Wait a minute – is this a blog or a podcast? Where are all the bikes?!

Welcome to the all new Bird Wheel. Listen to an introduction of what’s ahead and why I’m moving away from blogging about bikes to talking about a range of topics (including bikes!) within the frame of FUTURISM. Plus, becoming a podcast allows for talking to some really interesting people – from fancy experts to beautiful weirdos.

Keep up on SOUNDCLOUD (iTunes coming) or join the LA Futurist Society to hear about lots of topics, events and random stuff.

The Bird Wheel is evolving.

It’s becoming a podcast (with multimedia content, pictures, extended notes, event invites) published here. And the general focus, that has already been meandering for quite a while is getting a make over. There’s lots of ladies/urban/gear blogs out there these days and I’m excited about doing something new(ish).

I’ve partnered with some local creatives: LA FUTURIST SOCIETY.12316309_10153857357301812_1959054377329576489_n-1

Together we’re hosting a monthly salon (located in an actual hair salon/art gallery) on futurist issues, showing a futurist themed movie and arguing over drinks about esoteric issues that might be as important as civil rights, universal health care, transportation and what we’ll do for fun IN THE FUTURE. The new BIRD WHEEL podcast will also have an emphasis on exploring the lives of adventurous people and providing an example of how we can encourage (or warn) people from attempting similar adventures.


Tonight is the first event. We’ll be ignoring the holidays, drinking beer, watching the adorable WALL-E and previewing the first episode of the podcast.


It’s a little on the dry side, but the BBC’s recent podcast (41 minutes) is a moving tribute to the bicycle as the answer for… well, most things.

Heat & Light solutions for Africa? Pedal power to the rescue. Women’s liberation = Bikes. Philosophy and urban development? You guessed it – all positively transformed through the bicycle. Take some time to explore how the modest human powered bicycle is positively impacting and inspiring solutions to an impressive range of problems across the globe.


Back in August KCRW held a ’24 hour Radio Race’ -like the 48 hour film challenge – and I recruited an audio engineer from the bike scene to do it. It was a disaster, lots of fun and everyone agreed that it felt like the start of something, if not a polished contest piece.

The assignment was something like “a transmission from the year 2050: Time Change.”

I was able to call a ‘Futurist Professor’ and get a list of 8 people making amazing art, architecture, digital tools all around the idea of time.. but nothing we’d be able to complete in 24 hours. As someone obsessed with the the apocalypse/environment I see the 2 issues that are the most cornerstone are solving ‘energy’ and creating a social structure that allows people to live and flourish as jobs disappear. Then, we headed out to our favorite couch on a porch overlooking the Silverlake neighborhood in LA.

We nailed it on the first take. But the microphone wasn’t on or didn’t work. We had 16 hours left.

What came together was a patchwork of bicycling around having free flowing conversations with people we knew liked to ask big questions and sometimes ramble on. Then, around midnight I took a nap and Ben got to work splicing and cleaning. At 3am we walked over to California Donuts. At no point did we ever get into a car.


I realized that with what we’d put together we needed a lead in and a wrap up. By then I was so tired my mouth couldn’t say words. So many little things could have been another way – but it happened in 24hours and laid down a pretty good foundation. Since then we’ve started the LA Futurist Society, and have new podcasts planned as soon as I can learn some sound editing or trick an editor into getting involved. (Holler!!)

For the race, we didn’t win the big prize – but we did win the “Social Butterfly” prize thanks to my shit talking on the facebook contest page and WTF instagram posts. We did win t-shirts! Because even on the radio, you really shouldn’t be naked.



Guns and Roses said it best: Nothing Lasts Forever.

When I started out, in 2003, it was the blogger era. Some were amazing in content or design or.. consistency. The bike industry was on the verge of realizing the power and creativity of people/street culture vs. a brand controlled paradigm. Those who could figure out any kind of advertising were the leaders (because money/product helps you not have to work other jobs). In many ways it was like watching an emerging DrudgeReport: news in real time only filtered through an informed individual.

Bloggers who stand out in the field (and continue to do so)

Bike Portland
Prolly is not Probably -> The Radivist
Bike Blog NYC

But like the once epic MidnightRidazz website, the traffic migrated over to social media, namely facebook. For event organizing/promotion and ‘linking’ to articles or posts, instead of maintaining feeds. All the activity is now on their facebook page.

For a minute (2009-2012) Twitter seemed like a powerful organizing tool, particularly around the emerging hashtags #bike +INSERT CITY. #bikeNYC was a great thing to be part of at that time. Notably organizers held monthly meet ups so that participating hashtag users could socialize in real life. And it was exciting to jump into #bikeLA.  It seemed like the passionate could have an equal or greater voice than the de facto nonprofit or transit agency. Large corporations responded to twitter complaints, but in no other way. A superhighway to being heard?

While twitter fades into the mainstream sunset – Instagram continues to grow, replacing soundbites with images, but retaining #hashtags and these are seemingly useful universally. In a recent @BicycleCulture board meeting we reviewed starting a women’s equality in publishing project – only to have it downgraded to “hashtag activism.” A no cost, cross platform approach that is “as easy to implement as it is to ignore.”

As projects come up or get left behind there’s this trail of digital bodies: websites, blogs, facebook pages, twitter and instagram accounts. A tumblr or two. Someone contacted me through flickr the other day and I felt senile. Who, what, how? My desire now is to make sense of it all and instead of reinventing new identities, to bring them together. But just as in web development or other technical work, it’s always easier to start fresh instead of stitching together all the frankenstein parts. My greatest professional mentor, Steve Rubich, taught me that it’s all about having patience to see how all these complex, janky systems can be interwoven to create the largest most power systems – otherwise everything is too simple, too new. Complexity isn’t the problem, but how it’s handled. Thanks, Steve.


The New Frontier:

In Spirit:
I’m not trying to get sponsored (but, you know, it never hurts) and I’m not trying to be a professional anything.  By trying to fit a “profile” or role earlier, I felt the need to jump into whatever came next, often abandoning whatever came before, instead of finding my voice as an individual and generalist. I have many interests and they evolve, with me.  I think most people can relate to that sense of curiosity and change.

In format:
Podcasts! who doesn’t love them?

Why not video? I have a best friend who does weekly youtube videos (Holler, Kym Nonstop!) that are amazing – but production is too high a barrier, the visual experience too dominant. I want people to be able to go into their own heads, fill in details with their imaginations. The ‘radio’ format is an intimate way of telling stories and getting to know other people. Obviously, more on that soon :-)

And it will be organic: so expect periods of silence and times when several episodes become available almost at once. Probably expect the quality to be questionable at first, and better with time!


It’s pretty amazing that after all these years of sometimes publishing, changing topics, formats, projects… that I still have people who read and follow along. Thank you.

Come visit me in LA and go on an adventure. We’ll record a story. If you wanna support these endeavors (microphones and computers don’t buy themselves!) won’t you hit the donate button?


It’s easy to be the little bird chirping about good news and fun times. It’s hard to understand how to communicate when things don’t go as planned. Even more difficult is trying to navigate how to speak about relationships or events that were painful. It’s been a difficult (and at times quite amazing) year. Throughout that time I’ve been advised to remain silent on several events. Abstractly, there’s two problems with that approach: silence isolates you and takes you out of the larger conversation – takes away your momentum along with any perspective, but it also removes the possibility of a larger dialogue that could mean advancing how a community handles difficult situations. After all, if no one speaks up, there’s nothing to fix. Personally it is also very socially isolating to go from being an outspoken advocate to getting very quiet. That doesn’t feel good.

When you’re a child, people tell you to speak up because others will come to your aid; but as an adult you’re subject to the social norms that can backfire if you’re not in the dominant group. Generally the financial decision makers and those that play a good political game. That’s where emotional vs rational decisions get made.

I believe in radical acceptance. Which as an activist is maybe something of a spiritual conflict. The line for me is that we should work to improve the lives of all people, animals and the environment – but when something bad happens – well, just keep going. Our goal is ultimately to be happy while doing no harm and being the best at what we care about.

And that’s why I’ve been so down. I don’t feel that I can keep doing what I care about. It’s hard to look at the projects that I’ve loved so much and realize that it’s just not working.  Or that it could turn around, but that I need help and being quiet about things isn’t the best way to do that.

How do you ask for help?

Even in non-profit bicycle advocacy there’s the stress to appear as if everything is super professional. To go after grant money, you should have an office, staff, audit records. The old horse before the cart irony.

There’s a reason why we need cheerleaders: momentum, people and excitement are the non-rational drivers behind everything. I’m a ditch digger and while I can talk on stage, I don’t have the personality of a pied-piper. But I need those people – sometimes just to look past my OCD of making sure that everything’s going mostly as planned.

If I could make 3 wishes:

  • I’d want to be invited to more dinner parties, backcountry bike/hike trips, slumber parties and pool/beach time. Because being happy and chilling out with people is the most important thing we can do.
  • That instead of thinking of new ideas, people would act on ways to make things happen. Most of the time that’s fundraising. Or spreadsheets.
  • Share without fear. Collaborate radically.

Perhaps no one reads these. I look at the web traffic and see that TBW still gets good results from Helmet Reviews and other practical articles. But it’s been a little while since that was the focus and using the blog as a press/event announcement platform seems kinda… boring?

I struggle with what to do with this blog. For years it’s been a fun outlet for talking about things that few were addressing. Now a new urbanism blog, womens development team, transportation non-profit spring up everyday to advance transportation bicycling in American cities or getting more women riding. Maybe I’m not needed there. And my intellectual focus has shifted. I’m pondering the non-profit sector and it’s challenges. But unlike being a rogue individual who cares about bikes, it’s a lot more political to cry about non-profit issues. And as I get older issues of equality around women’s rights and socio-economic inequality. BORING. Or is it? In an age where everyone just wants to see a picture, I’m thinking in essays. Oh dear.

And that takes more time to create as well as read. But are blogs relevant in the facebook age anyway? Isn’t it better to rely on keyword searches to gear reviews and hot events? Meh, I’ll leave that to someone else.




Los Angeles, April 28, 2015 – On National Bike to Work Day, Thursday, May 14, UCLA Transportation will launch a new partnership with L.A. Bike Trains, a project of the Bicycle Culture Institute.  UCLA Transportation and L.A. Bike Trains bring together everything you need to learn about riding on the street, navigating the city by bike, having fun, staying safe and getting inspired. Three new routes will operate on a regular schedule 3x per week starting in Koreatown, Culver City and Santa Monica and all going to UCLA’s main campus in Westwood. While the routes are intended to serve the UCLA community, anyone may participate.

Los Angeles, long famous for being a city that requires a car to get around also has a history with auto ride share programs. The UCLA routes represent the first time bicycling for transportation has gained the support of a major local institution as a viable solution to congestion, parking and other problems. While Bike to Work day is an easy and fun way to try out bicycling – these bike trains will be operating throughout the school year.

Volunteer ride leaders, referred to as ‘conductors’ complete training to lead groups of bicyclists through city streets and carry tools to handle common problems, like a flat tire. It’s free to participate – interested riders can sign up any time online. Anyone interested in becoming a conductor (or back-up conductor) is encouraged to email (hello @ bicycleculture.org) to attend the next round of training.

L.A. Bike Trains will be at Ecochella, this Friday, May 1st along with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC). Look for the LACBC Bike Valet and say hi!

After 10+ years of Interbike, National Bike Summits and other bicycle shows, conferences and gatherings… I finally made it to my first Sea Otter. The quick version: it’s AWESOME and we should all go in a giant crew together next year.


SO BIG! Huge awesome courses in every discipline, the coolest bike stuff, camping.


While the industry side of things continues to erode into a sad state (which is really only a bummer if you own a bike shop or report on the industry), consumer level and activist events, like Bike! Bike! or Sea Otter just keep getting more … FUN. (See earlier post on the decentralization and mix up of how activism and advocacy are evolving.) The bike industry is rapidly evolving away from the established ‘manufacturer > distributor > retailer >buyer’ chain as we’re all buying things online anyway. The only way to survive is to connect with consumers people directly. With the power of FUN! With that in mind, I went with no agenda or goals and attended zero networking anything. I entered races I had no experience in, checked out only what seemed cool and loved every minute. 

We arrived late Thursday and my first event was the women’s 3/4 Circuit race. That’s where you get to race around the Mazda Laguna Seca course, intended for cars and motorcycles but doing that on a bike is… RAD.

Though there are plenty of road events, the real focus at Sea Otter is dirt. Mountain, CX, fat bikes were the events and bikes that everyone was into. It’s easy to see why: Sea Otter is competitive (no city bikes or cruisers here), but approachable. Anyone can do it. Mountain bike tech, design and trails in the USA just keep getting more and more awesome. This year the mountain bike ‘grand fondo’ had over 600 people registered, myself included. It was the same course as the Pro/Cat 1&2 cross country race (held the next day) and it was gorgeous. While I now understand the special hell of trying to navigate lots of single track with too many people, it was also a really chill way to jump into something new without the fear of being destroyed or simply embarrassed by super fast/strong riders.

Sea Otter Enduro

Anneke Beerten racing Enduro photo from: pinkbike.com

And not to blow up a good spot – but the camping next to the Enduro course was… really fun. Kids jumping stuff at night with no lights on Friday became kids jumping cars with only the head lamps of everyone watching on Saturday. That’s some epic bike punk action you can’t fake. A tRex statue was stolen and exchanged between rival camps a few times. Wake up, repeat.

Recently, I’ve gotten ‘in the market’ for a mountain bike, but something that can climb. As rad as hardcore downhill is, I’ve already broken enough body parts and I enjoy climbing. At Sea Otter and other local SoCal demos Santa Cruz Bikes have been dominating in presence. The bikes are gorgeous and 100% live up to the hype. I am personally deeply in love with the 2015 Nomad. Unfortunately they are stupid expensive. 


I’m not sure why no one seems to be talking about MONEY directly. The bike industry talks about overall sales lagging, citing some statistics. Independent shops are having a hard time. Advocates wonder why there isn’t any industry money, people wonder why things are so expensive or hard to get. In broad strokes, it’s several things: income disparity in the US, online vs retail buying trends, and (most interesting to me) a growing love for recreational biking, stagnation in transportation bicycling… while pro racing seems to be limping along somewhere in between.

That brings us back to Mountain Biking. It’s hot. And for someone who has done every other kind of biking (and those have all become “work”) it’s a lot of fun to discover how to ride all over again. So since the Nomad is too much money, it’s also a little …too much bike for a novice, even an overly zealous once. While walking around I ran into the Yeti ASR and was immediately into it.


Wait – I know what you’re going to say: they’re suspiciously… the same color. This year everyone seems to agree on a certain teal-blue. It’s not just these bikes… or even bikes. Matchy-matchy frames, components, apparel, accessories are no longer just for girls & weirdos. Lucky me, I’m super into it. ENVE is clearly leading the way with sexy rims/wheels that highlight any color scheme, which is also a bummer seeing as how they’re wildly expensive. It would be nice if Alex/Vuelta or entry level wheel companies would jump on board and let regular people in on the fun.

The “women” specific events, products and outreach seemed really.. chill this year. No big deal. But with Juliana sharing a tent (and development) with Santa Cruz (and therefore the prestige), women’s races blending in seamlessly with men’s plus the adorable Little Bellas Day Camp


 made the normalization of women in cycling seem to be making real gains. Even the obnoxious ‘women specific’ niche products with pink flowers sprayed on everything disappeared into a sea of cool new bike gear. Most large vendors had some noticeable women specific product – but most importantly reps could easily talk to me about fitting any of the high-end (aka “mens”) product.


Juliana Bikes at Sea Otter 2015

My favorite non-bike product was definitely the EVOC line up. The new travel bag is insanely good. And it was super cool to check out their new (to be released at Eurobike) line of protection/hydration packs. In terms of usability, manufacturing tech, body fit and sexy design – I’m into it. FYI the not yet released 6 liter will fit me perfectly…


For all the exciting mountain stuff the bike that made me drop the microphone was the SCOTT CX Addict bike. And yes, that was mostly an aesthetic thing. That paint job? Those tires? Le sigh. It’s the Ryan Gosling of bikes. And, sadly, just as unattainable. 



NOTE: friend Damian Kevitt, is the survivor of a hit and run crime in Griffith Park. His story, amputation and transformation into a hero of recovery turned something awful into an incredible mission to make the world a better place. It remains one of the most awesome things we’ve had the honor of being a small part of. We hope that you make time this Sunday, to participate as a cyclist, runner or walker. Go Damian!!


Finish the Ride, Run, Walk ‘n Roll

Finish the Ride is happening…again!  What was a single event to commemorate a terrible event has turned into a movement, for safe city streets and ending hit and run crimes. A movement to support walking, bike riding, running, skateboarding, and having fun without fear of becoming roadkill. 

It starts at 7:30am in Hollywood with VIP speakers, including the LA DOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds, Councilman Busciano, Councilman O’Farrell and a very special guest you’ll want to see.

The Run, Ride and Walking events roll at 8 AM. From 6 easy miles all the way up to 50 miles, a 10K Run, 10K Walk and 10K Roll.  Yes, EVERY form of active transportation is represented, skate-boarders, roller-blades, roller-skaters, even unicyclists.  Full support with activities, water and rest stops, SAG wagon, etc. 

The event is kid friendly and dog friendly. Please no cats or iguanas. :-)

Everything finishes at The Autry Museum south lawn in Griffith Park with food, live music, dancing, BBQ, beer, ice cream, beer, yoga, free t-shirt, finishing medal (or ribbon, depending on the event), great goodie bag with free swag, raffle, silent auction, free stuff and good times.

Did you know that between last year’s event, awareness campaigns, legislation and a lot of work, we dropped hit and run crimes by 16%. It all started with a little bike ride a year ago.

Have a great time. Help make LA a safer place to live. What are you waiting for? REGISTER!


Florian Lorenz did a great review of the World Bike Forum that happened in Medellin, Colombia, February 24-28, 2015. The big lessons:

  1. A team of volunteers pulled off the World’s largest event on pedal-powered mobility
  2. A free and collaborative event can host a powerful discourse
  3. A global network of engaged citizens can drive urban change
  4. Women are taking the lead in bicycle advocacy
  5. A multi-lingual discourse in possible
  6. Latin America is key for sustainable urbanisation
  7. Activism shows the way for urban change
  8. There is limited future for one-size-fits-all solutions

Check instagram’s #fmb4 for great images of the event. I’m sure many others also have great reports, but I would like to talk about bicycle and active transportation advocacy issues and where my ideas have evolved to after having been fortunate to both attend and speak in Bogota and Medellin.


Anyone close to me knows that I have been moving away from the Copenhagen inspired/urban planning/policy wonk model of social change. There’s some inspired rants as to why those ideas, career paths and approaches are not working, but another time. Let’s just say that when I arrived in Medellin, I was 100% involved in exploring the activist VS advocate debate.

Which, funnily enough, was a main topic of discourse.


The answer should be pretty clear – advocates tend to be middle class people who intended to get a job in the non-profit sector after university. Activists, on the other hand, are unpaid passionate people who can’t stand the thought of things not getting better and expend their free time finding creative ways to change things.

There are a lot of racial and socio-economic factors in which side of the advocate/activist divide you might fall on. Some people, like myself, have been on both sides of the fence. In general, it’s more like having a visa to the other side, than having two passports… if you know what I mean. There are many people working on how to make this “movement” more diverse – though what that really means is getting more of the hugely diverse activist populations into the paid realm of advocacy. It can’t happen soon enough.


Glad you asked. In the traditional way that social change has happened: activists mobilize around a cause, one of them starts a non-profit to raise money and work within the system, the non-profit hires some professionals who can play the local/national powers (who rely on the activist community to sign petitions, volunteer, donate, etc) and eventually laws are passed or a bike lane built.

So, to a degree, yes. Since our current governments haven’t been toppled, we have to achieve goals that require influencing politicians, people rich enough to donate money, and frequently large companies – all things that are very structured in individual roles and access. But completely re-envisioning what social change from the bottom up looks like is not only possible, but necessary. Every year the biggest social change/bicycling project successes are ones that reject hierarchy and encourage the participation of people of color, non-traditional gender identities, the very young and the very old and even non-english languages.

So what happens next?

The current system of advocacy (with the established organizations, players, expectations) can slowly add some “spice” in the form of nontraditional hires who will bring in more nuance. OR the entire process could shift away from this model and into something new based on distributed networks, AKA collaborative process.  That doesn’t mean that existing orgs would all go away – but it does mean that how they work would change.


Behind any conversation – how to start an education program, get more bike lanes, what is the difference between advocacy and activism? The answer is always money. But as people who want to make the word a better place, talking about money is taboo. Plus so many people are working towards these goals without any money involved, that you’re kind of a jerk if you want money for your work. And since there’s no money in bicycling, those programs need to be re-imagined as something else, say anti-obesity or congestion, if you want to get any support.

The first thing we need to talk about isn’t “is your organization racially diverse?” but – where’s the money coming from? And how is it being used? 99.99% of the time there isn’t any money and people work tirelessly and unpaid until they eventually realize that they can’t keep that up. This is a huge problem in the activist community, where turn over is very fast. Even within advocacy, it’s usually not the most comfortable job you could get. Money is a huge important topic, but it’s enough for now to say that it’s a problem we need to actively discuss and acknowledge.


Are frustrating as hell. Constantly shifting, very difficult to manage. And yet, this is the biggest strength that we have – massive numbers of people who all care about the same goals and are willing to give something to make those happen. The World Bike Forum – organized by volunteers, was a hugely impressive display of what a hybrid model of collaboration could look like. The best example is the cooperative structure. And it turns out that we have a fantastic network of bike co-ops in the United States and internationally. Though, in general these groups are focused on direct service: helping repair bikes, provide basic education and getting bikes to low income individuals. I haven’t ever heard of an advocacy co-op, but if you have, please email me.

At the heart of it is community organizing – how do we reach people? I believe that as technology continues to become more sophisticated and people have the chance to refine it, that being able to reach larger numbers of people globally or on the street level, will only get better. But we have to remember that we have to come to them on their terms, not broadcast the latest news or request and hope that people care enough to do something. I’m enormously excited to see that community organizing specific conferences are showing up more frequently and even replacing the traditional conference where a lot of bored professionals recite what’s going on.


Hopefully a beautiful world free of pollution and filled with healthy, happy people riding bikes all over the place.

What I am hoping to see in the next decade or two are the creation of meaningful interconnectedness between influential individuals, organizations but most exciting – large populations. And that the way that we are organized (and funded) has a shift towards large cooperatives. Yet we also need to be supported, funded and work with large companies and governments. How that happens can change. If you want to get really nerdy (and awesome) I recommend reading Community Detection in Networks with Node Attributes (warning: Math). But many of these ideas can be understood through other, more social or experiential means. We need a lot of people thinking about how we can share knowledge and what the best way to do that is.

I believe that the current system of having each city, region re-discovering and creating things by themselves is a huge loss when many lessons and inspiration can be borrowed. However, we also have to realize that each city, town and neighborhood is unique. Look around. Does it look like Denmark? Is everyone speaking Dutch? No? Then let’s take the appropriate lessons and feel free to create our own authentic bike cultures.

The “Solar Countries” that Jaime Ortiz talked about in his moving keynote talk at the World Bike Forum reject the import of other countries expectations and assert that South America and other places along the equator are already far along the path of new solutions, organization. For that we should be grateful and asking more questions about how we can learn, share and evolve together.