The Last Mountain, a film by Bill Haney, starkly portrays the lives of people living around Coal River Mountain in West Virginia. It opens with a black hawk gliding gracefully above the Appalachian forest canopy. Instrumental folk music plays, setting the stage for a peaceful recounting of country life in the American south. Looming in the background of this idyllic scene, out-of-focus, are signs of what is to come: a dirt road winds its way through the mountain with a small black power line snaking alongside it.
It is 9 am and traffic is crawling on the 101 freeway…and on the 405, and on the 118. Sunshine pours through the windshield, turning your mind to thoughts of walking through the Santa Monica Mountains and biking down to the beach. Minutes are ticking by, marked only by the occasional horn honking loudly behind you. As for the gas you put in the car earlier? It is working its way towards “E.” There is a way to reduce your fossil fuels consumption and make daily commutes enjoyable: bicycling. And a new organization is here to help make biking in Los Angeles easier. If you are new to biking or if the thought of peddling down crowded LA streets intimidates you, Sustainable Streets offers free safety courses to help ease your transition into biking. Courses are available in Burbank, West Hollywood, and along the beach in Santa Monica. Classes start with four hours in the classroom, followed by one hour on a simulated road, and then almost five hours of actual street riding.