Bicycle down Santa Monica Boulevard, and your journey will get a sudden jolt when you hit Beverly Hills. Why? This rich town is decidedly bike lane-poor. The marked bike lane — whether you’re coming east from Century City or west from West Hollywood — disappears unceremoniously at Beverly Hills’ borders, leaving cyclists to wend their way through traffic without even a “share the road” sign.
“Beverly Hills has no bike facilities whatsoever,” says Mark Elliot, a longtime Beverly Hills resident and avid cyclist. “And we have very few bike racks, perhaps 15 public bike racks in total around the city. Otherwise, there’s no signage. There are no cycling education programs. There’s really nothing that encourages the importance of active transportation for kids, for adults, for reducing congestion — all the great things we know about cycling.”
Clear your calendar for the weekend, because Big Parade LA is bringing walking back to Los Angeles. This annual two-day urban hike across L.A.’s stairways returns for its third year — taking Angelenos on a free tour from the Angel’s Flight Stairway in downtown to the Hollywood sign above Beechwood Canyon — and everywhere in between.
This year’s event’s expected to be bigger and grander — though easier for people to participate in and complete. Expect fewer miles and fewer stairs, a simplified schedule, and a route broken down into easy loops for mid-day joiners and dropouts — as well as more sight-seeing variety and entertainment.
“It should be pretty fun, especially with the different routes,” says Dan Koeppel, a local bike activist, author, and staircase fanatic who’s the mastermind behind this big event. “People who’ve done it before can expect to see a big difference. It’s designed, I hope, so that more people can finish.”
Going to an event in the South Bay? Now you’ve got yet another reason — besides high gas prices, traffic jams, and long parking spot searches — to travel by bike. A social bicycle-riding group called the Beach Cities Cycling Club is offering to set up bike corrals at events all over the South Bay — for free.
“I think in the South Bay beach communities especially, we’ve noticed in the summer months that we double or triple in size and traffic is always an issue,” says Jim Hannon, president of the BCCClub and organizer of the bike corral project. “And in some of those cities, even parking a bike is an issue. As a matter of fact, if you go down to some of these cities in the summer, you can’t even hardly walk down the sidewalk because of so many bikes that are chained up every place you can think of…. So having a structure [like a bike corral] in place alleviates a lot of that, makes a community more walkable, rideable, and more pleasurable for everybody.”
Priuses may be a common sight in Southern California, but electric vehicles are still rare enough to turn heads — especially if they’re one of the new Chevy Volts or the sporty Tesla. But all-electric cars could become the norm in Los Angeles — faster than we think. According to a new report, 9 percent of new Los Angeles vehicle sales are expected to be electric cars by 2015. By 2020, that number could jump to 11.7 percent.
Those numbers come from a report by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, which tackles environmental sustainability issues in L.A. If the numbers seem high to you, you’re not alone. Juan Matute, project director at the Luskin Center, says he too was surprised by the high figures. “Going in, I wouldn’t have expected electric cars to make up such a large share of the vehicle market,” says Matute. Paul Scott, a founding board member of pro-electric car nonprofit Plug-In America, agrees. “It’s an aggressive number,” Scott says.
Time to dust off that rusty bike in the garage. Bike to Work Week returns next week — and from May 16th – 21st, the city will be spinning in a whirlwind of pedal-friendly events, giveaways, and promotions. Whether a cycling newbie or a bicycling pro, Bike to Work Week has lots of incentives to get you out of the car and on eco-friendlier human-powered two-wheelers. Start by taking advantage of these 10 deals:
1. Get a free lunch and a chance to win a bike and other prizes by starting your Bike to Work Week celebrations a few days early at Compton BikeFest 2011. You can take advantage of a free bike checkup and repair, then listen to music entertainment, watch bike tricks in the bike rodeo and skills area, and take a safety ride with C.I.C.L.E. All that happens Sat., May 14 from 9 am to 1 pm at Gonzales Park, 1101 W. Cressey St., Compton. Pre-register by calling El Nido Family Centers at 310-223-0707 for your free lunch!