all they need to stay alive.

This is of course not true. The full carbon actually makes you go faster, and we all know what happens when you put lots of speed and money and carbon at the fingertips of not much skill and even fewer brains.


Since we can’t scream riding lessons anymore (I’m too old and tired, and the newbies mostly look like they know how to throw a right hook), what’s left is education.

It’s time for your club to assume the position and start teaching, and to do so formally. Why can riders join a club without mandatory training? Why can they join a club without classroom education? Why are we enticing people to be members of a fun activity that really isn’t any fun when you’re experiencing it through a breathing tube?

Our club held its first ever Cycling Savvy class for our members. It was my third time to take the class and I was absolutely electrified by it.


Over forty people showed up on a Saturday afternoon to, yes, learn how to ride a bike. Much pride was swallowed and surprise, much was learned. Following the lead of clubs like BCCC and the Long Beach Freddies, Big Orange has not simply made education available to its members, but it’s started down a path where education will be a requirement for membership. “Life over underwear coordination!” or something like that.

In addition, the club has taken the radical step of offering group ride training on its Sunday rides. This means rides with actual leaders who provide actual instruction based on many of the techniques taught in Cycling Savvy. My personal favorite technique is called “Control from the rear.” Pretty awesome, huh?

Whether you’re a race club, a riding club, or a baby seal club, if you’re pedaling a bike you need skills to survive. Implementing club-wide education doesn’t make you any more of a bike dork (or any less, I should add), but it makes cycling just a tiny bit safer. As Fireman pointed out, “Even if 90% of those dorks don’t get it, all you have to save is one life and suddenly it was all worthwhile.”

Cycling Savvy is offering a free course courtesy of the Orange County Wheelmen on August 4th. In typical cycling planning fashion, I got notice yesterday, but if you can make time for it, and if you belong to a club, and if you think making it home from the ride alive is a good thing, take a couple of hours out of your Thursday and invest it in the future. You can even wear your favorite garish underwear to the meeting if you need chamois time.

It’s something every underwear club in America could benefit from.




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One for the hardasses

July 27, 2016 § 24 Comments

The best way to attend a city council meeting, it turns out, is by doing a full-gas, 60-minute training crit immediately prior. That way your legs will be shattered and you will be grateful for the chance to sit, no matter how many hours it takes.

In the case of last night’s Palos Verdes Estates city council meeting, whereat we had gathered to support bike signage and oppose the naysayers who think that death is a reasonable “Darwinistic” penalty for cyclists who fail to follow all traffic laws, the main thing we had to do was sit.

And sit we did.

We sat through the Citizen’s Academy award ceremony. We sat through the cupcake-and-Snapple social which followed, well, we didn’t “sit” so much as we rushed the snacks and behaved as only cyclists do when presented free sugary food. We sat through the presentation on the attack on the water supply. We sat through the discussion of the Helicopter Noise Safety Committee. Most astonishingly and butt-painfully, we sat through the discussion of the dead elephant in the park retaining wall and turnaround with $70,000 engineering study for fire safety that the battalion chief said wasn’t needed and the $100,000 county grant and the $400,000 hot tub and the hammerheads.

By the time the council got to Item No. 7 it was almost 10:00 PM and the standing-room-only crowd had thinned to the hardy, relentless, grizzled, ass-toughened cyclist contingent for whom three hours seated on a plank was barely even a warm-up.

The council stared in horror at the 23 speaker cards piled in front of them, because with a 3-minute allotment for each speaker it meant that no one would get home before midnight. That’s when Delia Park proposed that, out of pity and mercy for unpaid city council, rather than subject them to 109 minutes of “I been bikin’ since … and as far as bikes is concerned I think … and iff’n you ast me … ” we would simply appoint Bearclaw to get up and speak for all of us.

I thought the mayor and a couple of the council members were going to cry out of gratitude, and even though they gave Bearclaw an extra two minutes to speak he wrapped the whole thing up nice as you please and the council voted:

  1. To pull down and throw away the evil and distasteful “Bike Laws Strictly Enforced” signs.
  2. To put up the beautiful and majestic “3 Feet It’s the Law” signs.
  3. To send the “Bikes May Use the Fuggin Lane” signs back to committee for further study.

I staggered out and pedaled home, immensely grateful to the city council and to each one of these people for showing up and democracying:

  • Lane Reid
  • Ivan Fernandez
  • Bob Spalding
  • Joey Cooney
  • Patrick Noll
  • Yasuko Davidson
  • Seth Davidson
  • Craig Eggers
  • Joann Zwagermann
  • Brent Davis
  • Greg Seyranian
  • Tom Duong
  • Pete Richardson
  • Don Wolfe
  • Greg Leibert
  • Delia Park
  • Gigi Kramer
  • David Kramer
  • Kristie Fox
  • Wendy Watson
  • Chris Gregory
  • Francis Hardiman
  • Bruce Steele
  • Michael Barraclough
  • Kathryn Kempton
  • Geoffrey Loui
  • George Sefler
  • Gerard Melling

If you’re bummed that you didn’t get to spend from 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM seated on a church pew hearing about hot tubs and dead elephants, there will be a next time, and it will be soon!



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Private theft of public property

July 26, 2016 § 27 Comments

I just got back from a three-hour meeting of the Rancho Palos Verdes traffic safety committee, where a group of resident numbnuts had thrown together a petition demanding that the city illegally ban cyclists from “their” .7-mile of roadway, and require “permitting” for group rides.

There was so much stupid to wade through that it’s impossible to sum it all up, so I’m just posting my meeting notes.

  • Massive thank you to chair Jessica Vlaco, vice-chair Dave Kramer, and committee members Yi Hwa Kim, Henry Ott, and James Guerin. These people truly define community service and government by the people.
  • Vice-chair Kramer (to city staff): Is it legal to ban bikes from a public roadway? City staff: No. [You’d think that would be the end of it, but noooooo … ]
  • Local Moron #1: It’s dangerous to share the road so we should ban bikes!
  • Local Moron #2: There are many collisions on Crest Rd. East!! [Sheriff Department has records for ZERO collisions there in the last five years.]
  • Local Moron #3: Bikers have to ride so close to the edge of the road which is too narrow and dangerous!!
  • Local Moron #4: All 76 homes in our gated sub-sub-subdivision of Rancho Palos Verdes Estates suffer from hazardous conditions caused by bicycles! There are no other roads up here! They train on weekends! They are hazardous for all! There’s no space! Cars can’t pass but motorists must pass! I almost hit one! There are numerous accidents here! Residents are held responsible for accidents! My friend’s nanny who is on vacation with the family now in Africa and can’t come was in a collision with a biker! The bike struck her car and it was the biker’s fault but he SUED HER!!! [Cf. sheriff’s records of no reported collisions.]
  • Local Moron #5: This is a huge safety issue. I almost hit a cyclist!
  • Local Moron #6: Each resident in our sub-sub-subdivision has at least two vehicles, not to mention our housekeepers, gardeners, nannies, and service worker people. Cyclists endanger all of us!
  • Local Moron #7: There are cyclists who are not polite! They should hurry up!
  • Local Moron #8: I spent an additional half hour getting home because I was stuck behind a peloton! Bikers are like people whose dogs crap on your lawn!
  • Local Moron #9: I’m concerned about safety! Cars are big! It’s a blind corner!
  • Local Moron #10: I’ve lived here 34 years. There have been 5 accidents! It’s out of control!
  • Local Moron #11: I asked the guards to count bikers one weekend! There were 158!
  • Local Moron #12: Some cyclists almost hit me! These are blind turns! There are no bikes on freeways! Public safety requires banning bikes! Many bikes ride four abreast every day it’s why we’re frustrated! City liability! This is an unsafe situation!
  • Local Moron #13: My son almost failed his driver license test because he drove too slowly! And all those Orange outfit riders from Orange County on the Donut Run!

After being subjected to a perfect vacuum of fact and rational thought, the cyclists had their say. Mostly we were amazed at all the hatred, especially since we are the ones getting creamed and killed, not the angry NIMBYs in the sub-sub-subdivision with Palos Verdes Estates envy.

And of course the bikers made out with a few actual facts, such as:

  • Banning bikes is illegal.
  • There are no records of collisions along this deadly stretch of turrble deadly roadway.
  • The law lets bikes take the full lane when it’s too narrow to share with a cager.
  • You can fix this non-problem with sharrows, Bikes May Use the Fuggin’ Lane signage, 3-Feet It’s the Law signage, and citations for scofflaw motorists and cyclists.
  • Anecdotal “deadly cyclist” stuff is crap; if you want to understand the roadway’s safety issues, commission an engineering study.
  • If you’re so concerned about our safety, how come you never reached out to us?
  • We’re not responsible for other riders, just like you’re not responsible for irresponsible cagers.
  • And the best, by far, was Michael B.’s takedown: You people are so dumb and lazy that you didn’t even bother to check the law before you signed a petition demanding that the city violate it. Also, there’s a solution to pesky cyclists and it’s codified: Slow the fugg down.
  • The real issue is out of control cars: 33 drivers have been cited for unsafe driving and not a single cyclist.
  • Lumping all cyclists together is offensive and no different from lumping together people of an ethnic group.
  • Best of all was Dave Kramer’s impassioned speech regarding law and the obligation of drivers to slow down and pass safely. The committee then voted to examine sharrows, BMUFL signage, lower speed limits, and an engineering study as ways to make the scaredy sub-sub-subdivision residents and their nannies feel safer.

Finally, one of the last local morons admitted that what they really wanted to do was to make the public road private and they intended to petition the state to give them the road. Such an amaze-balls power grab was great to see, because it proved what the angry invective suggested all along: The sub-sub-subdivision residents really just wanted to steal public land, perhaps in the hope that the extra square footage would make them feel better about not living in Palos Verdes Estates.

Best of all, putting the total lie to their claim that they were in it for “bicycle safety,” all of the resident maroons left after they’d vented and didn’t stick around for the real item on the agenda, which was approval of a work plan that included development of a bike safety master plan for the entire city. The minute it came to hard work, or cooperation, or understanding the other person’s point of view, or, you know, actual bike safety, they were long gone and venting on Facebag and NextDoor.

Frankly, their departure was awesome because a big contingent of bikers stuck around and requested that a subcommittee be developed for the bike safety master plan that included the voice of local cyclists.

Huge thanks to every cyclist who showed up. Barraclough, Leibert, Duong, Landes, Zwagermann, Cooper, Cooney, Loui, Kempton, Park, Richardson, White, Meyer, Phillips, Robertson, and about half a dozen other names that escape me made the marathon session and spoke up when it counted.



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