From Spokes People to Bikeroots

Back in January 2009, Los Angeles Magazine writer Matthew Segal took an assignment as an embedded reporter (so to speak) with bike activists and group riders. The resulting article, titled “Bike Culture: Spokes People,” was a thoughtful five-page assessment of the state of the bike community in Los Angeles from the perspective of a curious onlooker. Segal discussed the genesis of the bicycling advocacy movement in the 1990s, its slow, organic evolution and its branching into more radical and more mainstream elements.

A lot of the people and groups he mentions will be immediately familiar: the LA County Bicycle Coaltion, Roadblock, Stephen Box, and Alex Thompson. But at the same time, re-reading the story now is a cogent reminder of how much has changed, especially when juxtaposed against this week’s LA Weekly cover story “The Bikeroots.”

Here are a couple story-lines that struck me as illustrative of the progress that bicycling advocates have made in those intervening two years.

Then: Police harassment of group rides.

Now: Police escorts and cooperation on enforcement issues.

Then: No coherent bike plan for the City of Los Angeles.

Now: A city-wide bike plan — with a Backbone Bikeway Network — and a five-year work plan await approval from the city council.

Then: Dr. Chris Thompson assaults two cyclists with his car on Mandeville Canyon Road.

Now: CicLAvia closes 7.5 miles of city streets to 100,000 revelers on bike and foot.

What other signposts do you see, Streetsbloggers, that indicate the maturation of the movement, its increasing influence in Los Angeles politics, or perhaps challenges still ahead?

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