Colorado’s Dan Maes keeps his tinfoil hat in the ring; things you see when you’re riding

August 11, 2010

Breaking news from Colorado: the Tea Party favorite who thinks bike share is a UN conspiracy is now the official Republican candidate for governor.

Proof that common sense is not a requirement for higher office.

And the best argument yet for always wearing your helmet when you ride.


I frequently cut through the back roads when I ride back up from the coast. And for the last year or so, I’ve been watching a new building go up on the corner of Short Street and Entrada Drive.

I hadn’t been through there for a few weeks, though, so I was surprised to see the façade had gone up already. And even more surprised to see that it is either going to be the new headquarters for Harlequin Books, or it’s well on its way to being the ugliest new building in L.A.

Why do I have a sudden urge to buy some argyle riding socks?

And yes, it is in L.A.


Don’t forget the Metro Bicycle Roundtable at noon Wednesday, and the 1st Annual City of Lights Awards Dinner on Thursday.


Joe Linton digs deep into the proposed bike plan, while Damien Newton reminds readers about the upcoming Streetsblog fundraiser on Wednesday the 25th; I’m going to do my best to be there. Mihai Peteu says Los Angeles sucks because it lacks safe bikeways that connect. LADOT Bike Blog talks to the coordinator behind the Watch the Road campaign. LACBC reaches out to young cyclists in South L.A. and Pacoima. Are we on our way to becoming Los Amsterdam? Jeremy Grant reports on Monday’s BAC meeting. Santa Monica’s City Council talked ciclovia Tuesday night, while the city’s upcoming Tour da Arts will feature a cycling cellist. Long Beach’s cycling expats celebrate a full year of touring America by bike. An e-biker files a $1.5 million claim against Laguna Beach after a bad roadway causes her to crash.

A bike advocate paralyzed in a cycling accident writes to question a call for mandatory helmets; a Canadian study shows helmet laws do result in higher usage, but doesn’t address whether it improves safety, reduces injuries or discourages ridership. Tucson police start strict enforcement of dangerous bike violations, but go after dangerous drivers as well. When gas goes up, so do bike sales, which should bode well for bike dealers in the years ahead. Tips for surviving summertime bike commuting, assuming summer ever makes it to the coast. Florida cyclists can play bike poker on the Seminole Cyclists Poker Run charity ride. Interval training can burn fat as well as boost speed. The Federal DOT considers policy changes that could bring more innovative bike designs stateside. A Missouri driver says bikes should be banned from any road with a speed limit over 20 mph. What to do if you’re involved in a collision with another cyclist. This just in: hundreds of cyclists rode their bikes and nothing happened. In Florida, authorities sweep road rage under the carpet with “It’s your word against his;” sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Get your bike portrait taken free in NYC. Stopping for red lights is just so much simpler — and safer — than the alternative. A Dayton writer is uncomfortable with the city’s new bike lanes; wait until she gets a look at sharrows.

Former world cyclo-cross champion Radomir Simunek died Tuesday after a long illness. My favorite bike-riding, fiction-writing ex-Londoner tries to reason with Scottland’s rainy season. Research shows cyclists and drivers are often the same people. An Aussie cyclist offers a little support for Lance. For the rider who has everything, a $40 bike mounted bottle opener.

Finally, a movie I’d want to see; too bad it’s not real. And from my hometown, a driver goes into the left lane to make a right turn around a cyclist stopped in the right lane at a red light.

No, really.

The great bike conspiracy — a Colorado Tea Party candidate rides off the rails

August 4, 2010

Clearly, common sense is not a requirement for higher office.

Or maybe sanity, for that matter.

A Republican running for governor in Colorado — home of the misguided and probably illegal Black Hawk bike ban — has uncovered the vast UN conspiracy behind bike share programs.

According to the Denver Post, Tea Party favorite Dan Maes has charged that popular Denver Mayor and fellow gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper is “converting Denver into a United Nations community.”

The smoking gun?

The city’s new B-Cycle bike share program.

Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor’s efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes “that’s exactly the attitude they want you to have.”

“This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms,” Maes said.

Apparently, the evil organization behind the scheme is the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, which Denver has been a member of since 1992.

The Mile High City is just one of over 1200 communities around the world in the ICLEI, an organization that professes to support the implementation of sustainable development at the local level. But thanks to Maes, we now know that it’s the hidden hand behind a conspiracy to infiltrate our country through the insidious facade of bicycling.

For anyone who may be harboring doubts, Maes made the connection clear.

“At first, I thought, ‘Gosh, public transportation, what’s wrong with that, and what’s wrong with people parking their cars and riding their bikes? And what’s wrong with incentives for green cars?’ But if you do your homework and research, you realize ICLEI is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty,” Maes said….

“Some would argue this document that mayors have signed is contradictory to our own Constitution,” Maes said.

They’re on to us, comrades.

Clearly, motorists and Malibu officials have been justified in their hostility to bikes, as we represent the leading wave of a vast international conspiracy to subvert our nation and its wholesome American values. Like the God-given right to drive everywhere and run off the road any non-motorized users who happen to get in our way.

The conspiracy continues to spread, as Long Beach plans to have a bike share program in place by next spring. And a Modesto columnist asks “Is there any more lawless, arrogant and contemptuous group of citizens than these bikers?”

I’m so ashamed.


Maybe Curbed LA is trying to fill the gap created by Streetsblog’s semi-hiatus. After relaying Monday’s news about reporting on bad roads in Westwood, they break the story that the Mayor’s Bike Summit will take place Monday, August 16, from 9 am to 11 am at Metro headquarters Downtown; no word yet on the format or who will be invited.

Speaking of Metro, the next Bicycle Roundtable will be August 11 from noon to 2 pm at Metro Headquarters. And the latest word on the long-awaited removal of their rush hour bike restrictions: “We’re working on it.”


Following the lead of the Black Hawk bike ban, a Missouri county proposes banning bikes from any highway without a shoulder and many two lane roads; the state Department of Transportation says the law would be unenforceable.


Ubrayj continues his fight for a car-free Lincoln Park. Now that’s what I call a painful looking blister. KCRW traffic queen Kajon Cermak explains ciclovia. Riverside unveils a new six mile Downtown Bike Loop. More bikes on Caltrain could help prevent service cuts; maybe there’s a hint there for Metro. A Las Vegas cyclist is killed in a hit-and-run by an allegedly drinking driver. A new Portland nonprofit forms to pay the medical bills of injured cyclists. A bloodied Inception star Joseph Gordon-Levitt slams his bike into the back of a cab while filming “Premium Rush” in New York, and rates it “f***ing cool.” Volunteers bike from Niagara Falls to build homes in New Orleans. Clearly, this isn’t the nation’s first cycle chic boom; does that bode ill for the future? Lance’s Livestrong could be in trouble due to Floyd Landis’ doping allegations: “Anyone or anything associated with Lance Armstrong should be very worried right now;” link courtesy of Cyclelicious. A Calgary cyclist is charged by an angry grizzly bear; at least that’s one problem we don’t have here. Alberto Contador replaces the Schleck brothers on Team Saxo Bank. Five British cyclists were injured when a car swerved into them on Saturday. Riding around the world in a record breaking 176 days. A Brit cyclist tests positive for EPO after authorities are tipped off. Model Erin O’Connor says it’s not the bike, it’s what you wear that counts; and offers her suggestions on that should be.

Finally, regardless of what Erin O’Connor or Dan Maes says, Claremont Cyclist is sticking with his Lycra and holding his head up high.

Then again, if O’Connor wants to ride with me, I’ll wear anything she wants.

Today’s ride, in which I find my happy place

October 29, 2008

Sometimes, it seems like it’s all just too much.

From last week’s near-fatal allergy attack (that is, near-fatal in the sense that I felt like I was going to die, and wished I could just get it over with, already), to election campaigns in which the politics of fear and character assassination have replaced ideas hope — or compassion, for that matter.

Let alone trying to put together an email to raise funds for my brother’s dog sled team up in Alaska so he can compete in next year’s Iditarod, while simultaneously trying to find enough work to replace that new job that fell through last month.

Then there’s a part of me, as a former Colorado boy, that dies just a little every time I look out our window and see that familiar West L.A. skyline instead of snow-capped mountains.

So I put on a little Chris LeDoux — a genuine working cowboy and rodeo rider from just up the road in Wyoming who sang about, well, genuine working cowboys and rodeo riders, among other things — got myself together, and hopped onto my bike.

As I rode, I found myself transported back to the high plains, surrounded by native grasses as high as my shoulder, riding along trails once trod by the Apache, Arapaho, Comanche, Ute, Pawnee, Crow and Blackfoot tribes. Where the buffalo did, in fact, roam, and the antelope still play, and where I once watched a red fox (as opposed to Redd Foxx) casually stalk his prey, apparently unconcerned by the hawk circling high above.

Or I might have been high up in the Colorado Rockies, riding through groves of golden aspen and breathtaking vistas, with the occasional deer or elk standing alongside the road. Sometimes I’d see a bear rise up on his hind legs to watch me go by, trying to figure out what the hell kind of spandex-clad creature I was. Or maybe just calculating whether he could catch me, and if I’d be better with mustard or a nice Bordeaux reduction.

But then I ran into yet another movie crew needlessly blocking the bike lane to protect their massive trucks from encroaching cyclists, and found myself jolted back to the mean streets of Los Angeles as I was forced to take a lane in heavy, impatient traffic.

But I ended my reveries feeling a little brighter, and hopeful that hope is still stronger than fear — even in an election year. And happy once again to be right here where I am, in this ongoing love/hate relationship with L.A.

And I know that if life gets to be too much, I can just hop in the saddle and ride off into the sunset.

Even if that is just seven and half miles from here.


Damien and Will recap the first tour de Ballona, while Gary and Alex travel to New York for Bike Kill 666, where Alex revels in being a scofflaw while Gary contemplates traffic and God. Meanwhile, Timur relates his experiences at the first Bike Town Beta (man, I missed a busy weekend!), and creates a user-editable Google map for the local cycling community, to which I intend to contribute now that my pre-cyber era brain has finally figured out how it works. Flying Pigeon is hosting another Dim Sum ride from downtown to Alhambra, including free test rides. Streetsblog reports on why Americans don’t use bike lanes and bike paths. If they asked the question here, I think the most popular answer would be, “They don’t go anywhere”, followed by “I don’t want to get mugged.” And finally, it has nothing to do with cycling, but the Times is running a great series on the L.A.P.D.’s anti-gang squad from the city’s infamous noir era, with notable characters including Bugsy Seigal and Mickey Cohen.

News from back home: Protecting the public from two-abreast cyclists

July 28, 2008

Evidently, there’s a flap over bicycling back in my hometown. Or rather, just outside it.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, Fort Collins, Colorado is officially a bike friendly city. But if an article in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times is any indication, that friendliness doesn’t extend past the city limits.

Back in May of this year —  evidently, news from Colorado still gets here by Pony Express —  a couple of bicyclists from the nearby liberal bastion of Boulder committed the outrageous offense of riding into the county two abreast.

I know, I know, the horror of it all. Especially on a country road, where drivers are just as likely to be impeded by some farmer’s John Deere combine as by spandex-clad cyclists. And even though the state recently passed a law that even the bill’s sponsors say makes the practice legal in most situations.

But that’s not the way the local sheriff sees it. Taking interpretation of the law into his own hands, he’s decided that his reading of the statute overrides the authors’ intent. And as a result, he says it’s a violation to ride two abreast if it could possibly impede traffic — even if no cars are actually being impeded. Or even present, for that matter.

So in an apparent attempt to make his boss the new Bull Connor of the cycling set, a deputy pulled the riders over, and in the words of the cyclists, told them “don’t let the sun set on your behind in my county.” (The deputy denies saying that, of course.)

So what’s next? Meeting riders at the county line with fire hoses and police dogs?

Granted, the riders weren’t ticketed. But the message was clear. Obey the sheriff’s personal interpretation of the law — despite the lack of any court rulings in support of his stand — or stay the hell out of his county.

Now, I probably rode every square inch of that county when I lived there. And yes, I realize that the population has grown since I left, and there are more riders and drivers competing for the same amount of road space.

But if drivers can’t manage to peacefully co-exist on the kind of quiet country road John Denver used to rhapsodize about without the local sheriff taking sides, there is something seriously wrong.

He says that spandex makes people lose their sense of humor. I think maybe his badge is a little too tight.


In case you missed it, a member of the Bike Writers Collective got on his soap box last month to suggest that our local constabulary can get pretty heavy-handed, too. Our old friend Pops — a former Boulderite himself — points out that Seattle’s Critical Mass got badly out of control this past weekendand a local blogger from the eternally overcast city suggests it’s time to do something before the Mass really does go critical. And here’s what can happen to downtown bikes when Big Brown backs up.


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