Ten percent set-aside, bike corrals pass; bloggers call for better — or new — LADOT leadership

According to Damien Newton at Streetsblog, the L.A. City Council passed the 10% set-aside for “people powered transportation” from the city’s share of Measure R funds by an 11 – 3 vote today.

But in a truly bizarre twist, LADOT — which has spent the last 14 years not building the previously approved projects in the 1996 bike plan — has no idea if they can actually spend the money, whether that turns out to be $3.2 million or the $5.35 million shown in our newly bike-friendly Mayor’s budget.

Which may be the first time — in my knowledge, at least — that a city department has gone out of it’s way to resist additional funding.

Speaking for the LADOT was Mike Uyeno, who was joined by Maria Souza-Rountree from the Chief Legislative Analyst Office.  Time and again, Council Members asked if the LADOT would be able to spend Measure R Local Return funds that were set-aside.  Time and again, Uyeno gave an answer somewhere between “no” and “I don’t know.”  For example:

Councilman Paul Koretz asked:

Is there any chance at all that we’ll be unable to spend the 10% on bike and pedestrian needs.

Uyeno answered

I’m not sure. It depends what staffing becomes available. Not sure what ped. projects are out there in the department. There’s just a lot of open ends in this anymore.

In all fairness, the recent budget cuts have reduced the department’s staffing. But for the first time in memory, LADOT has both the funding and the political backing to actually accomplish something in terms of biking projects. And the best they can come up with is “I don’t know?”

I’d suggest giving LADOT’s leadership 30 days to come back with a plan to spend every penny of that money, effectively, efficiently and productively. And if they can’t do that, then it’s time to hire someone who can, or maybe just do what others have suggested and eliminate the department entirely.

No excuses.

Speaking of which, Damien tells LADOT’s Rita Robinson to stop making excuses and just try something already; while LAist’s Josh Behrens asks if it’s time this city got a new transportation leader.

Anyone think NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is ready to come home and take on a real challenge?

………

After a seemingly ridiculous amount of debate and delay, the City Council gave unanimous approval to the city’s first bike corral yesterday. This project had the full support of virtually everyone — with the possible exception of LADOT — including the Highland Park business owner who asked for one in front his Café de Leche.

Now the question is whether LADOT will support and implement the project, or if they will drag their feet until this turns into another sharrows project.

………

In local bike news, an unidentified hero bicyclist finished a police chase for them, as he ran down a suspected drunk driver who had taken off running after colliding with another vehicle during a police pursuit. Kudos to the cyclist, but standard advice is to point out the bad guys and let the police do the actual apprehension. Thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up.

And hats off to Jason Alexander — not for colliding with a 14-year old cyclist on his way to school — but for doing the right thing and staying with the rider until the paramedics arrived. The collision occurred at Wilshire and June Street near Hancock Park, and the rider was taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries; no word yet on how it happened, but Alexander was not cited and police sources suggest he was not at fault.

………

Our bike-friendly U.S. Secretary of Transportation — no matter how many times I write that, it still seems strange — says the one thing we know for sure about biking infrastructure is that people want it, and calls for a nationwide interstate biking network. As a result, he gets some love from cyclists, but the way some people react, you’d think he was suggesting that we move freight by bike instead of trucks.

………

Congratulations to the LACBC’s Dorothy Le, as Grist recognizes her as one of 40 people who are redefining green. While the city dithers over bike share, a Hollywood man succeeds with an e-bike rental program. If Santa Monica truly wants to be a bike-friendly city, their departments need to communicate with each other — even during construction projects. Upcoming family bike and pedestrian events in Culver City. The Anonymous Cyclist says time’s running out to get your stickers. That two miles of new bike lanes striped in Long Beach over the weekend marked the completion of the city’s 33-mile bike loop. AAA says California drivers are still texting despite a state-wide ban.

New York bike advocates question the city’s bike count. Denver opens a bike-through coffee window, while a cyclist in neighboring Boulder is hit by a car while riding in a crosswalk marked by flashing lights. New Braunfels TX passes a new law requiring drivers to change lanes if they encounter a vulnerable road user, or pass with a minimum of three feet on two lane roads. Minnesota’s governor signs a law giving cyclists the right to ride though red lights that don’t change. In a bizarre case, a DC-area mom deliberately runs down her cyclist son.

A British driver is accused of murder after intentionally running down a cyclist who damaged his mirror. The three-foot movement spreads to the UK, and takes on a lovely shade of Pepto-Bismol pink. A writer asks if spandex bike shorts are too revealing; obviously, she didn’t grow up with Speedos. The Queen honors Brompton for her birthday. Be careful who you accuse of doping Down Under. Auckland maps out areas cyclists might want to avoid; thanks to the Trickster for the link. A writer in Toronto challenges the precepts of Vehicular Cycling; part two should be very interesting. Now Lexus is getting in on the high-concept bike design trend…yawn.

Finally, 84% of Brits surveyed by a motorists’ group say more money, not more laws, will make cyclists safer; 82% say registration and licensing is a bad idea, and only 1% support mandatory helmet laws.

3 comments

  1. The Trickster says:

    I’m starting to do a big stats dig through the data (its going to take quite a while) but should come out with some interesting results and trends hopefully.

  2. [...] There was also some excellent coverage earlier in the week from LAist, LACBC, Bicycle Fixation, and Biking in LA.  LA is lucky to have so many dedicated sources of bicycle information and advocacy. Coming soon [...]

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