Tag Archive for March 5 City Election

Los Angeles bicyclists claim partial victory in Tuesday’s apathy plagued election

LA-City-Hall-— TreesCall it a mixed bag.

Last night’s election results showed some major victories for L.A.’s bicycling community, along with some painful losses.

Along with a number of cases where we have no idea how the winners stand on issues important to Los Angeles cyclists.

In the most important race, however, we can claim a clear victory as Eric Garcetti and Wendy Gruel both qualified for the May runoff election. Then again, victory in that race was a given, as all five major candidates for mayor were on the record with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition for their strong stands in support of bicycling in the City of Angels.

So regardless of who wins in May, we can expect at least another four years of support from the mayor’s office. And hopefully, continued progress on the streets.

City Council is another matter, as a several bike supporters fell to defeat, while a number of other candidates either won outright, or qualified for a runoff without responding to the LACBC’s survey or taking a public stand on the issues that affect our right to ride and safety on the streets.

In District 1, Jose Gardea took a strong stand in support of bicycling, while Gil Cedillo failed to respond. This district has long been represented by termed-out councilmember Ed Reyes, who has been a strong supporter of bicycling.

District 3 was won outright by Bob Blumenfield last night. He failed to respond to the survey, so we currently have no idea whether he supports bicycling; we’ll have to wait until he casts his first few votes in City Hall to get a feel for where he stands. He replaces Dennis Zine, who hasn’t always been a friend of bicyclists.

Westside District 5 Councilmember Paul Koretz easily won re-election last night, and has gone on the record supporting bicycling, though he questions the much-needed bike lanes on Westwood Blvd.

Felipe Fuentes claimed an outright victory in District 7 without completing the bike survey; he replaces Richard Alarcón, who was not always a reliable voice for bikes.

In District 9, of the two candidates who qualified for the runoff, current state Senator Curren Price did not respond to the survey, while Ana Cubas did, promising to work with the LACBC to make L.A. a more bike-friendly city. However, Price did take a stand in support of bicycling when he ran for the Senate in 2009.

District 11’s Mike Bonin won election outright last night. Not only did he complete the LACBC survey, I’m told he’s an even stronger supporter of bicycling than Bill Rosendahl, the councilmember he replaces, who has been the bike community’s best friend on the city council.

The crowded field in District 13 resulted in a runoff between Mitch O’Farrell, who has been one of the strongest candidate voices in support of bicycling, and John Choi, who failed to respond.

Finally, District 15 was won outright by incumbent Jose Buscaino, who failed to complete the survey.

While I’m disappointed that some of the leading voices in support of bicycling, such as Odysseus Bostick in CD11 Josh Post in CD13, failed to qualify for the runoff, strong bike supporters either won outright or made the runoff in both districts.

Meanwhile, Emanuel Plietez, who was featured here recently, was always a long shot to qualify for the runoff; in fact, he finished last among the major candidates for mayor. However, he has a lot to offer the city and the bicycling community, and hopefully we see his name again in another race in the not-too-distant future.

The bigger disappointment, however, was the lack of turnout by L.A. voters. And L.A. cyclists.

Just over 285,000 people bothered to turn out for the election, a pathetic 16% of eligible voters. And far less than the estimated 400,000 regular bike riders who live in this city.

We have the power to permanently change this city and its streets for the better. But L.A. will never be the city it can and should be until the bike community gets off its collective ass and into the voting booth.

The LACBC will redouble its efforts to get all the remaining candidates in the runoff on the record for where they stand on bicycling issues. Including the race for City Attorney between Mike Feuer and incumbent Carmen Trutanich, which makes the all-important decisions on how bike and traffic laws are interpreted and enforced in the city, and who gets charged with breaking them.

But it’s up to you to get out and support the candidates who support us.

A brief conversation with the running man, L.A. mayoral candidate Emanuel Pleitez

Emanuel Pleitez on his wa to Venice yesterday.

Emanuel Pleitez on his way to Venice yesterday.

I just got off the phone with mayoral candidate Emanuel Pleitez.

No, really.

I’ve met with a few city council candidates this year and in years past, and traded emails and direct messages with a few of the people running for L.A. mayor. And even shared a riding conversation with our current Mayor Villaraigosa during a particularly memorable CicLAvia awhile back.

But I’ve never had a candidate for mayor think that talking to me — and more importantly, through me to you — was worth picking up the phone and actually calling.

Make no mistake. Pleitez in a longshot in tomorrow’s election.

But he wants your vote enough to run 104 miles over the past few days, while biking another 33. And he’s adding 10 more on foot, plus five on two wheels before wrapping up his cross-city travels in San Pedro this afternoon.

So why is he running and biking, other than just to get noticed, and maybe plant a subtle suggestion that he’s younger, and presumably healthier, than anyone else in the race?

He wants to call attention to the need for healthier transportation choices for every Angeleno, wherever you live. With more buses and double the amount of bike lanes.

In fact, he spoke at length about the healthy aspects of bicycling and the benefits for the city in getting more people on bikes.

Interestingly, he also said something I’ve often heard from other bike riders — and never from anyone who doesn’t actually ride. That bikes allow you to interact with the city and its people on a very personal level, giving him a chance to meet people passing by in a way that he never could from inside a campaign car.

In other words, he gets it.

He also promised to appoint a Deputy Mayor of Urban Design to focus on the intersection of transportation, planning and architecture to build a more livable city. And to eliminate the departmental silos that keep government agencies and employees from talking and working with one another in any meaningful way to solve problems and build a better city.

And he had one more message to the cycling community.

However tomorrow’s election turns out, he wants us to keep raising our voices, stay organized and keep working for change on our streets. And keep communicating with those who don’t bike to break down the barriers that keep us apart.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m not telling you who to vote for. I assume you’re a grown up and fully capable of making that choice yourself.

But I will tell you this.

Emanuel Pleitez is the real deal.

And worth your consideration when you cast your ballot tomorrow.

……..

Pleitez will finish his journey across the city this afternoon, running and riding from Watts to San Pedro starting at 1 pm at Athens Park on South Broadway in Willowbrook and finishing at 4:30 at the San Pedro Fish Market.

Waking the sleeping giant: The future of Los Angeles bicycling is in your hands — and ballot — tomorrow

We could own this city.

After years of begging for crumbs at the city table, Los Angeles cyclists have finally been offered a seat of our own, earning respect and support from our elected leaders.

The result has been a dramatic change on the streets of L.A. From a bold new bike plan to the first-ever ordinance treating harassment of cyclists as a civil, rather than criminal, offense, allowing bike riders to take scofflaw drivers to court themselves for the motorized threats and violence that occurs on our streets.

A law so innovative, it’s rapidly spread far beyond our city limits.

Not to mention new buffered bike lanes, green lanes, an upcoming bike share and next month’s CicLAvia to the Sea.

It’s been enough to make hell freeze over, as formerly bike-unfriendly L.A. has become just the opposite in a remarkably short period of time, since our outgoing mayor fell off his bike following the last city election.

And it could all go away just as fast.

The progress we’ve made has come as a result of a mayor who understands the power of bicycles and bike riders to transform the city for the better. And city council members who’ve fought for improvements on our streets, including anti-harassment standard-bearer Bill Rosendahl, and Downtown/Eastside bike champions Reyes and Huizar, just to name a few.

Two of those three will join our mayor in being out of office by the end of May, along with five others. In fact, only one of the eight council districts up for election this week features an incumbent running for re-election.

Which means that L.A.’s continued progress in making the streets safer and more inviting for bike riders depends entirely on who wins Tuesday’s primary election and advances on to the May general election.

Which, despite the name, has nothing to do with electing military leaders.

What is does have to do with is shaping the future of a city that is finally moving in the right direction, yet still has a very long way to go.

A lot depends on who is elected as the city’s new mayor.

It’s the mayor who will select the next police chief, and determine whether the department continues as one of the nation’s most progressively bike-friendly law enforcement agencies or reverts to the bad old days when we were treated like criminals for simply for riding the streets. And were virtually powerless to do anything about it.

It’s also the new mayor who will appoint the next head of LADOT, and determine whether the city continues its newfound support for non-motorized transportation or reverts to the auto-centric motor-maniacal capital of car culture it was for far too long.

NOTE TO MAYORAL CANDIDATES: Anyone who promises to poach Janette Sadik Khan from the New York Department of Transportation will have my vote. And my undying gratitude.

Meanwhile, the winners of the eight odd council districts — that’s odd in the numerical sense, rather than strange — will control the purse strings that dictate whether the streets get repaved and the bike plan built out. And whether cyclists will enjoy a willing ear before the council as we have since 2008’s infamous Mandeville Canyon incident.

Or whether we’ll get a political wink and a nod, and be politely shown the door as we were for the many decades that came before.

The funny thing is, we hold more power than we may think.

Because instead of begging for crumbs, we could decide who sits at every chair in City Hall.

That’s because, according to estimates included in the city bike plan, Los Angeles has somewhere around 400,000 bicyclists who ride at least once a month.

And only 285,658 people bothered to vote in the last mayoral election.

I’ll wait while you do the math.

Even subtracting bike riders who may not be old enough or eligible to vote for whatever reason, it still makes bicyclists one of the largest untapped voting groups in the city.

If we turn out in force and vote in our own interests, we can decide the outcome of every race in every election in the city, and every other city in the county, for that matter.

If only because most Angelenos don’t care enough to vote.

And ensure not only that we’ll enjoy a bike-friendly city government for the next few years, but that L.A. will continue to remake itself into the livable, world-class city it should be — and that Los Angeles bicycling will continue to grow in numbers and safety for the foreseeable future.

Chances are, nothing you do on Tuesday will be more important than the ballot you cast. Even the May general election pales in comparison, because you won’t have bike-friendly council candidates to elect in May if you don’t vote for them now.

It’s long past time to wake the sleeping bike giant.

………

Before you vote, check out the candidate questionnaires collected by the LACBC, which managed to get every candidate for mayor on the record supporting bicycling in the City of Angels, along with 14 of the 39 city council candidates. And I’d almost forgotten that CD13 candidate Josh Post offered his thoughts on how to take L.A. biking to the next level right here last May.

Those other 25 council candidates who didn’t bother to respond include some people I genuinely like and respect. But speaking strictly for myself, I wouldn’t vote for anyone who wasn’t willing to tell you where they stand on bike issues.

Period.

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times offers its endorsements, while noting that the mayor’s race is up for grabs; you can look up your polling place and sample ballot here.

And don’t forget to Bike the Vote on Tuesday.

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