[Editor's note: My mother was hit by a driver while riding her bike today and broke 2 fingers. Share the road and look for bikes! Cars and bikes both need to obey normal traffic laws! And let's get some more bike lanes striped.]
Continuing “Geography Matters” series . . .
Risking Life and Limb, Riding a Bike to Work in L.A.
(Most emailed article of the day on Friday)
Cyclists, Banned on Freeways and Reviled By Drivers, Save a Buck and Make a Point
By RHONDA L. RUNDLE
Wall Street Journal
August 1, 2008; Page A1
LOS ANGELES — Paula Rodriguez, who lives in the San Fernando Valley, got so disgusted with soaring fuel prices last spring that she stopped driving, sold her SUV and bought a bike.
But pedaling the 15 miles home from her job, the 30-year-old Ms. Rodriquez has encountered something more frightening than $4.50-a-gallon gasoline: the mean streets of L.A., home of the nation’s most entrenched car culture.
“Drivers scream at me to get off the road,” says the medical-billing clerk. The main commuting route near her home is so terrifying, she says, that she usually takes an alternative route that adds four miles to her trip.
Even then, it’s not an easy ride. On one stretch, splintered glass in the street could puncture her tires, she says. On Wednesdays, she has to dodge garbage cans blocking the bike lane. On Friday evenings, as the sun sets, she feels menaced by drunk drivers. Such threats compel her to sometimes swing onto the sidewalk, even though that could get her a ticket. “I go slow, ring my little bell and stop sometimes to say ‘hi’ to pedestrians,” she says.
Commuters across the U.S. are responding to high gasoline prices by finding alternatives to driving. But in Los Angeles, it takes a special kind of road warrior to hop on a bike in the name of saving the planet and a little money.
Cycling Back Around
Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Better. In the City, an Old-Fashioned Conveyance Returns
By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 2, 2008; Page C01
This is the summer you realize you need it again.
This is the summer of women on bicycles riding around town free as anything, wearing long dresses or skirts, sandals or even high heels, hair flowing helmet-free, pedaling not-too-hard and sitting upright on their old-school bikes, the kind with front baskets where they put their laptops, and handlebars that curve gently back in a bow shaped like the upper line of someone’s perfectly drawn red lipstick.
… The machine of the moment is the 1969 Schwinn Deluxe Racer, picked up on Craigslist for $75, with lightly rusted metal fenders and a three-speed Sturmey-Archer shifter on the upright handlebars. Or it’s a new Jamis Commuter, or a Breezer Villager, this year’s models that aren’t ashamed of the primitive, durable genius of an old Schwinn.
“Somewhere along the line, we made biking a hobby and a sport instead of a way to get around,” says Alexandra Dickson, an architect who commutes from Southwest Washington to her downtown office on a blue Breezer Villager that she calls Babe, after Babe the Blue Ox. “I’d like to see it get back to being a way of getting around.”
… What’s happening is, the American conception of the bicycle-as-toy and the bicycle-as-sports-equipment is being infiltrated by the European notion of the bicycle-as-transportation and the Asian notion of the bicycle-as-cargo-hauler.
The idea has dawned that, guess what, contrary to biker dogma of the 1970s and 1980s, you don’t have to break your back with drop-down handlebars and obsess over ever-lighter space-age frames. The totemic two-wheeler is no longer the Specialized Roubaix Elite Triple with the carbon frame and the 30-speed Shimano drivetrain for $1,949.99, last seen tearing down Beach Drive on weekends, bearing lawyers and lobbyists in full spandex peloton plumage. And good riddance to the 1980s’ and 1990s’ craze for tank-treaded, double-suspension mountain bikes. The only time you ever found yourself “off-road,” dude, was on the C&O Canal towpath.
Hybrids came along, of course, a compromise between road bikes and mountain bikes. Now hybrids have been refined and gussied into “commuter bikes,” made by such companies as Jamis, Breezer and others, costing a few hundred bucks up to $1,000.
The handlebars are set higher than the seats, so you sit upright and comfortable. What a concept. The reign of the purists is over, and all the accessories they forbade are permitted again. There are baskets in front and racks in back. There are chain guards so you don’t get grease on your slacks, and skirt guards so you don’t catch your dress. Kickstands are no longer a heresy punishable by sneering. Fenders are back, along with mudflaps, so you don’t get a splatter trail up your back on rainy days. On some of the models, front and rear lights come installed.
Continue reading at Washington Post . . .
By Moira E. McLaughlin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 29, 2008; Page HE01
I am waiting for my husband to ask me quietly whether I might reconsider biking to work, something I have been doing for about three years. After the July 8 death of a 22-year-old cyclist in our Dupont Circle neighborhood, I wonder when his “Be careful getting to work this morning” will turn into “Think you should find another way to get to work this morning?”
I don’t mind public transportation, but I like the flexibility afforded by a bike. Walking is all right, too, but I’d take my eight-minute morning bike ride over a 20-minute trek.
And I am clearly not alone. On one recent morning, I counted 10 bikers waiting for the light at 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW. The Whole Foods Market on P Street in that area has two big bike racks, yet finding a space on them can be almost as hard as finding a space to park your car.