Part of me really wants to believe that cycling this city has a kind of transformative potential, offers the possibility of new ways of being in the city. One of the things I’ve been trying to work through is the relationship between that which we know (broadly conceived here, Los Angeles; even more broadly, the city) and the way in which we come to know it. Part and parcel of the way in which we come to know things is the perspective, the position, from which they are established.
If Los Angeles is a city of the automobile, then it has become known to people through the automobile. Cars have become a medium of knowing, a kind of frame through which one looks at the city. What, then, are the implications of knowing the city through other modes of transportation?
When I say “city of the automobile”, I’m suggesting that most people assume that Los Angeles is a city in which one has to drive. That comes about, I think, because most people only drive in Los Angeles, and as a result, the automobile becomes the horizon to their knowledge, the limit of what they know. What I want to hold out is a hope that bicycling Los Angeles, seeing it as a city of the bicycle, might suggest whole new ways of knowing the city.
BikinginLA is continuing his suggestions (number eight!) for ways to improve the cyclist’s lot, and I wonder how many problems stem from the limited ways in which people in positions of power know the city. Bike Girl wanted to show Councilman Tom LaBonge a different way of knowing the city, in the hopes that taking him for a ride along that treacherous stretch of the Cahuenga Pass might convince him that something should be done.
Again, it’s nothing I have final answers for, but I’m holding out the hope that there’s something new in knowing Los Angeles from the saddle of a cycle, some promise in it that’s yet to be realized.