Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Police State

As I write this, I am of two minds about publishing it. It is a true story, but it comes with consequences (as all stories do). There are those who will think it is a "bicycle story", and tangentially, it is. Mostly, though, it is a statement on how things in American cities are very on the edge these days.

Last Saturday, ironically, just 30 minutes after writing and posting this, I had a very frightening encounter while riding on Valencia St. with my husband and older son. The sun was shining and the street was lined with pedestrians and cyclists despite the massive construction along the street that has eaten up both the sidewalks and the bike lanes. The three of us were headed to pick up my son's new contact lenses. As we approached the intersection at 17th St. I found myself being cut off by a driver turning right, no signal. I was in that weird place where you can't stop but you are still behind the car, so I rang my bell a couple of times and gave a shout out. The driver slowed the car but kept moving, slowly enough for me to pass but fast enough to be nerve rattling. The windows were down on the car and I could see the driver and his two passengers looking out at me. They were paying so much attention to me, I was worried they didn't see James and Cameron behind me, so I told the driver there were two more bikes behind me and kept riding. I could hear the driver yell something at me in an angry voice. It sounded like he called me a bitch but I couldn't really hear him.

At this point I did something kind of dumb, I flipped him off. This wasn't the most intelligent thing, but at some point you just get sick of being called names for not wanting to be run over.

I was about to look back to see where the boys were when I heard a big bore engine gun behind me and my first thought was "OK. You're one of those drivers." and I braced myself for whatever was coming next. The part of Valencia St. we were on no longer has a bike lane (temporary) and instead has a ditch with sharp gravel in it. In a situation like this, I find parked cars a great boon as you can dive between them to get out of the way, but there was nowhere to go so I would have to just be ready.

The car raced up next to me, just a little too close for comfort, to force me to slow down. I kept moving but he paced me. The driver leaned over his passenger and said "Shut your fucking mouth bitch or I'll knock you off your bike". He didn't yell it at me, he just stated it like there was no way it could be any other way, straight to my face. My nature is to not show fear, especially with people like this- I have found it makes them more bold. I looked right back at him ( I started taking note of all the details- the driver, the passenger in the back, the colour of the car....) and asked him if he would like me to call the police to report his harassing me? I got another "shut up bitch" and he started to drive away, slowly to see if I would try to pass him.

At that point I was just annoyed- I shouldn't have flipped him off, but he shouldn't have done any of the things he had done (I realized at this point that his almost right hooking me was not an accident). Then I saw what turned the whole thing very frightening- the car was an unmarked San Francisco Police car. Red and amber lights were in the rear window along with what looked like a police citation book.

I was completely floored. I had just been threatened and intimidated by a police officer. His partners in the car had done nothing to stop him. To top it off, this all happened not 100 feet from the Mission Police Station (which I turned around and went straight into to file a report which is now with the Office Of Citizen Complaints). The worst part was that from behind, both James and Cameron thought I was about to be run down in front of them (James pulled out his cell phone to start taking pictures). That was when I started shaking, just a little but for the next three hours.

This by no means puts me off of riding or makes me distrust all police officers . While this officer may have a special thing for cyclists, his issue was not with me, or me on a bike, or anything even remotely that personal. This is about one person's need to prove his power over the world around him and intimidate everyone and everything that comes close to him. My bicycle probably is more of a target for him than if I had been on foot, but he would be just as hateful and mean regardless.

Had he done this to many other cyclists, and my guess is he has on many occasions, they would probably stop riding. While I understand that, what I hope people understand is that this kind of behavior has nothing to do with bike lanes, or the need for infrastructure, or a lack of bicycle culture and points more to something deeper and more insidious that is happening in our cities. People are finding it more and more acceptable to behave poorly or as though they are in a movie.

I will not stop riding. It would take a hell of a lot more than this to stop me. I will not let this situation pass without making this officer face me and tell me why he thinks it is OK to threaten a women with bodily harm in front of her family. I will fight back so that no one else has to deal with this.

Maybe working for real bicycle culture is about working for a better culture period. Maybe the people who ride bicycles are something of a canary in a coal mine and how we are treated is a barometer for how all vulnerable members of society are being treated these days. Of course, with all of the people out there trying to build that culture, there is way more to be happy about than intimidated or angry. We have a voice and we can use it.

We can ride our bikes.

update- this story has been picked up by Streetsblog SF and NBC to air at 11 pm this evening.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

tuesday injection of fun: riding with a reeeeeally little one.

recently one of my dearest friends from school came to stay with me for a week. she's seven months pregnant. in our walking tour of her hometown of SF, we stumbled upon this absolutely adorable onesie...

Ride. On.

start 'em young, right?

have a great day everyone.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Means Two Wheeled Women

Everyone wants to know where the women on bikes are? They are out there getting to where they are going. It is Monday, and there is stuff to do!

(T)Rusty Companion
image by Amsterdamize

Mom & Daughter

Waiting For A Signal

Per la Diagonal
image by Bart Omeu

Lady and girl been out shopping
image by anglomex

Saturday, March 27, 2010

From Chile with love.

We have received a lovely story from Fernando in Chile.
I hear that Chile has plenty of crazy hills similar to here, in San Francisco. This makes me happy because hauling those hills is a pain in the butt, but very worth the while. Awesome!
"After twists and turns with wooden stairs, we rested on the side depleted, exhausted, but happy to enjoy the unique view. Here Andres said the dancing water fountain Salvador - Providence"

Read more of their adventure, tire punctures included (I have linked the English translation) here: Adventures on two wheels
But, if you read en Español, here is the original post: Aventuras sobre dos ruedas

Muchas gracias Fernando!! :D

The Fuzz Rides A Bike

San Francisco is a strange place- a liberal city that tries reeeeeeeaaaaalllly hard to not show its conservative underbelly. However, this is a city that was founded by two institutions, the Catholic church and the military. While time has brought us so many of the things by which our City by the Bay is now known, our underpinnings are still quite authoritarian. One of the areas where this dichotomy can be easily seen is in the relationship between the San Francisco Police Department and the bicycle riders of the City.

SFPD has a long history of difficulty with "fringe" groups, be they hippies or gays or protesters against the 1980's war in Nicaragua or, currently, bicyclists. I frequently think it must be difficult to be an authority figure in a city that is not known for its respect of authority, but I have also thought that these are issues that both sides have contributed to equally. With the newish Chief of Police, Chief Gascón, talking about "cracking down" on Critical Mass (I wonder if he knows the history of the protest and how ineffective it has been to try and stop it), many cyclists here have had further cause to feel that the SFPD has no desire to understand our needs and challenges.

Now we have a film of the Chief out on a ride with the Editor of SF Streetsblog, Bryan Goebel and Andy Thornley, Assistant Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. I am hoping this means that Chief Gascón is starting to understand that the issue in SF is not that cyclists are outlaws, but that the situation that stands in SF, and has for over 20 years, is one where cyclists feel little allegiance to the law because we have been shown repeatedly that the law of SF has shown little allegiance to us. Hopefully, this ride is a beginning of a discussion that does not rely on the assumption that there is no way to make cycling, and protection of cyclists, a normal and safe reality in San Francisco.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


What exactly is the difference between a car driver and a bicycle rider? When you really get down to it, what is the difference? I know we all play up the idea that there is one; cyclists are good, drivers are lazy, bicycles are green, cars kill... but when we dig down a bit, does the comparison hold up? When we take the machines out of the equation, are the people who use them different from one another in the same ways?

Still Looking Sweedish (103/365)

I am a bicycle rider, a very visible one. Last year I rode three times as many miles as I drove. In that time I experienced just about all the things that urban bicycle riders all over the world do. I have been doored (good for me I am quick to react so while there was a deal of swearing and name calling, there was no contact), hooked (all but one time accidentally), I have had flat tires and had to replace my tire because of all the glass in it, experienced lack of safe parking, forgotten my lock and thus had to get people to let me bring my bike into stores, not positioned my seat correctly so that my knees became so painful I couldn't straighten them...

At the same time, I have rediscovered the sheer joy of random honeysuckle, how much fun it is to hear those little bits of passing conversation that couldn't possibly mean what they sound like, that thrill of seeing a reflection of myself (from the good angle) in a shop window, waving at people I know as they move about town, the best legs I have had in years and the best part of my day- the Snugglybumpkiss


I have a great car. It is a convertible (fully automatic open and close!) with a leather interior. Driving around with the top down on a warm evening on the coast with the full moon in the sky, listening to audio books while I drive through the mountains, talking to my kids while we tool around town listening to the radio, just having a space that is my own anywhere I go...

Why Is That Woman Always In My Rearview? (23/365)

Traffic jams are the worst thing in the world that does not involve mass death (at least for me), sitting in a car seat for too long makes my back feel like it is on fire, I get car sick if I don't drive, I hate other drivers and find myself swearing at them constantly (even if the kids are in the car with me), every time something goes wrong with it it costs me a thousand dollars and I keep getting tickets on it because I forget where I parked it last week.

Road Trip For One

Maybe that is the secret of getting people out of their cars- let them hate things about cycling and love things about their cars. No one has to be the bad guy. We can all be complex persons who experience all kinds of things so that we can appreciate the simple beauty of our bicycles without guilt or defensiveness or fear.

Watcha think about that?

Stretch Hop!

Come on get off your chair!!! and stretch, go ride. take pictures. Or enjoy this super fun pic taken by our lovely lady down the peninsula -cheers :D

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lance & Tony

Here it is. Lance Armstrong and Tony Kornheiser. I will leave it to you to decide what it means to you. I am not surprised that Mr. K hasn't been on a bike since he was a child. I was surprised that he has a daughter who bicycle commutes to work. Props to Lance for taking up the cause of the 40 yo mothers!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Little Wheels, Little Dog

It's a dog themed weekend! This moment was brought to us by reader Paul Evans. He tells us it was taken in Osaka back in 2008.

How do you get your dog to stay there? Luggage straps?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Something Completely Different...

Take your dog to work day?
image from Anglomex

After yesterday's post, I thought it might be nice to get back to normal : ) It is good to remember that for 95% of the world's riders, this is a completely reasonable act and that that dog is mighty lucky!

Stupid. Plain Stupid.

When people have a forum to speak, they should really think before they open their mouths. If we can blame AC/DC for causing teenagers to commit suicide, then why can't we hold commentators like this responsible for firefighters shooting riders with their children?

What these people fail to realize is that their words, "just tap them... not a fatal tap, just knock them over... if you aren't rubbing you aren't racing" are just as bad as "he's just a nigger" or "he's just a filthy Jew" or "she was asking for it". There is no difference between gay bashing and inviting people to run down cyclists. Advocating and trivializing violence and intimidation against any group is wrong and there are no degrees to it. Stating that anyone's right to life and safety is less than your right to drive a "big powerful car" is hate speech.

ESPN is the home of this ridiculous man. He represents them. If I watch this show and hear this out of his mouth, then my assumption is that ESPN backs his words and agrees with him. ESPN suspended him for criticizing a fellow commentator's wardrobe choices, but will he be suspended for encouraging his listeners to kill? I understand that Lance Armstrong will be confronting Mr.Kornheiser on his show over this issue. I am sure that many will think that is enough.

I think he should be fired. Had he advocated violence against any group based on race or sexual orientation he would be out on his butt. It is that simple. If you encourage others to maim and kill on a national television show, you should be fired.

Feel free to comment.

via Bikerumor.

(addendum) Here is where you can let the network know you feel the same (or maybe you don't but I will just think you do). I have already sent off my feelings on the subject.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

scenes from the bikey lane: (w)holy weeks worth edition

this has been compiling in my head for the past couple of weeks. i think i had been waiting for a bit cause after a while of noticing a lot females riding to work, lately have been noticing a lot of guys and i'll be the only woman riding with them.

1. a little teeny tiny rat sized dog breaking away from its owner at 7th and market and nearly breaking its teeny little chicken wing leg in the muni tracks in front of a bus....then the light turned green. (i do not know what happened to the dog...sorry. am curious myself)

2. a raccoon in golden gate park looking a little scary. good thing i was on my bike. those eyyyessss...#nobueno

3. riding through the panhandle in the morning, i've counted tons of people on bikes, but maybe 1 to 3 will be female for the morning commute in either direction. where da females at?

4. an 18-wheeler on fell street in the left hand lane, which is the lane right next to the bike lane. i was very nervous as it passed me. that is an understatement. i had visions of the wind pulling me under the tires and running over me several times.

5. two acquaintances chatting me up on market street on the way to work. oh better than just going to work alone.

6. speaking of market, last week on the way to butter lap in the evening, i saw the beginnings of re-striping the completely ridiculous bike lane at market and 10th. NOW it makes more sense. phew and yay.

7. more bikey changes going on in the calitexican's hood at mojos. very nice spot to grab a beer and a bite after work now that the light stays with us later in the day.

8. me pulling the other meli and grabbing some coffee in the linden lands while it rained in my coffee.

Happy bikes with baskets

9. rainy days...going away....but the last rainy day, an older dapper gentleman with a matching bike said at a stop light, "thank god for fenders on a day like today!" (yes, he said it with an exclamation point) and the other guy and i at the light (again, just me and two were all smiles and saying, yes, thank goodness for fenders. no skunky stripe for me.

10. and finally, i saw this girl i went to college with walking down the street. i did a double take. she's the one that introduced me to riding around on two wheels. we had fallen out of touch, and i didn't know if i should say something, but something tells me this town is small enough that chances are highly likely i will see her again.

happy week everyone!


The new standard for "High Occupancy Vehicle".

3 Pair

What do you carry on your bike?

Monday, March 15, 2010

How Your Monday Could Look

I was coming home on Thursday last, for the first time in days, by bicycle. Between time constraints, bad weather and knees in a lot of pain (turns out my seat on SAM was too far back by an inch and I was suffering for it) I had not been for a real ride in a couple of weeks. There were several errands that I needed to run (one of them dropping off my Minolta x-700 for repair! I can't wait to shoot with it!) and so, decided to take the long way to pick up Declan.

I got to ride along the beach. The sky was beautiful, and the surfers were out.

The Good Life

The young folks threw off their shoes and jumped in the surf.

Hanging Out

Kids just out from school ditched the books and jumped on.

After School Fun

I'll take this moment for a little video show off.

On the way home I got to meet my favorite kind of fellow commuter. People who ride with their children in the City get a bit more courtesy from drivers, sometimes, but we get a lot of criticism from people, too. It takes a lot of patience to be a successful kid hauler in an urban environment. So when I meet them, I like to make sure I give the parents props (although we usually can't figure out what the big deal is).

Fellow Family Commuters

With just the very limited improvements in infrastructure that San Francisco sees these days we have seen an increase in bicycle commuters. I really notice it when I have been off the bike for a few days.

We Are Traffic

Bicycle commuting can be a challenge, but it is just about always worth the effort. The things you see and experience make the day so much better.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beer Baby

Beer Baby

That Bobike seat was not cheap! I need to get my full use out of it!

springing into sunday...

last friday i went to a show with some other bikey people. 6 of them had bikes. while waiting for the changes at mojo's to literally cement into place, we decided to all park together. we're bike pile stylin'.


Bike pile


Bike pile 2

now really, who is going to be bold enough to mess with that pile style?

happy springing forward this evening everybody! days are only going to get longer...more time in the saddle. i, for one, am excited! :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Public Service Announcement

The days are starting to lengthen in the Western Hemisphere. Spring is starting to show its self. Those who prefer to ride in lycra are pulling out the lycra shorts.

Please, for all of us out there who ride behind you, if you are pulling out shorts from last year, please, please, please, make sure they have not become see-through with use!!!! I rode for a mile today behind a guy whose chamois shorts were so worn I could tell just how hairy his buttocks were. It was awful. I couldn't catch up with him enough to let him know that I was getting mooned every time he leaned forward. He probably would have liked to know that when the sun hit him his shorts were thin enough to detect the shifting shadows in his crack.

So, people. If you wear lycra and it is from last year, make sure you check it out for coverage. There are enough road hazards and distractions for us all without the addition of de facto nudity.

Oh yes, one other item- Just because you have on Hi Viz clothing on does not mean you have the right of way. The drivers may be blinded by your visibility but they still have the right of way if they were already moving into the intersection when you decided to ride through it. The only thing that will happen here is that you will be more visible while getting hit.

Enough said. Go check your shorts and get riding.

Black & White Saturday

7th and main

7th and spring

venice, cali

3rd street promenade

downtown LA art walk

happy weekend, everyone! :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bikes, SF y hen power

One of my personal favorite aspects of blogging is meeting other people you have established contact, communication and evolved into some type of online friendship through common interests, the bicycle, fashions, your city.
The Orbit room. One of my favorite spots to catch a drink and be able to talk in town, on a weekend.

¿Qué es eso? by Patrick Barber (is called bday welcoming, al estylo de meli eh eh ehhh)

I had the lovely pleasure of meeting Patrick (on flickr and creator of velócouture). Adrienne got to visit to where Patrick and fam. were staying, unfortunately (sad face) due to work I didn't get to meet the rest of the family, but soon - I'm sure. Ade's post is perhaps coming up soon.
We get the tired, often super jet-lagged and lovely people of the blogesphere. We have met Mikael from CPH, some people from the UK and a tremendous amount of local peeps all over the Bay Area.
Patrick's birthday was that Saturday and though he was pretty tired (I'm sure that lovely Anastasia is pure energy!) he was a great sport and had a few drinks muy San Francisco. Beers, Negroni and a round of some tequila añejo to celebrate. He is just the way I had imagined him, mellow, soft spoken and a thing for bikes and all things bay area.
It was also nice to catch him riding Ade's infamous yacht, the Bat.
Here are some more photos - enjoy:
hen to the patrick to the snap. snap.
hen to the patrick to the snap. snap.
ade y james
ade y james.
we all took pics of each other – flickernites unite!

Grupo de orbit room by Ade

Next time we are due for some coffee!
The bikey blogesphere keeps growing and yet getting smaller and tighter. It's awesome :D
♥Great to have you Patrick!!

Meet HyeJin.

HyeJin and I met in Mexico. We danced, worship the sun on the beach, partied and now we often times meet for coffee and for fun stuff here and there. I am so happy to hear that she has recently started riding her bicycle more, her beloved partner in crime is also into bikes. The black bike belongs to Travis.
I can't wait to ride with you two around the city and/or in Oakland. I love these pictures!
♥Thanks so much for sharing this, my lovely - see ya soon!

Meet HyeJin. Hellooooo GORGEOUS :D

By HyeJin:
"Meet Bubbly, my 1971 Schwinn Varsity Sport bike, the very first 10 speed bike in U.S. I found this orange beauty browsing through Craigslist ads one Saturday morning or I should say she found me! A Schwinn collector was selling most of his bike collection before moving down to AZ and Travis & I drove down to Fremont to check her out. It was love at first sight! She needed TLC: one afternoon of greasing, putting on a new set of tires and a good scrubbing to get the rusts out from her rims, and she was set to shine around town! I am so glad that Bubbly is no longer hiding in someone's garage, not being ridden and left alone because Bubbly is special and we shall experience the world together!"

**All photos belong to HyeJin via Facebook

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Radio On

Recently, I was asked to help out with a PSA campaign the SF Bicycle Coalition is conducting in advance of Bike To Work Day. Studio space, editing assistance, and air time were all donated by Clear Channel Radio and will be airing in the near future.

There are five spots all together. Each spot is from a different person with a different take on cycling in the SF Bay Area (including a 10 year old boy).

Recording The Youth Perspective

For more on Bike To Work Day, including how to do it, how to find people to do it with and how to help organize an event in your area, go here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let's Roll

The pant roll. Those of us who live in the Americas are especially familiar with this ritual, but it extends to other lands.

You Roll Your Right Leg Up...

We get out our bikes. We roll up our pant legs.


No chain guard? You gotta roll.

image by ++rie++

Cold outside? Roll it up!

image by DickDavid

Then again, sometimes it isn't so bad.


image by beerorkid