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Above: Author's Dissertation Introduction Video

Donald Parker Strauss, Ph.D., M.F.A. is a 2015 graduate of the PhD Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Joy Ackerman, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Mitchell Thomashow, Ed.D., Committee Member
  • Jenny Price, PhD, Committee Member


Urban Bike Culture, Los Angeles, Alternative Transportation, Bicycle, Active Transportation, Urban Transportation, Transportation Infrastructure, Transportation Advocacy, Bike Co-ops, Night Rides, Ridazz, Wrenches, DIY, Street Culture, Critical Mass, Climate Change, Environmental Studies, Sustainability, Urban Planning, Recreation

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How can we make cities more livable? Los Angeles, in particular, is a notably challenging place to live. For many, it is hard to see Los Angeles—city or county—as anything other than a huge, sprawling, and some would say placeless place. Los Angeles is known by many as the place that tore up more than 1,000 miles of streetcar lines to make way for millions of cars and hundreds of miles of freeways. Because of this, Los Angeles is also known for its poor air quality and jammed freeways. Those who live in Los Angeles know that it can be a very real challenge to get around. But Los Angeles is also a city of possibilities. It is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. It is mostly flat. It seldom rains. Surprisingly, Los Angeles has an alternative bike culture that has emerged and rapidly matured over the last nineteen years. It has gone from a rowdy and radical culture of bike messengers gathering for night rides to a substantial and growing community of riders, do-it-yourself bike mechanics, and homegrown transportation activists and advocates who have influenced the way bikes and riders are perceived and even how regional transportation policy is developed and implemented. How and why has that come to pass? In answering these questions, this dissertation seeks to describe the recent history of bike culture in Los Angeles through the eyes of its originators and ongoing participants. This is a narrative account of the recent past and the present in Los Angeles, California, in which a collection of bicycle-related phenomena appear to be transforming the land in ways that many might agree constitute a form of revitalization. The electronic version of this Dissertation is at Ohiolink ETDCenter, and AURA, An MP4 video introduction by the author accompanies this document.


Donald Strauss, Ph.D., M.F.A.

Donald Strauss, PhD, M.F.A. is the founding chair of the Urban Sustainability Master of Arts program at Antioch University Los Angeles []. The program launched in October 2010 with the intention of training practitioners and activists committed to working at the urban intersections of global environmental change and social, economic, and environmental justice.

In 2004, Donald entered the Environmental Studies Doctoral Program at Antioch University New England, where he focused on narratives of individuals and groups in urban communities and their relationships to the natural, social and political ecosystems with which they interact. His dissertation is an examination the phenomenon of urban alternative bike culture in Los Angeles as an emergent property of an urban ecosystem. The dissertation, titled Ridazz, Wrenches, & Wonks: A Revolution on Two Wheels Rolls Into Los Angeles, is an examination of the spontaneous emergence of a bike culture that has played an unlikely role in the transformation of regional transportation policy and the cultural life of Los Angeles, California

Since January of 2007, Donald has served as a Climate Change Presenter with The Climate Reality Project, founded by The Honorable Albert Gore. He has given over 50 presentations titled Climate Change: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions, based on the material included in the Academy Award winning documentary film An Inconvenient Truth. With the ongoing assistance of the staff at The Climate Project, Donald has continuously updated the presentation so that in its current form it reflects the most current state of scientific knowledge and social discourse pertaining to global environmental change.

Prior to assuming his role of Chair of the Urban Sustainability Program, Donald was a member of the Core Faculty in the Antioch University Los Angeles Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies Program where he directed the Creative Writing Major Area of Concentration. He has been teaching at Antioch University Los Angeles since 1998.



author_introduction_dissertation_strauss_d.mp4 (14545 kB)
Author's Video Introduction- Don Strauss