Nothing like a little earthquake to get your attention.
Appropriately, it struck last night just as I was reading about the LADOT’s absolutely moronic and incredibly short-sighted plan to eliminate the entire bikeways department and cut all bicycle funding in Los Angeles.
No more endlessly delayed bicycle master plan. No more non-existent sharrows. No more attempting to put off the required environmental review for the Expo bikeway.
In other words, pretty much what they’re not doing right now, but without all the meaningless excuses.
But instead of cracking the whip and telling LADOT to get off their collective asses and do something — anything — to make cycling a legitimate part of the city’s transportation plan, the city may seriously consider just cutting their losses, and politely tell every cyclist in the city to just go screw themselves.
If you’re really surprised, you haven’t been paying attention.
Oh, and did I mention that there is a vital city council election for L.A.’s 5th Council District on Tuesday?
Are you starting to get why it matters?
As cyclists, we do seem to have friends on the council, as evidenced by the adoption of the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. But it will take a lot more than just words to make this city safer for the most vulnerable road users.
It takes real resolve, support and action from our civic leaders. And as this proposal clearly shows, that seems to be sadly lacking these days.
And that is why it is so important to vote for David Vahedi tomorrow.
No offense to Paul Koretz. He has an impressive background in local and state government, and had some great responses to my recent questions about biking and transportation issues.
But David Vahedi clearly understands the importance of bicycling and the issues facing cyclists in this city.
As a lawyer, he fought to protect the rights of cyclists. And as a community activist and a member of his local homeowner’s association and co-founder of his neighborhood council — as well as a lifelong resident of the 5th District — he has worked to protect and improve the quality of life around here.
He has also proven to be exceptionally responsive — which is a breath of fresh air after 8 years of Jack Weiss.
When I first got involved in this race, I reached out to each of the six candidates in the primary election for their comments on biking and transportation issues. Much to my surprise, four of the candidates — Vahedi, Adeena Bleich, Robert Schwartz and Robyn Ritter Simon – responded; only two candidates — Paul Kortez and Ron Galperin — did not. (As the above link shows, Koretz did respond to the second set of questions I submitted for the general election, however.)
Only one of those candidates reached out to me, though.
Instead of just talking about the need for more bike lanes, Vahedi wanted to understand the issues from a rider’s perspective. So he picked up the phone and asked me. And then he did something so rare for a political candidate that I was actually stunned.
He listened. Then responded with more questions, until he truly understood what I was trying to say.
That was the first time I ever spoke with him. And the first time I seriously thought of him as someone who could make a real difference in Los Angeles.
Since then, we’ve spoken a number of times. Each time, he’s made it clear that cyclists will have a friend on the council and a genuine voice in city government if he is elected.
He’s also made it clear that he may not always agree with us. But he’s committed to always being open, honest and objective, and listening to whatever we have to say before making a decision. Then casting his vote based on what’s best for his district and for the city, rather than the special interests that currently run city hall.
And that’s all we can ask of any elected official.
I’m not the only one he’s impressed. Vahedi has been endorsed by The L.A. Times and the Daily News, as well as former Daily News editor Ran Kaye. And you can read more about both candidates in the L.A. Weekly and in this article from yesterday’s Times.
There will also be a bike ride tomorrow to help support David Vahedi in tomorrow’s election. You can see the details on Facebook, or just show up at Vehedi headquarters at 10 am on Tuesday, May 19 at 10714 Santa Monica Blvd, on the southeast corner Overland Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.
But whatever you do tomorrow, please — get out and vote.