The capital of car culture is increasingly making room for bicycles.
A neon-green pathway runs down downtown's Spring Street, begging drivers to pay attention to cyclists. Hundreds of miles of less-flashy lanes are spreading across the region. And in April, about 150, 000 bikers swarmed Venice Boulevard for the largest-ever CicLAvia.
Now the next big thing in bikes is slowly riding in on three wheels.
Pedicabs will hit the streets of Santa Monica this summer, and city officials hope the service will offer people on bustling Main Street a way to get around without their cars. Santa Monica will join San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Huntington Beach and Long Beach, where the human-powered taxis already roam the streets.
Los Angeles has long resisted pedicabs, but there are signs the resistance is waning. Los Angeles Department of Transportation spokesman Jonathan Hui said the agency is "studying the breadth of a pedicab regulatory system" in order to help establish a system of its own.
"There's been a cultural shift toward non-motorized or green transportation in general, " said Michael Smart, a researcher at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA. "In the past six to seven years there's been a real sea change."
The pedicabs, advocates say, provide a safe, energy-efficient mode of transportation for congested areas with the most traffic. Proponents also say the pedicabs provide a way to get drunk drivers out of their cars.
Cynthia Rose, a spokeswoman for the bike advocacy group Santa Monica Spoke, said pedicabs are yet another emerging piece of "our movement toward a more sustainable city with active, mobile transportation."
"There isn't one silver bullet, " she said. But pedicabs are "clean, healthy transportation. This is what our city is about: getting people around without causing more impact or more congestion."
Critics are few in number, but some fear that the oversized bikes won't alleviate problems on clogged streets, but could make them worse.
"You're dodging a lot of pedestrians after the bars let out and you have taxis double parked, and then you're going to have pedicabs?" Santa Monica filmmaker Kenneth Kokin said as he left a local bar. "Main Street is going to be a hell."
Private companies started providing passenger service in Westwood and Venice in the mid-1980s, but according to a transportation agency report, most pedicabs had gone out of service by the early 1990s.
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