Sometimes I despair when I read about all the misinformation, anti-bike bias and misplaced hate out there for those of us on two wheels.
Whether that comes in the form of a wicked witch from the Wall Street Journal, or yet another driver who walks, legally speaking, after using his vehicle as a weapon against a bike rider.
A reminder once again, as if we needed one, just how little value the life of someone on a bike has in our society.
It’s a common refrain, from the East Coast to the Left. From a writer for the New York Daily News who claims a cabal of radical cyclists has taken over the city’s Department of Transportation, to outlandish comments in opposition to bike lanes on Colorado and Figueroa in NELA.
And clearly, nothing resembling the facts is allowed to get in the way of their anger.
Not even the death of a cyclist, which seems to inevitably lead to online comments saying we somehow deserve to die because some of us run red lights and stop signs.
Oddly, most motorists just get a ticket for that. Yet there are those who seem to believe we should get the death penalty.
And no, I’m not going to justify their hate by linking to any of that crap. I make sure it doesn’t survive long on this site, either.
Take this bizarre comment from Hart Fisher, one of the leading opponents of the NELA lanes, on a Patch story leading up to the latest hearing over the Colorado lanes.
At 7pm tonight (Monday) Jose Huizar will be presenting his/the city’s plan to create a unsafe & hazardous environment for The Handicapped, the Aged & the Disabled. I will be there in person to fight their radical unsafe plans for our city streets. Come make your voice heard at Center for the Arts Eagle Rock at 2225 Colorado Blvd., LA, CA 90041. This idiocy that screws over old people, handicapped people & disabled people is being rammed down cities across California.
Yes, a bike lane is certainly radical. Although how exactly they screw over old people, the handicapped and disabled is beyond me.
I would think calmer, slower and saner streets would benefit everyone. But what the hell do I know?
The scary thing is that the mad rants of the uninformed and overly imaginative seem to bear as much weight with our elected officials as those who merely want safe streets for everyone, regardless of mode of transportation.
Perhaps because there’s no rationality requirement to cast a ballot. And the votes of the angry and willfully ignorant — or indignorant, as my friend and fellow blogger Will Campbell once called them — count every bit as much as those who go to the effort to actually understand the issues they’re voting on.
Let alone the rabid NIMBYists willing to fight to the death in kneejerk opposition to any attempt to change anything in their neighborhood, for better or worse.
Like the email I was recently forwarded from a Westside homeowners association questioning the latest plan to install a floating bike lane on Westwood Blvd, even though it wouldn’t result in the loss of a single traffic lane or parking space.
In other words, it would create space for much-needed bike lanes on Westwood without any impact whatsoever on parking or traffic. The only change that would affect motorists is that the rush hour no-parking zones would flip from one side of the street to the other; with parking allowed on the east side of the street in the morning, and the west side in the evening.
Yet outrage remains that customers might actually have to cross the street to do business with the local establishments — many, if not most of which have their own parking behind, under or next to their buildings.
Trust me. If your customers aren’t willing to cross the street to do business with your fine establishment, your problems go far beyond which side they have to park on.
The email goes on to add that members of the homeowner’s association have been counting bicyclists at peak hours on the boulevard, with the totals ranging from eight to 23. Although it doesn’t mention whether that’s per hour, day or minute.
But rather than proving the bike lanes aren’t needed, as opponents infer, it actually shows exactly the opposite.
Because bicyclists aren’t going to ride a street they think is dangerous. The fact that anyone at all attempts to ride such a heavily trafficked street, with zero infrastructure for bicycling south of Santa Monica Blvd, points to the latent demand for bike lanes there.
If you build it, they will come.
And if you don’t, they will anyway. Especially once the Westwood Boulevard Expo Line station opens in a few years, and the street provides the only direct link between the station and the UCLA campus.
If you want to ensure gridlock, force all those arriving and departing riders to take the lane in front of impatient drivers to get to and from school every day. Let alone ensure a dramatic spike in the number of collisions on the boulevard, serious and otherwise.
Then again, NIMBY homeowners in the area have been fighting the station, the ground-level crossing and the train itself for years now.
Of course, it’s not just NELA or Westwood.
The same battles seem to take place anywhere bike lanes go in, including L.A.’s sleepy port town of San Pedro, where motorists have grabbed their pitchforks and torches to demand removal of the seemingly monstrous bike lanes on Westmont Blvd.
Never mind that the road diet that resulted in the bike lanes was installed, in part, to calm traffic in front of a school.
Maybe it’s just me, but if I had kids in that school, I would demand everything possible be done to protect my child’s safety. Not rip the lanes out to protect the right of drivers to continue to speed and put students’ and teachers’ lives in jeopardy.
Especially since it only causes congestion for forty minutes a day as parents drop off and pick up their kids.
After all, it’s not like there’s any other alternatives to dropping your kids off directly in front of the school. Like dropping them off on the nearest cross street, maybe. Or God forbid, actually allowing your kids to use those same bike lanes to safely ride to school.
They now have the entire summer to work with city and school officials to find a solution. But better to hold a community meeting next week to demand a return to the previous status quo.
So what if a kid gets hit by a speeding car. That’s just the price you pay for a slightly faster commute, right?
Then again, sometimes NIMBY means Not In My Beach, You…!
Some go so far as to describe any attempt to install bike lanes, anywhere, as an attack on cars and the people who drive them.
Yet if there is such a war, it’s better described as a war on bikes, because we’re the ones who are dying, at a rate of nearly 700 bicycling fatalities a year, most on the bumpers of those cars that currently rule the roads.
Motor vehicles have long enjoyed full dominion over virtually 100% of the roadways in this country. All we’re asking for is a modicum of safe space to keep us from bouncing painfully off those bumpers.
Besides, any war on cars would require attacking ourselves, as the overwhelming majority of bike riders are motorists, as well.
And we can’t even seem to stop drivers from using non-road public spaces.
Meanwhile, back in New York, the local papers gleefully cite the slightest glitch as proof the rollout of the new Citi Bike program is an unmitigated disaster. As if any massive new program could be expected to unfurl without a hitch.
And a pair of writers deconstruct the wicked witch’s anti-bike screed, demonstrating that she knows even less about capitalism than she does about bike share.
We can expect the same battles here in a few months, when L.A.’s bike share program finally rolls out. Let alone in other cities throughout the country and around the world.
God help them in Aspen. And Moscow.
Update: Fox 11 reports on last night’s meeting in Eagle Rock to rant about discuss the proposed bike lanes on Colorado Blvd. The station reports that there was more support for the lanes than opposition, leading Councilmember Jose Huizar to say the lanes will go forward. Although the report misidentifies LADOT’s Nate Baird as the councilmember; easy to understand since they look so much alike, right?
And the Atlantic looks at bi-coastal anti-bike paranoia, including L.A.’s own John and Ken, who the driver that just ran you off the road was probably listening to at the time.
Something that doesn’t fill me with despair — just the opposite, in fact — is the simple fact that I’m able to sit here writing about those anti-bike haters to begin with.
It was exactly one month ago that my laptop died in the middle of using it; a few seconds and a couple quick blinks, and I was out of business for the foreseeable future.
Business being a relative term for a non-income producing blog.
Still, it was thanks to the readers of this blog that I was able to get back to work less than two weeks later. The contributions you made covered a little over half the cost of a new laptop and the updated software I needed to operate it.
That’s what happens when you don’t upgrade anything for, oh, five years or so.
I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who donated their hard-earned money to help me get back online, as well as those who offered me use of their computers. Or just sent good wishes my way.
I call it the Miracle on the Westside. It’s my own personal tale of the loaves and fishes, as the few dollars in my own pocket somehow expanded to cut the costs down to where the balance could fit on my wife’s credit card.
How I’m going to pay her back is another matter.
But you’ve done more than you will ever know to restore my faith, in whatever way you want to interpret that. And make me more committed than ever to use this new laptop to fight for our right to the roads — and to return home safely when we’re done.
Let alone overcome the irrational objections that stand in our way.
And for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. One that grew three sizes that day.
Seriously, thank you.
Finally, a suspected drunk driver hits a cyclist on a DC-area off-road bike path, after driving on it for five — yes, five — miles. A Kentucky cyclist and bike shop owner misses a teachable moment when he blames himself for going too fast, rather than hold the driver who carelessly and illegally cut him off accountable. And a Maryland man rides 100 miles a week. At 92-years old.
I want to be like him when I grow up.