San Diego is much cooler than L.A. Smaller (but still big), easier to cycle, and very friendly. Learning a lot about the city through couchsurfing. Downtown has nice places besides skyscrapers, and there are many cool districts with small bookshops, cafes, Mexican food and so on. And of course the beach. I understand why people live here.
Bike rack in North Park
Walking some dogs in Hillcrest
Library spaceship on the huge university campus
Critical Mass II
The only thing I don't like about San Diego is its critical mass. One month has passed since San Francisco, and another Last Friday of the month had come by the time I reached San Diego. Of course I couldn't miss it. I was very much looking forward to it, but unfortunately it was very different from what a critical mass is supposed to be like.
The most annoying difference was the speed - it was rather a race than a relaxing slow ride. Usually, the point of cm is to form a tight crowd of lots of cyclists and keep together during the ride, which only works when the crowd is slow. Only then it can pass intersections and traffic lights together as a unit without cars squeezing between the bikes.
The San Diego mass was rather a stretch than a mass because the riding speed was mostly far above 20 km/h which led to a formation of many small masses and single cyclists with cars between them. The only way this ride didn't completely disperse after a few minutes was the fact that they always take the same route. This is the second this-is-not-really-critical-mass observation. Usually there is neither a definite route nor a destination, the crowd just flows wherever the first ones feel like going. But here it made sense considering the unusual racing attitude.
The San Diego mass doesn't seem to get the point of this event (based on the experiences of Frankfurt and San Francisco, the main emphasis lies on being a joint unit and doing this together rather than splitting up. Especially letting cars get between the cyclists kind of destroys the purpose, as it destroys the unit. And so on, I could continue, but anyway).
During the ride I got some inside information from my couchsurfing host, who had joined the mass a couple of times, but not in a while, mainly for these reasons. It is always as fast as today, the core of the mass rides until around midnight (starting 8 pm), but about 80% of the initial mass has vanished after two hours. Accidents are common. The riders have a much more aggressive attitude, there was a constant shouting and screaming rather than cool music from funny music bikes (a music bike with huge boxes would have a hard time keeping this speed and the music running while bumping through potholes all the time...)
We left the mass around 10 pm after 40 (!) km. By then, it was only a small bunch of riders left, maybe there were split masses behind, who knows. Anyway, it was an experience. And we had some fancy neon lights on the bikes and helmets.
Unknowingly happy before the mass started