No expletives were harmed in this protest

January 16, 2017 § 56 Comments

Yesterday we met at Malaga Cove Plaza and rolled out our fancy new Bikes May Use Full Lane signs as part of our free speech demonstration. We held up the signs for all motorists to see, so that they could learn about the law and so that we could exercise our right to free speech.

By my rough estimate, more than a billion cars passed by, or perhaps it was a thousand or so. Many waved, a few showed the finger, and one sympathizer of the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch and Robert Chapman stuck his head out of the window of his rusty pickup and screamed, “Cars first!”

I pleasantly shouted back, “State law!”

He screamed, apoplectic, “Fuck you! Cars first! Whiny faggot!” summing up perfectly the grounds on which a tiny handful of people oppose the law.

The best car was a house divided, where the sour driver husband grimly shook his head and gave us a thumbs-down, while his wife enthusiastically smiled and gave us a thumbs-up. I bet she has a happy pool guy.

The great news is that standing at the intersection with a concise, easily seen statement of the law works wonders. The not-so-great news is that if you’re holding up an actual traffic sign that hasn’t been approved for installation by the city, the PVE PD will come up and threaten to cite you for violating CVC 21465. We had a civil and brief discussion with the police, who told us that it was free speech if our signs were made of cardboard, but not free speech if they were actual traffic signs. The statute doesn’t say this, of course, and we pretty clearly have the right as part of a demonstration to hold up whatever signs we want, but since the point of the protest was to educate motorists rather than be led away in chains, and since it was lunch time, we ended the protest without being fined or arrested. #winning

Our next and expanded intersection education campaign is already in the works. Thanks to all who honked encouragement, the cyclists who rode by and grinned, the entire Surf City Cyclery Team who yelled as they rode through, the high five from Gussy, and the advocates who showed up to help educate the city’s motorists.

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Pizza conquers all

November 11, 2016 § 30 Comments

We showed up in force for the PVE City Council meeting on November 8, beginning with sign protests at Malaga Cove Plaza. Rather than riding our bikes, about twenty people stood on the various corners and held up signs that said “Bikes May Use Full Lane,” “3 Cyclists Dead!” and various other proclamations of our rights. We even had a young protester up in a tree!

It was fun sitting on the corner while the crazypants video nuts stood around and took videos of the protest, and the only non-fun part was that I’d pulled my fascius buttassicus muscle and had to stay seated holding up my signs. Roughly one in five cars came through the intersection, saw the signs, and gave us a shout or a thumbs up, and only a handful cursed, told us to ride on the sidewalk, or advised us to go die.

Living up to its moniker as Dick City, after the protest ended I hobbled across the street, hunched over from the spazzed-out back muscles, and a nasty old woman in a giant red Buick rolled down her window and screeched, “Get out of the street!”

In the crosswalk. So classy!

The huge benefit to holding up signage at the intersection was that passing motorists understood why we were there. After the previous protest ride one citizen had approached the group and said that people had no idea what we were advocating for or why we were riding around the plaza. It was a great point and we took it to heart, and of course our signage proved our point about BMUFL signage: IT WORKS.

People saw it, read it, understood it, and went away knowing more than when they got there. It also completely destroyed the NIMBY, Special Snowflake on the Hill theory espoused by Garrett Unno, Zoe Unno, Cynthia Bianchi, and Shannon Zaragoza that signage is unnecessary or that it somehow has to be part of a big, multi-year project.

Put up the fucking signs already.

After an hour and a half of signing we went over to the city council chambers where the mayor opened things up by praising a group of young students for taking an active interest in city government and becoming participants in democracy. Too bad the kids didn’t stick around to see the shenanigans pulled by Mayor King as she squashed dissent, illegally limited speaking times based on speech content, and showed a stony, cold heart to people’s pleas for help.

Our council meeting strategy was different because Mayor King had made it clear that she had dug in and not about to put BMUFL signs back on the agenda. In order to shut us up she had moved the meeting back to 5:30 from its regular time of 7:30, hoping that people wouldn’t be able to get off work (doesn’t she know cyclists are all unemployed?). Then she shoved public comment back to the very end of the meeting, hoping that by forcing us to wait around we’d give up and go home.

Sadly, both ploys failed. More than fifty people showed up to the combined protest and council meeting, including:

Doug P.
Kristie F.
Greg S.
Jay Y.
John W.
Joann Z.
Michael B.
Seth D.
Andrew N.
Sean S.
John K.
Greg L.
Yasuko D.
Alan K.
Michelle L.
Patrick N.
Hung N.
Alistair M.
Don W.
Ian D.
Tom D.
Geoffrey L.
Kate H.
Victor C.
Kathryn K.
Brian G.
Chuck C.
Charlie T.
Diana T.
Gary C.
Kevin S.
Larry L.
Jose G.
Mark M.
Steve G.
Alan S.
Delia P.
Leo L.
Reinaldo A.
Chris W.
Mario O.
Matt M.
Lisa M.
Lauren M.
Jeannette A.
Brent D.
Ron P.
Rebecca P.
Francie U.
Tara U.
Marv C.
Ava S.
Sarah B.
So instead of waiting patiently for our speaking “opportunity” which Mayor King had shoved to the end of the meeting, we objected to the entire consent calendar and submitted speaker cards for each agenda item so that we could provide the council with our input on the entirety of city matters up for consideration.
Kristie was brilliant and eloquent in her opposition to the city’s proposal to begin submitting draft pro/con arguments for ballot measures; Andrew N. spoke knowledgeably about the proposed increase in city funds for police patrols at Lunada Bay; Greg L. was emphatic opposing the “bad hombres” causing trouble in the city; and numerous people weighed in on the sunset provision for the fire department tax. They were so sick of us that Mayor King didn’t even bother to append the obligatory “thank you” after some of us finished.
Mayor King was livid and rather than giving each speaker the 3-minutes of time typically allotted for citizen input on agenda items, she slashed the speaking time per speaker to two minutes and then limited total discussion time to each item to six minutes. This was a blatant violation of the Brown Act and of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in White v. City of Norwalk, where the court held that public meetings may be regulated by a city council with regard to limits on speaking time, but those time limits must be content neutral. In other words, you can’t give lots of speaking time to people you like, and reduced time to those you don’t–which is exactly what she did when favored residents were given unlimited time at the lectern, and goofy cyclists cut off after sixty seconds.
If Mayor King pulls this stunt again, she can look forward to a lawsuit in federal court, and yes, the unemployed, broke-ass bike community includes hitters who are champing at the bit to fund that particular lawsuit.
The great thing about our strategy is that it really showed the need for education, both on our end and on the council’s. There is so much happening in PVE that is completely bizarre, like the $150,000 renovation of Lunada Bay Plaza designed to make it more attractive, while at the same time the city ignores bike safety and bike accommodations.
Don’t they understand that making the plaza attractive means having more pedestrians and bike traffic? Even the city council can’t possibly believe that the goal behind the plaza’s beautification is to fill the tiny area up with cars … or can they?
Finally, stuck at the ass-end of the meeting, we got to speak regarding bike signage. Mayor King made the most insincere, cold-hearted speech you’ve ever heard, and I encourage you to listen to it here, at about 2:44:58, as she tried to deflect blame by showing the fakest sympathy for the recent horrific collision a few days prior, where a person in a car rear-ended a person on a bike resulting in catastrophic injuries.
Rather than seeing this as a call to action, she stonily advised us–after chopping our speaking time to one minute and limiting the comment period to just a few minutes–that she had no plans whatsoever to put BMUFL signage back on the agenda.
Of course we had known from the beginning that she wasn’t backing down, which is why we came provisioned with much pizza, apples, meatballs, cupcakes, and other healthy party food. Hey, it’s the new normal: Twice a month the PVE city council will get to listen to the input of concerned citizens who have taken an active interest in the minutiae of the city’s governance in an attempt to better understand why they refuse to install a handful of signs.
Even with Mayor King working overtime to cut the meeting short, chop speaking times, and limit discussion, the 5:30 meeting dragged on so that we didn’t get home until after 9:30 PM, which will hopefully give the council a great idea of what future meetings hold: Beginning at the normal time of 7:30, they can expect to finish up close to midnight.
It’s the new normal because rather than doing the right thing they’ve invited the whole cycling world to get involved in their deliberations, and it’s interesting to see how it all really is related: $50,000 to tighten up enforcement for surfers where no fatality has ever occurred, but not one single nickel for signs to improve safety where three people have died. $150,000 to pretty up a plaza, but not one single nickel for signs to ensure the safety of those who visit. Long term taxation for fire department services that keep residents safe, but not one fucking nickel for signage to protect “outsiders” who travel through on public roads.
And as Mayor King is finding out, there may be ways to get rid of cyclists, but tiring them out isn’t one of them, although they did post custom notes telling us we couldn’t eat inside and we couldn’t  park our bikes indoors anymore. Next up are hall monitors.
It was pretty awesome spending the afternoon and evening with friends, eating pizza, hanging out, watching Mayor King flagrantly break the law, doing iPhone research on various agenda items, eating pizza, speaking on behalf of the dead and injured, eating pizza, and being happy. And eating pizza.
The contrast between the happy and enthused cyclists and the sour NIMBYs, not to mention the members of the council who looked miserable having to listen to flatlanders and transients opine on issues affecting their Special Snowflake on the Hill was incredible. I wanted to hand each of them a bike and an Rx to ride three times weekly. It really works.
Huge thanks to all who donated money or bought swag to help fund these activities. On to the next one, which is DECEMBER 13, 2016, 7:30 P.M. AT THE CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, 340 Palos Verdes Drive West, PALOS VERDES ESTATES, 90274.
Maybe we’ll get in some golf practice, too.

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The best defense …

November 1, 2016 § 22 Comments

Props to Garret Unno, anti-bike signage NIMBY dude from Palos Verdes Estates, for this gem:

ltr_from_unno

Yes, after leading the charge to shoot down the Bikes May Use Full Lane signage, which signage was approved by the Traffic Safety Committee, the city engineer, an outside consultant, the city attorney, and over a hundred cyclist advocates, Garrett has now targeted the 3-Feet signage recently installed in PVE to advise drivers that they have to, you know, give cyclists three feet when they pass.

Nothing like being in the vanguard to protect your idyllic community at the expense of lives!!

Still, Garrett, who is reputedly an engineer at Raytheon, deserves mad props. Dude gets R done. Quiet, head down, consistent, and relentless, his hatred of cyclists has effectively beaten back a broad-based coalition of cyclists that includes actual PVE residents. To me that’s kind of weird, because a lot of people at Raytheon cycle. Do they know that their colleague is all-in when it comes to opposing signage that protects cyclists? If I had someone like that in my office, I’d read him the riot act.

Anway, One Unno > 200 Freaks in Lycra, at least according to PVE City Council math. And he’s no dummy, either: Don’t sit around waiting for the enemy, hit them as hard as you can when and where they least expect it, and press the hell out of your advantage. Momentum doesn’t come often, and a good strategist knows to roll with the tide.

It will be absolutely fascinating to watch how the Traffic Safety Committee responds to Unno’s plea, especially since they’ve already voted for the signs, recommended that the signs be installed, and worked with the city engineer to place the signs and oversee their installation. It will be even more awesome to see how the city council, if the TSC caves to Unno, votes regarding the new signage they just installed.

Stay tuned for the shit show …

In the meantime, I’ve set up a store on Shopify where you can buy South Bay Cycling items, the purchase of which will help pay for food/drinks/snacks at our next City Council Bike Ride and Pizza Party, as well as for advocacy to fight the evil of people like Unno, his wife Zoe, Shannon Zaragoza, Frank Ponce, and the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch who zealously oppose bicycle signage in PV Estates.

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September 7 at 7:30 PM

September 6, 2016 § 22 Comments

There will be a traffic safety committee meeting at the Palos Verdes Estates city hall tomorrow at 7:30 PM. The traffic safety committee has recommended that the city install six signs that say “Bikes May Use Full Lane.” The full agenda is here; the address is 340 Palos Verdes Drive West, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274.

Sounds like glacial change that couldn’t possibly be controversial.

However, a handful of NIMBYs think that this is outrageous and will spoil the peninsula. So, in typical NIMBY fashion, they have cobbled together a petition that urges the city to delay putting up Bikes May Use Full Lane signage even though such signage has been approved by the city’s traffic safety commission and is completely legal. I’ve heard but can’t confirm that there is also a petition to limit cyclist usage of certain sections of public roads. This isn’t on the agenda, but we’ll see at the meeting if that’s in fact what some of the NIMBYs are advocating. I won’t urge you to show up and make your voice heard. Everyone has their own to-do list. Families, kids, jobs, fantasy football, and the all-important rest time for the next big group ride. I get it.

But for those who think that democracy only happens when people show up, please take a few hours out of your lives to help the traffic safety committee do what it already knows is the right thing to do.

And the right thing to do, as a very first step, is to install signage that will encourage motorists not to behave like this 14-carat asshole driving in Palos Verdes Estates who almost killed one cyclist and almost injured many more yesterday:

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The Empire Strikes Back

July 9, 2016 § 19 Comments

Now that the City of PVE’s traffic safety committee has recommended the radical and revolutionary step of putting up a couple of signs that say “BMUFL” and “3-Feet,” a group of residents has proposed banning bikes from certain public roads within the city.

Nice.

I will be charitable and assume they don’t understand that the streets in PVE are public and that bicycles are legally allowed to ride on them. I will be charitable and assume that they don’t understand that municipalities cannot preempt the California Vehicle Code. I will be charitable and assume that they haven’t thought through the ramifications of a few  angry citizens seizing public property.

But I won’t be charitable when it comes to the cycling community.

Here’s why: On July 12, at 6:00 PM, there will be a city council meeting at Palos Verdes Estates council chambers, 340 PV Drive. Cycling and the approval of the new signs is not on the agenda.

However, opponents of the signage, who also advocate illegally restricting cyclists from public roads, have already met with police and city officials. Postings on social media indicate that some PVE residents are going to virulently oppose any affirmative steps taken by the city to make cycling safer, or to increase enforcement of California’s 3-foot law.

nextdoor1

Happily, I’m one of the targets in all this. Two members of the Lunada Bay Boys On Mom’s Couch Gang showed up at the protest ride and introduced themselves as “Rich dudes,” then interviewed me and did a great job of proving that I was wrong when I said that none of the roads in PVE were wide enough to accommodate a car and bike side-by-side. After heckling our protest ride, they put together a video and proved pretty clearly that a very short portion of the road we were on was 18 feet wide.

They neglected to note that it was only a couple of hundred feet long before it immediately narrowed down to a substandard width, and they agreed that the 3-foot law needs to be enforced. Bizarrely, the street that they have proven to be wide enough to accommodate bikes and cars (for a few hundred feet) is now part of the very same section of roadway that the angry residents are trying to ban cycle traffic from.

Moreover, they didn’t think my blog was funny, which is weird, because I try really hard to write a fair, balanced, ordinary bicycling blog that is non-controversial. Why? One simple reason: My mom sometimes reads it and I would be mortified if she ever saw me write words like “fuck” and “shit.”

But back to the Lunada Bay Boys On Mom’s Couch. They deserve props for caring enough about the issue to show up, scream at peaceful protesters, video it, spend two weeks and all 56 of their combined IQ points editing it, and then share it from an email called SuperRoidInRB@gmail.com. And I mean that. They do care. They may be unemployed bums, but unemployed bums have a whole lot of choices about what to do in a day, and choosing to counter-protest is pretty healthy for democracy, certainly more so than another drunken day harassing women and vandalizing cars at an illegal rock shelter built on protected public state shorelines.

The bicycling community now needs to build on the success we’ve had with the traffic safety committees in PVE and Rancho PV. What does that mean?

It means it’s time for usto show up.

The city council will allow concerned members of the public to address the signage issue even though the council won’t be voting on it at this meeting. This past Wednesday 17 cyclists made polite, sincere, and intelligent appeals to the PVE traffic safety committee. That needs to happen again on July 12, and again when the council meets to formally vote on the recommendations. You can rest assured that the PVE residents who don’t want the 3-foot and BMUFL signs installed have already met, spoken, and emailed every single council member, the city manager, the city engineer, and everyone on the traffic safety committee.

If you can’t make it, fine. What about your husband or wife pr boyfriend or girlfriend or kids? If you can make it, why not bring your husband, wife, or kids with you? The roads may be in PVE, but PVE doesn’t own them. To the contrary, the city takes hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars to pave and maintain them. They are our roads, too.

Democracy isn’t Facebook. It’s not Twitter. It’s not email or Reddit or NextDoor or campaign contributions and it’s sure as hell not this blog.

Democracy is you, your family, and the most precious resource you have: Your time. The elected officials in PVE are like elected officials everywhere else. They show up, struggle with problems, and try to find the best solutions for the least price that results in the most happy constituents and the fewest angry ones.

In short, if they’re doing their jobs even remotely correctly, they compromise.

We can be part of the compromise, but only if we collaborate by showiung up. I know that Tuesday is Telo training crit day and Eldo training crit day and there are lots of better places to be at 6:00 PM, but we can’t be heard by the people who matter unless we’re in the chambers with our names on a speaker card.

Please show up and help. Ironfly, South Bay Wheelmen, BCCC, PV Bike Chicks, and especially the members of the Double Secret Probation Cycling Committee, i.e. Jim Hannon & Eric Bruins & Mike Norris. LaGrange will be sending people, and they’re not even in the South Bay–they’re coming because public access to public roads isn’t a joking matter, and safety in PV is crucial to every cyclist on the coast.

We need you.

You will be empowered by the engagement and you’ll gain a ton of respect for the council members and the police. You’ll also gain respect for the people who oppose safer and better streets, and who think that bicycles are a plague. They may see the world differently, but they care enough to show up and make their case. They want their city to be a better place, and to them that means fewer bikes.

They care.

Do you?

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PS: If you’re planning on attending the Tuesday, July 12 meeting of the PV City Council, please note: 1) Although the meeting starts at 6:00 PM, public comment won’t begin until 7:30, and probably not until after that. So no need to be there at 6:00. 2) The council will be voting on the signs at their next July meeting; this meeting is an opportunity for us to communicate to the council that we support the signage and want them to vote on it at the next meeting. Hopefully you can attend both meetings.

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