July 8, 2018 § 7 Comments

A couple of months ago we were descending Highridge to the light at Hawthorne when I noticed the road was pockmarked with gnarly cracks and chugholes. They had been there forever but I never thought much about them. You just whiz down, pay attention, and avoid them. It’s not that hard.

Unless you’re riding with someone who hasn’t been doing this since 1982, in which case you realize pretty quickly that what is simply something to notice and avoid for you can be a life altering collision trigger for someone else. My someone else got to the light and shook her head. “Those are so dangerous!” she said.

I thought about it for a second. Then I agreed. “Deadly, in fact.”

Responsive local gummint

The next day my wife went back and emailed me photos of the mined-out roadscape, and I sent them on the City of Rancho Palos Verdes’s public works department, and noted that these were exactly the kind of cracks that can kill vulnerable road users like cyclists.

Twenty-four hours later I got a very nice message from the city saying that the holes and cracks had all been filled.

And they had.

So it occurred to me that taking the time to make a pothole report every now and then was a good thing, especially since the problem actually got taken care of.

A little over a week ago we were coming home on Vista del Mar, in the City of Los Angeles, and my wife hit a gnarly crack that jerked her front wheel violently to the side. She came within millimeters of hitting the pavement and knocking me down, too. I was shaking after she cleared the obstacle.

We got home and I sent an email to the city’s pothole reporting hotline.


There are dozens of dangerous cracks, raised manhole covers, manhole covers with degraded asphalt around them, and potholes in the Number 1 lane of Vista del Mar all the way from Napoleon to Imperial. Numerous of these conditions are dangerous for bicycles and will result in a bicycle collision if the front or rear tire gets caught in the cracks.


The very next day I got this response:

Your Pothole – Small Asphalt Repair request was updated on 07/02/2018 1:19 PM.

Service Request # 1-1085237921


Status: Closed

Closed – See Comments

Recent comments:

No potholes found upon inspection of S/B Vista Del Mar between Napoleon St. and Imperial Hwy.. There were no raised manhole covers either.

So I went for another bike ride, and sent them this:


I am not sure where you were looking or how you conducted the inspection. Attached are photos I took yesterday showing just a few of the cracks, holes, and manhole covers into which a bike tire can easily get caught.


And I included these:

To which the fine folks in the public works department the next day said this:

Thank you for contacting the City of Los Angeles. Please provide the exact location of where these cracks are at. Are they on Vista del Mar? Between what cross streets? I will reopen another request.


Leading me to say:

Hi, KM

These are all on Vista del Mar at various locations, beginning at the light at Napoleon and running all the way to Imperial. They are all in the No. 1 lane, southbound headed towards El Segundo.

You will have difficulty seeing them at 45 mph from behind the windshield of a truck. The most effective way to inspect would be on bicycles.


Which resulted in:

Thank you for submitting your Pothole – Small Asphalt Repair Service Request. Please note the Service Request number for future reference.

Service Request # 1-1091425871


Ignoring vulnerable road users

In addition to the hideous condition of Vista del Mar southbound, anyone who’s ever done the NPR knows that northbound it’s a billion times worse. But the city’s public works department isn’t really interested in fixing the problem, what they’re interested in doing is creating a record that will provide them with an absolute defense the next time they get sued. You can tell that because the location they’ve identified is “Vista del Mar at Napoleon St.” when I specifically told them it was all the way from there to Imperial.

This past year the city got dinged with a $9 million judgment when a cyclist hit a pothole and suffered catastrophic injuries. When you sue the city/county/state, you have to prove that they were on notice, or should have been on notice, of the dangerous condition. In order to do that the plaintiff makes a public records request to see if anyone has complained about the pothole or other dangerous condition in the past, and if they have and the city has done nothing about it, then the city is “on notice” of the dangerous condition and can be held liable for the resulting injuries.

So the city now has a policy, apparently, of rushing out to the site, giving it a clean bill of health, and calling it good. That way they can “prove” that there was no dangerous condition as of the date of the inspection, and therefore any subsequent collision would have had to have been caused by a “new” pothole that they didn’t know about. Of course Vista del Mar in between Napoleon and Imperial is one long 2-mile dangerous condition, but only for bicycles. The non-inspection performed by the city above gives them cover for their failure to repair.

I still think it’s worthwhile to stop and photograph the cracks and potholes, and to follow up with the city. It only takes a few minutes, and in the case of some municipalities, they will actually do something about it. For the ones that don’t, like L.A., as long as you keep emailing them that it’s not fixed, they’re “on notice.”



Tuesday’s NPR round-up: Cheaters never win, but they sure have FUN!!!

May 8, 2012 Comments Off on Tuesday’s NPR round-up: Cheaters never win, but they sure have FUN!!!

I don’t know who coined the phrase, “Cheaters never win.” It was obviously someone who was never elected to office, never practiced law, never worked in banking, never submitted reimbursement requests to MediCare, never was married, or never won the TdF.

To make it strictly accurate, the phrase should be re-worked to say, “Cheaters didn’t win on the NPR today.”

We had a huge group at the Pier including the usual suspects: G$, Mighty Mouse, New Girl, Bull, Heeleys Dad & Jr., USC John, Fireman, Suze, Cary, Scott Apartmentsyndicate, Gooseman, Chris D., Kramer, Wolfeman, Lisa C., and guest appearances by Roadchamp, DJ, Damien “The Omen,” and on and on and on. And on.

Everyone began yelling “Bike path!!” on roll-out, so we stomped up the hill instead and took the Alleyway of Death just to be contrarian. The usual barely-caffeinated drivers backing out of their garages, runners stepping off curbs, huge potholes, and blind roadway entrances kept things lively until we hit Vista del Mar. As the nice 2×2 formation gradually ratcheted up the pace, G$ rolled to the fore and ordered that the pace be cut so that people could catch back on.

I hung my head, scolded, and retreated towards the back. It was a big-ass group.

It’s a new sport called Dodgecar

The mechanics of the NPR are kind of funny, because in addition to picking up people along Vista del Mar, once we bend right to go up Pershing there’s always a big group of 20-40 people camped out in the parking lot waiting for us to come by. They are stopped. In a parking lot. Unclipped. Around a blind corner. At the bottom of a hill.

We are single file. Coming down a long, fast grade. Through a green light. At about 30.

If we hit the red light, it gives the campers a chance to adjust their maxi-pads, apply the final coat of lip gloss, clip in, and then get started up the hill so that when our light turns green they can meld with the group. If we hit the green light, there is pandemonium worthy of a soccer match between pre-schoolers. Leaping on bikes, flailing cleats clicking into chains instead of pedals, curses, shouts, wobbly starts in the wrong gear, swerving bikes at 5 mph veering out of the parking lot into the middle of the 30 mph swarm…in short, it’s the kind of early morning clusterfuck that makes you glad you’re on your bike, and makes you determined to be the clusterfucker rather than the clusterfuckee.

This morning, having been relegated by G$, I nosed towards the fore as we approached the light. Red. Just before I touched the brakes…hallelujah!!…GREEN! I mashed it hard as a lumbering SUV in front of me turned on its right-hand blinker. So far so good, but there was nowhere for it to turn, except into the parking lot of campers, who were now wildly flailing to exit and hook onto the tail of the missile.

I easily cruised around the car, but it scrubbed off the 60 or so riders behind me except for Roadchamp and Bull.

Vapor, rolling out of the parking lot at a standstill, was none too pleased. “Hey, wankers! Be careful! And quit attacking while we’re stopped!”

Don’t piss off the dude who rides tempo at 32

By the time I got to the top of the small hill, I’d been joined by Roadchamp, Bull, Seanergy, and Suze. The Sho-Air dude from a couple of weeks ago was parked on the side of the road, glumly eyeing us as he changed a flat. We pounded on.

At the overpass, the pack was in another county. Roadchamp and Bull were taking gnarly pulls from hell. Seanergy was working. I was wondering how they had spotted my testicles lying in the road while we were going so fast, yet still managed to stop, pick them up, and them stuff them down my throat. Which made breathing hard.

When we hit the Parkway, Sho-Air Shawshank redeemed himself, and then some. He began pulling so hard that our tiny group could barely rotate around him, much less match his speed. Shawshank now had the bit between his teeth, and we had a breakaway. As with other completely futile fantasies grounded in an unfirm grasp of reality, we thought it might stick. No break has ever stuck from the beginning of the NPR.

Come on baby, light my fire

Meanwhile, back in the pack, Vapor was pissed. We’d blitzed him by surprise (though in my own very, very weak defense I always mash it up Pershing) and now we had a huge gap with some horsepower. Vapor began taking pulls that were so fast and sick that Fireman reported entire lungs being coughed up from those unlucky enough to be on his wheel. If you’ve ever done Tim Roach’s Hour of Power at the velodrome and had Vapor show up, you’ll know what this was like. The dude can go harder and faster and longer than anything without an internal combustion engine. And when he decides to pour on the coal, the combustion is what happens behind him.

Fortunately, our little cadre of cheaters was soon joined by other cheating wankers. Tree Perkins, who’d been out toodling around, hopped into our group and took a couple of pulls. Adam Tattooed Leg Dude got overhauled, hopped in, and helped out for a lap. Big fat Equipe wanker out for a Parkway pedal joined our team and almost sort of halfway kind of thought about maybe taking a pull before he quit.

And the entire way Roadchamp, Bull, Shawshank, and Seanergy were flogging the big meat harder than a teenage boy on his first visit to

All good things must end. Bad things, too.

Just before the light at the beginning of the third lap, we all came together, ridden down by the efforts of Vapor and sub-efforts by some of his lieutenants, including G3, Austin Heeley, USC John, and G$. “Cheaters never win!” he yelled.

A spirited discussion between him and Roadchamp ensued. As the cheater-in-chief, I thought it best to keep rolling lest the donkey tail get pinned on me, where it mostly belonged. I glanced around and people looked destroyed. At that moment Mighty Mouse roared to the fore, and I could tell that she’d worn her very best dick-stomping boots to the party. Whatever sausages hadn’t been speared and roasted, she proceeded to stomp to a fare the well.

The end was predictable. I made one last flailaway attempt that never even gained separation. The group was shot to shit, and hardly anyone had any gas at all in the finale, except for Vapor and Motorhead. Motorhead took the sprint with what looked like a nice lead-out from Vapor. I was so far back that the only way I got the results was from smoke signals.

Moral #1: Don’t piss off Vapor with a sneaky, cheapass move and expect to stay away.
Moral #2: If you’re hoping we’ll start easy at the bottom of Pershing, you might be disappointed.
Moral #3: That taste of puke in your mouth at 7:30 AM? Well, it beats sitting in traffic.

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