CicLAvia

It started with this tweet.

tweet

The 9:00 ride and the 9:30 ride blended into one as they left at the same time. Colin Bogard of LACBC led nearly 40 bicyclists from Silverlake’s Polka Dot Park to Mid-Wilshire near CicLAvia’s western terminus. We began traveling north on Sunset and then merged onto Hollywood Boulevard. As we approached, we noticed that road was closed to vehicular traffic. If you’ve ever read this blog, you know how I feel about street closures. They become open street festivals! I couldn’t believe our luck; this was an auspicious sign that it would be fun day.

 

This open street fair celebrates the Thai New Year called Songkran Festival. It’s their longest holiday of the year. If I wasn’t traveling in a group, I would have stopped and joined the festivities.

My riding buddies.Ok I know I look like a gangbanger on the 2nd one. The sun was in my eyes!  l to rt Jake, from State Farm, Matthew Mooney, Angel and me

My riding buddies.Ok I know I look like a gangbanger on the 2nd one. The sun was in my eyes!
l to rt Jake, from State Farm, Matthew Mooney, Angel and me

 

Colin lead us through Hollywood to check out The City’s only bicycle friendly street on Yucca. Then south for a view of the new proposed bike lanes on Vine. Vine already has those silly sharrows which didn’t affect us since we had a large group and took over an entire lane. The silly sharrows eventually disappeared and Vine became S. Rossmore. Here the houses reflected old Los Angeles with gorgeous craftsmen and Art Deco detailed apartment buildings. Several blocks later we saw the familiar street closure saw horses with the police standing guard and bicyclists riding down the street.

 

My riding companions and I rode off from the larger group and we headed toward the western end of Mid-Wilshire at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on Museum Row. This was the first time I spent eight hours at a CicLAvia. I met some of my sister’s friends at the museum’s bar. The bartender looked like Tony Parker from the Spurs, so cute.

Tony Parker impersonator

Tony Parker impersonator

 

I even attended a Glendale/Hyperion Bridge strategy meeting  on LACMA’s lawn then ended the day at Guisados tacos back on Sunset.

 

I’ll let my Mid-Wilshire pictures to the talking. Here are some of the sights from Sunday’s festival. The next CicLAvia is on October 5th, my birthday! Try to make it. I promise you won’t regret it.

 

Korean drum circle. You couldn't keep still listening to them. Everyone was bobbing their heads or stamping their feet.

Korean drum circle. You couldn’t keep still listening to them. Everyone was bobbing their heads or stamping their feet.

IMG_0658 IMG_0659

The characters dance with a fellow cyclist

The characters dance with a fellow cyclist

Korean characters brought to you by the Korean Embassy

Korean characters brought to you by the Korean Embassy

Old man character dances as people watch on the route. Did see as many groups entertaining cyclists as CicLAvia's past.

Old man character dances as people watch on the route. Didn’t see as many groups entertaining cyclists as CicLAvia’s past.

Korean drummers set the tone for an exciting CicLAvia. We were amped up after their drumming ended.

Korean drummers set the tone for an exciting CicLAvia. We were amped up after their drumming ended.

They know how to celebrate the day! Patrick and Mike

Bike Ambassadors. They know how to celebrate the day! Patrick and Mike

 

Crowds at LACMA

Crowds at LACMA

'bents!

‘bents!

Bikers ride by the street light installation

Bikers ride by the street light installation

Check out this cute kids! A father enjoy a car free day with his family. This is what CicLAvia is all about.

Check out these cute kids! A father enjoys a car free day with his family. This is what CicLAvia is all about.

Remember the hype surrounding this levitated mass and all the energy involved to get it here? It's just a rock.

Remember the hype surrounding this levitated mass and all the energy involved to get it here? It’s just a rock.

My sis. This is the only time you can get her out on her bike. Build safe infrastructure and people will get out of their cars.

My sister, Tracy. This is the only time you can get her out on her bike. Build safe infrastructure and people will get out of their cars.

A cycling group enjoying LACMA. Check out the bad bunny. He had to be hot in that suit!

A cycling group enjoying LACMA. Check out the bad bunny. He had to be hot in that suit! It was 81 degrees.

The lack of cars didn't keep people away from the museums.

The lack of cars for transportation didn’t keep people away from the museums.

Lucha VaVoom cyclist on the LACMA lawn

Lucha VaVoom cyclist on the LACMA lawn

On our way to downtown. Lots of boring office buildings and strip malls between Mid-Wilshire and downtown.

On our way to downtown. Lots of boring office buildings and strip malls between Mid-Wilshire and downtown.

Angel doesn't hesitate to help a fallen cyclist as he busts out his first aide kit!

Angel doesn’t hesitate to help a fallen cyclist as he busts out his first aide kit!

Angel administers aide to a fallen cyclist

Angel administers aide to a fallen cyclist

Woman stands after Angel administers First Aide

Woman stands after Angel administers first aide

Downtown hub w/ Mooney

Downtown hub w/ Mooney

 

There’s one dessert so connected with the Art Deco era that it’s as iconic as Wilshire Boulevard. Invented in the 1930’s it’s the most requested dessert and most beloved in America. It has a million iterations. Have you guessed it yet?

 

While Los Angeles began to expand by building some of it’s most iconic Art Deco structures on Wilshire, at the same time on the other side of the country Ruth Graves Wakefield created United States’ most iconic dessert–the Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie. Every chocolate chip cookie ever baked is a variation on Wakefield’s original recipe. Everytime I make chocolate chip cookies I imagine baking in the 30’s, like using a strong arm to mix the batter in a porcelain bowl and coffee can flour sifters. Maybe even a baker stood in one of Wilshire’s Art Deco structures and mixed chocolate chunks into this new Wakefield sweet butter infused batter.

One of the many variations of Wakefield's original formula. This one is uses coconut oil along with butter and 70% cacao chocolate chips. Extremely rich. I won't even mention the calorie count.

One of the many variations of Wakefield’s original formula. This one uses coconut oil along with butter and 70% cacao chocolate chips. Extremely rich. I won’t even mention the calorie count.

A big chocolate chip cookie luv to all the volunteers and organizers who made CicLAvia happen, especially their volunteer coordinator–Henny–you rock! Thanks to Colin for leading us to the promised land from the safe bicycle infrastructure desert that’s Sunset Boulevard.

 

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30 Days of Biking

When we say run errands it usually doesn’t involve running or any physical activity other than getting in our car driving for 1 mile for this errand and then driving another 2 miles for another errand. It usually involves waiting in line behind other cars, so you’re not running anywhere. Sometimes it can even involve driving to the gym for a few miles then actually running on a treadmill or even more funny–riding on a spin bike. It’s sad, but socially acceptable due to people viewing life through their windshield. At the same time many people complain about not having time to exercise and lose weight to lead a healthy lifestyle. Enter 30 Days of Biking. It’s a month long challenge, beginning April 1st, to use your bike everyday.

 

It doesn’t matter how long you stay in the saddle. You can go down your block and come back and that will count as riding your bike for the day. The object is to get you on your bike everyday and discover how something simple like running errands to the post office or picking up a few groceries at Trader can easily be incorporated into your busy lifestyle. In fact I find that living in LA the bicycle is the fastest way to do errands. You need to exercise plus do spend time in line at the post office? Make it active. Burn some calories by hopping on your bike. Hate grocery shopping as much as I do? Make it fun and burn even more calories by riding back with groceries in your basket or on your back. Be careful! The freedom to move on your own power may become addictive.

 

I’m embarrassed to admit that I was that person who would get in my car drive down on Franklin and wait behind a long line of cars then search for parking at Crunch gym. Even worse I was that person rushing to get into a spin class, frazzled and stressed after driving to ride a bike to nowhere. Looking back at that now all I can do is shake my head and smile about how ridiculous that was.

 

Here’s my example about incorporating biking daily. I went to the post office and picked up a package using my bike #30daysofbiking.

Actively running errands by bike

Actively running errands to the post office

 

It’s as simple as that.

 

It’s still not too late to join at 30daysofbiking.com. Challenge yourself, get healthier and lose some weight. Most importantly it will give you more time to enjoy other activities.

 

 

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Errands by Bike plus Active Shopping Thai Style

Trendy clothing shops, the latest desired restaurants and bakeries line 3rd Street in Mid-City LA. There’s always the opportunity to spy a casually coiffed celebrity purchasing coffee or lunching at outdoor seating. Despite this illusion of a covetable locale, looking closely there are for lease signs on every block. 3rd Street could use an infusion of more customers willing to spend their money to show off the latest fashions or to eat cutting edge cuisine. However, I only go there once a month to visit my esthetician. I’d spend more money there regularly, but to ride a bike to 3rd Street isn’t a pleasant experience and once I get there bike parking is barely existent.

So I arrive at my usual esthetician appointment at Matty’s on 3rd Street. I park my bike next to the building, enter and find that my esthetician’s gone. She left no word. Took her appointment book–gone. Desperate I try their new esthetician and let her do my brows but I knew I had to start looking for another one.

I don’t enjoy bad mouthing businesses because I know how much time, money and effort small business owners invest to keep their businesses afloat, but face it–in my backyard Silverlake isn’t the place you go to find a good esthetician.

My sister says, “Go to Pamela at Wildflower on Laurel Canyon Blvd. Yours waxed your brows too straight. I always thought it looked like you had caterpillars running across your forehead.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?!”

“I thought you knew.”

“I hate riding out to The Valley,” I whine. “There’s large boulevards and fast moving traffic. The streets are de facto freeways!”

“Take the red line.”

My problem with 3rd Street wasn’t the entire trip. I mostly ride through low traffic 4th Street. 4th Street runs through Koreatown, Little Pakistan then Hancock Park, so it’s a ride redolent of spices, roses and garlic but once 4th Street ends at Park La Brea, I have to jump on 3rd. What a miserable beat up street with equally miserable driving. I rode my bike over there for 6 months and I was already thinking about a change and now it was made for me–a new esthetician means a new bike adventure to The Valley. I am taking my business and dollars from Mid-City over to Laurel Canyon Village where I surprisingly find that it was more comfortable and friendlier to someone using their bike to spend their money.

Redline terminus--NoHo station opens into Chandler

Redline terminus–NoHo station opens into Chandler

Quiet tree-lined Chandler Blvd.

Quiet tree-lined Chandler Blvd.

Taking the red line to its terminus in North Hollywood, made for a low stress enjoyable short ride to my esthetician. As soon as I get off the train, the Chandler Blvd bike lane begins at the North Hollywood Metro Station. Once I pass two industrial blocks, Chandler becomes a tree lined corridor with apartment buildings and houses on either side of the street. In the middle of travel lanes is the Orange line with a bus only street. Why don’t we have anything like this near downtown?

A big beautiful Orange Line bus

A big beautiful Orange Line bus

Bus only lane between eastbound and westbound Chandler Blvd. No waiting behind single occupied cars

Bus only lane between eastbound and westbound Chandler Blvd. No waiting behind single occupied cars

I’m so enthralled with my enjoyable ride that I ride right past the Laurel Canyon Village exit. I ride all the way to Coldwater Canyon. I make a U-ie and make it back to Weddington Avenue the street that runs next to and parallel with Laurel Canyon Boulevard. I avoid the crazy, speeding traffic on Laurel Canyon and ride down the residential Weddington. My new esthetician is right at the corner and I arrive smiling, excited about my new find.

On the train ride back I decide to get off at Western and Hollywood Metro station and take an Active Shopping trip to Thai Town to search for mirin, a Japanese cooking wine, and curry leaves. One of the best things about riding a bike is the easy and convenient ability to stop and drop into any store. There’s no worrying about driving past the store  then once arriving, beginning the frustratingly futile search for parking.

Silom market in Thai Town

Silom market in Thai Town

Buddhas greet you at the entrance. Acknowledging them is always auspicious.

Buddhas greet you at the entrance. Acknowledging them is always auspicious.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

Thai condiments--good prices too!

Thai condiments–good prices too!

Silom is my favorite grocery store in Thai Town. Usually they have my favorite Asian condiments and ingredients but I’m not as fortunate this time, because they have a new brand of Mirin and only kefir lime leaves. I didn’t find what I want, but I fill my bike sacks with large bottles of teriyaki marinade and sauce for the price of a 12 oz size at a major grocery store. I either use teriyaki or miso in marinades for my salmon, so I use it a lot.

How to load up your bike bags with condiments

How to load up your bike bags with condiments

Riding from Hollywood, I decide that I need eggs so I ride over to Traders. I find more than eggs to fill my bike sacks.

Haul from today's Thai Town and Traders Active Shopping trip

Haul from today’s Thai Town and Traders Active Shopping trip

Here’s an easy Thai inspired dessert I adapted from epicurious.com–Banana and Mango Spring Rolls with Coconut-Chocolate Ganache:

Banana and Mango Spring Rolls with Coconut-Chocolate Ganache

Banana and Mango Spring Rolls with Coconut-Chocolate Ganache

For the Ganache

8 oz cream of coconut

8 oz semi sweet chocolate chopped

1 tsp grated ginger

2 oz butter

I make a day ahead  and leave at room temperature

For the spring rolls

8 spring roll wrappers

4 Ecuadorian bananas (tiny bananas cut lengthwise)

2 Filipino mangoes (kidney shaped ones peeled, pitted and cut into ½ inch strips, 3 inches long)

1 egg

peanut oil

Heat the coconut cream until steam rises from cream. Pour over chocolate whisk until thoroughly mixed add butter and grated ginger whisk to incorporate.

Take a spring roll and arrange it diamond shape in front of you then add 1 banana slice and 2 strips of mango in the middle of the spring roll wrapper horizontally. Take the pointed end at the bottom of the diamond and fold it over the fruit. Then fold in the sides. Brush some of the beatened egg on the unfolded portion of the diamond. Then roll the folded wrapper to the top of the unfold point to a complete roll completely covering the fruit.

After rolling up all the fruit, put enough oil into a caste iron or heavy skillet until it’s 1 ½ inches deep. Heat oil until the oil pops if you add a drop of water. Be careful not to get burned by the popping oil. Fry spring rolls 2 at a time until golden brown let cool slighty.

Plate the roll by drizzling the ganache on top of each roll. Makes 8.

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Whose Streets? Our Streets!

I had planned to ride the much touted and controversial Crash Marathon Bicycle Ride at 4:30 am. However laziness prevailed and I decided to stay close to home and watch the 29th Annual Los Angeles Marathon in my hood. The City of Los Angeles closed Sunset in Silverlake to vehicular traffic, thereby opening the streets for cyclists, skateboarders, walkers and runners. Due to CicLAvia’s popularity, street closures now become an impromptu open street festival for neighbors to relax, play and meet.

Last year Marathon Crash racers awaiting the start

Last year Marathon Crash racers awaiting the start

I awoke to the sound of helicopters following the core amateur running group. When I walked down to Sunset Boulevard, there were crowds of runners barely moving up the hill on Sunset toward Polka Dot Plaza at Maltman. Neighbors streamed out onto the streets cheering on participants by slapping Dodger Blue plastic inflatable rods together yelling, “Good job! You’re almost up the hill! You can do it!” Others congregated at Morning Nights Cafe in the plaza seated at the plaza’s green tables and chairs. Locals crowded Millie’s Cafe, across Sunset from the plaza, cheering on the marathoners.

Children showed off their skateboarding skills while families from the neighborhood walked and waved as they marched down the middle of Sunset, like they were in a parade and we waved back at them yelling, “Yay! Good job!” While people on bicycles respected the marathoners’ space and rode along side them ringing cowbells to motivate the runners.

Skateboarder and runners enjoying the open streets--what could be better?

Skateboarder and runners enjoying the open streets–what could be better?

Some of my neighbors gathered at Triangle park next to Polka Dot plaza and watched the runners go by. Most of our dogs were off leash because the threat of cars was diminished. My little dog Karma finally got to chase the pigeons without me worrying that she would run into a massive SUV hurriedly trying to make a right turn.

Neighbors enjoy polka dot park on a car free Sunday

Neighbors enjoy polka dot park on a car free Sunday

Karma in Triangle park without a leash

Karma in Triangle park without a leash

This is what open street events do for a community. It makes neighbors meet one another without the metal barrier of the automobile. People crossed Sunset without having to push a beg button and race a 20 seconds cross sign countdown, while running for their lives because of impatient drivers making a left hand turn. There’s no noise or dirty fumes from the relentless parade of cars. Just the voices of children laughing and people talking.

Here are some pictures of today’s open streets festival. I even saw a bakfiet in the wild. A father and his children taking advantage of the wide open streets. I was talking to neighbors when he rode by so I missed that picture. Darn. One of my neighbors, Eric, asked, “Can we cross the street during this thing?” He’s usually in his car and couldn’t see the positive effects on the community. So I responded paraphrasing William Mulholland, “They’re your streets. Take it!”

A virtual cool chocolate cheesecake to all the participants–marathoners and neighbors–from velobakery. Good job everyone!

A cool Chocolate Cheesecake for the win

A cool Chocolate Cheesecake for the win

Neighborhood families parading the route

Neighborhood families parading the route

The LA Marathon attracted a diverse group of runners. LA's bike community can learn from the running community on outreach to people of color.

The LA Marathon attracted a diverse group of runners. LA’s bike community can learn from the running community on outreach to people of color.

A couple enjoying the calm streets

A couple enjoying the calm streets

A man cheers on the runners while a bicyclist joins the route

A man cheers on the runners while a bicyclist joins the route

More runners

More runners

Locals and marathoners walking together
Locals and marathoners walking together

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Active Shopping

Even though I’ve worked as a chef, food shopping is right up there with cleaning the toilet. To get through it, I’d invite friends along hoping they’d distract me from the onerous chore and I could get in and out quickly. It worked….too well. My friends were so successful that I usually forgot what I wanted to buy and had to drive back to the store to pick up one or two items.

 I really needed to change my attitude because it was costing me too much time in return trips, so I started Actively Shopping. Active shopping is simply using your bike or feet to travel to and from the store. Anyone can do it and I guarantee shopping will not be draining, boring or time sapping. All you need is a pair of feet to walk or a bike to roll. You also need to have something that will carry eggs, maple syrup or even a watermelon.  Shopping suddenly became more enjoyable, less stressful and I didn’t forget anything. It was the end of wasted time and return trips.

 Silverlake's Farmers' Market always attracts cyclists

Silverlake’s Farmers’ Market always attracts cyclists

My Saturday began with shopping at Silverlake’s Farmers’ Market. I had to walk my dog, so I made a side trip with Karma my Tibetan Terrier. I managed to buy all of my produce before 9am, worked off some calories and Karma did her business. Three errands down within an hour.

 I had a craving for salmon, which meant a trip downtown to Restaurant Depot. I’ve done this trip several times before on my bike and it’s around seven miles. To make things interesting I decided to check out the new bike lanes on 7th street and try out the lanes on Rampart.

The lanes on Rampart went further than I expected. Usually LA DOT does the minimal like painting a bike lane for three blocks and it connects to nothing. They didn’t skimp this time – I rode nearly to 6th street before the lanes ended.

 That’s where I became confused.

 I made a left onto 7th…no bike lanes. What happened to the bike lanes? I was suddenly in traffic lanes with cars travelling at freeway speeds. The road was the typically neglected LA street and there were no bike lanes even as I rode into downtown. The street ended at Grand and that was when I realized that I was on Wilshire – one of the most miserable boulevards in the City. I finally rode a few blocks onto 7th. The redesign is better than fighting for space with aggressive drivers.

After riding in 80 degree temps for 40 minutes, I was inside what has to be the largest store cooler in Los Angeles – Restaurant Depot’s cold room.

My shopping cart.

My shopping cart

After buying 5 ½ pounds of salmon, I decided to visit my sister in the Toy district. It’s only two miles away. The Toy district is one of the early gentrified areas of downtown. The Toy and Biscuit Lofts are one of the few lofts where they’re owned by residents and not leased. Urban Radish, a new upscale grocery store, recently moved into the hood.

No bike parking here. No wonder there's a lot of cars in the lot.

No bike parking here. No wonder there’s a lot of cars in the lot.

There’s no bike parking because most everyone arrives by car. Some people walk from the neighboring lofts, but I saw most leave the shop and hop in a car.

Kale chips!

Kale chips!

I couldn’t afford to keep a car and shop at this place. $6.75 for roasted kale?! I asked the manager if they planned to have bike parking. Her eyes widened and she said, “Probably next week.” Then she turned and practically ran away. No, I didn’t understand that one either.

My favorite mural. The Bridgestone packing 5 1/2 lbs. of salmon.

My favorite mural. The Bridgestone packing 5 1/2 lbs. of salmon.

I planned to ride back to Silverlake and check out the new lanes through the 2nd street tunnel, but the salmon won out (I couldn’t let it spoil), so I rode another mile to Union Station instead.

Getting tired active shopping? Jump on a train

Getting tired active shopping? Jump on a train

I met a guy on the train who was from Paris. He’d borrowed a friend’s bike to get around LA just like he did in Paris.

Once I started using active shopping I could shop, sight see and get exercise. I felt relaxed and stress free as I rode up the hill to my apartment on my bike with a basket full of salmon.

Dinner--salmon, sweet potato and Thai broccoli

Dinner–salmon, sweet potato and Thai broccoli

The new sexy vegetable is kale. Every high end restaurant, pseudo-nutritionist and farmers’ market touts it as the hot new vegetable that protects us from cancer and our heart from arterial disease, while at the same time maintaining our waistline. Instead of succumbing to the hype and paying $6.75 for roasted kale, you can make the same thing at home from a bunch of kale costing $1.

What you need is 1 bunch of kale

Olive oil

Sea salt

Seasoning of your choice

The first thing you must do is soak kale to remove the sand. You may have to soak it several times by draining the water and filling up the sink to it soak again.

kale soaking

kale soaking

Then spin it dry with a salad spinner. Wrap it in paper towels and put it in the refrigerator for 1 day to dry completely.

Spread kale on a sheet pan and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle with your seasoning of choice. I chose hot curry. Sprinkle salt to taste and then mix the kale leaves with your hands to ensure that the oil, seasoning and salt covers each leaf. Set in a preheated oven at 325 degrees and bake until crispy. That’s it.

kale with hot curry seasoning

kale with hot curry seasoning

roasted kale

roasted kale

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Virgil Begins the New Year on a Diet

I travel across Virgil nearly everyday (or as much as my laziness allows) to a workout class. Again I’m trying to start the new year with the obligatory resolutions like ‘lose weight’ and ‘get into shape.’ My desire to work off the holiday’s excess trumps my laziness right now so I decided to ride my bike over to Crossfit Silverlake on Monday. During my “start the new year off right” jaunt, I came upon this on Virgil:

Virgil closed for repaving--Is this the start of the promised new bike lanes?

Virgil closed for repaving–Is this the start of the promised new bike lanes?

IMG_0713

IMG_0712

The next day, Tuesday, laziness won out (so much for resolutions) so I didn’t have a chance to see the Virgil’s progress. Wednesday, New Year’s Day, I rode to Crossfit again and they’ve completely paved the road plus dot it with plastic post-its to mark the temporary travel lanes. The construction workers were off enjoying their holiday.

Post-its marking the temporary travel lanes

Post-its marking the temporary travel lanes

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These lanes are a culmination from the community’s demand to remake their streets safer for walkers, joggers, strollers and people riding bicycles. I attended a community outreach meeting several months ago for the proposed bike lanes on Virgil between Santa Monica and Melrose and they are part of City of Los Angeles’s 2010 Bike Plan.

So one week goes by–nothing–no work.

On my second week of good intentions, I’m back riding my bike to my Crossfit class. I’m surprised by a painted middle lane the separates the northbound traffic from the southbound. A turn lane has been added. Looks like a traditional road diet I think to myself. But wait. What’s this? There’s only one northbound lane which is what I expected but there are still two southbound lanes, plus parking on either side of the street. I’m confused by this configuration much like I’m confused my propensity to gain weight so easily over the holidays. Still there are no bike lanes. No paint markings just parked cars where there should be bike lanes.

Northbound's single lane

Northbound’s single lane

Southbound has two lanes

Southbound has two lanes

I miss the morning class the next day and discard my good intentions like the dried up christmas trees I see next to many homeowners’ green trash bins. Instead of beating myself up for missing class I decide to ride over to the evening class.

There are continental crosswalks!

Continental crosswalks at Virgil and Lexington

Continental crosswalks at Virgil and Lexington

After two weeks of waiting for the bike lanes, they finally arrive. These bike lanes connect to the bike lanes that begin at Virgil and Santa Monica on Santa Monica Boulevard to nearly Sunset. They stop abruptly before Sunset Junction. The new Virgil bike lanes also connect to the ones on Myra to Effie.

New lanes on Virgil

New lanes on Virgil

Virgil isn’t the only one starting the new year on a diet, my Crossfit coach decided it would be good to leave our excesses behind with the previous year and start the new year with a Paleo Challenge. For those who have been living in a bomb shelter or the space station, the Paleo diet is now all the rage. Like any band wagon diet, it cuts out a lot of tasty grains and replaces them with lots of meats. It’s suppose to mimic what a caveman and women ate back in the day.

Gone are the kamut flour biscuits now there’s almond flour ones, because cavemen picked almonds off the tree and milled their own flour. Gone is brown rice and in its place–cauliflower rice–because cavewomen were harvesting cauliflower florets, even though their origins are traced to the mediterranean in 600 BC. Why let facts get in the way of a sexy new diet?!

Here’s my Paleo take for breakfast: salmon and cauliflower hash with almond flour biscuits. The salmon croquettes made with almond meal, eggs, onions and jalapeños make up the hash along with the boiled cauliflower. The biscuit is actually a combination of almond and coconut flour.

IMG_0540

salmon and cauliflower hash with an almond flour biscuit in the foreground and kamut flour biscuit background

Oh look. How did that kamut flour biscuit get in the background? That’s not Paleo! I now find diets, no matter how sexy, worthless. I did this Paleo Challenge back in August and lost ZERO pounds, so I don’t subscribe to anymore diets. But I did tell my coach that I would try…

Road diets like Virgil are the prescription a community demands from the excesses of bloated boulevards serving only those driving in cars. However like most diets we never seem to make them go far enough where it becomes a permanent change or lasting solution. If we want real change, it has to begin in our minds and our behaviors. Painting a line of the road doesn’t make permanent lasting change. Nope. That comes by deciding as a community enough of the temporary fixes. Let’s refashion our streets for everyone–walkers, rollers and riders to use safely and securely.

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Unequal Access

 

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. Never did and it never will.”

–Frederick Douglas

In 1965 African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama walked across the Edmund Pettus bridge to protest for equal access to jobs, housing, citizenship and to be able to move freely throughout the United States without harassment. Just as the Black community in Montgomery, Alabama set the example by using a bridge as a symbol of equal access, the residents of Silverlake and Atwater, at a public meeting in Friendship Auditorium in Los Feliz, demanded equal access to the Hyperion/Glendale Bridge–a bridge that spans the two communities, yet is only safely accessible by an automobile.

For the last 50 years safe access across the Hyperion/Glendale Bridge has been limited to people driving cars. Sidewalks that begin on the Silverlake side of the bridge narrow to a few inches and then finally disappear altogether, leaving walkers stranded between two car travel lanes with the majority of motorists reaching speeds up to 55 mph or more. Bike lanes are none existent, which leaves bicyclists traveling from Atwater to Silverlake with an especially harrowing ride as the bridge rounds a curve and inclines. The motorists come up behind the bicyclist taking the curve at 55 mph or more as they step on the gas to power up the hill.

Every afternoon children from King Middle and Marshall High schools, with mostly brown faces, traverse the bridge on foot from Silverlake toward Atwater. At the public meeting one teenager in a yellow jersey spoke about how frightening it is for him to ride his bike across the bridge to and from school. These young people do not have parents who can leave work and pick them up. Many of their families do not have the luxury of owning a car, period.

Instead of designing the ¼ mile bridge to be accessible, inviting and visually appealing for everyone, the project engineers proposed four-foot gutter shoulders that bicyclists might be able to use,  removed the entire sidewalk on one side of the bridge, while the speeds for motorists will continue to be as designed–55 mph. A crosswalk will only be placed on the north side of the bridge–near the area of Atwater with higher incomes and higher housing prices.

After viewing the proposal and presentation, it was clear to me and to the 45 people who spoke against the design (only three supported it) that this was a design intended for motorists. I had envisioned a bridge with a protected walking path, with a bike lane, with benches to sit on to admire a revitalized Los Angeles River and a bridge where there were two lanes of car traffic that move slowly and safely across the river, allowing everyone access to this historic bridge. Sadly, the City engineers didn’t seem to share that vision.

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The Holy Grail. A design that considers all users. By RAC Design

After the meeting ended my friend Matthew Mooney greeted Mayor Garcetti’s representative Matt Szabo and asked what the next steps would be. Szabo mentioned something to the effect of not wanting to be locked into a bike lane design as well as some nonsense about building the bridge as it is proposed now and adding bike lanes down the line. I stopped listening at that point because to me it was the same platitude that I’ve heard before. The same platitude the African-Americans who struggled for access to the American Dream, who struggled across the Edmund Pettus Bridge had heard for generations:  “Just wait. Change will come. You’ll get your rights in the future.”

The future can be now. Of course the Powers That Be want us to wait, want us to go away so they can have their Federal Funding and complete the bridge for car usage only. We have plenty of bridges in Los Angeles that cater to the motorist–that are automobile arteries. Do we really need another?

Right now, we have the chance to make a positive change for everyone who lives, works and recreates in Silverlake, Atwater and Los Feliz. This Bridge can be a safe destination and portal for all people whether they walk, bike, or drive. We’ve had 50 years favoring one mode of transportation. Let the next 50 years favor all.

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