Los Angeles is the ultimate car town. Angelenos show off with their cars the way New Yorkers show off with their clothes. After all, most of us spend an inordinate amount of time on the road, and want to be comfortable while also expressing status.
However, there is a growing revolt against this car culture. As far as I can tell, it started with Midnight Ridazz, which I don’t feel qualified to comment on, as I’ve never ridden with them. But my cooler friends have. Suffice to say, they made cycling cool in LA, creating a movement that people want to be a part of. Although the LA Bicycle Coalition is older and more respectable, I really think it took hundreds of wild kids running the streets late at night to make cycling interesting to the rest of us. Keep in mind, LA is a city where, for many people, “being cool” takes precedence over all else. Right, Elmo?
Saving the Planet and Ourselves Through Social Integration
The first CicLAvia was held on 10/10/10, which, as you may recall, was a global day of action to reduce CO2 emissions. Los Angeles did a great job of this, as thousands of Angelenos rolled joyfully through the streets. We had so much fun, we did it again today. And if there’s one thing LA desperately needs, it’s social integration…
CicLAvia’s website describes it best:
A Ciclovía is not just for recreation. It is social integration.
“Ciclovías started in Bogotá, Colombia, over thirty years ago as a response to the congestion and pollution of city streets. Now they happen throughout Latin America and the United States, connecting communities and giving people a break from the stress of car traffic. The health benefits are immense. Ciclovías bring families outside of their homes to enjoy the streets, our largest public space.”
Mayor Villaraigosa is a huge fan, and even rides himself. Having a mayor who rides bicycles (even when it’s not a press opportunity, as evinced by the crash) gives me a lot of hope for LA. After he was hit by a taxi, the city was a lot more willing to listen to cycling safety advocates like Stephen Box and the LA Bicycle Coalition.
A Snapshot of the Past, Present and Future of Cycling in LA
This first video is footage from 10/10/10 via bicycle, dubbed with an interview I did today. I met Aurisha while having lunch next door to the Bicycle Kitchen during CicLAvia and asked her about these things, as well as where she saw LA cycling going. For me, the event was indeed life-changing, as I never imagined I could travel 5 miles so quickly via bicycle!
After the first CicLAvia, I tried to figure out what would be the best and cheapest bicycle for me. Eventually I wound up just pulling dad’s old 10-speed out of mothballs. I waited until the last minute, thinking it wouldn’t take me that long to rebuild it at the Bicycle Kitchen. It had only been collecting dust for about 30 years! Well, life happened, and I wasn’t able to complete my bike in time, so I did today’s event on my rollerblades instead of borrowing a bike again. This video is from today, which is why it’s quite shaky.
Hope to see you out there in July for the next CicLAvia, or in some of the bike lanes that have been sprouting around LA…