Bikes on the 405, Take 2

Yesterday we had pictures, today we have video. About the Crimanimals, thirty cyclists and rollerbladers make the case that every day should be Bike to Work Day by cruising down the 405 during rush hour. This video has higher production value than the first one. Graphics spell out the difference in speed between those biking and those driving on the 405 and I’m pretty sure that’s an original score.

For anyone thinking that they’re embracing "criminal" part in their name too much with the masks, it’s not exactly a secret who’s organizing the group.

  • Eliot

    This stunt is stupid. While I’m a fan of Critical Mass bike rides, I only support it as it follows the law. Riding bikes and rollerblading(!) on the freeway only reinforces the idea that bicyclists die in traffic accidents because they engage in reckless bicycling. And as for this posing, is it necessary for bikers in Los Angeles to act like outlaws and anarchists to make the case that we need to find alternative transportation? Why is that these guys feel the need to alienate people rather than build coalitions? I don’t see how any of their activism is part of the solution.

  • Eliot

    This stunt (“bicycle street theater”) is ill-conceived. While I’m a fan of Critical Mass bike rides, I only support it while it follows the law. Riding bikes and rollerblading(!) on the freeway only reinforces the idea that bicyclists die in traffic accidents because they engage in reckless bicycling. And as for this posing, is it necessary for bikers in Los Angeles to act like outlaws and anarchists to make the case that we need to find alternative transportation? Why is that these guys feel the need to alienate people rather than build coalitions? Working towards normalizing the image of bicycling is a necessary step towards gaining acceptance. People shouldn’t have to look like freaks to simply hop on a bicycle. I don’t see how any of their activism is constuctive.

  • For the record, Eliot didn’t mean to double post, the SPAM filter for the site caught one of his posts, but I just decided to let them both go up once I had a chance to edit…

    Our friends from New York have picked up the story. See what they have to say here:

  • i don’t know eliot. while i wouldn’t do this (because my wife would kill me), i think it reaches some people and is getting people to think about bikes. when you are on the highway in traffic – you are often hypnotized like a zombie.

    seeing a wave of rowdy, and fun-loving cyclists make make you think twice about what’s capable.

    i’m a big believer in “good behavior” on the road, as it serves as a template for all users of the road. when people see me obey the law, then they know that they should treat me like they would another car. that’s why i don’t run lights when other cars are around.


    there is a little gray area on the matter, considering that it may only be illegal where the on ramps forbid it. a technicality perhaps, but still worth submitting.

    i’m realizing it takes all types, some to ruffle feathers, some to bed-hop…

  • breaking laws is american as apple pie. if laws were not broken, this country would not exist as would christianity and we’d still think the earth was flat. but, laws were broken and as a result, humanity moved forward(although the christianity bit is arguable). laws are laws until it is decided that they are no longer valid, relevant or beneficial. are you still in favor of prohibition?

    there are many things that are against the law that people do every day, because one person’s law is another’s morass. laws tend to be beneficial for one group(the majority) and detrimental to the other(the minority). this is why the banal safety of law abiding democracy must occasionally take a back seat to direct action for a minority group to get a point across.

    if they had decided to hold yet another pathetic little rally in front of city hall, no one would have given them a second thought? would you be addressing their concerns instead of their methods like you are now? doubtful. but because they decided to take matters into their own hands, everyone is listening and their point has been made.

    this is fucking brilliant. those folks have serious balls. they have my attention, and apparently everyone else’s. more please.

  • I think the video was great, and that this kind of thing is the only way that people who are irrevocably stuck in car culture will be shocked out of being car-dependent (though I guess rising petrol prices don’t hurt)

  • Nancy

    These people are dangerous and stupid perhaps, but it’s stunts like these that shock people into realizing that the Los Angeles transportation infrastructure was built for cars, worships them, and has made it a really low priority to change things. The “car is king” culture in this city makes sure that only a minority of people use alternative methods of transit – either those who cannot drive cars or those do it out of altruism. I love this city, but I’m absolutely ashamed of our public transit and embarrassed at that sham we call “smart growth.” But maybe it takes guerrilla tactics like this to change people’s way of thinking so that we can have a real mass transit sooner than before our great grandchildren are born.

  • Nancy,

    My mom’s name is Nancy, maybe you should tell her how stupid I am. I’ll go tell my doctoral advisor that I shouldn’t get a PhD.

    I don’t know if you were writing that to make a point but – don’t call us stupid, and don’t imply that what we did is dangerous, until you’ve ridden LA streets at rush hour. Otherwise, you simply have no idea what you’re talking about. If it looks dangerous it’s because you’re not an urban cyclist. That was the safest 3 miles in a 200 mile week for me. Compared to riding Santa Monica Blvd at rush hour? Safer than a couch covered with pillows.

    I agree with the rest of what you said, but I take issue with your conceding our stupidity to make your point.

  • Nancy

    Wow. So glad I came back. As you correctly comprehended from the rest of my comment, YES, I am on your side! I was trying to explain how you guys might appear to the average schmuck upon first glance. I certainly take back the word stupid, but it IS dangerous, just like when I take to the bike lane on the streets of LA I consider that dangerous – because any car can kill you pretty easily if the rider f***s up. That being said, I hope if you can take the mean freeways of LA, then you can forgive someone for using a word as harsh as stupid. ;-)

    Nancy (not your mother, Nancy)

  • Cool cool . . . I get way too riled up. Yes, where steel and flesh meet, even the most hard body individual becomes jello.

  • Damien Newton

    When I saw the first video for the first time, my thoughts were, “Wow, that’s cool but kind of dumb.” But as I’ve talked to people that have done the rides, I’ve come to realize that this is just the next logical step for Critical Mass to go after the current scheme has lost it’s ability to get public attention outside of the bike community.

  • As long as I’ve done it, Critical Mass and other large rides serve primarily to create a culture of cycling amongst cyclists. They’re very effective at that, even if it doesn’t get as much media attention as it used to. I agree – these stunts help to fill that gap.

  • David

    I’ve maintained for a long time that it would be safer to ride on the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass than on Sepulveda. The “official” bike route (Sepulveda Blvd) has NO shoulder in most parts and the drivers speed by 12 inches(or less sometimes) away from you at up to 50 MPH. I’m not exaggerating. Whereas the 405 has 10 foot wide shoulders and traffic traveling at speeds between 15 and 35 MPH. If you really think about it, this is what is truly stupid!



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