Archive for Guest Columns

Another open letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council of Los Angeles #CrashCityHall

There wasn’t time to get all the #CrashCityHall letters online last week.

So we’re going to post the remaining letters over the next few days — starting with this powerful post from registered dietician and endurance cyclist Matt Ruscigno, founder of LA’s iconic Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer hillclimb. 

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Dear Mayor Garcetti and City Council of Los Angeles,

I’m writing to you today as a long-time resident of our wonderful city, a public health expert, and a recent victim of an inattentive automobile driver. That collision left me with 16 broken bones requiring 6 nights in the hospital, a chest tube, and a surgery to install metal plates in my shoulder and collarbone. If I weren’t a skilled cyclist, I would probably be dead.

It’s easy to dismiss this as an ‘accident,’ but the statistics on the number of people injured and killed by automobile drivers in Los Angeles paint a different picture. This is a public health crisis. Yet we know how to fix it:

  • Reduce automobile speed limits
  • Invest in infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians
  • Reimagine public space to focus on people, not automobiles

Los Angeles and California are leading the way in reducing automobile emissions but are falling behind (see London, Bogota, New York, Copenhagen for examples) when it comes to the public health issue of people dying in the streets because automobile speed and convenience is prioritized over human safety.

Los Angeles is a beautiful city with near perfect weather for cycling and walking year round. And we are simply running out of space to store and transport personal automobiles. The benefits of building infrastructure that makes human-powered transportation more accessible are well established:

  • Improved air quality and lower rates of asthma, especially among children
  • Increased physical activity that lowers risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic diseases
  • Fewer automobile collisions that result in injury or death of our most vulnerable road users

The potential to transform our city is awesome, in the true sense of the word, but it won’t be easy. Copenhagen didn’t become a place where 24% of city trips are taken by bike overnight. It took strong leadership and knowledge to re-imagine how city space is used. This isn’t about cyclists versus drivers; it’s about making it easier for more people to walk and bike more often.

The statistics are there: something needs to be done, and soon. We can build on what other cities have done and apply it uniquely in our wonderful city. There are thousands of us here to help, but we need leadership from our elected leaders. There simply isn’t enough space in the city to keep prioritizing automobiles, so the question is, how many more people have to be injured or killed before we start taking concrete steps? I hope we can do this soon as I’d hate to see a single person go through the pain I’ve experienced over the last 5 weeks.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RD

 

Guest Post: The fourth open letter to the Los Angeles City Council #CrashCityHall

Dear Mayor Garcetti and City Council of LA,

In an effort to “be the change you want to see in the world,” I sold my car ten years ago and have since used my own feet, a bicycle, or the transit system to get around.  While the results of this have brought the most rewarding experiences of my life, it has also been a struggle to live without a car in a car’s world.

Drivers are becoming increasingly more distracted, careless, unsympathetic and enraged.  These behaviors cause not only car accidents but the deaths of cyclists and pedestrians, who travel without the protection of metal armor.  Why do drivers feel so entitled to the roads?  Why is this set of traits common in the majority of car owners?  It’s easy to see the answer on the streets – they’re designed specifically for cars.  With lanes designated for driving, turning and parking, there’s often no space left for a bicycle to squeeze through.  And pedestrians must be defensive even when walking through a crosswalk with a walk signal.  Drivers are impatient to share the road when they believe it belongs to them.

Every time you see a cyclist in the streets of LA, please understand the fear we’ve overcome to be there.  Please know that we have been spit at, screamed at, sworn at, had objects thrown at us, been told to “get off the road,”  have had way too many “close calls,” or have lost a fellow cyclist to careless driving or road rage.  And yet we’re still out there.  As pedestrians and cyclists we’ll continue to defend our space on the streets, but we would truly appreciate some help from our representatives.  Please take some steps to create streets that belong to everyone.   A city’s priorities are evident in it’s infrastructure and use of public space.  If you, dear City Council Members, were to add more bike lanes, create some road diets, invest in green spaces instead of parking lots – think of the message you’d send.

Sincerely,

Amanda Gohl

Pico-Union, Los Angeles, CA 90015

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Join us tomorrow as we #CrashCityHall to demand safer streets, and urge city leaders to have the courage to do the right thing. 

  • Los Angeles City Council
  • Los Angeles City Hall
  • 200 N. Spring Street
  • 10 am

Guest Post: The third open letter to the Los Angeles City Council #CrashCityHall

We’re less than two days away from CrashCityHall on Friday to demand safer streets for people on bikes, on foot, and everyone else.

If you’re as mad as I am about the needless risks bike riders and pedestrians face on our streets — and the lack of action from city leaders — I hope you’ll join us as we crash the 10 am city council meeting. And urge the mayor and city council to have courage the courage to do the right thing. 

Since many people can’t be there in person, I’m accepting letters from people who want to have their opinions passed on to the council members at the meeting. 

Here’s the third of those #CrashCityHall letters, from Sean Meredith.

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From: Sean Meredith
Los Angeles, CA 90027

To Mayor Garcetti and all Los Angeles City Council members:

Ten years ago, for a combination of reasons, I began commuting by bicycle. This harrowing and freeing experience changed me even more than fatherhood. I began to open up to the inequities in our transportation system. For myself, I was willing to risk my life riding and being a second class citizen. But when I imagined myself in the shoes of people who had no option to drive a car. I thought that these folk should be able to get to school, work, or wherever they’re going without dying or feeling constantly threatened. I have since dedicated most of my free time to making biking and walking safe for people of all abilities and ages.

Our car culture is dangerous. And the safety deniers who will trample over anyone’s life to keep the status quo of car dominance are a threat to the future of our city and our world.

Ensuring that public spaces truly serve the people is vital to our daily lives and the future of our planet. This requires our society to confront its expensive commitment to modes of transportation that strangle our communities and warm our climate: cars. Making our roads safe for all users immediately improves mental and physical health outcomes for people of all ages, lessens cancer causing pollutants, and reduces carbon emissions. A world class city where walking is pleasurable, biking is viable, and public transportation is reliable will lower automobile dependency and contribute in the Oight against climate change.

In Los Angeles, pedestrians and cyclists are involved in 14% of trafOic collisions but account for 51% of the fatalities. Hundreds of lives are lost every year and hundreds more families are shattered by these tragic outcomes. Livable streets create community, support local businesses, and are a welcoming environment for residents and visitors of all ages and abilities. As transit consultant Jarrett Walker describes it, a modern city does not have the “geometry” to solve car congestion. Our best option is to develop safe, environmentally friendly alternatives.

Families who want safe streets for all are demanding courage and leadership from our city. Now is always the time to act.

Kindly,
Sean Meredith

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There’s still time to submit a letter demanding safer streets for bicyclists, pedestrians and everyone else if you can’t #CrashCityHall in person this Friday.

Just email it today to ted at bikinginla dot com.

I’ll print it out and include it with the packages we’re giving each councilmember and the mayor containing copies of Profiles in Courage and Do The Right Thing.

A couple quick tips:

  • If you can, try to work in the theme of our protest by asking them to have the courage to do the right thing.
  • Mention what council districts you live, work or ride in.
  • Stress that safer streets benefit everyone, whether on bikes, on foot or in cars.
  • Feel free to (politely) express whatever anger or fear you may be feeling
  • Demand they take immediate action to protect us all

And let me know if it’s okay to share your letter on here. I’ll be happy to put it online as a guest post leading up to Friday’s council meeting.

Guest Post: Another open letter to the Los Angeles City Council #CrashCityHall

Recently, I announced my intention to #CrashCityHall this Friday to demand safer streets.

And invited anyone who’s just as mad as I am about the needless risks bike riders and pedestrians face on our streets — and the lack of action from city leaders — to join me. And tell the mayor and city council to show have courage the courage to do the right thing. 

Since many people can’t attend a 10 am city council meeting, I’m accepting letters from people who can’t make it, but still want to have their opinions passed on to the council members at the meeting. 

Here’s the second of those #CrashCityHall letters, from Doug Moore.

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May 18th, 2018

To Mayor Garcetti and all Los Angeles City Council members,

I write you today in an effort to get you to start thinking about how dangerous our car culture has become in Los Angeles. And to urge you, our city leaders, to implement ways to make our streets more safe for all that use them.

In so doing, these changes will bring other qualities such as reduced car noise, nicer public spaces, better air quality and stress free walking, cycling, jogging and dog walking –and yes, driving.

Being a cyclist, I am very aware of how badly our streets and boulevards have suffered because of the amount and speed of traffic.

I live in Tujunga, CD7, Council Member Monica Rodriquez district. Each morning, I bike a short way on Foothill Blvd to board LADOT Express Bus 409 to DTLA.

I de-bus at the Glendale Park & Ride, prep my bike then cycle 13 miles to my office at USC.

I travel through Glendale, to Eagle Rock Blvd/Cypress Ave (Council District 14, Jose Huizar) to the Broadway Bridge into Chinatown (Council district 1, Gil Cedillo) to Hill street, then to Olympic Blvd then Figueroa (Council District 9, Curren Price) and finally to campus. In the afternoon I reverse this trip – with a slightly different route. On Fridays I drive.

I would like to provide the following undisputable facts, that come from years of this type of cycling, this type of intimacy with traffic, this type of exposure to our roadways:

  • Our streets are more dangerous than they have ever been – mostly because of excess speed.
  • Drivers are more distracted than ever before in our city’s history.
  • Motorists are driving while smoking weed. Alot!
  • Many drivers are attentive and share the road. But there is a disturbing trendwhere higher numbers of drivers are doing just the opposite.
  • Painted cycling infrastructure such as “Sharrows”, striped lanes, colored lanes,pedestrian crosswalk demarcation & similar are often seen as ‘optional’ for motorists.We all know about the latest trend of motorist hit-and-run tragedies. These have left other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists severely injured or dead.Here in Tujunga, in April, a DOUBLE FATIL hit and run occurred on Foothill Blvd. The driver, as of this writing, has yet to be apprehended. An innocent couple, engage to be married have perished from our community.

Where has this selfish, narcissistic attitude from drivers come from?

We all know about the speed of traffic on major roads and boulevards is dangerous even at legal limits, but when most drivers are 10, 15, or even 20 mph above and beyond, the danger level is unacceptable.

Where does this need-to-speed attitude come from?

We all know about the horrible traffic congestion in our city and how it continually downgrades the quality of life here. We skip get-togethers. We forgo dinners and kids sports and other social engagements across town – because “the traffic getting to the Westside from Eagle Rock is a nightmare”.

It’s not funny anymore. It’s a serious soul-sucking way of life in our city. Why have we surrendered our social connections and quality of life?

The answer to all these is the same: Our run-away, out-of-control car culture. We’ve reached “peak-car” in our city.

I know that you, leaders of this city, who are smart and insightful and understanding, know this too. You can see it as we all do.

We must start to make changes. I don’t have all the answers, but there are ideas out there that organically reduce traffic speeds. That help separate cars from people walking. Jogging. Cycling. Walking the dog. That make our public roadways safer for everyone who uses them, including motorists.

Widen the sidewalks, not freeways. Add separated bike lanes, not car lanes. Make streets and boulevards pleasant. Green with more trees and shade. More quiet to provide a nice place to shop. To hang-out with neighbors. To read on a bench.

As far as safety, traffic cops at critical intersections help so much! Intersections are where many of the dangers lie for cars vs walkers and bikers. I love seeing these guys when approaching an intersection, whether by car or on bike. Everyone is instantly on best behavior and courteous.

Getting buy-in and approval on these changes is the hard part, of course. Motorists tend to seethe at reduced speeds and “perceived” increase in commute times. Reduced lanes. Less parking. But this is the right direction for Los Angles. The right thing to do in your district.

We’ve tried over and over to increase the car infrastructure thinking that these projects would help. Did widening the 405 Fwy really help? What a huge, expensive, time consuming project.

It’s time to swing the other way on transportation projects. Less “car-centric”, more “people-centric”. Motorists are people too, and they’ll appreciate these changes.

When faced with options in difficult circumstances such as this, an upside is this: it’s always easy to pick out the correct option. It’s the one that tends to be avoided. It’s the one we put at the bottom of the list. It’s the one that’s the hardest.

Why? Because the right thing to do is always the hardest thing to do. That’s a fact of human nature.

I know you are thinking: “Change the car-culture, yeah, right.” But it can be done. In bits and pieces. You will gain converts. It can build momentum and you must try, as lives of our residents are depending on safe passage to work, school and the market.

In the book “Profiles of Courage”, check out the examples of other great leaders, who have acted bravely. Acted with integrity. Gone against the opinions of their constituents to do the right thing.

As a cyclist (yes and a motorist too) I am growing weary of seeing yet more Ghost Bike installations that signify the death of a fellow rider.

As a motorist, I’m continually saddened and outraged to see yet another makeshift memorial of candles, Crosses and flowers where a Mom or Dad or son or daughter or young couple was killed in a crosswalk.

We can do better and am counting on you all to have the courage to do so.

Thank you for your time today. Be brave. Do the right thing. And finally, a reminder that it’s Bike Month. Get out and ride. You’ll be glad you did.

Sincerely,

Doug Moore, cyclist, motorist, pedestrian, resident

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If you can’t #CrashCityHall on Friday, email a letter demanding safer streets for bicyclists, pedestrians and everyone else to ted at bikinginla dot com by this Wednesday.

I’ll print them out and include them with the packages we’re giving each councilmember and the mayor containing copies of Profiles in Courage and Do The Right Thing.

A couple quick tips:

  • If you can, try to work in the theme of our protest by asking them to have the courage to do the right thing.
  • Mention what council districts you live, work or ride in.
  • Stress that safer streets benefit everyone, whether on bikes, on foot or in cars.
  • Feel free to (politely) express whatever anger or fear you may be feeling
  • Demand they take immediate action to protect us all

And let me know if it’s okay to share your letter on here. I’ll be happy to put it online as a guest post leading up to Friday’s council meeting.

Guest Post: An open letter to the Los Angeles City Council #CrashCityHall

I’m fed up. And apparently, I’m not the only one. 

Recently, I announced that I intend to #CrashCityHall next Friday to demand safer streets.

And invited anyone who’s just as mad as I am about the needless risks bike riders and pedestrians face on our streets — and the lack of action from city leaders — to join me. And tell the mayor and city council to show have courage the courage to do the right thing. 

Since many people can’t attend a 10 am city council meeting, I’m accepting letters from people who can’t make it, but still want to have their opinions passed on to the council members at the meeting. 

Here’s the first of those #CrashCityHall letters, from Raquel Jorge. 

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To the City Council of Los Angeles and To whom it may concern:

My name is Raquel, I’m 44 years old and have been using a bike as a mean of transportation for the past 30 years. I have cycled in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, and had the opportunity to learn about urban transportation from Mumbai to Copenhagen, from Hanoi to Marrakesh, from New York to Sao Paulo.

While on the road I have faced harassment, had 3 bikes stolen, saw my life flashing in front of me more times than I could count and lost a few friends to traffic animosity.

But I’m not writing to talk about me. We are at a point where we must understand the importance of empathy. We need to be able to look beyond our little own problems and needs and see the bigger picture. It is no longer a question of what I think or you think. It is a question of what we know, with plenty of data to corroborate this knowledge.

Gridlocks and excess of cars in urban areas aren’t a local issue, but one that every big city in the world is facing. The problem goes behyond safety; it encompasses environmental destruction, increased air pollution, the use of limited natural resources, and health damage to all.

I understand that being able to commute by bike is not everyone’s reality. There are many people who simply cannot do it due to health limitations, distances, nature of work and so on. The way you choose to commute is entirely up to you and it is your right to go wherever you want safely. But it is also mine and that of those who choose to walk, to skate, to rollerblade, to scooter. Understand that owning a car does not give one ownership of the streets. They are there for everyone.

I’m not asking anyone to leave their car at home and ride a bike to work. All I’m asking is to be able to bike without having my life in constant threat. Your right to drive your car on the street is the same as mine to ride my bike.

Changing paradigms is always a hard and long process. Cities like Amsterdam have suffered the same obstacles before it became an example. If we want a better future we need to get out of our comfort zone and start thinking that what benefits the collective will, eventually, benefit the individual.

I’m an experienced rider and I can ride on the streets, no problem. But new riders may not. New riders as well as kids and the elderly won’t consider biking possibility due to fear. That is why a safer infrastructure is vital to ensure a better life in the urban areas. Not today, not tomorrow, but for the next generation. Because let’s face it — if it carries on as it is, it will be unbearable to live in LA and other cities in the very near future.

What world would you like to leave for your kids?

The whole world is desperately searching for solutions, such as investing in public transportation and safer streets for everyone.  Paris, London and New York are great examples of that.  So I find hard to believe that there are people who are against projects such as Vision Zero. Can’t they see beyond themselves?  Go ahead and read about it. See what is happening around the World (or do they really believe that Global Warming is a Chinese invention?). Safer streets are proven to improve the quality of life of communities…Local shops will benefit from more people on the roads…Parking will be less of a problem. Not to mention cyclists are, in general, happier than those stuck in traffic…So let’s keep them alive, shall we?

As far as traffic codes go, there is one that is paramount: “The bigger is responsible for the safety of the smaller.”  A truck is responsible for a car’s safety, a car for a cyclist’s, a cyclist’s for a pedestrian’s and a pedestrian’s for the dog’s. It’s as simple as that.

In the meantime, while we are here fighting for a more sensible infrastructure, there is something that we can start practicing right now — mutual respect. I respect your right to drive your car. Please respect mine to ride my bike. And we should all be able to get home to our families in one piece.

Sincerely,

Raquel Jorge

………

If you can’t #CrashCityHall on Friday, email a letter demanding safer streets for bicyclists, pedestrians and everyone else to ted at bikinginla dot com by this Wednesday.

I’ll print them out and include them with the packages we’re giving each councilmember and the mayor containing copies of Profiles in Courage and Do The Right Thing.

A couple quick tips:

  • If you can, try to work in the theme of our protest by asking them to have the courage to do the right thing.
  • Mention what council districts you live, work or ride in.
  • Stress that safer streets benefit everyone, whether on bikes, on foot or in cars.
  • Feel free to (politely) express whatever anger or fear you may be feeling
  • Demand they take immediate action to protect us all

And let me know if it’s okay to share your letter on here. I’ll be happy to put it online as a guest post leading up to Friday’s council meeting.

Guest Posts: An attack on children and mountain biking, and LACBC response to last week’s FedEx bike death

Sorry to disappear on you this week. 

My St. Patrick’s Day was interrupted by a sudden sharp pain, a panicked trip to the emergency room, and an unplanned stay at Cedars-Sinai.

Where their firewall somehow prevented me from logging into this site. Not that I was capable of doing much in my morphine-induced haze, anyway.

Now I’m finally back home, a handful of kidney stones, a few pounds and a couple thousand bucks lighter.

I’m still trying to shake the last of that drug fog and make up for some lost sleep, so let’s skip the Morning Links one more day, and catch up on a couple of recent guest posts.

First up is a one from Mike Vandeman arguing against allowing kids to take up mountain biking. While it’s not something I agree with in any way, I’ll let him make his case. As he said in an email to me, you can’t argue with facts. We’ll let you decide just what those facts are.

Next, I had planned to share the LACBC’s press release on the tragic death of Elisa Gomez in Monday’s post, so we’ll finish with that today. As you’ll recall, Gomez was killed by a FedEx driver who pulled out from a stop sign while she was directly in front of his truck, then run over after he failed to stop, and fled the scene. A suspect was taken into custody, but no word on an arrest.

Then barring any unexpected setbacks, we’ll be back with our regularly scheduled Morning Links tomorrow.

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Children and Mountain Biking

by Mike Vandeman, [email protected]

Introducing children to mountain biking is CRIMINAL. Mountain biking,
besides being expensive and very environmentally destructive, is
extremely dangerous. Recently a 12-year-old girl DIED during her very
first mountain biking lesson! Another became quadriplegic at 13!
Serious accidents and even deaths are commonplace. Truth be told,
mountain bikers want to introduce kids to mountain biking because (1)
they want more people to help them lobby to open our precious natural
areas to mountain biking and (2) children are too naive to understand
and object to this activity. For 600+ examples of serious accidents
and deaths caused by mountain biking, see
http://mjvande.info/mtb_dangerous.htm.

Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are
inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to
mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996:
http://mjvande.info/mtb10.htm. It’s dishonest of mountain bikers to
say that they don’t have access to trails closed to bikes. They have
EXACTLY the same access as everyone else — ON FOOT! Why isn’t that
good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking….

A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more
harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and
that science supports that view. Of course, it’s not true. To settle
the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited,
and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see
http://mjvande.info/scb7.htm). I found that of the seven studies
they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every
case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to
the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided
mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not
favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

Those were all experimental studies. Two other studies (by White et
al and by Jeff Marion) used a survey design, which is inherently
incapable of answering that question (comparing hiking with mountain
biking). I only mention them because mountain bikers often cite them,
but scientifically, they are worthless.

Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills
small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife
and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches
kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it’s NOT!). What’s
good about THAT?

For more information: http://mjvande.info/mtbfaq.htm.

Note: It’s the policy of this site not to post personal contact information; however, Mike Vandeman’s email address has been included at his request.

………

LACBC CALLS ON OFFICIALS TO ACT FOR SAFER STREETS: 54-YEAR-OLD WOMAN ON BICYCLE KILLED IN HIT-AND-RUN CRASH

LOS ANGELES – Yesterday morning, Elisa Gomez was hit by a delivery truck southeast of downtown Los Angeles, and left to die in the middle of the street. The 54-year-old bicyclist was riding Eastbound on Washington Avenue at around 8:30 in the morning and was struck from behind by a FedEx delivery truck, which then sped away. This tragedy is indicative of the grim realities faced by bicyclists and pedestrians on our county’s streets.

Los Angeles County is known as the “hit-and-run capital of the nation” with 50% of all traffic crashes categorized as “hit-and-run.” The national average is 11%. In 2015, over 28,000 hit-and-run crashes were reported across the county. That averages out to one hit-and-run crash every 18 minutes in Los Angeles County, a number that glaringly shows the risks faced by those walking or biking in our county.

Making streets safer for all road users has to be a priority for the City of Los Angeles,” stated LACBC Executive Director Erik Jansen. “Simple steps can be taken to calm traffic and make drivers more aware of vulnerable road users, like people walking and biking. We know how it do it — other cities have shown immense progress building infrastructure to decrease speeds, make turns safer, and build a city at a human scale. Angelenos deserve safe streets and they deserve elected officials willing to show real leadership to make it happen.

Elisa was killed a block away from the Washington Blue Line Metro station southeast of Downtown Los Angeles. In 2017, LACBC partnered with other community organizations and Metro to conduct community engagement along the Blue Line to assess the safety and access needs for people walking and biking to stations. LACBC chose to focus on Washington Station, an area surrounded by the High Injury Network, to work to prevent tragedies such as these. Currently, Metro is using the data collected through this process to apply for funding to make infrastructure improvements identified by the community.

The widely-accepted belief that people dying on our streets is inevitable is a false one. These tragedies are wholly preventable, and that’s why we call them “crashes” and not “accidents.” LACBC calls upon our city and elected officials to be leaders for safe streets and commit to adequately funding and implementing initiatives like Vision Zero. Without their leadership, Elisa Gomez will not be the last bicyclist who will be killed on Los Angeles streets.

I reached out to Jansen for further comment, and received the following response.

Elisa Gomez didn’t have to die. While the driver is ultimately responsible for running her down and leaving her to die on the pavement, her death could have been prevented by ensuring Angelenos have access to safe streets. We know how to make streets safe, and Elisa Gomez deserved elected officials willing to show real leadership to end traffic fatalities in Los Angeles. We need action, and not just another plan sitting on a shelf.

It’s good to see the LACBC take an active lead in fighting for safer streets. Because if there’s any good that can come from this senseless tragedy, it will be keeping it from happening to someone else.

Guest Post: Open letter opposing Englander motion to halt dockless bikeshare and CSUN LimeBike system

Recently, Mike Kaiser reached out to me to oppose Councilmember Mitch Englander’s motion that would temporarily halt any further expansion of dockless bikeshare in Los Angeles.

And could jeopardize the new LimeBike system at Cal State Northridge.

The president and co-founder of the nonprofit group Bikecar 101, and a board member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, his comments were insightful enough that I asked him to write a guest post on the subject.

And as someone who works at CSUN, he offers a unique perspective we haven’t heard yet.

………

Re: Councilmember Mitch Englander’s Motion on LimeBike Bikshare in Northridge

Hello Everyone,

I am writing you today to discuss the addition of a new transportation mode in the Valley – around the campus of California State University at Northridge.  The program is a dockless bikeshare program offered by the company ‘LimeBike’ and has been a huge success. Obviously there are ‘growing pains’ with any new addition to a community.  Which is why we need your support – as the community to voice your support of a health promoting (stress reducing), traffic congestion reducing, and economy increasing program. Call Councilmember Mitch Englander or email and express your support for the program or sign a petition initiated by CSUN students, which can be found here.

That is my pitch, now let me back my pitch up with statistics and testimonials to show data contrary to the information produced in a motion by the councilmember for an emergency moritorium on bikeshare in the Northridge area.  First and foremost, I must state a disclaimer. I write to you as a RESIDENT of Northridge. I am also an employee at the university – CSUN – but not writing on behalf of the institution. I am a board member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council – but am not writing on their behalf either.  Last but not least, I am the president of Bikecar101 – a non-profit organization with a mission to educate and advocate for greater bicycle use on trains (Metrolink, Metro light rail, and Amtrak) in Southern California. Now that I have covered all of my basis for disclaimers, let me show statistics for the newly emerging and exciting LimeBike dockless bikeshare program.

In the following paragraphs, I would like to briefly state the benefits and a few testimonials regarding the new LimeBike program from my perspective.  As you will see, the statistics are showing positive momentum for active transportation. Incorporating a dockless bikeshare program into a community provides another mode of transportation which enhances the well-being of the community through health and economic gain.

 

LimeBike Statistics and Benefits

With the addition of 400 dockless LimeBikes delivered to the CSUN campus, the program has been a HUGE success among students and surrounding participates in the region.  Here are a few numbers from the use of students already:

  1. 7,000 subscriptions have already been completed.  This subscription makes future use easy by storing the user’s e-mail and credit card information.
  2. In just three and half weeks in use, the riders have travelled by bicycle (LimeBike dockless bikeshare) a total of 13,000 miles – Wow!
  3. LimeBike doubled their workforce to implement ‘sweeps’ at 7am and 7pm – which consists of driving around each day and collecting unused (or abandoned) bicycles while returning them to areas of greatest use (high demand).
  4. Students feel safer while riding a bicycle back to their house/apartment at night.
  5. As of last week, a total of 40,000 rides have been taken on LimeBikes in the Valley.

Now that I have stated the facts, let’s put them into perspective.  First and foremost is student safety. Students have shown up to Northridge East Neighborhood Council recently (a week ago) and gave statements about the positive attributes of LimeBike use — specifically personal safety at night.  Riding a bicycle back home provides a greater sense of safety. Are we as residents of the Valley going to revoke this new emerging (and growing) program? Student safety is on the backs of LimeBike’s opponents.

Next, the numbers of subscriptions and rides are impressive and exceed LimeBike’s expectations.  With 7,000 subscriptions, LimeBike users have traveled a total of 13,000 miles through 40,000 rides – Wow!  To put that number into perspective – 13,000 miles – the total distance traveled by LimeBikes in less than a month, a person could travel a total of 2 round trips from Northridge to New York City.  Another way to visualize 13,000 miles is to use ‘round trips to San Francisco’ as a metric. A person could travel a total of 17 round trips. Yes you read correctly, this means that LimeBike riders have traveled a total of 2 round trips from Northridge to New York City and back or 17 round trips from Northridge to San Francisco and back.  That is amazing in just under a month.

Last but not least, the rides taken on LimeBikes have reduced overall traffic congestion in the Northridge area.  LimeBikes are being used to access the Metrolink Train Station and the Metro Orange Line. This means that LimeBike is solving the ‘first and last mile’ to other transit modes.  This contributes to the growing momentum toward active transportation playing a greater role in the transportation solution in the future. Remember, these students will be the new professionals of tomorrow.  Their decisions around CSUN can positively impact future sustainable transportation decisions. Their experiences will influence their future ‘votes’!! With that in mind, local politicians should be jumping on board to promote diversified transportation options.  Lead rather than resist change. Change will be on the horizon regardless when these young professionals vote in politicians that suit their needs – promote health by reducing stress and traffic congestion.

bikeshare

LimeBikes staged for initial distribution at CSUN. Photo by Steve Spence.

 

Testimonials

The first testimonial is from myself as a resident living across Reseda Blvd from CSUN.  As a resident, one of the first observations I noticed upon launching the LimeBike program, was dockless bikes left in the path of travel on sidewalks.  This was an initial concern. I first noticed this at the bus stop near Reseda and Superior. As I was walking to school, I noticed a LimeBike in the middle of the sidewalk.  I decided to move the bicycle closer to the curb. Yes, as a resident, you too can help solve a problem. I wondered at that moment — when would that bicycle would be used next.  To my surprise, no sooner than I could push the traffic signal ‘walk button,’ did a passenger get off of the Metro Bus and stare at the LimeBike I had just moved. I walked up and tried to assist him in unlocking a bicycle.  He had already begun the process. The only question that I was able to ask in the brief time was: “Are you headed toward CSUN campus?” To which he responded, “No, I am headed a different way.” I walked off to work and stored this memorable memory about the newly launched program to share at a later date in time – the time has come.

The second testimonial which I would like to share is that of CSUN students showing up to the Northridge East Neighborhood Council last week to speak about the emerging LimeBike program.  All were enthusiastic about the release of 400 bicycles around campus. Each were impressed at the time saved while riding coupled to the obvious health benefits (lowers stress level). Additionally, each was especially thankful for the safety aspect that riding a LimeBike home after class.  I was unaware of this aspect provided by LimeBike. On the way home from the meeting, I asked my wife if she agreed with the testimonials given by the students. She did indeed agree that having the ability to escape via bicycle would give her a greater sense of safety. At the very least, she stated, she could envision ‘throwing’ the bicycle at an attacker to provide a ‘barrier’ between herself and them.  This is a strong aspect/benefit of a LimeBike which should not be discounted by opponents.

 

Community Concerns

Last but not least, I would like to share the overall feeling of a Northridge Vision meeting which I attended at Councilmember Mitch Englander’s office regarding the LimeBike program unveiling.  At the time, the program had been deployed just three weeks and was skyrocketing with success (and still is). The meeting was with various stakeholders (including neighborhood council presidents, and Northridge Beautification headed by Don Larson).  In light of resident’s concerns and the unexpected initial challenges with dockless bikeshare, LimeBike and CSUN representatives discussed potential solutions to bicycles being left on private property and blocking sidewalks. I should make clear that Councilmember Mitch Englander was not present at the meeting.

The LimeBike personnel introduced their product and gave statistics across the nation comparing the way CSUN embraced the dockless bikeshare program with other college towns.  LimeBike personnel answered all our questions. After LimeBike personnel introduced their product, Ken Rosenthal from CSUN gave introductions to other CSUN employees who are instrumental to outreach relations with the community: Austin Erickson, Francesca Vega, and Rafael DeLa Rosa.  CSUN employees were very vocal in their willingness to collect feedback and work with LimeBike to optimize the program.

Of greatest concern were bicycles blocking sidewalks and being abandoned.  Each bicycle is equipped with a GPS unit, therefore unused bicycles are flagged automatically.  Keep in mind, that LimeBike makes two rounds per day to collect these bicycles – one at 7 am and one at 7 pm.  LimeBike made clear to the audience that anyone can call 1-888-LIME-345 (1-888-546-3345) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and a crew will immediately come and collect a misplaced bike.  This phone number is displayed on each bicycle. Additionally, users who abandon bicycles in inappropriate locations can be identified. LimeBike is willing to contact the last user and impose a financial penalty.

The greatest discomfort with the new dockless bikeshare program is embedded in the ‘dockless’ aspect.  Ironically, the greatest discomfort contributes to the success of the program – ride a bicycle to your destination and lock the bicycle up without any further responsibility.  This locked bike is available for another prospective rider. Which means that a person who is looking for a bikeshare bicycle can look on their ‘app’ on their cell phone, instead of traveling to the nearest ‘hub’ where bicycles must be returned to.  The dockless nature of the bikeshare program contributes to the greater freedom of destination. LimeBike suggested that a geographical constraint is an option for the program, called geofencing, but in our view this would be a mistake.

When using Tower Bridge Bike Share in Sacramento over this past winter break, we experienced uncertainty and anxiety associated with riding along the American River.  Although the trail was wonderful and offered miles of protected riding, we realized that we had ventured outside the intended geofence of the program. We were unable to lock the bikes for fear of a $100 penalty and ended up calling the customer service to confirm the exact procedure that would avoid the fine.  The conclusion is that geofencing causes unnecessary fines and diminishes the utility of the bicycles for their intended purpose of enhancing mobility at a low price point ($0.50 per 30 minutes for those with csun.edu email addresses, or $1 per 30 minutes for non-CSUN users).

I left the meeting thinking that these LimeBikes have definitely shown to be a mode of transportation which has benefited the community health and economy.  Of course, any new program has a certain amount of ‘growing pains’ associated with the implementation. This takes time. Which brings me to the last point. Councilmember Mitch Englander has not given the community enough time for the LimeBike program to grow into a beneficial program.

 

Councilmember Englander Aims to Shut Bikeshare Program Down

Recently, Councilmember Mitch Englander proposed a ‘Motion’ to impose an emergency moratorium on LimeBike to stop the program within the community of Northridge.  The councilmember further moves that the city council together with LADOT to write guidelines for substantial permitting process with penalties and revocation of permits if dockless bikeshare companies do not adhere to their guidelines.  The motion is shortsighted in my mind and is extremely premature, given that these regulations are yet to be written and have no timeline for completion — which could drag on indefinitely. Yet the LimeBike program will be immediately halted if Englender is allowed to move forward with this agenda.

The meeting at Councilmember Englander’s office was adjourned with steps which would be taken if LimeBike (and CSUN) could not correct or address neighborhood complaints with the initial implementation of the dockless bikeshare program.  Remember, Councilmember Englander was not present at that meeting. No indication of resident’s complaints were discussed at the Northridge Vision Meeting on Wednesday, February 14th. Only one resident spoke at the Northridge East Neighborhood council meeting on Wednesday, February 21st and he was upset about students running over cats with their cars (not a LimeBike issue specifically).  One resident asked how the LimeBikes would be monitored with respect to theft, which is not an issue since each bicycle is GPS-enabled.

Two days after that meeting, on Friday, February 23rd Councilmember Englander released his ‘motion’ to regulate transportation sharing programs, including bikes, electric scooters and cars.  Englander’s motion contains extreme measures which were not discussed at the meeting at his office. Councilmember Englander’s motion did not consider that the community would need time to naturally adjust to the infusion of LimeBikes.  Implementation of any new program is going to cause a shift in the limited space available for all road, parking lot and sidewalk users.

Already, in the two weeks since the councilman’s motion was filed, there have been fewer issues with abandoned bicycles and bikes blocking sidewalks.  Although it is unclear what factors have been responsible for this change in LimeBike user behavior, we celebrate that LimeBike users have grown more considerate with practice.  Admittedly, the month of January offered all users 10 free rides. With a decrease in incentives, there may be fewer casual users and more regular users who appreciate the freedom of the LimeBike program and exercise it responsibly.

Councilmember Mitch Englander is rushing to shut down the program at CSUN.  What this shows is that Councilmember Englander is not for active transportation.  Furthermore, Councilmember Englander does not support bicycles as a mode of transportation.  Although, I have heard him brag in the past about having the “highest density of bike lanes in his district.”  These two ideas are at odds with one another. I am disappointed in Councilmember Englander’s position. His motion shows that he is not a ‘forward thinker’ as he claims to be on a frequent basis.  He is stuck in a car culture mindset which is sad – since the rest of the world are starting to wake up and incorporate other modes of transportation into their respective communities.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, we live in a democracy.  As a result, politicians such as Councilmember Englander are elected individuals.  Unfortunately, Councilmember Englander has decided to listen to a ‘few residents’ stuck in the car culture mindset and propose a motion to shut down the LimeBike dockless bikeshare system.  Since we live in a democracy, this affords us the opportunity to express our views through our votes. Furthermore, in between elections, we can express our views via avenues: social media, e-mail, phone calls, and letter mail.  I would ask each member of the region to reach out to Councilmember Mitch Englander’s office and express your concern about shutting down a great addition to the community.  Tell his staff or him (more importantly) that you support LimeBike dockless bikeshare program – Do Not Shut Down the LimeBike Bikeshare program!!!

Remember the safety aspect of the program aside from the economic gain for the community.  Let’s make our region a better place to travel within. Last but not least, CSUN is holding a petition which you can sign if you choose not to contact him yourself – click here.  Below is the contact information for Councilmember Mitch Englander:

Phone: (818) 882-1212

E-mail: [email protected]

Address: 9207 Oakdale Ave., Suite 200, Chatsworth, CA 91311

Thank you for you help.

Sincerely,

Mike

Guest Post: CD1’s Gil Cedillo blocks Vision Zero complete street project on Temple Street

We’ve talked a lot on here about North Figueroa. And how CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo singlehandedly blocked a shovel-ready complete streets project designed to tame the deadly street.

Less discussed is how committed Cedillo has been about blocking any similar projects in his district. Including a long-planned lane reduction on Temple Street that crosses council district boundaries.

Derrick Paul writes today to explain what’s going on with Temple.

Or not, in this case

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I recently discovered a proposal to improve street safety near my neighborhood has been quietly canceled. LADOT proposed a group of projects around the middle of 2017 in support of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, which is a commitment to stop tolerating traffic-related injuries and fatalities on city streets.

One of the streets included — Temple Street — is directly adjacent to my neighborhood. The street carves through numerous street-facing residences and intersects several commercial corridors, connecting residents with businesses and public facilities (schools, parks, a library). However, like many streets in Los Angeles, this very localized thru-fare is also very large, and accommodates little else besides passing automobile traffic.

Crossing the street is a daring negotiation, and attempting to use a bicycle along it is hostile and outright dangerous, pushing any reasonable person to the sidewalk. The Vision Zero project called for numerous infrastructure changes to improve safety for all users of the street, but it’s implementation, set for completion last month, never materialized.

I learned that our district councilman stopped LADOT from moving forward. This is very surprising, as there had been no meetings with my neighborhood, no general outreach to constituents of the community. The project had been shelved with no public explanation.

Seeking further information from Council District 1, which is represented by Gil Cedillo, I reached out through one of his social media channels. I asked why his office doesn’t support mobility safety in our community. A response eventually came, but in the form of another question. “I support vehicle and pedestrian safety in our district. What makes you think otherwise?” he or someone associated claimed. After pointing to his contradicting decisions and pressing for further details, the chat went silent  His form of outreach and accessibility turned out to be lip service, a façade of transparency. So I dug a little further and found this ground had been covered before.

In 2014, residents in Highland Park ran into a similar obstacle. After years of outreach and effort, advocates found their push for better street conditions unilaterally halted by Gil Cedillo. Initially promising constituents he would support their process, which had preceded him under councilmember Ed Reyes (who termed out in 2013), Gil Cedillo changed his mind once winning his election and denied LADOT the authority to implement the project.

Pushes to convince Cedillo to move forward with the project, as he promised, yielded divisive, charade meetings, little reasonable conversation or explanation, and little actual engagement. Pressure from advocates eventually ended with a letter from Cedillo, declaring his decision to indefinitely halt the project and expressing a list of alternatives, which strangely excluded the bicycle lane that formed the centerpiece of the project advocates long pushed for. Nearly four years later, most of Cedillo’s alternatives never materialized.

During this inaction, several people died or suffered severe injuries from traffic collisions along Figueroa Street. The history I reference is well documented in the archives of a blog maintained during the time.

From 2013 to 2017, 23 people suffered severe injuries along the dangerous stretch of Temple Street near me, 5 of them fatal. Under a backdrop of this much carnage, our street has a lot of room for improvement, and our city’s department of transportation recognizes this and has done the hard work of designing, proposing, and funding a project to do so. Yet my city councilman mysteriously wants to keep it from moving forward. It’s really baffling. Is it out of spite? What stake does he have in keeping the street dangerous? None of this is clear. I could understand if Cedillo had made this decision out of a genuine concern of the community, but his decision is unilateral.

Our councilman should be supportive, not disconnecting from his constituents and making these very important decisions on his own. Is it not us who he is representing and responsive to?

The lack of engagement is reflected in our district webpage, where a photo of a smiling Gilbert Cedillo is surrounded by a ghostly shell of text, devoid of many community updates. Our councilmen and councilwomen practically have the power of kings in their jurisdiction, and unfortunately we have to pray they are virtuous enough to empower us. There are engaged constituents in District 1 interested in working to solve problems in our community. Momentum to reconfigure our most dangerous streets to a safer layout, as Vision Zero proposes, is an easy one, and Cedillo should support it. The alternative is dangerous streets that continue to fail us.

Fortunately all is not lost. Temple Street crosses through two districts — District 1 and 13. District 13, overseen by Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, plans to support the project.

Photos of Temple Street by Derrick Paul

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Here’s the contact page for Cedillo’s office , as well as Mitch O’Farrel’s, if you want to let them know what you think. 

One of them might actually listen to you.

 

My Ride: Bicycling the friendlier streets of Munich, Germany

Unfortunately, there won’t be any Morning Links today; dealing health issues — my wife’s and my own — kept me from being able to work yesterday. I’ll try to make up for it with a special Weekend Links tomorrow.

Instead, we’re reviving the Describe Your Ride feature, now retitled simply My Ride, with a special guest post and videos from Ralph Durham, a longtime friend of this site who moved from the Bay Area to Munich, Germany. And found the riding experience much different from the US.

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Well, hallo from München (Munich). Yes the home of Oktoberfest.

I’ve been following Ted’s blog for several years and always find it enlightening. I said I would send him some pictures and video if he wanted them or had space to put them up.

I’ve been living in München for 2 years now. My wife took a position here and was nice enough to allow me to join her. She just wants ‘ein Hausmann’. I am getting around the town more and more. Getting to play tour guide to guests and the like. We are on the Warm Showers list so have met some very interesting cyclists.

I’m now retired so this will not be my commute ride. Back in the SF Bay area I commuted almost daily the 12 miles into work. I’m no stranger to busy streets and highspeed roads. I must say that the cycling facilities are much better than I’m used to having. It’s not Holland where my wife and I rode around for 10 days a while ago. This is a slightly modified version of the route I took last year to my German classes.

The video(s) linked are from my house to the center of town. Comes in at about 8 Km. One video is 36 minutes long and is the whole thing. I have also cut it up into 3 sections. Just in case you don’t have over half an hour to take from your day at one time. I intend to put up on Youtube the other variations of the route. This route is a bit longer and slower than the fast way. The fastest way for me involves staying on the major streets (with separated bike provision) more than other options. The traffic here doesn’t bother me.

Cycling in München and around is quite easy if you know your way…. Very little is on any kind of grid. The interior, inner ring, is old and there isn’t much in the way of direct provision. The speed limit where there is no provision shown is normally 30 KPH (18 mph). I’m currently getting my driver’s license. The book is thick. The tests expensive. If you fail you pay again. They really pound road safety into you. Residential sections are 30. Very limited signs as to right of way. The rule is car on the right has priority. No signs, car on the right has priority. That goes for cyclists also. If I have the priority position the driver must give way. And they do. Which I found very disconcerting. And they found very annoying when I tried to give the right of way.

Traffic signals. There is essentially no right turn on red. The lights are on the near side of the intersection. If you pull up into the crosswalk and bike lane you won’t see the light. There is no benefit to do so because you can’t turn right anyway. Drivers turning right are expected to go part way around the corner so that trailing drivers can pass and then they can see down the bike path/sidewalk for oncoming traffic. Did this scare me to death a few times? Yes. I’m better at it now but still check to see that they will stop for my priority. If streets are single lane one way normally a cyclist can ride contra flow. This is indicated with a sign just under the don’t enter sign.

Please excuse the audio and video. I’m still dealing with my learning flat line (a curve implies improvement).

Full version:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

This video starts from the entrance path to our apartment. Right away you will see that my street has 2 vehicle lanes, parking, trees and or parking, the bike way, and a sidewalk. Both sides of the road. This in Grosshadern and this planned community of high-rises was built up 1970 and on. Underneath is the subway line U6. U6 runs right into the center of town and up past Alliance Arena, home of Bayern München. When I cross the main street further along there are entrances to the U6. One on each corner plus a lift. Two of the entrances have escalators which can go both directions depending on who gets there first. After the intersection the road necks down because the area is older. We pass another U station then a main junction under construction. This used to be the outer ring road but just after we arrived they opened a 4 Km tunnel, 400 million euro. This must have been fun to install when you had to keep the U6 running while you put in a 6 car/truck lane freeway tunnel. They are changing the top to become more of a boulevard. Then we head on to Partnachplatz another U station.

Here I diverge from the U route. A right left at the station will allow you to follow the U and is more riding beside a busy street. So instead I sweep to the left. I will then turn right at the eastern entrance of Westpark. I missed the turn by one short block in the video but that means I also missed a few hundred meters of cobble stones….. We then go back onto the route that has a bike ped tunnel under the S-bahn. This is the suburban train. This system runs though München but goes further out.

Turn left at the Kirche and follow the route until we join the road I normally take for speed. Through the little park, along another road and then duck under a slow intersection into the space where Oktoberfest is held. Theresienwiese, 4.5 million square feet largely used for the 16 day party. On the left side is the Statue Bavaria. Bronze 60 ft high and you can climb up into her head. Not for hot sunny days… We go along the tree lined side of the park and then turn into the older wealthy central area of town. Past the construction at the hospital and we meet up with Lindwurmstrasse. This street is the one I would take had I not gone on the more scenic route.

This is just before Sendlingertor. It is one of the original gates to the city. The only other original gate is Isartor. There is a crazy amount of construction going on here. S-tor has 6 U-bahn lines, 5 tram lines (streetcars), and 2 bus lines meet here. They are rebuilding and enlarging parts of the underground station and revamping the water handling system. The U-bahns are under the water table. Of course all lines will be kept running. München is 1.5 million people. Though S-tor the U-bahn runs 1500 trains per day, each train is over 300 ft long.

From S-tor we drop into the city center and then to the Viktuelmarkt. Good place to pick up lunch from a variety of vendors or other eating places. This has a biergarten also so you can kick up your heels and meet all kinds of people from who knows where at eh communal tables. The road through is a pedestrian zone so vehicle traffic is quite limited (and just horrible to drive through) I turn at the end and go under the building which was the Altenrathaus (old) to show you the Neuerathaus (new) (1907) City offices and main square. The Glockenspiel is also there. It plays 3 times a day, plus you can go up into the tower. Then I head back and turn to Isartor. If you continue through you end up at the Isar river.

Hope you enjoy the video. If you want more info I’ll give Ted my email and you can contact direct or use his handy comments section. I will be putting more up onto Youtube at some point. I’m hoping to learn how to strip the audio but that might mean buying software other than the camera companies free one.

Keep riding. Enjoy life.

Ralph

As an added bonus, he also shared this short clip riding on a bike and pedestrian bridge suspended under railroad tracks over the Isar River.

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My Ride is about your own experiences riding a bike — where and how you ride, whether good or bad, or anything in between. It can be a rant or rave, a description of your favorite route or how riding makes you feel. And any way you want, in words or pictures, bike cam video, or any other format you think tells the story best, wherever you happen to ride.

If you’d like to share your story, just send an email to the address on the About BikinginLA page.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

An open letter urging Beverly Hills to approve Santa Monica Blvd bike lanes

Yesterday we had a guest post by Better Bike’s Mark Elliot discussing the return of the never-ending debate over bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd, which is back for discussion before the Beverly Hills City Council at 7 pm tonight.

Stephen Collins wrote to the mayor and city council in response, urging them to approve the desperately needed lanes, which is the missing link between existing lanes in West Hollywood and Century City. He agreed to let me share his letter with you.

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Hello Mayor Bosse and Beverly Hills City Council Members,

As a resident of a neighboring community (Hollywood), an individual who makes an effort to bicycle commute whenever possible (for the environment we all share, in addition to my wellness), a visitor and patron to parks and businesses in Beverly Hills and surrounding communities, and an engineer with work experience in public infrastructure;

I write to urge your strong support of Bicycle Lanes on Santa Monica Blvd. I ride this route regularly, and there is a stark contrast between the safe, relaxed, and predictable riding I am able to do on this same street through nearby West Hollywood, and the dangerous, nerve-racking, and unpredictable riding I must choose if I stay my path into Beverly Hills.

A popular website for cyclists called Strava publishes an aggregate map of where their users ride. I would like to draw your attention to how important Santa Monica Blvd. is to the region in the image below, where I’ve approximately circled the segment through Beverly Hills.

Brighter lines indicate higher utilization. As you can clearly see, this is the most important East/West route for bicyclists North of the 10 Freeway. It’s utilization is on par with streets like Venice Blvd (complete bike lanes, with recent safety improvements in Mar Vista), San Vicente Blvd (complete bike lanes), Sunset Blvd through Echo Park/Silverlake (complete bike lanes) and even the Ballona Creek Bicycle Path, which is car-free. This is the most important stretch of road in the whole area which does not have complete bike lanes. You should have no worries that an investment in safe multi-modal transit for the future of Santa Monica Blvd will be underutilized.

[FYI – Strava is able to provide better data and analysis to city planners and decision makers directly through their Strava Metro program – I encourage you to check it out here: http://metro.strava.com/]

If you haven’t, I would also encourage you to take a single short ride along this segment of road one weekday morning or afternoon, in either direction. Cars and buses move swiftly in open sections of road, and completely jam forward progress when traffic gridlocks. Neither of these are nearly such a concern to cyclists in neighboring communities on this route.

The wide, green lanes in WeHo are a delight, but even the striped lanes on the other side through Century City are leaps and bounds more safe and comfortable to ride than the section through Beverly Hills.

This is a very important bicycle thoroughfare for the region, and Beverly Hills has an opportunity to step up to or even exceed the standards in safety and environmental consciousness set by its neighbors on the same road. It can also be used to encourage cyclists to visit your business district, and to allow community members safer access to their favorite shops in town.

Thanks for your consideration of this matter. I am sorry I am unable to attend your meeting tomorrow – thus my note.

Best,

Stephen M. Collins

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If you’d like to voice your support, you can attend attend the meeting at 7 pm in the council chambers at Beverly Hills City Hall, 455 N. Rexford Drive. If you can’t make it, email your support to mailto:[email protected], and indicate whether you are a resident or work there.

 

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