Southern California environment news and trends

Younger Americans are driving less

Chris Yarzab/Flickr/Creative Commons

According to a new study, teens and young adults across the country are choosing alternative means of transportation over hopping behind the wheel of an automobile.

The report, “Transportation and the New Generation,” found that younger Americans are driving “substantially fewer” miles than previous generations, often not even bothering with acquiring a driver’s license, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Released by the CalPIRG Education Fund, the study says that mass transit, biking and walking are the preferred methods of getting around.

In hard numbers, the report details how from the year 2001 through 2009, the average number of miles driven by people aged 16 to 34 fell by 23 percent. Also during that time, the same demographic of people increased their public transit mileage by an impressive 40 percent.

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VIDEO: Biking the Angeles Crest Highway

When you drive up the Angeles Crest Highway, you’re likely to be awed by the incredible mountain scenery. Or maybe you'll be impressed by the skyline view of greater Los Angeles neatly laid out below. Also known as the Angeles Crest Scenic Byway, this two-lane segment of California State Route 2 runs 66 miles from La Canada Flintridge to State Route 138, just north of Wrightwood.

What you’re also likely to be awed by on the highway? Groups of intrepid bikers, pedaling up the steep inclines as if their thighs are made of steel. Check out the above video from 3(316)Sixteen Bicycles for a look at what it takes to bike this highway. Or bike this highway while listening to techno club music.

The Angeles Crest Highway, called “the most scenic and picturesque mountain road in the state,” began construction in 1929 and continued until 1956. The route, originally intended to be a fire access road, moves along the highest ridges of the San Gabriel mountain range. This makes it a popular destination for local bikers with the skills to propel themselves through the mountains.

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It’s time for Los Angeles to speed away from bad bike reputation

Los Angeles has long been perceived as a haven for car lovers. We’re thought to put our car culture far ahead of other pursuits, often sending ourselves into a full-blown media hysteria at the mere thought of an impeded freeway. (See: Carmageddon 2011.)

And yet, there’s a thriving bike culture in Southern California that is quickly gaining uphill momentum. So why do we still get such a bad bike rap?

Let’s blame a simple lack of awareness about the biking opportunities in the Southland. Did you know that 43 percent of the population in Southern California has access to a bikeway? This factoid is courtesy of the Southern California Associations of Governments (SCAG), which this week is conducting several public outreach workshops on transportation and land development throughout Southern California.

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Want to start city biking? Here is your how-to

Recently, Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl decided to take to his bike in support of bicycling safety. In this clip via Streetfilms.org, Councilman Rosendahl hops onto a bike to learn how to transport himself safely via two wheels and his own power. The 66-year-old councilman has worked to create a safer Los Angeles for bicyclists but hadn’t ridden a bike in 30 years. So he set himself on a beach cruiser (complete with a squeaky frog) and took a bicycling class through the Westside, as documented here.

Like the intrepid councilman, I am the first to admit that there’s been some time since a meeting between me and my bike. After all, biking in Los Angeles can be intimidating. Between irate drivers and cars that seem to come out of nowhere, you feel like you’re stepping onto a roller coaster at Six Flags without the comforting safety harness.

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