Hal Bergman Photography - Portfolio

Tag Archives: Bicycles

StoopidTall, the tallest bicycle in Los Angeles

22 Apr

This past Sunday, I joined a quarter of a million other Los Angeles residents for CicLAvia, and rode my bicycle with a handful of friends from where I live in Downtown out to Venice Beach. CicLAvia is pretty well covered around the internet, so I won’t elaborate too much, other than: it was awesome, if a little too popular for it’s own good, and definitely needs to happen more often and run later.

When I got to Venice, I met up with several other friends, including my good friend, colleague, and extremely taleted cinematographer Richie Trimble. Riche had, only the day before, completed building a new bicycle from scratch, albeit one that was 14.5 feet (4.5 meters) tall.

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Note that the other two bicycles behind Richie are other “tall bikes”, albeit ones of standard size made from two bicycle frames welded together.

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I can’t imagine it would be possible to build a bicycle any taller and still ride it. As we rode around Venice and Marina Del Rey, Richie was constantly ducking under bridges and power lines only a few inches over his head.

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At some points, other riders would ride ahead and clear pedestrians and vehicles out of the way to make a path, so Richie could ride under parts of obstacles that had more clearance.

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I’m sure you’re thinking “how does he get off?” “How does he stop?”. These are all very good and valid questions, so I will direct you to this very fine video, shot by Richie himself from the GoPro strapped to his chest. If you think it’s scary to see photos *of* the bicycle being ridden, you should see the view from the driver’s seat from the man himself:

Japanese Vehicles

2 Apr

Now, on to some backlogged travel posts.

I got to spend a month in Japan last year, and I got to looking through a lot of the photos I’d taken there. I’m going to make a few unconventional posts, starting with this one, of the random things I’d noticed walking around while I was there.

It took me awhile to realize it, but I tend to photograph bicycles a lot. I do enjoy bicycling and tend to use a bicycle for my primary form of transportation when I’m not working, but there is also a nice pleasing aesthetic to bicycles as well. In older and/or denser cities, like those in Japan, much like Northern Europe, bicycles are the most practical form of transportation, and so bicycles tend to be utilitarian and designed with reliability in mind. We’re talking baskets, panniers, fenders, and chain guards.

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The other thing I noticed, is that much unlike the US and Europe where bicycles tend to get stolen and are locked well, Japanese bicycles tend to be left unlocked, or at the most have a simple locking mechanism that locks the rear wheel to the frame. Petty theft just doesn’t seem to be an issue in Japan, and I’ve heard stories from friends there that have had lost wallets returned to them with cash still in them.

Bicycles more often than not seem to be left standing upright in their most convenient location.

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There are, of course, also bicycles that have been tricked out to be unique and match the rider’s personality:

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As with most dense cities, there was no shortage of motorized two-wheel vehicles, but they tended to be economical scooters. I didn’t see too many motorcycles, and the ones I saw were simple and small.

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There were also lots of cars I hadn’t noticed anywhere else in the world, like this squashed-looking compact van in Kyoto that seemed to typify most of the cars I saw in Japan:

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 Or this typical taxi cab:

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Interestingly, every cab in Japan has a little button that the driver can press to automatically open and close the rear door. Upon returning to the states, I stood in front of a cab for several long seconds before realizing that the door wasn’t going to open automatically for me.

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Japanese taxis also seem to have their side mirrors placed really far forward, and I never asked why.