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01/26/2014: "Wilshire Wheeling"
One thing I like about Wilshire's Miracle Mile, where I live, is that I can't stroll a block without seeing three of four people riding bicycles.

One thing I don't like is that most of them are riding on the sidewalks. This is legal in Los Angeles but ineffective, unsafe, and often rude. Some of these folks are moving rather quickly—I remember one from last week who was going about the same speed that I was, and I was on my bike in the street and am not a plodding rider by any means. The Mile sees a lot of foot traffic (often including me); it has a walk score of 91, and the sidewalks are busy, especially around lunchtime or near the museums.

True, its bike score is only 59, but that's not so bad. Wilshire is daunting, though: lots of traffic, often fast (despite the traffic lights every two or three hundred feet), lots of scofflaw motorists. Still, it's not as bad as it looks. I pedal it often, sometimes even at rush hour, and it's one of the busiest streets in the country. But it looks pretty bad when you're waiting to sprint into the flow of traffic, so I understand.

That will change soon, at least during the commute crush: the street is gaining rush hour bus/bike lanes, which aren't as bad as some would contend. There used to be a pair of them downtown, on Spring and on Main before they won genuine buffered bike lanes (even if buffered only by paint), and Wilshire already has a set up in Koreatown. They exist in several other US cities as well, plus Britain, France, and Germany, where their safety record is very good.

Whether they will feel safe enough for the "interested but concerned" who are steadily filling the streets, I don't know, but the accompanying "Bikes Okay" signs may draw a few of the bolder timid into the laneways…at least when there isn't a massive articulated bus bearing down.

And as I said, riding the sidewalks is legal here; the stipulation is that one simply be polite. More bikes is more better, and I'm glad to see them…and to join them, when I'm going farther than two or three blocks.

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