It’s a Sunday night. People start their work week in hours and rain looms overhead.
Maybe not the right time for an outdoor movie, but a great showing of the documentary, “Bikes vs. Cars” to close the Ambulante Film Festival.
I was fortunate enough to lead a ride out of NoHo for the screening, along with Don Ward, to Bowtie Park, currently a concrete afterthought along the LA River.
Rolling out along the Chandler Bikeway
Considering it was dripping as I was leaving the house, I was just hoping Don would show up, let alone anyone else.
I sat there lonely and sad faced like a Peanuts cartoon, which I would soon find out was due to me being a bit early.
To my relief, a handful of cyclists started to show which was a double bonus because I could start giving away all the Metro swag(less stuff to carry).
We headed out eastward down the Chandler Bikeway with a picturesque mix of joggers, cyclists, baby walkers and the like along the way. It’s the closest thing you can get to the Truman Show in the valley.
After three miles, we hit the awkward terminus of the path and stopped into Pure Fix Cycles, just a couple of minutes off of our scheduled time. The break provided a quick time to chat and to organize the next part of the route.
Quick stop at the Autry Museum
Burbank has a history of not having the most patient drivers, so heading onto Victory, even for a small stretch, can be harrowing. One thing I always forget is the power of the pack. Ride with a big group and people will respect you. We took the lane, properly established ourselves and the cars treated us as equals. That also makes it a good day Mr. Cube.
Reaching Griffith Park, we were met by another three riders that recruited a wandering couple to join our ride. Hey, the more the merrier! From there, it was pretty much a straight shot down the LA River Path to reach the movie.
I had never been to Bowtie Park and Google Maps doesn’t really tell you much, but trust me, it does. The space is a vast expanse of gritty, reclaimed concrete squeezed between the river and the rail lines. You’re not going to hold a cyclocross race there.
Them’s quite a crowd
Coming in, you were greeted by a bike valet, but even in the distance, your eyes were drawn to the big screen that was large enough that you could watch the movie a football field away.
It wasn’t that full when we arrived, but some of the other feeder rides led by Walk Bike Glendale, Multicultural Communities for Mobility, Ghost Bikes, Black Kids on Bikes and Ride-On Bike Collective began to show(thanks for organizing this Danny Gamboa), the place filled fast. There were about 300 chairs set up for the movie and while most were used, factor in the people standing or bringing their own chairs and you had a full house.
As for the film, its hard for me to judge since I’m already behind the looking glass. The movie covers the struggle between cars and bikes over cities world wide and highlights the struggles against a growing automobile industry. Of the cities featured, Los Angeles plays a prominent role which I at first took for granted.
LA Cyclist / Activist Dan Koeppel was featured in the documentary
As an Angeleno, you get the case of the big head syndrome thinking, “We’re LA. Of course, you’re going to put us in your movie.” It wasn’t until I rode back through the NoHo Metro Station that night that it was clear to me.
Even though it was midnight, bikes out numbered the parked cars. It’s another one of those untalked about narratives that shows we are a city in transition and has difficulty addressing it.
On a micro level, this lot fills up with cars so quickly that if you don’t come before 6am, your only chance of parking close is by bike.
When you look at Los Angeles as a whole, this juxtaposition between cars and bikes happens at varying degrees across the city.
We need to share our story, because there is so other place in this country where the future of mobility is more crucial than here. If the freeway capital of the world can adopt a mobility plan that focuses on people, rather than cars, then imagine what type of precedent that set for everyone else.
I hope word continues to spread about “Bikes vs. Cars”, but we need to keep the awareness level high in order to move forward.
Treating ourselves afterward at the Doughnut Hut