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.

bicycle global warming 017This isn't exactly about getting around on a bike, and it's only connected to riding a bike in Italy by a stretch of the imagination.

But there is a lot of urban sprawl, even in Italy (especially in Rome!)  and there were days of biking the Appian way where all I saw was a bunch of run-down homes and industrial stuff along a lonely road through the Italian countryside

That's why this documentary on urban sprawl is relevant. I'm hoping for a future time when enough people are willing to ride their bikes as their primary transportation, there's good public transportation in place, and cities become communities where people want to live, instead of the wasteland that so many of them are now (especially LA!).

So if you're interested in biking as a way of transforming the world, you may want to check this out.