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My First CicLAvia

I love riding my bike. It’s one of my favorite things to do in LA, actually! I also really enjoy exploring this amazing city by foot.  In addition to sidewalks and bike lanes, I have experienced most of the ped and bike paths that LA has to offer. I am learning about active transportation in graduate school, and I work for LADOT’s Bicycle Outreach and Planning Program.  Naturally, as soon as people find out about my passion for walking and biking, they often ask, “Don’t you just love CicLAvia?”

Although I have lived LA for over a year, I often leave on the weekends to visit family or am busy with graduate school obligations, so I had never been to CicLAvia…

Until now! The stars aligned last weekend, and I finally made it to CicLAvia Heart of LA in Downtown.

(ʘ‿ʘ) LOOK AT ALL THE BICYCLES!

(ʘ‿ʘ) LOOK AT ALL THE BICYCLES!

I began my journey to CicLAvia from Union Station. A lot of my usual bus routes were on detour, so I decided to walk 1.5 miles to my destination. First, I noticed that there were a lot more people walking and biking than normal! Even the streets and sidewalks that were not blocked off for CicLAvia were teeming with families, couples on tandem bikes, and people dancing, and moving. The day was off to a good start.

Kids were having a blast in Chinatown.

Kids were having a blast in Chinatown. Photo by Kora McNaughton.

Now, my experience may have been a bit different than many CicLAvia goers, because I attended not solely as a person biking, walking, or rolling, but as a volunteer. A bunch of my friends and peers in the Associated Students of Planning and Development formed a team to adopt an intersection.

"Hi, we are here to keep you safe."

“Hello, we are here to keep you safe.” Ed, Garrett, and Parama were safety rockstars.

Adopting an intersection means controlling pedestrian and bicycle traffic at a vehicle crossing, pedestrian crossing, or dismount zone. At least 6 volunteers are needed to work a 3-hour shift. Our task was to slow traffic on the 4th Street bridge right before the downhill to prevent people from wiping out or losing control.

High-fives are my favorite!

High-fives are my favorite!

Adopting an intersection also means laughing with strangers, having a great time with friends, being outside, and feeling pride in Los Angeles. I highly recommend volunteering!

CicLAvia selfie!

CicLAvia selfie with Negin and Saja!

Throughout the day, I saw a lot of super cool bikes. I was amazed and inspired by all of the people who have put so much effort into creating beautiful, interesting, and useful bicycles.

Not your average Bike-Couch-Cooler in-one!

It’s not your average all-in-one bicycle couch and cooler!

Thanks to people who had speakers on their person, in shopping carts, or on bikes, we listened to tunes and had sporadic dance parties. Oh, and did I mention the dogs? There were dogs in bike baskets, backpacks, and bike trailers, as well as dogs walking and jogging.

Doggies love open streets, too.

Doggies love open streets, too.

It was a glorious day for dogs and dog people! I didn’t see any cats ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Maybe next time!

The crew of paddleboarders from WestSSUP was all smiles!

The crew of paddleboarders from WestSSUP was all smiles!

There was a celebration for all of the volunteers at the end of the day, which I couldn’t make because I had to go to school for a meeting. I heard it was a lot of fun, though!

I’m glad that I can finally say that I’ve been to CicLAvia. I am really looking forward to the next one in March! The route will be announced soon. Next time, I’ll bring my bike explore the event from the different perspective. I also want to check out the other open streets events that are coming up, including Long Beach’s Beach Streets on November 12 and 626 Golden Streets in San Gabriel Valley on March 5.

I want to see these on all of the streets all of the time.

I want to see these cabs on all of the streets, all of the time.

Being out there with all of the people on that bridge made me think about what LA would be like if we closed the streets to cars more often. I think it would be pretty great. What do you think?

I have a feeling these folks on roller blades would like to see more open streets!

 

My Commute: Palms to USC and DTLA

 

I like to ride my bike along the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

Hi! It’s me, Gwen. I love riding my bike along the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

When I moved from Deep Springs, California to LA for graduate school, friends and family shared concerns that without a car, my commute would be terrible. Well, I am happy to report that I have proved them all wrong! Yes, walking, biking, and taking public transit has its challenges, but so does driving (traffic congestion, parking, climate change, to name a few). Rather than live in fear, I actually look forward to my multi-modal commute every day. First, I look at it as a learning opportunity. As a student in urban planning and public administration at USC, it is important to me that I understand and experience public transit and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Second, I embrace the economic benefit! I save a lot of money by not driving, which helps me afford life in Los Angeles as a student.

I save $4,020 each year by not driving

Thanks to a partnership between Metro and USC Graduate Student Government, I get to buy an affordable, unlimited Metro TAP Card each semester. You can see if you are eligible for a discounted TAP Card, too.

On any given week day, I travel from Palms to USC or DTLA on:

  1. The 733 Rapid bus: I love taking the bus, because I can read the news, do homework, meet new people, and bring my bike. Oh, and during my commute, I’ve also taken up learning a language. By using this time to practice Spanish on Duolingo, I have gone from 0-33% fluent in just 10 months! A este ritmo , voy a hablar con fluidez en un par de años más.
  2. The Expo Line train: The train is great for all the same reasons as the bus, but it’s faster. I guess one downside is that it warrants less time for language learning.
  3. My awesome bike: This is my favorite mode of transportation. I get to be outside, exercise, and meet other people who ride bikes. I hope that people who see me on my bike think, “Hey, that person looks pretty happy on their bike. Maybe I can ride a bike, too!”

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: Palms is way closer to UCLA than USC. Why am I choosing this epic commute? Well, to start, I need to get out and living far from campus helps me to explore more of LA. Plus, I have a lot of friends at UCLA, and I think it’s a cool school to live by (don’t tell Tommy Trojan). Some people are bi-coastal. I like bi-campusal.

Riding from Palms to USC

Before I hop on my bike, I run through an ABC Quick Check to make sure everything is in working order. It is better for me to solve a problem like a flat tire, broken chain, or faulty brakes at home than when I am rushing off to work or school. For example, when I take my bike down from a wall mount, sometimes the brakes become disengaged. I prefer to notice this in the comfort of my apartment, not when I’m trying  to stop at a red light.

Once I know my bike is good to go, I ride to Culver City Station and park at the station bike racks (with not one, but  TWO U-locks). Did you know you can rent a bike locker from Metro? I am seriously considering this, because my bicycle can never be too safe.

I keep an extra set of bike lights in my bag, and my helmet is reflective.

For the ride home, I keep an extra set of bike lights in my bag.

Since some classes end after 9pm, I often get home late. I love Venice because of the bike lane. Venice has the longest connected bike lane in Los Angeles! But cars drive at high speeds, which is even more terrifying at night. So, I’ve mastered at-night riding. Check out my super reflective backpack!

My reflective backpack helps me stay visible at night.

This picture of me wearing my backpack at night shows how hard it is for cars to see me when it’s dark. Good thing they can really see my backpack!

I also have a reflective jacket and helmet cover. You can never be too visible on the road!

Ok, back to my commute. At Culver City Station, I hop on the Expo Line train for a seamless commute to Expo Park/USC station, which is closest to my department, but there are actually three Expo Line stations at USC:

  • Expo/Vermont
  • Expo Park/USC
  • Jefferson/USC

This bike-train commute from my apartment to school takes anywhere from 35 to 50 minutes, depending on how long I wait for the train.

While I usually ride my bike to the train station, I sometimes like to bike all the to USC! My route travels along Venice and Exposition and takes about 45 minutes.

I really like this route because there's a bike path or bike lane the whole way

I like riding all the way to USC, because there’s a bike path or bike lane the whole way.

On my way home, I often swing by the grocery store. Thanks to my folding pannier baskets, which I bought from Palms Cycle, I can carry two full grocery bags (one in each basket).

Palms to DTLA

On days when I head directly to work, I take the 733 Rapid bus, which is pretty much a straight shot.

Taking the bus gives me a chance to read, do homework, and learn Spanish.

Taking the bus gives me a chance to read, do homework, and learn Spanish.

My walk to the bus stop is great because it gets me outside. It also reminds me that most streets in Los Angeles are not designed for pedestrians. I have near misses with cars almost as often as I do on my bike, and it’s especially bad during rush hour. Being a pedestrian can feel really powerless when streets are made for fast, heavy vehicles. People who walk should feel safe and connected. I’m grateful to be part of LADOT’s Active Transportation Division, working to make LA neighborhoods walkable through programs like People St.

I prefer the 733 Rapid to the 33 Local, because it's faster

I prefer the 733 Rapid to the 33 Local, because it’s faster.

My walk-bus trip takes about an hour, depending on how long I wait for the bus. I use Transit App to track arrival times, which helps minimize my wait.

DTLA to USC

Getting from DTLA to USC is super easy, because it’s only 4 miles on my bike. There aren’t always bike lanes, but I confidently take the lane and ride 4 feet away from parked cars when that’s the case. I was “doored” a few years ago, so I learned the hard way to never ride in the door zone. Learn from my mistake! This commute takes 25 minutes.

When I’m not on my bike, I take public transit. There are a lot of options spanning 28 to 36 minutes:

  • 910/950 Silver Line bus
  • 81 bus
  • DASH A bus
  • DASH F bus
  • Purple Line train
  • Red Line train
  • Expo Line train
I love that from work to school, I can either take public transit or ride my bike

I can take public transit or ride my bike from work to school.

This commute is about to get way better thanks to the Figueroa Corridor Streetscape Project (aka MyFigueroa). As part of MyFigueroa, complete street elements will be installed along a 4 miles stretch of Figuera. These improvements will include a protected bike lanebike signal heads, and bike boxes at intersections, among others. Construction starts in summer 2016 and will be completed by March 2017.

Well, there you have it. My commute saves money, gets me outside, gives me opportunities to be productive, and makes me feel connected to my communities and the greater Los Angeles.

Thanks for reading! How is your commute?

Gwen von Klan is an intern at LADOT’s Active Transportation Division.

USC Bike Summit and Bike Expo TOMORROW

The corner of Hoover and Jefferson - a busy intersection just outside of USC

The corner of Hoover and Jefferson - a busy intersection just outside of USC

On Wednesday, January 18th, USC will hold a Bike Summit open to the Trojan community and surrounding neighbors. The Bike Summit will take place from 3-5 pm in the Tutor Campus Center Ballroom (lower level, located adjacent to the campus bookstore) and provide the public with an opportunity to voice their opinions about bike riding on the USC campus. The LADOT Bike Blog has chimed in on USC’s attitude towards bikes in a previous post here. We are encouraged to see USC taking steps towards effectively planning for bicycles. More on tomorrow’s Bike Summit below the fold.

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Busy Weekend: Park(ing) Day & cicLAvia Bicycle Beauty Pageant

It’s an event-filled weekend for bikes and LADOT Bike Blog.  Friday marks Park(ing) Day and Saturday will see a great fundraiser for cicLAvia.  Make sure you get in on the fun.

Make Park(ing) Day doubly green: ride your bike there!

Gussy up your bike and get it down to Atwater Village this Saturday night

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USC Bans Bicycles on Bike Lane, More Restrictions to Come

Yesterday at USC Dr. Charlie Lane, associate senior vice president for Career and Protective Services, announced at a bicycle safety forum that the school is enacting a bicycle ban on Trousdale Parkway and Childs Way, the two major pedestrian thoroughfares on the USC campus.  With near 80% of USC students self-identified as bicyclists (another survey estimated up to 15,000 bicyclists on campus), the effects of this new measure could be quite drastic.  Given better planning and educational efforts, this situation may have been avoided.

A thing of the past? USC bans bicycles on major pedestrian thoroughfares.

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