The following press release just went out to most of the major media sources in Los Angeles. Feel free to copy, repost or forward it as you see fit. And check back tonight for today’s links.
For immediate release: May 7, 2010
Los Angeles cyclists prepare to Bike the Vote on May 15th — introducing the League of Bicycling Voters L.A.
It’s not hard to have a big influence on local elections. In fact, only 17.9% of registered voters — slightly more than 285,000 people — cast ballots in the last election for Mayor of Los Angeles.
Now consider this: According to a 2002 survey sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, 27.3% of all Americans over the age of 16 ride a bicycle, which means that somewhere around 400,000 of the city’s 1.6 million registered voters ride bikes. In other words, over 100,000 more than voted for all the candidates in the last mayoral election combined.
That holds true throughout the Los Angeles area, where statistics suggest that over 1 million of the county’s 4.2 million voters are cyclists — making it one of the largest untapped voting groups in Southern California.
That’s about to change.
On May 15th, bicyclists from throughout the County of Los Angeles will be coming together to form the League of Bicycling Voters Los Angeles.
Patterned after the highly successful League of Bicycling Voters in Austin, Texas — which saw their entire slate of candidates elected to office in the last citywide election — the group is being formed at a time when bicycling is more popular than ever.
Yet many cyclists, both beginners and experienced riders alike, believe they have have been ignored by unresponsive local, county and state governments, their safety needlessly endangered by roads and regulations that weren’t designed for bikes and policies that ignore their needs.
“For years we’ve tried playing nice, going along to get along, quietly sitting at meetings, waiting to be asked onto the floor for a dance,” explained Josef Bray-Ali, owner of the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop in Highland Park, and one of the founders of the local League of Bicycling Voters. “We’ve learned that the only place we can get our elected officials to pay attention is at the ballot box.”
According to the group’s website, the League of Bicycling Voters “is not liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. It does not represent any one group or style of cycling.” Instead, it represents Los Angeles-area bicyclists of every type and description “to help ensure safer streets and a more bike-friendly community for all of us.”
Ted Rogers, author of the blog BikingInLA.com and another of the group’s initial founders, along with UCLA lecturer Dr. Michael Cahn, stressed that the League won’t conflict with other existing bicycle advocacy organizations, such as C.I.C.L.E. and the Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition.
“This group is a purely political organization. Our purpose is to host forums and debates, get candidates on the record for their stands on bicycling issues, and to endorse and support bike-friendly candidates and propositions — which groups like the LACBC are prohibited from doing due to their non-profit status.”
However, he explained that they do intend to work closely with other biking groups to support similar goals whenever possible; in fact, both Rogers and Dr. Cahn are on the Board of Directors for the LACBC, and many of the initial members belong to other cycling organizations, as well.
The initial organizational meeting is scheduled for 10:30 am on Saturday, May 15th in Room 1347 on the ground floor of the UCLA Law School on the Westwood campus. Anyone who rides a bike and is eligible to vote in the County of Los Angeles is encouraged to attend.
Google Group: http://groups.google.com/group/bikevotela