Home > Culture > The weirdness of it.

The weirdness of it.

On Sunday, I packed up a cake and a camera on the Bullitt and rode over to enjoy Mother’s Day with friends. It was just a couple of miles ride, from Beverly Hills to the Fairfax District, and the day was spectacular: sunny, not too warm, a gentle breeze. I was keen to show the bike to Paris, my nine year-old “nephew,” as his dad has been trying to interest him in riding, and I thought he’d like to see a different take on it. His response? “You certainly live a weird life,” he said. Ha. Game. Set. Match.

The “alternativeness” of the bicycle is ingrained, at such an early age, in this country, and especially in this city. My dad, born and raised (in part) in Los Angeles, thought I was a bit bonkers when I took to cycling in my teens. He told me that in his youth, you either walked or drove. Riding a bicycle meant that you were too poor to have a car, and you didn’t want to be caught dead on one. That view may have changed somewhat since then, but somehow it doesn’t feel like it, not to those who get around on two wheels.

A German study that came out a few months ago emphasized the importance of peer influence in establishing cycling as a normal mode of transit. In effect, the more riders we have on the streets, the more other people will start riding. The behavior stops being “weird” and starts being, well, normal.

The trick is figuring out how to make that happen. I’m not the first to advocate for better infrastructure, and not the first to realize the “chicken-and-egg” nature of it. It’s difficult, politically, to ask for better infrastructure without riders, but it’s hard to get riders without better infrastructure.

But maybe, somehow — if we continue to soldier on, if we keep riding cakes over to Mother’s Day brunches, if we keep asking for a better cycling city — we’ll finally get there.

Categories: Culture
  1. KARL
    July 18, 2012 at 4:33 AM

    Your fathers association of poverty etc. with bike ownership and use is no accident. And using bikes to move cargo maybe counterproductive to changingi culture because whta’s teachable is wahat cars are good for- not for commuting, but for movoing large numbers of people or goods around,and you don’t need ot do that twice a day or more.

    allowing cars to be kept- every family should have one, we have plenty afte rall to give most householdds several sufficinet to lat for generations without manufacgturing one more if hter e use is limited toonly non human transportation purposes, is victory as sweete as possible- it’s oru repsonsiblitlty to store these cars, not to do worse then that with them on behalf of all living things afte rall and driveways nad yards are fa r better places to do so hten landfills or river beds.

    It’s not easy to tell a friend of family members kids there parents are evil- but to be silent is worse. if they tolerate you only if you c ondone there crimes against not just humanity then your just a smuck ot put up with that.

    some kids will be serial killers, many will own and drive exclusively cars no matater what we do, but such deviancy is rare, and needn’t distract us from helping normal people get by without offending as they prefer needing only information and support well understood by us inthis choir liek making requ9iring acar to be hired as repugnant as being a virgin or of a certain politcal party, orientation…

  1. May 10, 2011 at 4:11 PM

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