Do we dare to declare victory?

“I declare the war is over; it’s over…” — Phil Ochs, The War Is Over

In case you missed it, L.A. cyclists scored a couple of big victories in the last few weeks.

As you may recall, following the outrage over LADOT’s plans to remove the bike lanes on Reseda Blvd in order to install peak hour lanes, LADOT denied they would ever consider such a thing. As part of that denial, LADOT explained that they were planning to repave a 1-mile section of Reseda, and that maybe that’s where the “misunderstanding” started.

Cyclists, of course, smelled opportunity.

Or maybe we just smelled blood in the water. And insisted that LADOT prove their sincerity by completing the long-delayed bike lanes along the full length of Reseda that we were promised in the old bike plan, starting with that one mile section.

Then, as cyclists continued to press their case at a meeting of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, Alan Willis, LADOT Principal Transportation Engineer for Valley Traffic Operations, announced that the promised bike lanes would be installed on the section to be repaved. And that the remaining gaps in the bikeway could — maybe — eventually be closed.

Of course, they never admitted their deception. Let alone offered an apology.

Then last week came news that after 5 long years, the city is finally moving forward with a Sharrow test project. Nine streets are under consideration, including one along the current Class 3 bike route on Westholme Ave, just blocks from my home.

This comes less than a year after an LADOT representative gave an update to the city council’s Transportation Committee, claiming that the delay was because they didn’t know what kind of paint to use so that cyclists wouldn’t slip on wet paint when it rained.

Maybe that was a legitimate concern in today’s highly litigious society. Although when I mentioned that to a respected transportation planner at the Bike Summit earlier this year, he just rolled his eyes.

Of course, cities from Pittsburgh to Long Beach — not to mention Portland, Denver, Minneapolis and Seattle, just to name a few — have already put sharrows to use on the streets. And to the best of my knowledge, there have been no rash of injured cyclists in those cities.

But maybe they don’t have wet streets in Seattle, Portland or San Francisco. Or maybe cyclists there don’t come out until the streets are completely dry after a storm.

Or maybe LADOT just forgot to call their counterparts in those soggy cities to ask what kind of paint they use.

Still, the commitment to move forward with a Sharrow pilot project is a major victory. And the LACBC deserves credit for hanging in there and refusing to let them delay it to death. Combined with the bike lanes on Reseda, those are the biggest wins for local cyclists in recent memory.

Of course, the bad news is that LADOT actually considered removing existing bike lanes to squeeze a few more cars onto the already overcrowded city streets. Which means that no bike lane, sharrow or bike route — existing or not — will ever be safe if it stands in the way of what they consider progress.

Which means that we need to remain vigilant, ready to defend what little biking infrastructure we have. Let alone fight for what we deserve.

Of course, there is another alternative.

The city — and LADOT in particular — could start working with cyclists, rather than seeming to fight us every step of the way. They could, finally, start focusing on how they can move more people, rather than just more cars.

And begin building complete, livable streets that work for all their users, as well as the people who live, work and shop along them.

They might just find that we could be the best friends that they — and this city — ever had.

……….

The Anonymous Cyclist spots new ex-parking meter bike racks in Westwood. No Whip discovers a wallride in Mammoth, and Stephen Box discovers a full-service bike station Down Under. Travelin’ Local presents five ways to use your bike while traveling on Metro. LADOT wins an Emmy for a PSA encouraging drivers to pay attention around kids. The Times much-missed transportation beat reporter is now pucking around online. Joe Linton details the latest controversy, this time over a SoCal Gas plan to “fix” the popular fat tire and hiking trail in Sullivan Canyon, while lining portions of the creek bed with rip rap and concrete matting. A writer on Bob Mionske’s Bicycle Law blog challenges car-centric news coverage of a driver arrested for intentionally striking a cyclist, while Bob discusses what “as far to the right as practical” means in real life. A DC cyclist is physically assaulted after pushing a car door to avoid being doored. Town Mouse outrides a herd of migrating Scottish cows. Controversy flares in Korea over a proposed mandatory helmet law. Finally, sex columnist Dan Savage dares drivers to show their contempt for the recent study showing they’re at fault for 90% of car/bike collisions — and they gladly oblige. Of course.

2 comments

  1. Jessica Hall says:

    Quick clarification on the Sullivan Canyon piece – the stream will be lined with rip rap and concrete matting in places (we don’t actually know how many linear feet). It is our belief that these armorings will fail – which in the region has led to the eventual conversion of streams to concrete channels. Thanks for including the Sullivan Canyon news in your post.

  2. Joe Linton says:

    Regarding victory – I think it’s important that, in these on-street bike facilities, we don’t declare victory until we see the facilities on the street. There aren’t any new bike lanes yet on Reseda… nor any sharrows. We’re getting some traction, but we still have a long way to go.

    Thanks for plugging the Sullivan Canyon stuff, too!

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