Morning Links: The Mobility Plan bikelash has begun, and I go off on an unintended rant

The bikelash has officially begun.

In an OpEd for the LA Times, the owner of a Santa Monica luxury gift business says the city’s plan for road diets on some streets is a terrible idea.

Bruce Feldman suggests that what works in Stockholm, where the “Swedes are smart and good looking,” won’t work in LA. Where evidently, the residents aren’t.

Instead, he suggests banning all parking along major thoroughfares to make more room for cars, and yes, bikes, while providing parking lots on every block in business areas — apparently, tearing down some of those businesses to make room for idle cars.

He also trots out the failed proposal made by former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, before he fell off his bike and saw the light, to transform Olympic and Pico Blvds into parallel one-way streets. An idea so bad it was one of the few things that could unite virtually everyone who lived, worked, shopped or owned a business anywhere near those streets in opposition.

And says that people move to LA to live in tidy sundrenched bungalows far from work and shopping. Which certainly explains why DTLA — and even Downtown Santa Monica — are thriving.

Meanwhile, LA Times’ readers say the death of a pedestrian on Rowena Ave is just an anomaly, and doesn’t justify changes to the roadway to improve safety if it means a slower drive. This is what we’re up against; people are so used to traffic violence that it’s accepted as the cost of driving.

All of this stems from the city’s remarkable failure to control the narrative surrounding the passage of the Mobility Plan.

Virtually every single news story and talk radio program both before and after the plan was passed focused on bike lanes, and the possibility of removing some traffic lanes to make room for them.

Even my own 15-minute interview with a local news station, in which I discussed the nuances of the Mobility Plan and the importance of Vision Zero, was edited down to “Bike lanes are great!”

Which is not what the plan is about.

It’s about improving safety for everyone, with a goal of eliminating traffic fatalities within the city by 2035. Not just for cyclists and pedestrians, but for all those who travel by any means.

It’s about improving traffic flow by creating a true multi-modal transportation network, where people can get from here to there conveniently — and yes, safely — by bus, train, car, bike or feet. Wherever here and there may be. And reducing congestion by allowing those who prefer not to drive to travel by other means, making more room on the streets for those who do.

It’s about increasing the livability of our city by creating more walkable, bikeable neighborhoods where people choose to live and work, and where businesses thrive, while reducing the blight caused by inducing drivers to blow through neighborhoods at excess speeds without stopping. Or even noticing what’s on the other side of the curb right next them.

It’s not about bike lanes. Or forcing anyone out of their cars.

In other words, what we have here, as the movie says, is a failure to communicate.

One that starts at the top, with a mayor who was missing in action when the plan was being debated in the city council. And missed his opportunity, not only to support the plan in the face of opposition from some councilmembers, but to properly position it in the minds of the public after it was passed.

Maybe we can discuss that with him on Monday.

And extending down through LADOT, whose spokesperson could only defend it meekly as “aspirational,” suggesting that much of it would never be built in the face of community opposition, rather than explaining why it needs to be.

In fact, the best explanation of the Mobility Plan came from the LACBC’s Tamika Butler, as KPCC’s Larry Mantle kept trying to switch the conversation back to bike lanes.

The new Mobility Plan is a sweeping roadmap to a far better City of Angels to come.

But one that is doomed to failure if the city leaves it to people like us to explain.

………

Better Bike offers their own response to Feldman’s OpEd, asking why would you double down on yesterday’s failed planning paradigm.

And the LACBC sends word the Highland Park Neighborhood Council will consider a motion to support the Mobility Plan as is at tonight’s meeting, opposing efforts by a handful of councilmembers to gut the plan.

Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council

Regular Meeting and Agenda

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Highland Park Senior Center 6152 N. Figueroa St.

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Item #16 (15 mins): Motion to file a community impact statement (CF #15-0719) in support of “Mobility 2035” as proposed, and opposing all amendments to the plan as proposed by Councilmember Cedillo, Councilmember Koretz, and Councilmember Price. – H. Slater.

**The item will be discussed in the second half of the meeting.**

………

Sad news today, as Deb Hubsmith, founder of Safe Routes to Schools, passed away from acute myeloid leukemia.

………

Two days into the USA Pro Challenge, the BMC team has taken control behind stage 2 winner Brent Bookwalter and Rohan Dennis.*

It took an act of Congress to allow the second stage of the Pro Challenge to finish on Forrest Service land. A Denver TV station looks at the nine — or maybe eleven — types of cycling fans you’ll see at the Pro Challenge.

And this year’s race includes the first Israeli team to race in the US.

*Yes, stage 3 is already in the books, but the news stories seem to be running a day behind this year.

………

Local

A lawyer in the San Fernando Valley discusses the need for children to wear bike helmets. But neglects to mention they’re required for anyone under 18.

The Santa Monica police department is cracking down on violations that affect bike and pedestrian safety today and Saturday. Enforcement is targeted at any traffic violations, regardless of mode of travel, so stick to the letter of the law if you ride through the city.

South Pas rejects bike safety in favor of parking.

Richard Risemberg discovers the rumors of a Redondo Beach cycletrack really are true, and finds it much to his liking.

There’s a fundraiser tonight for Great Streets projects in South LA, Boyle Heights and Pacoima.

More free bike safety classes this weekend in West Covina, East Los Angeles, Cudahy, South Los Angeles and DTLA, courtesy of Metro and the LACBC.

Santa Monica is offering free bike repair, as well as fixing other items, this Saturday.

 

State

Pedal Love offers a podcast explaining Vision Zero with Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the Vision Zero Network for North America.

San Diego’s City Beat questions the city’s partnership with Miami-based DecoBike to provide bikeshare service.

BikeSD is planning to Bike to the Border on September 19th.

San Raphael opens a new multi-use pathway connecting downtown with a coming SMART Transit Center. Meanwhile, we can’t even get a bike lane connecting Westwood with the coming Expo Line.

A San Jose letter writer really doesn’t get it, complaining about a new road diet, despite years of reporting collisions on the street. As noted above, road diets aren’t done to install bike lanes; they’re done to slow speeding traffic and improve safety. And bike lanes are just one of the tools used to do that.

A Cottonwood bike rider suffered major injuries in a hit-and-run collision with a motorcyclist. Even in a small NorCal town, motorists don’t seem to feel a need to stick around after a wreck.

 

National

The CDC suggests treating traffic violence like a public health issue, with the cure consisting of slowing drivers and building better bike infrastructure. Sort of like LA’s new Mobility Plan.

A writer for Care2 offers up eight ways to make our cities bike-friendly. Never mind that by making cities more inviting for bike riders, they can also reduce congestion and improve safety for everyone.

A cyclist on a cross-country tour has his bike and gummy bears stolen in Portland.

Life is cheap in Alaska, where a teenage driver gets a whopping one year and 10 days for the hit-and-run death of a cyclist while driving drunk and on drugs.

Three months later, still no arrest in the apparently random shooting of a bicyclist near my Colorado hometown.

A “normal, decent guy” goes for a bike ride in Minnesota. And is surprised to learn bikes aren’t allowed to take the lane on a busy interstate highway.

The Kentucky State Fair is encouraging visitors to ride there instead of driving, but evidently can’t be bothered to provide secure bike parking.

An upstate New York letter writer says killing a cyclist should have consequences. Amend that to killing a human being, regardless of mode of travel, and I’m onboard.

Now that former mayor Michael Bloomberg is gone, New York cyclists are questioning Gotham’s commitment to improving bike safety.

A former Rockette discusses bicycling sans spandex in NYC, and that you don’t have to be a certain type of person to ride a bike.

 

International

Bicycling discusses how bikes are changing lives around the world — and in some cases, saving them.

An Ontario — no, the one further north — cyclist says we’re all just people, so drive like it around bicyclists.

A Quebec cop faces charges in the death of a salmon cyclist last year; the officer was trying to intercept him when he collided with the rider.

London’s black cab drivers are trying to scuttle the city’s plans for an East-West Cycle Superhighway, even though construction has already begun.

Sometimes you just can’t win. A Brit bike rider was clubbed over the head by a road raging driver when he slowed for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Too often drivers blame us when we break the law, then get pissed off when we don’t.

Welsh cyclists petition to save a key bikeway from closure due to budget cuts.

Italian stunt cyclist Vittorio Brumotti was brutally attacked by three men while riding.

An Aussie woman still traumatized by her previous experiences says it’s time to toughen up and join her family on two wheels.

 

Finally…

No matter what kind of gesture a taxi driver makes your way, don’t get off your bike and jump on the hood of his cab. Then again, don’t make a double-handed rude gesture after nearly knocking a cyclist off his bike if you want to keep your bus driving job.

And don’t Silly String a cyclist.

Period.

 

4 comments

  1. I finally listened to the KPCC interview — and you’re right that Tamika Butler was fantastic.

    But wow…Jay Beeber is incredibly ignorant. Such a laughable statement regarding not being able to go to the store on a bike. People like him make me so angry and frustrated…

  2. Michele Chavez says:

    Just a correction. Her name was Deb. Hubsmith. A remarkable woman.

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