And the Valley Shuddered

For those who do not know, the entirety of my "growing up" years took place in the San Fernando Valley (hereafter referred to as The Valley). Even though I get back there from time to time (since relatives of both the wife's family, and my own, still call it home), many of the mental images I have of the Valley date to the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Packed among those images are certain stand-outs, including expanding suburbia's empty lots, the nighttime glow and flicker of a billion lights when driving back into the Valley at night through the Sepulveda Pass, summer heat waves, Busch Gardens, and the absolute epicenter of car culture - Van Nuys Boulevard. Whether you were a part of that scene or not, anyone and everyone, who lived in the Valley from the '50s through the '80s (maybe longer) knew that Van Nuys was where you went to cruise on a Friday and Saturday night. Cruising, and Van Nuys Boulevard were synonymous. 

So when I read, at CiclaValley that nice new bike lanes, after all this time are going to be added to the boulevard, there was a noticeable shudder to the world, the temperature in Hades drew a few degrees cooler, and an entire county in Texas swore they saw a pig swimming lazy circles in the sky. I mean Van Nuys Boulevard, if you can add bike lanes there (and you certainly can) you can add bike lanes anywhere.

 I may be overstating things with regard to that epicenter of car culture thing, in fact I bet a number of similar drags, on the other side of the mountains, were immortalized in a Randy Newman song (though I don't know why he used Victory Boulevard - maybe it worked better in the lyrics than Van Nuys). Still, if you were going to cruise in the Valley, you headed to Van Nuys Boulevard, along with every lowered Chevy and souped up Ford north of LA.

It is not that I am necessarily surprised, after all the boulevard passes through what have long been working class communities where many residents may ride for necessity, as well as choice. And lets not forget the times, they are a changing - complete streets are fast becoming the norm, even one with the history that Van Nuys Boulevard has.


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