LA Bike Trains — Transforming The Mean Streets Of LA

LA Bike Trains is changing the personality of LA. LA Bike Trains, a group bubbling up from the profound roots of the city, is looking to make LA a friendlier place, and a nicer place for bicyclists.

LA has been named one of the unfriendliest cities in the US. This unfriendly aura is not simply regarding transit; however, transit is inseparable from the urban aspect of welcoming or not welcoming people. Superficial pretensions of the city are momentarily cast aside through LA Bike Trains’ actions. The organization is turning the cold, false persona of LA inside out and cultivating authentic identity for the bicyclists of these unfriendly streets.

Consider bicycling in a city such as LA. This is vastly different from bicycling in a small-town college environment with avid, environmentally-focused youth at every corner. It is different from “Greener” cities where bicycling is part of the city’s identity.
Route 2 Hollywood to Downtown, Nona Varnado
We are vulnerable to the push and pull of life. Bicycling is best within an environment of composure. One wants to cultivate the Zen flow of a spiritual adept. Best, for many of us, is when we can to take time while cycling. Balanced “timing” also increases safety on a bike. Prowess, awareness, and training being other key factors for safety and success. But this is largely cultivated by doing. LA Bike Trains offers a way to cultivate (even beginners welcome) this prowess while bicycling in safety in large numbers.

It is not only a matter of fighting city hall for better bike lanes. It is a matter of doing with the circumstance one has. Thus, some strong, intelligent bicyclists with a passion to create safer routes simply from what they have got together and formed LA Bike Trains. To increase the safety of bicyclists within such an unfriendly city such as LA, increasing visibility is necessary. As others gas up their cars time after time, perhaps they form a blind spot, perhaps there is an attitude that some people matter more. But there is another way to live in the world and be in transit. Thank you LA trains for taking on the mean streets of LA with a kinder human vision actively encouraged.

Take on the mean streets of LA alone?

“Now you don’t have to,” Dennis Romero of the LA Weekly writes. “LA Bike Trains just launched and the folks there let us know that they have five routes where you can roll with a gang of cyclists, Midnight Ridazz-style, except not at midnight. There’s safety in numbers”

A rep for the group put it simply to the Weekly:

“We organize group rides to help people commute by bike together along regular routes.”

The organization states that it uses guides who know the streets and who can help get you to work safely.

LA Bike Trains
Image Credit: LA Trains

From the LA Bike Trains website:

Need to get to work in Los Angeles? Wish your commute was super fun instead of a drag?

We provide a rolling party along select routes run by Conductors – experienced urban cyclists – to harness the safety of riding in a group while kicking it up a notch by making the ride a fun social experience. And it’s totally free!

All you need to do is submit your email, cell phone number and the route that you’re interested in. If you don’t see a route that works for you – suggest one! & if you’re interested in leading a Bike Train as a Conductor – let us know.

One does not find (yet) in US cities the practicality and life-changing safety of 4 bicycle lights at an intersection (as found in some European cities). This light doesn’t just make the intersection safer, it reminds drivers there is a bike beside them waiting to go or turn.

Another resolution to this visibility concern is a long group of bikes which will stand out to drivers. Whereas one may not see a lone biker, a group of bikers might prompt some better vision for the LA motorist.

As far as bike-safe trails far from roads, I sometimes wonder, “Is this trail safe for a young person alone? Is this trail protected from theft or worse? Does this trail need patrol? Would patrol make this safer?” Joining with a bike train — whether street or trail — someone (or a group of people) has your back. This is reassuring.

The automobile driver’s blind spot is just that. I know some bike-friendly folks who really get annoyed with automobiles. Think of Julie Delpy’s father in After Sunset, which shows her urbanite father habitually keying cars when he goes for a walk. He does not use or appreciate gas guzzling autos, and I have met several people a bit like him. I wonder sometimes at this aggressive behavior. Does it create images of all of us bike-friendly folks as Olympians with angry issues? There is some truth that our sadness might churn to anger as we consider oil wars that kill children, as just one of the horrible side effects of gasoline addiction. Be it grief, anger, or longing to be outside, yes, we are back to our bikes in spite of any safety concerns we may have. But safer bicycling is always appreciated. If you’re in LA, consider joining LA Bike Trains to help with that.

Check out the 8 Routes, or push for another:

With 8 routes (including 2 Super Trains: Silver Lake to Santa Monica and MacArthur Park to Long Beach), we’ve got a lot of ground already covered. Take our Commuter Survey to help us understand when & where the next train should be.

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