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If you ever ride a bike in L.A., you probably feel the pain of living in the classic car-dominated culture. So this might surprise you. It certainly blew me away.

Los Angeles could be a bicycle-friendly city
Los Angeles could be a bicycle-friendly city

On his Human Transit blog, Jarret Walker listed the top 50 cities with the highest percentage of car-free households. East L.A. made the list, with 21% of households living without the automobile. Even Los Angeles itself was up there, albeit in 49th place, with a car-free density of 16.53%. We beat Seattle!

The reasons don't have much to do with ecological awareness. It's more a combination of poverty, age (Los Angeles was a big city before the riode pf the automobile), and urban density. Still, this just empasizes the opportunity here.

There's always been a weird misconception that the bicycle is a luxury toy for the well-to-do, or a vehicle for the suburbs and the country. But given that poverty and density are compelling obstacles to owning a car for many people, biking just makes more sense. 

There could be a perfect storm brewing over this. Los Angeles has a strong bike culture already, and a bike plan (even if it has many shortcomings) is in place.

With our relatively flat streets and typically good weather (not counting this week), LA should be one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Now there's some political will to make it happen, and statistics to show that it can be done.

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One of the best parts of biking in the rain is the looks you get, and the conversations it inspires. When you're biking in foul weather, especially in a place like LA where foul weather is rare, people take notice. It gives you a chance to change their minds.

riding a bike in the rain

While you're out there pedaling through Valhalla, breathing free air and attacking the most menacing hills, the mortal masses are growing dull and weak behind electronic screens. Entire generations are hyperinsulated from the real world, and we're paying the price:

Last year's economic meltdown was caused by a potent mix of greed and laziness, the mindset that easy money should be a given, the bovine mentality that comfort is the norm and serious effort is unnecessary.

The purely physical aspects of life have become so easy for most of us that it's easy to get lost in this mindset, easy to lose touch with reality, almost impossible to do anything as our resources and freedoms slip away.

At the same time, the few people who stay active and engaged with the world are beating the trend and thriving. The courageous heroes who squarely face the challenges that life throws at them, or who seek out challenges on their own, these are the people who continue to grow and succeed.

If you're a regular bike commuter, I suspect you have a distinct advantage in your social and economic life, in addition to better health. And whenever you ride, you're a beacon to all the wandering souls behind glass panes, a reminder of the independence, resourcefulness, and work ethic that made this country great.

When it's raining cats and dogs, especially in a place like Los Angeles where it rarely rains very hard for very long, the weather separates the heroes from the common folk. If you ride boldly and blatantly where others fear to tread, you're forcing the world to wake up and take notice.

You have a choice to make. We're on the cusp of human evolution, but it's different this time. We're not going to be naturally selected by a meteor or some other environmental catastrophe. We're going to choose our own fate.

So get on your bike, especially when the storms are raging all around you.

You don't realize it, but your bottom bracket holds the future of America, and maybe of all humanity.

I had an extra long lunch break today, and took a quick ride in a part of LA that I pass through a lot. But I never saw this before!

I was out for maybe a hour, and didn't ride more than a couple of miles, but I took all the side streets and discovered a new park, a bunch of old mansions,  and some gingerbread houses. I was stalked by a giant Ewok in a Porsche (Halloween is near), and I even found a narrow twisty road that smelled like a redwood forest. In L.A.!

If you're not using your bike to explore the places you think you already know, you're in for a treat. I bet every city has quirky houses and yards, not to mention those random freak encounters with weird (ahem, interesting) people.

You'll come away from these discovery rides with a new sense of wonder at the world, quite possibly enhanced by the extra load of oxygen and endorphins.

This is at least as entertaining as any movie you'll see all year, and it's free. Not to mention the exercise.

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I'm trying to start a beginner's biking group in Los Angeles. If you're here, let me know what you're looking for. I put up a survey here.

If you'd like to be in on this, let me know!

There was an article in the L.A. Times a few months ago where they stated that the number of cyclists killed by motorists had doubled from 2005-2006.

Bad news, but the reason might not be as grim as you think. Apparently the number of bicycles sold also doubled during the same period of time. If there are twice as many of us out there, and everything else stays the same, then the death rate would also double.

There are more and more people riding bikes. Me and my girlfriend even went to a club on our bikes last night.

Drivers, please be careful.

If you ride a [tag-tec]bike in Los Angeles[/tag-tec], check out today's article, "On the Mean Streets of L.A."

If you're interested in getting away from this crazy place and you want to [tag-tec]ride your bike in Italy[/tag-tec], be sure to scroll down for more info.