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?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Bicycling is for Everyone: The Connections Between Cycling in Developing Countries and Low-Income Cyclists of Color in the U.S.

|
A Missing Story As urban transportation bicycling becomes more popular, planners and advocates often use “bike friendly cities” like Portland, Amsterdam and Copenhagen as examples for facilities as well as political strategies and tactics.  Although these are wonderful cities with dazzling bike networks and impressive ridership numbers, a narrative is emerging that bicycle advocacy needs […]

Senator Introduces Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Law in CA

|
Yesterday, Senator Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) introduced a bill in the California legislature that would require all bicycle riders, including adults, to wear a helmet, and to wear reflective clothing at night. Senator Liu has been an ally for active transportation and bicycling, including supporting the three-foot law that took so long to get […]

CicLAvia : 100,000 Cyclists, 0 Incidents, Millions of Stories

|
(This is part one of our coverage of yesterday’s groundbreaking Open Street Festival.  Hopefully later today we’ll have up a Streetfilm.  Tomorrow we’ll review the reviews of CicLAvia. – DN.) There’s many ways to try and talk about yesterday’s CicLAvia.  One way is to look at the numbers, another to look at the people, and […]

A reckless rider pleads guilty to assault with a deadly weapon. But does that say more about the city that charged him than the cyclists that ride there?

|
Yes, bike riders are subject to the same laws drivers are. Maybe Santa Monica police and prosecutors wanted to send that message loud and clear. Maybe they wanted to make an example of one reckless cyclist so other bicyclists would straighten up and ride right. But to do it, they slapped a reckless, red light […]

Helmets Ready! Mayor Hosts First Bike Summit

|
Former Mayor Richard Riordan presents training wheels to the wounded Mayor. For more pics from the conference, visist Gary Rides Bikes’ Flickr Page Despite the Monday 9am hour and the picture perfect weather, a standing-room only crowd assembled in the Metro Board Room for city of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s first Bike Summit.  Alongside Mayor Villaraigosa […]