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March 14, 2005

Local paper takes notice of Cycling Dude

For the 1st time in the 2 yr. history of this Blog a publication of the Mainstream Media has seen fit to take notice.

The publication in question is the popular, and informative, Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Weekly known as The Current.

Pat Michaels, who writes the Around the Two Towns column, put his investigative skills to use for the lead in his March 11th column:

; ; ;


AROUND THE TWO TOWNS

Bikers get no respect from Costa Mesa City Hall 

Costa Mesa’s Kiril Kundurazief wants more attention paid to bicyclists hereabouts. He expresses his anger about the issue in two blog sites on the Internet. They are "Sneakeasy’s Joint" and "The Cycling Dude."

    He says he has been online since 1999, and a blogger since spring 2002.

    His blogs have become popular with bicyclists who share his views.

    On his blogs, Kiril, who has never owned a car and commutes by bicycle and bus, expresses how hot he is because he doesn’t like the way bicyclists are treated by Costa Mesa City Hall.

    Recently, he headed a protest from his blog sites to descend on Costa Mesa’s City Hall and bring attention to bicycle issues.

    Did Kiril’s blog-activated activism result in a receptive response?

    Naw, he says.

    On his blog site he blasts Costa Mesa’s municipal attitude toward bicyclists starting with "The first thing that needs to be said is that if a bunch of bicyclists showed up for a meeting (at City Hall) they would find no bike racks, and would have to settle for locking their bikes to various stair rails, and other nearby poles and columns."

I guess you can say that I have FINALLY arrived. I've hit the big time! :-D

As soon as I read the article ( Free reg. may be required ) I cut out the page it was on, and the cover of the newspaper, then dashed over to Kinkos where, upon putting the pages together, back to back, I had the presentation laminated. :-D

Of course, you know, THIS means...

A response...

What? You thought I WASN'T going to comment?

First, though, an admission: As this story progresses you will encounter an apology from me. ( Yes, Bloggers DO apologize from time to time. My Sainted Ma, may she rest in peace, raised a good boy )

However, the reason for the apology just  returns me to a modified version of the original observation, and to some questions.

( For those who just can't resist jumping ahead, go on and scrolll down, the rest of us will wait. Just know that the most important stuff in a Blog entry don't always occur where you expect them to.... Back? Okay, let's continue! )

As regular readers know, last month I wrote about my appearance at a City Council Meeting, and how I had an opportunity to speak about cycling issues ( The FULL story of the meeting is on Sneakeasy's Joint ).

The intrepid Mr. Michaels recently paid my blogs a visit, and the above piece resulted.

While I sincerely appreciate the plugs ( ANY publicity is far better than NO publicity, afterall! ) I must take issue with several things.

1st let me say that his column is informative, and often wittily written, as he keeps us all up to date on the various activities of local worthies who come to his attention.

However, in addition to mispelling my name ( a common mistake even when the name is in plain sight, so quite understandable, and easily forgiven ), he portrays me as a tad less than the lovable little fuzzball that I am.

He apparently didn't explore my blogs very much or else he wouldn't have tied them at the hip in his opening remarks.

Anyone interested in cycling issues could care less about Sneakeasy's Joint because cycling is rarely mentioned there since the birth of this blog in January 2003.

As I wrote in my Sneakeasy piece:

Last night I attended my very 1st Costa Mesa City Council meeting.

I had absolutely no intention of speaking but, right from the start, events conspired against me, and I got up to open my yap 3, count 'em, THREE times!

The chance to comment on cycling issues ( twice ) was too good to pass up.

While he is right that I want more attention, and respect, paid to cyclists, not just locally, but countywide, and beyond, it is inaccurate to describe me as expressing "his anger about the issue".

Why Mr. Michaels wrote what he did in his piece is as puzzling as it is innacurate, and misleading.

He writes that, on my blogs, I express "how hot he is because he doesn’t like the way bicyclists are treated by Costa Mesa City Hall."

He claims that I headed a protest to "descend on Costa Mesa’s City Hall and bring attention to bicycle issues."

Nowhere have I ever claimed that bicyclists are being treated badly by Costa Mesa City Hall.

Any "Protest" is a figment of his imagination as I never issued a call for my fellow cyclists to man the barracades.

Calmly pointing out to my readers the lack of bike racks at City Hall doesn't qualify as the ravings of someone "blasting" the powers that be.

To then, further compound his mis-representation by putting words in my mouth in response to a question he never asked me, is just very bad form:

  Did Kiril’s blog-activated activism result in a receptive response?

    Naw, he says.

My e-mail address is on both blogs but did Mr. Michaels bother to contact me in order to set up an interview, or pepper me with written questions?

NO!

I'd love the chance to promote local bicycling, in my humble, non-expert way, by appearing on his Cable Access TV show ( I'd probably be a nervous wreck if faced with such an opportunity, but that's another story ), or even writing an essay in any of the regions papers, but don't expect either to happen.

Costa Mesa's "Municipal Attitude" toward cyclists, far from needing "blasting", has more to commend it based on my first impressions, despite the odd lack of parking around City Hall, and the Police Station.

The council members listened respectfully to what I said, nodded their noggins, and appeared to take notes.

All good signs if I'm any judge.

It completely slipped my mind to bitch and moan to them about my parking woes that night. :-D

I'd like to find out more about the why of the situation before I march to the podium with my concerns.

*** WARNING! APOLOGY AHEAD!!!***

In the 2 years I've lived here I've had occasion to make daytime visits to City Hall maybe 4 times, none on my Bike.

When visiting I always walked on the large, long, wheel chair ramp when entering and leaving. Then there was my night visit last month to the Council Chamber next door.

Not once did I encounter anything even remotely looking like a bike rack.

Until today. :-D

On my ride around the city I stopped in at City Hall to get some information. Like all the previous times, I aproached the entrance, and saw no bike rack.

This time, however, was different because I was intent on locking my trusty steed to a railing by the wheel chair ramp.

Guess what I found? Yup! A rack! ( Hey, I wear glasses for a reason folks! )

There it was: A puny little bit of metal, low to the ground, and unseen unless you went PAST the rising ramp to walk up to the doors, and then only if you looked down, or noticed it on your way back out.

If the poor little darling wasn't embarrased at being plopped down in that tight, hidden, little corner, then I was for it.

This thing must be ancient. It's definitely gotta be outdated. There is only room for the front wheels of 3, no more than 6, bikes, and only a rider with the apropriate lock/chain could hope to use it. If you can't use it there is always the rail.

At least this was recognizable as a rack. That can't be said for what I learned was sitting out by the back entrance:

A short, black metal pole, with little black rings ( enough for 1 or 2 bikes to use comfortably if the rider had the appropriate type of lock/chain ).

How was I to know this gadget was a bike rack?

So, here goes: My humble apologies to the folks at City Hall for accusing the city of not having bike racks on the premises.

They are woefully inadequate to the task required of them, and outdated, but at least whoever had them installed, back in the day, made the effort.

***END OF APOLOGY***

All this does is lead to some questions:

1. Why so few bike racks? ( My hypothetical posse of cyclists WOULD have to draw straws to see who gets the rack space, and who the railings )

2. Why no modern racks, friendly to any cyclist regardless of type of Bike lock he, or she, might use?

3. Why didn't Mr. Michaels do his journalistic duty and call me on my lack of eyesight? Afterall, he no doubt has been to City Hall far more often than I have, and must have seen the rack out front, at least. Or, he could have got off his behind, and traipsed around the grounds verifying my claim for his story.

I, admitedly, should have noticed, and this teaches me that if I'm going to write about things for this blog I need to be as accurate as I can be in order to maintain my credibility.

My 1st couple of years in town have seen me riding certain main streets relevant to my commuting to work as I settled in, and started rebuilding my life in a new home.

Exploring the whole town, and checking out the Municipal Code for its thoughts on cycling, was not a priority until recently.

Bikers have gotten a lot of respect from City Hall if access to Fairview, and Tewinkle Parks, the amount of striped Bike Lanes, and the 3 major dedicated Bike Trails in town, a Master Plan of Bikeways, and a map of city routes available for the asking from the folks on the 4th floor of City Hall, are any judge.

My comments to the Council, last month, were not done in an "attack mode" but, in the 1st case, in support of a proposed "tour" that I felt could also benefit from being promoted to cyclists, and in the 2nd, out of concern for the issue of safety for cyclists.

Today, I have just finished my own 26.89 mile "Tour" of the city by bike, and it was a pleasant eye-opener.

Details of the ride will be posted here, and word of the piece will be forwarded to the City Council, and other worthies among Officialdom, for any comment they may have.

Why no-one has thought to create such a "recommended" tour before is a puzzlement, but now there is going to be one out there for anyone interested to discover, and enjoy.

The OC Register, and LA Times ( and by extention the Current, Daily Pilot, Huntington Beach Independent, and Wave ), write about places to ride in the OC when writing about places to walk, and hike ( the Times used to have a columnist who wrote about bike riding in SoCal years ago ), or when events such Costa Mesa's own Tour de OC come around each year, but could do more to keep cycling issues, information, activities, and opportunities in front of their readers.

This is important so that cyclists no longer have to read just about their fellows being in traffic accidents, or write articles such as my essay called BICYCLIST TO CAR OWNERS: CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?

I love this area, as my writing on both blogs has shown, and as I get more involved in life in the Huntingport Mesa region from my studio apartment Bunker ( or a hoped for 1 br. Fortress upgrade somewhere in the 3-city area by the end of the year ) I will be writing more about how the cities are making themselves Bicycle Friendly, and will no doubt have reason to get "Hot" with our local High Poobahs for some reason or another in the future.

When that happens I hope that any reporter covering the story does so accurately and without any hint of condescension toward people who like to bicycle, and calls me on any inaccuracies I may put forth ( however inadvertantly ).

Mr. Michaels wasted a perfect opportunity to promote this site as a resource for cycling information, and commentary, by an ordinary bike rider, and, more importantly for local readers, a growing resource for great riding opportunities in the Huntingport Mesa region, and the wider OC, as explored, and written about, by me.

Mr. Michaels, and anyone else who takes the time to explore my reporting and opinionatin', the variety of stories I come across online, and the astonishing variety of cycling related websites ( the links to Bike Trail, and Rail Trail, info alone is a cyclist's dream! ) I list in my sidebar can not but come away with an appreciation for how important, and fun, cycling is to a growing number of people in America, and the world.

Hopefully The Current will do me the courtesy of a fuller report on The Cycling Dude [ Sneakeasy's Joint can take care of itself as the, so far, more locally noisy ( "Hot" ) older sibling of the Dude ( see my many reports, and essays on issues, people, and on local events ) ] as a counter to the impression given by Mr. Michaels piece.

Unlike my salaried compatriots in the Journalism biz, I'm just an amateur who has parlayed his talent for writing, creative and otherwise, into 2 well received Blogs.

I guess, in a way, I'm making up big time for not having chosen to go into Journalism in the glory days of my youth.

Thanks to a business card, and a well received flyer, plus being listed on a growing number of websites across the state, and the nation, The Cycling Dudenization of America is well under way.

Cycling has been around for more than 150 years, and isn't going away.

And, neither will I.

March 14, 2005 in The Opinionated DUDE | Permalink

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Comments

You know what they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity! Blogs are all over the news so when a journalist got an opportunity to do a story with a blog angle, he jumped on it. I'm not suprised that he didn't do more reseach, since some journalists are lazy. In this case an interview with you was probably in order.

Posted by: fixedgear | Mar 15, 2005 3:25:53 AM

Still waiting to hear from the guy, or see if he responds with a sequel. :-)

Posted by: Kiril Kundurazieff | Mar 23, 2005 10:44:31 PM

As a journalist...write a letter to the editor! "'Naw,' he says" is a misquote. Call Mr. Michaels out on it! Newspapers and other publications are written to inform and educate the public, and it is up to the public to make sure their informants and educators are not getting lazy.

Posted by: Erika | Apr 21, 2005 3:19:33 PM

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