Advice from a pimp on making PCH safer and more livable for everyone

I’ve met some interesting people over the years.

I once had a long philosophical discussion with a drug dealer when my car happened to break down on his corner, and talked with a Super Bowl-bound football star about his premonition of scoring the winning touchdown — one that fell just inches short of coming true.

Then again, a lot of championships have been lost on almost.

I’ve shared drinks with future rock stars before they made it big, and chatted with others who should have made it but didn’t. I’ve known powerbrokers and paupers, pimps and politicians. Not that there’s a lot of difference between the last two.

In fact, it was a pimp who offered some of the best advice I’ve ever been given.

I was working in a jewelry store at the time; he walked through the door, just an ordinary looking guy in a business suit — if you ignored the fur hat, flashy jewelry and even flashier women on either arm.

After briefly cruising through the store, he asked me to show him a very expensive ring — for himself, of course. But stopped me when I started to tell him the price.

“Don’t matter,” he said.

When I seemed surprised, he explained. “If I want it, the price don’t matter ‘cause I’ll pay whatever it costs. If I don’t want it, don’t matter ’cause I won’t buy it.”

“Only matters is if I don’t know what I want. And then I’d be a damn fool to let the price talk me into it.”

The current situation in Malibu is kind of like that.

If they truly want to make PCH safer, they’ll find a way to do it, whatever it takes. And come up with policies and infrastructure solutions that will benefit everyone — cyclists and drivers, residents and visitors.

If they don’t, then nothing will really change. They’ll ticket a few riders for running red lights, pull over some speeders and bust a handful of drunk drivers. And people will continue to die on a highway that doesn’t work for anyone — least of all the people who live and work there.

The real problem is if they don’t know what they want. Like if they want to improve things, but consider the problems they face insurmountable, the costs too high. Or if the obvious solutions, such as traffic calming and reduced speed limits, increased enforcement and on-road bike lanes — or an off-road bike path that bypasses PCH entirely — are rejected out of hand, whether because of the cost or a lack of will.

Or just rampant NIMBY-ism, because they don’t want to encourage cyclists to ride on PCH. And intend to continue letting conditions deteriorate until we stop riding past those high-end homes that line the beach on the eastern part of the city.

Note to Malibu: Ain’t gonna happen.

So our job, as cyclists, is not to fight with the city until we convince them to do nothing because it’s not worth the aggravation of dealing with us.

But to convince them to work with us to improve safety and take a Complete Streets approach to PCH, because it’s in everyone’s best interest. And the law.

And will make Malibu a safer and more livable city.

For all of us.

………

And then there were five. Or maybe five-and-a-half.

As Damien noted on Streetsblog Tuesday, the long awaited sharrows on Westholme Ave. have disappeared without warning, victim of a slurry-sealing project that has been underway in the Westwood area for the past few weeks.

I discovered it on Tuesday when I set off to ride some hills, starting with the long step climb up Westholme. About a block or so after crossing Wilshire Blvd, the tell-tale jet-black pavement appeared and the sharrows disappeared, lost beneath the thin veneer of slurry until just before Hilgard.

According to Damien, LADOT seemed to be as surprised as the rest of us; evidently, the Bureau of Street Services evidently failed to notify them of the plans. Or noted the strange hieroglyphics on the pavement, and never thought to ask if maybe they happened to be something important before covering them over.

LADOT Bike Blog indicates that getting those sharrows back will be a top priority for the department.

But maybe next time, biking’s new BFF, Mayor Villaraigosa, might want to make sure the people who work for him talk to each other before they do something stupid.

Again.

………

Vuelta stage 4 winner Igor Anton suggests Joaquim Rodriguez has the best chance of winning among the home-turf Spanish riders. Alberto Contador, who’s sitting out the Vuelta, injures his knee in training. And more tributes pour in for cycling great Laurent Fignon, dead at age 50.

………

Metro says fire officials consider groups of cyclists on trains a fire hazard. Important meeting Wednesday night on the Santa Monica Agensys bike path-blocking project. Speaking of Santa Monica, LA Creek Freak looks at the planned conversion of lower Ocean Park Blvd into a green Complete Street; if you happen to be a Malibu city official, click on the link. Please. LADOT Bike Blog examines sidewalk riding laws in the San Gabriel Valley. Ride with the Ovarian Psychos/Cycle Bicycle Brigade. San Diego considers making the central plaza in Balboa Park car free. A cyclist hits a trolley in East San Diego County. Several California bike clubs risk losing their non-profit status, including some in the L.A. area. San Francisco finishes its first new bike lane since the injunction was lifted. Bicycling suggests 15 proven ways to get faster, and offers tips on how to teach your child to ride to school. New York continues to lead the way to safer streets, with a planned experiment to reduce speeds to 20 mph. A small Texas town now requires a permit for groups of 10 or more cyclists; no word on whether groups of cars will now require permits, as well. A driver picks up his dropped cell phone, and find himself in the bike lane when he looks up — just before hitting a cyclist. A Kansas cyclist leaves a message in chalk to thank the woman who saved his life. Connecticut starts a 3-foot law bike safety campaign. Brit model Kelly Brock rides her bike at the Tower of London, and looks a lot more comfortable on two wheels than London’s biking Mayor BoJo.

Finally, the definition of irony, as bike-banning Black Hawk, Colorado invites the League of American Bicyclists to come gamble at their casinos.

But, uh, leave your bikes at home.

7 comments

  1. DanaPointer says:

    PCH/caltrans is a statewide problem, despite weekly accidents, caltrans is planning to increase speeds in Laguna Beach to comply with the 85% rule…
    http://m.ocregister.com/ocregister/pm_6791/contentdetail.htm;jsessionid=5FFB0056BEF1E0CFB55C89073C9A6B68?contentguid=m3ArcsOl

    • bikinginla says:

      Unfortunately, that law is one of the biggest problems we face — and conflicts with the 2008 Complete Streets Act. Repealing the 85% rule should be the highest priority of every bike, pedestrian and community group in the next session of the legislature.

  2. Joe says:

    Erm. This may not be entirely obvious, so I hesitate to mention it.

    But perhaps presenting this bit of wisdom as “advice from a pimp”, while charming, is not the best way of getting your point across.

  3. Chewie says:

    :) Great post. It’s true. When human lives are at stake, it’s time to step up in a big way to address the problem.

  4. Severin says:

    We can’t have a defeatist attitude, we need to work for the safety of everyone, and I think sooner or later… we will have a safer PCH

  5. Based on last night’s meeting, I think it’s just rampant NIMBYism. They don’t want to solve problems, they just want to get rid of the people they believe (misguidedly) are causing the problems. I do hope that we can continue our discussions with Ms. Tellem, however. Last night she appeared to be the most reasonsable person at that table. While the others were happy to make assumptions of what the law does and doesn’t allow, Ms. Tellem actually was interested in what the law really says. Unfortunately, she’s being fed incorrect information from a Sheriff (who, couldn’t even answer her questions and just made up a response. I know the CVC better than he does…).

    We need to continue working with Ms. Tellem as well as working on the Sheriff’s department to get Sheriff Baca to fall in line with how LAPD has worked with cyclists. I mean, this Sheriff was telling them that he could give a ticket to any cyclist anytime they took the lane, which is wrong. There are many situations where a cyclist would need to position themself in the center of the lane, and none of them could understand or even tolerate that.

    Anyways, I know full write ups are coming, so I’ll shut up now.

  6. [...] 9, 2010 by ladotbikeblog As you may have read last week on Streetsblog or Biking in LA, a section of the Westholme Sharrows have been recently paved over.  Nobody is more disappointed [...]

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