Thursday, May 22, 2008

Love Metrolink

This is one of the most awesome videos I have seen. The bicyclist in this video gives a high five to the metrolink conductor as the metrolink train pulls away. Awesome!

Big Blue Bus Free

There has been rumors that the Big Blue Bus and Santa Monica College Board will be negotiating a contract to allow all Santa Monica College Students and staff to ride all the Big Blue Buses for FREE! Apparently, the details of the contract and the date it will be implemented are unclear. However, according to a report, and some bus operators, it is due to start for the beginning of the Fall 2008 semester.

That program will save folks thousands of dollars in transportation costs. For folks who drive their cars to the campus, they may save several hundred dollars per semester in gas and maintenance costs, parking fees at the campus, and on the cost of bus fare. For those that already are taking the bus to campus, they could also save a few hundred dollars in bus fares. This will also allow students and staff to more liberally travel to campus, if they do not buy the monthly pass. And these folks may end up taking the bus for work, and recreation throughout the service area of the Big Blue Bus. And of course for those that like to bring thier bicycle with them to campus or the beach, they will continue to enjoy that opportunity.

I suppose the next move is to provide FREE bus fare to all Santa Monica High School Students and staff. Now that is a nice little fringe benefit! (smile)

What is unclear is if that free fare will extend to the number 10 line. That line requires a premium on top of the ordinary fare. Also, unclear if the program will also extend to MTA bus lines connected to the various SMC campuses.

If any of you know more info on this post in the comments, so we all may know. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bicycle Train Zurich

This is a video of a bicycle train in Zurich Switzerland.

"Swiss trains are the best"

BicycleTrain Amsterdam

In my previous post I spoke of policies and facilities of commuter trains in California regarding bringing bicycles. Here is an interesting video posted on Youtube of what it is like to ride a train in Amsterdam (Netherlands Holland) with your bicycle.

Metrolink Bicycles

(click on image to enlarge.)

In the May 2008 issue of the Metrolink newsletter "Metrolink Matters"(PDF), there is question and answer bit about bicycles in a section called "Four Questions for Gray Crary - Assistant Executive Officer, Operations and Engineering"
The question is:

"Any plans for a car with fewer seats but more bike
and luggage storage?"

The answer is:
"Not at this time. I ride the trains myself, and I am seeing more bicycles and more people with luggage—I suspect due to people’s using the FlyAway bus at Union Station and to our direct access to the Burbank Airport. But our passengers are still mainly commuters who, for the most part, do not travel with luggage as Amtrak passengers tend to do. Seats are a very valuable commodity with the demand for Metrolink service so high, and we are ordering more cars to add seats and reduce passenger crowding."

IMHO, regarding bicycle commuters using Metrolink trains, this response is absurd! And by not providing adequate/appropriate accommodations for the bicycle commuters is a self fulfilling action.

(videos to the right of bicyclists boarding Caltrain with their bicycles)
The Caltrain, a commuter train that runs from San Francisco, through Menlo Park, Palo Alto, San Jose, and Gilroy, has two "bike cars" per train which can accommodate up to thirty two(32) bicycles each. And from reports I have reviewed, even with that, there are still times when bicyclist commuters are left at stations because there is no more room left for their bicycle on board the train.

Mr. Crary, there are many bicycling commuters out there that would love to use the metro link train. The problem is that they no longer can be a bicycle commuter on the metro link train if there is no room for their bicycle. Please have a look at the good work being done on CalTrain. See the "Caltrain's Bicycle Access" web page for more info on Caltrain's policy and facilities for accommodating bicycles. Picture to the right is the inside of a Caltrain bike car.

Picture below is of a bicycle strapped into one of the two places for holding bicycles on the Metrolink train cars. Only some cars on the Metrolink trains have these spaces. And from what I understand bicycles are not allowed on the cars with out these bicycle parking sections.

However, I think it is important to note that I have occasionally seen three bicycles leaned and strapped down with bungee cords to the other two bicycles.

If you are a bicycle commuter that would like to write a letter to Mr. Crary, the email for responding to this column is posted in the PDF file. I believe the contact instructions are: send email to: , subject line “4 Questions”. And if you do email him, let me know, and send me a copy too.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Freeway Skate

If you thought the "Freeway Riders" videos of their bicycle rides on the 10 and 405 freeway were interesting, you might like to check out one some skaters are doing to beat traffic on the 405. In particular, it's reported that the 405 dissent between the valley and West L.A. makes for a nice ride. And I suppose the cars stuck in stand still traffic make for an interesting slalom opportunity. I suppose as traffic gets worse and the weather gets warmer, we may see more fellow skaters and bikers attempting to shave some time off their commutes, while have some fun along the way, on the Santa Monica and Los Angeles Freeway systems.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Freeway Ride II

One of the Freeway Riders has put up another video. (see video below). This one is from the "Freeway Ride II". It starts off with a video clip of some of the crew creating a banner that reads "Ride A Bike and You Would Be Home By Now". It was cast over the 17th street bride over the 10 freeway during the afternoon rush hour traffic. It is followed up by several bicyclists getting on the 10 freeway and then transitioning onto the northbound 405 freeway, and then exiting onto Santa Monica blvd. The Santa Monica blvd off ramp is in front of the Tesla Motor's brand new electric car showroom dealership. The dealership is across the street from the Lee Iacoca Foundation offices. Lee Iacoca was the founder of the largest USA based electric bicycle companies. (see "Lee Iacocca Kicks Off Grand Opening of the World's First Retail Energy Store")

Perhaps Tesla Motors and the ING Cafe(Los Angeles/Santa Monica) could host an unofficial after ride reception/"human power refueling station" for the Freeway Riders?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors opened their first dealership on Santa Monica blvd. That is a block from the 405 freeway and Sepulveda blvd.

It seems that that area is an epicenter for electric vehicles and clean air action. Other things going on in that area include Lee Iacoca's foundation and offices for health and electric bicycle e-Bike (11150 Santa Monica Blvd). It is also within view of the off ramp used to end the "CrimAnimals" Freeway ride/protest. The ING cafe is next door which facilitates a paperless, online bank where people can save money and do their banking through, electronically.

It may be of interest to note that scientists have found links between air pollution and elevated levels of blood clotting and deep vein thrombosis. (article)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

CrimAnimals On KNBC

The Cimanimal("CrimAnimalz") "Freeway Ride" bike crew are getting more media attention. Thier latest coverage includes a news piece on KNBC, Channal 4. See video below.

About a year or two ago KNBC did another news piece about the bicycle scene in Santa Monica, including an interview with Chris Balish (author of "How To Live Well Without Owning A Car")(see video)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Crimanimal Mass

"Crimanimal Mass" getting some ink on the Santa Monica Daily Press (see Santa Monica Daily Press May 10-11, 2008). See Crimanimal Mass video "Freeway Ride"

Crimanimal Mass challenges car culture
By Daniel Archuleta

I-10 Freeway With cameras firmly secured to their handlebars and helmets, a band of bicycle enthusiasts made a bee line toward the Bundy Drive on-ramp to the Santa Monica Freeway, hoping to make a statement and not get caught by the California Highway Patrol in the process.

Crimanimal Mass — an aggressive offshoot of Critical Mass — collectively decided to perform the stunt on Friday at the peak of rush hour traffic to colorfully illustrate how much faster commuters can zip through gridlock on a bicycle than by sitting, bumper to bumper, in their cars.

A group estimated to be nearly 30 riders strong rode onto the I-10 Freeway heading eastbound to the I-405 Freeway, where they took the overpass and headed northbound to the Santa Monica Boulevard exit. This was the third freeway ride the group has participated in during the past few weeks and organizers vow to continue their mobile protest for months to come.

CHP officers spotted the group as they exited the freeway and proceeded to give chase. Two riders were stopped, but were not issued citations. “They just repeated over and over to not get on the freeway. They were very cool about it,” Paul Bringetto, 36, said. “They just told us not to do it again.”

Aside from disobeying the law, Crimanimal Mass riders hope to spread the bike gospel. “I just wanted to raise questions about the transportation infrastructure,” said Morgan Strauss, 29, one of the group’s organizers. “In a city ruled by cars, why is it that you can get places faster on bikes?”

The first time the group took to the freeways was on April 18. They recorded their trek and later posted the video on YouTube where it has been viewed 32,150 times as of Friday afternoon. The clip titled “The Freeway Ride - On Bicycles” was posted by a participating rider who goes by the handle Richtotheie and has generated a considerable stir among the local biking community.

“There was so much talk that (the ride) was going to ruin (the local bike scene),” Richtotheie, 22, said. “People can take their own view.”

Most of the criticism the group has received has been posted on the popular Midnight Ridazz Web site. The site includes a number of blog threads about the rides and has featured a fairly robust discourse regarding the rides. Thus far, there have been equal amounts of both criticism and support for the group’s controversial activities.

Most of the participants in the Crimanimal Mass rides met while taking part in Critical Mass, a popular ride that occurs the first Friday of each month in Santa Monica.

Those rides begin at the Santa Monica Pier and take impromptu, serpentine routes through the city and often veer into Venice.

Groups of up to 200 riders have participated in the ride since its inception two years ago.

Critical Mass is a national phenomenon that takes place in a number of cities across the globe and reportedly got its start in San Francisco more than a decade ago.

The rides had been relatively incident free for the most part until late last year when the Santa Monica Police Department began a crackdown because officials felt it was becoming unruly.

Some 30 tickets were handed out during the November ride and another seven were issued during December. Those actions led a small contingent of Critical Mass riders to splinter off and create what would become Crimanimal Mass.

“The initial reason we came together was to create a second ride in Santa Monica,” said Alex Cantarero, 28, one of the group’s creators. “We figured that if the police didn’t like one ride, what would they do about two?” SMPD’s Lt. Alex Padilla said that the department stepped up enforcement of Critical Mass following a number of complaints from the community alleging that participating riders weren’t following the rules of the road and snarling traffic during rush hour.

“We had people on their own stopping traffic arbitrarily and it became a safety issue,” Padilla said. “We’re still monitoring it.

It just depends on the type of complaints we are getting, but we’re not getting as many as in the past.” While the freeway rides do not fall under the jurisdiction of the SMPD, it does tread on CHP territory.

“This is the first I’m hearing about (the rides),” said Ana Markey, the public information officer at the CHP’s Culver City station.

“If we know about these rides in advance, we’d block off on-ramps to keep them from getting on the freeway.” Markey said that riders may be cited if they were caught in the act, but said the ultimate decision would rest on the shoulders of the officers at the scene. “We don’t want to arrest anyone,” she said. “We just don’t want anybody to get hit by a car. This is more of a safety issue than anything else.”

California Vehicle Code 21960 (a) states, “The Department of Transportation and local authorities ... may prohibit or restrict the use of the freeways.” In this case, the CHP would ultimately be responsible during any incident that involves the non-authorized use of a bicycle.

Markey recalled an incident in March of 2007 during which a group of Los Angeles Unified School District students marched onto the Harbor and Hollywood freeways to protest an immigration bill being voted on by Congress. She didn’t remember anybody being cited, but the CHP was forced to stop traffic on both freeways to allow the students to exit safely.

“It is more for their safety,” Markey said. “(Riding on the freeway) is just not a safe thing to do.”
Kevin Herrera contributed to this report.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Electric Bike Cow Simulator

These videos illustrate how to use electric bicycles for training horses.

Eve: More Roping Practice
Sep 7, 2007
The Urban Cowgirl (Sonya Sokolow) shows how she continues to train Morgan mare Eve to be a rope horse, including desensitizing Eve to an electric bike roping cow simulator. This is episode 6.6 of the Urban Cowgirl Show.

Eve Roping Training With The Electric Bike Cow Simulator
Oct 26, 2007
The Urban Cowgirl (Sonya Sokolow) shows the training progress of her Morgan mare Eve in roping, using the electric bike cow simulator. This is episode 7.22 of the Urban Cowgirl Show.

"The Urban Cowgirl Show"
Eve: More Roping Training With the "Electric Bike Cow Simulator".
"training our own horses in Ranch Horse Versatility" by Sonya Sokolow
"training of livestock can be dangerous. The viewer should use caution in apply9ing any of the information shown in this video. The producer disclaims any liability for personal injury or property damage resulting from applying any techniques shown here.
Introduction by Sonya Sokolow Owner of MinMor Farms in Santa Cruz, California.