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Carmageddon Is a Cause for Celebration Among LA Cyclists

NBC Southern California: Carmageddon Is a Cause for Celebration Among LA Cyclists

The weekend 405 Freeway shutdown is a reason to explore on two wheels instead of four, bike activists say

By Melissa Pamer

Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

While transportation officials warn drivers to avoid freeways and "stay local" during upcoming Carmageddon II, bicyclists are making plans to take to the streets -- often heading straight for the weekend's supposed traffic nightmare.

Group bike rides are planned all over the Los Angeles area, including a massive one Saturday afternoon dubbed "Carmaheaven All-City Bicycle Ride" on Facebook.

That ride will collect groups of cyclists traveling from all over Los Angeles and then roll from downtown's new Grand Park all the way to Dockweiler State Beach, with a planned pause to look at the empty stretch of the San Diego (405) Freeway.

Across the city, cycling advocacy groups and individual bikers are using the 53-hour, 10-mile shutdown of the nation's busiest freeway as an opportunity to promote bike riding as an alternate means of transportation.

They're saying Carmageddon II provides a chance to explore the city on two wheels instead of four.

At Carmageddon's geographic epicenter is a 22-mile bike tour of the Westside on Saturday morning that's being sponsored being by several cycling advocacy groups -- with backing from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's bike program.

"Carmageddon II is coming. Freeway closure isn’t a catastrophe, but a great opportunity to stay local and explore your neighborhood by bike!" reads the invitation for the event, which includes a few shorter loops too.

One of the organizers, Jim Shanman, said he hopes that more tentative riders will take to the streets during the 405 closure.

"For those that have never done this before, we're hoping to introduce to them that it's safer and easier than they think it is. That's who we're really trying to reach out to," said Shanman, founder of Walk 'n Rollers, a group that advocates for children walking and riding to school.

There are also group rides planned both weekend days in the San Fernando Valley, among other locations.

Advocacy group C.I.C.L.E. is calling its Sunday Valley ride "Bike Carmageddon," saying it's a chance to "stay out of your car" and "zip past traffic jams."

To kick it all off, at the very hour on-ramps to the 405 Freeway will begin shutting down on Friday, Venice bike collective Bikerowave will host a potluck to "celebrate" Carmegaddon.