DIY bike activism in action

Don’t get me wrong.

I like living here in Southern California. Most of the time, anyway. Although I do wish my avian concerns had more to do with protecting baby bird brains than wondering why California’s Official State Bird — aka the police helicopter — is hovering outside my window right now.

And though it may not seem like it sometimes, I do like riding here.

Sure, things could be better. Okay, a lot better. But riding still beats just about anything else I could be doing on the streets of L.A.

Evidently though, word is spreading about the state of cycling around here.

Austin, Texas, cyclists have been cautioned about taking the creation of bike lanes into their own hands, in emulation of L.A.’s own Department of DIY. As the writer put it:

The problem in LA is a non-responsive local government to cyclists’ needs. On the contrary in Austin we have a staff that is very in-tune to requests from our community and a City Council that unanimously passed the new Master Bicycle Plan…

So while we’ve gotten some notable support from the city council, Los Angeles is rapidly becoming known as the poster child for dysfunctional bike planning.

It wouldn’t hurt so much if it wasn’t true. Even built-out cities like New York are putting us to shame.

At the same time, Dr. Alex Thompson’s Don Quixote-ish effort to encourage the League of American Bicyclists to revoke Santa Monica’s Bronze Award is starting to get attention outside the biking blogosphere, thanks to this article in today’s Santa Monica Daily Press. And frankly, I couldn’t agree more.

Meanwhile, a representative from one of the local neighborhood councils has started asking if it wouldn’t be a better idea to throw away the proposed Bike Master Plan, and start over with one of their own.

And I’m continuing to move forward — albeit far more slowly than I would like — with the creation of the Los Angeles League of Bicycling Voters, to provide a strictly political voice for our largely disenfranchised cycling community. Right now, we’re trying to navigate the complexities of the IRS’s rules regulating non-profit political organizations.

And trust me, that ain’t easy. Especially when your wife doesn’t want to find herself on the hook for a massive tax bill because you mistakenly dotted the t and crossed the i.

But as Yoda would say, happen it will. We’re planning to have an organizational meeting soon, once we work out the bugs. I’ll contact everyone who has expressed an interest already to let you know once we schedule it; if you haven’t expressed an interest yet, just leave a comment below and I’ll include you in the list.

Meanwhile, tomorrow — or perhaps today, depending on when you’re reading this — Metro will consider finally lifting its ban on bikes at rush hour. Which should go a long way towards telling us if there’s any real hope for change in L.A.

Or if it’s time for you to grab a can of paint, a petition, bullhorn or a ballot. And Do It Yourself, yourself.


Streetsblog reports that the good doctor will finally have his day in court for last year’s infamous Mandeville Canyon incident. Russ Roca suggests improved signage for the new Long Beach sharrows; despite the fears of LADOT, no one seems to have slipped on the paint yet. Santa Clarita riders consider their safety in the wake of a serious accident over the weekend. Santa Monica hosts their annual Twilight Dance Series at the pier; word has it they’re offering a bike valet to make it more convenient. The AP asks if le Tour is really le clean. A New York writer asks what to do when you find your stolen bike for sale on Craigslist. A Columbia, MO councilman says not so fast about their recent cycling anti-harassment ordinance. Finally, the 90-year old cyclist who was struck by a car in Visalia has died from his injuries; not surprisingly, police blame the victim rather than the driver who hit him.

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