Close your eyes.
And imagine life in Los Angeles a couple years from now.
Okay, no. Wait.
Read this first. Then close your eyes.
Imagine a city where the new mayor, who takes office next year, never fell off his or her bike and had a Road to Damascus moment.
Maybe, like Toronto, we’ll get a mayor who actively opposes bikes. And not only halts work on the L.A. bike plan, but rips out existing lanes to make more room for cars to speed through the city.
Perhaps we’ll have a City Council that no longer gives cyclists a hard-earned place at the table, where our concerns fall on deaf ears as they cater to the far larger motoring constituency.
Meanwhile, the new District Attorney has settled into office, and decided to de-emphasize traffic crimes — failing to file charges in most bike-involved cases. And settling others out-of-court for the merest slap on the wrist in order to focus more resources on what they consider more serious cases.
And the new mayor has replaced LAPD Chief Beck with his own far less bike-friendly choice to lead the department. Which means that Sgt. Krumer could be re-assigned, the Bike Task Force dissolved, and street officers ordered to interpret traffic laws like they did in the bad old days of not-so-many years ago.
It’s a nightmare scenario.
And in our democratic society, in which our government changes every few years, it’s entirely possible.
Los Angeles has changed dramatically in just the past few years since I started this blog. We’ve enjoyed a surprisingly bike-friendly mayor, gained the support of the police and City Council and found support in the DA’s office for placing at least the most dangerous and threatening drivers behind bars.
The result has been a bold new bike plan, streets that are slowly becoming safer and more welcoming for bike riders, and police who respond to our complaints — if not perfectly, at least much better than they did in years past.
But unless we elect leaders who support bikes, it could all go away.
And that’s where you come in.
Tonight, the LACBC’s new Civic Engagement committee will hold its second meeting.
The first was devoted to discussion of the political landscape as it relates to bicycling in the L.A. area, as well as hearing from cyclist and CD13 candidate Josh Post.
This one will be devoted to organizing a working committee. And rolling up our sleeves to get to work on the upcoming elections, starting with the election of a new District Attorney in November, and moving on to the mayoral and City Council races next March.
As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the LACBC and its committees are prohibited from actually endorsing, working for as an organization, or spending money on political candidates. Although committee members are free to endorse, support and work for any candidate on an individual basis.
But what we can do is get candidates on the record for their stands on bicycling issues, and let cyclists decide for themselves who to vote for.
If we give you the facts, you’re smart enough to make that decision for yourself.
We intend to develop candidate questionnaires to discover exactly where they stand on the issues. As well as hold debates and candidate forums as we get closer to election day. And maybe even get them out on bikes so they can experience the city from our perspective.
And while it would be easy for any given candidate to ignore you or me, it will be much harder to ignore a committee backed Southern California’s largest and most active bicycling advocacy organization.
We’re not just limiting our efforts to the City or County of Los Angeles, either. Committee members will be fully empowered to represent the LACBC in local races in places like Culver City, Alhambra, Santa Monica or wherever you ride or call home.
But we need your help if we’re going to succeed.
So take a little time out of your busy day, and join us tonight at Johnnie’s Pizza, 5757 Wilshire Blvd, next to LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits. The meeting starts at 6:45 pm, and I promise you’ll be back out on the street no later than 9 pm — hopefully sooner.
I run a tight meeting.
And with some good food and beer in your belly, should you so choose.
Or if you can’t make it, email me at bikinginla at hotmail dot com and I’ll add you to the Google Group email list.
But I hope to see you there.
Because the future of bike-friendlier L.A. begins tonight.