Los Angeles bicyclists claim partial victory in Tuesday’s apathy plagued election

LA-City-Hall-— TreesCall it a mixed bag.

Last night’s election results showed some major victories for L.A.’s bicycling community, along with some painful losses.

Along with a number of cases where we have no idea how the winners stand on issues important to Los Angeles cyclists.

In the most important race, however, we can claim a clear victory as Eric Garcetti and Wendy Gruel both qualified for the May runoff election. Then again, victory in that race was a given, as all five major candidates for mayor were on the record with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition for their strong stands in support of bicycling in the City of Angels.

So regardless of who wins in May, we can expect at least another four years of support from the mayor’s office. And hopefully, continued progress on the streets.

City Council is another matter, as a several bike supporters fell to defeat, while a number of other candidates either won outright, or qualified for a runoff without responding to the LACBC’s survey or taking a public stand on the issues that affect our right to ride and safety on the streets.

In District 1, Jose Gardea took a strong stand in support of bicycling, while Gil Cedillo failed to respond. This district has long been represented by termed-out councilmember Ed Reyes, who has been a strong supporter of bicycling.

District 3 was won outright by Bob Blumenfield last night. He failed to respond to the survey, so we currently have no idea whether he supports bicycling; we’ll have to wait until he casts his first few votes in City Hall to get a feel for where he stands. He replaces Dennis Zine, who hasn’t always been a friend of bicyclists.

Westside District 5 Councilmember Paul Koretz easily won re-election last night, and has gone on the record supporting bicycling, though he questions the much-needed bike lanes on Westwood Blvd.

Felipe Fuentes claimed an outright victory in District 7 without completing the bike survey; he replaces Richard Alarcón, who was not always a reliable voice for bikes.

In District 9, of the two candidates who qualified for the runoff, current state Senator Curren Price did not respond to the survey, while Ana Cubas did, promising to work with the LACBC to make L.A. a more bike-friendly city. However, Price did take a stand in support of bicycling when he ran for the Senate in 2009.

District 11′s Mike Bonin won election outright last night. Not only did he complete the LACBC survey, I’m told he’s an even stronger supporter of bicycling than Bill Rosendahl, the councilmember he replaces, who has been the bike community’s best friend on the city council.

The crowded field in District 13 resulted in a runoff between Mitch O’Farrell, who has been one of the strongest candidate voices in support of bicycling, and John Choi, who failed to respond.

Finally, District 15 was won outright by incumbent Jose Buscaino, who failed to complete the survey.

While I’m disappointed that some of the leading voices in support of bicycling, such as Odysseus Bostick in CD11 Josh Post in CD13, failed to qualify for the runoff, strong bike supporters either won outright or made the runoff in both districts.

Meanwhile, Emanuel Plietez, who was featured here recently, was always a long shot to qualify for the runoff; in fact, he finished last among the major candidates for mayor. However, he has a lot to offer the city and the bicycling community, and hopefully we see his name again in another race in the not-too-distant future.

The bigger disappointment, however, was the lack of turnout by L.A. voters. And L.A. cyclists.

Just over 285,000 people bothered to turn out for the election, a pathetic 16% of eligible voters. And far less than the estimated 400,000 regular bike riders who live in this city.

We have the power to permanently change this city and its streets for the better. But L.A. will never be the city it can and should be until the bike community gets off its collective ass and into the voting booth.

The LACBC will redouble its efforts to get all the remaining candidates in the runoff on the record for where they stand on bicycling issues. Including the race for City Attorney between Mike Feuer and incumbent Carmen Trutanich, which makes the all-important decisions on how bike and traffic laws are interpreted and enforced in the city, and who gets charged with breaking them.

But it’s up to you to get out and support the candidates who support us.

8 comments

  1. Dave says:

    I bike and I voted. In fact, I voted for Emanuel Plietez because I liked his platform and because he took the time to speak to you. Longshot or not, he earned my vote.

  2. I’d bet the turnout among eligible cyclists was higher than 16%. It’s a low bar to be above, but it’s something.
    Thanks for covering this in such detail.

  3. Allan says:

    Rather sad to see such a dismal voter turn out. One can fantasize what we could turn LA into if we had a large ~400k riders out there voting. I assumed that LACBC must have had recommendations for the candidates? Just think what kind of city we could turn LA into with that kind of voter turnout!

    Nice job on reporting Ted.

    (Allan in Long Beach)

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks Allan. Actually, as a non-profit, the LACBC is legally barred from endorsing any candidate for elected office. However, we did do our best to get every candidate on the record for their stands on bicycling, and let bicyclists make their own choices.

      I just hope I live long enough to see the day when the L.A. bike community becomes the political force it should be, like cyclists are in communities like Austin, San Francisco and Portland.

  4. Brian says:

    I bike and I voted, same with my wife. My polling place was at Emerson Middle School, which didn’t have much in the way of bike parking when I went to vote. Not much of a big deal, but somehow I managed to scrape part of the “Long Haul Trucker” decal off the side of my top tube when I locked up to one of the railings there :/

  5. I think you’re being too hard on Alarcon, and Blumenfeld did some good work on transit funding in Sacramento and even some work on speed limits (that went nowhere thanks to the lobbyists at AAA and CHP). He’ll be solid.

  6. I voted, but I couldn’t figure out who would be the strongest supporter for bicycling in the run for mayor.

    I live in Tom LaBonge’s council district. He was wrongly considered by some as a strong supporter of bicycling (his antics didn’t fool me). Since then, he has turned down bike lanes for Barham Blvd and Lankershim Blvd. He stated that he was against putting bike lanes on Vermont Ave (before it was taken out of his district) and against having traffic signals on two intersections along 4th St (wanted to replace this street selection with 6th St) to make it safer for cyclists to cross two major streets. His reasoning for turning down bike lanes for Lankershim Blvd? He doesn’t want to reduce the capacity of the street and Vineland Ave (not on the bike plan) would be safer.

    As streets are proposed for bike lane installations, and the DOT asks for council members approval, we will be able to see how thick of a skin each of them have to standing up to the negative opinions of constituents about each project and how willing they are to work out a compromise to make sure that something gets installed.

  7. I remember Alarcon speaking about the installation of bus only lanes on Wilshire Blvd at a Transportation Committee meeting. He stated that he couldn’t believe that we would be turning down any federal money. Meanwhile, self proclaimed transit supporter councilmember Rosendahl turned it down and he also refused to put in anymore bus shelters or benches in his district. Councilmember Koritz also would probably be considered a big bicycle supporter and he also turned down a bus only lane on Wilshire Blvd in his district.

    Councilmembers can say a lot of things, seeing their actions are much more important way to judge them. They are all generally supportive when it comes to getting a document passed for bicycling and most will agree to funding, but taking away space for motorists to put in bike lanes is where the support tends to fall apart for several of them.

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