Three Things I Like About Bike Week, and Two Things I Don’t

Cyclists descent into Los Angeles Union Station at the end of this morning's Bike Week Guided Ride. More ride photos on SBLA Facebook page. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Cyclists descent into Los Angeles Union Station at the end of this morning’s Bike Week Guided Ride. More ride photos on SBLA Facebook page. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

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:

Temple City's new Rosemead Blvd protected bikeway. Photo: CICLE/Serena Grace
Temple City’s new Rosemead Blvd protected bikeway. Photo: CICLE/Serena Grace

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.

2. Events!

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.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti biked to work yesterday morning. Photo via Mayor Garcetti Facebook page
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti biked to work monday morning. Photo via Mayor Garcetti Facebook page

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!

  • davistrain

    It’s rather like National Train Day–for hard-core railway enthusiasts, every day is Train Day.

  • bikinginla

    A number of cold weather cities host an annual Winter Bike to Work Day, in addition to the May event. No reason we can’t do that here with even better weather.

  • pedal.there

    How about having a bike to work week every month?

  • Chicago holds Bike To Work Month in June, presumably because the weather in May is still finicky. Oh right, it was raining and 40°F this morning!

  • LAifer

    Great idea about making it more than a week – only issue is finding the folks to organize events throughout the month year after year. And it’s also possible that Bike “Week” is just a nationally-branded idea that no one municipality is gonna change on its own.

    As for sometime earlier than May — AGREED! Wow it’s hot this week. Would be better in March or even early April. January is dicey with rainy season in full swing (when it’s actually raining, unlike this year).

  • Matt

    Not sure where you are getting that Spring is warmer than Fall in Los Angeles. Granted we are having record heat now, but the average high should only be 74 Downtown in Mid May. That is in the middle of the day. Much cooler in the morning and evening when people commute to and from work. October average highs are generally in upper 70s.

    January is great, but also subject to major rainstorms (at least in most normal years).

  • Dennis_Hindman

    If you want to make sure that there is far less people bicycling to work, hold the event in January instead of May. In the San Fernando Valley, there are noticeably much more people bicycling in May compared to January, even though the SFV has the hottest temperatures in the entire city in May.

  • Hank

    “The first week of every month is ride to work week.” I like it! You get New Years resolutioners from the start and it’s easy enough that folks would probably be on board year round.

  • Old Crank

    I’d like to start a take your car to work day. Specifically for all cyclists and commuters who use transit to show just how fouled up the places would get with us in cars instead of buses and bikes or even car pooling…

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