A few years back when Los Angeles began to paint sharrows on streets, I remembered the excitement when they put paint on the ground for Fountain Avenue, affectionately known as Fountain Freeway or &@!%ing Fountain. I was elated with the thoughts of drivers giving me more space, slowing down and laying off their horns. I thought to myself, “This is a game changer.” How wrong I was. Instead riding continued to be treacherous, scary and stressful after they painted the sharrows. Drivers didn’t appear to know what they were. Even bicyclist didn’t know what to do with them as they still hugged parked cars, weaving around them as they rode on Fountain Freeway. Eventually I stopped riding on Fountain and found another east-west corridor that was safer and quieter. Unfortunately that streets stops for a few blocks forcing me back on Fountain Freeway or even crazier Santa Monica.
To accompany the waste of paint on the road, the City put up some universally ignored “Share the Road” signs. Nothing changed. Drivers continued to speed, crowd out other users of the road and would lay on their horns if you dare try to take the lane. Every time the City would paint another sharrow on the road, I would roll my eyes with disdain. I thought sharrows were worthless.
On Monday, March 18, Metro made a step toward remedying the sharrow problem, by announcing a new safety campaign called Every Lane is a Bike Lane. The message being that bicycles have full use of the lane and that motorists should pass only when it’s safe to do so.
The message will appear on the back of metro buses and at bus stops.
Several managers from Metro spoke on how the new public service campaign would increase safety for bicyclists by helping drivers understand this is a right afforded to all cyclists on the road and that drivers should remain patient and pass a cyclist when it’s safe to do so. However, it wasn’t until Colin Bogart, of the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition, spoke about how the campaign will affect him and other bicyclists personally did the message become clear.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had interactions with drivers that say things like get off the road, get on the sidewalk where you belong, these sorts of things. This ad, this campaign will be the kind of thing that will negate these kinds of interactions. And for that I truly, personally thank Metro.
As well as educating drivers about the rights of bicyclists on the road, Metro plans to offer bicyclists education courses about their rights and responsibilities on the road. Only time will tell if this first step will help make cycling safer on roads with or without sharrows. I think it’s a positive first step.
Like Metro getting it wrong when they first painted sharrows without any education about sharrows, restaurants seem to usually get biscuits wrong when they offer them on the menu. Something as simple as flour, butter, milk or buttermilk, salt and a leavening agent seems to always turn out wrong. Biscuits in Los Angeles are either a cross between bland Pillsbury from a tube or practically fried like the biscuits put on your table as an appetizer at Red Lobster. Most of the biscuits I’ve tasted in LA were a waste of dough. They overwork the dough or slather in melted fat. I won’t use the word butter because usually it is not.
The key to a light biscuit with an almost muffin crumb or texture is cutting in cold butter before adding the liquids. Afterwards flour should the the size of lentils. If you want a vegan version you can replace the butter with something like Earth Balance.
The reason you want lentil size pieces of flour is while baking the butter coated with the flour melts and releases oxygen which causes the trapped butter to lift the flour to a light, layered consistency. This is how the biscuit becomes moist. As it bakes, you can see the layers form as the biscuit rises.
I usually use kamut flour because of it’s low gluten, lighter texture and nutty flavor. Here’s my version: