Welcome to today’s April Fool-free edition of BikinginLA, which is either very late or a little early, depending on your perspective.
The media has discovered the dispute over Mt. Hollywood Drive.
A little late, but still.
KABC-7 reports on the trial opening of the Griffith Park roadway that has been closed for decades, in order to provide tourists with a closer view of the Hollywood sign. And more importantly, direct them away from the twisting narrow streets of Beachwood Canyon.
The Times says that canyon residents think they’ve already seen an improvement, quoting PR consultant Tony Fisch as he invokes Star Trek’s Spock in saying “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
The problem is, he has that backwards.
The needs of the many — that is, the people of Los Angeles, who own Griffith Park — outweigh the needs of the relatively few people who can afford to live in the canyon. Even if they do have a legitimate complaint.
Although I question whether Beachwood Canyon residents knew the streets were narrow and winding when they moved there. Or that they were living under LA’s most prominent tourist attraction.
Maybe an earthquake shook up the canyon’s previously straight roads. And they bought their homes during the bad old days when LA’s infamous smog obscured the hillside sign, only to discover it looming over their heads once the air cleared.
It could happen.
That’s not to say they don’t need some form of relief.
Websites and GPS systems have directed an ever-increasing number of tourists onto those narrow streets, raising fears of what might happen if an ambulance or fire truck were unable to gain access, or if a brush fire required a rapid evacuation — something that is always a risk for anyone living near undeveloped SoCal hillsides.
But is it reasonable to shift the risk from homeowners, who presumably accepted it to at least some degree when they moved in, to the countless people who use the park to escape the traffic and congestion down below?
Without warning, those people were forced to share an equally narrow roadway with confused tourists focused more on the scenic views and finding a place to park than on the vulnerable people and horses in the way of their cars.
Never mind the increased risk of igniting exactly the kind of wildfire Beachwood Canyon residents fear, as hot engines could light tinder-dry brush. Or that people from outside Southern California, who may not be aware of the danger, could carelessly toss their cigarettes out car windows as they drive.
The latter isn’t an idle fear.
I’m told by other riders and hikers that they’ve already seen it on multiple occasions since the roadway was reopened; it’s only a matter of time before one of those burning butts sends the entire hillside up in flames.
And there’s nothing that says tourists are entitled to take their selfies in the shadow of the sign. Or that they have an inalienable right to park on a roadway that local residents have no problem hiking or biking; the goal should be to reduce the number of cars in the park, not funnel them into it.
As Angelenos, we have an obligation to help Beachwood Canyon residents to find an answer to their problem, just as we would any other part of the city facing a similar situation. One that works for everyone — homeowners, tourists and those of us who enjoy the all-too rare undeveloped wilderness that lies in the heart of this massive city we call home.
But opening up Mt. Hollywood Drive to cars on a permanent basis isn’t it.
You can click here to sign the petition to keep Mt. Hollywood Drive closed to cars and shuttle buses.
Full disclosure: I spent too much of the previous two days locked in a lengthy and unproductive Twitter conversation with the above referenced Mr. Fisch, who was offered, and refused, the opportunity write a guest post here with no restrictions on content. And who somehow felt compelled to include CicLAvia’s Twitter account in virtually the entire conversation, for no apparent reason.
Update: This great piece from the Hollywood Reporter fills in the background on the Beachwood Canyon dispute, making it clear that funneling tourists onto Mt. Hollywood Drive is just the last in a long list of efforts to appease a relative handful of angry homeowners. Thanks to Peter Flax for the link.
Reader danger d sends word that things could be better Calabasas.
First, he reports that the traffic flag of surrender, aka crossing flags, are taking hold as the city capitulates to the almighty automobile, as evidenced by this photo from Mulholland Hwy and Freedom Drive, not far from where Milt Olin was killed in December, 2013.
As he puts it,
I am sure that someone thought that this would be a good idea to make the crossing safer for the many students from the surrounding schools, and that is great but I am afraid that the idea of pedestrians having to wave a flag to cross the street is spreading and will take hold in more areas. Then when a pedestrian is run down without one, the police will use this as an excuse for the motorist just like “he was not wearing a helmet” excuse for running over cyclist.
So let’s make this perfectly clear.
If people have to wave little flags to get drivers’ attention just so they can cross the damn street, your traffic planning has failed.
He also sends evidence of what appears to be a clearly substandard bike lane, which he discussed with a traffic engineer for the city.
In the photo you can see what appears to be a bike lane with cars parked in it. Oddly there are “no parking on Wednesday” street signs posted here also. The fact that there were bike lane signs painted on the road and parking within this area seemed odd to me. With the parked cars in the lane there was about 18 inches from the white stripe to the left. This seemed very confusing and ambiguous.
I asked the engineer about this and he told me that as long as the lane is 12 feet wide they can mark it as a bike lane and have cars parked in it.
Don’t get me wrong, he was a nice guy and said that he would go out and measure the width of the lane, since I informed him that it could be a liability issue for the city. He seemed like he would love to help make it safer and was glad that someone came in to let him know about it.
I don’t think there was 4 feet for the bikes though, not as it is now.
Downtown News encourages the city to think big with planned improvements to 7th Street in DTLA, which could include protected bike lanes. Meanwhile, Downtown’s Fig at 7th Shopping Center has added bike racks in front of the grand stairway.
It’s bad enough we have to share the roads with dangerous drivers; the Eastsider reports someone was driving on the LA River bike path Saturday night, and not for the first time. Evidently, the idea is spreading to other cities, as Chicago workers find a car abandoned on one of theirs.
Plans have been unveiled for a new and improved Crenshaw Blvd, including a bike lane that briefly follows a portion of the street before meandering on to other alternate streets. Maybe someone can explain that one. Thanks to the BAC’s David Wolfberg for the link.
Car Free SFV calls on everyone to pledge to leave your car at home on April 26th.
Congratulations to bike and planning advocate Carter Rubin on his recent appointment to the Santa Monica Planning Commission, despite the apparent reservations of the local press.
Red Kite Prayer’s Padraig weighs in on California’s proposed mandatory bike helmet law, and concludes government should focus on letting drivers know we’re vulnerable on the streets, and here in increasing numbers.
Drivers have long been able to avoid fines by going to traffic school; California bike riders may finally have that option if a new bill passes the state legislature.
Sad news from San Diego, as the bike rider who was shot in the city’s East Village on Saturday has died; family members say he was a peace keeper in the neighborhood. An arrest was made in the case on Monday.
There’s a special place in hell for the subhuman scum who stole 16 custom-made adaptive bikes from wounded San Diego vets.
CyclingSavvy will hold training classes in Orange County on the weekend of April 24th.
What happens when a paper assigns someone who doesn’t know bike racing to write about the upcoming Redlands Classic? They not only fail to mention the date — which is April 8th through 12th, thank you. And no, the Tour of California is not a popular women’s race, though they do get four stages this year.
Coachella bike riders, pedestrians and motorists are asked for their input for the region’s active transportation plan.
I like this guy. A San Francisco reporter looks at people behaving badly by blocking or illegally driving in a bike lane.
Forbes writes about bikes getting smarter as companies compete to build-in advanced technical features. Other than flat-free tires, I think I’ll pass.
Women’s racing takes another step forward as Colorado’s USA Pro Challenge adds a three-stage women’s race for 2015. But will any of it, or the women’s ATOC, be televised?
Philadelphia is just the latest city to get bike share before LA, while Fargo’s is doing even better than expected.
Twenty-six cyclists are riding from Newton to DC to advocate for stricter gun controls.
A Toronto cyclist complains about male riders who insist on cutting in front of her at red lights or passing because they’re embarrassed to be behind a woman.
The hit-and-run epidemic spreads to Great Britain, as authorities look for the driver who killed a 15-year old bike rider. Thanks to David Wolfberg for the heads-up.
A writer for the Telegraph says it would be easy to make fun of Brompton riders, except their bikes are just so smart.
Maybe there’s some justice in Putin’s Russia after all. A Russian driver gets three years for killing an American round-the-world cyclist in a drunken collision.
A judge gives a Kiwi man who killed a cyclist permission to drive tractors on his farm despite being stopped twice for driving with a suspended license since he was released from jail.
A cyclist doored Down Under learns the hard way to always ask for ID rather than just trusting the driver who did it.
A Chinese man creates an entire bicycle from 3D-printed plastic, even if it does look like it should come with a Happy Meal.
Oddly, it’s no funnier when a cyclist talks about running down runners than when a driver jokes about doing it to one of us. That spray-on reflective paint for cyclists is nothing new; Cyclelicious points out it’s already available for glow-in-the-dark horses and dogs, although it’s not coming within 10 feet of mine.
And Road.cc asks if this Cher the Road video — get it? — complete with badly rapping white guys is the worst safety video in human history?
Probably not, but it should rank in the top 100 or so, anyway.