September 29, 2016 § 44 Comments
On Monday night there was a traffic safety committee meeting held by the city of Rancho Palos Verdes. You think committee meetings are boring?
This one wasn’t.
It featured a guy who began by complaining about people taking pictures. The chair told him he was “out of order” which is nice speak for “shut the fuck up” and informed him that it was a public meeting, open to the public, held for the public, and publicly regulated under the Brown Act, which publicly regulates public meetings.
The guy was not mollified by the law because he was part of a contingent who demanded that the city put up signs saying “Bikes Must Ride Single File.” No matter that this isn’t the law, and no matter that the California Vehicle Code doesn’t prohibit riding two abreast, no matter that the committee has given extensive, detailed PowerPoint presentations on CVC 21202(a) and its exceptions, and no matter that the most fundamental principle of statutory construction is that the law permits everything that is not specifically prohibited.
In Rancho Palos Verdes these NIMBYs had come to the meeting to advise what they thought the law should be and to demand that the city put it on a sign. Right? Because after inventing a few new anti-bike provisions for the vehicle code they could follow it with signs that said, “No poor people,” “No Torranceites,” “No San Pedroians,” and of course “No people whose last names end in a vowel.”
It was clear that, having bought a second-hand home with an ugly garage on top of a hill and surrounding the whole faux estate with an iron gate and guard shack, this guy thought that the public meetings were private, too, and no amount of explaining that the meeting was “public” seemed to have any effect on him at all.
Because polysyllabic words and laws and facts kept getting in the way of his opinions, the guy followed up his outburst a few minutes later by showing the middle finger at what appeared to be the committee. When the sheriff’s deputy came over and told him he couldn’t flip off the committee, he told the deputy that he hadn’t been flipping off them, he’d been flipping off … me. For taking pictures.
I hadn’t said a word the entire meeting and when I looked back he threw a fleck of paper at me while raising his middle finger again for emphasis. There I was, back in Third Grade with the classroom bully showing me the finger, throwing spitballs, and daring the teacher to get on with her job. If you think it’s extraordinary that a grown man would go to a public meeting and show his contempt for public participation by flipping people off and flinging flecks of paper at his imagined enemies, you need to come to one of these meetings.
But what’s more extraordinary is that the very people who flipped us off, threw things, and booed Delia Park at the previous meeting when she described the catastrophic injuries of a friend belong to the same anti-bike contingent that opened the meeting with an appeal for civility and made pointed complaints about the militant biker bullies–never mind that not a single cyclist in any public meeting has insulted, attacked, threatened, or made an obscene gesture to anyone ever, and never mind that several cyclists began by thanking the committee for their efforts.
One first-time biker attendee later commented that “I thought you were exaggerating, Seth, but these people really are batshit fucking crazy.”
The discussion point of the meeting was colossally stupid. A handful of NIMBYs on Crest Road were seeking to apply the city’s event permitting ordinance to “organic” groups of ten or more cyclists. Unable to understand the law’s intent–regulation of large events that had a significant impact on the public right of way–these folks yammered on endlessly about how the law should be applied to local, unorganized, organic bike rides.
Under the ingenuous pretense of “safety,” though none of them had consulted any of the cycling groups whose safety is most imperiled in traffic collisions, and after having a prior petition to ban cyclists from the roadway being unceremoniously booted due to its patent illegality, they were now trying to regulate unorganized group bike rides in the hope it would make things somehow more orderly, i.e. get rid of bikes. When I asked one of the NIMBYs whether or not he would attend a free Cycling Savvy course to get educated about the law from the cyclist’s perspective, he told me he was “too busy” because he “had a 16-year-old who was just getting his driver license.”
Well, of course! No responsible father with a new young male driver in the family would possibly be able to make time to go learn the law and safe traffic skills that have to do with cyclists, especially the cyclists who allegedly cause so many traffic problems up on Rancho Palos Verdes Estates Wish We Were Palos Verdes Estates Crest Road.
The details of the ordinance appeared irrelevant to many of the NIMBYs, the main “detail” being no detail at all but rather its most salient feature: The ordinance specifically applies to “organized” events. Speaker after speaker on the cyclists’ side tried in vain to explain to the waxed-in brains of the NIMBYs that THERE IS NO ORGANIZER FOR THE DONUT RIDE. But they either didn’t understand, wouldn’t understand, or couldn’t understand.
It’s true that you can’t fix stupid, but in this case you couldn’t even shut it up. The committee, obviously perplexed by having to deal with something that made no sense at all, referred it for further “study by staff.” This will presumably involve someone sitting in a lawn chair watching groups of cyclists go by at 25 mph and trying to determine if they’re “organized” or “in a group” or “ten or more.” One fool suggested that group riders be required to ride with identifying stickers, a great idea that was used with much success in the late 1930’s.
A cyclist speaker offered the NIMBYs a thousand bucks if they could find the organizer of the Donut Ride, which one of the crazypants asserted was any person who mentioned it on their web site. Kind of like, you know, how you’re an organizer of the Super Bowl when you note on your blog its location, date, time, and the teams who are playing.
Almost three and a half hours later the meeting adjourned, but not before one guy spent several minutes complaining about committee member David Kramer’s “conflict of interest” because in addition to his duties as a committee member he was formerly an officer of Big Orange. We’ll set aside for a minute the fact that nothing on the agenda affects Big Orange as a club at all, another detail that didn’t matter because it so obviously contradicted this guy’s attack.
Lacking any ability to understand that Big Orange doesn’t have a single organized ride in RPV, and unable to do anything other than wave tax returns and Secretary of State filings, this bonehead repeatedly insisted that Kramer “recuse” himself.
Kramer repeated, as he always does, that the committee makes no decisions (ergo there’s nothing to be recused from), that all committee recommendations must be voted on by the city council which has the power to accept, reject or modify anything done by the committee, that the committee acts in a volunteer advisory capacity only, and that his activities as a cyclist have long been public, but the NIMBY didn’t care. All that the NIMBY could grasp is that Kramer is a cyclist, Kramer belongs to Big Orange, therefore Kramer has a conflict of interest. Of course with NIMBY logic, all of the motorists would have to recuse themselves from the committee, too, since no motorist could possibly be expected to be neutral on issues that affected cars. But in an absence of understanding and in a surfeit of ignorance, facts meant little, and one of the NIMBYs assured me outside the building that a lawsuit would be brought to remove Kramer from the committee.
“You’re not going to like that,” he said. I could only hope that he retained a very expensive lawyer with a huge, nonrefundable retainer.
In line with the NIMBY hatred of cyclists on Crest, riders recently reported a white Toyota Corolla buzzing, honking at, and harassing cyclists going up Crest in, surprise, single file. It’s hard to understand what they meant by civility, except perhaps this: Please shut up and go away from RPV.
The next day was Tuesday. I mentally flushed out the cremains of the night before with a good bike ride, one of those organic rides without a leader or promoter that’s been going on for over 30 years, and that evening I was back at another city meeting to witness another series of mindless assaults on cycling. This one was at Palos Verdes Estates.
At the end of the meeting I was accosted by a guy who claimed to be “Frank Ponce” and who “wanted to talk” to me. Imagine a pudgy bully whose hairpiece has been dipped in a bucket of chiGrecian Formula, clad in a two-for-one suit from Men’s Wearhouse, wearing an imitation of a fake Swiss watch and looking like he wanted to kill you.
Then imagine another guy, larger, blobbier, dumber looking (possible? yes!) who was also wearing a sandwich board with my picture on it and the caption “This Clown Wants More Signs.”
This clever fellow had discovered a picture that was on my web site and was now going to expose me as an advocate for bike signage. Plus he was going to call me a clown. Unfortunately, Mom’s allowance must have been a bit on the low side because the construction of the sign had the quality you normally associate with a cardboard roof used by a homeless person to cover his shopping cart.
How a person can strap on a homemade sign and duck-waddle around in public while calling someone else a clown is a metaphor for the wholesale absence of reflection, perspective, or self-awareness that the bike haters displayed at every turn. I was waiting for the Sandwich Clown to ask for gas money since Mom had perhaps kicked him off the couch for the evening, the best explanation for him even being out of the house.
Upon leaving the parking lot, Mr. Men’s Wearhouse, still furious that none of the cyclists would engage with him or take him up on his unspoken offers of a duel using tubes of Rogaine, taunted me as I walked by. Rumor has it that the fake watch consortium is going to set the wheels in motion to “revoke my law license.” It will be fascinating to watch the $99 suits tangle with even more words, rules, laws, and procedures, seeing as they still haven’t been able to read and understand CVC 21202(a) and its exceptions. Imagine their surprise when someone tries to draw them a stick-figure diagram of what an anti-SLAPP motion is and what attorney fee sanctions look like.
As I left the parking lot, catcalls ringing in my ears, it occurred to me that there it was again! Third Grade! Another flaccid wanker thinking that no one could possibly resist the idea of jumping into a verbal sewer with him. I kept walking, slightly pleased that with so little effort I’d taken up permanent residence into such a small and sand-filled head. And best of all, I was staying there rent-free.
The PVE City Council meeting itself was something of a clusterfuck. Because the council had seen the large turnout of cyclists in past meetings and been inundated by NIMBY emails complaining about outsiders/flatlanders/transients influencing their special snowflake on the hill, they sought to do an end-run by moving the time from 5:30 to 7:30 in order to conduct a workshop on traffic safety. It was never articulated as such, but the idea seemed to be to wear down the cyclists with an earlier meeting that would cut off speaking times. The plan only half-worked because the fire marshal had to stop people from entering after the room filled to capacity with cyclists.
While the tiny Men’s Wearhouse contingent had vociferously sought to rally the anti-cycling troops for the meeting, the packed-to-capacity council chambers were filled predominantly with cyclists. When asked to stand if they supported BMUFL signage, only a smattering of the 90+ attendees remained seated. If the plan had been to get all the concerned PVE residents out in force, it worked, because the meeting showed what we’ve known all along: Most residents don’t give two ratfucks about five new BMUFL signs and the only ones who oppose them are either still subsidized by Mom or are retired or are woefully underemployed or all three.
The workshop, although ostensibly held to educate the council as to this “complex” issue of four signs, seemed in fact to be Traffic Safety Principles 101 for the Completely Clueless NIMBYs. It was a rehash of many, many presentations I’ve heard in bits and pieces from the city’s traffic engineer, and it was all politespeak for “These BMUFL signs are legal, you dumbshits.”
But the problem was this: If the NIMBYs were so thick-headed that they couldn’t understand CVC 21202(a), and if they were so pig-headed that they refused to recognized the legality of BMUFL, how in the world was the workshop going to educate them about something as complex as “basic principles of traffic engineering”? Their go-to guy was a stooge in a sandwich board and a sub-literate, flabby realtor in a cheap suit whose Linked-In profile picture reminds me of a hubcap thief from the 1920’s. These people were going to be “educated” about engineering and the law?
No. They were not.
It was like having a civil rights lawyer address a group of Trump supporters on the illegality of segregation.
Civil rights lawyer: “Segregation is illegal.”
Trumpers: “But we hate black people.”
CRL: “It’s still illegal.”
Trumpers: “No, it isn’t.”
CRL: “Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).”
Trumpers: “Can we change the law just for here? PVE is unique!”
CRL: “No. It’s the supreme law of the land and codified in numerous federal and state laws and the California Constitution.”
Trumpers: “We still hate black people. We still hate integration. We love segregation. We don’t understand why we can’t have it. We grew up with it. And we’ve lived here since 1984.”
The part of the workshop that did work was that it promptly concluded at 7:30, before even a fraction of the cyclists had gotten to speak out in favor of BMUFL signage. This served the city and the NIMBYs’ agenda perfectly: It delayed the decision on the signs even further, it forced the cyclists to come back again (and again and possibly again), and it let the BMUFL advocates know that the city wasn’t going to easily and quickly fold to the recommendations of its own attorney, traffic engineer, safety committee, and what one NIMBY at the last traffic committee meeting referred to as “transients.”
The other part of the workshop that worked out exquisitely for the NIMBYs was that the latter half of the workshop degenerated into “cyclists running stop signs.” No matter how many times the police say they have limited resources, no matter how many times people point out that stop sign violations are equal among cars and bikes, and no matter how many times people point out that stop sign violations have nothing at all to do with BMUFL signage, once the Dreaded Stop Sign Issue is raised, everything goes running down into the gutter.
It’s as if you convened a meeting to discuss space travel and no one could stop talking about stop signs.
Bike Advocate: “BMUFL signage is legal and saves lives.”
Men’s Wearhouse: “Bikes run stop signs!”
Bike Advocate: “So do motorists but that’s not the issue.”
Men’s Wearhouse: “Bikes run stop signs!”
Bike Advocate: “Yes, but today we’re here to discuss BMUFL signage.”
Men’s Wearhouse: “Norm is videotaping all the scofflaw bikers running stop signs!”
Bike Advocate: “Yes, we’ve seen samples of the high quality videos made by Mom’s Couch Productions. But today we’re here to discuss BMUFL signage, how it’s legal, recommended by the city engineer, and how it saves lives according the the NIH.”
Men’s Wearhouse: “Blobbly Bob is going to make another sandwich board showing bikers running stop signs!”
Bike Advocate: “I hope it’s a wide one.”
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and support all of the cyclists who show up time and time again to confront willful ignorance with reason, fact, and law. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
September 1, 2016 § 24 Comments
This was the claim of the entitled NIMBYs in Rancho Palos Verdes last month who advocated banning cyclists from public roads. They are a splinter, ALT-Trump group of ultra-socialists, i.e. people who believe the means of production should be subjugated to the wants of the lazy class, and they have their counterpart further down the hill in the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch.
They are concerned about cyclist safety, they say, as they focus on regulating every behavior but their own to achieve their life’s motoring goal, which is to have as much empty pavement in front of them as possible, paid for with other people’s tax money. They are the people who scream incessantly about cyclists who run stop signs but who don’t even know that the 3-foot passing law exists.
My response when they insincerely claim to be concerned about safety? No, you aren’t.
You don’t give a rat’s ass about cyclists, cyclist safety, or anything other than squelching the cognitive dissonance you feel at seeing strangers pedaling happiness machines on “your” roads because inside you are a miserable, envious, unfit, unhappy sack of tax dodges.
You don’t care if people get hit, killed, injured, maimed, terrorized, or traumatized, and you don’t care if the collateral wreckage includes kids who grow up without parents, spouses who spend years or decades caring for the shattered mind and body of a loved one, or individuals who get, in an instant, reduced from active, healthy, productive lives into badly broken, dependent shells.
Fortunately, in a couple of weeks you will have the opportunity to prove me wrong. The same stamping, champing, foaming, finger-pointing lardasses and potbellies who railed against Big Orange at the last Rancho Palos Verdes City Council meeting will have their second of six chances to actually do something about cyclist safety thanks, of course, to Big Orange, the group they so hate for insisting on doing something for cyclist safety that actually includes cyclist input.
On October 8, a Saturday that conflicts with football, pre-football, post-football, and, worst of all for the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch, a 2:30 PM start time, which gives them only twelve minutes to put on sandals, roll off the couch, eat some dry Cheerios, and drive to the El Segundo Public Library, a place filled with books, (after filling up with mom’s gas card), yes, on October 8 Big Orange will sponsor its second Cycling Savvy course, taught by none other than Gary Cziko, Dude Who Used To Ride The NPR With A Giant Sign On The Back Of His Bike Saying “Bikes May Use Full Lane.”
The Cycling Savvy course teaches bikers how to safely ride their bikes in traffic. But it does something else. It teaches cyclists, who also happen to be cagers most of the time, how to safely drive their 4,000-pound inflammable steel cages in the vicinity of underwear-clad people pedaling happiness machines.
In other words, every worthless Lunada Bay Boy on Mom’s Couch, and every dishrag-for-a-brain, bike hating NIMBY atop Crest has the opportunity to come and see what real cyclist safety measures look like. What they’ll find is that bike riders are ordinary people who just want to keep pedaling their happiness machines, and what they’ll also get is a sense for is how easy it is to accommodate the underwear-clad class without even being late to check out the shitty surf at the bluffs and key someone’s car who hasn’t yet heard that Lunada Bay doesn’t like you.
Oh, and it’s free, just be sure to get there at 2:00 PM (course begins at 2:30) because seating is limited and the venue will fill on a first-come, first-served basis. Courtesy of Big Orange.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get occasional videos documenting the amazing antics of the broke and unemployable Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
August 28, 2016 § 44 Comments
It’s hard to admit you’re wrong.
It’s harder to apologize to the people you’ve wronged.
It’s hardest of all to affirmatively do something about it.
The last couple of weeks have seen a slew of attacks on cyclists. Mason Katz, a professional baseball player, used his Twitter account to attack people who ride bicycles and suggest that their mere existence made him contemplate harming them.
Then there was the woman who I’ll just politely refer to as the Charlotte Nutjob. After assaulting a peaceful group of cyclists she was portrayed in the first news stories as a victim.
At least one follow-up story confirmed that she’s actually an idiot. Maybe that makes some people feel better.
And then there was the San Diego Easy Reader story, peddling lies and absurd analyses from the Cato Institute trying to argue that bike planning is irrational and we should spend more time and money helping the poor beleaguered car industry.
All of this followed hot on the heels of stories in which Peter King, Sports Illustrated flunky, and his flunkette driver Jenny Vrentas, made a ha-ha-ho-ho joke about driving their cage in the bike lane on the way to a football game, which in turn was contemporaneous with a tweet by NFL Network analyst @HeathEvans 44, which highlighted the irrational rage that so many drivers feel at simply encountering an ordinary bicycle rider “clogging the street,” i.e. “riding lawfully.”
But then the story line changed.
One of my Big Orange club members, Delia Park, reached out to @HeathEvans44 and invited him to come apologize to our club before the Sunday ride. “Sure,” I thought. “Like he’s going to show up at 6:30 AM on Sunday to get berated by a bunch of old farts in orange underwear.”
“Sure,” @HeathEvans44 responded. “I’d love to.”
“Believe it when I see it,” was my cynical thought.
Yesterday morning at the Center of the Known Universe a/k/a CotKU a/k/a the Manhattan Beach Pier Starbucks, @HeathEvans44 showed up as promised. Delia, Joann Zwagermann, Greg Leibert, Steve Utter, my youngest son Woodrow, and I were all there.
I had prepped my son about what to expect, prejudiced as I am. “The guy’s going to be some insincere asshat who’s been hassled on social media and probably by his employer to make this right. He’ll be condescending as shit.”
What we found was something so far away from that. @HeathEvans44 was, first and foremost, appalled that he’d tweeted something that condoned violence. He was more than apologetic. His voice, his manner, and his words evinced nothing but regret of the sincerest kind. You got the feeling that here was a guy who was gentle, kind, and who wanted to right a wrong. You know the old saying, “People make mistakes”? Well, they do. What they often don’t do, is apologize for them.
In addition to profoundly apologizing, Heath admitted to not having known the law. He asked forgiveness. He praised cycling as a sport, and he had obvious, unfeigned respect for the riders who were getting ready to roll forth for the day. He was an athlete who respected fitness and athleticism.
As if all that weren’t enough, he agreed that something further needed to be done to help educate the motoring public and to help counteract the gut reaction that many people have when they see a rider “in their way.” In our short pre-ride meeting there was no time to nail down specifics, but he shared his private cell phone and promised to work together with us to help get the word out.
Finally, he stood out at CotKU while iPhones snapped and popped. I’d had no idea that so many cyclists loved football. One rider asked him where he went to college. “Auburn,” he said.
“My daughter goes there,” said the rider, rolling up his sleeve to show an elaborate War Eagles tattoo. Football talk quickly ensured. Far from rushing away as soon as he could, he hung around to chat until the cyclists themselves clicked in and rolled out.
@HeathEvans44’s Twitter tag line is “Don’t dish if you can’t take it.” Pretty admirable to see someone turn a negative into a positive, and be adult enough to reverse course when the initial tack was just plain wrong. It’s a lesson we should all take to heart.
[EDIT: The original post neglected to mention that this would not have happened without the work of Joann Zwagermann, who helped spotlight the problem and who relentlessly engaged. It also omitted to recognize the work that Matt Miller, also of Big Orange, did to make sure that our efforts were positive, peaceful, and dedicated to rapprochement rather than acrimony and recrimination. Thank you to all.]
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog about football. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
August 19, 2016 § 13 Comments
In addition to being born in the foreign nation of Kenya and/or Hawai’i and being therefore an ineligible and illegitimate president, in addition to perpetuating the hoax that global warming is caused by humans, in addition to causing 9/11 when he was a state legislator in the Illinois Senate, in addition to being a founding member of ISIS, and in addition to repealing the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Consution, I blame Obama for beating me at the Telo training crit, him and Head Down James.
“Surely, Wanky, you don’t mean that.”
“No, no, no. What you mean is that Obama put in place the policies, procedures, funding, and geopolitical landscape that caused you to lose at Telo last Tuesday. That’s what you mean, isn’t it?”
“No. I mean what I said. I blame Obama for beating me at Telo. Him and Head Down James. And Pegleg Barrett for hosting the conspiracy on his private server and sending out classified emails to all of Velo Club La Grange to incite them to pile into the team van, drive down to Telo, and smash us into bits.”
“How is that Obama’s fault?”
“Glad you asked!”
It happened like this: There I was, giving a polite and courteous and harmonious speech to the raving NIMBY lunatics in RPV who want to promote bike safety by banning cyclists from public roads, and I was covered in dried spit and snot and sweat and smelled like an old hunks and was shaking from exhaustion and on the verge of collapse because I’d driven straight from Telo to the city council meeting.
Everyone was looking at my slobber in awe and a bit fearful of Zika and etc., but I couldn’t collect my thoughts because of Obama and Head Down James.
Right before the race began, Destroyer had sidled up to me. “You want to win?”
“Of course,” I said, reflecting on my Chevy Volt and therefore a bit suspicious of his as-yet unuttered advice.
“Follow Head Down James.”
“Okay,” I said, having no intention of doing it and fulfilling the first law of bike racing strategy, which is Lie At All Times. I mean, there was no way Head Down James and Obama could stay away from the beginning, and if there’s one thing more certain than that we need to make America great again, it’s that Head Down James was going to attack from the gun, which he did, so why should I follow him in a hopeless attempt?
“Go!” said Destroyer as Head Down James attacked at the beginning.
“Okay!” I said and drifted back.
Head Down James pounded away and won but not before Obama completely messed up the chase. All I really remember is that there was some poor schmo in a Texas Aggies pair of pants and another dude with a green jersey and Texas flag and they got completely shelled and lapped along with all but about seven people, welcome to California and Obama and socialism.
I followed wheels and did zero anything until I found myself in a break with Destroyer and Frenchy Jr. They almost dislocated their elbows trying to get me to take a pull, but with Obama working against me, and Frenchy Jr. being 22, and Destroyer being the champion sprunter, I didn’t see what sense it made for me to do a lick of work plus I’m lazy that way.
Although Big Orange started out with five guys we were Little Orange by the end with everyone but me and Skinny Dave having been shelled and lapped, and Velo Club La Grange only had Surfer Dan left but since Head Down James was up the road all he had to do was wheelsurf, which he did, plus pull me up the group the one time I got dropped which was around the time that Bahati literally tore off a crank arm he was pedaling so hard to bring back Head Down James.
But Obama carried the day with ISIS, and Head Down James closed the deal and got his first Brexit Winner’s Tunic. I can’t wait until Trump is president and implements Making Wanky Great Again and I finally have a chance.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and fight Obama’s tyranny and Head Down James. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
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.
Subscribe to this blog now! Special offer ends never! For $2.99 per month you can support advocacy, gender equality, and occasional silliness! Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
July 13, 2016 § 31 Comments
This sport is all about endurance. You have to spend a ton of time on your rear end, seated in an uncomfortable position, patiently waiting while all the idiots around you shoot their bullets until the perfect moment comes to stand up, lunge to the front, and make your move.
Sometimes the riders around you will cuss, fart, spit, blow snot rockets, complain, jostle for position, and do everything in their power to grind you down. You have to be patient, even as you too are gradually getting worn down from the exhaustion, the pain, the misery, and the idiocy of the contest.
Over and over you say to yourself, “Why the hell am I here?” and “What’s the friggin’ point?” and “I’m done, I’m going home,” but somehow you grit your teeth and endure the pain, the torture, and each needle of agony as the event slowly grinds on.
But then that moment comes in the city council meeting when it’s your turn and you get up to the lectern and all the clever things you were going to say begin with “Uh,” and “Um,” and your scintillating speech that was going to bring the crowd to its feet dribbles out in a rehash of what the other fifty speakers said and you fall into the Public Speaking Time Warp Dimension, where your three-minute speaker time allotment goes by in what seems like three seconds, whereas for your audience it goes by slower than three years of Chinese water torture.
Last night’s call to arms at the Palos Verdes Estates city council meeting was a complete success. About ninety cyclists absolutely packed the church pews in the council chambers so that it was standing room only. All of the yammerers and complainers and bitchers and email spammers and NextDoor-pitchfork-vigilantes who we feared would show up en mass and shout us down stayed exactly where you’d think Internet trolls would stay: At home, venting more spleen in yet another livid email.
We were also concerned that the Lunada Bay Boys On Mom’s Couch might make a cameo appearance and bombard us with grunts, but then we realized that since the meeting started at 7:30 PM, they’d already be fighting with their younger 40-year-old-ish siblings over who was getting the couch and who was getting the carpet.
What we found instead were the large, mostly washed masses of cyclists who’d tromped in from as far away as the San Fernando Valley and Huntington Beach to give voice to their support for BMUFL (Bikes May Use the Fukkin’ Lane) signage. Of the forty-two people who spoke, only one person didn’t speak in favor of BMUFL.
The outcome of the meeting was straightforward. The council will vote on BMUFL signage on July 26. Our voices have been heard and will be taken into account. The council will likely approve the traffic safety committee’s recommendation to:
- Take down the Darth Vader signs ominously saying “Bicycle Laws Strictly Enforced.”
- Put up the Luke Skywalker signs saying “3-Feet It’s the Law.”
- Send the BMUFL signage recommendation back to committee to decide the actual number and placement of signs.
Although it’s entirely possible that the Lunada Bay Boys On Mom’s Couch and the Internet Troll Commission will show up in force at that meeting because it’s the one at which the actual vote will occur, the council was incredibly receptive to and appreciative of our input, all 4,835.2 minutes of it. Talk about an endurance sportt! The bike blab-a-thon portion ended at 9:30 and the council still hadn’t even reached the main items on its agenda.
None of this would have happened without the incredible leadership of Michael Barraclough and Delia Park. And it certainly wouldn’t have happened without the support of the many cyclists who attended the protest ride and all of the other meetings, proving a key point: The cycling community is so vast that no one has to attend every meeting. We can fill entire council chamber rooms with a mostly new group of people every single time.
The meeting begin with a web site tutorial oriented towards the average PVE resident who apparently is just now learning about the Internet. It’s hard to describe, but think of the Internet as a bunch of computers connected together that can share information. It’s like Bingo without the excitement.
The city has a new web site with lots of links and a content management system which will give employees one more awful task they have to slog through. And although the web site’s only two images were an ocean cliff, presumably to leap from, and an antique Porsche that trust me, you can’t afford, it immediately occurred to me that what that web site is really going to need is a section called “Cycling in the Peninsula,” where the 3-foot law, the BMUFL law, and the mutual obligations of bikers and cagers to follow the traffic laws are set forth.
After learning about web sites and the Internet, the council sank into their chairs for what promised to be a long night of biker blabber. They begged us not to be repetitive and to keep it short, but we just couldn’t resist using that allotment of three minutes and as their looks of resignation turned to despair we soldiered on. If I weren’t an atheist I’d nominate each of those council members and the mayor for sainthood.
The speakers were:
Bruce Steele, lawyer and biker dude.
Diego Binatena, pro cyclist and Eagle Scout in uniform.
Julie Lansing, Scout leader and lifelong cyclist.
Craig Eggers, Big O bulwark and dude who’s been cycling more years than he’s been driving.
Annie Spalding, mom, wife, and non-cyclist who is vitally affected by what happens to cyclists because her husband and son ride.
Bob Spalding, rock of the South Bay, iron-legged Canyon Bob who has never met a flat he couldn’t fix or a rider in distress he wouldn’t stop to help.
Sam Spalding, college student commuter cyclist who compared cycling in Minneapolis and Portland to PVE.
Michael Lewis, lifelong cyclist.
Mike Barraclough, heart and soul of the movement whose speaking time was interrupted by the Shot Clock Controversy when the clerk forgot to start his 3-minute timer and then shaved too many seconds off his speaking time, after which the coach protested, a time-out was called, and on a fast-break to the inside Barraclough stuffed an 0ver-the-rim behind-the-back triple axel forward 4-and-a-half somersault in the Pike postion to score a perfect 10 and win the game in double overtime on penalty kicks.
Trish Botsko, PV Bike Chicks cyclist who spoke eloquently about bike signs and safety.
Mario Obejas, BCCC engineer dude and member of one of the best and biggest clubs in the South Bay.
Jose Godinez, South Bay stalwart and biker dude who has been to almost every meeting.
Eric Bruins, hard core advocate and professional bike dude who talks change and sense and collaboration all at the same time and doesn’t sound insane.
Tom Duong, Flog Ride regular, another you-aint-getting-rid-of-me advocate who has been integral to every meeting and protest.
Cassady Davidson, my awesome daughter who came with her husband Torazo and my grandbaby Rin-chan, who took one look at all the people and did a double-diaper-blast, after which he was unceremoniously removed from the proceedings.
Brian Gee, cyclist and talker dude.
Patrick Noll, German cyclist dude who is more articulate in his second language than I am in my first.
Steve Thorpe, cyclist dude who supports BMUFL, as he should.
Chris Tregillis, winner of the City Council KOM and super articulate talker dude.
Nigel Stewart, biker and talker dude.
Delia Park, how awesome is Delia? That would be “very.” Inspiring, committed, always shows up, keeps the troops in line, and please don’t even think about pissing her off with your dumb comments.
Yasuko Davidson, my cute wife who was too short for the mic and who got in a stiff uppercut to the jaw for BMUFL.
Joey Cooney, another stalwart who has made every meeting, dude rides, is local, and sticks around like badly burnt eggs on the bottom of an iron skillet.
Alan Stoddard, biker talker dude.
Geoffrey and Austin Loui, dad-and-son combo, Geoffrey also makes all the meetings and brings his kids. Start democracy young.
Joann Zwagerman, best speaker with a broken arm and funniest comment about her mom: “Okay, Joann, you’ve proven you can ride a bicycle. Now stop!”
Joel Elliott, conducted an awesome plebescite: “How many of you wankers ride?” [99% of people raised their hands]. “Now, how many of you wankers have been hit?” [98%].
Don Wolfe, drove from Westchester, awesome rider and talker and BWR dude.
Kevin Nix, succinct talker and bike race winner dude.
Jonathan Fredrick, best sense of humor dude whose last name has one “e” and whose last name can get you into trouble if you leave out the “r.”
Wendy Watson, another stalwart, rides better in her 70’s than I did in my 20’s.
Mark Maxson, awesome resident cyclist and talker father PVE dude.
S. Davidson, blah blah blah but at least it was brief.
Vic Cooper, cyclist and talker dude.
Ray Colquhoun, Big O hammer.
Hung Nguyen, dude drove from Huntington Beach and got the sprint jersey as a result.
Carl Frushon, military cancer survivor biker and fundraiser for charitable events dude.
Carlos Jura, cell tower dude and coastal commission complainer dude and bike admonisher dude.
Kristie Fox, only person who brought up science, comparing the British and American models for roadway usage and why the Brits were good and the US sucks, which leads us to ask, “Why do you hate America?”
Denis Faye, only dude to mention a crazy pack of ferrets and cycling in the same sentence.
David Brindon, cameraman and Olympian and world champion cycling dude.
After the lovin‘, the mayor and city council, all of whom stayed awake, thanked us for our input and encouraged us to return on July 26, although inwardly they prayed that if we did show up again we wouldn’t speak endlessly about the same damned thing because, you know, they get it. Police Chief Kepley thanked us for our civility and professionalism, and we adjourned, leaving the council to another several hours of brutal business that had nothing to do with bikes.
Thank you to everyone who made the effort to attend. Thank you to Mayor Jennifer King, you have the patience of Job and the endurance of an Ironman winner. Thank you to council members James Vandever, Betty Lin Peterson, Jon Rea, and James F. Goodhart. It’s local elected officials like you, unpaid except for the gratification you get from bettering your community, who are the bedrock of our democracy.
And democracy really happens when people show up.
If you support advocacy, please subscribe to my blog! For $2.99 per month you are helping us change the landscape for cyclists. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
July 7, 2016 § 22 Comments
First, thank you Judy Frankel. It was a few hours before the PV Estates Traffic Safety Committee, and we were all hard at work (okay, screwing off on Facebag), trying to figure out our approach for the meeting.
The committee agenda had three recommendations for the city council:
- Take down the “Bike Laws Strictly Enforced” signs, burn them, and force the charred ashes down the throats of all the yahoos we’ve caught assaulting cyclists on video.
- Put up “3 Feet–It’s the Law” signs that are designed so simply that your cat could read it and your dog could pee on the signpost.
- Put up “Share the Road” signs so that irate cagers could scream, “Get over onto the edge you stupid fuggin’ biker! The sign says SHARE!”
We all agreed that #1 was good and #2 was real good. But we thought #3 stank. So Judy Frankel advised us that we needed to come loaded for BMUFL: Bikes May Use Full Lane.
We hustled in a full crew of stinky cyclists, most still clad in their damp chamois, that included Jose Godinez, Sarah Barraclough, James Olsen, Linda Campbell, Matt Miller, Tom Duong, Susan Varee, Joann Zwagerman, Delia Park, Michael Barraclough, Alistair Miller, Greg Seyranian, Pete Richardson, Joey Cooney, Geoffrey Louis, Matt Chartier, JR Rossetti, Kristie Fox, Robert Cisneros, and Wendy Watson.
Before the meeting we had to choose between putting together an organized and well thought out approach or go pound our bikes for a few laps around the Wanky Super Power Loop. By the time we’d done three loops everyone was exhausted and had no energy to do anything except listen dully to our Feared Leader, Michael Claw of the Bear.
“Listen up, fuckers,” he said. “I’m going to make this so simple even a cyclist can understand it. The committee doesn’t decide anything, but it can kill everything. These guys make recommendations for the city council to act on. Piss them off at your peril.”
“What are we supposed to say?” asked one cowering, lycra clad sweatlump.
Claw of the Bear handed out Post-it notes. “I’ve dumbed it down for a First Grader, then dumbed it down again for us,” he said. “There are three points:
“1) Take down bad signs: Good.
“2) Put up 3-foot signs. Good.
“3) Put up “Share the Road” signs: Bad.
“4) Put up BMUFL signs: Good.”
“Er, sir,” protested one cyclist, weakly. “That’s four points.”
“I said four points,” Claw of the Bear shot back. “Four points. Now let’s go!”
We marched into the council chambers and leaned our bikes up against the corridor wall while a couple of riders with rather excitable bowels dashed into the restroom to “rest.” The sound of cracking porcelain rang throughout the council chambers.
The meeting was called to order, the pledge was read, and a few traitors were hung by the neck until dead, after which their bodies were thrown to a pack of wild dogs outside the window.
“Okay, you bastards,” said the committee chair. “Who’s next?”
We all cowered in our seats and pretended that we had simply come to take notes. “Let me tell you sonsofbitches how this meeting is gonna go,” said the committee chair. “First one of you underwear-clad clowns leaves a sweat stain on our expensive city council church pews is gonna hang by the neck until dead. Any questions?”
We had none and the meeting came to order. First off was The Great Parking On PVDW Controversy. Concerned citizens stood up and discussed the incredible importance of this pressing issue while the committee tried to stay awake and the police chief idly spun the cylinder of his .357 to see who was going to get shot first for going over the 3-minute speaking time limit.
After a half hour of avid discussion about the life-or-death parking issue, we moved on to the bike signage item on the agenda. “Okay, you bastards,” said the committee chair. “I know what you all want and let’s get this straight: You ain’t gonna get it. So you might as well shut up and go home now. Plus you all stink to high heaven. Take a bath next time, willya?”
Claw of the Bear was not to be intimidated. “We like #1 and #2, but #3 is dumb. D-U-M-B. The last time I saw something that dumb I was in Texas. So we propose something smart. Put up BMUFL signs.”
“What did you call me?” the committee chair bellowed.
“I didn’t call you anything,” said Claw of the Bear.
“Like hell you didn’t.”
“I just said BMUFL signs.”
“He said it again!” roared the committee chair. Then he turned to the police chief. “Shoot the bastard, willya? He just called me a BMUFL.”
The police chief looked doubtful. “I don’t think he’s worth shooting, sir.”
“Why the hell not?”
“He smells too bad for the wild dogs to eat, so we’d have to bury him out of city funds.”
The chair nodded, grudgingly. “Well, what do the rest of you bastards want?” he said.
One by one we went to the lectern and read our Post-it notes. “Please be nice to us,” we begged. “And give us some BMUFL.”
As each sweaty speaker beseeched the august council, one thing became clear: Our protesters were waaaaay hotter than the parking controversy protesters. The parking lot people were schlumpy, pot-bellied, sag-bottomed, and draped with ill-cut rags that were displeasing to the eye.
Regardless of how dumb we all sounded, it’s hard to argue with smokin’ hot, articulate women in Spandex and tight jeans, especially when, with one flex of the muscled thigh, they could probably crack your skull like a rotten cantaloupe.
Finally one of the committee members, teetering on the edge of a prodigious sleep, made a motion that the committee vote on the recommendations. Only thing was, he changed #3 from “Put up a Dumb Ass Share the Road Sign” to “Put up BMUFL signs.”
The motion passed unanimously.
We cheered. We clapped. We hollered. We hoped we weren’t going to get shot for leaving chain grease stains on the carpet. The BMUFL recommendation was off to the city council, where it would likely be shot down in flames by angry residents who weren’t about to put up profane words like BMUFL in their fine community.
For today, though, a big old democracy had been done, and not just in the men’s room.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and help us change the world. One BMUFL at a time. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!