Pedal Power

Having recently returned from one of my all-time favorite cities in the world, as well as Esther’s stomping ground — Amsterdam, I now have a serious case of bicycle-itis. The whole bicycle culture over there is just completely enchanting to me. Visions of every age using the power of the pedal as the main form of transportation, unlike Los Angeles, where the smallest of errands usually entails a full car load up. Not only that, but the bikes in Amsterdam are works of art as far as I’m concerned. My husband and I would duck into any bike shop we’d come across and excitedly “choose” which style ride we needed to have in our possession back in the States. My kids couldn’t get enough of piling into a cargo bike and away we’d go! And not only does bike riding appeal to my “green” side, it appeals to my “fun” side and totally takes me back to my childhood and the feeling of freedom that goes along with riding a bike. The geography of L.A. makes it highly unlikely (i.e. only in my dreams) to become a bicycle driven city, but that does not mean we can’t have our own little slice of the Dutch life. Thanks to the super friendly brother duo, Adam and Josef Bray-Ali, owners of Flying Pigeon LA, we Angelenos now have direct access to the SUVs of bicycle family fun.

They have opened up a neighborhood bike shop in Highland Park that imports and stocks the most popular Dutch brand bicycles. Check out their website and blog, but definitely go to the shop in person to take some test drives. Take my personal current fave, the Bakfiets (pictured), with its sleek, sturdy and timeless design, you can haul around your kids, beach towels, toys, groceries – even a little canine accessory so often seen in L.A.

If you need a little more incentive to get back on a bike, they frequently host great events and cool “shop rides” like Spoke(n) Art, where folks join up at the shop, hop on their bikes and hit the East Los Angeles art galleries that are open late once a month. Fun!!


9 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Esther | May 16, 2010 | Reply

One of the reasons Amsterdam is a great city to live in IS the bike friendliness. There are bike lanes everywhere, and cars are so used to all the bikes around that it’s really a very safe way of transportation. And yes, it does help that there are no hills….
We don’t have a bakfets just yet, but we might get one now that baby number three is nearly here.
How fun that they’ve conquered LA!!

2. Joanna | May 16, 2010 | Reply

I do wish LA were more of a cycling city. I love these bikes!!

3. Annaka | May 17, 2010 | Reply

Spoke(n)Art sounds like fun! It reminds me of Critical Mass in San Francisco, a group bicycle ride the last Friday of every month – but LA tops us (as usual) by adding art. I’d like to give the cargo bike a try – maybe Citizen Chain in North Beach, San Francisco can stock them.

4. Matilda | May 17, 2010 | Reply

Hi Kaela. Love your bike posting! I’d love some advice … we are visiting LA next week with the possibility of relocating there for a few years. We have two small children (both under 5) and would love your thoughts on the best areas for small children. We’re currently looking at Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades and Malibu … thanks so much!

5. Stephanie | May 17, 2010 | Reply

I couldn’t live without my bakfiets! They are expensive but well worth it.

6. Courtney | May 18, 2010 | Reply

What Esther said is so true — what makes Amsterdam so great is all the bike lanes and bike awareness. I would fear for my children’ life if I drove them around London in one of those things!
But I seriously love the Bakfiets. They are soooooooo cool.

7. Leslie Acoca | May 21, 2010 | Reply

i loved your post on bike friendliness. I live in Santa Fe and just rode the Santa Fe Century (100 miles) with 3000 people of all ages and sizes. There were lots of families some with three generations enjoying the beautiful mountains and each other.
Thank you for the bike recommendations and pointers re bikes in Amsterdam.. I would love to be able to carry kids and dog paraphernalia on our rides.

8. Dajana | May 21, 2010 | Reply

What a great bike! Sad, LA is not really a bike friendly city. I’m originally from Germany and used to ride my bike a lot. Miss it.

9. Nancy | May 21, 2010 | Reply

I am thinking those bikes would be perfect for getting to the beach with my kiddies in Montauk, NY!! Thanks for the great post!