Friday, July 30, 2010

Best Bicycle Safety website, a few of my own tips, Great article on the pros and cons of a helmet law and the Beatles and Elvis on Bikes

Can't go wrong with Elvis and the Beatles!

I admit when I first got back on a bike last summer I was a bit ignorant ( as well as reckless) in the way I rode my bike around the streets of Hollywood and I'm lucky that I didn't get hit back then. I rode around more like a free-spirited kid than an adult. My sidewalk etiquette was nothing to brag about either. I since have toned down my act and gotten a handle bar bell. Don't get me wrong I still have my free spirited moments but their not foolish ones.
I have made an effort to learn more about the laws and safe bicycling
There are some things you need to know in order to avoid becoming a bicycle traffic victim and ten of the more important aspects are covered really well in this website:

Please have a look at it and put the advice into practice and your chances of getting hit by a car will be greatly reduced!

Here are two things I do to increase my visibility.
(If drivers know your there they won't run you over so pay close attention)

Note: I have a sit up bike so this may not work or be safe for other type bikes.
When approaching an intersection I will stand straight up off the seat, straighten my
back up and raise my head. This places my height above the parked cars to my
right as I approach the intersection and makes me much more visible to traffic in
all directions. I know this works as I see people take notice immediately when I do this. I also have a much better view of all approaching traffic. In addition it feels real good as the air flows more freely across my upper body and face - very pleasant indeed!

When approaching an intersection and I have the right of way I will stare directly at any drivers in a position to run me over (cars in a position to turn if they wish if there are no opposing cars but not likely to be looking for a bicycle at that moment) until I get them to acknowledge that they see me. If I don't see recognition in their eyes I will begin to brake and stare even more intensely at them. I am also at the same time projecting my thoughts to them something like :"I am coming do you see me?" This usually works quite well and people let me know that they see me coming. If I don't see recognition in their eyes depending on the situation I may actually come to a complete stop as there is a high probility I may get hit after all I'm not playing Russian Roulette here on a bike.
Judging by most of their reactions I think they actually appreciate that I made the effort to communicate my intentions to them through these two methods.

These two methods work so give them a try!

The great Helmet Law debate:
Here is a link to a great article on helmet laws.

Here is my 2 Cents worth on helmet laws
I think they are wrong and it should be up to the person with the exception of racing and mountain bike competitions and other obviously dangerous venues and perhaps little kids under 6 yrs of age or so. It seems that we have more and more laws protecting us these days that are enacted to "save us from ourselves" but actually make us more miserable and less active. There are many many rational arguments against helmet laws that are covered by much more knowledgable people then myself ( see above link) I would just like to say that part of the pleasure of riding a bicycle is the freedom and thrill of it. I think it's ludricous when I see a ten year old boy of girl slowly riding a bike down the street on a hot day wearing one of those Lance Armstrong creature helmets. In my day an age we would have thought there was something mentaly wrong with them or they had a metal plate in their head or something.
Forced to wear a helmet by the Nanny State and Helmet Lobby Corporate actions gives them the false idea that what they are doing is somewhat dangerous and so they tend to be abit introverted as they ride along instead of working on their self confidence as riders.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Losing my bicycle virginity, World Cup Road Kill Transformation, The Los Feliz Farmers Mkt. and how and ordinary bike ride became an adventure

Lost my Bicycle Virginity?

Today I got on my bike and I was bored by the prospect of riding though I knew I would need to ride to get where I was going and though more convenient I wasn't gonna drive my car ....
As it turns out I would have missed so much had I opted for four wheels instead of two.
On my ride I think I reached a turning point as a bicyclist. As I was heading down Hyperion towards Trader Joes I realized that riding my bike somewhere wasn't so much of a novelty anymore as it was simply transportation to get somewhere. After months of making an effort to bike as much as possible instead of driving my car for errands and sometimes for work it suddenly occurred to me that I had changed gears in my being and now I was simply riding because I needed to get somewhere and there was nothing extraordinary , cool or chic about what I was doing.
I felt like I lost something at that moment, something that I was holding onto that was special to me... something private. Did I just lose my bicycle virginity? I felt a little sad as I continued riding along. I had read on Cycle Chic about the attitude of the Danes who ride to work everyday that they don't think they are dong anything special and it is just riding a bike to get somewhere. Here in America I think our attitude is a bit different we/I think it is this cool new thing we do. Take the bikes out and go for a ride we are now riding a bike .. woo who look at me I'm on a bike! But when we get done with our bike ride we will drive our cars unnecessarily for short little trips as usual. Biking is more of a specialized activity here in the US I think.
For the most part I'm glad I lost my virginity and look forward to what lies ahead.
If your still a bicycle virgin try riding your bike for everyday errands and at all possible moments for several months and see how it might change you - it'll hurt a little at first but you might also enjoy it and ultimately learn to love it!

World Cup Road Kill Transformation
On my ride I spied what appeared to be a minor road hazard in the middle of Hyperion Ave. and decided that I should remove it to the side of the road. It looked like some sort of brightly colored road marker or tarp and as I was examining it on the side of the road I hear a car honk and then someone shouting "f&#%k yeah!" All I could see at this point was bright yellow and orange but apparently this was enough to incite someone into a minor frenzy. Fully unfurled I see it is a large national flag but I don''t recognize it. Another honk and it dawns on me it's a soccer related flag. I know very little about soccer or the World Cup but my little good citizen act of cleanliness had suddenly connected me to this massive world -wide event and transformed me into an apparent crazed soccer (sorry futbol) fan or even a potential hooligan on a bicycle - look out!

Not yet knowing how to proceed I rolled up my new team colors and proceeded to TJ's for my $ 4.97 a pound raw almond butter ( best deal in town if your a veggie)

From TJ's I headed west to Nature Mart and I decided to have a little fun and create some commotion along the way so I unfurled the flag and waved it around as I rode along. I've done this sort of thing before only it was with an American Flag on a surfboard. Here is a pic of me in Malibu. Both methods of flag waving are more difficult than they look I can assure you. At this point I didn't know what team I was a fan of or what trouble I could get into but since this started out as just a boring bike ride I figured why not have some fun.

Heard someone shout "go Hispana" from a car and two ladies sitting at an outdoor cafe asked "what country is that?" More inquiries at Nature Mart led to the possibility of it being the Netherlands flag. After Nature Mart I made a quick stop at a yard sale run by a bunch of nice Hispanic ladies. Again no one had any soccer info for me so I still don't know what kind of soccer fan I am, frustrating to say the least. Bought a beautiful faded blue shirt for a buck and an old school cooking pot for three - sweet!

Los Feliz Farmers Market
9am - 2pm every Sunday
Los Feliz Post Office parking lot
1760 Vermont Ave. next to Franklin Ave.
My basket was fully loarded now with groceries and yard sale items plus the flag as I headed down Vermont Ave. I was pretty overloaded (wished I brought my courier bag dam it!)
Passing by Franklin Ave I saw the Farmers Mkt. in the Los Feliz Post Office parking lot was on and since and decided to check it out. With all the stuff loaded in my front basket including the rattling pot plus the unfurled unknown flag I must have looked a little like one of those homeless people who live out of their bikes. Felt a little strange but made the rounds of the market and got some pics of some bikes parked outside.

Some cool bikes parked outside the farmers market.

Entrance is off of Vermont Ave. and you can shop and mail your letters at the same time.
This Farmers Mkt. has fresh organic veggies, food truck, arts and crafts and live music all on an pretty small scale compared to Hollywood FMkt. but the plus is its way less hectic.

This was a great display of veggies!

America's got talent at the local farmers market.
He really had a great sound!

At this point in my ride I knew that is not the Brazilian Flag but it might be the flag of the Netherlands or of Spain.

By now I had figured out that this was not the flag of Brazil and offloading it to my Brazilian surfer friend Polly was not an option. It was either the flag of the Netherlands or Spain that I did know and they were playing today. I decide I was gonna cruise by this local sports bar on Vermont Ave. with the flag waving and see if I could inflame the crowd one way or the other. As I rode by most eyes were fixed on the large outdoor screen and not looking to enthusiastic (I found out when I got home the score after an hour was 0-0 so it was a pretty boring affair) but one Latino (finally) gentleman raised his hand to high five me when he saw me heading his way with flag in hand so I slapped the flag into his open palm both surprising and delighting him at the same time. My 2010 World Cup participation was now fully complete.

Parking lot beauty
Spotted this red Schwinn in the Jon's parking lot on Vermont Ave.

The parking lot isn't the least bit pretty but this bike sure is!

Got home and hit the computer and solved the flag mystery
This is the flag of Spain. I was a Spanish soccer fan today and my team won - Go Spain!

I might be onto something here with this finding a flag in the road thing and having it turn out to be the winning team - at least % 50 right that is.
Check back with me in four years and if I find another flag on the road the day of the finals and you have money on the game for a few bucks I might tell you what country its flying over.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hollywood Stars and Fashion Icons on Bicycles

For fun here are some Hollywood Stars from the early days enjoying their rides. Pretty girls on bikes (i.e.the bicycle girl) have been style icons since the beginning of cycling and helped to sell cycling to the female population as well as the men and Hollywood stars eagerly continued that tradition.
Here are some photos I was able to find online. By the way a great time to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame is to take a ride down Hollywood Blvd. early Sunday morning. The smooth concrete used for the sidewalks makes for good riding.


Marilyn brings her bike to a slow stop before the sidewalk curb. She sighs softly then shakes her wavy golden hair from side to side while casually surveying the scene before her; light Sunday traffic, mostly church goers and families out driving at a slow leisurely speed. Waiting patiently for the light to change she tugs at the hemline of her very, very short pleated skirt.... somewhat satisfied with the result she bends over and reaches down to
adjust her fallen Bobbi socks. Screech of tires!... slam!...Screech! ... slam!.... wham! after car piles up in the intersection.

(Surprised,her mouth forming a perfect circle)

Rita Hayworth
Bombshell on a bomber bike!

Audrey Hepburn - pure cycle chic

Ava Gardner - so beautiful in person she stunned men

Rita Hayworth and friends off to a ten mile bike ride and picnic - simple pleasures work for celebrities too.

Sunset Blvd. Bike Lane through Silverlake to Echo Park and Silverlake Bicycle shops

The Sunset Blvd. bike lane begins at Fountain Ave and runs on both sides of the street all the way to Echo Park. By LA standards this is a good one. It is well traveled and it feels pretty safe to me. I didn't time my ride and I made many stops but it seemed to be around a half hour or less.

At the end of this ride this view is your reward - Echo Park and lake. If your visiting LA this is the place for a great bikeside view of the city skyline.

Traveling along Sunset Blvd. towards Echo Park there are dozens of restaurant's and eclectic shops including the popular Sunset Junction stretch.

Silverlake has a healthy bicycle scene and there are two bike shops along the Sunset Blvd. bike lane.

Zycle Path
Bike Sales, Repairs & Rentals

3320 Sunset Blvd.

(323) 665-5392
Owner Issac Gonzalez

Spotted this colorful bike on the way ...turned out to be owned by Alison from the LA County Bicycle Coalition.

She had this sign on the back which let car drivers know to keep their distance.

Speed Works Bike Shop

3112 W. Sunset Blvd.

(323) 906-9931

Owner Omar

Its owned by Omar and he started out as a car audio shop got so much business for repairing bikes he combined the two.

Spotted this lady with this unusual looking bike cruising along and she agreed to pose for a photo-- Thanks for sharing with us!!


Lady of the lake?
Don't know much about this statue overlooking the lake.... she was looking a little down with some damage to her hands so I gave her a little makeover with a palm frond hairdo/headdress.

This is why you should make this ride!
Make sure your camera lense is clean though!

Bikes parked around on Vermont and Hillhurst with some interesting racks thrown in

Saw lots of bikes parked around Vermont and Hillhurst on a ride to the market. Left some notes on the bikes about the blog so I hope some of these bike owners check my blog out.

This rack is located outside a Thai Restaurant on Vermont. Looks cool but not very practical I think.

I always thought this was just an ugly sculpture now I realize that it is a distorted bicycle chain and a bike rack located on Vermont Ave. near the Chase bank. I can't recall if I have ever seen a bike locked to it most probably because there are no shops nearby and it looks like an ugly sculpture.

Tree Bike Rack
The tree at Nature Mart on Hillhurst sometimes used as a bike rack.
Try this artist trick squint your eyes and look at it- takes away the details and it looks like the tree is riding a bike - very cool I think!
U- racks for lack of a better name - is there one?

No parking sign used as a rack - love it!
Nice looking bikes too.

Parking meter bike rack: Cars pay and bikes are free

Stylish looking bicyclist on Sunset Blvd parking his bike.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Dutch bike comes to Hollywood and European bicycling films from the 30's and 50's to the present day

I have Dutch Bikes on my mind today with posting these films this morning, talking with My Dutch Bike up in San Francisco this afternoon and then while out running an errand on my Globe Carmel and in of all places Fountain and Normandie Avenues I spotted this beautiful 2010 Batavus Old Dutch bicycle being elegantly ridden by this young lady. I was really surprised to see this and took chase. She was on the street and I was on the sidewalk and I had a hard time catching up to her but I was finally able to get her attention. Her name is Zoey and she just got her bike from Flying Pigeon in LA.:
Up close these bikes are awesome and ooze high quality workmanship!
Designed to be ridden when you're wearing regular work or party clothes like suits with dress pants and flowing skirts so they have a chain guard and skirt guard and also come with fenders for rain and mud protection.
Ladies take note you won't usually find skirt guards on American bikes.

Check out the films below and see Dutch bikes in action over the years:

These films are inspiring as you can see how the bicycle culture in European cities has persisted despite the automobile and how the future can be here in the US.

Netherlands present day

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Giant lizards, The Seven Wonders of Hollywood Bicycle Tour and Michael Keaton sighting -- was that his bike?

Leaping Lizards!
Giant lizards have nothing to do with bicycling except that when I awoke from a bicycle induced nap this afternoon the first thing I laid eyes on was a giant lizard slithering across my bedroom carpet. My first thought was there can't be a lizard in here I live in the middle of Hollywood in an Apt., I'm not in the Mojave... huh?
Waking further I remembered that I had seen a giant lizard a week ago out back near some tool boxes and that I had brought those same tool boxes into my apt. shortly after that sighting. So what has he/she been doing in my apt. all week...there's no roaches here ( scout's honor).... must be hungry. By pure luck I was able to capture him and safely escort him out to my neighbors garden.

Click on the photo this guy is 13 inches long against the canvas which except for SF films is huge by Hollywood garden standards and he had an attitude too.

Styling Bicyclists around town
( Thanks people for kindly letting me take your photos)

Being a beach person I've been missing seeing the girls on beach cruiser type bikes this summer and this young lady on her way to the public library on Melrose fit the bill perfectly.

Justin blew past me at an intersection on Beverly Blvd. on his metallic green machine and I chased him down and got his story. He's an actor who rides all over town for auditions and although he has multiple gears he likes to tough it out using a single gear at all times. His bike is a 70's Schwinn and his girlfriend has the female version of the exact same bike.

I spotted Robbie cruising down Vermont Ave. on his way to the grocery store. He just about stole this bike --buying it for $ 15 at a yard sale.
It has the classic weathered look that only years of dedicated outdoor use can bring. No doubt we'll see pre-weathered over priced bikes like ripped jeans being sold in the near future. Nice hat too!

Michael Keaton sighting.... was that his bike too?
I was riding down a sidewalk with outdoor restaurant seating and I heard Michael Keaton's voice and then saw what appeared to be someone who looked exactly like Michael Keaton. He looked at me and then my awesome bike ( was there any envy there) as I rode silently by. I turned the corner and there were 50 honey wagons parked along the street with a major movie production going on. I saw this cool folding bike parked in the middle of the set and took a pic. Was this Michael Keaton's bike? I doubt it was his bike but I'm pretty sure that was him chowing down.

Seven Wonders of Hollywood Bicycle Tour
In my two wheeled travels I am discovering Hollywood all over again and have decided to amass a collection of these new, strange and sometimes interesting discoveries choosing the best ones and call them the Seven Wonders of.... If you come across any likely candidates observed from the seat of your bicycle please let me know. and I'll ride over and check them out

Candidate # 1
Greek Temple / Apt. building
(located on Van Ness between Melrose and Santa Monica Blvds.

(Click on the picture to get the details)

Golden spirals over purple walls - I love this building! Been driving past this for several years and it keeps getting more outrageous. The Alexander signage was the topper-- way over topper for me. Been meaning to stop and ask Q's for years but always in a car today fortunately I was on a bike...
There was a sign with number to call which I did and talked with Danny who turned out to be the artiste of this masterpiece of Kitsch.
The building is owned by a former actor a Greek named George Panandreas. George must love being Greek -- well more power too him!. While Danny did the painting and stone work George added the signage and sculptures. Across from a film studio the building was formerly owned by Paramount Pictures and Hollywood stars stayed there including Cary Grant and Rudolph Valentino.
I would love to see more buildings like this - at least color and spiral wise.

Candidate # 2
Hollywood Church with multiple spires

(located at Fountain and Western Aves.
This is an amazing work of art and for sure a new Hollywood landmark that will eventually make the postcard rack on Hollywood Blvd. and stay there for years to come.
They ( never seen persons) have been building this for years one spire at at time. There are no signs, and I have no clue what church this is. There are never any people around and the place appears to be closed. Only once did I see a few workers the rest of the time the spires seem to appear out of nowhere. Someday I hope I will see one of the spires being installed and actually talk to someone there.
With the recent Russian spy stuff going in the news and the ridiculous spy swap that took place it got me thinking that this would make a great backdrop for a spy story. What exactly are Boris and Natasha trying to accomplish? I think they have been having a good time in the US sending their spy bosses "secret" information they got by simply Googling so they can keep their cushy spy jobs.

Wait a second I've got an idea for a story here....
Please excuse this little artistic detour

Russkies in Hollywood

Boris a fat Borat lookalike complete with a thick Dr. Zhivago mustache is in the kitchen on the computer following an EBay bid while Natasha a tall slender beauty with luminous skin and long straight black hair is curled up on the couch in the living room petting an expensive looking toy dog and watching daytime TV. Several overflowing bags of Whole Foods groceries sit on the kitchen table next to an unopened box containing a brand new Jack La Lane juicer. Pasted all over the refrigerator are snapshots of the two of them and all the fun things they have been doing since coming to Los Angeles. A phone rings and Boris hits the speaker phone button. Behind him through the kitchen window we see a Russian style multiple spired church.

( in thick Russian accent)
Agent X
( in a phony texas accent)
Howdy Boris this is Agent X in Texas--but don't call me X call me Tex! Get it Agent X -Tex?
(Gravely evil laughter ending in coughing)
(with a bored look on his face but faking interest)
Yes comrade Tex, I hear you clearly, vee kan speek freely.
Agent X
Do you have any recent data on US Naval operations in the Pacific?
Yes boss, vee just got some top secret photos for you and vas veery dangerous mission too!

Boris goes to Google on his computer and hurriedly types out US Navy/Pacific Ocean. He quickly scans down the page then clicks on USS George H. W. Bush visits San Diego. An aerial photo of the aircraft carrier comes on screen and he clicks on it saving the photo.

I am seending you aerial photo of new American aircraft carrier ve took along vith bill from the helikopter pilot for $ 5.000.00. It vas veery dangrous mission several yets were scrambled from thee carrier but ve got away... stupid Americans I think they not vreally Top Guns like in movies.... Boris and Natasha I think is smarter - ya?
Agent X
Ya! Excellent work our superiors in Mother Russia will be very pleased! Your check is in the mail! Anything else I can do for you pardner?
Yes , American food very bad, taste not so good and much GMO vee will need extra $ to purchase veery healthy imported Russian food here in Hollywood.
( out of view screaming )
Idiots! Door number two! Door number two!
Expensive Toy Dog
Agent X
(worried and sounding more Russian now)
Vhats happening is it a vraid ...F Bee I?
No nothing like dhat. Natasha ez praticing her engleesh vatching American TV.
Agent X
( back to phony Texas accent)
Oh, Ok, I'm with you on that one pardner, Dallas reruns is how I learned myself. I understand about the chow got the same thing here in Texas too much steak and not enough borscht. No problemo son will an extra $ 600 a month do?
( looks over in Natasha's direction and she with her eyes still glued to the TV gives him a big thumbs up. )
Boris: Yes that vill do. Over and out!
Agent X
Audios amigos!

Boris goes back to his computer and brings up EBay . A picture of an signed Michael Jackson 80's era poster for $600.00 is on the screen. A smile of satisfaction crosses his face as he begins typing. The multi- spired church in the background comes into view and we to hear that dramatic sounding Russian -type choral music from the movie Hunt for Red October

Regardless what the story is I am impressed with the result and glad they're doing it

Candidate # 3
Babylon had it's gardens and now Hollywood has too --Hollywood Babylon?
Fountain Community Gardens
(at Fountain and St. Andrews Place
LA's newest community garden some plots are still available for $ 10 a month

Hollywood Freeway beginning to thicken with afternoon work commuters. Soon this traffic artery will clog up with the increasing automobile sludge raising blood pressure, tempers and causing various heart attack like symptoms across the city. I don't know about you but I hate driving in Freeway traffic.