Bicycling whether as exercise or a transportation mode is good for us, the environment and Los Angeles. With that said, ours isn’t a city built for bicyclists which is why before embracing bicycling as a lifestyle it’s good to examine both, the pros and the cons.
Health Benefits Of Bicycling
- Riding a bike is a low impact exercise, it doesn’t endanger joints: it improves their flexibility
- Bicycling is an aerobic exercise: it contributes to heart health and helps prevent cardiovascular disease
- It strengthens muscles and bones
- It improves balance and coordination
- Biking burns calories and helps control body weight
- The effort involved in bicycling promotes oxygenation
- Riding a bike in a non-urban area relieves stress
Environmental Benefits Of Bicycling
- Bicycling doesn’t require fossil fuel
- It doesn’t contribute to air pollution
- It doesn’t contribute to noise levels
- It doesn’t endanger pedestrians
Social Support For Bicycling In Los Angeles
In climate change-conscious Los Angeles bicycling has been welcomed and encouraged by the residents as well as the City’s leadership. Both, weekend athletes and commuters are buying – and owning – bicycles. Organizations centered on bicycling have sprung out. New, cycling-related social trends emerged.
The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) advocates for bikers’ safety and organizes bicycling events since 1998.
Since 2010, CicLAvia makes history by changing the perception of what bicycling is and what it could be. During a CicLAvia’s event, parts of a participating city are closed to motorized traffic while bicyclists, roller skaters, and walkers are welcomed. Each CicLAvia event is somewhat of a mix, there is the sport part and social interaction part, the latter isn’t common in a city of drivers confined to their vehicles. (Incidentally, the next CicLAvia, called “Heart of the Foothills” takes place on April 22, 2018)
Bicycling became so popular that even L.A. Metro jumped on the wagon, introducing its Bike Share program. L.A. Metro Bike Share made hundreds of self service bikes easily available to the public with the option of getting a bike at any station and returning it to any station.
That’s of course not the entire story. The added convenience of electric bikes attracts less athletic bicycling enthusiasts. Most of the e-bikes are “human-electric hybrids” and make switching from one mode to another a snap. For better or worse, e-bikes – just like cars – are becoming a status symbol in Southern California. Along with state-of-the-art technology, e-bike prices are getting more and more impressive as well.
So far so good, right? Bicycling is good for humans, Los Angeles (bicyclists don’t destroy roads and highways) and the Earth. There are things one can see and experience from a bike, no car can match. But: yes, there is a “but”. Los Angeles wasn’t built with bicyclists in mind, hence:
Dangers Of Bicycling In Los Angeles
- There are still too few streets with bike lines
- Existing bicycle lines could benefit from better maintenance
- Unclear street signage is often confusing to both, bicyclists and drivers
- Potholes, cracked pavements and sidewalks make bicycling hazardous
- Last but not least, since the separation of bicycles and motor vehicles isn’t great it puts the more vulnerable (the bicyclist) at a disadvantage in an accident.
All of these factors contribute to accidents. So far, the City of Los Angeles has paid 19 million dollars for bicycle accidents that resulted from confusing signage, poor street and / or sidewalk conditions. (If you are a homeowner you already know who is responsible for the condition of the sidewalk in front of your property. Hint, not the City.)
With all that said, things are turning in favor of Los Angeles bicyclists. New legislation (both, L.A.’s and the State’s of California) will improve the infrastructure of our roads. Preventing bike accidents and ensuring bicyclists’ safety is a part of the plan.
So take heart: nothing beats our weather, except perhaps bicycling in So Cal!