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08/23/2013: "Night Walk"
Just took one of my evening walks in the Miracle Mile, strolling along Sixth Street as far as the parkside entrance to the art museum, where I was pleased to see that the normally unused bike racks were nearly full—and there's around fifteen of them. I've done my best to publicize them, as they're pretty much invisible from the street or from within the park. And indeed, I don't recommend using them except when the museum plaza is crowded. It was crowded tonight—a band had just finished playing, and the museum's excellent restaurant and bar were still open; scores of people were lingering in the warm night, providing "eyes on the street" to protect the parked bikes, and of course nurturing a general air of tranquil festivity. There was no particular "event" to celebrate except a beautiful summer evening. The museum's plaza was a real town square tonight.

On the way home, walking along Wilshire Boulevard, a very busy street that host many restaurants in the ground floors of the office buildings that tower over it, again most of the sidewalk racks were occupied—and most of the bikes locked to them were singlespeeds or fixies. It's still a bit of a fad in the bicycle advocacy world to deprecate one-speed bicycles, but the folks who are voting with their feet certainly love them. Me too: I rode my fixed-gear twenty-five miles today, down to Playa del Rey for a calming half hour by the sea. I used to ride a 21-speed bike with a custom gearset I chose and assembled myself (back when it was easy to gather cogs at will and do so), and I don't miss it a bit. I've put around 45,000 miles on fixed-gears since those days. Simplicity isn't holding me back. I do have a two-speed Brompton though.

Regardless of the number of gears they carry, bikes are proliferating in Los Angeles, yes, even in Los Angeles. As is street life. Too bad we have so few places for people to gather in anonymous conviviality, as they do in the plaza at the museum. But more are appearing, slowly, year by year, and, as with bikeways, as with CicLAvia, when people are allowed to choose community over carmageddon, they do flock to it, in happy throngs.

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