Santa Monica Lookout
B e s t   l o c a l   s o u r c e   f o r   n e w s   a n d   i n f o r m a t i o n

Pedaling Through the Summer in Santa Monica

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

 

Rusty's Surf Ranch.com

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

July 29, 2013--For some, summer in Santa Monica means days spent on the beach or hiking in the nearby mountains. But increasingly, it means taking to the Downtown streets on bikes.

Downtown Santa Monica's new bike lanes -- and the city’s one-and-a-half year-old Bike Center at the heart of Downtown -- have encouraged more and more motorists to ditch their cars for bikes, bypassing congestion and enjoying the fresh air on their daily commutes.

“I'm personally happy that they are putting in these new bike lanes,” says David William, who lives adjacent to Downtown. William has recently taken to biking as his main means of getting around Santa Monica's lively core.

Biking causes “a change of perspective on personal time,” says William, who enjoys taking Arizona Avenue and Broadway, which have bike lanes that run the entire length of the city. “You can get anywhere Downtown relatively quickly.”

The pedaling incentives are part of a 300-page Bike Action Plan adopted by the City Council in November 2011 that calls for the comprehensive development of Santa Monica's bike infrastructure, including bike lanes, increased bike parking and even a citywide bike share program.

Auto traffic has been a major motivator for many to get out of their cars and onto bikes. “I wouldn't drive Downtown,” says Cynthia Rose, a long-time bicycle commuter and advocate. “You can get anywhere faster on a bike.”

On Memorial Day weekend, Ron Durgin, who manages the Downtown Bike Center at Second Street and Colorado Avenue, got a glimpse of exactly why so many motorists are switching to bikes.

“You could look in all directions and none of the cars were moving,” says Durgin, who worked at the center the holiday weekend.

A bike commuter, Durgin understands the appeal of pedaling to work in the heart of Santa Monica. “I'm riding across Los Angeles to get to work,” he says. “It's always nice to get to that point where you can look at the horizon and see the ocean.”

The Bike Center, which offers member-only, secure, 24-hour indoor bike parking, showers and lockers, as well as classes on bike maintenance and safety, has gained more than 200 members since it opened in November 2011.

By April 2012, the 5,300-square-foot Bike Center had earned a Silver Bicycle Friendly Business award from the League of American Bicyclists for promoting bicycling in Santa Monica.

Before the summer kicked off, Durgin and his staff made sure that they were prepared for another busy season, since the Bike Center also offers a fleet of rental bikes for tourists and residents alike.

“We're trying to present tourists with quality bikes,” says Durgin, adding that the center just refreshed its fleet with a hundred new bikes, including a $3,000 family tandem bike.

Last summer, demand for rentals was so high that on some days the center simply ran out of bikes to rent, Durgin says. “There'd be days where people would wait for bike rentals.”

For $155, people can rent a bike for a week and receive a comprehensive list of destinations in and around Santa Monica, including a map showing the best routes. The center also helps acquaint riders with the rules of the road and bike safety.

Although it is illegal to ride bikes on the Promenade or on any city sidewalk, bicyclists can use all of the traffic lane if there is no designated bike lane, Durgin says. And although the center encourages wearing helmets, it isn’t required for riders over 18.

“We make them available,” Durgin says. “They are free with the rental. We make it an easy choice.”

Biking in and around Downtown is not without its challenges. “There's construction everywhere,” Durgin says. “On Main Street across from City Hall, on Broadway and Colorado,” especially at Fourth and Fifth streets, where construction crews are busy paving the way for the new Expo Line station scheduled to open in 2016.

Traffic cones and concrete barriers, placed by construction crews to mark the area slated for the new station, reduce the street to two narrow westbound lanes. “Trying to navigate through that can be intimidating to some people,” Durgin says.

Still, for many who ride bikes, the benefits outweigh the inconveniences. “It's peaceful and nice to ride a bike,” says Rose. “I like that there are more people out on bikes.”

For more information about the Downtown Bike Center visit bikeandpark.com/city/santa-monica. Registration for bike maintenance and safety classes is available through the Sustainable Streets website: sustainablestreets.org.


Lookout Logo footer image copyrightCopyright 1999-2013 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved. EMAIL