Sunday, March 25, 2012

Interview With Russ & Laura Of The Path Less Pedaled

(Photo by Path Less Pedaled)
Over on LA Streetsblog, my third post for the Santa Monica column is an interview with Laura Crawford and Russ Roca, the bicycling touring duo from Long Beach, with the awesome bike touring website The Path Less Pedaled. I've been fortunate enough to become friends with the two of them, and when they came back to L.A. from their recent New Zealand adventure, I caught up with them about their recent travels, and asked a few bike tourism questions related to Santa Monica.

If you are at all a fan of traveling by bike, you should be following what Path Less Pedaled are up to. The full interview is up here on LA Streesblog.

In order to keep the word count a little more manageable I didn't end up including every question and answer, but I'll post up a little bonus material here.

Gary -- In-between other adventures you appear to be gravitated toward staying in Portland Oregon now. What is the draw of Portland that keeps you going back after seeing and staying in so many other places?

Laura -- the biggest draw for me is that Oregon is home. Its' where I grew up and I always wanted to go back. We used to spend a lot of time traveling there for vacation and wondered what it would be like to live there.

Russ -- The real active bike scene. It's kind of the epicenter o biking in so many ways, and it is appealing to be part of that. On this break we really want to explore the concept of bicycle travel and tourism and Oregon seems to be the  most active place in the country that i is actively promoting bicycle touring. They're launching a bicycle touring program that is trying to make Oregon one of the top cycle touring destinations in the country.

LC -- The coffee and the beer are the icing.

RR -- But not the rain. You have to come back to Southern California every few months or so for the sun.

LC -- There are two coping strategies. 1) Leave every once and awhile for the sun. 2) Realize there is no such thing as waterproof, you will get wet. Bring a change of clothes. Also the coffee and beer of course.

(Following the questions I planned for the interview, Russ and Laura also went a little further into thoughts about the Otago Central Rail Trail. A long decommissioned rail corridor that was converted into a bike trial, that was one of major highlights of their trip, and a great example of bikenomics in action. -GK)

RR -- We're also working on a new presentation on bicycle touring and travel. New Zealand was kind of a fact finding trip to see what works as far as encouraging bike travel and bring some of those ideas back so bike advocates here can be inspired.

The rail trail was kind of an ideal example where bikes helped rural communities in a tangible way. It wasn't theoretical at all. When you say that in the United States, things are on such a large scale, it isn't as obvious there are communities thriving on bike paths. 

Ironically we talked to the woman who was the chair of the rail trail trust which was put together 18 years ago, and the reason she joined the trust originally was because of a rail rail in the United States she saw in a National Geographic Article. She said the funny part was it was almost complete except for one mile that went through a farmers property that wouldn't let it go through. So she kept all the New Zealand farmers in the loop so they wouldn't feel left out.

LC -- The thing I liked the most about the Otago Trail is that when they started it nearly 20 years ago it wasn't from a lets make money off of cyclists angle, it was looking for something that was worthwhile for people who live out here. They had no idea that people would come out there and ride it. It has taken everybody by complete surprise. So they're even more grateful for the way that it has positively affected towns in the whole area. 

It was an incredible feeling that everyone wanted to do it because it was the right thing to do for the community. The financial benefits of it were a fantastic after-effect that was not the motivating factor. Its' not that it cant be the motivating factor but there's something nice about how everybody is so honest in their appreciation of you being there.


Chris said...

What model bikes are in that photo? I have a folding bike that I use for travel as well, but mine has full-size wheels, which I much prefer.

Gary said...

That is a Brompton folding bike, it's an English brand. The wheels are small, but the advantage to Brompton's particular design is a very small folded state, and it is also able to be very quickly folded and unfolded.

For doing lots of multi-modal, swapping from plane to train to bus to ferry, it seems that the very small foot print and quickly changing states is handy. Though I hear this second hand, I have not had one myself.