When he was young in Ethiopia, a bicycle ride on a weekend was a pleasure. Bike rentals were cheap at stadiums and at other places with large parking lots. Once he was in high school, he no longer rode a bike, instead riding the bus. He doesn’t know what became of the bike he’d owned. At one time, bicycling and soccer were the most popular sports in Ethiopia. You see bicycle riders practicing outside the city, and highways get closed for bicycle races. In the city people biked on sidewalks. For bike promotion, he suggested organizing excursions, where the East African community could ride together outside the city, and making bicycles more available through giveaways and other incentive programs. Since a recent Bike Works class, he’s bought many bike accessories (though he hasn’t ridden his bike).
Childhood stuff, like group bicycle rides, going around the neighborhood to pick up friends, riding short distances on bikes with banana seats. He remembers a time when a friend fell in the LA River when they were messing around down there with their bikes. He sees potential for using bike cultures to attract youth. One time when he was a teenager, a group of friends biked to Burger King in Compton. While they were inside, someone tried to steal a bike. They were on the wrong side of town, so nobody intervened except a cousin visiting from Louisville who didn’t know any better. He ran after the thief and got the bike back. Then they all had to run out and leave their burgers behind.
When he was a boy, he couldn’t afford a bike, so he would sometimes sneak out to rent a bike at a stadium. They’d give you the bike for something like five minutes, and you’d pay something like five cents. He had to sneak because the bikes weren’t considered safe. They were poorly maintained. One day, a pedal’s rubber fell off while he was riding and the metal stump punctured his calf. He was about 13. When his family found out, they told him to never get on a bike again. He remembers few bike stores in Addis, and that bikes were expensive and impractical for riding on dirt roads. Many people did not know how to ride, and he didn’t remember theft being an issue.
She feels threatened by bicyclists on the road when she’s driving. If they are supposed to be motorists, they should follow the motorist rules. They jeopardize motorists. She thinks there should be an urban plan that is consistent, that takes a look at the whole transportation system in the city. Example: Sound Transit does not have enough stops to serve the communities of color. The placement of the light rail reflects a longstanding divide between rich and poor (servicing areas north of Capitol Hill). If you have money to paint lanes for bicycles, you should have money for a bus on MLK.
“When I was a kid there weren’t bike lanes.” It seemed to her that fewer people were injured on bikes when she was a kid. She acknowledged that this could be because she didn’t hear about it.
When she was a child, one bike was stolen. Another time, in the fifth grade, she and a friend were biking down a steep hill, and she skidded out around a corner. They set off for Kmart and bought band aids for her cuts.
Walking across the Fremont Bridge one day, she saw a bicyclist, what she called a “speedo,” get into a conflict with a motorist. They cut each other off and the conflict escalated when they reached a red light. The bicyclist approached the car window, at which point the motorist pulled out a gun and said, “I’m trying to get somewhere.” The Range Rover sped off and the bicyclist “freaked out.” In a move that she felt showed entitlement, the bicyclist left his bike blocking traffic in the road while discussing the incident with the next motorist, who had witnessed the altercation.