Coming from Portland, a city that contains some of the best alternative transportation and strongly encourages utilizing the bike as a mean for transportation has made me very familiar with biking through the city. The thrill and experience one can have from getting a view of their city off of two wheels can certainly change ones perspective. Through my involvement at CicLAvia, these experiences that are held in my memory can now welcome a new pragmatic thought and a new perspective of LA.
As Billy Guarino and myself left for the CicLAvia event with our bikes to catch the Metro Link, I began to feel a little unprepared. My bike, a beach cruiser, lacking any gears or design built for long distance riding was starting to become a regret as I noticed the style of bikes being crammed into the train. I had not anticipated, or fully grasped the distance in which we would be riding. However I was on that train, I had two wheels, and there was no turning back.
Regret was soon being lost into the excitement as I was comprehending the amount of people that were gathering for this event. Thousands with their bikes in hand had poured out of the trains from Union station and were making their way to the starting point. We made our way through the crowd and began the trek through the downtown streets. The site was overwhelming. City streets that were just hours previously filled with cars were now filled with people on bikes. I kept saying to myself, “This is how you move ten thousand people from Union Station to Venice Beach.”
My previous notions of regret for the bike I choose to bring was fully dissipated as I rode next to many others with beach cruisers, mountain bikes, tricycles, fixed gears, elevated clown bikes, low-rider-tricked-out bikes, and tandem bikes. The most astonishing bike was a dining room table that had been converted into a bike for six. This mechanical feat was the greatest thing I’ve witnessed besides a robotic car with spider-like legs in the desert for the semi-annual Hammer Time Race. This Dinner Bike, also called a Moveable Feast, was being operated by a total of six people, three on two sides of the table facing each other. All were dressed in formal dinner wear with plates and glassware in front of them. Under the table was the mechanics filled with gears and chains allowing each person to pedal and assist the mobility of the table.
How great of an event this was. My journey through the city of LA and ending up at the famous Venice beach was such a great experience. Seeing thousands of people supporting the event and showing such enthusiasm and support for alternative transportation was a revelation in itself. When comparing the city of Portland and the city of LA, transportation seems to be a contrasting element. The traffic that is an iconic attribute in LA is only getting worse. The money being spent on widening the freeways seems to be a temporary fix to a growing population. Efforts to improve alternative transportation in California should be a priority. If you can move ten thousand people from Union Station to Venice Beach on bicycles think of the amount people could move daily to a from LA. With our encouragement, efforts to re-design streets, bus stations, and trains will give many motivation to get out of the car and on a bike. CicLAvia was an awesome event that I would encourage all to attend, and take it further than a few times a year. Beat the traffic and CicLAvia!