OpinionOpinion L.A.

Cyclists gather in Oakland to mainstream their cause

Bicycle RacingSportsLifestyle and LeisureBlockbusterJerry BrownJean Quan

Hundreds of cyclists and cycling advocates are gathering Thursday in Gov. Jerry Brown’s adopted hometown, Oakland, for a summit to advance the mainstreaming of cycling in California and to highlight the formerly lagging, but now booming, role of women in the cycling movement.

Oakland is a fitting spot for the 2013 California by Bike summit; the Bay Area boasts 4% “bike commute mode share,” which city officials say puts it second only to the Portland, Ore., metropolitan area as the nation’s most bike-friendly urban region.

Los Angeles is well back in the pack, closer to 2% at last count, but advocates here say that cycling in L.A. for commuting, as opposed to solely for recreation and exercise, is growing rapidly. That was already the case in 2011, when the summit was last held in Los Angeles.

FULL COVERAGE: Sharing the road in L.A.

Despite cycling’s lingering image as a pastime and culture of young urban men, it would be hard to spend much time at the summit without being clued in to the importance of women in biking. Start with the welcome address (set for Thursday evening) by Oakland’s mayor, Jean Quan, and cycling organizers and advocates including L.A.’s Alexis Lantz, president of the influential California Bicycle Coalition.

Friday’s program on “the state of the movement” across the nation, in California and in cities features Lantz, People for Bikes’ Martha Roskowsi and League of American Bicyclists’ Carolyn Szczepanski — and spotlights the creation of Women on Bikes California and its undeniably cool Pedal Love website, with its emphasis on story and style.

The program, which leavens lots of talk with rides around town, into the hills and across the bridge, runs through Sunday. It's sold out, but there is a waiting list.

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This post is part of an ongoing conversation to explore how the city’s cyclists, drivers and pedestrians share and compete for road space, and to consider policy choices that keep people safe and traffic flowing. For more: latimes.com/roadshare and #roadshareLA.

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