There are nearly 21,000 miles of non-freeway roads in Los Angeles County. How many of those do you think were built to accommodate motor vehicles?
All of them.
So why do some people get so pissed off when a few lousy feet are finally set aside for the benefit of someone else?
Take Tuesday night, when cyclists made a last stand before the joint Porter Ranch and Northridge West Neighborhood Councils in an attempt to preserve the Wilbur Avenue road diet and bike lanes.
While no one can argue that motorists, or anyone else, received sufficient notice of the road work, people who live in the immediate area seem to like it. And there’s no real argument that something had to be done to improve safety on a residential street that had turned into a high-speed throughway in recent years, as drivers used it as a secret bypass to more congested roadways.
After all, it’s far too hard to simply slow down and observe the speed limit, protecting the safety of other people on and along the street.
Or find a route that utilizes one of the overwhelming majority of streets that don’t have bike lanes or road diets, where you can drive with all the wild abandon L.A. traffic will allow.
Surprisingly, the Wilbur Avenue road diet survived this vote, despite overwhelming opposition from the 450 people in attendance — who, according to Streetsblog, went so far as to boo calls for road safety.
Why should you care if a few people are killed or injured if it means you can get where you’re going a few minutes faster?
Then there’s Doug Krikorian of the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
A respected sportswriter and columnist, he seems to have taken it upon himself to return Long Beach to its previous state of bike unfriendliness.
Because it inconveniences him.
After all, he recently found himself stuck in traffic on Broadway. And didn’t see a single cyclist using the city’s newly installed bike lanes the entire time he sat there gnashing his teeth.
It may have been a situation that left him speechless, but unfortunately, not typeless. And led him to the inescapable conclusion that no one bikes in Long Beach, despite evidence to the contrary.
Which is odd, because I’ve often found myself riding on streets without a car in sight.
Yet it never occurred to me to become angry over the wasted space devoted to motor vehicles that could have been converted to more productive uses. I just assumed that the cars would undoubtedly be along sooner or later, for better or worse.
And never mind that those bike lanes he’s complaining about aren’t even officially open yet.
But evidently, when Krikorian gazes out his window and doesn’t see a bike, that means the bikeway — in fact, the city’s entire commitment to bike-friendliness — is a failure.
Not that he has any statistics to back that up, of course.
It’s not like there’s anyone at the Press-Telegram could do a little research, after all. Or that he could call Long Beach Mobility Coordinator Charlie Gandy and ask if anyone actually rides in the city.
Although to be fair, more people might ride if their bikes didn’t get stolen.
Of course, the real problem wasn’t the bike lanes beside him, it was all the cars and trucks ahead of him. And that if more people used those bike lanes, he might not be stuck be stuck in traffic next time.
Then again, it’s not just a problem here in the L.A. area.
Anti-bike NIMBYism runs rampant just about everywhere. Even in the biking capital of North America.
Take Fresno County, where local farmers are all for cycling, but don’t want bike paths near their farmland. Not because they would be inconvenienced by all those two-wheelers silently whizzing by, of course. But because cyclists would be exposed to all those pesticides and industrial chemicals they put on our food.
As if we’re not exposed to them already when we eat it.
It’s not like cyclists aren’t riding those country roads anyway. The proposed bike paths would just make it a little safer by getting bikes out of the way of all the combines and farm trucks they currently have to dodge.
On the other extreme, there’s New York City, where Prospect Park West is Ground Zero in the bike lane wars — even though 70% of local residents support the bike lanes that were recently installed there.
Yet the massive congestion claimed by opponents has failed to materialize, adding just 7 seconds to the average commute through the park. And pretty much all of dangers opponents project can be mitigated by looking both ways.
Evidently, that’s something New York mothers don’t teach their children to do, unlike virtually every other mother on the face of the planet.
What they all fail to consider is that the entire total of bike lanes — whether here in L.A. or anywhere else this side of Amsterdam or Copenhagen — represents just a minute fraction of roadways otherwise devoted almost exclusively to motor vehicles.
And even then, it amounts to no more than 10 or 12 feet of space out of the entire road surface.
So let’s face it.
It’s not the bike lanes — or the bikes, or lack of bikes, on them — that’s making anyone’s commute a living hell.
It’s all the other cars and trucks on the street, most of which usually contain just one person behind the wheel, often on his or her cell phone, texting or web surfing.
Which means the bikeways they bitch aren’t the problem, but rather, just a small part of the solution.
And if the biggest problem you or anyone else has today is a cyclist or bike lane slowing your commute, your must be having a damn good day.
So just get over it already.
Although something tells me you can do all the outreach in the world, and it still won’t satisfy the people who choose not to participate until they suddenly discover a bike lane on their favorite high-speed short-cut.
Not that I’m feeling the least bit cynical today or anything.
More on the death of Long Beach bike activist Mark Bixby and four other prominent people from the Long Beach area, from the L.A. Times, Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Daily Breeze, as well as a Santa Barbara perspective on the tragedy.
A cyclist suffered significant injuries in a solo fall in Palos Verdes Tuesday morning. According to the Daily Breeze, the rider was one of five who were descending a steep hill on Via Del Monte around 7 am when he lost control and crashed on the 500 block near Via Ramon.
Jim Lyle writes to say that the street has an 8% grade, making speeds over 30 mph possible. Speed bumps were installed recently to slow vehicle traffic, but there’s space between them for emergency vehicles, making it unlikely that they were the cause.
Meanwhile, an Orange County rider required a helicopter rescue after going over the handlebars in rough terrain around 10:13 Wednesday morning. And an Altadena cyclist was injured in a right-hook-and-run.
Anyone in the job market — and these days, that seems to be just about everyone — may want to check out this Craigslist listing.
Trainer/Instructor needed for outdoor bike safety program at schools and events. Physical ability needed to handle equipment and props; includes setting up student training course plus instructing students on pedestrian and bicycle safety. Will train. Background in sports or outdoor activities desired. Works well with children. Must have flexible schedule as hours vary. Weekend availability a definite plus. Pay rate based on experience. Please email resume.
Thanks to Stephanie for the heads-up.
Yesterday’s breaking news left me with a long backlog of links. I’ll try to catch up over the next few days, starting with the ones I’d planned to post yesterday, but which seemed inappropriate given the day’s news. Look for more late tonight or tomorrow morning.
L.A. County’s new model streets manual was unveiled Tuesday night, including a requirement to design streets for all users, including bikes. LACBC announces Sunday Funday #4, exploring crosstown routes on Sunday, April 3rd. The new Bike Wrangler space across from Good Sam finally has a name. L.A. bike cops in 1904. Ride the closed-off L.A. Marathon course before the race starts. Covina is the latest SoCal city to ask for your help in developing a new bike plan, with three workshops scheduled before the end of the month. Claremont will serve as the launching point for Stage 7 of this year’s Amgen TofC. Last weekend’s Tour de Murietta honored pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado, who was killed by street racers near San Bernardino last spring. A California cyclist uses echolocation to navigate despite a lack of eyesight. Links to bike computer manuals for everyone who forgot how to spring forward.
Fifteen women who don’t exactly rule the biking world, but close. Which is worse — angry terriers or argumentative drivers? Before engineers are allowed to work on bike projects, maybe they should be required to actually ride a bike. A Colorado driver and his passenger are ticketed in a road rage case after being captured on the rider’s front and rear video cams. Ten teams are now confirmed for Colorado’s Quizno’s Pro Challenge, with some of the top pro teams participating, including Cancellara and the Schleck brothers. The Idaho house bars the use of eminent domain for building bikeways. An Iowa cyclist overcomes a broken arm and leg to win the 350 mile Iditarod bike race. Chicago considers adding a cycle track. When a cyclist has to compete for a driver’s attention, the cyclist always loses. Wednesday was Texas’ first Cyclists in Suits day. New Orleans prepares to break ground on the Lafitte Corridor, a three mile stretch of bike paths, greenways and public gardens. A New York police commander tries, and evidently fails, to defend the city’s selective enforcement crackdown on cyclists; key stat — 35 million Central Park visitors in 2010, yet just 42 incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians. A Florida truck driver swerves to hit and kill a cyclist, then keeps on driving; remarkably, the reporter refrains from calling it an accident. Miami Beach kicks off a bike share program; Toronto launches its own May 3rd.
UK employees get more than a Bike to Work Week to encourage them to ride. Evidently, dragging a cyclist 150 meters beneath a large truck is just an accident. The Cycle Opera moves forward, based on the life of British steelworker and Olympic cyclist Lal White. A Brit blogger has eight bikes stolen, and somehow gets them all back. Follow the tweets of top pros on a single Twitter list. Welcome to New Zealand, where life if cheap — at least for cyclists — although they do seem to take dooring seriously.
And anyone planning to ride through Beverly Hills today is urged to avoid the Wilshire Blvd geyser.