Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Mike's Denied and Bike Summer in LA


mikes bid, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

I think I just about fell out of my seat when reading the local papers yesterday. Finally, one human being in New York has at least an ounce of conscious functioning enough to act rational and think about more than just oneself. Bravo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, for having the courage to stand up to a billionaire and his short sided goals of building America’s most expensive stadium so he could have his luxury sky box while the rest of us serfs front the bill. Your so freakin rich, why don’t you pay for it? I couldn’t possibly think of anything $300 million could go towards, like affordable housing, making sure our buildings don’t slide into the West side highway, oh I got it, what about that small insignificant event that happened on September 11th? How long has it been since we’ve seen any major construction? I love how every time there was some sort of buzz about the people’s reaction to the stadium the news media would cut to some construction worker with a “let’s build it” T-shirt on clamoring about the loss of jobs. Ahh, last time I checked there were was no shortage of construction in NYC. Much like September 11th issues, I’m sure these people were paid their time to go protest…like when Pataki would give a rally downtown about the need to rebuild after the largest terrorist attack in America. How do I know this? I asked the workers standing around with their American flags, chanting, “Let’s build it” I also love that Countdown clock on 14th street promoting the Olympic bid announcement date. Way to go guys. How much did that cost? Why not have a running tally of New York cities debt? Do you think 4 months before the mayoral race, at least one candidate would be standing up to Bloomberg and capitalizing on his corporate agenda? Oh yeah, I forgot, they’re Democrats…spineless. Since Bloomberg has all the money for television commercials, he gets to win another 4 years. Well at least that will give him time to think of more things to build in this city that we don’t need while the average price of an apartment in Manhattan exceeds 1.2 million.

Meanwhile on the other coast, It’s Bike Summer in Los Angeles. Here is the website:

www.bikesummer.org/2005

Here is an artile from the LA Times:

Shifting gears for summer
Think of this cycling festival as a month long show of force on the roads.
By John Balzar
Times Staff Writer

June 2, 2005

At first mention, you could be pardoned for wondering: It's a joke right?

They're not really going to spend a month celebrating bicycling in Los Angeles? Not here, not where the verb "to go" is spelled c-a-r?

"That's why Bike Summer is important," insists organizer Matt Ruscigno. "Because it is in Los Angeles."

Sitting on a picnic table at a midtown park with his bicycle beside him, because Ruscigno does not own a car, he pulls out a ballpoint and draws a graph. "We are about here," he says. He points to the spot where the line marking zero just begins to creep upward. He draws an arrow pointing to the fatter part of the curve — up there where the bicyclists' dreams live.

"Ten years from now, we'll be building on this."

Ready or not, Bike Summer Los Angeles 2005 begins Friday.

"Velolution," some of the backers call it.

A month of play is a more down to earth description. A chance for the city's many diverse cultures of bicyclists to mingle — and perhaps to catch the eye of the rest of us. That's the stated goal.

Film screenings, workshops, fun rides, races, scavenger hunts, art shows, pub crawls, athletic contests, poetry readings, music, protests — Bike Summer is a freewheeling festival that beckons anyone with two wheels and a tire-pump in the garage to dream up a way to have fun and make friends during the month of June.

The idea of Bike Summer was conceived in 1998 in San Francisco, a city with a boisterous and enthusiastic cycling culture. The city's bicycle activists, as the story goes, were dispirited by long conflict with hostile municipal authorities. A former board member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition circulated a list of ideas to rekindle spirits. No. 7 on the list, between "suing the city" and "re-educating traffic engineers," was a monthlong celebration to be called Bike Summer.

Held in 1999, the celebration became a surprise urban hit, attracting attention not just locally but among cyclists elsewhere. The following year, local activists claimed Bike Summer — and Bike Winter, too — for Chicago. In 2001, the celebration was organized by cyclists in Vancouver, followed by Portland, Ore., in 2002, New York in 2003 and Seattle last year.

All those cities are widely known for the high profile and activism of bicyclists. This year will be a departure, because Los Angeles has a different reputation.

"It is looked down upon," Ruscigno says. "That's why it's the most important place to have Bike Summer. It's the city most in need of it."

Last year cyclist Keri Tyler, who had lived in Portland, in a conversation with Ruscigno first raised the possibility of holding Bike Summer here. Ruscigno is a public health dietician at Los Angeles Trade Tech and an alternative transportation activist; Tyler is a transportation student at UCLA's master's program in urban planning. With a group of 18 others, the two claimed Bike Summer 2005 for Los Angeles, and the group has done much of the initial organizing.

Festivities are scheduled to begin Friday with a party on the Santa Monica Pier. So far an additional 140 events have been listed by various individuals and groups for the ensuing month, including a bike tour of historic Los Angeles bridges, rides of 100, 200 and 400 miles, a "Tour de Graf" of the city's graffiti, a "Women's Korean Spa Ride," a vintage bicycle tea party, a progressive dinner through Silver Lake and Echo Park, a vegan barbecue, a bike jersey sewing party and any number of workshops on velo-related matters. Virtually any cycling organization can add an event to the list on the Bike Summer website, www.bikesummer.org.

Organizers expect that some events will draw only small groups of die-hards, but others are built out of established events and are almost certain to draw hundreds.

"It goes so much against the grain that it's fun," says Todd Munson, of I.Martin Imports, a Los Angeles bike shop that is sponsoring maintenance seminars for the celebration. "Ours is such a car city — but it's also the best city to ride a bike. The weather is good, most of the terrain is flat — everything is here."

Among its assets, Los Angeles is a relatively new metropolis and thus its roads tend to be wider than in older, more compressed cities. That often provides bicyclists with a roomy shoulder on which to ride, or enables them to "take a lane" on multilane roads without completely bottlenecking traffic.

Among many aims of Bike Summer is to open the eyes of cyclists to their city. For instance, Joshua Moody, a computer scientist, invites cyclists to join him in exploring the personalities of varied routes from downtown to Marina del Rey — culminating in a race.

Other rides are planned to sample ice cream parlors, farmers markets, Griffith Park and Arroyo Seco.

At the same time, organizers hope that the celebration will narrow the gap between the various tribes of cyclists; among them, the spandex road groups, recreational bicycling clubs, endurance cyclists, commuters, mountain bike organizations and advocates for the bicycle-dependent underclass.

Unity would give cyclists a stronger voice in debates over municipal priorities.

"Hosting Bike Summer in Los Angeles is going to help show that L.A. is not just about cars and freeways. There is definitely a growing bike culture in here, but we're all so spread out," says Becca Louisell, a board member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, a private membership group that champions cycling.

At the center of Bike Summer planning so far are the city's "urban cyclists," an enthusiastic culture that includes bicycle messengers, environmentalists, transportation activists, commuters and many other cyclists who don't wear team jerseys but still enjoy the freedom and camaraderie of being underdogs in a city as famous for its congestion as its horsepower.

One nucleus of this urban culture is the Bicycle Kitchen, which not so long ago was a small neighborhood do-it-yourself repair station and hangout in Koreatown. In recent months, the Kitchen has moved into a storefront east of Hollywood and grown into a full-fledged nonprofit that seeks to teach people to build-up and repair bicycles, and thus promote cycling in the city. The Kitchen has scheduled a series of workshops for Bike Summer, and its supporters are sponsoring other rides and events.

"This is an opportunity for the cyclists here to show the folks outside of the city, and the folks in the city, that life can happen by bike," says Ben Guzman, one of the founders of the Bicycle Kitchen. "The Kitchen recently had an article in Bike Magazine. Man, folks from all over were writing us saying, good job and all, but the biggest thing was that they had no idea there was bike culture here."

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really applaud your blogging efforts, and enjoy alot of what you write - but your anti-bloomy rant is so off base it makes you seem stupid. first off get your facts straight before you assign blame, and be careful who you are lauding all that praise upon. silver and bruno are the worst enemies the citizens of nyc have up in albany, and they are to blame for the lack of progress at ground zero, the increase in mta fares, and the fact that the mayor of nyc (whoever he may be) has little or no juice in these decsions.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Michael Green said...

Yeah, maybe I should stick with Bike issues. However, All I ever here out of Bloomberg's mouth is Stadium this and Olympics that, doesn't seem like a big priority for a city in which I as a middle income person am finding almost impossible to afford to live in. Is that stupid? I want a mayor not a real-estate developer who paves the way for short sided priorities like the world's most expansive and expensive football stadium and expects New Yorkers to pay the bill. We still haven't paid off the Javits Center. I only applaud Silver for telling Bloomberg NO DEAL. Besides, they wanted the stadium so bad and couldn't even come forward with a plan on how to finance it. So if the mayor has little or no juice in these decisions, maybe he shouldn't be the number one cheerleader for them then.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Michael Green said...

Yeah, maybe I should stick with Bike issues. However, All I ever here out of Bloomberg's mouth is Stadium this and Olympics that, doesn't seem like a big priority for a city in which I as a middle income person am finding almost impossible to afford to live in. Is that stupid? I want a mayor not a real-estate developer who paves the way for short sided priorities like the world's most expansive and expensive football stadium and expects New Yorkers to pay the bill. We still haven't paid off the Javits Center. I only applaud Silver for telling Bloomberg NO DEAL. Besides, they wanted the stadium so bad and couldn't even come forward with a plan on how to finance it. So if the mayor has little or no juice in these decisions, maybe he shouldn't be the number one cheerleader for them then.

10:08 AM  
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