Earlier today, KPCC released “Vicious Cycle” a video on the Midnight Drag Race , a late night bicycle race through the 2nd Street Tunnel in Downtown Los Angeles. To program the race, volunteers worked with the city to close the tunnel to vehicle traffic so that the race could go on.
Streetsblog didn’t cover the race, but we did watch with surprise as the race garnered mainstream attention ob public radio and the Los Angeles Times. With the creation of Streetsblog Lite, we’ve done less publishing of videos on the main site, leaving videos to the Tumblr site. However, as the pitch letter from KPCC said, “I know there are tons of these biking videos out there, but not tons done by NPR!”
This weekend saw three pretty amazing events in Downtown Los Angeles. Each unique and important in its own way, that shows how Los Angeles is on the cusp of becoming a world class city for reasons beyond the film industry and a truly livable city. In chronological order. If you have any experiences with the Grand Park opening, late night train service, or Wolfpack Hustle midnight race, please leave them in the comments. We’ll highlight some of them on Streetsblog Lite.
Thursday evening, Grand Park officially opened with what Curbed termed, “a very flashy music and dance number that culminated in the re-turning-on of the giant Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain.” The party continued through the weekend, with Downtowners and out-of-towners alike flocking to the park.
Even a severe head cold couldn't keep Sammy, wearing his Darrell Clarke costume, from enjoying Grand Park.
On Sunday, I ventured down to the park myself, taking the Expo and Purple Lines, pushing a stroller bearing a toddler with a head cold. I knew from social media that the park was already attracting crowds, but was still surprised by the people swaying to some mellow music, the kids splashing in the water rising from the ground near the fountain, and the amount of ugly yet comfortable furniture people sat on.
On our trip, we ran into another family from Mar Vista and a family from Huntington Beach using the train to visit the park. Comfortable transit taking me to well-attended public events in attractive open space? Steve Martin, eat your heart out.
The press is giving the park, and the people attending it, rave reviews. I’m not sure why anyone is surprised at this point that attractive public space and outdoor events draw crowds of happy people. Have we learned nothing from CicLAvia?
As Friday became Saturday and the trains (and Orange Line Buses) continued to run, L.A. quietly took another step towards becoming a transit town. Despite the flurry of press announcing Metro’s plan to extend its Bus Rapid Transit and rail service into the early morning hours, there was no ribbon cutting for the after midnight rail passengers. It might not seem like a big deal, Metro shuffles the deck on its service hours twice a year in some form or another, but consider that late night rail service was such a dream four short years ago that Metro Rider, a now defunct website for news and views on L.A. transportation, announced it as their 2008 April Fool’s joke. Read more…
The Vista Theater in Los Feliz sponsors the appropriately named “Movies About Bikes” night this Friday and Saturday starting at Midnight. If you like Midnight Ridazz and movies, this is the event for you.
Watch the preview, and if you’re interested in seeing some locally made films about the local bike scene you can either pedal over to the Vista late Friday or Saturday or buy tickets online here.
They’ll be showing the same short films each night, but I’m told there’s going to be a great after party Saturday morning after the first showing.
For years, L.A. Streetsblog referred to the All City Toy Ride as the best bike event in the country that very few people outside of L.A. have heard of. This year, we’re going to do our part to change all that. We’ve recruited film maker Rob Adams, the same film maker who made our two CicLAvia Streetfilms and “You’re Never Too Old…,” to make a film on the 6th installment of the All City Toy Ride.
However, since there are (at least) twelve starting points to the ride, we’re going to need some help. We’re looking for volunteers to shoot either a little video or digital photos at the various start points to send to Adams to help us make the best, most comprehensive, video that we can. If we use any of your work we’ll send you a Streetsblog tote bag and include your name in the credits of the film.
If you’re interested in helping us out, email me, damien at streetsblog dot org, and let me know where you’ll be starting the ride and I’ll get you the information on how to send us your work.
For those of you that don’t know what the All City Toy Ride is. All City sees riders from at least a dozen start points around the city descend on Downtown Los Angeles with toys to benefit the Alliance for Children’s Rights. For more information, visit Midnight Ridazz. If you can’t make it on Friday but want to help, bring a toy to our fundraiser and we’ll see it gets donated.
Goodbye old friend...you'll be well loved by Occupy L.A. Yes, that's the same bike we used to teach Bill Rosendahl the basics of bike safety.
“They poison our air, water, land, bodies, mind and dreams,” reads the sign held by a member of Occupy L.A. as thousands of bicycles shoot past. Many of the riders ring their bell, pump a fist, or stop to engage the protester as he stands in the streets and sidewalk in front of City Hall during last Sunday’s CicLAvia.
Across the street, the iconic Roadblock is hanging out at the Bikeside Speaks stage chatting with many of the bike advocates who are stopping by to listen to the speakers, chat with friends or wish Stephen and Enci Box well on their upcoming adventure.
“Natural fit, a natural fit,” Roadblock says of the convergence of CicLAvia, the largest car-free party in North America, and the Occupy movement. Roadblock has been involved with the local cycling movement as the face of Midnight Ridazz and has been a fixture at City Hall as part of the Occupy Movement.
Roadblock is combining his connections in the bike community with the needs of Occupy L.A. In a couple of years when the City of Los Angeles or Metro triumphantly announce that they’re bringing L.A. its “first bike share,” remember that Occupy L.A. had one first. Last night, I dropped in on Occupy L.A. with a pair of beach cruisers that have been collecting dust in our bike storage area the last couple of years.
While Roadblock was busy at a meeting last night, he directed me to “the big yellow tent” that serves as the Bike District for Occupy L.A. There, a group of twenty-somethings were wrenching on a bike. The group, which included a Bicycle Kitchen Cook, has been repairing and maintaining bikes for free to any Occupier that asked for help. To identify the bikes that will be part of the Occupy L.A. Bike Share, the team is painting the donated bikes gold. Read more…
Ever since Christine Dahab crashed in to a group of bike riders last month, the story of the crash and people’s reaction to it has been a hot topic here at Streetsblog and around the city. But in addition to the protests, press conferences and organizing that’s been done by bike community’s activists, there’s been a lot of activity on another level: trying to take care of the riders that were wounded in the crash.
This weekend, both Friday and Saturday, Manny’s Car Wash on 4635 E. Valley Blvd., in East L.A. is hosting a fundraiser from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. for riders injured in a crash in Culver City during a ride that started in Koreatown. Regardless of what one thinks about the Midnight Ridazz, this is a pretty strong statement of city-wide unity from the bicycling community. All proceeds from the wash will go to victims of the crash.
Ridazz have been handing out flyers advertising the car wash at rides and other bike events throughout the city. I’ve been flyered twice, one at Critical Mass and again last week at the cyclist press conference at City Hall. And yes, they will wash bicycles too. The cost is $5 for bikes, $8 for cars, and $12 for SUV’s.
If you know of any other upcoming fundraisers to benefit the crash victims, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on this event, visit their Facebook Page.
Last night, at the end of the “KoreatownWednesdays” Midnight Ridazz ride, a couple of dozen Ridazz were standing at the bottom of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook waiting for the rest of the ridazz to make it down the hill. The ride begins every week in Koreatown and heads to the overlook. There the group parks their bikes, ascends the hill and takes in the view. I’ve never done the ride, but I’m told it’s a pretty low-key ride, runs at a fast clip, and is very peaceful at the end.
Unfortunately, for the group of Ridazz at the bottom of the hill, it was not a peaceful night. Rider AIDS66 writes on Midnight Ridazz:
We were waiting for everyone to make their way down from Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook as this shit happened. I saw a car speeding towards us and thought doesn’t the driver see us, NO…. Drunk bitch took out the whole ride. some of us got out of the way just in time but many took the brunt force of the hit.
CBS 2 has the most in-depth media report on the incident, and notes that there were nine victims of the crash, three of whom were hospitalized. The driver was taken into police custody under suspicion of DUI. No word yet on the results of her alcohol level or what she is being charged with. Some Ridazz said they saw her talking on her phone, but that hasn’t been reported in the media. The media is near-unanimous in its reporting that the woman was driving sixty miles per hour during the collisions.
While our thoughts and prayers go out to the injured cyclists and those scarred by witnessing the crash, I can’t help but notice the soft bias in the media against some of the cyclists in the reports. The worst example is from KABC.
After noting that the police were critical of the cyclists for wearing dark-colored clothing and standing in the street, the broadcaster also notes that, “…there was beer bottles and condoms where the cyclists were hanging out.” Unless the reporter, or the reporting officer, is implying the cyclists were having a drunken orgy in the street that shielded them from view, I’m not sure how either of those facts are relevant. First off, one Koreatown Rider reports they were standing in the shoulder, so even if they shouldn’t have been in the street, the driver shouldn’t have been in the shoulder (an earlier version of this story said “bike lane” instead of “shoulder.”) Second, who cares if they were drinking (they probably were) or using condoms (they probably weren’t). Unless the police/KABC believe a victim was so drunk they jumped in front of the car the drinking is immaterial.
Compare that to the CBS report:
Here the reporter focuses on the driver’s actions talking to witnesses, humanizing the victims and noting that the driver was drinking red bull, smoking and was doubtless distracted (at-best).
We’ll continue to update this report as more details are released. If you want to help make certain that the driver is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, one poster at Midnight Ridazz drafted a letter to the District Attorney’s Office. You can email the D.A. through this link.
This morning I am greatly upset and angered by the news of a driver who injured 11 cyclists with her car. I am writing to make it known that the driver who drover her car into a group of cyclists in the Baldwin Village area in the early morning of Thursday, June 16, 2011, must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the laws. For committing such a heinous act as she has, which is both irresponsible and reckless in nature, this driver can be shown no mercy for her careless actions behind the wheel of a weapon. Justice is the least of what the victims of this incident are due. It is my sincerest, deepest hope that this woman is fully stripped of her driving privileges for a number of years.
Bearing the effects of her actions, intentional or not, the sentence should reflect fully the damage she has caused to so many lives–not just those who have been injured, but to those who bore witness, as well as the entire community of Baldwin Village, Los Angeles, and vulnerable street users such as cyclists and pedestrians, as well as all road users. I understand that it is early and the full details of the incident have yet to fully be revealed, yet the greater cause and effect are apparent and warrant a severe sentence, that at any level, would only begin to serve as due penance for a crime of this nature. This driver has most clearly abused her privilege to operate a motor vehicle, and in doing so has robbed people of their livelihood and, in many ways, their futures. It is simply a miracle that no one was killed, but when actions such as the drivers are capable of causing death, such as hers have been, they should be viewed as hugely life-threatening and be punished for the damage caused as well as the damage that was fully possible.
(Update: Sgt. David Krumer reports that the Culver City Police will handle the investigation, as the crash occurred just inside their limits. If you have any information, contact Culver City Police, Traffic Bureau: (310)253-6200)
Aktive takes the Mayor for a spin at CicLAvia. Photo: Midnight Ridazz.com
I can’t remember the first time I met Aktive, but it seems that every time I’m in the Northeast L.A. “Bike District” I run into him. Going to an event at the Bike Oven? There’s Aktive. Getting the baby bike together at Flying Pigeon? There’s Aktive. June fundraiser? Aktive.
In a lot of ways, the story of Jesse Ramon is emblematic of what’s been going on with the bicycle community these last several years. Ramon went from non-rider to M.O.M. Rider, to ride leader in a short span. Now, the constantly optimistic rider is part of the group that’s been trying to work with the LAPD to make Critical Mass and other group rides as safe as they should be.
That being said, I still find it hard to imagine a rider wearing a vest with a giant marijuana leaf patch sewed into the back having the respect of the LAPD team policing Critical Mass. But if you’re at the front of the ride, and Aktive isn’t sidelined with a bug as he was last month, you’ll see that the bike cops respect him almost as much as his fellow riders do.
Over the last couple weeks I had a chance to chat with Ramon/Aktive over email. Our conversation is below.
Name: My name is Jesse Ramon Online Name: I am known as Aktive not only online, but everywhere. Where Do You Live?: I live in Northeast Los Angeles, Cypress Park
Advocacy history: I dont know what kind of history you were referring to, but I am not sure I ever wanted to become a ride leader. I recently reached my one year mark of bicycle riding,. I think of myself as a newbie, but others beg to differ. I’m known to be a natural born leader with a gift of communication. I can get my point across in large crowds or one on one, which probably lead to me just jumping into some sort of leadership role as you call it. Over the last year, people have come up to me to help organize rides and before you knew it I was leading rides, from MOM RIDAZ to some FMLY rides to even LACM rides. So I guess it just honestly happened without planning! I guess it was natural occurrence. ..something that had to happen… Read more…
It's a sign of how far cycling has come in City Hall in a short time. Could you have pictured a Mayoral press conference where LADOT General Manager Rita Robinson and LAPD Leadership are literally standing in Roadblock's shadow just a couple of months ago? Photo: LADOT Bike Blog
At least eleven states have laws requiring drivers to leave three feet between their vehicle and cyclists while passing. If the Mayor of Los Angeles has anything to say about it, California will join those states before the year ends.
At a Tuesday press conference, Villaraigosa, flanked by leaders of the LADOT, LAPD, Los Angeles Councy Bicycle Coalition, and Midnight Ridazz, stated his support and promised his advocacy for a state law requiring drivers to give those three feet. The purpose of the press conference was to announce the winner of a slogan contest for posters designed by Geoff McFetridge that will be going up on bus shelters throughout the city. The "Give me 3" slogan was created by Danny Gamboa and beat out over 200 other entries. You can see the fruits of McFetridge and Gamboa's efforts above.
Momentum for a "3 Feet Passing Law" for California has been growing in Los Angeles since the start of the year. Council Member Bill Rosendahl floated the idea that the City could create its own passing law while he pushed for an "anti-harassment ordinance" for cyclists. While the City Attorney has opined that the city can't pass such a law on its own, Rosendahl renewed his call for a "3 Feet Passing Law" at last week's Bike Summit. For Villaraigosa's part, he has vowed to push forward with this proposed legislation no matter what. “We’ll keep at it until it becomes part of the California Vehicle Code,” he promised at the press conference.
Over 500 slogans have been submitted to the Bike Safety Slogan
Contest being organized by the un-likely (some would say un-holy)
coalition of the LAPD, the LACBC, MidnightRidazz.com, and the LADOT.
These groups have been working with the City of Los Angeles to procure
ad spaces in bus shelters and Public Amenity Kiosks (PAK.) The goal
being to raise awareness among road users about issues such as rights,
rules, safety, and road courtesy in relation to bicycles. The final
slogan will be designed and illustrated by the world renowned artist Geoff McFetridge.
top ten list of slogans has been procured from the entries and now the
coalition is looking for more input from the public before the final
slogan is chosen for production.
You are invited to comment, pick apart, improve upon and otherwise
discuss the slogan. The goal is to get a broad consensus and an
effective campaign. You may comment here, on Facebook or on MidnightRidazz.com