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!
James Corner, a well known Landscape Architect, has accomplished many things in his life. Born in 1961, Corner gained a Bachelor’s degree with first class Honors at Manchester Metropolitan University in England. He then moved on to graduate with a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986. Immediately, he began implementing his designs and sought to educate others with an emphasis of “Developing innovative approaches toward landscape architectural design and urbanism.” His influence and motivation would put him as chair of the Landscape Architecture Department at University of Pennsylvania in 2000, Twelve years from when he began teaching. Corners Practice, Field Operations, set forth to implement his education strategy by creating and building an innovative landscape design into the urban environment of New York City.
His project, the High Line, finished in 2009 demonstrates Corner’s efforts to integrate innovativeness and urbanism. This mile and a half long piece of infrastructure, once used for NYC’s high rise train system, is now a fully functioning garden and pedestrian path that meanders its way through the busy city. The project was separated into 3 phases. The first 2 phases or sections focused on 10 blocks of track, with the third section being a half mile. The project took seven years to accomplish and has become a prideful piece of infrastructure to the citizens of NYC.
In an interview with James revealed that Corner’s inspiration in High line project came specifically from the site itself. He pulls from the moods and ‘phenomenal characteristics’ that embody an abandoned train track that cuts through the city. He claims that “every detail from the paths to seating down to the trashcans, lighting and water features would make this a generous, safe and secure space, but also give people the feeling that they’ve come across a secret, magic garden in the sky.” His additions to the track do seem to embody this mythology and post industrialism with an added modernization. The benches that come out of the ground as well as the framed views of the cities vistas entices many to walk the mile and experience the magic of the High Line.
This video shows the amazing power of nature to desalinize desert climates. These methods are currently being applied to a project I am involved with in Escondido, CA.
This method is a good tool to have in the pocket as we Landscape designers re-work land and make it functional as well as visual.