If you saw a bunch of bicyclists zipping past you on the highway, what would you think? Well, if I were stuck in traffic, as is usually the case in a car culture town like Los Angeles, I would think "I bet if I were riding a bike, I'd be home by now." That would probably be true -- and that is exactly the kind of thought that Crimanimalz wants floating through your head.
Spawned from Critical Mass and first discussed on the Midnight Ridazz forum, which is a site dedicated to building bike culture, Crimanimalz set out to prove a point -- bicyclists are commuters too, and there should be space allotted for them on freeways and highways.
There was controversy from the start, with talks about the legalities of what bicyclists on the highway would really mean. According to California Vehicle Code (CVC), it would only be illegal to ride a bike on stretches of freeway where there were signs prohibiting bicyclists and pedestrians. The problem? These signs are on most on-ramps in the city. The bigger problem? In an oil-dependent world, what options do car-free commuters have besides public transportation?
Many who were involved in the initial discussions believed that the first ride would be the one which would destroy bike culture in Los Angeles. Others thought that it was the next natural progression in making a statement about bicycle advocacy -- and bringing light to the thought that bicycles are the best commuting alternative. This is especially true for people who drive on the highways and have to go less than a few miles.
With gas prices being ridiculously expensive, road rage, traffic jams, and air pollution, I think many of us are a little more open to finding different ways of getting where we need to go. So, next time you see a bicyclist riding next to you, cheer them on. And next time you see a bicycle shop, walk on in -- even if it's just to have a look. Bikes are always good to have around. I know this is something I'm thinking of doing very soon. I have Crimanimalz to thank for pounding the hard questions into my brain just a little bit more. :)