Tag Archive for Mark Bixby

A fitting tribute to Mark Bixby, and biking’s (not so) obvious appeal to fiscal conservatives

More on the death of Long Beach bike activist Mark Bixby and four others in a fiery Long Beach plan crash last week.

Long Beach bike lane opponent Doug Krikorian recalls friendly disputes with Bixby, while Charlie Gandy remembers bike advocate Mark Bixby’s work on the city’s iconic Penny Farthing sculpture. And LACBC co-founder Ron Milam remembers his single meeting with Bixby.

His family asks that donations be made in lieu of food or flowers, while a public Mark Bixby Celebration of Life is planned for 10 am on Friday, Mark 25th.

Personally, I think it would be fitting to name the new replacement for the Gerald Desmond bridge in Bixby’s honor, since he fought so hard — and so successfully — to get separated bike lanes on it.

Meanwhile, the lone survivor of the plane crash continues to make progress, as Mike Jensen recovers from 2nd degree burns on his back and legs.

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Writing for Commute by Bike, conservative bike advocate Tom Bowden points out that every dollar spent on properly designed bike infrastructure can ultimately defund $10 in automotive infrastructure.

And he nails it when he writes —

As long as we keep on putting so much emphasis on helmets as the most important safety issue, we perpetuate the myth that cycling is inherently dangerous. Cycling is not inherently dangerous, cars are inherently dangerous to cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. But all this helmet focus does is place the responsibility for safety on cyclists, rather than on the root cause of the problem, which is unsafe driving.

As Bowden points out, when you look at it rationally, biking isn’t a liberal or conservative issue.

Bicycling offers a common sense solution to many of the problems we face, from over-crowded streets to high gas prices. And rather than the wasteful spending some conservatives would suggest, spending on cycling and bike projects can provide benefits that far outweigh their nominal costs.

As Portland’s mayor points out, Portland’s entire biking infrastructure cost as much to build as just a single mile of freeway construction. Let alone what it costs to put a car pool lane on the 405 through Sepulveda Pass.

There was a time when I called myself a conservative, until the political winds shifted far right of where I stood. But even in these Tea Party times, it makes far more economic sense to invest less money to move more people more efficiently — without reliance on expensive foreign oil.

Which should make support for cycling and for bicycling infrastructure a no-brainer.

Wherever you stand on the political spectrum.

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KPCC reports on the proposed bike anti-harassment law. Gary reports that Santa Monica’s proposed Michigan Avenue Bike Boulevard could move a step closer to reality at Tuesday’s SaMo City Council meeting. And he argues that if the city wants people to buy local, bike racks matter, while Rick Risemberg looks at efforts to get bike parking around L.A. Next time you’re riding up Nichols Canyon, keep an eye open for Hatfield’s chef and co-owner Quinn Hatfield. A visit to Pete’s Lemonade Stand to talk bikes and sample a Breezer folding bike. Ride through Camp Pendleton to support wounded service members this Saturday. Streetsblog interviews LACBC and CicLAvia board member Stephen Villavaso about San Francisco’s Sunday Streets. Streetsblog’s Damien Newton and Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious report on the past weekend’s Transportation Camp.

Where’s the disconnect in getting more people of color on their bikes? Tucson delays efforts to cut back on bike parking. After riding 1,100 miles to win the Iditarod Trail Invitational in record time, Jay Petervary sets his sights on RAAM. Denver gets its first coffee bar by bakfiets. A biking blue-blood inventor and entrepreneur in Cleveland. The Columbus Dispatch offers a rare balanced and accurate accounting of how to share the road. A video tribute to winter cyclists in Minneapolis. Keeping up the pressure to get Vermonters out of their cars and out in the open air. Evidently, some New Yorkers like their bike lanes, regardless of what the wives of some U.S. Senators may think. Unlike other transit systems attempts to limit bikes, Washington DC’s Metro wants to quadruple the number of bike commuters on their trains; a writer reminds the Washington Post that it’s really not that hard. Just four counties in Florida account for 7.5% of all the cycling deaths in the U.S. The Lovely Bicycle asks why we’re surprised by the anti-bike backlash.

After a local paper argues that Toronto’s famously anti-bike mayor may not be so bad after all, a writer says yeah, right. The Brazilian banking equivalent of the Good Doctor who drove through a recent Critical Mass ride will be charged with attempted murder.

The New York Times looks at London’s Boris Bikes. Five tips on how to get your bike stolen. Cyclists are accused of hijacking public process. A UK MP proposes a bill targeting cyclists who kill or injure pedestrians, even though only 3 such deaths have been recorded in the last 10 years. More Welsh cyclists are getting ticketed for riding on the sidewalk; bike advocates say it just shows more infrastructure is needed. Servicing Dutch F-16s by bike. More springtime cyclists does not always mean more cyclists. HTC-Highroad cyclist Matt Goss tops the UCI rankings after his dramatic victory in the Milan – San Remo classic on Saturday. Speaking of UCI, at least some pro teams are threatening to leave in dispute over race radios. North American cities offer evidence for Aussie’s that more infrastructure spending results in rising riding rates. A recent comment points our attention to Bishop’s Path Racers of Christchurch NZ, dedicated to restoring classic, and building custom, path (track) bikes; those bikes on their site are damn pretty. Japanese cyclists send bikes to quake-hit Tohoku. Fuel shortages and a lack of visitors mean bikes are back in a formerly popular Japanese tourist town. On vacation in Thailand, Will Campbell offers proof of Bangkok bikeways, even if they do have 90 degree turns. Ten more places to ride your bike before you die.

Finally, Bike Radar asks if dangerous cyclists put us all at risk. And a rider who crashed the marathon course with Wolfpack Hustle on Sunday gets a little help from a few of the 300 riders who came out in the pouring rain.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in Sunday’s L.A. Marathon — and especially to those who accomplished the nearly superhuman feat of finishing despite the record downpour.

Breaking News — leading Long Beach bike advocate Mark Bixby killed in plane crash

A plane crash is never good news. But when it takes the life of one of the region’s leading bike advocates, it’s doubly tragic.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Long Beach community leaders Tom Dean, Jeff Berger and Mark Bixby were among the five people killed when a small plane crashed on takeoff at Long Beach airport this morning. Mike Jensen survived the crash in critical condition; the other two victims have not been publicly identified, though one was the pilot.

Bixby, commercial real estate agent and scion of Long Beach’s Bixby Land Company, has been one of the leading forces behind the city’s recent bicycling renaissance, and the founder of the annual Long Beach Bike Festival. He has also been one of the key advocates insisting on bicycling access to the new Gerald Desmond Bridge, as well as supporting the recent revocation of the city’s bicycle licensing program.

The twin-engine Beechcraft King Air reportedly took off from the runway before circling back and crashing on airport property at 10:37 am, bursting into flames on impact.

I hope you’ll join me in offering sympathy to the entire Long Beach biking community, as well as prayers for Bixby and all of his family and loved ones.

Update: According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Jeff Berger and Tom Dean were partners in a local development firm, while Mike Jenson was Bixby’s boss as owner of Pacific Retail Partners. The plane, which was owned by Dean, was reportedly on a flight to Park City, Utah for a ski trip.

Bixby is survived by his wife and three children.

Update: The Press-Telegram identified the other victim as Bruce Krall, Dean’s banker; the pilot has not been identified yet. Frank Peters of cdm Cyclist offers a moving memory of his personal friendship with Mark Bixby, and provides a link to Bixby’s blog.

A last unleavened look back at StreetSummit

A few random thoughts on StreetSummit before we move on to other topics.

Just a portion of those in attendance for StreetSummit

New York Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan credited her amazing success in transforming one of the nation’s most crowded and built-out cities to the support she’s received from the city’s highly motivated mayor.

In Los Angeles, where the traffic demands of a built-out city are often used as a reason for attempting little and accomplishing less, our transportation officials have yet to receive a level of support that would give LADOT leader Rita Robinson the political cover she needs to begin the long overdue transformation of L.A.’s transportation picture.

Whether she has the will or desire to take action is another question. As is whether L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa will move beyond his newfound support of CicLAvia and his bold 30/10 plan, and use the political freedom provided by his final term in office to truly transform the livability of this city. And in the process, effectively position himself for higher office.

Or we can continue to follow an unsustainable auto-centric traffic model until it kills us — literally and figuratively.

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Meanwhile, Long Beach’s seemingly sudden transformation into SoCal’s most bike-friendly community followed a different pattern.

While the city’s Mobility Coordinator Charlie Gandy — the man once named America’s #1 Bike Advocate and the closest thing we may ever see to our own Sadik-Khan — gave credit to the support he’s received from elected officials and the business community, other members of his panel told a different story.

Professional cyclist and Long Beach Bike Ambassador Tony Cruz, BikeStation President and CEO Andrea White-Kjoss and Long Beach Bicycle Festival Director Mark Bixby talked about their 10-year struggle to change local attitudes that began long before Gandy arrived in the city. And refusing to give up despite the knee-jerk anti-bike opposition they initially faced.

When they failed to place a bike boulevard on one street, they simply moved to another street and got the support of local residents and business people before going forward. And kept plugging away until attitudes slowly shifted.

That’s the same model that has lead to whatever limited success we’ve had here in L.A. — and the one we’ll most likely have to follow in the absence of an unexpected turnaround from L.A.’s mayor and transportation officials.

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As the photo to the right shows, one of N.Y.’s boldest moves has not only proven to be exceptionally popular, but extremely effective, as well.

Closing a long swath of Broadway to vehicular traffic didn’t result in the disastrous gridlock many people predicted. Instead, it actually improved traffic flow while reducing injuries.

We know that because the city tracked vehicular and pedestrian traffic, as well as accident and injury rates, both before and after the transformation.

So there’s no argument that it hasn’t been a success. And no one has to guess what effect it’s had. It’s all right there in black and white. Or sort of a bluish grey and green, anyway.

Their stat tracking ability has also allowed the city to set definitive goals going forward — like doubling bicycle commuting and cutting traffic deaths by 50%. That’s in addition to more concrete goals like continuing to stripe bike lanes at a rate of 50 miles a year.

And that is the key argument in transforming our own streets.

Do we want to continue to follow the L.A. model of moving ever more cars through our streets, with ever decreasing efficiency — while adding bike lanes at an annual rate less than 5% of New York’s? Or do we want to ensure that more of the people who use those streets get home safely, even if that means arriving at your destination a few minutes later?

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That was something else Charlie Gandy addressed.

What has fueled Long Beach’s rapid transformation was a shift in transportation priorities from moving more cars to livable streets. And changing the city’s privileged class from motorists to pedestrians, bicyclists and businesses, along with a willingness to accept a certain level of congestion in order the achieve other goals.

And that seems like a reasonable trade-off to me.

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Going back to Sadik-Khan’s discussion of the Broadway transformation, given the success of the project, it’s easy to forget that it started out as an experiment. Broadway was initially closed on a temporary basis; it was only a few weeks ago that the closure became permanent.

And that was something else she stressed.

Bike infrastructure is relatively inexpensive — especially compared to other forms of transportation projects. “You can do a lot with a paintbrush and a paint can,” she said.

And it doesn’t have to be permanent.

“You have to experiment, try things out,” she insisted. “If it doesn’t work, okay, you move on and try something else.”

“There’s no risk, except falling behind and not being imaginative.”

We can only hope that LADOT was paying attention.

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One last thought before moving on to today’s linkage.

The panel I hosted on bikes and political action at StreetSummit resulted in a clear mandate for a Los Angeles branch of Austin’s successful League of Bicycling Voters. In fact, over 80% of the people who attended the workshop put their email addresses on an impromptu interest list.

More on that soon.

I also left with an invitation from Charlie Gandy to come down to Long Beach and take a look at what they’re doing down there.

And I plan to take him up on that.

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Josef Bray-Ali may say he’s running out of ideas, but this last one’s brilliant — changing the laws that require parking spaces for residential or retail development to allow bike parking, instead.

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L.A. is a bike Mecca — or at least it was, 113 years ago. The LACBC reports on the East L.A. meeting for the county bike plan, and will work with the South Bay Bicycle Coalition to develop a plan for the South Bay region. Dr. Alex is highly critical of LACBC’s leap into planning and LADOT’s new blog — and takes Damien to task for being too “balanced” in a story about LADOT’s new blog. Stephen Box takes Metro to task for the non-opening of the long unplanned Bike Room at Hollywood and Vine. Learning to ride in L.A. from the perspective of a veteran driver. Mark your calendar for Bike Night at the Hammer Museum on April 8th. Riders on San Francisco’s Wiggle wobble, but they don’t fall down. A 40-year old cyclist must have caught some serious air to cross onto the other side of the road and hit a car head on; thanks to Opus the Poet for the link. The California Bicycle Advisory Committee is scheduled to discuss bike boxes on April 8th. Road rash is a common — and painful — part of cycling. Tell me about it. Even in these Tea Party days, most Americans support safe walking and biking. If an attractive, cycle-chic woman can be invisible on a bike, there’s no hope for any of us. A busy Portland bridge gets a lovely 15-foot wide bike lane. Free bike use for hotel guests in DC. Contending with BPRs (Bike Path Racers) while riding at rush hour in Seattle. A follow-up to Sunday’s information-free story about a cyclist in my hometown critically injured in a left hook collision. The L.A. Times discusses bike sharing in Los Angeles Mexico City (sorry, from the description of car culture-crowded streets and rude, uncaring drivers, it’s hard to tell the difference). Lance, Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins all get invitations to this years Tour; Dutch teams get shut out despite the Netherlands start. AMEX demands compensation from a Dutch cyclist who damaged a rental car by allowing it to run into her. London’s long-planned bike sharing program — or scheme, as the Brits would say — becomes a reality July 30th. Britain’s pedaling posties are being phased out for safety reasons. Buy a home, get a bike. After surviving the war in Afghanistan, a British soldier dies trying to dodge a 15-foot pothole on his bike. Israeli cyclists protest a ban on riding in national parks. Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority encourages people to ride bikes; Dubai Police respond by confiscating them.

Finally, more proof that bikes are entering the mainstream — a full-head helmet wearing bank robber makes his getaway on a red BMX bike, just days after a similar BMX getaway near Seattle; no report on whether they attempted to leap any cars as they fled.

Happy Passover!

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