Observing Los Angeles

Freeway cyclists on NPR

I don't know if National Public Radio's "Bryant Park Project" airs here at all, but if you're interested the show has done a story on the riders who demonstrate by taking their bikes on the freeway in Santa Monica during Friday afternoon rush hours.

For a cyclist, riding on the interstate is utterly taboo.

Drivers scarcely looked up as the riders passed. Many were too busy texting messages on their cell phones in the bumper-to-bumper traffic. The riders grew bolder, weaving in and out, riding faster and faster. They had sent scouts for an initial stretch but decided to extend the ride. Two miles and 15 minutes later, they were back on city streets.

Some in the cycling community criticized the ride, calling it a crazy stunt destined to alienate the nonriding public and end with injured cyclists. But twice as many activists turned out for a second ride in May.

The California Highway Patrol says the Crimanimalz are clearly breaking the law, namely by failing to obey the sign at the freeway entrance that says no bikes allowed. The violation comes with a ticket north of $100, says Officer Heather Hoglund, a spokeswoman. More importantly, Hoglund says, the riders are putting themselves in danger. "The people doing this are thinking, 'I'm not going to get hurt up there. The traffic's moving slowly,' " she says. "But you tip over, and, I'm sorry, but you're done for."


They say they're doing it for a reason. "Why, in a city that's made for cars, are bikes getting places so much faster?" Strauss says. "People who don't ride bikes weren't all that shocked. They were like, yeah, this does make sense. The freeway is a parking lot at that time. There should be a bikeway. There should be a bike freeway. There should be better bike paths. There should be safer routes. And that was really awesome."

More posts about getting around L.A.

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