Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bike Girl Gets Wet

Photo by woodmanlroc

After completing a month without driving her car even once, Bike Girl is considering the feasibility of staying car free for the other 11/12's of the year.

When considering situations where Bike Girl would use a car, only a few situations immediately come to mind. The main one being, when it rains.

If Bike Girl wanted volatile weather, she would have moved to a different latitude. But since occasionally it does rain in Southern California, the ever solutions-oriented Bike Girl has found some tips to help her, and her loyal readers, in the event of showers.

1. Get Some Fenders - Bike Girl does not currently own any fenders, but is considering purchasing some. She's told that easy-on, easy-off plastic fenders can be purchased.

2. Avoid Puddles - A puddle can hide a pot hole. In Los Angeles, these road hazards tend to be deep and frequent. Be mindful of the road ahead of you and if a puddle is coming up, safely check for cars and ride around it. Luckily, cyclists don't have to worry about hydroplaning like cars do, because our wheels are so thin.

3. Slow Down - Stopping distance is greatly increased in the rain. Wet brake pads don't grip wet rims very well. Bike Girl has found that pumping her brakes creates some friction which dries them out enough for her to stop more quickly.

4. Get Lights - Bright ones. Bike Girl loves her Night Rider. She also uses two rear red blinkies. Drivers in Southern California can't deal with precipitation. They're even less likely to see you. Put those lights on in the rain, even if it's high noon.

5. Cover Your Seat - Bike Girl parks her bike inside, so this isn't an issue. But if your workplace forces you to park on the street, a bag or shower cap over the saddle can keep your pants from looking like you had an "accident."

6. Mix Your Transit - Taking the train or bus part-way is a good way to be out of the weather. The only problem here is that others will likely do the same. This can cause problems if the bike rack on a bus is full. A frequent Bike Girl commenter loves Folding Bikes. Bike Girl thinks this is one of the times foldies are FTW.

7. Lock Smart - If you lock your bike outside in the rain, arrange the lock so the key-hole points down. That way, water won't collect inside and rust it up.

8. Dress Appropriately - In Copenhagen, cyclists carry umbrellas in the rain. Bike Girl does not think she's coordinated enough for that. She plans to wear her Foul-Weather-Gear and a cycling cap to keep dry.

9. Lube - Lube your chain once the rain stops. It's important.

These of course are only suggestions. Bike Girl has survived riding in the rain without any of these items or taking any of these precautions. Most recently, she may or may not have been seen riding under-dressed on a barely functional rusty bicycle with no stylish umbrella in a different latitude. She is happy to report that she turned out just fine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bike Girl Gets Stood Up

Councilman LaBonge is the one in the tie. Image from Metro

Bike Girl loves bike commuting. But she does not love that the only route between the Universal City/Burbank/Toluca Lake area and Hollywood is via the Cahuenga Pass. At night, the only other road over the mountain that goes through Griffith Park is closed. During the Griffith Park Light Festival, that road is completely closed to cyclists. Metro service stops around 1 a.m. This leaves the Pass as the only option.

Bike Girl has blogged several times about the dangers of this particular road. It's poorly paved, cars routinely exceed the speed limit as they use it as an alternative to the adjacent 101 freeway, and now, Bike Girl counts 34 dead streetlights, creating a black abyss between Barham and the Hollywood Bowl.

Ever the optimist, Bike Girl invited her city councilman to join her on a ride over this pass to see the urgent need for repair of the existing infrastructure. Her councilman, Tom LaBonge, even responded to her request saying he'd be down. He said she only had to name the date.
Bike Girl excitedly named a date, but received no further response from Councilman LaBonge. Just in case, she stood, bicycle leaning against her hip, at the appointed place at the appointed time. But Councilman LaBonge has effectively stood her up.

Thinking her email may have just been buried in his inbox, Bike Girl followed up. But alas, she has received no further correspondence from her councilman.

This was very discouraging to Bike Girl. She truly believed that on some level, Councilman LaBonge really did care about cycling issues. She understands if he feels too unsafe to travel that road. Bike Girl herself is intimidated by it. But since he said he would ride, she feels lied to.

While it should be no surprise to Bike Girl that politicians make promises they do not keep, she genuinely thought in this case, with this supposedly bike-friendly councilman, she could get through. Councilman LaBonge has routinely positioned himself as the Bicycle Councilman. He has even thrown rides with LAPD escorts through his district and purchased ice cream for all who attended.

Councilman LaBonge, if you read this, please note that the invitation is still open. If you still don't want to ride, please at least push repairs and speed enforcement on this stretch of road higher on the priority list. The safety of cyclists in your district depends on it.

Readers, please call and report the street light outages on the stretch of Southbound Cahuenga Boulevard between Barham and the Hollywood Bowl by calling 3-1-1 in the city of L.A., or 1-866-4LACITY outside city limits.
The articles of the Cyclists Bill of Rights that apply to this stretch of road are numbers 1, 5, and 7.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bike Girl Completes Her Car Free Challenge

Photo by Piax LOLed by Knittens

Today was day 30 of Bike Girl’s 30 day car-free pledge. The state of her car attests to that. The pledge was inspired by a challenge from Green L-A girl. On the whole, Bike Girl found that it was extremely easy to not drive for a month.

This is not to say there were no bumps along the way. Notable bumps included Bike Girl’s resistance to getting on a bicycle before 8 a-m for a meeting. This showed Bike Girl that she needs to carefully consider her schedule and priorities. Another time, Bike Girl did a 30 mile training ride one Saturday, and then climbed over the Sepulveda Pass to get to Sherman Oaks for a meeting. On the way she got lost and ended up riding an extra 10 miles, making the whole trip over 50 miles.

But since Bike Girl has gradually been reducing her car trips, the majority of the month was spent as usual. Here are some of the things Bike Girl did to make being car free pretty easy:

1. Get Panniers for your bike - They’re like saddle-bags that go over your rear rack. Bike Girl’s hold a grocery bag each.

2. Mix transit – Bike Girl frequently takes her bike on the bus and Metro train to extend her reach and take a break from riding all over town. For people who frequently utilize the Metro or busses, a folding bike may be a good investment, though Bike Girl has been able to get around with a regular bike.

3. Plan Ahead – Bike Girl doesn’t like to have to carry a bunch of stuff around, even in her stylish Panniers. So she puts together clothes and food for the whole week of work and carts them in on Monday. She brings the dirty clothes and empty Tupperware home on Fridays.

4. Get lights – traveling at night can be intimidating. But thanks to a gift from Bike Girl’s significant other, she has extremely bright lights that allow her to travel safely at night.

Not everyone seems to have enjoyed Bike Girl’s car-free month. Apparently a neighborhood LOLcat has noticed how dusty her car has become. He has written “Wash Me PLZ” on the trunk and the windshield.

As a reward for completing her goal, Bike Girl has decided to thoroughly clean her car and purchase a car cover. She anticipates the car will be covered most of the time. Bike Girl is also planning to take the car for a tune up and ask the mechanic how better to prepare the car for long periods of sitting without being used.

Bike Girl would like to challenge her readers who currently use their cars to go car-lighter. This can start with not using the car one day a week.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bike Girl Locks Up Tight

While sipping her morning tea and reading the morning paper through the very stylish glasses perched on her nose, Bike Girl encountered some unfortunate news.

The Daily News reports with the increase in the number of cyclists using their bikes to connect with public transit, has come a spike in bike theft. The Daily News says 15 bikes have been stolen from Orange Line stations this year. That’s up from 10 last year. That includes 5 from the Balboa station and three from north Hollywood.

Bike Girl applauds the Angelenos who, like her, have eschewed their cars in favor of mass transit. But she worries that these commuters will become frustrated if their trusty steeds are stolen. For tips on the best way to lock a bicycle, click here. Bike Girl recommends Kryptonite and Anti-Jack locks.

In the meantime, while the LAPD seems determined to create barriers to prevent new cyclists from riding, the L.A. County Sheriff’s department is doing something to help the increasing numbers of bike commuters.

Sheriffs Deputy Dan Finkelstein told the Daily news that security cameras are not pointed towards Metro’s bike racks. He says the Department is asking Metro to change that. In the meantime, undercover deputies planted a bait bike at the North Hollywood station and arrested three people last week for stealing it.

Metro has suggested cyclists use the bike lockers provided at some stations to store their ‘cycles during their mixed-transit travels. However, Bike Girl has been told that some commuters have had difficulty obtaining a bike locker. She was informed by a Midnight Rida’ that he had been on a waiting list for a locker for months. Metro has also suggested commuters use folding bikes. Bike Girl thinks that for some commuters, folding bikes are an interesting idea. But she also points out that these bicycles are not common on the streets of L.A. and that many cyclists, herself included, are somewhat skeptical of them.

Bike Girl would like to encourage those commuters who’ve had their bicycles stolen to buy a cheap bike, an expensive lock, and get back on the horse. For more advice on how best to lock your bicycle, check out this video.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bike Girl Can't Resist A Challenge

Green L-A Girl seems to always be issuing various Challenges to Bike Girl. After all, a Green L-A Girl challenge is what sparked Bike Girl’s Car Free Month. Now 16 days into that challenge, a new one has been issued in the form of a bloggy chain letter.

Green L-A Girl has awarded Bike Girl a Tree of Happiness award. Bike Girl is not sure what the criteria for that award are, however, she is grateful. But the award comes with a challenge to list six things that make Bike Girl happy. In the spirit of this blog’s theme, Bike Girl will keep them bike-related:

1. Making-out at red lights while riding bikes with her Significant Other.
2. Commutes where no one honks
3. Beating the Metro Rapid bus across town
4. CRANK Mob
5. Long, smooth descents
6. Riding in a skirt

Bike Girl would like to in turn, award the Happiness Tree to:

1. Illuminate L.A.

These are all blogs Bike Girl enjoys. She encourages her loyal readers to check them out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bike Girl Goes Car Free Day 9

Bike Girl is nothing if she's not determined. Yet, she seems to have hit a snag going from Car-Lite to completely Car-Free.

Our Protagonist has a tumultuous relationship with Mornings. While Bike Girl enjoys being up in the mornings puttering about her apartment, drinking a warm caffeinated beverage and reading a book. She sometimes cannot force herself out of her cozy nest and onto a bicycle to run errands.

Curiously, Bike Girl often rousts herself before a reasonable hour to don cycling-specific clothing and join other similarly-clad riders for fast-ish rides on the weekend. But when the errand involves a non-recreational obligation, the idea of mounting a bike becomes less attractive.

While she hates to admit it, Bike Girl did call in "sick" to a certain appointment she had early in the morning this week because she could not bear the thought of riding to it. For a few minutes, she debated a secret car trip. Since Bike Girl blogs anonymously, no one would know! However, that idea was soon shot down by Bike Girl's Conscience.

Bike Girl marveled at how a different way of getting around changed her priorities in only a week.

Our Protagonist is interested to hear if any other car-free folks have noticed they make fewer trips, or have otherwise changed their habits because of their mode of transportation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bike Girl Vs The Cahuenga Pass Pt 2

Bike Girl has to apologize for a factual inaccuracy in a previous post. She had said in this post that between 13 and 20 streetlights were out on Cahuenga West between Barham and the Hollywood Bowl.

That's not quite true.

Bike Girl made another count and found that, in fact, there are 28 streetlights out on that stretch.

Now for the nit-pickers, Bike Girl will admit that two of those 28 are right in front of the Hollywood Bowl, so the number could be argued down to 26.

But on her commute to work today, Bike Girl noticed that the DWP is doing something to make up for the blackness in the Cahuenga Pass. In the middle of the day, half the streetlights were on.

So if 28 lights are out at night, but 28 others are left on in the day, does that cancel out? Bike Girl's Math says no.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bike Girl Goes Car Free - Day 3

Day 3 of Bike Girl's Car-Free month was a pretty typical commute. She got on her Carbon Fibre Dream Machine and cruised to work. There, she changed into the clothes she had brought the day before and ate the food also brought the day before.

So Bike Girl would like to take this time to share some haikus about riding her Carbon Fibre Dream Machine.

My feet are clipped in,
maximum efficiency
ev'ry pedal stroke.

My thighs look so good
in my tight padded bike shorts.
You know that it's true!

I think I'm so fast,
'till an old man passes me.
Then, humility.


Follow Bike Girl's progress


Monday, September 8, 2008

Bike Girl Goes Car-Free - Days 1 and 2

Bike Girl was recently passed over for an interview by Green L.A. Girl on being a car-free lady. Bike Girl was initially outraged, but that outrage lasted only moments because, in fact, Bike Girl is not actually car-free.

Bike Girl has a history of driving to work Mondays with her clothes and food for the week and biking three days. She then would drive Fridays to pick up the empty Tupperware and dirty clothes. Bike Girl also has to admit that she occasionally gets lazy and just drives for no reason. For instance, last week, Bike Girl had an ear infection, which provided an excellent excuse to remain in bed until a half hour before work and drive.

This, Bike Girl realized, is not any way for someone whose Secret Identity includes the word Bike. So Bike Girl has challenged herself to be completely car-free for thirty days. The count-down began Sunday September 7th. Bike Girl will attempt to chronicle the adventure here.

Day 1 -

Bike Girl spent the morning finishing work on her new old bike which is outfitted with a rack and panniers so she can transport various Items. Satisfied that the bike was in good working order, she set out on a ride to meet fellow members of the Bike Writers Collective at an Undisclosed Location.

Just as Bike Girl and Homegrown Evolution blogger Erik rolled up to the Location, Bike Girl's rack suddenly collapsed. FAIL! A nut had disappeared during the ride and the screw was hanging precariously in its hole. Erik theorized that the nut had come loose due to vibration on the ride over. Bike Girl discovered another loose nut, but tightened it before it could fall off.

The ever-resourceful Bike Writers helped Bike Girl rig up the rack so that she could limp home.

Day 2 -

This morning was spent tightening all nuts and screws and the brake cables for a hopefully-less-eventful commute to Bike Girl's Place Of Employment. She loaded up both panniers with her clothes and food for the week and set off for her local Metro station.

Several roads were closed on the way, but since Bike Girl rides a bicycle, she was able to hop off and walk on the sidewalk with the bicycle past the construction, and hop back on without having to take a lengthy detour.

Bike Girl used the elevators on the Metro and wondered why something can't be done about the pervasive combination of smells. It seems that every elevator at every station smells like pee, disinfectant, and mildew.

Bike Girl anticipates the car free transition will be easiest during the first week, then become increasingly difficult.
Bike Girl has successfully completed the challenge. Read more here.
Here are some subsequent posts updating Bike Girl's progress

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bike Girl Vs The Cahuenga Pass

Bike Girl has a roughly 6 mile commute to work. This would ordinarily be extremely do-able. But as fate would have it, the commute has a mountain in the middle. This would ordinarily be only a mild deterrent to the physically-fit Bike Girl. But as fate would have it, the only way over that mountain, is via the Cahuenga Pass.

For those unfamiliar with the Cahuenga Pass, It connects Hollywood to Universal City/Burbank. Cahuenga Blvd is split in two by the 101 freeway, so the northbound side of Cahuenga is on the east side of the freeway, and the southbound side on the west.

Cahuenga West may be the most dangerous street for cyclists in the entire city. It runs along the 101 and is often treated as another lane of that freeway by speeding motorists. The right lane is full of potholes, grates, and manhole covers that are not flush with the roadway. It's also a hill.

If it wasn't the ONLY way to get from Universal City/Burbank to Hollywood, Bike Girl would absolutely avoid it at all costs. However, since it is the only option, Bike Girl says a small prayer and holds on to her handlebars with white knuckles and numb fingertips.

Adding to that danger is the fact that Bike Girl has to ride this stretch in the middle of the night on her way home from the evening shift at her Place Of Employment. Oh, and did Bike Girl mention that at least 13-20 of the streetlights on the most dangerous part of this stretch are out. So Bike Girl has to traverse this stretch of road in literal blackness. (The above photo of the blackness was snapped by Bike Girl in front of the building that says Alternative on Cahuenga West)

Bike Girl considers herself pretty brave. After all, she rides the mean streets of Los Angeles. But she has been brought nearly to tears more than once while talking about this terrifying leg of her commute and has required multiple pep-talks from her significant other.

Bike Girl even invested in a Road ID so that when she is inevitably hit or killed on this stretch of road, her Significant Other and Mom can be notified to identify her body. Bike Girl's Significant Other was so worried about her; he purchased an extremely expensive, extremely powerful Nightrider light for her trusty cycle.

Bike Girl notified the city of this horribly dangerous streetlight outage in early August, but weeks later, it hasn't been corrected.

Bike Girl is more concerned because with the path through Griffith Park closed to cyclists during the Griffith Park Light (irony?) Festival, it will be absolutely the only option for more cyclists (Bike Girl gets off work after the park is closed and cannot utilize that way home.)

This stretch of Cahuenga is in Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge's district. Since Mr. LaBonge purports to be a friend to cyclists, Bike Girl would like to invite him to make this bike commute with her one evening to see how dangerous it is.

Bike Girl is calling for

1. Adequate Lighting (starting with fixing existing street lights)

2. Enforcement of existing speed limits to calm traffic and increase safety for all travelers

3. Repaving of this road, especially the right side

4. Opening Griffith Park to cyclists, not only during the Light Festival, but year round through the night so that there is more than one option for travel over the Hill.

Cyclists have the right to traffic signals, signage and maintenance standards that enable and support safe cycling according to Article 7 of the Cyclists Bill of Rights which is supported by Council Members Wendy Gruel, Bill Rosendahl, and Eric Garcetti.

Bike Girl cordially invites Tom LaBonge to drop her an email at bikegirlblog (at) gmail (dot) com and check out L.A.'s most dangerous street.

Related Posts:

Bike Girl Vs The Cahuenga Pass Pt 2

Bike GIrl Gets Stood Up

Bike Girl Watches YouTube

That New York Critical Mass rider who was knocked off his bike by a cop has had all charges against him dropped. Christopher Long was arrested after the incident in July for allegedly obstructing traffic and deliberately riding his bike into an officer.

But thanks to a bystander who was filming the whole thing, a video posted on YouTube shows NYPD Officer Patrick Rogan actually shoved Long off his bike as he tried to steer out of the way.

Officer Pogan has been assigned to desk duty while police continue to investigate.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ballona Creek Warning

Bike Girl has been unable to find much information about the below warning, forwarded to her by a fellow cyclist. However, Bike Girl believes it is always a good idea to use caution on this particular path.


Ballona Trail Caution!
We would like to alert you of some recent crime activity on the Ballona Trail.
If you, or someone you know, uses the trail, please be aware and take precautionary

On Tuesday, August 19 around 1PM a cyclist was assaulted on the Ballona Creek
Trail under the 405 underpass. Two assailants threw a bicycle into the path of the
cyclist, causing him to crash. They then sprayed him with pepper spray and took his

The victim rode to the LAPD Pacific Station and made a report. According to the
victim and police information, other cyclists were later accosted in this same area and one
was threatened with a knife.

If you choose to ride on Ballona Trail, please use extra caution, especially
around the underpasses. You may want to consider riding in pairs or in a larger group.

There have been other assaults on cyclists along this stretch of the
BallonaTrail and it is time to confront this situation directly.

LACBC has contacted Councilman Bill Rosendahl's office and they are contacting
LAPD about the matter. In addition, we will be working to convene a task force to
bring attention to this problem area and explore solutions.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bike Girl May Be A Bait Bike

Photo by onepointzero

Bike Girl is fairly attached to her various bicycles. Often when she leaves them parked outdoors, out of her eyesight, she worries that determined bike thieves will disassemble her bike and make off with her seat, lights, or wheels.

But every time Bike Girl sneaks out to check on her bike, it is untouched. She’s amazed at the lack of bike theft in Los Angeles. In fact, Los Angeles is nowhere to be found on Kryptonite’s list of the top 10 worst cities for bike theft.

However, things do still sometimes get taken. Bike Girl recommends that all cyclists invest in a quality lock and learn to *use it properly.

Police on the University of Wisconsin Madison campus have a different way to deal with bike theft. They’re using “bait bikes” outfitted with GPS devices to track them once they were stolen.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, 16 alleged bike thieves were arrested this summer.

Another part of the theft-deterrent-program is an awareness campaign. The police are distributing leaflets to all incoming students. The leaflets include stickers that say, “This Might Be A Bait Bike.”

Bike Girl supports this program, and thinks these stickers will be much more effective than another sticker on a bike at a college campus in Ohio.

Here are some of Bike Girl’s tips for locking your bike properly:

1. Actually lock it – you’d be amazed how many people’s bikes are stolen when they pop into the store for “just a minute.”

2. Lock it to something that can’t be moved – make sure that when you lock to something, your bike with the lock still on it can’t be moved. Tiny saplings can be cut or pulled out of the ground. Chain link fences are easily cut. Even some bike racks can be picked up off the ground with your bike locked to them and put in the bed of a truck.

3. Use a u-lock, the small kind – there are large and small u-locks. Even though the big ones look like they’d fit around more things, they really don’t. The little ones are big enough to fit around your frame and a parking meter and also fit easily in your pocket or purse.

4. Any part of the frame, except the fork works – you can u lock to any part of the frame. The lower on the frame you lock it, the more of a pain in the ass it is for thieves to break the lock.

5. If you expect it to rain, point the lock part of the u-lock towards the ground – that way you don’t get corrosion in the lock.

6. Use a cable too – the cable can lock the seat and wheels to the frame, while the u-lock keeps the bike attacked to the stationary object. A cable is also handy to have if there are no parking meters or good racks around. You can cable around a tree trunk in a pinch. Bike Girl frequently breaks this rule because she has a false sense of security cultivated by many many uneventful incidents of bike parking.

7. Don’t park your bike outside overnight – not only will your bike stay in better condition longer, thieves won’t see it parked for extended periods of time in the same place consistently. If they know you won’t be around for hours and hours, they have more time to mess with it.

8. The less space in the u-lock, the better – If there’s a bunch of space inside of the U, a thief can get a car-jack inside of it and bust it.

If you have other tips, please leave them in the comments section.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bike Girl Figures It Out

Bike Girl likes to keep an open mind, so she's been known to click over from time to time to see what sort of comments are being made about the recent Mandeville Canyon Incident. The most frequent complaint was that cyclists don’t obey the law and should therefore not be entitled to protection under it.

As a smug form of protest, Bike Girl has been obeying the law to the letter, both on her bike and when driving her car. She has noticed two things.

1. Obeying all traffic laws on her bicycle does not change the way drivers react to her, though it does give her a smug sense of self-righteousness.

2. Obeying all traffic laws in her car seems to make other car drivers even more frustrated with her than when she rides her bicycle.

While neither finding was surprising, when juxtaposed against the comments on the Mandeville Canyon incident, Finding Number 2 was slightly hilarious.

Bike Girl set out to quantify the phenomenon of law-breaking drivers by counting the number of drivers who turn without signaling, speed, and roll through red lights and stop signs. But in the middle of her extremely scientific survey, Bike Girl was astonished to see a fellow cyclist roll through a red light right in front of her.

The dangerous move did not do the Reckless Cyclist much good, because the smugly law-abiding Bike Girl was able to quickly catch up to her. When Bike Girl pointed out to the Reckless Cyclist's misdeed, she merely replied, "Oh well."

This took Bike Girl aback. This is a very similar response to one frequently given by Reckless Drivers! Bike Girl put her survey on hold to Ponder this. She rode home, smugly obeying all traffic laws, and put on her Pondering Cap.

Bike Girl decided the only way to find an explanation was through the use of Math. Bike Girl knows that according to the Transitive Property, if a = n, and b = n, then a = b. Therefore:

If Reckless Drivers = Jerks
And Reckless Cyclists = Jerks

Then Reckless Drivers are really the same as Reckless Cyclists!

This also implies that Jerks can either drive cars OR ride bikes!  Yet for some reason, cyclists are all characterized as Reckless, whereas all drivers are not. No one says, "We cannot improve infrastructure for drivers because they speed." Yet, there is hesitation by many drivers to accept the rights of cyclists

Even with her Pondering Cap on, Bike Girl cannot find any Math that explains this phenomenon.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bike Girl Owns N Bicycles

Bike Parking
(Photo by Gary Kavanagh)

Some noir protagonists sit in smoky bars downing whisky neat to pass the time in this cold, cruel world. Bike Girl has a different addiction. Hers involves slouching over a keyboard browsing craigslist for the perfect other bicycle.

Bike Girl once heard that the appropriate number of bicycles to own is N + 1 bicycles, with N being the number of bicycles one already owns. Anyone who knows anything about Math can see that this could lead to financial ruin. Or at least, a space issue in one's studio apartment.

Due to a lapse in willpower and the negative influence of a colleague, Bike Girl has made yet another impulse bicycle purchase. She now owns not one, not two, but four bicycles. (Three of which are functional)

Bike Girl justified the purchase, saying that by buying this bike, she would actually be paring down her collection. This bike was supposed to serve the functions of two of her other bicycles, which she promised herself she would sell. While parting with one of these may be possible, Bike Girl is extremely attached to the other.

It is not a particularly great bicycle, but Bike Girl's hopeless romantic side has formed an emotional connection with it. For one, it is Bike Girl's favorite color. For two, it has fenders which are good for the beach or for the occasional puddle. For three, Bike Girl rescued it from the bottom of a pile at the co-op and nursed it back to health with pure love.

While bicycles are certainly a wonderful functional machine for transporting people and things from Point A to Point B, they are also simply wonderful machines. But if Bike Girl continues to appreciate them as art pieces, friends, and souvenirs, she may have to find a larger apartment.

Haven’t had enough? Bike Snob describes the N + 1 phenomenon in this entry.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bike Girl Preferred The Pot Hole

Bike Girl got all dolled up over the weekend for a top secret rendezvous in Echo Park. She hopped on her extremely classy step-through and headed east. It should've been a simple commute.

But someone, or something, seemed determined to have Bike Girl killed.

That someone, Bike Girl suspects, is a lazy city employee. Likely one of Mayor Villaraigosa's pot hole repair special forces. Under the guise of making the roads safer, this mystery assailant appears to have turned an "innie" pothole, into an "outie."

Planted squarely in the Bike Lane on the eastbound side of Sunset Boulevard, is an asphalt mountain. This bump is about a foot and a half tall at it's peak, and takes up 7/8ths of the bike lane just before the Tropical Cafe.

Bike Girl only noticed the bump at the last minute. Had she seen it moments later, or reacted with any less than her typical cat-like reflexes, she may have suffered extreme injury...or worse.

In fact, shortly after Bike Girl discovered the bump, she heard that a Wolfpack rider fell victim to that same bump Monday night. Word on the streets is the rider, who thought he was safe in the bike lane, hit the bump and flew off his bike. Bike Girl hears he broke a finger and cut up his face.

Why an asphalt patch needs to be so tall is beyond Bike Girl's powers of comprehension. Bike girl urges cyclists to use caution in the eastbound bike lane on Sunset and to call 3-1-1 and report the problem. After all, according to provision 5 of the Cyclists Bill of Rights : Cyclists have the right to routine accommodations in all roadway projects and improvements.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bike Girl Hears You Honking

While riding around town, Bike Girl sometimes finds it is necessary to turn left. Turning left is a basic part of navigating through the city no matter what your mode of transit.

However Bike Girl recently encountered a driver who seemed to be convinced that turning left is a right reserved only for cars. Here's how it went down.

Bike Girl had stopped in the left turn lane of an intersection. While she stood with one foot on the pedal, hips cocked to one side, sunglasses perched smartly on her nose to hide her sidelong glance at an attractive male cyclist in the right turn lane, a car pulled into the left turn lane behind her.

The driver immediately pounded on the horn, jolting Bike Girl from the slightly naughty thoughts running through her head. She looked up at the light, but it was still red. So she turned around, to inquire as to the reason for the honk.

Bike Girl didn't have to ask, because the driver was already yelling about how bicycles are not allowed in the middle of the street. Bike Girl smiled sweetly at the misunderstanding and replied that she was actually turning left, so the driver did not need to worry.

But the driver kept sounding the horn, insisting that cyclists are not allowed to make left turns in the left turn lane. Now many cyclists know that CVC 21202 allows cyclists to move to the left to make a turn. And CVC 21200 allows cyclists all the same rights as a vehicle. She calmly quoted those two provisions to the driver. The driver insisted she was wrong and that he was absolutely sure that what she was doing was illegal.

Much to Bike Girl's pleasure, the attractive male cyclist she had been eyeing rolled over to make her case. At this point the light was still red, and the driver's progress has not yet been delayed even a moment. Adonis on Two-Wheels corroborated Bike Girl's claim to the lane, but the driver still insisted Bike Girl was behaving illegally.

At this point Bike Girl encouraged the driver to call the police and offered to wait while they came. However, before the words were fully out of her lips, the light turned green. Bike Girl proceeded through the intersection, making her legal left turn and the driver revved his engine and immediately parked at a business right on the corner. He went inside to make a purchase, showing that Bike Girl in no way threatened to make him late for any purpose. Bike Girl laughed.

This and other similar encounters show the need for increased driver education about the rules of the road.

Bike Girl owns a 4-wheeled vehicle, and until she converted to the two-wheeled side, she was never aware of any of the rules regarding road-sharing with cyclists.

A non-confrontational, zero-expense, yet seemingly effective tool would be to include a question on the California Driver's test about sharing the road with bicycles. This question, if missed, would require the potential driver to read through the part of the vehicle code that contains the answer. This would draw attention to the section. Since the tests are reprinted semi-frequently, there would be no extra expense to include that question in the next incarnation.

Until then, Bike Girl continues to smile each time she's honked at. Because as Bike Girl's ally in the world of anonymous bicycle blogging, Bike Snob NYC says, "Your beeping means you can see me, and I’m not worried about drivers who see me."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bike Girl Battles The Bus Redux

(continued from this post)

Bike Girl’s Metro contact came up empty on ways to increase bike access to busses. However, Bike Girl has heard a report that addresses her concerns.

History of Bike Racks: Apparently, Metro used to have bike racks INSIDE the Orange Line busses. Those racks were located in the rear of the bus. However, cyclists found it difficult to access the racks because Metro riders tend to congregate towards the rear of the bus. Metro also says it is dangerous for cyclists to try to move their bikes around while the bus is moving.

Danger: The Orange Line now has triple bike racks on the front of the bus. Metro decided to test out the system on the Orange Line because it is separated from other vehicular traffic. Metro decided that since cyclists whose bike is in the middle position often step into where traffic would be speeding around the bus in order to remove their bike, these racks are unsafe for use on regular busses.

So Now What: Metro says cyclists who want to use their bikes in conjunction with public transit should get folding bikes.

Personally, Bike Girl thinks that is a non-solution. But Metro appears enthusiastic.

In fact, according to the report Bike Girl heard, Metro is working on a program that would provide financial assistance to commuters who want to buy folding bikes. That’s according to Metro’s Bike Planning Manager Lynne Goldsmith.

Do these findings make Bike Girl’s commute across town using the bus any easier? No. In fact knowing that Metro’s best answer to the increase in cyclists is telling them to buy new bikes is discouraging to her.

Since Bike Girl seems to be able to beat the Rapid Bus across town anyway, she’s decided to stop trying to catch the bus, and just ride the 15 miles across town.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bike Girl Writes A Positive Blog Post

In a city where some drivers seem to prefer a dead cyclist to a live one, and some police officers don't seem to be on the side of the two-wheeled traveler, Bike Girl is taking to the streets to do her part .

The streets are tough, and so is Bike Girl. But even a Strong Female Protagonist like Bike Girl can get discouraged. Stories like this appear almost daily on the Los Angeles bicycle blogs. Bike Girl has had her own run-ins with drivers too. She's been hit not once, but three times by cars.

Bike Girl has a special technique she likes to use to overcome the Fear. The technique is a very scientific combination, arrived at through the use of Math and semi-illegal fireworks. The technique is called F.U.N.

Whenever Bike Girl finds she's acquired some amount of fear about commutes she's made many times on her trusty cycle, she calls on the help of her community. There are plenty of places Bike Girl can go to find sympathetic ears, encouragement, and a great time that renews her enthusiasm for biking. In no particular order, they are:

1. C.R.A.N.K. Mob

The mother of all social rides and the birthplace of F.U.N. When in the presence of C.R.A.N.K. Mob, Bike Girl is literally unable to imagine any situation in which she would hesitate to ride a bike.

2. Midnight Ridazz

If C.R.A.N.K. Mob is the birthplace of F.U.N., then Midnight Ridazz is the grandfather of F.U.N. Midnight Ridazz was the original place Bike Girl discovered the joys of taking the lane and the safety benefits thereof.

3. The Beach Bike Path

When Bike Girl wants to unwind with her Significant Other, she dons a dress and some heels and gingerly steps through the frame of her ladies single-speed from the 70's, places a picnic in the basket, and heads to the beach where she happily rides 10 miles an hour around stroller-pushing roller-bladers and drunk teenagers with the wind threatening her hemline. Pure bliss.

4. Santa Monica Blvd through Studio City in the early evening

One of the biggest fears Bike Girl has is riding alone at night in unpopulated areas. But at the same time, there's almost no greater joy than rolling on this stretch of bike path next to an empty street. The buildings are lit up but no one's there. It makes Bike Girl feel like the road is hers.

Even though frustration can be a part of urban riding in Los Angeles, Bike Girl will continue to ride.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bike Girl Saves A Nickel

In an effort to justify her cycling habit, Bike Girl put on her sexy nerd-glasses to do some commuter math. She wanted to find out if her commute actually saves her any money, or if it's simply an indulgence that allows her to feel smug with her bicycle resting against the wall of her cubicle.

Bike Girl bit on the end of a pencil eraser and scratched out some FORMULAS.

Miles driven divided by MPG = gallons used.
8.6/30 = .29

Gallons used multiplied by price per gallon = total price spent for miles driven.
.29 * $4.55 = $1.30

Since Bike Girl sometimes takes the Metro one way to avoid getting extremely sweaty before work, she subtracts the cost of the ticket from her gas savings.
$1.30 - $1.25 = $ .05

Bike Girl's daily commute saves her 5 cents on gas. If she commutes at least three days a week via bicycle for 50 weeks a year, her savings will add up to $7.50 a year.

Such a small number surprised Bike Girl. So she has decided to focus on other advantages to bike commuting. She has decided it is still worth it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bike Girl Battles The Bus

Bike Girl was on her way to a Top Secret Meeting across town. She was in a bus-riding mood, so she struck a pose with her bicycle at a Metro Rapid stop. The first bus to pull up had a full rack of bikes on the front, so Bike Girl had to wait.

"A full bike rack is a positive development," thought Bike Girl as she shifted her weight onto the other hip to await the next bus.

But as the next bus pulled up 20 minutes later, Bike Girl's enthusiasm for the growing number cyclists utilizing the Metro to extend their bike-able range began to wane. She noticed that this bus also had a full bicycle rack.

Bike Girl tried to use her undeniable Charm to convince the bus driver to allow her to carry her trusty cycle on to the nearly empty bus, but to no avail. She rested her frame against her knee as she sat at the stop, resigned to wait for yet another bus.

As Bike Girl waited, she did some Math. She had already waited at the stop for more than 30 minutes. By the time the third bus arrived, she would have waited for 50 minutes. Since it takes her less time than that to ride to her Top Secret Destination, she was disappointed indeed.

The third bus rolled into view and Bike Girl did a double-take. Surely three busses in a row could not be filled to capacity with bikes. But it was true. The third bus's bicycle rack was also full. Now exasperated, Bike Girl defiantly mounted her bicycle in front of the bus. When the light turned green, she raced off across town, vowing to leave that bus in the dust in revenge for the delay.

Since Bike Girl prefers to focus on Solutions, she leapt into action. The next business day, she placed a call to Metro to find out if anything would be done to address the needs of the increasing amount of Metro passengers who utilize Bicycles as a way to make their commute on public transit more efficient.

Bike Girl's Metro contact has assured her she is investigating the matter.

…to be continued!