- Bicycle Culture by Design: bike polo

Los Angeles. 1900. Spring St. near 8th.
The latest installment in our Subversive Bicycle Photos series is from a city that enjoyed a modal share for bicycles of 20% at the turn of the last century and built impressive protected bicycle infrastructure like this 10 km, elevated cycle track back in 1900.

Alas, the bicycle disappeared from this area that was described like this in an 1897 newspaper article: “There is no part of the world where cycling is in greater favor than in Southern California, and nowhere on the American continent are conditions so favorable the year round for wheeling.

Thanks to our reader, Rick, we found some subversive photographs showing the bicycle as an accepted and respected part of life in Los Angeles in the Los Angeles Public Library archives.

As ever with these subversive photos, do not let them get out. If society at large were to learn that the bicycle used to be an integral part of life for Citizens Cyclists and not just some recent sub-cultural activity for middle-class white men, who knows what might happen. People might realise that riding a bicycle used to be normal and could quite possibly become normal again. Who know what resistance might appear. At the moment it’s just this, but it could get worse. We all know what happened when the car industry went after another competitive transport form.

Burbank. 1908.

First Street looking east from Yale Avenue in Claremont in 1915.

Los Angeles. Ca. 1890. 632 South Broadway.

Balboa. Newport Beach. 1940s. Photographer: Herman Schultheis.

Los Angeles Bicycle Police Squad. 1904. Broadway past 6th St.

Los Angeles. 1905. Rambler Bicycles at 207-209 West 5th Street near Spring.

Los Angeles. 1902. Commercial High School participate in the Fiesta Floral Parade with a bicycle float.

Los Angeles. 1915. Hill and 4th.

Los Angeles. Ca. 1904. Main and 9th. Bicycle Parade heading for Griffith Park.

Long Beach. Ca. 1895. Pine Avenue.

Los Angeles. Ca. 1930s. Variety Arts Theater.

Los Angeles. 1899. Spring Street.

From left:
- Portrait of Japanese boy with bicycle and notebook ca 1900.
- Grace Toya with bicycle at the Tule Lake internment camp 1945.
- Los Angeles Bicycle Club 1890s.

Los Angeles High School’s Kodak and Bicycle Club ca 1900.

From top left:
- Los Angeles ca. 1930s.
- LA Rooftop Stunt 1930s.
- Ditto.
- Los Angeles “Old Settlers Parade” 1937. Photographer: George J. Cooper

Leela McAdam nee McCabe - winner of the best decorated bicycle for the 1900 Fourth of July parade in Lompoc stands outside her home at 137 South J Street.

Oh, and tell your local bike polo playing hipster that he/she is soooo old school. Bike Polo in Los Angeles, 1930s. Might be fun to see photographs taken these days from the same locations. Let us know if you take them.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Archives.

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