Morning Links: A profile in political cowardice on Lankershim Blvd, and biking while your spouse shops

Call it a profile without courage.

The Daily News looks at CD2 Councilmember Paul Krekorian’s last-minute decision to pull the plug on the long-discussed Lankershim Blvd bike lanes in North Hollywood, as he hides under the political fig leaf of claiming more outreach needed to be done.

Because evidently, five years worth of Lankershim meetings, workshops and pop-up bike lanes just isn’t enough. Maybe what he really wants is to keep talking until he’s termed out in 2024, so it can be someone else’s problem.

Meanwhile, CiclaValley questions Krekorian’s leadership on the issue, and sounds pretty damned pissed off about it. And justifiably so.

Krekorian’s rejection of the project may be at least partially related to the defeat of bike advocate Joe Bray-Ali in last month’s CD1 council race, which may have sent a mistaken signal that LA’s politicians have nothing to fear from bike riders.

That’s the wrong lesson to take away from that election, however.

Bray-Ali appeared to be on the verge of an upset victory over incumbent Gil Cedillo when he lost many of his supporters as his comments on a racist website came to light.

It should be seen instead as a sign of what the bicycling community can do when they’re truly motivated, when a sitting councilmember was forced to fight dirty just to hold onto his seat in a city where incumbent members of the city council virtually never lose.

And that’s something Krekorian may want to remember as 2020 approaches.

Krekorian cited fears of lost business along the Lankershim corridor, even though numerous studies have shown that bike lanes are good for business, and creating a more walkable, bikeable corridor could more than make up for the loss of any parking spaces. Which LADOT must have undoubtedly pointed out in discussing the project with him.

And fears of unending traffic jams are usually unfounded, as well, as road diets have been shown to actually improve traffic flow in some cases.

The simple fact is that Krekorian’s decision to keep Lankershim solely dependent on dangerous and unhealthy automotive traffic is far more likely to hinder the success of the district than to benefit it, or the people and businesses in it, in any way.

What it really comes down to is what former New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan discussed in her book Street Fight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution.

…An important observation that I share from my years as commissioner is that when you push the status quo, the status quo pushes back — hard. Six years after we rolled the first barrels into place, closing Broadway to cars, the plazas at Times Square became the new status quo…

The Times Square saga is a reminder that in New York and other cities, changing the streets is a blood sport at all levels. Projects that alter streetscapes upset people who naturally cling to stability, even if that stability is unsafe or inefficient. The flip side is that once change is in place, it becomes the new norm and frames expectations of citizens.

The most important lesson is that safer streets work, and that they can be executed quickly and cheaply… Sustainable streets make sense for safety, traffic, and long-term planning, and they make sense for the economy.

Maybe we should buy him the book.

Or maybe we should all send him copies of Profiles in Courage and Do the Right Thing, because he seems to have missed the point of both.

The real problem, with Krekorian and the rest of LA’s city government, is that they live in constant fear of angering the electorate in their districts — never mind that they probably hold some of the most secure council seats in the country. And so they’re afraid to do anything that might upset anyone, which makes doing nothing seem to be the safer choice.

Which is why the city’s streets are crumbling underneath us, and why they will likely remain dangerous long after our current leaders are gone.

There are exceptions, of course. Mike Bonin in CD11, CD14’s Jose Huizar, and Joe Buscaino in CD15, in particular, have shown genuine leadership and courage in transforming the streets of their districts.

But let’s be honest.

However he chooses to frame it, Krekorian’s decision to pull the plug on Lankershim was less an example of leadership than plain, old fashioned cover-your-ass cowardice.

And the people of Los Angeles deserve better.

If you’re as angry about this as I am, you can let Paul Krekorian know how you feel at an ice cream social today at noon in North Hollywood.

………

Mike Wilkinson forwards this photo captured by his wife Argelia in a Walmart parking lot yesterday.

Photo by Argelia Wilkinson

………

Another young bike racer has been killed on a training ride, as promising junior time trial specialist Joe Guy died when he was struck by a van in the UK.

A European website suggests Giro winner Tom Dumoulin’s bowels may have saved the 100th edition of the race from an epic flop.

The 2019 edition of the Tour de France will honor the legendary Eddy Merckx in the five-time winner’s homeland by departing from Brussels.

………

Local

Unlike NoHo, road diets and bike lanes will be coming to a number of Playa del Rey streets in an attempt to slow traffic, improve safety and reduce cut-through driving. Councilmember Mike Bonin, who represents the area, gets it right, pointing out the need for improvements while overcoming the usual kneejerk NIMBY objections by suggesting that the changes aren’t necessarily permanent.

Barrio.LA takes a field trip to Atwater Village in advance of the Glendale – Atwater Village CicLAvia on the 11th.

 

State

The Orange County Register says the county is the mecca of the ebike craze.

The New York Times looks at Berkeley-based Monkeylectric and nearby Revolights wheel lights, noting the former is nearly required at Burning Man.

Sad news from Yuba County, where a 50 year-old Marysville woman was killed from behind as she rode her bike without lights at 1 am. Seriously, if you’re going to ride at night, put some damn lights on your bike. And carry a spare set with you during the day in case you get caught out after dark.

 

National

Streetsblog says blaming dangerous streets on people wearing black, as the Seattle Times did on Sunday, wins the prize for anti-pedestrian — and anti-bike — idiocy.

Former New Mexico governor and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is training to ride the 2,800-mile Tour Divide.

The father of a killer hit-and-run driver brought gasps to a Colorado courtroom when he blamed the victim for simply riding his bicycle on the street — even though his daughter had a BAC nearly twice the legal limit three hours after the crash, as well as trace amounts of cocaine and THC.

A Tennessee woman who took up ebike riding in her 40s says ride big in every way. Thanks to Karen Karabell for the link.

This is who we share the roads with. After tearing up a ball field by cutting doughnuts on the grass, a Connecticut pickup driver apparently targeted a bike rider, forcing him to dive off his bicycle to avoid getting hit.

Syracuse NY offers a $2.25 million settlement to a bike rider injured when he was struck by an off-duty police officer driving a city police car; the officer played the universal Get Out of Jail Free card, saying he was blinded by glare on his windshield.

It took the NYPD just four days to piece together security camera footage to catch the hit-and-run driver who killed a bicyclist, even though it took them four months to make an arrest in the case.

 

International

The BBC looks at how the privately funded ciclovías in Santiago, Chile are transforming the streets.

A Canadian paper says your epic fundraising bike journey across the Great White North probably won’t actually make any money, and isn’t really a great idea.

In a change from just two years ago, all three major British political parties support bicycling in their manifestos, the equivalent of American political platforms; Brit cycling great Chis Boardman says that represents progress.

A London bike project fixes old bikes to give to refugees, providing around 90 bikes a month to people in need.

An Irish judge rules an ebike rider was highly negligent in riding without lights after dark, denying him any damages from the driver who hit him.

The Telegraph asks if Italy’s Alta Badia is the world’s greatest cycling destination. Actually, the best cycling destination is wherever you happen to be going today.

A new Spanish study shows the amount of bikeways boosts the number of bike riders, while improved safety depends on connecting them into an actual network.

Caught on video: An Aussie bicyclist was lucky to survive when a rope attached to a truck got caught in his spokes, dragging him for 70 feet.

 

Finally…

This is what it looks like when a stray dog steals a GoPro and accidently films a Russian bike ride, along with the inside of its mouth. When you’re named after a bird, you can probably expect to be attacked by one.

And if you miss your brother, just dig him up and take him for a bike ride.

Literally.

 

One comment

  1. Not getting protected bike lanes on Lankershim Blvd is not a great disappointment to me, there are many other streets in LA that could get protected bike lanes instead.Two of them are in Krekorian’s district, Vineland Ave and Clybourn Ave, both of which now have buffered bike lanes. There is also a grant to install protected bike lanes on Chandler Blvd that Krekorian requested and will receive in 2019.

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