August 18, 2016 § 40 Comments

Some people think that professional athletes are heroes. I don’t. My heroes are people who possess courage. Courage means giving up your personal time to fight for what’s right. The more that’s at stake, the fiercer your opposition, and the more time you give up — time that you’ll never reclaim — the greater the courage.

My heroes are diverse and funny and flawed. They’re battling inner demons that are often a far bigger struggle than the external things they’re fighting for. My heroes don’t wear capes, but lots of them wear Spandex. And my heroes are often tired, rough around the edges, and a few hours shy of a good night’s sleep.

They show up on bicycles, on scooters, in crappy cars. Sometimes their makeup is crooked or their pants sag. But you know what?

My heroes show up.

They showed up on Tuesday night, just like they’ve been showing up for months. Their faces sometimes change, sometimes they’re out of town and another hero stands in, but they keep showing up. When you need them, heroes always show up.

Last night’s heroes were–

Kristie Fox

Michael Barraclough

Joey Cooney

Tom Duong

Craig Eggers

Marvin Campbell

Kevin Nix

John Wike

Geoff Loui

Marc Spivey

Jose Godinez

Allyson Vought

Greg Seyranian

Gary Cziko

Patrick Noll

Jonathan Fredrick

Harry Martinez

Kate Hirrell

Diana Medrano

Joann Zwagermann

Julian Katz

Bruce Wyrwitzke

Tara Unversagt

Jon Simmons

Victor Cooper

Cleave Law

They showed up and sat through almost three hours of testimony on behalf of something so non-controversial that it could only be opposed by really tiny people: The Rancho Palos Verdes City Council was voting on a traffic safety committee recommendation to “Explore the creation of a bike safety master plan.”

I guess the idea of exploration frightened a few people. Of the 36 people who spoke on the issue, about ten were anti-cycling RPV residents brimming with anger at bicyclists in general and Big Orange in particular. Some of them screeched that it was a conflict of interest that transportation safety committee member Dave Kramer was an avowed cyclist and Big Orange member. Apparently anyone who cycles has a conflict of interest when it comes to … cycling. Whereas most people would consider that something called “expertise,” it escaped the tiny craniums of the well-groomed trogolodyte who muttered vague threats of lawsuits.

By that reasoning, we kept waiting for for them to declare that transportation committee members who drove cars should also recuse themselves for any matter that dealt with automobiles …

What was strangest of all was that they had come together to ostensibly beseech the council to address “bike safety,” yet not a single NIMBY had ever inquired what an actual bicyclist wanted or recommended, and not a single NIMBY voiced support for a plan that would explore bike safety issues.

They were for “bike safety” in the same way that Western ranchers favor “wolf safety,” i.e. “get rid of the dogdamned things.” The most empathetic speaker of all talked about how an RPV motorist had had to replace her windshield after it was damaged by a cyclist’s body and head. Tragic stuff.

The NIMBY display of anger and entitlement and ignorance of the law was an amazing contrast to the demeanor of the heroes. Here’s the video of the council meeting. Check out the What Do You Mean My Time’s Up Lady at 1:27:30, and the Crazy Uncle Yelling At Passing Cats at 1:35:37. Then compare it with the tenor of the cyclists. The dude in the Wend Wax Works cap and Big O kit and droopy shorts is obviously sketch.

It was impressive to see how angry and demanding the NIMBYs were to the council members, volunteer officials who got nary a thank-you from the livid residents.

Fortunately, after everyone spoke, the city council voted on the revolutionary step of “exploring the creation of a plan” and unanimously approved it. You could tell that there were people on the council who didn’t think much of bikes, and there was one member who’s a confessed cyclist. But regardless of their individual opinions, the city council put its best foot forward and voted to explore bike safety. Not as gutsy as exploring the Amazon, but given the Crazy Uncle Yelling At Passing Cats it did take some resolve simply because one of these days he could show up and start yelling at YOUR cat.

This makes two victories for cycling in two communities that have long resisted acknowledging the rights of bicyclists. It takes courage to change, but even more than that, it takes courage to demand it.

I hope these citizen advocates inspire you like they inspire me. As long as we keep showing up, we’ll be heard. Rancho Palos Verdes isn’t anti-cycling, it’s like any community: Anti-change. Most residents don’t mind bicycles and many residents ride them. A lot of the conflict stems from the sad fact that the NIMBYs simply don’t know the law.

The next series of meetings are just around the corner. Hope to see you heroes there.



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§ 40 Responses to Heroes

  • gcziko says:

    Check out anti-cyclist Frank Artinello at 1:36:00 for a good contrast to the knowledge, logic and courteous demeanor of the pro-cyclist forces such as:

    Michael Barraclough at 1:38:00
    Greg Seyranian at 1:43:14
    Seth Davidson at 1:44:25
    Gary Cziko at 1:54:20

  • Edwin says:

    Very confusing that these heroes have regular names. I know them only by Wank Meister’s honorary nicknames or their CitSB blog handles…

    But kidding aside, congratulations on a great cycling community and thanks to Seth for putting them in a well deserved spot light.

  • virginiaeubanks@gmail.com says:

    excellent article. l m

    Sent from my iPhone


  • JF Choppers Shredrick says:

    Well Groomed Troglodytes? Where on earth do you come up with this stuff?!?!

  • Worldchamp says:

    I’m glad that people like you and Gary stay on top of the issues to let the rest of know when we can help. That takes a lot of time and effort. Thank you!!

  • dave cairncross says:

    “A lot of the conflict stems from the sad fact that the NIMBYs simply don’t know the law”
    Correction…they think that laws apply to mere peons…definitely not them.
    Modern heros making shit happen!

  • Michelle Landes says:

    Beautiful words Wanky! Sorry to have missed will be there in the future😀

    • fsethd says:

      Michelle, one of the reasons we were successful is because of your consistent presence at the previous meetings. Really appreciate it.

  • channel_zero says:

    Suggesting the Donut Ride needed an event permit was interesting. I’ll give those NIMBYs credit for a sane response. Too bad it has nothing to do with “exploring a safety plan.”

    That poor woman who was drilling down into the vehicle code thought she struck gold. Apparently, this is the first city-produced report she’s ever read.

    Keep on it lads!

    • fsethd says:

      They’ve investigated permitting before, and it was completely annihilated at the last TSC meeting. In order to have a permit you have to have an applicant, an organizer, and a bunch of other stuff. Good luck with that when it comes to an organic ride that’s been going on for 30 years with no leader, no promoter, no organizer, or anything else.

      What they’d be left with is assigning sheriffs to break up a ride along public roads, and not just the Donut Ride, but every grouping of 2 or more cyclists who don’t “have a permit.” Truly a feeble attempt by feeble people to seek a solution for a non-problem by resorting to the Nanny State.

      The amazing hypocrisy of people who are trying to ban cycling to make the roads safe for cycling is a real study in whackadoodlism. What’s refreshing is that they are a silly, shrill minority. That’s sometimes enough to get things done, but not when opposed by what you saw on the video. And many of the advocates aren’t “foreigners” from Hermosa, but “natives” from RPV–even lowly apartment dwellers like me.

      • Christopher Childs says:

        The Feds actually do break up rides and ticket organizers in Inverness heading to Point Reyes National Seashore. All it takes is one irate person briefly held up in traffic to call the cops, tell them 20 people are riding together, and they will hunt you down.


      • channel_zero says:

        I actually agree with everything you posted. I just thought it the most rational thing brought up.

        The windscreen reason was gruesome.

      • gcziko says:

        From the Point Reyes National Seashore website:

        “The maximum number of bicyclists in any one group is 10. Larger groups of cyclists will have to divide into groups no larger than 10. This size restriction is necessary for the safety of cyclists using public roadways and authorized trails within the Park. These roadways and trails are narrow and winding and will not safely accommodate large numbers of bicyclists.”

        The logic of this policy escapes me. If the roadways are not too narrow and winding for motor vehicles, why would they be so for a large group of cyclists riding two abreast at a slower speed than motor vehicles?

        • fsethd says:

          It’s called Make-A-Law. Just add words.

        • fsethd says:

          10 good. 11 bad. Science.

        • Christopher Childs says:

          It’s so far out of the way that it doesn’t affect most people, but it is still baffling. I am reasonably sure it’s pitched as being “for your safety” because aggressive and impatient people occasionally make dangerously incompetent passes, despite there being double yellow lines as far as the eye can see. People really hate not being able to go 5mph above the speed limit, I guess.

          I only mentioned it because I thought there might be precedent for restricting cycling use on public roadways, no matter how farcical the reason. Hopefully your un-empathetic neighbors don’t look to the NPS for “inspiration.”

      • Worldchamp says:

        Yeah, the whole permit thing didn’t make sense. At first I thought she was talking about an event that was being planned. They seem to think that Big Orange organizes and runs everything. Clearly they don’t know the donut ride started long before Big Orange or almost any other club. And not everyone who rides up there belong to Big Orange.

        They never said they were concerned about cycling safety or the safety of the cyclists. They are concerned that the cyclist will get in their way and they might hurt someone. The concern is they might be presented with guilt or damage to their property if they hit a cyclist. It has nothing to do with cyclist’s well being.

        And clearly ignorant of vehicle law, anything about riding a bike, and safe driving.

    • gcziko says:

      Christopher Childs, who do you mean specifically by the Feds? And what California law is cited (if any) for breaking up groups of cyclists?

  • TomH says:

    Elderly lady “Thelma” at 1:19:15 was oh-so-concerned about “cyclist safety”, since when Marymount College is in session there’s all those “young and inexperienced” yahoos driving while texting on PVDE .

    It doesn’t bother her that these unskilled yahoos are crashing their leased kraut-mobiles into guard rails on PVDE — her subtext is that it’s the _cyclists_ who should be banned from using public roads.

    Can’t fix stupid …

  • Brendan Foran says:

    First, thank you Seth for this Blog, and for linking the council meeting video, I just watched the whole thing. Also, thanks for wearing the loose shorts over your kit and for trying several times to keep them from falling low. Great stuff. And great things said by all that were in support of cycling. Much serious and important and some with a touch of funny. Like that one lady in the hi-vis pink jacket (was that Rapha?), that stuff about “urinating and other stuff” – that was great, I’m dying to know what the other stuff was, wow! Scandalous. Great to have her on our side.
    I am ashamed that I haven’t made it to one of these important meetings yet. I vow to get there next time if at all possible. I’m sure I won’t come up with such good stuff to say, but I do need to say that I’m proud to be a member of Big Orange and super proud off the cycling community here for standing up to the bullshit.

    • fsethd says:

      Thanks, Brendan! Just showing up, ambling to the lectern, identifying yourself as a rider, and supporting the council’s option to do the right thing is huge. We make a point of always thanking the council, law enforcement, and anyone willing to donate a belt to keep my pants up.

    • fsethd says:

      I was hoping she would show us the “other stuff” and I’d have great material for my next blog, but I’m afraid it was armpit scratching, loogie hocking, etc.

  • Deb says:

    Someone needs to point out to some of these folks that they are called “sideWALKs” not “sideRIDEs”. And by gosh, they’re really angry! Imagine what they could do if they worked toward good.

  • […] in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson says his heroes are the ones who show up for meetings about bike […]

  • Don W. says:

    I was expecting the church lady to say that she prays for the safety of the cyclists she sees riding on the hill before sunrise, but apparently they don’t make the cut.

  • kimfue says:

    This was great! Thanks for posting.

  • darelldd says:

    As if I don’t spend enough time sitting through and commenting at my OWN city council meetings, I watched this whole video. If for no other reason, I wanted to see some of these characters “in person.” Plus I needed to see ol’ droopy drawers. The folks in the front row certainly enjoyed that little show.

    One thing that came through clearly when Gary spoke, that should be emphasized constantly: The “cycling community” (hate that term, but here I am using it) is spending the time and money to educate themselves. To learn the laws. To understand best practices. To learn techniques that might seem counterintuitive to the ignorant, but are in fact most courteous and safe. And… the cycling community is also the driving community, with experience in oth modes.

    On the other side of the isle we have the folks who are NOT educating themselves, who think they know the law but don’t (One crazy guy: “the DMV, if you read closely, says that single file is the law!”), who have not been in the shoes of the cyclists as the cyclists are regularly in the shoes of the drivers. Who pretend that they, in their cars, are at the same risk of injury and death as are the cyclists (I mean just look at that dented hood and broken windshield!).

    Great work everybody. This is how it starts, and we can only keep pushing to make it systemic.

    (Oh, and can we alert the police representative to the fact that abreast riding is legal per the VC the same way that chewing gum while driving is legal? It is not prohibited in any literal way or implication, so it is legal. That round-a-bout answer to the council member was troubling. “up to interpretation.” Yeah… unless you can read.)

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