Tag Archive for Jaime De La Vega

The Times on Streetsblog’s Damien Newton, Newton on LADOT insurrection, and lots of weekend rides

Just a few quick notes to kick off what promises to be a perfect weekend to ride a bike.

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The LA Times interviews Streetsblog’s Damien Newton, who adroitly points out that everyone breaks the law on our streets — cyclists, drivers and pedestrians alike.

“Pretty much anyone who uses the road breaks the law on a regular basis. But people excuse their own breaking of the law,” he says…

He doesn’t care if you’re on a bike; he cares that you stop thinking of bicyclists as an odd nuisance — and stop framing the debate as “drivers vs. bicyclists”:

“The subtext is ‘We need to get along with these weirdos, because they’re out there.’ ”

As for weirdos, the paper notes Damien isn’t.

I could have told ‘em that.

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Speaking of Damien, he offers an insightful look at yesterday’s insurrection by LADOT employees.

In case you missed it, a contingent of LADOT employees — estimated at anywhere from 50 to 200 — stormed Wednesday’s city council session to demand the ouster of their boss, Transportation General Manager Jaime De La Vega, saying the rank and file had lost confidence in their leader.

Just one problem.

De La Vega had been brought in by previous Mayor Villaraigosa to shake things up in a department that had previously been dedicated to automotive throughput at the expense of livability. And survivability.

Whether these employees have a legitimate complaint, or are simply demanding a return to the bad old days when they could ignore the needs of anyone not wrapped in a ton or two of glass and steel is anyone’s guess.

And certainly not mine.

Newton examines it in great detail, in a must read for anyone who cares about the future of our streets.

But consider this.

Many of those complaining are long-time LADOT employees, who were with the department during the bad old days.

And the bike plan they point to as a sign that the department has changed is one that was demanded by bike riders, after they rejected the watered-down plan LADOT presented that no one loved. Except perhaps bike hating motorists and the DOT engineers who bent over backwards to accommodate them while tossing cyclists a bone.

Meanwhile, most of the improvements we’ve seen on the streets have come in the last few years, during De La Vega’s tenure.

That’s not to say there aren’t major problems at LADOT.

Just that Mayor Garcetti and the city council should look long and hard before deciding just what the real problem is.

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I confess.

I haven’t done a very good job of keeping up my Events page, as my focus has been elsewhere while I work on a reboot of this site in the coming weeks.

But a couple of upcoming rides demand attention.

First up, Active Streets LA returns to South LA on Saturday with a free mini-CicLAvia of sorts, featuring a bike ride and walk, free family activities, refreshments and a raffle.

The LACBC and Wolfpack Hustle host the first ever Huntington Park Grand Prix single speed bike drag race on Saturday.

For those looking for a reasonably challenging ride, the authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles are teaming up with the LACBC to host a ride on Mulholland this Sunday.

CICLE hosts the perfectly alliterative Pomona Pumpkin Patch Pedal this Sunday, offering a much more sedate alternative to riding Mulholland.

And next Sunday, October 27th, you’ve got another chance to Ride Lankershim in support of a proposed bike lane on North Hollywood’s main street. Even though the bike lane is included in the 2010 bike plan approved by city council, it’s been opposed by bike-friendly-in-name-only Councilmember Tom LaBonge up to this point. So it’s up to us to show just how needed, wanted, convenient, traffic calming and life-saving this lane could be.

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One other quick note. The LACBC’s Civic Engagement Committee usually meets on the last Tuesday of every month to talk bike politics. However, due to a scheduling conflict, this month’s meeting has been moved to Wednesday, October 30th at 6:45 pm. The meeting will take place on the mezzanine level of LACBC Headquarters, 634 S. Spring Street Downtown, and is open to everyone; you don’t have to be a member to participate.

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Finally, maybe you’ll have better luck loading this page than I’ve had, but you’ve got to respect a $36 million football player who prefers to bike and bus to work. Although I suspect his route is just a tad easier than this one.

And you know there’s something going on when even the Biking Black Grey Hole of Beverly Hills is talking bike share.

Don’t even think about bugging after 5:30 tonight until the Dodgers secure their place in Saturday’s game seven against the Cardinals.

And if they don’t, just don’t bug me, period.

Seriously.

Double BOLO alert for L.A. hit-and-run drivers, surprising choice for LADOT head

Yesterday, I got word of two cyclists asking riders to be on the lookout for drivers who hit them, then fled the scene.

Including one that left a rider seriously injured, and another that may have been an intentional attack.

The LACBC’s Alexis Lantz forwards word of collision involving a cyclist at 3333 McLaughlin Ave, just north of Mar Vista Park, on the street also known as S. Barrington Ave just a little north.

The collision, which left a rider named Cary lying unconscious in the street with 14 broken ribs, occurred around 2 pm on Thursday, May 26th.

While police were called, they have little information to work with, since Cary was knocked out and unable to get any information on the car that hit him, and no one else has come forward with a license number or description of the vehicle.

If you witnessed the collision or have any additional information that could help in the investigation, contact me and I’ll make sure it gets to the right people,  including the victim. Or you can call the LAPD’s 24-hour tip line at 1-877-LAWFUL (1-877-529-3855).

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Richard Risemberg of Bicycle Fixation forwards word of a Highland Park road rage incident in which a rider was knocked off her bike after exchanging words with a driver.

According to the Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch, Winona Wacker was riding her bike along Avenue 50 near Buchanan Street when a driver in a Volvo convertible came up from behind and started yelling at her to get out of the road.

Wacker said she responded to the motorist, who she described as a white male who looked to be in his fifties, by telling him that she was allowed to use the whole lane for her safety.

That response only angered the driver more, Wacker said.

“He laid on his horn, then yelled back at me  ‘you wanna test your weight against mine?’” Wacker said.  “ [He] continued blowing his horn, hit the gas and then sped up to run me down.”

The writer reports that a good Samaritan stopped to help her, then sped up to get the motorists license number. Police are handling the case as a general assault, and cycling and community activist Stephen Box has reached out to Sgt. Krumer urging action on the case.

In the meantime, area cyclists are urged to be on the lookout for a middle-aged white male driving a white Volvo C-70 convertible. If he’s run down a rider once, there’s no reason to believe he won’t do it again.

If anyone still needed proof of why L.A. needs an anti-harassment ordinance to protect the rights of cyclists, this is a textbook example of exactly what the proposed law, which is still awaiting final approval by the city council, is intended to address.

And don’t think this case is unique.

Change the location and reverse the sex of the participants, and it’s very similar to the road rage case that left me injured in Westwood over a decade ago.

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After months of instability at the head of LADOT, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is nominating his transportation deputy Jaime De La Vega as the agency’s general manager.

Not surprisingly, the story was broken on Twitter by Streetsblog Damien Newton, who clearly has his pulse on the city’s transportation beat. Just one more reason to support the site’s Spring Fundraising Drive.

And yes, that sigh you heard this morning was thousands of cyclists around the city expressing their disappointment that the mayor didn’t make a bold move by appointing a proven bike-friendly director to the post. On the other hand, it would be hard to get someone like that to take a politically appointed post in any mayor’s lame duck administration, with no guarantee the role would continue into the next mayor’s term.

In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that the new mayor will want his or her own person in the roll.

We’ll have to wait and see whether De La Vega will push to reform the chronically auto-centric agency, or if the former Hummer driver will just assume a caretaker role until the mayor’s term runs out.

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