Inside Seven
Current Issue: April 2014
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Have Bike, Will Travel: Bike to Work Week Encourages Two-Wheeled Transport
by  Kelly Markham
Issue Date: 06/2011

[Click on photos to enlarge and read captions.]

If you’ve ever considered biking to work, there are a few things you should know: You don’t need special clothes. You don’t need a $2,000 bike. You don’t need quads of steel. You don’t need to bike the entire distance. And you don’t need to have a death wish.

These are just a few of the take-home messages from District 7’s Bike to Work Week event, held May 19 on the plaza. To raise awareness about cycling, Caltrans, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority staffed booths and provided information about bike commuting, projects and programs.

Meanwhile, a new exhibit opened in the District 7 Museum – “Everyday Bicycling: Gearing up for Transportation.” The exhibit focuses on the role of bikes in the region’s transportation infrastructure – past, present and future. Displays include police and fire bikes, information on bike-friendly street design, archival photos, Dutch bikes, and two bike-themed videos. One is a kinetic portrait of CicLAvia from the point of view of a cyclist. (CicLAvia shuts down over seven miles of Los Angeles streets to cars and opens them to bikes and pedestrians several times a year.) The second video, by cycling advocate Dan Gutierrez, provides guidance on how to bike safely in traffic.

Educating people about safe riding and helping them feel confident while biking is one of the key goals of the annual event, said Dale Benson, District 7’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.

“Fear is probably the biggest obstacle to commuting by bike,” said Benson. “People don’t feel safe riding a bike on the street, but it’s safer than they think. Overcoming that initial fear is the hard part.”

Another common misconception is that if you bike to work, you have to bike the whole way. Not so, said Benson. “There are many ways to integrate biking with transit. You might ride a bike the first few miles or the last few miles and use transit for the rest of the trip.”

Biking even short distances has numerous benefits. Cyclists save on gas, get some exercise, and might even have fun will riding. Plus, bikes are zero-emission vehicles, which translates into better air quality. That doesn’t mean that you need to ride a bike everywhere, but 40% of all trips are less than two miles – perfect for a short bike ride.

For those thinking about including a bike in their transportation repertoire, it’s much easier than you might think, said Benson. Transit agencies are increasingly accommodating cyclists, providing racks, low-cost lockers and designated places for riders to stand with their bikes on trains. Bike parking is increasingly available. Cities, too, have become more bike-friendly, creating bike master plans and looking for ways to make streets safe for cyclists. District 7’s Local Assistance Unit has been instrumental in helping municipalities secure funding for numerous bike-related projects, such as bike parking and bike lanes.

And while Caltrans is always looking for ways to include bikes in project planning – the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement is one notable example – it is also encouraging employees to bike rather than drive when possible. Districts 2 and 4 have bike-sharing programs that allow staff to check out bikes rather than fleet vehicles when they’re traveling short distances. So when is bike sharing coming to District 7?

“We’re working on it,” Benson said.

In the meantime, if you’d like to give bike commuting a try, the bike rack in the garage has plenty of space. No spandex required.

“Everyday Bicycling: Gearing up for Transportation” will be on exhibit in the Museum through late June.

District 7 Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Dale Benson is interviewed by Time Warner Cable. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition provided bike commuting information to event attendees. Coinciding with Bike to Work Week, a new exhibit opened in the museum focusing on the role of bikes in the region’s transportation infrastructure -- past, present and future. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority provided information on how bikes can be used in conjunction with transit.