Barclays Cycle Hire Program in Central London, started July 2010

Barclays Cycle Hire Program in Central London, started July 2010

The New London Quarterly wrote that this year’s “biggest London transport story was on two wheels:” Mayor Boris Johnson’s cycling scheme for central London, in which 400 Barclays Cycle Hire docking stations have been located throughout the heart of the English capital (this one is off Tottenham Court Road), in a bid to alleviate traffic congestion and pollution. I was a bicycle commuter in that city 20 and more years ago, a time when bicyclists were regarded as a marginal, slightly oddball species, similar to the way they have long been regarded in Los Angeles, until now. Happily LA is also morphing into more bike-friendly (well, at least, less bike-unfriendly) place, a fact borne out by the mayor’s vaunted commitment to more bike lanes (hear from him on this DnA), the birth of CicLAvia (hear about it on this and this DnA), and the rise of cycling as a hip and even political act among 20 and 30-something Angelenos. Juan Devis, producer of KCET’s Departures, tells DnA that the most interesting engagement with the city in recent times has occurred around cycling. He even says gang kids are now choosing biking over tagging. And according to Christian Lander, author of the hilarious and incisive Stuff White People Like, bicycle messenger bags are a must-have fashion accessory, as is a fixed gear bike, due to the reverence for freewheeling, apparently renegade bicycle messengers. Since I spent two summers during my college years delivering packages for a Central London bicycle dispatch service, I now feel retroactively hip. And happy that pedal power is getting the respect — and place in urban planning — it deserves.

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