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  • Radio Silence

    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.



  • Biking to UCLA just got awesome: New partnership with L.A. Bike Trains will launch 3 NEW routes on national ‘Bike to Work’ day, Thursday, May 14, 2015.


    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 @ 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!

  • Bike Party for the Car City.

    LABCFS-facebookBIG News.

    What was only an idea at the L.A. Bike Trains December meeting is now a full blown festival that’s (gulp!) less than a month away. The festival is underwritten and hosted by AIDS/Lifecycle and sponsored by Los Angeles Bicycle Attorney, Josh Cohen. We’ve put together an awesome group of local culture, advocacy groups, bike shops and brands. Healthy snacks provided by Good Eggs LA!
    12:00-12:45 Press Conference – festival areas open
    1:00-1:45 Opening Panel
    2:00-2:45 Workshops round 1
    2:45-3:30 Break – invite to roam, eat “snack time!”
    3:30-4:30 Workshops round 2
    5:00-6:00 Closing Remarks/ Raffle Winner(s) announced
    6:00-7:00 Party & Open festival
    I need you to invite EVERYONE YOU’VE EVER MET. Coworkers, neighbors, friends, family. Anyone who isn’t yet riding (because this is for them) and everyone who is riding (because it’s so awesome!) We want to see this become an annual event and we need to throw a big party to make that happen.
  • Changing the Cycle ESRBC

    Changing the Cycle – ESRBC from Giovanni Moreno

    The East Side Riders (and their neighboring crew the Los Riders) are doing amazing things in Los Angeles. I was stoked to see this fun, inspiring video showing some of the great things happening in Watts. Check it out! Giovanni Moreno:

    “During the 1992 L.A Riots negative images resulting from the chaos were propagated through news channels and viewed around the globe. Thereafter, the perception of the southern region of L.A, where South Central, Compton and Watts coexist, became tainted. Positive news rarely followed afterward, and when I witnessed positive events in my neighborhood, they went unmentioned in the news. The positive side of this region of L.A, I realized, hardly gets the attention it deserves.

    Being a filmmaker born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, while studying Film & Television at UCLA, I made a promise to myself; my first film was going to show the good energies spreading in L.A. When I seen the positive impact East Side Riders Bike Club was making in their community since 2008 (Fighting diabetes, heart disease, feeding the homeless, and getting a diverse community involved by riding a bicycle), I knew this was it. For 4 months I biked with the team around L.A, meeting with different bicyclists from different areas, age groups, and ethnic backgrounds coming together united as one to ride a bike. It amazed me how we were all riding together to one rhythm under the sun. Every pedal we pushed seemed to take us further away from 1992… I just had to capture the movement.

    Transforming these towns one by one, little by little, they are Changing the Cycle. They have also been a strong advocate in adding Bike Lanes in L.A and are succeeding at the goal. Now I don’t want to spoil the film for you.. I hope you enjoy the short…Spread the good word.”

  • Why BIKE BIKE is awesome.

    From Krista Carlson’s

    Cultivating Conversations at BikeBike 2013: A Recap in Urban Velo



    In between workshops attendees went on rides, ate local food, and danced to local live music together, all the while continuing to share stories and ideas.

    “I wanted to find my peers who were struggling with the same things at the same point,” said Nona Varnado, “ and I also wanted to be able to share my knowledge so that people can get to where I am faster, and we create more of a peer group of people who are trying to, from the bottom up, create this sort of social change.”

    While it was her first time attending BikeBike, Varnado, a key organizer of ArtCrank, L.A. Bike Trains and the Red5Yellow7 bike-art gallery in L.A., is no stranger to community bike projects, and facilitated seven workshops throughout the weekend. “It’s BikeBike—If you don’t do it, it might not happen,” she said.

    Long involved with integrating bikes are art to elevate one another, Varnado presented on guerilla bike art to a packed house, sharing ideas and examples of ways to use art to advance goals within the community. This workshop was one of seven that she hosted or co-facilitated throughout the weekend.

     – Urban Velo liked this quote so much they re-printed it in their next issue #40 with a photo series from Bike!Bike! 2013 –

    “It’s hard to learn all of these things, because you’ve got to learn about bikes themselves, you’ve got to learn about the bike industry, you’ve got to learn about nonprofits and advocacy and how cities work. There’s just so much stuff to learn that if you’re just kind of trying to do good stuff it could take you forever—so this is kind of like a fast track–instead of trying to work really hard and bumble your way through the next 10 years, just go to BikeBike and figure it all out.”

    p32-33 p36-37

    By comparing models and sharing ideas, the trial-by-fire experiences of one organization becomes a learning tool for other groups. Coming out of BikeBike a few years ago, an online think tank of more than 600 contributors provides a forum for information sharing and discourse between annual events.

    “A lot of progress comes in the time between two BikeBikes. It all starts off from an idea being shared and getting folks really excited,” said Loconte. “One of the most surprising things is always how that problem your organization is experiencing and battling over and having a lot of issues with and not finding a way to resolve – most other shops will have very straightforward solutions that you never thought of.”

    BikeBike 2014 will be in Columbus, Ohio. For more information and resources visit

  • LA Bike Trains on NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’

    Listening to “All Things Considered” anywhere in America yesterday, December 1, 2013 and you might have heard this one..

    Nona Varnado on NPR


    As a lifelong NPR fan it was pretty sweet to get this surprise over the holiday weekend, with friends from all over the country freaking out and reposting it on facebook and twitter.

    Check out the full article and audio here.

    Of course when you’ve spent a 40,000+ hours on a project it’s hard to hear anything that isn’t the sweet sound of praise. But writer Alex Schmidt did us all a tremendous service by bringing in two somewhat jarring voices. The first Herbie Huff, who is a friend of mine, sort of negatively pointed out that you have to be pretty invested into a bike in order to participate -ie. already have a bike. That’s ..true. It’s a short piece so there wasn’t time to counter that we also work with bike shops to offer super awesome package deals for new commuters and that the cost of biking vs. driving means you could get 17 new bikes each year for the same cost of maintaining one car. (On average according to people who count that stuff.)

    Next is the really outrageous part everyone’s talking about (hello, LA Bike Trains?) when a woman, Jackie Burke, agreed to speak and be named saying,

    “It’s like they enjoy taking up the lanes,” says Jackie Burke, who has lived in Los Angeles her whole life. She says bicyclists drive her crazy when she’s in a car and has to slow down for them.

    “It’s very frustrating, to the point where I just want to run them off the road,” Burke says. “I’ve actually done one of those drive-really-close-to-them kind of things to kind of scare them, to try to intimidate them to get out of my way.”

    At first I was a little horrified thinking that anyone listening would be put off from either looking into LA Bike Trains or participating because of such outrageous comments. But in having a national audience, we’re already seeing a silver lining: that recent yet neglected LA City anti-harassment ordinance that no one has been bold enough to use? That might be changing soon. For more commentary check out Niall’s blog post.  He does a really clever thing by pointing out that you can contact NPR and let them know how disturbing the quote was, particularly that it was thrown in there without any condemnation or pointing out that it’s super illegal and deadly.

    NPR’s listener feedback form.

    I would hope that with enough ‘feedback’ a new story directly dealing with this will create a powerful new national dialogue on respect and human dignity.

    Here is Niall’s letter that you might consider using as a template for your own response.

    To the editor:You deserve praise for covering the L.A. Bike Trains phenomenon, in which experienced bike commuters help novices learn how to travel safely by bike. It was horrifying, however, to hear the comments of Los Angeles resident Jackie Burke, who admitted to wanting “to run them [cyclists] off the road” and said “I’ve actually done one of those drive-really-close-to-them kind of things to kind of scare them, to try to intimidate them to get out of my way.”

    This kind of sociopathy is seriously disturbing, and I as I ride my own bike around the streets of Los Angeles, I shudder to think how many motorists hold the view that it is ever OK to use a motor vehicle to intimidate or threaten another human being. Does Ms. Burke not realize that she is admitting to having committed menacing and assault?

    I urge Ms. Burke and others with a similar attitude to get some perspective. City and suburban streets are not freeways. They provide access to homes and businesses and have to be usable by everyone and by all types of vehicles, including slower-moving ones. There is no entitlement to drive as fast as one wants all the time, and drivers need to be prepared to share the street with different types of vehicles that are legally allowed to be there. Sometimes this means waiting for a few seconds until it’s safe to overtake. And it really is a matter of seconds — I drive on Los Angeles’ streets too, and I rarely spend even so much as 30 seconds waiting to pass a bicyclist. Considering that traffic signal cycles can sometimes create delays of a minute or more, the delays caused by bicyclists are trivial, and certainly not worth risking the serious injury or death of another human being over.

    With gas prices rising and the cost of living in urban areas going up, bicycles are going to be a fixture on the streets of American cities for many years to come as commuters try to slash costs. We need to cultivate a more humane environment on our roadways to accommodate this new reality. A well-connected network of protected bike lanes, separate from car traffic, would do wonders to ease tensions, as would bicyclist and motorist education regarding the rules of the road for each.

    Until we get these things in our cities, would-be bicycle commuters are left to their own devices, and groups like L.A. Bike Trains are going to keep using safety in numbers to bring novices into the fold. Instead of threatening these people from the inside of her vehicle, perhaps Ms. Burke should go on a ride and get a cyclist’s perspective on traffic.

  • Ten Years of Ghost Bikes



    DATE: Friday, October 24, 2013
    TIME: 7 -11pm LOCATION: 4357 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, California 90029

    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Opening Friday, October 24, 2013 The international art movement begun in 2003 celebrates ten years of art, advocacy and community with the first ever gallery show. Family members, Ghost Bike and transportation advocates, artists and friends will be in attendance. Ghost Bikes are memorials honoring cyclists who are fatally – or sometimes critically – injured due to unnecessary collisions on streets not designed for shared traffic.They are a unique and positive response to a terrible event. By using art communities around the globe have begun making individual memorials a powerful public awareness tool. Ghost Bikes are not put together by family or friends, but by local bike advocates to pay respect while making it publicly known that a death has occurred and making it obvious that a street or intersection is dangerous. Ghost Bikes of LA is an informative and inspiring look at how art and awareness are bringing people closer together and changing our cities for the better.

    Additional Dates:

    • Sunday, Oct. 27: 12 – 4pm family members speak + How to make a Ghost Bike
    • Saturday, Nov. 2: Ride to Hollywood Forever’s Day of the Dead
    • Thursday, Nov. 14: 7pm LA Memorial Ride on Andy’s Candle Light Vigil
    • Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013: 4-8pm Closing Reception

    Red#5 Yellow#7 is a gallery dedicated to advancing the mainstream dialogue on contemporary cycling issues.

    #r5y7 – – @red5yellow7 –


  • Tonight! Nutrition for Summer Training @r5y7

    summer training nutrition

    Summer Edition.

    Note: While this event is focused on women’s nutrition and training, men are welcome!

    New to riding in the heat or beginning to train more seriously? This is a great opportunity to learn from elite female athletes how to balance nutrition, hydration, optimal weight and other concerns while eating delicious healthy stuff.

    An overall nutrition review with basic concepts of nutrition for endurance (race, touring, longer commutes and recovery) using real food. We’ll have recipes and samplings as well as reference books and perhaps some a presentation covering the basic concepts of cycling nutrition. PLUS fun recipes to go home with!

    Taught by Dorothy Wong w/Kristen Osborn.

    Our certified nutritionist:
    Kristen is thrilled to talk with women cyclists about achieving their best performance through healthful diet and event fueling and recovery strategies. She is an avid mountain biker who races at the sport level.
    Kristen is an employee wellness dietitian at Loma Linda University Health. Kristen earned a Bachelors of Science from Cornell University and a Masters in Nutrition Science from Colorado State University.

    Held next door to Orange 20 Bikes at:

    R5Y7 Gallery

    4357 Melrose Ave
    Los Angeles, Ca 90029

    Thursday, July 18, 2013

  • Interactive (crowdsourced) Biking Maps

    I first discovered the New York Times article via my #BikeNYC friends, only to see that several other cities were represented (but with far less activity on the maps, presumably those other cities don’t have as many rabid NYT readers). As something to explore, the NYC map is the most interesting – so far.

    NYT map

    Gizmodo had a good article articulating how the project came about and comparing it to Strava, which was informational but also funny. The map invites cyclists to add ten-word blurbs to a map of the city. They range from practical advice (“Avoid Brooklyn Bridge unless it’s early or late”) to jokey (“Williamsburg Bridge is a drag strip for Category 6 racing”). You can also toggle onto a secondary mode, which pulls data from the popular GPS tracking app, Strava, to show which routes are most popular amongst users. There are already plenty of different mapping options for cyclists who need directions, but this interactive grants us access to a secondary layer of information: all of the tips and tricks that, normally, take years of experience to amass.

    Awesome! But what about Los Angeles?

    It exists! Along with Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Denver, Chicageo, St. Louis, Atlanta, Miami, Toronto, Boston & D.C.

    NYT LA map

    As the founder of L.A. Bike Trains, I’m SUPER interested in maps pertaining to cycling in Los Angeles County, not just the hot spots in downtown, Silver Lake and Santa Monica. Where there are people, there’s a need to make bicycling a pleasurable and easy to figure out experience. The very next day I came across another interactive transportation map, this one dedicated to LA.


    I was bummed, however to see that it’s another driving tool, like the popular waze app that “brings 30 million drivers together.” Usually to suggest ‘off streets’ that push aggressive drivers trying to shave time off their trips onto small residential streets, where cyclist are told they belong and feel they’ll be safe because it’s clear from the traffic issues of the main avenues. Does anyone else see the inequality and potential problems from that approach?

    Instead of developing alternatives to the unsustainable model of a car for everyone and every trip, why are we not pushing development of maps like the NYT biking map? If Waze was ethical, they’d keep cars off biking routes (which they don’t) and if Commuterama really wanted to make LA a better place to live, it would be a multi-modal approach that would encourage public transportation and biking alternatives. The good news is that Commuterama is looking for public feedback and because they’re supported by LADOT, they’re likely to bend to any significant response asking for things like public transit and biking features/information.


    So drop them a line:

    Feel free to share any ideas and wishes you may have about your commute by emailing


    {UPDATE: LA Bike Trains, reached out had a *great* talk with the team about bringing bike routes and infrastructure into what they are developing. Yeah LA!!!}

  • #BikeNYC a People’s History (videos are up)

    It’s gonna be a minute until we have something as beautifully fleshed out as

    but the #BikeNYC People’s history (rough unedited, slightly embarrassing ..for me, anyway) video is online, thanks to Dedicated Lane Productions. I’ve yet to transcribe the full 90+ minutes, but I’m sure it will be amazing project for my retirement years. GIANT PROPS to Red Lantern Bicycles, not just for hosting, but for being a true home. I feel happier and more loved just hanging out at that wonderful space, from the bike shop in back (Holla at Brian & Chombo!!!) to the good people making organic deliciousness (coffee, tea or comedy?) and gluten free cafe treats up front. I definitely could not have done this as well without Lena. You know who you are and you are awesome and appreciated.

    Video #1
    There’s not much in the first minute beyond us figuring out how to get talking. Then Mike Green (my BFF aka: BikeBlogNYC) does a great job of introducing all the panelists. (1:35) The first speaker, Time’s UP! Bill Di Paola, (9:20) gives an impassioned and inspiring social bike history beginning in the 1980’s on how Time’s UP! got started.


    Video #2
    Chris Kim gives a NYC Messenger centric history of biking in NYC since 1996.


    Video #3
    Caroline Samponaro, from Transportation Alternatives gives a history of NYC biking since 1980’s and Hodari Depalm clarifies the Bike Ban was killed by the messenger community. Ken Stanek refers to Charles Komanoff’s writings. Charles was originally scheduled to speak, but was unable to attend due to a funeral. Thankfully Charles is a prolific writer!


    Video #4
    I introduce Taliah for an outrageously long 1:30. Taliah Lempert (Bicycle Paintings) describes how she discovered cycling in NYC and how she became a full time artist dedicated to painting bikes.


    Chris Kim enters into the conversation by clarifying how critical mass has changed in NYC, it’s impact and decline. Austin Horse makes a cameo. Ken Stanek talks what came out of Critical Mass. And we have unplanned audience participation! Oops.

    (psst! Videos 6 – 13 will be posted in a following update)

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