It’s Bike Week Los Angeles! May 12th-18th, 2014. Already there has been a lot going on: a press conference, a new report, the annual Blessing of the Bicycles, and a guided ride this morning. Tomorrow will be Los Angeles County’s Bike to Work Day, which includes pit stops and free rides on Metro and various other transit systems. Friday night will be Metro Bike Night at Union Station, which looks to be a lot of fun.
There’s a lot I like about Bike Week, but also a few things that bug me.
Things I like about bike week:
1. New Facilities!
In a lot of civilized places, bike week celebrates the grand opening of new bicycling facilities. San Francisco opened a handsome new Polk Street contra-flow bike lane. San Diego got its first road diet buffered bike lanes. The San Gabriel Valley’s Temple City held a large scale street fair to inaugurate its new protected bike lane on Rosemead Boulevard.
Though the city of Los Angeles didn’t celebrate specific new bicycle infrastructure this week, they did recently open new repair stations. On this morning’s guided Bike Week ride through parts of Downtown and Boyle Heights, I couldn’t help but notice that there really are a lot of new on-street bikeways in recent years. As recently as 2010, there just weren’t any bikeways downtown or on the east side. Now there are quite a few.
In L.A., it is easy to find group rides nearly any night of the week, but it is still good to get together and ride with friends. I am particularly fond of Good Samaritan Hospital’s Blessing of the Bicycles. I remember getting chills when it started a decade ago and a priest read the bible passage about “a wheel within a wheel.” More bikey events are always welcome.
3. Elected Officials Riding Bicycles!
Though he’s certainly ridden CicLAvia, how often do we see Mayor Garcetti bicycling on everyday streets? When was the last time you saw Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin loading a bicycle on the front of a Metro bus? Though these are, perhaps, largely photo opportunities, a picture can indeed be worth a thousand words. It’s great to have these images in circulation. It’s one thing for an elected official to speak in favor of bicycle facilities, but seeing them walk, er, bike the talk is also huge.
Things I don’t like about bike week:
4. L.A.’s Should Take Place Earlier in the Year
Nationally Bike Month and Bike Week and Bike Day all take place in May. I suspect that this is mostly due to bicycling being somewhat difficult in snowy winter climates, so spring becomes the best season to turn out new folks. In Los Angeles, May is when it is just getting hot. By May, some regular riders, I confess to this, begin to eye the bike racks on the front of air-conditioned Metro buses. Fall and Winter are frankly more conducive to cycling here. How about declaring January as Los Angeles’s Bike Month? We can take advantage of cooler weather and plenty of New Year’s resolutions to get in shape.
5. It Only Lasts One Week
There is a degree of marginalization in all kinds of everyday things that are celebrated for only a short period of time. Think Earth Day. Also Women’s History Month and Black History Month. There’s no special White Guys History Month. In the #replacebikewithcar vein, there’s no separate Car Month, or Drive to Work Day.
Bicycling is an everyday thing here at Streetsblog. Let’s not let cycling drop from the public view on Monday morning.
And now, back to enjoying your regularly-scheduled Bike Week!