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LAist Interview: The City's Bike Queen

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Michelle Mowery is the Bicycle Program's Sr. Project Coordinator for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. As Spring is basically here, we think it's a good time to ride your bicycle around town. It's much better than in the heat.

Michelle is extremely busy serving this city with bicycle love. We are happy to get a few moments with her and hope to visit her again for some more bike fun. Here, we learn a little about Michelle along with some questions about bike laws, Midnight Riders, and commuting.

What's your favorite recreational bike ride?

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I almost always ride for transportation these days but I ride to the boathouse for a workout on some Saturday mornings from my house to Alamitos Bay and ride the SGV bike path home via Seal Beach. RT about 25 miles and some really pretty sunrises.

I haven't registered my bike with the LAPD yet. Why should I? How and Where?

The bicycle licensing program is very old and is being reviewed internally by the City departments to determine future feasibility. Currently it is a mandatory requirement per the Municipal Code but there has been no determination regarding the future of the program.

Let's talk about LAMC 56.15, otherwise known as Sidewalk Riding. It seems to be very interpretive. What say you?

The Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) essentially says that you can't ride on the sidewalks with a "wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property." I generally tell cyclists if they must ride on the sidewalks, to do so at a walking pace. It is always illegal to ride on the Boardwalk in Venice per LAMC 56.15.

We are huge fans of Midnight Ridazz, but they, us included when we join them, break the law many times over by running reds, blocking intersections, etc. What's the talk over at City Hall?

I've not heard anything about the ride negatively or positively via City Hall.

Realistically... biking from SFV to Downtown? When?

You can do it now but you have to be pretty comfortable in traffic and/or riding over the hills. And its possible to put your bike on transit for a leg of the trip. DOT is working on a project that will add a bicycle facility to the south side of the Sepulveda Tunnel to serve the Valley to the Westside. We also added a device to warn motorists to the presence of bicyclists in the tunnel a few years ago. As is the case on most of our major roadways we have a heavily congested system. To retrofit a city of our size and complexity with bikeways is a daunting task which requires equal parts real estate, funding, and public will. As a three-legged stool would topple with out the support of each leg, so do bikeway projects.

What kind of bikes do you have?

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Road Bikes: Holland, Colnago, Raleigh, Bottechia. The Raleigh was my first good bike and I used it to commute to university. The Bottechia is my current commute bike and is outfitted with a rack, light and big loud, horn.

Mountain Bike: Breezer.

Utility Bike: Giant mountain frame outfitted with slicks, a basket, rack and trunk, and almost always hitched to a trailer for errands.

Folders: Dahon, Breezer I3 and Itzy.

Do you bike commute to work and other activities in our life?

I ride to work on Mondays during the Spring, Summer and Fall and take the winter off due to poor light. I ride to the post office, grocery shopping, hardware store, etc. I do drive but am trying to limit my vehicular use to 50% of all trips.

Some have their dream Metro map, do you have your dream Biking Map?

We have a new bicycle map in development for the City of Los Angeles. I'm not sure what a dream bike map would be but we are trying to provide cyclists with additional information regarding the roadways between dedicated bike projects. We also want the scale of the map to a level that cyclists can at least identify the location of their home by breaking the document into 3 - 4 separate maps.

Photo by Ethan Woods via Flickr