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Interview with 'BikingInLA'

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Welcome to the very first installation of 'Better Know a SoCal Blogger' on KCET.org! Every week we will be featuring one of the city's many fascinating and first-rate blogs. This week we are speaking with Ted Rogers, an avid biker who fights for the rights of non-motorized two-wheelers everywhere.

The Basics:

Blogger Name: Ted Rogers
Official Name of Blog: BikingInLA
When did you start blogging? June 27, 2008
Do you have a day job? Freelance Writer/Copywriter
How many hours are you spending on your computer?
Depending on my schedule, anywhere from 1 to 12 hours
Where do you physically blog from?As a rule, I write from home, though I do my best thinking on the bike. I often compose a post while I'm riding, then pound it out on my Mac once I get back.
Can you provide a link to your first post? Here you go.
And what are you currently reading?
Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Alan Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Emma Burgess, The Little Book of Essential Foreign Swear Words. And waiting on deck: C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters; Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins

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The Lowdown:


So, what is BikingInLA all about?

I write about bicycling in general, and riding in Los Angeles in particular. I tend to focus on the things that need to be changed, such as the politics of cycling, the often testy relationship between cyclists and drivers, and the need for better cycling infrastructure, as well as offering tips on how to enjoy a good ride and get back home in one piece. And when I do something stupid -- which happens far more frequently than I'd care to admit -- I'll point a finger at myself so readers can learn from my mistakes.

There's a lot of people on the web, but who's your ideal reader?

Anyone breathing who travels on two self-propelled wheels. I try to cover topics that will interest everyone from a causal rider to someone like myself who lives to ride. In addition, anyone who cares about making the streets of Los Angeles safer for all users -- pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike. People who hate cyclists could also learn a lot about why we do the things we do. (Hint: We're not really trying to piss you off; we just want to make it back home in one piece.) And nothing would make me happier than to have the mayor, city council and L.A. Department of Transportation read it, though they might not like what they read.

What's a common misconception about blogging in general?

People assume blogging is a dialogue, but from the writer's perspective, it's usually just an extended soliloquy. Unless someone leaves a comment on a post, we're just voices crying in the wilderness, wondering if anyone out there is really listening.

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And beside your own, of course, what's your favorite L.A. Blog?

I can't start my day without seeing what Damien at LA.Streetsblog.org, and the gang LAist.com have to say. I also LA.Curbed.com, CityWatchLA.com, LA.Metblogs.com on a daily basis, along with the Times' LA Now blog.

Onto the bike itself. What are you riding these days?

I'm a hardcore roadie. Until recently, I rode a Trek 12-speed that I bought back in 1980 after watching Breaking Away. Now I ride an '04 LeMond Versailles, a jet black miracle of modern science made by Trek. But that little blue Trek is still waiting in my office until I can get around to fixing it up to use as a town bike.

Do you have a favorite biking area in Los Angeles?

Living on the Westside has it's advantages. I'm less that 7 miles from the coast, so I'll usually head down San Vicente Blvd. to the Marvin Braude Bike Path along the coast -- though this time of year, I usually skip the Santa Monica and Venice portions because of the crowds. It's about 35 miles door to door if I take it to Ballona Creek; 48 to Hermosa and back, and about 60 if I go all the way to Palos Verdes. The views alone make it one of the area's most enjoyable rides, as does the opportunity to get up a good head of speed without having to dodge trucks and buses. If I want a more challenging ride, there's no shortage of hills and canyons around here.

And outside of Los Angeles, what's your favorite city to bike in?

Denver is probably the best city I've ridden in; they have a great bikeway system, and anytime you want to ride hills, you just point your bike west. But nothing compares to riding through the Pawnee National Grasslands in Colorado and watching hawks soar overhead; or winding through the Colorado backcountry under a full moon and a canopy of stars, and the whine of your wheels is the only sound for miles around. That may not be heaven, but it's as close as I've ever expect to find in this world.

Everyone has on opinion on if journalism is dying. Do you have an opinion? Do blogs have anything to do with that?

Actually, I think it's just the opposite. With all the cutbacks in the mainstream media, the internet is giving legitimate journalists a way to continue their work, so it's helping to keep real journalism alive to fight another day. Still, the news media of the near future will undoubtedly reflect a blend of mainstream, professional bloggers and DIY sources. But let's be clear about one thing: I am not a journalist. I may repeat news, consolidate information from various sources, kick it around and explain what I've learned, but I depend on other sources for my information, just like anyone else.


Finally, what do you think the future hold for bikers in Los Angeles? Revolution? Or is this going to be a constant uphill battle?

That's a very good question. Right now, a lot of cyclists are up in arms, prepared to storm the Bastille and demand change. But whether the current cycling movement will continue depends a lot on whether these people keep riding and stay involved, or move on to other pursuits. I think much of our current city government assumes that they if they just placate us for awhile, eventually we'll all just go away. But if we can elect a government that does more than just pay lip service to alternative transportation, L.A. could become a truly great city for cycling. More importantly, we could shift our traffic priorities from focusing on maximizing motorized throughput to creating livable streets that actually work for all users. And that brings up the other battle. Both drivers and cyclists need to a better job of sharing the limited amount of asphalt we have here -- it's a two way street, and we can all do more to make peace.

A view of Ted's own blogging spot:

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We'd like to give Ted a special thanks for being our first guest on 'Better Know a Blogger'. He's a good blogger and great guy. To visit Biking In LA, click here.

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