Hired Guns: Part 1

March 22, 2017 § 29 Comments

Part 1: The Tax Man Goeth

The mayor of Palos Verdes Estates, the city council, and over sixty percent of the voters in the last municipal election on March 7, 2017 voted for something so important and crucial to the community that it could only have been given the most anodyne name imaginable: Measure D.

This ballot item, if it had been forced to comply with the same rules of truthful disclosure that we require of foodstuffs, would have been called “City Fire Department and EMS Tax.” Because that’s what it was: A tax to continue paying for that least objectionable and most necessary of all city services – a fire department and its attendant emergency medical services.

Who could possibly vote against that?

The answer turned out to be “about forty percent of the people who voted in an election that had less than thirteen percent of all eligible voters show up to vote.” Normally that would be a crushing victory for the tax man, sixty to forty. But in PV Estates, tax proposals like this one had to be approved by two-thirds of the people who voted, and the end tally left the tax supporters about three hundred votes short. In other words, the people of PV Estates voted, incredibly, not to pay for their own fire and emergency medical services.

It might seem strange to think that a mostly older community with a large proportion of retirees would vote against a fire department. This is no henhouse filled with spring chickens; the city’s median age is a sun-wrinkled, HGH-assisted 50. PV Estates sits on a hilly slope that is highly susceptible to the wildfires that make California such a staple of national night-time summer weather news reports. Setting aside the conflagrations, the fire department is also the first responder when people wake up in the middle of the night with chest pains, when they fall and break a hip, or much more importantly, when their cat gets stuck in a tree.

But voting against the fire department and EMS wasn’t really a vote against either, and it certainly wasn’t a vote against cats. It was a vote against the PV Estates Police Department, an agency that of late had become the endless target of bad news, litigation, and virulent anonymous hate speech attacks.

To understand how a minority of voters could torpedo an entire police department, though, you have to go back to 1978, to Howard Jarvis, and to Proposition 13, the mother of all regressive tax laws. And to understand why the white voters in PV Estates were so staunchly behind regressive taxation, even to the detriment of their own community, you have to go all the way back to the city’s inception and the deed restrictions that marketed PV Estates as an ideal community that would bring together “the cream of the manhood and womanhood of the greatest nation that has ever lived, the Caucasian race and the American nation.” Those were the words of its founder, and his adherents are alive, well, and kicking like hell.

END

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Hired Guns: Introduction

March 21, 2017 § 16 Comments

Introduction

The city of Palos Verdes Estates, or part of it, is battling for the survival of its municipal police force. Opponents want to demolish it and replace it by contracting for law enforcement services with the monolithic Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. It sounds like pedestrian city politics, unless you happen to be a bicyclist. In that case, it isn’t pedestrian at all.

This issue affects a lot more than the pedal pushers who often run stop signs as they breeze through one of the most scenic and challenging bike routes in the United States. Class war, surfing localism, contempt of outsiders, hate speech, enraged small town racists, the California Vehicle Code, murder, Wall Street predators, regressive taxation, and the complex act of understanding and enforcing the law all turn up when this topic is spaded over, like wriggling earthworms in a cool mound of leafy compost.

I got involved in this whole thing backwards, simply by riding my steel Eddy Merckx with down-tube shifters on the way to work one day. I had been in California for a couple of months and was renting a house in Palos Verdes Estates, a place I ended up in entirely by accident. The law office I was working at was in San Pedro, and when I arrived in California I told the realtor, an avid cyclist nicknamed “the Badger,” that I wanted to rent in San Pedro because it was close to my office.

“Dude,” he said. “You don’t want to live in Pedro unless you like lung cancer or want to hang out at Godmother’s. Let me show you some places in PV Estates.”

To my unsophisticated eye it looked like a lot of other suburbs I’d seen throughout my life. Nice homes, affluent people in nice cars, white people everywhere, and, oh yeah, the most stunning scenery imaginable stuck right in the heart of Los Angeles. I traced the road on a map and saw that my commute to San Pedro would be along PV Drive South, a twenty-minute drive with three stoplights, no traffic, and postcard views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island from start to finish.

Did I mention that this was in the heart of Los Angeles? Because when I told my family back in Texas that I had a twenty-minute, no traffic, sprawling ocean view commute in the middle of LA, they thought I was lying through my teeth and everywhere else.

One morning as I rode to work, because it didn’t take long to figure out that the most beautiful, car-free road in California was also the most beautiful car-free bike commute in California, I blew through a red light at the intersection of Hawthorne and Via Vicente. There was no traffic in any direction, but I hadn’t gotten through the intersection before I heard the siren of the guy I would later get to know as the dreaded Deputy Knox.

By 2007 I had been riding competitively and racing for thirty-five years. I had run tens of thousands of red lights and hundreds of thousands of stop signs, and I had done it in Texas, Japan Germany, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. I’d never been ticketed, not once, and had never been hit by a car. Deputy Knox of the LA Sheriff’s Department pulled me over and wrote me a ticket. I knew enough not to argue with a 6’4” dude carrying a gun, handcuffs, and a radio, but even so I was surprised at his glowering anger. He was prodding and pushing me to react, but I’d experienced that in plenty of other venues with cops, so the more he pushed the meeker I got. I wanted to get to work, not star in a new chapter on civil rights.

Knox wrote the citation, gave me a nasty lecture, and sped away. That encounter, between a meek, bony guy on a bike endangering no one in a victimless crime, and an angry cop trying to prod him into a confrontation, made a huge impression on me. “What if I’d been black?” I wondered, scared. Knox was lean but he was muscular, he was big, and he was ready to arrest me and haul me off to jail if I had given him any guff. My instinct, by the way, proved dead-on the following year when my friend and fellow riding partner Jeff Konsmo was pulled over and cited by Knox. However, unlike my red light violation, Jeff was pulled over because Knox didn’t understand – or chose not to understand – vehicle code section 21202a and its exceptions. When Jeff objected to the grounds of the citation, Knox slapped on the stainless steel jewelry and shoved him in the back of the patrol car.

This was my first and lasting impression of bikes and law enforcement on the peninsula. They hated your guts. You didn’t belong. Get the hell out.

END

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Wasting away again in $977-ville

March 16, 2017 § 14 Comments

Last night the very sad denizens of Palos Verdes Estates swarmed the city council chambers to mourn the effects of their poverty, general brokedness, poor planning, and stinginess. The meeting lasted close to three hours, but my evening was spent much more productively, at Telo, chasing the winning breakaway of Evens S., Colin C., and Shon S.

This evening I got around to watching snatches of the meeting video that is posted online here. It was fascinating because it showed that even in broke-ass towns like PVE, democracy works. And it works with a vengeance.

Ostensibly the council was meeting to figure out how to fill the gaping $4M hole created by the recent vote on Measure D, which, and I’m paraphrasing, was proposed like this: “Are you too cheap to pay for a fire department and EMS? It’s gonna cost you $977 dollars a year.”

The community resoundingly voted “Hell yes we are!” which magically created a budget crater big enough to drive a Range Grazer through. And since no one was really about to eliminate the fire and EMS services, it meant that the council would now have to find “other” places to economize, a fancy euphemism for “eliminate the private security detail a/k/a PVE Police Department that accounts for 54% of the city budget and contract cop services out to LA Sheriff’s Department like everyone else with a brain.”

The problem with that was stomach-churningly obvious, though–it meant that Chief Jeff Kepley, a renowned expert in selectively enforcing laws, and the 39 other PVEPD employees would be out of a job. Any citizen who thought they might show up at this council meeting and applaud the city for finally defunding its private security force soon noticed that almost the entire police department was attending in mufti. Probably not a great place to say, “Fire ’em, one and all!”

Since I only watched part of it, the best line I saw was when Chief Kepley noted that part of the problem with excessive overtime at the department was related to the “difficulty” of hiring permanent positions because, as he delicately put it, other communities “paid more” and working in PVE had “conditions” that some applicants did not prefer, in other words, the residents in PVE treat the police like shit.

You know, the little things that make you love your job–being held in contempt by the people whose leased Maseratis you protect and whose Mexican gardeners you arrest.

There were other gems as well, especially Mayor King and Lame Duck Councilman Goodhart anxiously inquiring about Rancho Palos Verdes and displaying spleen-bursting jealousy about the fact that RPV wasn’t in the same boat they were, that is, broke. But the best part was the speech by the Tax Dude, the only person at the whole meeting who talked about facts with less spin than a beginning ballerina.

You see, PVE’s tax problem began a long time ago, when it had its own fire department. In 1978, the conservative and greedy voters of California got together and passed Proposition 13, which capped property taxes at one percent. So far so good. The fake rich denizens of PVE were able to hold onto a few more bucks while foisting the cost of running an actual community back onto the county and state. Everyone celebrated with a few more lines of cheap coke, a tawdry affair, and a prayer that their worthless children would quit beating up strangers at the surf break.

But after Prop. 13 passed, the voters realized that no one had bothered to work out how the taxes would be apportioned under this new system. In other words, for each dollar taxed, which taxing entity would get how much? The solution was AB 8, which said that taxing entities would get their share of the tax in the same proportion as they got it before Prop. 13 was passed. Back to the future, so to speak.

Well, okay. Except shortly after that, PVE disbanded its fire department, which was an independent taxing entity. And since you couldn’t create a new taxing entity and glom onto the property taxes due to Prop. 13, the clever folks in PVE were without a fire department and without a way to pay for a new one through city revenue. So they contracted with the LA County Fire Department and voted on a separate parcel tax to pay for it.

Until this year, when they didn’t. In other words, they wanted to have their defibrillator and use it, too.

Tax Dude’s basic message, and hats off to his professionalism, was this: “You greedy, broke-ass idiots really fucked yourselves. Even the apartment dwellers in RPV were smart enough to figure this out. Time to either give the Kepstone Kops their pink slip or fire up the tax ovens again. And here’s my invoice, net 30.”

You never saw a sadder looking bunch of broke people in ugly suits unless you’ve spent time at a cut-rate funeral parlor. And when Chief Kepley explained that a huge chunk of his overtime costs were from the Stop Sign Virginity Protection Program, I couldn’t help but laugh thinking that he’ll be blaming the city’s woes on the biker gangsters up until the day they board up the jail and auction off the used uniforms.

I hope they have one that will fit Garret Unno. He could mount it on his wall as a trophy for inadvertently bringing down the PVE PD.

END

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Broke, broker, brokest

March 14, 2017 § 40 Comments

It is always sad when people who pretend to be rich are too poor to pay for luxuries like fire departments and ambulances.

While Garret and Cynthia Unno of Palos Verdes Estates were banging the drum for stricter enforcement of traffic laws, a/k/a EVIL CYCLISTS ARE RUNNING ALL THE STOP SIGNS AND ENDANGERING OUR 5,000-LB. STEEL BOXES, someone forgot to keep the home fires burning, or rather someone forgot to make sure that there was going to be someone to put the home fires out.

In an impressive push to punish skinny, hairless, underwear-clad bicycle riders, the rabidly unfit PVE bike-hating minority whipped its police department into a veritable ticket-issuing orgasm of stop, cite, and pad the local budget. In addition to stationing Deppity Doofus on Paseo del Mar every Saturday to apprehend the criminal Donut Ride biker gang and cite its riders for blasting through stop signs, the hue and cry reached such fitful proportions that all you had to do to get Mayor King to lose it was whisper “Cyclist! Stop sign!” and she’d sound off like a hound with a treed possum.

And the fever was catching. Councilpersons Jim Goodhart and John Rea, although initially of the opinion that perhaps cyclists weren’t much of a problem in PVE, and might even be vulnerable road users deserving protection, eventually caught the Biker Plague Rage and abandoned all pretense of making reasoned decisions about allocation of police resources vis-a-vis bikes and traffic enforcement.

The more tickets that got written, the hotter the fever grew until Garret, Cynthia, Zaragoza Lady, and the other advocates of SAVE OUR STOP SIGNS had logged so many attaboys and attagirls and lockemups and hangemhighs on NextDoor that the servers started to smoke.

Problem was, in this case where there was smoke there wasn’t any fire. If there had been, the LA Fire Department, under contract with the city, would have come and put it out and the nutty SAVE OUR STOP SIGN folks would have realized that the real issue they had in Palos Verdes Estates wasn’t the honor of their violated stop signs but something much more important: Whether or not they were going to have a fire department and EMS to haul them off on a crash cart when their clogged arteries, hypertension, erectile dysfunction, scabies, stroke, aneurysm, gout, and cardiac arrest kicked in.

Because at the same time the Unnos were training their lasers on the STOP SIGN SANCTITY PROJECT, another cabal of tax-hating, Trump-loving, Everything-for-me-Nothing-for-you residents was quietly putting together a measure that would defund the city’s fire and emergency medical services. They quietly drafted the measure. They quietly put it on the ballot. And they quietly laughed all the way home while the STOP SIGN WORSHIPERS, gloating over the daily count of traffic citations, neglected to mobilize their forces to preserve something that actually mattered.

And when the tax measure that supports fire and EMS services was rejected because it couldn’t pass the hilariously high 2/3 vote ceiling, Mayor King, Defeated Councilman Goodhart, and Defeated Councilman Rea (beaten in his quest for city treasurer) realized that they were now facing a budget shortfall of almost $2.5 million out of a total city budget of $17 million, and the cuts would begin in July.

What does this have to do with flatlander transients pedaling into PVE and making a mockery of the modesty and virginal pureness of the city’s stop signs? Well, this: The body blow to the city’s finances may well lower the boom on the city’s police force.

PVE, unlike the ghettos of Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, and Rolling Hills Estates, has its very own police force whereas the other peninsula cities contract out with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. PVE has long been willing to pay for the extra cost, which is significant, because it gives the city extreme control over law enforcement (such as directing its manpower at keeping stop signs safe from bicycles) that simply can’t be exercised over the county sheriff’s department, a massive law enforcement agency that had a budget of almost $3 billion in 2015.

Fortunately, the city has an emergency budget of over $9 million, but even lawyer arithmetic will tell you that this rainy day fund won’t last for more than a few seasons of stop sign protection when it has to cover EMS, fire, and the erection of a crying wall for the politicians who’ve been booted out of office. As the high-G note of panic shrieks through the town, a huge contingent of citizens now plans to attend the March 14 council meeting to protest the outcome of a democratic vote that most were too lazy to participate in.

Maybe in the grand scheme of things spending all of your political capital to attack bicycles via anonymous troll web sites, yappy-yap comment threads on NextDoor, and defense of the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch wasn’t so smart after all, unless of course you never plan on needing fire protection in a place frequently ravaged by wildfires, and unless a population of geriatric couch-loungers never plans on waking in the middle of the night with chest pains.

The silliest part is that despite losing their fire and EMS, the angry minority’s attempts to oust cyclists from the peninsula hasn’t even worked. Last time I checked, the Donut Ride was still going strong. And I heard through the grapevine that last Saturday Deppity Doofus sat and waited at Paseo del Mar a lonnnnng time  for the ride to come by, but for some funny reason it never did.

Weird.

And I guess if your house catches fire, you can call the Unnos, the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch, or the city’s hidden-in-plain-view anonymous Internet troll. I’m sure they’ll hurry right over.

END

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Some things can be taught

March 6, 2017 § 22 Comments

How many times have you seen a group of cyclists spread all over the road like a warm breakfast? Judging from the rarity of organized, disciplined, 2 x 2 pacelines, you might think they are formations that only come into existence after years of practice. And you might think that the only people capable of riding mile after mile a few inches from their neighbors’ bars and a few inches from the wheel in front of them is the mark of a truly expert cyclist.

That’s what I always thought, mostly because the only time I ever saw functioning large groups ride like that they were composed of (accomplished) bike racers.

My club, Big Orange, had a Paceline 101 seminar yesterday. We all gathered on Westchester Parkway, and several of the club’s leaders put on the seminar. There were over forty riders. At least half had never ridden in a 2 x 2 paceline before. Most of the others had been riding for two years or less.

The Big O paceline, when I describe it, sounds goofy because of the silly names. Here they are:

Horsemen“: These are the 6-12 riders at the front. These are the only rotating riders. Their job is to:

  • Maintain steady power. Steady on flats, slower on hills, faster on descents.
  • Give plenty of room around road hazards. Give wide berth to cones, potholes, sticks, big rocks, etc.
  • Call out road hazards.
  • Pay attention to upcoming stop lights. Anticipate when the light will change by watching crosswalk countdowns. Avoid panic stops and avoid running the entire peloton through red lights.
  • Accelerate slowly from stops, remembering that everyone behind is still standing
  • Rotate in pairs. Get off the front if the partner wants off. Left side swings off to the left, right side swings off to the right. Keep steady speed when rotating off the front, flick elbow and take 2-3 strong pedal strokes as you move over.
  • Control the lane. The right hand rider controls positioning and stays just to the left of the fog line.
  • Control descents. This is the hardest part to master, requiring a hard effort to keep speed on downhills until the rear of the peloton has completed the descent. Riders at the front cannot slow down until everyone has completed the descent.
  • Steady ascents: Slowing  too rapidly at the bottom of the hill means those at the end of the peloton will accordion. Slow gradually while climbing and regroup after crossing the top. Gradually lift the pace again after the regroup.

Gatekeepers“: The two riders directly behind the horsemen. Their job is to:

  • Maintain steady power. If the horsemen surge, the gatekeepers allow the gap to open, then slowly close it.
  • Provide space for horsemen who have rotated off the front and are coming back in order to slot back in.
  • Prohibit the peloton from mixing with horsemen. The idea is that one group, horsemen, do the work, and the other group, the peloton drafts for the duration of the ride.

Buffers“: 1-3 pairs of riders, riding immediately behind the gatekeepers. Their job is to maintain steady power. If the group ahead surges, the buffers let them go, then gradually close the gap.

Peloton“: This is everyone else. Their job is to:

  • Stay on the wheel in front. Do not pass other riders. Do not fill in gaps ahead of buffers. Do not get out of formation to bomb descents.
  • Keep handlebars even with your partner. Formations stagger when riders are not even with each other.
  • Change lanes from the rear. When changing lanes, the rear of the peloton should move over first, after checking for traffic, and call out “Clear!” so the riders ahead know it is safe.
  • Anticipate slowing riders in front. When approaching rollers, give extra room ahead. Know the route!
  • Identify final rider position. Last place riders in the peloton should tell other riders “I’m last” if for some reason a rider is rotating all the way to the back of the group. Final riders should also take responsibility for being the riders who check first for rear traffic when getting ready to change lanes.

Before going to the Peloton 101 seminar, participants were supposed to have read this explanation of paceline riding. Once we assembled, a couple of leaders explained it all again in person, took questions, we did a practice lap around the Parkway. There was a lot of talking and some correcting, but no shouting or abusing or screaming. Everyone was told beforehand that we were there to learn, and told not to take anything personally.

Incredibly, no one did.

After the first lap we debriefed, people switched up positions, and we did a second lap, this time at about 22-24 mph. We debriefed again, questions were taken, and we rode a final lap “at speed.” After a final debrief, those who wanted to rolled with the group out onto PCH and practiced pacelining in the lane at speed all the way to Malibu and back.

Here is a link to a video that was taken by Cycling Savvy instructor Gary Cziko from the position of gatekeeper, with the horsemen teaching a first-timer how to rotate.

What amazed me about the practice was how quickly people got it when it was explained and they had a chance to practice. After the second lap the 42-person rotation was so disciplined that, sitting at the very back, I could see all the way to the front through the gap between the side-by-side riders. It was almost perfectly straight.

I wondered why it was so effective, and several things occurred to me.

First, it’s not complicated, but there are organizational elements that need to be explained. I learned to ride a paceline while doing it, making a mess of it, and getting yelled at. Being calmly instructed, gently corrected, and given a chance to practice takes most of the terror out of it.

Second, having roles with names is a huge help to beginning riders. Sure, “horsemen” sounds silly, but it is a defined word with a defined function, and when you’re doing your first paceline with a bunch of experienced riders and you’re so nervous you’re about to crap your shorts, it makes all the difference in the world to have words tied to actual functions and roles.

This nomenclature also makes new riders concentrate on what they’re doing, as opposed to riding in terror that they’re about to crash out fifty people. Even better, once people feel comfortable in one role, they can try a more challenging one, so they not only have a place, but they have the feeling of “moving up.” Roles also have the invaluable function of predictability, which is what safe group riding is all about. There’s never any question about where a horseman is supposed to be, and if there is, you can ask. Compare that to the amorphous glob of riders in which random people do random things for no apparent reason … or at least that’s how it seems to beginners.

Third, holding a more-or-less permanent position throughout the ride means you get to know the person next to you, and the relationships are what makes the experience fun.

Removing the mystery, sharing the knowledge, and teaching skills raises everyone’s ability, including the teacher’s. It also creates a vibe in which people want to excel. Best of all, this method includes riders of vastly differing abilities and solves one of the biggest issues of group riding for clubs, i.e., “How do you integrate slower riders with faster ones without either shredding the slow ones or making the fast ones go so slow that they no longer want to do the ride?”

Every club should look at its mission and if part of the mission is education, improvement, and making road riding more accessible to more people, then a program like this is a winner. Photos courtesy of Joann Zwagerman, Big Orange phenom who was responsible for organizing yesterday’s seminar!

END

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Time wounds all heels

January 24, 2017 § 25 Comments

It was with great pleasure that I read about the invasion of the wave snatchers at the holy site formerly marked by the masturbatorium erected by the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch, and reputedly mourned by white pick-up kook, workboots surfer kook, Michael Kirst (known for his role as Deputy Sykes in the video blockbuster “Sisterhood of the Shewolf”), and of course Falling Off Surfboard Robert Chapman.

The big hammer that the surf community is swinging is the class action lawsuit combined with threatened action by the California Coastal Commission. If you are curious about the surfer kook gang that has made Palos Verdes Estates infamous for great waves ridden badly, here’s one handy link.

However, it was with great displeasure that I realized how long it has taken the surfing community to stand up to the violence and the bullies that rule the break formerly known as Aloha Point, but now rechristened “Taloa Point” after the courageous activist who has broken the color line at Lunada Bay and led the charge to open public beaches to, well, the public. Displeasure because it’s been a Thirty Years’ War, and when I look at how much effort and money it has taken, it makes me wonder what the prospects are for cyclists who dare to ride in PVE.

The police force, led by Jeff Kepley (also a defendant in the class action lawsuit against the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch Surfer Gang), has still not issued a single citation for cars violating the 3-foot law, but has handed out numerous tickets to cyclists for running stop signs. That makes a lot of sense: Ignore actions by cars that can kill people and clamp down on victimless stop sign violations. Moreover, the police, ordered by the rampaging city council, have focused their efforts not on protecting cyclists and finding the person who killed John Bacon but on harassing legal group rides and shutting down legal protests.

If the surfer activism at Lunada Bay is any indicator, the fight for cyclists’ rights in PVE is going to take a long time. What’s worse than that is the city’s effective crackdown on cyclists’ efforts to educate the residents about the actual law and what it means.

Having taken a page out of the alternative fact playbook, the bike hating activists are relentlessly pounding home falsehoods, and the cycling community’s early enthusiasm has flagged. When it comes to endurance athletes, maybe we’ve met our match in the form of a few rabid, racist, bike-hating NIMBYs.

With a city council impervious to law, fact, or reason, with a raving minority of bike haters, a hostile police force, and falling-off-surfboarders like Robert Chapman bobbing around the rocks, the question of “What next?” is more than simply relevant. It’s a frontal challenge to our right to ride safely on the peninsula.

The scary reality is that most cyclists may simply be too flat fucking lazy to defend their rights to ride here. A whole bunch of dedicated people have shown up and advocated, but a whole bunch haven’t. When given the choice between showing up and doing a cool ride or fighting city hall, maybe it’s more important to more people to go out and do the big ride, clock the miles on Strava, hit the “like” button on Facegag, and ride somewhere else than it is to put in the time and effort to beat back the crazies. I mean, isn’t that why we have the president today that we so richly deserve? And isn’t there a saying somewhere … “No time to do it right, always time to do it over.”

But I digress … a new educational protest is in the works pending completion of some very cool t-shirts currently in production that will help residents and car traffic understand and apply the law. Date/Time TBA–hope to see you there!

bmufl2

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No expletives were harmed in this protest

January 16, 2017 § 56 Comments

Yesterday we met at Malaga Cove Plaza and rolled out our fancy new Bikes May Use Full Lane signs as part of our free speech demonstration. We held up the signs for all motorists to see, so that they could learn about the law and so that we could exercise our right to free speech.

By my rough estimate, more than a billion cars passed by, or perhaps it was a thousand or so. Many waved, a few showed the finger, and one sympathizer of the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch and Robert Chapman stuck his head out of the window of his rusty pickup and screamed, “Cars first!”

I pleasantly shouted back, “State law!”

He screamed, apoplectic, “Fuck you! Cars first! Whiny faggot!” summing up perfectly the grounds on which a tiny handful of people oppose the law.

The best car was a house divided, where the sour driver husband grimly shook his head and gave us a thumbs-down, while his wife enthusiastically smiled and gave us a thumbs-up. I bet she has a happy pool guy.

The great news is that standing at the intersection with a concise, easily seen statement of the law works wonders. The not-so-great news is that if you’re holding up an actual traffic sign that hasn’t been approved for installation by the city, the PVE PD will come up and threaten to cite you for violating CVC 21465. We had a civil and brief discussion with the police, who told us that it was free speech if our signs were made of cardboard, but not free speech if they were actual traffic signs. The statute doesn’t say this, of course, and we pretty clearly have the right as part of a demonstration to hold up whatever signs we want, but since the point of the protest was to educate motorists rather than be led away in chains, and since it was lunch time, we ended the protest without being fined or arrested. #winning

Our next and expanded intersection education campaign is already in the works. Thanks to all who honked encouragement, the cyclists who rode by and grinned, the entire Surf City Cyclery Team who yelled as they rode through, the high five from Gussy, and the advocates who showed up to help educate the city’s motorists.

END

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