By Susan Abram, Staff Writer
ENCINO – While motorists were told to stay home as part of Carmageddon II, cyclists were encouraged to swarm the streets Sunday to peddle the message that a car can only take you so far. | PHOTOS
Dozens of bicycle enthusiasts gathered in Encino for the Carmageddon Valley Ride, sponsored by Metro and CICLE or Cyclists Inciting Change thru LIVE Exchange, a nonprofit group that wants to encourage the community to ride bikes to stay healthy, save money and protect the environment.
The eight-mile route started at the Balboa Orange Line Station and wove through the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Center, then on to specific sites along the way. About 50 people took part in Sunday’s ride.
“We take people to interesting places in the city, to show what they can see by riding a bicycle,” said Dan Dabek, director for CICLE.
“We want to show people that there are fun activities, right in their own neighborhood.”
Sunday’s riders were led to the Japanese Gardens, which offered free admission. Then cyclists headed toward the ONEgeneration Encino Farmers’ Market.
“We’re doing this around the park because we want to promote cycling as a sustaining form of transportation,” said Clarke Miranda, a member of Valley Bikery, which also helped organize the ride.
Valley Bikery is a bicycle cooperative in Van Nuys that repairs bikes but also educates the public about cycling.
Tiffany Lee, 31, of Sylmar, said she joined the Carmageddon Valley Ride partly for social reasons.
“I’m meeting new people, and hopefully I can meet more,” she said.
But it’s not easy to be a bike rider in Los Angeles, said Frank Gallegos, 42, of Boyle Heights.
In L.A., the car is king, which is why this weekend’s closure of 10 miles of the San Diego (405) Freeway prompted officials to plead with motorists to stay home, or else Carmageddon, a word used to describe traffic-jammed surface streets and freeways, would ensue.
Even the few streets with bike lanes prove dangerous sometimes, with so many potholes, Gallegos said.
“If I had to grade the streets from A to F for the quality of the roads, I’d give it a C,” said Gallegos. “I’ve hit potholes that ruined my tires.”
But he said he’s hopeful as the city works to expand miles of bike paths.
“I think the city is evolving toward our side,” he said.
Still, if Gallegos could ride his bike anywhere on Sunday, he said he would go where no bike has gone before.
“I bet the pavement on the 405 is pretty smooth,” he said. “I’m anxious to get on the 405 and ride it.”