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06/08/2010: "The Girls Are Back in Town...."
Maybe LA's doing something right, or maybe 4th Street really is that good a bike route (and one that mightily deserves being made into a bicycle boulevard).

While other cities complain that women on bikes (a sort of "indicator species," as some have put it, for how bike-friendly a town is) tend to hover at one-third to one-quarter the number of male urban cyclists, this morning as I rode about most of the length of 4th around 0930 hours, I passed numerous cyclists--and all of them were women.

I ride 4th Street almost every day, and the presence of women on bikes is almost always notable--usually about the half of the riders I see.

Since during the LACBC's bike count last year, only around 15% of cyclists counted were women, maybe that just says that we really ought to study 4th Street to understand what makes it so desirable as a bike route, even in its present condition, with its terrible surface and with two major uncontrolled intersections.

It's a pretty, tree-lined street that stitches together a number of disparate neighborhoods--and it already sees little car traffic--in part, I suspect, because of those unsignalized intersections. Also, the curves, trees, and hills reduce sight lines, and therefore car speeds.

In effect, making it a bicycle boulevard will refine and perhaps perfect its present character. I think it has a lot to teach us. We need to remake more streets in LA in the image of 4th Street--if not with rerouting (obviously), with proper traffic calming.

Including bicycle infrastructure: see what the New York Times says in this misleadingly-titled article on how bike lanes and street closures have not only boosted cycling and walking in NYC, but smoothed the flow of car traffic as well: Pedestrians, Bicyclists Spar for Space in NYC's New No-Car Zones.

The women of 4th Street may be showing us that LA can find its own way to a rational traffic mix on our often charming side streets.

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