Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Update from California: A speeding ticket, lunch with Gary Fisher, and bike dancing in between

Posted by on July 22nd, 2008 at 1:24 pm

A day in San Francisco-7.jpg

Sampling a sharrow on Market
St. in downtown San Francisco.
More images
(Photos © J. Maus)

It’s been several days since my last report from the road. Since then, we’ve driven south from Ashland and made our way into San Francisco.

Before I share photos, I’ve got some embarrassing news: I got a speeding ticket.

While motoring down an empty, straight, downhill portion of I-5, I suddenly noticed my speed was in the mid 80s. I immediately slowed down, but the fuzz was on me just as quick (he probably thought I slowed on his account but I never saw him). The officer cited me for going 83 mph in a 60 65 mph zone. It was a bummer to get a ticket, but I earned it, so I can’t complain.

Now, on to the bike fun.

The Tour de Fat in San Francisco was fantastic. Massive crowds showed up (despite cold temps and drizzly skies) and The Sprockettes were a big hit.

As usual, the event brought out all sorts of interesting bikes and people. Check out this hot rod, custom-made cruiser (more images here):



And then I met San Francisco-based artist Slimm Buick. He creates whimsical, themed mini-art-bikes (see more of them here):


Slimm Buick

His cowboy-themed bike.

And then of course were The Sprockettes. The crowd loved the performance. After it was over, the merchandise table was swarmed and little girls with big smiles and stars in their eyes (and a few Japanese tourists!) bought t-shirts and asked to pose with the ladies.



On Sunday night, The Derailleurs (a Bay Area dance crew started by a former Sprockette) hosted a party in a junkyard in an industrial area south of San Fran’s Mission District. The location is also the headquarters of Cyclecide, a local group of freak bike lovers that have created several bike-powered amusement rides.

It was a memorable setting to say the least, and the dancing was hot! The Derailleurs were literally on fire for the debut of their new song. Check it out:



The Sprockettes were the headliners at the party and they did not disappoint (more images here):



After the party, I spent the night with a friend in the city so I could attend a rally the next morning at City Hall.

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SFBC’s leader Leah Shahum.

The 9,500 member strong San Francisco Bike Coalition (SFBC) organized the rally to urge politicians to make their city’s Bike Master Plan a priority. You might remember a few years ago when, after the SF Bike Master Plan was officially approved, a man sued the City claiming that the plan did not adequately study the environmental impact of adding bike lanes to city streets.

That lawsuit, and the delay by city leaders to conduct the study and get on with the plan, has riled up the SFBC. Their leader, Leah Shahum, spoke with anger and frustration as she addressed a large crowd on the steps of City Hall.

“We’re disappointed and fed-up!” she exclaimed, and then added that she was most offended that the City is lagging on the Bike Plan while they tout their green credentials. “Every day of delay,” she said, “is going against the green movement… and no one wants their green reputation tarnished.”

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Gary Fisher.

In the crowd at the rally I noticed Gary Fisher (with his penchant for fashion, he’s usually hard to miss). I struck up a conversation with him that almost instantly led to a great discussion about where America’s bike culture is now, where it should be, and where it’s headed.

I ended up taking Gary up on an offer for lunch where we continued our fun chat. We spoke at length about Dutch bikes (he owns several, including a bakfiets), the power of the media in framing bike-related issues, the American bike industry, and the differences in the European and American mindsets relating to using bikes as transportation.

We’re on similar wavelengths about the bike revolution and it was neat to hear that he’s also been thinking about something I’ve been saying for months now — that, cars are the new smoking.

When I told him about the shortage of Dutch cargo bikes here in the states, he mentioned his experience riding his around town. He said the reactions he gets to his bakfiets are the same as used to get to his mountain bikes back in the 1980s. Can cargo bikes become as popular as mountain bikes in the U.S.? Let’s hope so.

That does it for this report, in a few days we’re off to Davis where I hope to sample their legendary bike innovations. After that, we’re off to Sacramento and Lake Tahoe (for a family wedding) and then up to Truckee for another Tour de Fat stop.

Hope all’s well in Portland.

— For all my latest photos (170 so far), check out the photo gallery.

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  • Mike July 22, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    If you were on a bike running a stop sign, you\’d complain. (See Ladd\’s thread) C\’mon, get in the spirit and denounce those silly laws that you should not be held accountable to.

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  • Mike M July 22, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Odds are, that speeding ticket costs less than running a stop sign on a bicycle… Was it less than $240?

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  • amanda July 22, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Well, ain\’t that nice, Mr. First Post. Whatta jerk.

    Love the photos you\’ve been posting, Jonathan! Looks like great fun.

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  • Eileen July 22, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Jonathan, your speeding ticket confession is so completely endearing. How do we get you to run for office?

    Sounds like a fun trip. It would be neat to see a more affordable, domestic version of the dutch cargo bike. I imagine that is when it would really take off.

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  • Andy July 22, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Mike: Running a stop sign in anything is expensive. Trust me, I\’ve gotten enough of those tickets in my youth.

    Also, 20+ over the limit is reckless, iirc Calif motor laws, so that\’s not exactly a cheap ticket, either.

    Awesome that you got to hang with Gary for lunch, Jonathan!

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 22, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    i don\’t know how much the ticket will be. doesn\’t say and the cop said the court will send me something in the mail.

    but I did just change the story .. it was actually a 65mph zone.

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  • kirkndopp July 22, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Sprockette merchandise – how can me get me hands on sum of dat!!!! I would love to be buying some!

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  • Brian Johnson July 22, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Most speeding tickets are stupid– especially on freeways. It\’s like a form of harassment.

    Why wasn\’t that cop chasing down bad guys or looking for actual \”reckless\” drivers? I lived in SoCal for three years– those folks are insane on the freeways.

    And the notion that you \”earned\” the speeding ticket? That\’s just silly. You earned a speeding ticket on an empty stretch of freeway. Repeat that to yourself. Yes– it DOES sound silly.

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  • hillsons July 22, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    18 over? Kindly direct his attention to the motorcyclist speeding by at 40 over that might even be myself, or real crime.

    Where is America\’s bike culture heading?

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  • Forseti July 22, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    I\’ve never had a speeding ticket. In fact, I\’ve never even violated the basic speed rule. Not once. that\’s why I feel so good about myself when I tell everyone else how important it is for them to obey the law.

    But seriously, looks like SF was a good time. Keep the cool pics coming!

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    • spare_wheel March 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      I never blow stop signs. Not once. That’s why I feel so good about criticizing people who drive.

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  • John Russell July 22, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    I guess that\’s what you get for driving.

    Keep the reports coming. It\’s nice to hear a bit about biking down there as well.

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  • revphil July 22, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    i heart Gary! Most leaders don\’t use their influence for the common good… I feel that Gary Fisher does not follow that trend.

    The idea that cars are the new smoking will eventually (in portland has already) lead to a backlash of punk motorists who may confuse us punk cyclists.

    Thanks to our Cyclecide friends in SF!

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  • […] Excellent: […]

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 23, 2008 at 9:46 am

    just to clarify… Gary Fisher did not say \”Cars are the new smoking\”. I brought that up and he was excited because he had also been thinking about that concept in similar terms.

    i have edited the story so that the line does not seem like a quote from Mr. Fisher.

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  • Myra July 23, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Why didn\’t you bike to California? I thought cars were evil?

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  • Michael M. July 23, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Love the cowboy-theme … he should call it \”Brokeback Bike\”. I want one!

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 23, 2008 at 10:12 am

    \”Why didn’t you bike to California? I thought cars were evil?\”

    Hi Myra,

    I didn\’t bike because it just didn\’t make sense for this trip.

    And by the way, I have nothing against cars themselves… what\’s evil is how US transportation culture and policy, along with the auto industry (and other factors) has created a very unbalanced system that favors cars way too much.

    your assumption about my views on cars is incorrect but common of people who make judgments about this site and its readers.

    and nice site by the way.

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  • SkidMark July 23, 2008 at 10:18 am

    You\’re right Myra, the Sprockettes should do their tour by bicycle. After a nice 500 mile ride they\’ll be just about warmed-up for a performance.

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  • diddy July 23, 2008 at 11:22 am

    this is really getting pretty interesting on this site. Ever since the bike vs. motorists incidents there has been a huge uptick in the number of harassing posts here.

    Jonathon, I think your last post (17) was spot on. This isn\’t about cars vs bikes. The only way we are really going to have a healthy bicycle network is with the understanding of motorists, that we are NOT, inherently against drivers. More so, we are concerned with staying safe on the road and in order to do so, we need drivers to fricken give us a brake!

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    • spare_wheel March 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      “that we are NOT, inherently against drivers”

      i am not against individual smokers but i definitely want to decrease smoking.

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  • djasonpenney July 23, 2008 at 11:36 am

    The gods smote thee for thine impertinence. Driving to California indeed. Humph.

    Seriously, it sounds like you\’re having a good time, Jonathan. Enjoy your trip!

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  • amanda July 23, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Oh wow — that bikefreeportland site is totally awesome. I was gonna start a drinking game with the posts here and this fits right in there. Every time someone posts shocking stories about bicyclists bein\’ bad – drink. For every number (\”I saw four cyclists blow the stop at LADD\’s\”) – drink. Way to go, Myra! I\’m gonna start iclutchmypearls.com and reference your awesome blog.

    Can\’t wait for more posts. Bottom\’s up!

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  • Patrick July 23, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    My parents tell me the \”fuzz\” are out in force to drum up money for the coffers to pay for all the fires burning down there.

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  • meli July 23, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I saw Gary Fisher at a CCCX race, and he was kickin ass, well for his age, prety nice.
    Yea the tour was sure loads of fun. Nice post and pics

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  • Driveabus July 23, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Hey Jonathan. Was that long downhill stretch of I-5 near Weed? If so I commiserate. Got almost the same ticket there a few years ago. I was the only vehicle around. No one in front and no one behind for at least 1/4 mile. Going down the hill goofing with my wife, two daughters and their friends. Have no idea where the cop was. Never saw her until she was right behind me with lights going. Ah well. The trip was still fun and my girls, older now, on occasion harass me about the ticket. Usually when I began a lecture on the need for safe driving!! Perfect!!

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  • 2ndaveflyer July 24, 2008 at 12:11 am

    Hi Jonathan;

    Several years ago I drove south and the nearly the same thing happened to me. I used cruise control the majority of the time to prevent high-speed lapses. I pulled out of a rest stop on a road east of I-5 with little traffic and accelerated down a steep hill. I put my cruise back on but was already up to 75 just as a cop clocked me while traveling the other way. No argument.

    I was allowed to take an online driving class instead of pay a fine. In addition the ticket did not go on my record or count against my insurance. Be sure to ask if this option is open to you if it is not offered.

    Have a great trip. Hopefully you will feel no need to justify yourself to those who want to play \’I\’m groovier than you\’…

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  • Jerrod July 24, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Speaking of Dutch bikes, did you hear about the recall on Electra Amsterdams, Jonathan? The chain gaurd was faulty. I have to call them to have them send me a new part, which will be replaced at any dealership. My chain came off several times while riding in traffic, so this recall makes sense.

    Props to Brad S. for communicating this to me through his wife, (my co-worker).

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  • Patrick July 24, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    That stretch of Highway outside of Weed is the infamous Louie Road my family has been getting tickets there for 20+ years!!

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  • Donald July 24, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    Proud owners of two 05 Fisher Tassajaras here. We heart them very much. The fem-spec is headed to Revolver soon for an extracycle graft. My boys call my Maxxis balloon tired black beauty \”Dad\’s Monster Bike\”

    I had no idea Mssr. Gary was such a fashion plate.

    Sweet reporting from the field, neighbor. Enjoy your trip. Looks like you\’re in good company (Jon and Ponch notwithstanding).

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  • PatagoniaCommunity.blogspot.com July 25, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Myra\’s comment was a bit sarcastic, but so are a lot of blog comments. Her actual blog though is a bit disconcerting (which is probably what she was going for in the first place).

    I\’m a sometimes-bike commuter and I enjoy the exercise and recreation of it. But to have someone actually against bicycling altogether in a major U.S. city is ridiculous. Sure, be frustrated with those cyclists who are rude, obnoxious, and law-breaking, but please don\’t take it out on the rest of us. Just because one taco in the box is broken doesn\’t mean you throw away all of the other ones too.

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  • MyraFreePortland July 28, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    I\’m guessing she\’s just jealous because she doesn\’t look so good in spandex!

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  • steve July 29, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Im guessing she is a he.

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  • squawkfox » Cars Are the New Smoking November 26, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    […] recently linked my abhorrence between smoking and cars when I stumbled upon an article about mountain bike inventor Gary Fisher. On the direction of America’s bike culture, Fisher […]

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