Maybe they’ve ignored us. Or maybe we’ve just felt ignored.
Either way, today’s Metro Bicycle Roundtable meeting seemed to be a new beginning for both sides.
The meeting was kicked off by Doug Failing, Executive Director of Highway Programs and Interim Chief Planning Officer for Metro, who said the massive agency was focused on cycling as a way to solve the problem of traveling the first and last mile in combination with transit, as well as finding better ways to accommodate bikes on trains.
Standard rule of thumb — the longer the title, the less power an executive actually has. We’ll hope that’s not the case here, because he comes highly recommended and has a reputation for working well with cyclists.
But he also made the point that he, and the other members of Metro in the room, were there to listen. And he meant clearly meant it, as he later interrupted a Metro staffer who attempted to defend — or maybe just explain — one of their programs.
So after a brief presentation by Lynne Goldsmith, Bike Planning Manager with the Westside Area team, the floor was turned over to the concerns of the 70+ cyclists, bike planners and other assorted transit and planning professionals from various governmental groups and cities around Southern California.
Common comments called for larger bike racks on buses, and the need to allow more bikes on trains, including calls for a separate bike car. Another common complaint covered the need to better train bus drivers to respect cyclists on the roads — which we were told Metro is currently working on.
A number of people urged a greater focus on livable streets over massive transportation projects, as well as more bike-focused staffing at Metro; that’s in addition to the two — yes, 2 — who currently work there. And putting Metro’s budget to work to fund more bike-oriented infrastructure projects, and using their creative staff to create ads to encourage cycling and safe sharing of the roads.
In fact, those in the room overwhelming encouraged Metro to use its size, funding and influence to support cycling — with the single exception of a gentleman representing the Cheviot Hills homeowners group, who insisted that the planned Expo Line bike path should not go through their neighborhood in order to reduce crime and protect their privacy.
To which someone in the back of the room replied, “Did he just say, not in my backyard?”
However, the best comment of the day came from recently elected LACBC board member Greg Laemmle, who noted the historic opportunity to build out the Expo Line, along with the associated bikeway — and at the same time, summed up the issues currently facing the city.
“Great cities,” he said, “solve problems.”
Those who weren’t invited inside to meet with Sen. Barbara Boxer and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood make their case outside. Speaking of Metro, they have funding available for a feasible new bike path along the lower Arroyo Seco. C.I.C.L.E. is working with LACBC and the Bicycle Kitchen to bring the celebrated Tour de Fat bike and beer fest — sponsored by the maker of my favorite American beer — to L.A. State Historic Park. Is it really being bike friendly to ticket high school students for riding on the sidewalk when the street is too dangerous? Riding PCH — carefully — and Latigo Canyon. L.A. compares favorably in the small percentage of people who bike to work or work at home, like me. Why the Backbone Bikeway Network isn’t a freeway for bikes, and how to find your way along it. Pasadena’s new $1.7 million bike plan goes before the public, while Glendale needs to update theirs or continue to get left out.
Reno sees two cyclists injured in crashes in two hours. An Oklahoma FedEx driver faces a whopping $100 to $1000 fine for falling asleep and killing a cyclist; see, if you’re napping behind the wheel, it’s just an accident. University of Arizona police go after salmon riders, not stop sign runners. Is it just a coincidence that all the drivers who yell “Get on the sidewalk!” look alike? Snow piled on road shoulder may be partially at fault in a N.J. cyclist’s death. A Texas town bans cyclists from a key roadway for their own good. International computer hacking suspect Floyd Landis appears on Larry King. The three foot passing law moves forward in Georgia and comes up for a hearing in Missouri. Your next bike might have a double bottom bracket and no spokes. And maybe your next helmet will protect your head from devastating injuries.
Evidently, Toronto cyclists don’t want to declare war on cars after all. An Irish driver is convicted of killing Commonwealth Games medalist David McCall. London’s mayor encourages cycling to work, yet the new the London Bridge Tower offers just 250 bike parking spaces for 6,500 occupants. UK riders plan to improve safety with mass Bike Train rides departing every 15 minutes during rush hour; no, they aren’t riding the train, they are the train. The BBC plans an upcoming show claiming 1 in 5 cyclists ride roughshod over the law. Anti-social drivers blamed for a spate of anti-bike behavior.