Sometimes, not riding is the right thing to do

Just as the weatherman predicted, this turned out to be a beautiful day. A perfect day for riding, in fact — warm, mostly sunny and almost no wind.

In fact, when I stepped outside this morning, every fiber of my being urged me to get on the bike, and not look back until I had at least 30 miles under my belt. Every fiber, that is, except the ones that insisted I belonged here, instead.

Maybe it had something to do with putting my money where my mouth is. Maybe it was a genuine desire to make a difference, or hold our elected officials accountable.

Or maybe I just wanted to meet some of those people I read every day. Like the ones you’ll find over there on the right.

So I rearranged my schedule, put off a couple of work calls, and made it out of here about 15 minutes after the meeting was supposed to start. Then there was the hour drive it took to travel 12 miles from West L.A. to downtown. (Note to L.A. traffic planners: if you really need another reason why we need to put more bikes — and fewer cars — on the roads, I’d say that just about sums it up.)

Combine that with the 15 minutes it took to hike from the parking lot and pass through security, and I got to the 3-hour City Council Transportation Committee meeting about the time it was halfway over. So I’ll let someone who was actually there for the whole thing tell you what happened.

What I saw, though, was surprising enough.

From a room full of cyclists of every possible description, to council members  — like Bill Rosendahl and Wendy Greuel — who actually seemed to give a damn about making this city a better place for bicyclists, not to mention the other people we share the roads with (or with whom we share the roads, if you prefer).

And to be fair, some of the other people who were there had good things to say about Tom LaBonge, who was called away before I arrived, and Bernard Parks, who was largely silent while I was there.

By the time the meeting was over, I was ready to kiss Rosendahl. Though I don’t think either one of us would have particularly enjoyed that.

The speakers from the L.A. Department of Transportation were a different matter. Sharrows have been used successfully in a number of cities for years now — even right here in Los Angeles, on the campus of UCLA. And yet, to hear them talk, you would assume it was some sort of new technology that must be tested in double blind safety studies to prove they won’t explode or turn us into brain-sucking mutant zombies.

And not only could they not figure what streets to put them on, they weren’t even sure if the paint would be too slick to ride on safely. (Note to LADOT: just call UCLA and ask them what the hell they used, since it hasn’t seemed to have killed anyone yet.)

They also weren’t sure sharrows could, or should, be painted on busy streets. (Note to LADOT: we already ride on those streets. We’d just like it to be a little safer, please.)

In the end, though, it turned out to a pretty positive experience — even if it did cost me a good ride.

And all those cyclists I met?

They turned out to be pretty nice people, too.

5 comments

  1. Enci says:

    It was great meeting you after the meeting! If you want to ride with the west siders next time let us know. It will be more fun then driving :-)

  2. bikinginla says:

    Yeah, I thought I didn’t have time to ride, but I doubt it could have taken any longer — and it would definitely have been more fun. And it was great to finally meet you and Stephan, and so many others who are doing so much more than just talk about making this city a better, and safer, place to ride.

  3. It was pretty awesome to see us pack a board room like that…a hundred cyclists, ready to take part in the process…Unfortunately, we’ll still see a lot of setbacks before we get the kind of changes we want to see, and I hope the enthusiasm stays high.

    In the meantime, I wrote up a draft letter on bike licensing that people should feel free to use if they want to get City Council to take up this issue. Rosendahl, LaBonge and Parks all seemed ready to go…

    councilmember.greuel@lacity.org, councilmember.alarcon@lacity.org, councilmember.parks@lacity.org, councilmember.rosendahl@lacity.org, Councilmember.labonge@lacity.org,

    Dear Member of the City Council XXX,

    As a committed cyclists, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for respect and concern you showed at last Friday’s committee hearing on bicycling, bicycling infrastructure, and bicyclists rights. During the sometimes heated hearing, you continued to listen to our concerns and questions.

    While it is not going to be easy to recreate Los Angeles as a cycling haven, there is one thing that can be done quickly and that is placing a moratorium on the bicycle licensing program. Whether a mandatory program is necessary is a conversation that can’t occur until cyclists are not being harassed for not having a sticker license that is difficult to obtain and not being distributed by the LAPD as they are required to.

    Unfortuntately, as you saw on Friday, the LAPD doesn’t seem interested in suspending their uneven enforecement of bike licensing even after being confronted on the program several times by Council Members LaBonge, Parks and Rosendahl at last week’s hearing. To that end, we are asking that you not let go of this issue and that you quickly introduce a motion to suspend the program. We understand that Councilman Rosdenahl will not be at tomorrow’s hearing, but that doesn’t mean you cannot take action.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to working with you in the future on other bike-related issues.

    Sincerely,

    X

  4. […] Cyclists Look at Friday’s Meeting (Biking in LA, Illuminate LA, Soap Box, Soap Box, Soap […]

  5. It was nice to finally meet you in person. I was heartened to see such a good turnout, though I aim to make it standing room only in the future!

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