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.