So this happened on Sunday, August 9. The CicLAvia organization had one of its rides, this one on the west side, beginning in Culver City and ending at the Venice boardwalk. And back again! I did it, I have some pictures here:
Noticed that the number of bikes on our local streets has gone through the roof in the past couple of years? Perhaps you’ve joined the cyclists. Perhaps it’s just the weekend jaunt to the Farmers Market; perhaps you’re an everyday cyclist. Or thinking about it. Commuting, to work and all, and what that would entail.
Here’s ten quick things to keep in mind:
- First, do follow traffic laws. They are the same as the ones drivers must follow. If your actions are predictable, it’s much safer for you – and cars – out on those mean roads. Don’t run red lights, as much as you want to. Just don’t.
- Plot your route on Google Maps. You have the option to click on the bike icon for Google’s best guess for a good bike route (which is often not bad at all).
- Think about your return trip — it might be obvious, but maybe not. Will it be dark by then? If so, you need your lights (front and back, minimum) and warmer clothing, preferably something reflective.
- Rain. Not likely here, almost ever, but it does happen. Heck, nothing worse than getting soaked on a bike. Shops sell some pretty nice rain gear so it’s worth hauling it out for those special rain days in L.A.
- Shortcuts! I’ve always loved this site, where cyclists contribute their own favorite routes. Bookmark it; I have.
- Taking it on the train: If you take your bike on Metro, first of all, be smart and take the elevator with your bike, and leave the escalator for pedestrians. I’ve seen enough accidents to know I don’t want to be a Metro Escalator Statistic. Choose the car that has the space at the end for bikes and strollers and other large items (coffins, refrigerators, etc). If you can’t hook your bike to the railing or kickstand it securely so you know it won’t fall, stand there and hold the damn thing so it doesn’t fall on somebody. It’s a delicate dance, especially when those trains are crowded. My method is to be direct but apologetic, so far that’s worked.
- When exiting the train: I have a “no rush” attitude, in that I am perfectly happy to be the last person out of the station after the subway gets there. There’s no use in fighting for space on the first elevator, or crowding an up escalator or staircase with both you and your bike. I like to wait until all the people have gone and then I can leisurely make my way out without running into someone with my two wheeler.
- Drivers don’t know what Sharrows are. Or, they do know but they don’t care and don’t want to give you the space they’re supposed to. So be wary of streets with sharrows. I’m pretty sure most drivers resent them and won’t be giving you that 3-foot space they’re supposed to, anyway.
- Try try try to ride on streets with painted, official, bike lanes. Even better would be to incorporate Bike Trails (like the L.A. River Bike Path, etc.) into your commute. Basically anything that can separate you from motor vehicles is a very good thing.
- The most important tip is the last: Riding on bike on Los Angeles streets is dangerous, just because of the sheer volume of traffic in what is still the premier car culture city. That said, you have to ride defensively. Drivers don’t or don’t want to see you, and you can never depend that someone is going to see you unless you make eye contact with that driver. When in doubt, hesitate. I’m lucky that I’m old enough not to take those kinds of risks any more; it’s just not worth it.
“Cities around the world are coming to the same conclusion: they’d be better off with far fewer cars. So what’s behind this seismic shift in our urban lifestyles?” Stephen Moss investigates
Why? Because cars hugely degrade the civilized environment. So read this Guardian story.
I’ve thought a lot about this – and the paradox of freedom – which is how cars have always been marketed. Tell me, looking at this photo of L.A. freeways, this is freedom?
Well, if so, save me from that method of being free. Some gems from the story:
“In many cities, the era of the suburban commuter, along with the era of the car, is drawing to a close.” – we can only hope this could become the ideal in places like Los Angeles, as well. (Which in my mind is always perfect for biking.)
On the future of the smart phone vis a vis car ownership: “Consumers will, so the theory goes, use their smartphones to check ultra-detailed travel news, locate car-club cars or bikes, check for parking spaces,call up Uber drivers, and arrange shared rides. Who needs a personally owned car?” — I’ve found this is true in my now 2 years plus of car-freedom in Los Angeles.
Truth is, I’m not very optimistic that the vision shown in this article will become a reality here in California, at least in Southern California, at any time in the remote future — but I have hope for the Millennial generation, who appear to be much more interested in changing the car culture than the Baby Boomers and older are.
The Guardian story is a long one, but worth it.
Trump and Bernie are resonating for the same reason, IMO
Top-ranked Washington scored a 66.2. Guess which state placed last?
Interesting article and chart. Looks like we’re #8 (California) and getting better, we were #9 last year. Nice to see the west coast and the western states represented really well here. Certainly I notice this bicycle infrastructure development on a local basis — L.A. is doing some great things, from more lanes to public transport options that include bikes, to the plethora of events now – CicLAvias, Critical Mass, etc.
I also see more and more people taking their bikes on the subway and on the bus racks. Love to see this taking place – we have almost the perfect environment for biking as a way of life.
So just a short rant today, on things that annoy me in yoga class. Really, I love it, I just joined a local studio as a member, making a long term commitment to yoga practice. But what would I be if not a whiner? You know better. So, yoga instructors, here are five suggestions for you:
- don’t make us buddy up and do partner poses. Really, nobody likes that. Well, maybe some extroverts do, but I’ve never met anyone who just couldn’t wait to do this.
- Do not teach the class from the back of the room, when all your students are facing the opposite direction! Please know that not everyone can hear you and there are many students who need to have the visual of the pose.
- Please use the English (or whatever the local language is) word for the pose rather than only the Sanskrit version! Since all the pose terms basically end with -asana, they all sound alike to the class (well, to most of us). Honestly when you do that (use only the Sanskrit) you’re just showing off.
- We’ll agree to Om, but don’t make us sing a yoga song. Not everyone is into the chanting or signed up for this, and again, we don’t know the words.
- Finally, end the yoga class on time. Really. There’s probably a room full of annoyed yogis standing outside the studio with their mats in hand, while your students are still inside blissed out on their backs.
It’s massive, but well worth taking a look at. I believe plans of this sort, while arguably a wish list of lots of things that won’t get done, or won’t get done right away, are still the key to livability here in the Los Angeles region.
As a cyclist, my focus is first on that part of the plan, followed by the public transportation (train and bus) plans. While I haven’t looked at the entire Mobility Plan yet, one statistic that jumped out was that bicycle commuting has increased over 50% in the ten year period from 2000 – 2010.
It’s the perfect place to bicycle – great weather, practically every day it’s an option, and the landscape is something like 85% flat. We just have to make it safe for everyone – the cyclists, the pedestrians, and the drivers in their cars.
A lot of the plan is aspirational like the Curbed piece says. Something to shoot for. I’d like to live in the city that’s described here.
Pretty excited! Normally I try for original content here but I’m just so pleased that CicLAvia is coming to my neighborhood on Sunday, March 22, a mere 2 days after my birthday, so it’s like an extension of frivolity. If you’re in L.A. and have a bike, come on out. It’s flat, the weather will most likely be appropriately spring-like (or even hot) and it’s a great route with a lot to see along the way, from NoHo Arts District to Universal City to the Farmers Market I attend every Sunday. Will I see you there?
Here’s a photo from a previous CicLAvia:
I loved this story in The New York Times detailing what it’s like to be a walker in our town. Some of the itineraries are pretty sweet as well. (The writer, Stephanie Rosenbloom, included places even I’ve never been to in my 30+ years of wandering around Los Angeles.)
Also it kind of gave me a shot of validation — being car-free and a very often cyclist and/or pedestrian is still much outside the norm — I get the strange looks, the raised eyebrows or the subtle shake of the head, still.
But I persist. I often think, well, you can’t ride your bike forever, you can’t walk around forever — but then I think that it’s likely if I could not longer walk places I might very well no longer be able to drive to them, either. So for now, it’s that one-day-a-time kind of thing. Today’s a good day to bike. Tomorrow sounds like a great day to walk in the sun.
Anyway, Angelenos and non-Angelenos check it out, find some good walking spots. All our lives will be quieter for it.
Sunday (October 5) was another installment of CicLavia, the event in Los Angeles where they close off some streets for part of the day for the exclusive use of bicycles, skates, pedestrians, strollers, etc.
The route for October 5 stretched from Echo Park in the West to the East Los Angeles Civic Center in the east. Interesting, hot and surprisingly hilly in the eastern part of the ride. Still, I had a nice ride through many parts of L.A. that I don’t get to much — specifically downtown and the Boyle Heights area near Mariachi Plaza. Here’s a few photos for you, and also a video of two clips: A little “dance” station on Second Street, and inside the Second Street Tunnel (under Bunker Hill).
I found this opinion piece in the NY Times quite the sobering read.
I congratulate myself on having many lights and a rear-view mirror on my bike, in using streets with bike lanes, in never trusting what a car might do, and in avoiding any kind of altercation with a car or its driver (as the op-ed says, when in a bike vs. car drama you always lose if you’re the cyclist) and still I almost got totaled by a runner the other morning coming out of a grocery store parking lot laden with food for the week in saddlebags. Whose fault? Probably a little of both. Collision avoided, this time.
I agree there are more bicyclists that ever before on American roads and that will only grow as people drive less and less in the future. One of the safest towns I ever biked in was actually Palm Springs, which is built basically like a So Cal suburb, wide streets and high speed limits — with one major difference — they built a lot of separated bike paths there on some key routes (ok, so you might have to share it with someone in a wheelchair or a walker – and happy to do so). When totally separated from vehicle traffic it’s much safer and more enjoyable to ride – and safer and more enjoyable for the car drivers, too.
Wish we could do more of that here – separate lanes with a barrier between.