For years the bicycle had been categorized as a toy for children, a tool for professional athletes, or a last-resort of the desperately poor—a mode of travel that required either courage or foolishness.
Yet the foolish ones were those who immured themselves in cars, alone and sequestered, for so long, draining municipal treasuries with their demands for free roads and cheap parking, clogging lungs, driving the weather crazy, walling themselves off from their world and their fellow humans.
Now that's changing, as people become accustomed to seeing cyclists everywhere—cyclists who are neither poor, nor supermen, nor derelicts. Cyclists who are just people like themselves, but riding bikes...and looking pretty happy about it.
The other day my wife Gina and I were pedaling from a music shop in Hollywood to the Farmers Market near our house, and as we passed through a nondescript intersection of two side streets, another couple out on bikes veered around the corner, while two fellows coming the other way zipped through the crossing with us. Six cyclists, meeting by chance, in the middle of an average neighborhood surrounded by shopping streets.
Over and over again it happens, on main streets and side streets alike, and the bike racks scattered round the city are more often in use than not.
The bicycle is becoming normal once again. And CicLAvia helped with that, giving everyday folks "permission" to ride their bikes on the street in that great rolling party, and get a taste of what they had been missing during the long grey era when we lived in glass and metal boxes, breathing essences of vinyl and burnt fuel.
It was a lack of imagination that held us back for so long, nothing more.
Here's a short video of the most recent CicLAvia, to give you a taste of what Los Angeles has just discovered—in case you weren't lucky enough to be there with us: