We had the good fortune of connecting with Jimmy Lizama and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jimmy, we’d love to hear about a book that’s had an impact on you.
“Participatory democracy demands low-energy technology, and free people must travel the road to productive social relations at the speed of a bicycle.” Ivan Illich published these words in 1973 and they ring truer now than ever. The world is moving too fast into it’s own demise and we need a machine from the future to help us slow down. The bicycle and the consciousness that one adopts when using the bicycle for the essential business of life is that machine. I operate Relampago Wheelery not too sell bicycles, but rather as a tool for movement, expression, healing and regeneration in the community — the same reason everyday I ride these aptly named “freedom machines”.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have a been a bike messenger for over 20 years in Los Angeles and during that time I have simultaneously pushed for bicycling to become an everyday part of all Angelinos. Over the years, through bike activism, bike education, bike event planning, bike outreach, bike art, bike fabrication and even bike repair, I have put a wrench onto as many of the moving parts of bicycle consciousness as I possibly can. The metric of my success is not measured in dollars earned, but rather in bicyclists liberated to ride their bicycles for transportation. Money is simply a byproduct of focused purpose.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
To understand place you must slow down. At 35-70 miles an hour, you will never be going at a pace where you can hear the breathing of another earthling expressing itself to you. And if you cannot do that, you cannot truly understand them and thus you will always just be a tourist. So, if you really want to experience Los Angeles, mount your bicycle in the middle of the night and whirl to one of the thousands of eateries from around the globe, wash down your thirst with an elixir of your choice, be sure to look someone in the eyes genuinely, as friend or lover while you watch the sun rise or set or both aloft a bicycle saddle. L.A. opens it’s lungs to you then and you feel as if you are breathing at one with it. Example: 6pm, Friday. Start in Ktown and ride to Monte Carlo for a cheap swig. Make your way to 4th street down to Rimpau, then down to 8th and west to Fairfax ending at Merkato for some Ethiopian deliciousness. Have coffee. Ride north via a non-arterial small street (use your phone to find one of those) and end up at the New Beverly Cinema. Watch a double feature. Mount your beater bicycle again. Stop at 2 a.m. at El Patron and knock back a couple of tacos, before pedaling home while you promise yourself to do 30 sits ups the next day. Okay, now you’re starting to get it.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The volunteers at the Bicycle Kitchen over the years are a group of people that put in the good work to educate those in need and those who seek to increase their self-sufficiency. Without their determination and their will to imagine a better future, we’d have a lot less cycling in the City of L.A..