Archive for January, 2011

Recycling in LA (Times)

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Being Green

I am very glad to see that the Los Angeles Times will be providing weekly information in their Saturday Home section on recycling and green living in Southern California. The lead article from yesterday’s paper provides information on how Los Angeles recycles. Also, my one of my favorite Times writers, Susan Carpenter, digs deep into her own trash. Now I have another reason to look forward to the Saturday paper.

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My 10-10-10 CicLAvia Story

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Bicycle Advocacy

This was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in cycling. I heard about CicLAvia through the web a couple of months before its historic date, 10-10-10, and I anticipated the day with hope and some fear. I hoped that it would be everything that the original Ciclovias were in their native Columbia. I feared that something unfortunate would happen that day that would tarnish the running of the event and dampen the possibility of future CicLAvias.

In the end everything went far better than I could have imagined and there are now plans to conduct four to six CicLAvia events in 2011.

My journey to downtown LA started a bit later than planned. I rode my Bianchi Roger from our house to the Metro Blue Line Station in downtown Long Beach and took a long-ish train ride to the end of the line at the 7th and Metro station. Going from the train platform to the street required navigating my bike through a turnstile and up a couple of sets of escalators.

Emerging from the station at the corner of 7th Street and Figueroa Street, I was immediately on the CicLAvia route on 7th Street. Without any hesitation, I got on my bike and started riding west (knowing that I’d be heading towards the East Hollywood end of the route). My initial reaction to what I’d just joined was amazement.

The rolling mass of cyclist was not dense and it certainly wasn’t fast. It was far from the “serious” centuries in which I participate from time to time where cycling egos clash with the limited space on the road and speed “deadlines” to meet. The were no start or finish lines. There were just ends on the map and people joined anywhere and left anywhere.

As I worked my way towards Melrose Avenue, I saw some racing friends, Jordan and Crystal, along the route. I was almost stunned that I was able to pick them out in the crowd and I kept pedaling instead of stopping to chat as I was still lost in my amazement of this event. A bit further on, I saw Charlie Gandy, Mobility Coordinator for the City of Long Beach. This time I had the mental wherewithal to stop and chat with him for a couple of minutes. After that I pressed on.

One of the more interesting aspects of the event was the automobile crossings (I love the irony of that term). Certain cross streets were open to traffic and at these intersections, LAPD officers and traffic control officers, ensured that cyclists and motorists did not mix and allowed for safe passage by both. I was impressed by everyone’s cooperation at these intersections. I also made it a point to thank them for what they were doing.

There were organized water and first aid stations at a couple of spots along the route and at either end. However, one of the points of CicLAvia was to have impromptu gatherings along the route and there were several of them. Local restaurants were the focus of some gatherings. Another gathering was an interesting offshoot of the street closures. On a small cross street leading into the CicLAvia route, there was what looked to be a pickup game of dodge ball. It reminded me of my childhood in suburban Long Island, NY, where we would play football and stickball on the street in front of my house. I can guarantee you that these folks wouldn’t have been able to play dodge ball in the street on this sunny October afternoon without CicLAvia.

When I finally arrived at the Melrose Avenue end of the route, I was somewhat surprised to find that I was in front the semi-famous Bicycle Kitchen bicycle maintenance co-op and Orange 20 bicycle shop. I didn’t know that both shops were across the street from each other and it was immediately obvious to me why the route ended here. It was a street festival with the now ubiquitous LA catering trucks and a street-side DJ. The fixie hipsters were quite prevalent but there was also an assortment of riders from very casual to fairly serious.

From the “northern” end of the route I backtracked to downtown LA and continued to the “southern” terminus of the route at Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights. On my way there I got to see Japan Town and ride across the 4th Street Bridge. The bridge was one of the most difficult “climbs” on the route and it was entertaining to watch people holding their bikes over their heads for a photo-op to document their conquering the climb.

After spending a few minutes at Hollenbeck Park I headed back towards the Melrose end but this time I took a lot more time to take in the sights and take some photos. I was still mesmerized by the joy of the participants and their good behavior. How often do you see 100,000 Angelenos participate in any event without significant incident?

I was actually on the 4th Street Bridge on my second “lap” when the roads re-opened. I made my way back to the Metro Blue Line Station and caught the train back to Long Beach. Exiting the train I rode a few more miles back home and was very happy to have participated in the first CicLAvia.