Cycling in City: Kelley Kim in California

Cycling in the City is a special Transport Month 2013 feature interviewing cyclists about their experiences as a cyclist in different communities and cities.

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Name: Kelley Kim
Profession: Masters candidate (urban design & sociology) and writer
Location: Los Angeles and La Habra, California

Q: In which areas do you cycle and why?
: I ride a 10-speed Bob Jackson tricycle in west and central Los Angeles. I own a Prius, but my trike is my preferred vehicle that I use to get to and from everyday activities such as meeting interviewees at a coffee shop (5km round-trip), spending a day off at the beach (22 km r/t), and checking out a new restaurant that opened in Hollywood (11 km r/t). I also ride with fellow Angelenos on themed group rides that range from 25 to 60 km. These rides traverse Los Angeles’ varied landscape at night when cars are fewer, making streets more viable for large groups of cyclists.

Q: Which three things, can government do to help your cycling experience?
1.) Fine motorists who honk at cyclists unjustifiably. This is irritating, threatening, and a demonstration of the aggressive behaviour that drivers often display towards cyclists.
2.) Mandate that all drivers, as part of obtaining or renewing their license, know how to drive, yield, and make turns in the presence of a bicycle when there is no marked bike lane.
3.) Lower the local speed limit. There are a couple boulevards in La Habra where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour (88 kph). This is absurd for a non-highway and dangerous for all users, motorists or not.

Q: What role can citizens play in promoting cycling and inspiring others to cycle?
Kelley: Keep riding your bike, everywhere. Bystanders and motorists see the fun we have on bikes, especially during group rides, and are compelled to ride with us.

Q:  Which 1 cool or innovative idea, with no budget constraints, would you like to see in your city to support cycling and cyclists?
Kelley: Following in the footsteps of the very successful series of CicLAvias in Los Angeles and the recent commitment by residents of Haenggung-dong in Suwon, South Korea to be car-free for one month (covered by Future Cape Town last week), I would like to see neighborhoods in Los Angeles closed to cars for a week or month at a time. Venice Beach could be a prime location to test the feasibility of a long-term car-free zone as most residents already own and ride a bike.

Q: Why do you love cycling?
Kelley: Cycling allows me to experience the sensuousness of the urban environment and to better understand the local character of distinctive parts of Los Angeles. I get to know the ins and outs of my city and am able to do more and explore more since I don’t have to worry about issues that often plague drivers such as traffic and parking. I’m also not polluting the Earth when I ride, an obvious benefit.