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.

END

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Tough race

July 13, 2016 § 31 Comments

This sport is all about endurance. You have to spend a ton of time on your rear end, seated in an uncomfortable position, patiently waiting while all the idiots around you shoot their bullets until the perfect moment comes to stand up, lunge to the front, and make your move.

Sometimes the riders around you will cuss, fart, spit, blow snot rockets, complain, jostle for position, and do everything in their power to grind you down. You have to be patient, even as you too are gradually getting worn down from the exhaustion, the pain, the misery, and the idiocy of the contest.

Over and over you say to yourself, “Why the hell am I here?” and “What’s the friggin’ point?” and “I’m done, I’m going home,” but somehow you grit your teeth and endure the pain, the torture, and each needle of agony as the event slowly grinds on.

But then that moment comes in the city council meeting when it’s your turn and you get up to the lectern and all the clever things you were going to say begin with “Uh,” and “Um,” and your scintillating speech that was going to bring the crowd to its feet dribbles out in a rehash of what the other fifty speakers said and you fall into the Public Speaking Time Warp Dimension, where your three-minute speaker time allotment goes by in what seems like three seconds, whereas for your audience it goes by slower than three years of Chinese water torture.

Last night’s call to arms at the Palos Verdes Estates city council meeting was a complete success. About ninety cyclists absolutely packed the church pews in the council chambers so that it was standing room only. All of the yammerers and complainers and bitchers and email spammers and NextDoor-pitchfork-vigilantes who we feared would show up en mass and shout us down stayed exactly where you’d think Internet trolls would stay: At home, venting more spleen in yet another livid email.

We were also concerned that the Lunada Bay Boys On Mom’s Couch might make a cameo appearance and bombard us with grunts, but then we realized that since the meeting started at 7:30 PM, they’d already be fighting with their younger 40-year-old-ish siblings over who was getting the couch and who was getting the carpet.

What we found instead were the large, mostly washed masses of cyclists who’d tromped in from as far away as the San Fernando Valley and Huntington Beach to give voice to their support for BMUFL (Bikes May Use the Fukkin’ Lane) signage. Of the forty-two people who spoke, only one person didn’t speak in favor of BMUFL.

The outcome of the meeting was straightforward. The council will vote on BMUFL signage on July 26. Our voices have been heard and will be taken into account. The council will likely approve the traffic safety committee’s recommendation to:

  1. Take down the Darth Vader signs ominously saying “Bicycle Laws Strictly Enforced.”
  2. Put up the Luke Skywalker signs saying “3-Feet It’s the Law.”
  3. Send the BMUFL signage recommendation back to committee to decide the actual number and placement of signs.

Although it’s entirely possible that the Lunada Bay Boys On Mom’s Couch and the Internet Troll Commission will show up in force at that meeting because it’s the one at which the actual vote will occur, the council was incredibly receptive to and appreciative of our input, all 4,835.2 minutes of it. Talk about an endurance sportt! The bike blab-a-thon portion ended at 9:30 and the council still hadn’t even reached the main items on its agenda.

None of this would have happened without the incredible leadership of Michael Barraclough and Delia Park. And it certainly wouldn’t have happened without the support of the many cyclists who attended the protest ride and all of the other meetings, proving a key point: The cycling community is so vast that no one has to attend every meeting. We can fill entire council chamber rooms with a mostly new group of people every single time.

The meeting begin with a web site tutorial oriented towards the average PVE resident who apparently is just now learning about the Internet. It’s hard to describe, but think of the Internet as a bunch of computers connected together that can share information. It’s like Bingo without the excitement.

The city has a new web site with lots of links and a content management system which will give employees one more awful task they have to slog through. And although the web site’s only two images were an ocean cliff, presumably to leap from, and an antique Porsche that trust me, you can’t afford, it immediately occurred to me that what that web site is really going to need is a section called “Cycling in the Peninsula,” where the 3-foot law, the BMUFL law, and the mutual obligations of bikers and cagers to follow the traffic laws are set forth.

After learning about web sites and the Internet, the council sank into their chairs for what promised to be a long night of biker blabber. They begged us not to be repetitive and to keep it short, but we just couldn’t resist using that allotment of three minutes and as their looks of resignation turned to despair we soldiered on. If I weren’t an atheist I’d nominate each of those council members and the mayor for sainthood.

The speakers were:

Bruce Steele, lawyer and biker dude.
Diego Binatena, pro cyclist and Eagle Scout in uniform.
Julie Lansing, Scout leader and lifelong cyclist.
Craig Eggers, Big O bulwark and dude who’s been cycling more years than he’s been driving.
Annie Spalding, mom, wife, and non-cyclist who is vitally affected by what happens to cyclists because her husband and son ride.
Bob Spalding, rock of the South Bay, iron-legged Canyon Bob who has never met a flat he couldn’t fix or a rider in distress he wouldn’t stop to help.
Sam Spalding, college student commuter cyclist who compared cycling in Minneapolis and Portland to PVE.
Michael Lewis, lifelong cyclist.
Mike Barraclough, heart and soul of the movement whose speaking time was interrupted by the Shot Clock Controversy when the clerk forgot to start his 3-minute timer and then shaved too many seconds off his speaking time, after which the coach protested, a time-out was called, and on a fast-break to the inside Barraclough stuffed an 0ver-the-rim behind-the-back triple axel forward 4-and-a-half somersault in the Pike postion to score a perfect 10 and win the game in double overtime on penalty kicks.
Trish Botsko, PV Bike Chicks cyclist who spoke eloquently about bike signs and safety.
Mario Obejas, BCCC engineer dude and member of one of the best and biggest clubs in the South Bay.
Jose Godinez, South Bay stalwart and biker dude who has been to almost every meeting.
Eric Bruins, hard core advocate and professional bike dude who talks change and sense and collaboration all at the same time and doesn’t sound insane.
Tom Duong, Flog Ride regular, another you-aint-getting-rid-of-me advocate who has been integral to every meeting and protest.
Cassady Davidson, my awesome daughter who came with her husband Torazo and my grandbaby Rin-chan, who took one look at all the people and did a double-diaper-blast, after which he was unceremoniously removed from the proceedings.
Brian Gee, cyclist and talker dude.
Patrick Noll, German cyclist dude who is more articulate in his second language than I am in my first.
Steve Thorpe, cyclist dude who supports BMUFL, as he should.
Chris Tregillis, winner of the City Council KOM and super articulate talker dude.
Nigel Stewart, biker and talker dude.
Delia Park, how awesome is Delia? That would be “very.” Inspiring, committed, always shows up, keeps the troops in line, and please don’t even think about pissing her off with your dumb comments.
Yasuko Davidson, my cute wife who was too short for the mic and who got in a stiff uppercut to the jaw for BMUFL.
Joey Cooney, another stalwart who has made every meeting, dude rides, is local, and sticks around like badly burnt eggs on the bottom of an iron skillet.
Alan Stoddard, biker talker dude.
Geoffrey and Austin Loui, dad-and-son combo, Geoffrey also makes all the meetings and brings his kids. Start democracy young.
Joann Zwagerman, best speaker with a broken arm and funniest comment about her mom: “Okay, Joann, you’ve proven you can ride a bicycle. Now stop!”
Joel Elliott, conducted an awesome plebescite: “How many of you wankers ride?” [99% of people raised their hands]. “Now, how many of you wankers have been hit?” [98%].
Don Wolfe, drove from Westchester, awesome rider and talker and BWR dude.
Kevin Nix, succinct talker and bike race winner dude.
Jonathan Fredrick, best sense of humor dude whose last name has one “e” and whose last name can get you into trouble if you leave out the “r.”
Wendy Watson, another stalwart, rides better in her 70’s than I did in my 20’s.
Mark Maxson, awesome resident cyclist and talker father PVE dude.
S. Davidson, blah blah blah but at least it was brief.
Vic Cooper, cyclist and talker dude.
Ray Colquhoun, Big O hammer.
Hung Nguyen, dude drove from Huntington Beach and got the sprint jersey as a result.
Carl Frushon, military cancer survivor biker and fundraiser for charitable events dude.
Carlos Jura, cell tower dude and coastal commission complainer dude and bike admonisher dude.
Kristie Fox, only person who brought up science, comparing the British and American models for roadway usage and why the Brits were good and the US sucks, which leads us to ask, “Why do you hate America?”
Denis Faye, only dude to mention a crazy pack of ferrets and cycling in the same sentence.
David Brindon, cameraman and Olympian and world champion cycling dude.

After the lovin‘, the mayor and city council, all of whom stayed awake, thanked us for our input and encouraged us to return on July 26, although inwardly they prayed that if we did show up again we wouldn’t speak endlessly about the same damned thing because, you know, they get it. Police Chief Kepley thanked us for our civility and professionalism, and we adjourned, leaving the council to another several hours of brutal business that had nothing to do with bikes.

Thank you to everyone who made the effort to attend. Thank you to Mayor Jennifer King, you have the patience of Job and the endurance of an Ironman winner. Thank you to council members James Vandever, Betty Lin Peterson, Jon Rea, and James F. Goodhart. It’s local elected officials like you, unpaid except for the gratification you get from bettering your community, who are the bedrock of our democracy.

And democracy really happens when people show up.

END

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