I’m Dreaming of a Green Friday. . . .

No need to crawl into your car, struggle through traffic jams to a mall, inch through a swarm of nervous metal to a parking slot, and buy cheap crap at corporate stores, just to give it to other people who have been buying the same cheap crap at identical stores somewhere else.

You can turn Black Friday many shades of green this year, and here’s how: just hop on your bicycle and pedal to a nearby shopping street. Lock it up and stroll among your neighbors to peruse the offerings of local shops who have learned over the years that not everybody wants exactly the same things nationwide. Many of them offer carefully-crafted products made in small quantities, which means that corporate stores—who depend on volume, which requires a standardization of tastes—will never touch them. The money you spend there stays almost entirely within your local economy, instead of beng vacuumed off to distant shareholders who care nothing about you or your neighborhood. You have jammed no traffic, fouled no lungs, and frayed no nerves—yours, or anybody else’s.

It’s actually easier than you think to carry packages on your bike—a front rack can carry gigantic loads, and baskets ain’t bad; a rear rack with panniers can work beautifully too. I used to do the weekly shopping for a family of three on a regular bike with a cheap rear rack and two folding grocery boxes that cost only a few bucks each, with the big sack of potatoes going on top of the rack. (Now the market’s in walking distance.)

Don’t have any such gear on your bike? Then make our own Flying Pigeon LA your first stop, and let your first Green Friday purchase be for yourself: some well-crafted bicycle luggage!

If you’re a real shopping monster, you could go nuts and get a cargo bike that would carry more than many cars!

Anyway, here’s a list of shopping streets all around LA, with the ones in or near NELA bolded. In no particular order:

Larchmont Village
A few blocks west of Western Avenue, between Beverly and First. All kinds of boutiques and eateries, including a very good bookstore, a hat store, and an excellent wine shop.
Bike-friendly features: a fair number of sidewalk bike racks.

Atwater Village
Glendale Boulevard just east of the Los Angeles River. Boutiques and eateries.
Bike-friendly features: bike lanes, sidewalk bike racks.

Melrose Avenue
A long stretch of shops of all sorts, including some edgy boutiques, plus decent places to eat.
Bike-friendly features: sidewalk bike racks.

Santa Monica’s Main Street
A wealth of small local shops and eateries, often quirky, always good.
Bike-friendly features: sidkewalk racks, bike corrals, bikelanes, bike-friendly street. Probably the most bike-friendly few blocks in LA County.

Redondo Beach’s Highland Avenue
Shops and restaurants near the beach.
Bike-friendly features: some bike racks, universal acceptance of cycling.

Downtown Culver City
Lots of eateries and a number of boutiques. Great atmosphere.
Bike-friendly features: lots of bike racks, close to Venice Boulevard bike lanes and Ballona Creek bike path.

Abbot Kinney in Venice
Shops and galleries ranging from countercultural to hoity-toity, and lots of places to eat, all local and individual.
Bike-friendly features: sharrows, lots of racks, close to Venice Boulevard and Mian Street bike lanes. Swarms with bikes most days.

San Vicente in Brentwood
From the VA to Bundy. upscale boutiques, lots of eateries.
Bike-friendly features: sidewalk bike racks, close to San Vicente bike lanes.

Montana Avenue in Santa Monica
Upscale boutiques, midscale eateries, good variety.
Bike-friendly features: bike racks, bike lanes.

Los Feliz Village in East Hollywood
Vermont Avenue between Hollywood and Franklin. Counterculture shops and mainstream boutiques, eateries from very old-school to independent Italian, and Indian. One of LA’s best bookstores, Skylight, is here.
Bike-friendly features: bike racks.

Mission in South Pasadena
The block or two running east form the Gold Line station at Mission and Meridian. Pleasant small-town atmosphere with good places to eat and a few distinctive shops.
Bike-friendly features: a bike rack array near the Metro stop.

Sunset Boulevard through Silver Lake
Every possible variety of boutique and eatery.
Bike-friendly features: sidewalk bike racks, one bike corral, bike lanes; lots of cyclists all the time.

Sunset Boulevard through Echo Park
Used book store, Latino-oriented shipping, quirky little shops, lots of good eating.
Bike-friendly features: sidewalk bike racks, bike lanes.

Leimert Park Village
“The Leimert Park Village, bounded by Crenshaw Boulevard, 43rd Street, Leimert Boulevard and Vernon Avenue, is a pedestrian-oriented shopping core offering goods and services with an Afro-centric theme. A haven for artists, poets and musicians, the Leimert Park Village stands as a tribute to the success of businesses owned and operated by African Americans.”
Bike-Friendly features: sidewalk bike racks.

Spring Street downtown
More eateries than shops, but a great place to browse. Many shops are inside the classic Art Deco skyscrapers.
Bike-friendly features: sidewalk bike racks, bike lane.

Broadway downtown (bargains)
Hundreds of shops, most offering jewelry or discount electronics. It helps to speak Spanish.
Bike-friendly features: sidewalk bike racks.

Little Ethiopia on Fairfax Avenue
Almost everything, eateries and shops alike, focusses on Ethiopian goods and grub.
Bike-friendly features: sidewalk bike racks.

South Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills
Lots of boutiques and a couple of jewelry shops. A number of good places to eat. This is the “normal” shopping section of Beverly Hills; you won’t need an offshore account to shop here.
Bike-friendly features: none; it’s Beverly Hills.

It doesn’t have to be madness….

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  1. Posted November 28, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Just saw this on Momentum Magazine’s website, on the art of carrying things by bicycle:


  2. Posted November 29, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Beverly Hills *should* be on your list of BFDs because we have several small-business corridors perfectly suited for bike-friendly destinations. But no part of the city apparatus here recognizes the opportunity. Not our transportation folks who’ve been jawboning about bike racks for years. They have sat on a stack of them in a warehouse for the past few months as the installation timeline has slipped from July to November and now maybe January-February for – no joke – 25 of them.

    Not our Small Business Task Force, which agreed that car parking was the single biggest impediment to business success while never acknowledging, then or since, that people can and should bike to stores. As it says in our Sustainable City Plan.

    And certainly not the Chamber, which brushed away suggestions that a BFD program be part of their ‘shop local’ marketing effort. That sham program is all about moving money though the Chamber anyway. We raised these issues most recently in Council in mid-November when the Chamber came hat-in-hand for yet another dole out from Council.

    Maybe one day the rider who wants to stop in Beverly Hills for some coffee or a sandwich might find a bike rack for them. Maybe the Chamber will talk to members about LACBC’s merchant program. Maybe we’ll have better support in City Council. In the meantime, though, take your business to one of these districts. They’ll probably care.

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