Rode a thirty- or thirty-five-mile round today in weather ranging from the wispiest of drizzles to a hard rain driven by wild winds. Still, fenders, a raincape, and my Bicycle Fixation woolens kept me comfortable, though not exactly dry--the half-gales that occasionally blew through under thunderheads managed to get water under the cape. No matter: the ride was a pleasure, rain or not.
All the more so as I saw a number of other cyclists on the roads with me--especially in Santa Monica, which has enriched its roads with plenty of bikelanes, sharrows, and parking racks, and has just started putting in bike corrals. Despite the sopping roads, there were bikes parked in front of every store that sported sidewalk bike racks, and their riders were--to judge by the crowds seen through the windows--inside spending money.
The sporty folk were out in force, too--though generally minus raingear. More riders than I expected crossing the bicycle bridge in Playa del Rey--including the thoroughly wet, and broadly smiling, fixie punx in the photo. Some wore only T-shirts and shorts, as did the surprisingly numerous joggers.
But it was all the bikes parked in the Santa Monica shopping district that pleased me the most, on this cold, grey, wet, and windy morning. It shows how cycling is becoming the new normal there--clearly a response to the provision of dense networks of bikeways and parking.
A mere two miles away, in Venice, where LA is "implementing" bikeways and racks but is a couple of years behind Santa Monica, I saw few riders. Same weather, just as near the beach, plenty of attractive shops...but no culture of ordinary cycling.
I hope that Los Angeles and the other regional cities are paying attention. Santa Monica works!