A good friend of L.A. cycling to be honored at this year’s River Ride

May 25, 2012

I’d planned to talk about bike safety today.

And how important it is to ride within your own abilities, especially on holiday weekends when the roads are more crowded, drivers more distracted and/or drunk, and riders more relaxed.

It’s easy to push the limits just little too hard, and find yourself in a situation you can’t get out of.

But then I received the following email from Alan Krepack, brother of GEKlaw bike attorney Howard Krepack, and decided to set that aside for another day.

As you may know — and as I’m sorry to tell those who don’t — Howard was diagnosed over a year ago with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, an incurable disease that progressively robs the victim of control over his or her own body. While his mind is as sharp as ever, and he continues to practice law with the help of his associates and partners, this illness has taken a terrible toll on him.

I’ll let Alan pick up the story from there.

Hi Everyone,

I’m sure most, if not all of you, know that Howard has been battling ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – Lou Gehrig’s disease) for 1 1/2 years now.  He continues to be the kind-hearted, smart, loving man he has always been.  And continues to be surrounded by his immediate and extended family, and his many friends.  His mobility is limited, but his spirit remains strong.

I am writing to let you know about an event in Howard’s honor and about his web site:

1) The upcoming Los Angeles River Ride on Sunday, June 10. The ride is being dedicated to Howard and ALS awareness.  As you know, Howard has been a longstanding bicyclist and advocate for bicycle safety and policy in Los Angeles. Howard’s law firm, GEK Law, have also been sponsors of the River Ride for the past three years.

Everyone is invited to join our “team” for the River Ride.   You can ride any one of the distances (15, 36, 50, 70 or 100 miles), or simply hang out at this great event.  Details and registration are available by linking to the River Ride from the Howard’s web site or: http://la-bike.org/events

At the ride on June 10 we will be giving out t-shirts from the Howard D. Krepack Fund booth, next to the GEK law booth for anyone who wants to be part of our team.  At 7:45am we will meet at the booth for a picture. For those riding the century or 70 mile course the t-shirts will be available at 7am.

Also at the River Ride on June 10 Howard will be receiving the first annual Service to Cycling award given to citizens who have made significant contributions to bicycle advocacy, safety and use in Los Angeles.

2) The Howard D. Krepack web site and fund was launched last month.  If you haven’t visited, please take a moment to check it out, pass the link on to anyone who may be interested and connected to Howard, and hopefully motivated to make a contribution to ALS research in Howard’s name from his web site:  http://community.als.net/krepack

Please make a donation of any amount to help us reach our donation goal for ALS research in Howard’s name.

Howard, Vivian and our entire family thank you for your support.

Over the years, Howard has been a big supporter of Los Angeles bicycling and a good friend to cyclists.

Or just a good friend, period.

He is someone I’ve been happy to know, and I’ve referred riders to him for legal help more than once, knowing they’d be in good hands.

I last had a long talk with Howard at last year’s River Ride, discussing what the LACBC, and we as individuals, could do to improve safety for cyclists in the L.A. area. I didn’t know at the time that he has already been diagnosed; yet typically, instead of worrying about himself, he was focused on what we could do for others.

If you’ve been on the fence about this year’s River Ride, I urge you to come out and participate — whether you choose to ride or just hang out and visit the booths. And honor Howard Krepack along with the LACBC, his family and friends.

I don’t know if he’ll be up to attending this year.

But either way, it will mean a lot to him. And to all of us.

………

Please take just a moment this Memorial Day weekend to remember what this holiday is all about, and honor those who have given so much — and so often, too much — for our country. And those who continue to give.

And be careful out there.

I want to see you all back here next week.


It’s all about the River Ride, and a long list of weekend links

June 4, 2011

This weekend, it’s all about the L.A. River Ride on Sunday.

KCRW’s Shortcuts looks at the River Ride, while Damien Newton demonstrates his scary knowledge of One Tree Hill in honor of Grand Marshal Austin Nichols. And if you read this early enough, Will Campbell invites you to join him and other volunteers in the annual tradition of marking the route; the photo alone is worth the click.

You can expect Nichols to be there on Sunday, along with Mayor Villaraigosa and a camera crew from KTLA. As well as a few thousand happy cyclists, including yours truly.

You can find me on the 70 mile ride, and signing up new members in the LACBC booth afterwards — assuming I can still stand at that point. Though I may have to sneak off for a cold 1554 at the New Belgium Brewing booth at some point.

And don’t forget the after party at Home Restaurant, 2500 Riverside Drive, with $3 New Belgium pints all day.

After all, you have to do something to get your strength back, right?

……..

Some other notable events this weekend:

Saturday, June 4th, the Palms Neighborhood Council and the LAPD’s Pacific Division is sponsoring the 2011 Bike Rodeo from 10 am to 2 pm at Palms Elementary School, 3520 Motor Ave; events include a bike safety course, safety inspection, radar speed test and a bike giveaway, as well as live entertainment and free food.

Folk Art Everywhere explores the historic West Adams District on their next bike tour on Saturday, June 4th; expect an easy, fun and fascinating ride perfect for beginning to moderate cyclists. Meet at Mercado La Paloma, 3655 S. Grand Avenue in Los Angeles, at 11 am, with the ride starting at 11:15.

Flying Pigeon hosts their monthly Brewery Ride on Saturday, June 4th from 3 to 5:30 pm; meet at Flying Pigeon Bike Shop, 3714 North Figueroa Street in Highland Park.

……..

Following the death of Nick Venuto and the serious injuries to Baron Herdelin-Doherty in San Diego on Wednesday, both Caltrans and local cyclists question whether the bike path they were riding on is safe enough. And Bike Crave remembers a man he barely knew.

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As noted Friday morning, Mayor Villaraigosa shook up LADOT, appointing Deputy Mayor Jaime De La Vega to head the troubled department, among others; Damien Newton calls the appointment a safe choice and asks if it was the right choice.

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Goodbye to Sirinya of UCLA’s Be A Green Commuter blog, who’s moving on with her career; she did a great job helming BAGC, and I learned a lot from her. Good luck in the new position.

……..

As Chris points out, sometimes you just have to ride, even if you’re going in the wrong direction. The Bicycle Shop Decal Project offers a great way to kill a few minutes, or hours. LAPD bike point man Sgt. David Krumer answers readers’ questions on Streetsblog. Examined Spoke says if you focus too much on poor cyclists, you could lose them once they reach middle class. The latest Beastie Boys video features at least eight I. Martin customers. A look back at a successful Bike Month in Glendale. Great news for cyclists as Angeles Crest Highway finally reopens. Camarillo cyclist Chris Barton had less than a week to prepare for the Giro. The next round of workshops for the South Bay bike plan are coming up later this month. A Santa Ana councilwoman rides her bike to fight OC’s status as the state’s second fattest county. Huntington Beach offers traffic school for ticketed cyclists, something that was also included in L.A.’s new bike plan.

Tucson Velo looks at Oceanside’s riding scene. Authorities credit a 9-year old’s bike helmet for saving his life after he was hit and pinned under an SUV. Cyclelicious fills you in on the status of bike related bills in the state legislature; the three-foot passing bill passes the state Senate and moves on to the Assembly. Joe Linton looks at bike facilities in Baghdad by the Bay. A San Jose father builds a homemade trike to help his son recover from a brain injury. Bay Area children are involved in more bike collisions than any other age group. Yet another sign of the bike boom as Caltrain commits to two bike cars on every train.

Bob Mionske offers his usual great advice on how to avoid collisions, and what to do if you have one; seriously, take notes — I failed this test in real life. Bicycling offers a revue of stylish bike baskets, which will never, ever grace my road bike. The hottest trend in cycling is just ride, already. Neil Browne explains why he’s not taking down his Lance Armstrong poster. Twenty percent of all collisions are related to driveways, as many cyclists can attest. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood plans to bike to work on Monday. The culture of carnage needs to change. Dave Moulton says it’s never too late to insist on bike/ped access for a new bridge. A Florida non-profit fixes up bikes and gives them to the homeless. However, if you visit Florida, you might want to avoid Lee County, the most dangerous county in the U.S. for cyclists.

Nearly three-quarters of Toronto residents want more bike lanes. An 82-year of British man dies after rear-ending a stopped truck during a time trial. A British motorist is killed by an enraged rider after dooring a group of cyclists. Maybe Copenhagen has finally gone too far in welcoming cyclists. People for Bikes looks at Seville’s remarkable transformation.

Finally, Ewan McGregor, fixie fanatic. The food truck fad shrinks as El Tacobike hits the streets of Oakland.

And you’ve probably already seen the inspirational speech that follows a kid’s first successful bike ride.


Volunteers needed for River Ride, fear the brakeless fixies in SF and a long, long list of events

February 19, 2011

The LACBC puts out a call for volunteers for the upcoming River Ride, perhaps the area’s largest and most popular fundraising ride.

Your help is needed for a wide variety of activities to prepare for the ride, as well as on the day of the ride on Sunday, June 5th. Just five hours of volunteer work will earn you a free ride, or you can give your free ride to someone else if you work the day of the ride.

Take it from me, I worked in the LACBC booth at last year’s River Ride, and had the time of my life, despite the hard work. Or maybe because of it.

Email RRvolunteer@la-bike.org for more info and to sign up.

.………

L.A. gets it’s first bike corral in front of Highland Park coffee shop Café de Leche, which could be the model for similar installations throughout the city.

.………

Despite noting that fixed-gear cyclists can use their pedals to brake, a San Francisco paper claims that fixies without additional handlebar mounted brakes are “illegal and dangerous” after a rider hits and critically injures a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Police confiscated the bike, claiming that the lack of brakes is a traffic infraction, even though most fixies can easily meet the state standard of leaving a skid mark on clean, dry pavement.

But let’s be honest.

If a cyclist doesn’t stop or slow down before hitting a pedestrian, the problem isn’t the bike. It’s the incompetence of the rider.

.………

Bike trail funding miraculously survives the GOP budget cutting frenzy in DC, while bike lawyer Bob Mionske notes that in the new GOP controlled House, riding a bike is considered recreation, not transportation.

So if you rode home from work or school in the rain today, evidently you did it just for fun.

Maybe it’s time for all commuter cyclists to write their Congressional representatives and point out that not everyone gets there on four wheels.

.………

Alexi Grewal, gold medal winner at the ’84 L.A. Olympics, is planning a comeback at age 50. Then again, Mexico’s Raul Alcala is still going at 47.

I had the privilege of seeing both compete in the old Coors Classic; while watching Grewal was a thrill, Alcala was one of the most consistently exciting racers I’ve ever seen.

Evidently, eating meat contaminated with Clenbuterol can result in positive drug tests, which could open the door for appeals from other banned cyclists; Spanish police bust a Clenbuterol drug ring that wasn’t doping cows. Suspended pro Tom Zirbel says Contador’s clearing shows the inconsistency of doping regulations. And disgraced rider Riccardo Ricco left the hospital 12 days after a self-administered blood transfusion gone wrong.

.………

A long, long list of upcoming events —

Bike Talk airs Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Ride with Rapha and Bike Effect on Saturday the 19th; meet for coffee at 8:30 am and ride a 9 am. Meet at Bike Effect, 910 Broadway #100 in Santa Monica, RSVP to rsvp@rapha.cc.

CD4 City council candidate Stephen Box is partnering with Flying Pigeon LA to provide free bike repair at the Silver Lake Farmers Market, from 8 am to 1 pm on Saturday the 19th at 3700 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

The LAVRA Cup Time Trial takes place at the Home Depot Center Velodrome this Saturday, February 19th at 3 pm, 18400 Avalon Blvd in Carson; thanks to the Claremont Cyclist for the heads-up.

Escort two lovebirds in safety and style on the Lovebirds to LAX Party Ride on Sunday the 20th. Riders meet at Helen’s Cycles in Westwood, 1071 Gayley Avenue in Westwood Village at 11:30 am, and depart at 12:30 pm.

Flying Pigeon’s Get Sum Dim Sum ride takes place on the third Sunday of each month; the next ride will be this Sunday, February 20 from 10 am to 1 pm, starting at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

Bike Metro’s Bicycle Roundtable Implementation & Operations Subcommittee Meeting originally scheduled for Thursday, February 24th has been cancelled; new date to be determined.

UCLA will host a free day-long Complete Streets workshop on Friday, February 25th; participation is open to registered attendees. The workshop will take place from 8:30 am to 7 pm at the Japanese American National Museum at 369 East 1st Street Downtown. Contact d.grantham@ucla.edu to register, or call 310/562-7356.

GOOD is hosting a fundraising party for CicLAvia from 2 to 7 pm on March 5th, at Atwater Crossing, 3229 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles; tickets range from $20 to $500.

The third LACBC Sunday Funday ride will roll 62 miles through the North San Gabriel Valley on Sunday, March 6th. Lead by board member Alex Amerri, the fast-paced ride for advanced cyclists will explore the area’s architectural and historical highlights; riders assemble at 8:30 am at Parking Lot K at the Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive in Pasadena, with the ride starting at 9 am.

Flying Pigeon and the Bike Oven host the free Spoke(n) Art Ride on the 2nd Saturday of every month; the next ride will take place on March 12th, starting 6:30 pm at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

The Santa Clarita Century is scheduled to roll on Saturday, April 2nd with rides ranging from a family ride to a full century.

The next three CicLAvias will take place on April 10th, July 10th and October 9th; if you missed the first one, don’t make the same mistake again.

L.A.’s 17th annual Bike Week takes place May 16th through the 20th, with an emphasis on bike safety education, and events throughout the city. This year’s Blessing of the Bicycles will take place as part of Bike Week on 8 to 9:30 am on May 17th at Downtown’s Good Samaritan Hospital, 616 S. Witmer Street.

L.A.’s favorite fundraiser ride rolls on June with the 11th Annual River Ride; advance registration is open now.

And mark your calendar for the 2011 L.A. edition of the Tour de Fat on October 9th; unfortunately, that’s also Yom Kippur this year.

.………

LACBC responds to last week’s L.A. Weekly cover story on Stephen Box and the rise of bike activism in L.A. When cargo bikes are outlawed, only outlaws will ride cargo bikes in L.A. Santa Monica’s new Bike Action Plan will encourage more biking and less driving. LACBC is working with L.A. Planning and UCLA Urban Planning Masters Student Rye Baerg to develop a new bicycle parking draft ordinance. Jessica Meaney calls for more inclusive transportation planning. Chris at (just) Riding Along discovers what could be another Westwood Banksy, or maybe it’s another L.A.-based urban artist paying homage. Neon Tommy looks at the DIY attitude of the Bicycle Kitchen. Just what the Valley needs, an architecturally engaging Costco with a meandering bike path. Collisions with cyclists and pedestrians are on the rise in bike-friendly Santa Monica. The Claremont Cyclist visits the soon-to-be Citrus Regional Bikeway.

CdM Cyclist interviews Seattle’s Peter Lagerwey on how to build a successful bike master plan. A father plans to ride coast to coast to honor his 19-year old son, killed by a distracted driver while riding two years ago. After nearly being run off the road, Cyclelicious says it’s time to abandon Share the Road because so many drivers — and even some cyclists — don’t get it or don’t care. The SF Chronicle explains the meaning of sharrows to confused Bay Areans.

Frame builder Dave Moulton gets buzzed, and astutely describes it as just another a hate crime. People for Bikes says don’t be afraid to ride a bike, be afraid not to. Traffic meister Tom Vanderbilt writes about the age-old and mostly one-sided conflict between cyclists and motorists. Inspiring story of paraplegic former mountain biker Tara Llanes and her fight to come back. How much does a long, continuous history matter for a bike manufacturer? Cold, ice and snow means it’s a perfect day for a bike ride. Bloomberg notes that separated bike lanes encourage riding while reducing injuries. A look at a few of the projects industry trade group Bikes Belong with be funding this winter. Next time you ride in Portland, you may not need headphones. Tucson developers say eff you and the bike you rode in on. Oregon votes to make traditional-style bike traffic signals part of the state code. What better place for breakfast than a New York bike lane? The League of American Bicyclists says it’s time to stop killing cyclists in Tampa.

How to master fast cornering. A controversial Vancouver separated bike lane draws 600 riders a day with no significant delay in car traffic. A Manchester cyclist is fined for causing the death of a bus passenger who fell when the driver braked to avoid the rider. Talk about utility cycling — a Cambridgeshire cyclist makes waves by riding with a refrigerator on his back.

Finally, a nice piece from the Glendale News-Press advises keeping your focus three-feet ahead when you struggle in riding. And in life.

Good advice.

Along the same lines, I’ve always liked the old Native American proverb that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Then one day I realized that it continues the same way.

And the same goes for pedal strokes.


A rising and reviving L.A. River — and a 10th annual ride to celebrate it

January 26, 2010

Someday it’s gonna rain, someday it’s gonna pour, someday that old dry river, it won’t be dry any more. — Dry River, Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men


Los Angeles tried to kill its river.

Unlike other cities where life revolves around the streams at their hearts, L.A.’s central river has been abused and ignored, and all but forgotten.

Admittedly, it was an act of self-defense, after one too many violent floods. And so they dammed it and tore up the riverbed, straightened its course and lined it with concrete to in an attempt to tame the usually mild and sometimes wild river and transform it into the world’s largest culvert system.

Instead they created a popular movies set, home to key scenes in everything from Grease and Chinatown to Terminator 2 and Transformers. As well as a massive canvas for countless taggers. And the site of odd events and dramatic rescues, human and otherwise, that transfix L.A. nearly every time it rains.

And so the city turned away from it, other than a relative handful of cyclists who continued to ride the bikeway that follows the river channel for much of its lower length. Sometimes holding their nose.

Yet, the river refused to die.

And in a comeback every bit as improbable and unexpected as Robert Downey Jr. or Mickey Roarke — or Jay Leno, for that matter — the L.A. River is slowly coming back to life.

Led largely by groups such as Friends of the Los Angeles River and L.A. Creak Freak’s Joe Linton and associates, efforts are under way to revitalize the river, and extend the bikeway its full length, from the harbor in Long Beach to Canoga Park.

Now one of the key steps in that revitalization, the new park on the site of the former Albion Dairy in Lincoln Heights, is up for review. While the deadline for offering comments online has passed, you can still comment on the plans — and insist on the inclusion of a bikeway paralleling the river —  from 6:30 to 8:30 pm this Thursday at the Downey Recreation Center, 1772 N. Spring Street.

There will also be free refreshments, which should be enough to get the cycling community out.

Speaking of the L.A. River, Joe Linton offers advice on who to call on those not-infrequent occasions when the access gates to the county’s many river-channel bikeways remain locked long after the risk of rushing water has passed.

And no, it’s not Joe. Or Stephen Box. Or even me, for that matter.

Meanwhile, you have a perfect opportunity to explore the L.A. River bikeway for yourself at the recently announced Los Angeles River Ride.

Sponsored by the LACBC — which has been revitalized itself in recent years — the L.A. River Ride is one of the city’s largest and most popular rides. It’s scheduled for Sunday, June 6th, with rides ranging from a 15-mile Family Ride and free Kids Ride to a relatively flat Century. And just about everything in between.

Full information and registration form for the 10th Annual L.A. River Ride are available by clicking here.

From what I’ve heard, it’s a lot of fun.

So maybe this time, you’ll see me there. And vice versa, I hope.

Update: Janette Hoffman emailed to remind me about the role the L.A. River Ride has played in pushing for the revitalization of the river, with a 2006 postcard campaign urging the mayor to complete the bike path — including the recently completed section between Fletcher and Fig, which will be part of this year’s ride. She also met with the Gateway Council of Governments in 2008, resulting in re-striping of the path and removal of graffiti between Maywood and Long Beach.

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California’s car-centric Traffic Control Devices Committee (CTCDC) gave a big, fat screw you to cyclists at a meeting in San Diego last week, refusing to allow cyclists to be represented on the committee. The Times looks at the big changes taking place in suddenly bike-friendly Long Beach, yet fails to note the death of a cyclist there just a few weeks ago. Enci Box explains how to make L.A. safe, effective and more enjoyable for cyclists. Damien Newton notes that comments may not be allowed when the Council considers the anti-harassment ordinance tomorrow, but suspects Rosendahl might argue otherwise if a lot of cyclists show up. Dr. Alex argues that speed limit increases should be put on hold at the TranspoComm meeting that follows. The LAPD busts a Downtown bike theft ring selling hot bikes on Craigslist. Living well without a car. A helmetless Pink and husband ride the streets of L.A.; Carson Daley puts on his helmet and sticks his tongue out at photographers on Ocean Blvd. A town in North Carolina considers a clearly well thought-out plan to ban bikes from the bike path. BikeDenver unveils a series of public service announcements to promote bike safety. A look at Carlos Bertonatti, the drunken schmuck musician who kept going after driving over — and killing — a Miami cyclist last week. Kenosha, WI revises their cycling laws after a cyclist is ticketed for drinking from his water bottle. Yet another city gets (legal) sharrows before L.A., this time in New York’s lower Hudson Valley. Bike Radar provides a heads-up for the upcoming Handmade Bike Show and Rocky Mountain Bicycle Fest. A New Hampshire man threatens cyclists, misses his arraignment, and gets a slap on the wrist. Sydney replaces the site of drunken brawls with a hub for cyclists, including outdoor café, bike shop and showers. Hello, is anyone in L.A. listening? Hello? Finally, a Hummer driving cyber bully threatens cyclists in New Zealand — and claims to have already run two off the road — then quickly backs off after riders unmask his identity; thanks to the Trickster for the heads up!


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