I don’t think I have many fans at L.A.’s Department of Transportation.
Or any, for that matter.
The feedback I’ve gotten, limited though it may be, is that I’ve been unduly harsh in criticizing the agency. And that the flap over the bike lanes on Reseda Blvd could have been handled better.
I can live with that.
The end result was that the long-promised bike lanes on Reseda finally turned into paint of the streets, with a promise of more to come — and no peak hour lanes on the boulevard.
As for any criticism of the agency, you only have to ride these streets for awhile to understand that criticism is not only deserved, but necessary. And not just LADOT.
Los Angeles is decades behind most American cities when it comes to biking infrastructure. Meanwhile, the cycling community has been growing exponentially, putting more riders — and more inexperienced riders — on streets that were not designed to accommodate them.
If anything, I’ve tried to hold back, in light of the impossible position bikeways staff find themselves in, stuck in a department — and a city — that doesn’t understand, let alone support, cycling.
And yes, this is me holding back.
Like anyone else, LADOT and its employees are welcome to comment on anything I write. If you like something I have to say, say so; if you don’t, say so. And if you have more to add to the story, or corrections, or just want to tell me I’m full of it, you can find my email address on the About BikingInLA page.
Convince me I got the story wrong, and I’ll be happy to correct it. If not, I’ll gladly share your side of the story — then offer my best arguments to show why I think it’s wrong.
So I was a little surprised to attend the West L.A. bike plan meeting last night, and discover just how helpful and determined to make a difference everyone was.
Even after they found out who I am.
Whatever you may think of the plan — and yes, I do have reservations — it’s clear that there are people within the Bikeways Department who really do give a damn about making this a better place to ride.
I spoke with one employee who talked about working with a street crew into the wee morning hours to convert old parking meters into bike racks. And how he was working on a plan to put abandoned bikes — which are currently sold off to wholesalers for pennies on the dollar — to better use, such as offering them to non-profit co-ops like Bike Kitchen or Bikerowave, or donating them to organizations that serve the underprivileged, whether here in L.A. or in underdeveloped countries like some other cities do.
Both of which are plans I can support, without the slightest reservation.
I was also pleasantly surprised by how helpful bikeways coordinator Michelle Mowery was when I suggested how a minor change in signage on a street I ride regularly could encourage cyclists to use it more.
At first she said it couldn’t legally be done. But then she made some alternate suggestions to solve the problem — and offered to pass it along to the right people who might be able to do something about it.
Then again, maybe it’s not so surprising.
Because we’re all going to have to work together if we want things to get any better around here.
Whether we agree with each other or not.
I’ll offer my take on the bike plan next week. Meanwhile, LACBC continues to press for more time to respond to the plan, and offers suggestions to improve it — with attribution. Dr. Alex reports that LADOT is woefully inadequate in regards to the plan, while fellow Westside Bikeside writer Mihai ask why the plan can’t reflect the 720 bus route. C.I.C.L.E. says the new bike plan is a step backwards, and asks why we can’t have multiple bike coordinators. Damien discovers the difference a .com vs a .org can make. And phase two of the Department of DIY’s write-your-own-bike-plan takes place this Saturday at 1 pm.
Start making your plans for next years Bike Summit — now with added pedestrians! (Seriously, it’s fun, informative and free; what more could you want?) A Boston cyclist writes about trusting total strangers with his life everyday. Portland asks if the local cycling scene is too white. Do mandatory helmet laws make cyclists safer — or just reduce the number of riders on the road? A UK student helps save the life of a critically injured cyclist. A writer Down Under says reduce speeds so cyclists can live. Finally, a photo bike tour of Nashville, and a lovely one of Scotland — and before she says it, let me remind you that the weather up there in Bobby Burns land isn’t always like that.