I expect this sort of willful ignorance from the comment section of the Times.
I don’t expect it from the people who have been elected to lead this city.
Admittedly, I didn’t attend Monday’s joint meeting of the City Council Transportation and Budget & Finance committees to discuss a 10% set-aside for bike and pedestrian projects — 5% each — from the local-return portion of Measure R funds.
And since the local news no longer covers local news — even three days later, no one has bothered to report who it was that got killed in Saturday night’s Carson hit-and-run — I’m relying strictly on Damien Newton’s as-always excellent reporting on Streetsblog.
But I went through the ceiling this afternoon when I read his report on yesterday’s meeting. And several hours later, my blood is still boiling.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
I have no problem with someone disagreeing with my stand on any given issue. My philosophy has always been to make my case as clearly as possible, and trust others to make their decisions based on their own best judgment and analysis of the testimony presented.
So while I disagree — strongly — with Council Member and former LAPD Chief Bernard Parks that setting aside a specific portion of Measure R funding might deny funding for more deserving projects, I can respect it.
Even though I think his suggestion to commit “up to 10%” of the funding to bike and pedestrian projects couldn’t be more wrong, since it would cap funding, rather than setting aside a single penny.
The one I really had a problem with was Council Member Greig Smith.
As Damien described it,
Following Parks, Valley Councilman Greig Smith put on a private clinic on how little he knows about transportation funding in the city. After agreeing with Parks’ position, Smith pushed for someone to tell him what percent of residents are cyclists. Of course, there’s no bike counts being done by the city. Smith also didn’t seem to understand that a lot of people are cyclists even if they don’t use their bike every day or even every week. After the city couldn’t answer his question with anything more than a guess, Smith declared that it was “a lot less than 10%.” I guess the Councilman has done his own bike counts and is just keeping the numbers secret from the rest of us? Thus the city shouldn’t set aside “10% for this group.”
So let me get this straight.
Rather than doing a modicum of research to determine a rough estimate of the number of cyclists — a simple internet search would have lead him to the US Department of Transportation’s estimate that 27.3% of Americans over 16 ride bikes — he made up his own number, based on his own evidently extremely limited experience, to conclude that the number was “a lot less than 10%.”
Never mind that the DOT’s figures were based on 2002 numbers, so they don’t reflect the recent boom in the popularity of bikes — let alone L.A.’s mostly flat terrain and year-round riding weather — that should boost that total significantly. Or that even conservative estimates suggest that 15% to 17% of adults ride a bike in a given month.
Then there’s the fact that building bike infrastructure usually results in an increase in ridership, like the recently installed bike lane in New Orleans that boosted ridership among male cyclists 44% for men and 133% for women.
But Smith seems to think he knows something the statisticians don’t.
Then again, he did turn to city officials — presumably LADOT — for an answer. However, most of us can attest that’s exactly the wrong place to turn for information, since, despite their recent attempts at better communication with the cycling community, LADOT clearly seems to believe that the T in their name refers to automotive throughput at the expense of any other form of transportation.
So here’s a suggestion.
As others have noted, it’s long past time that this city stopped relying on misguided guesswork and conducted an accurate count of cyclists and pedestrians in this city. And quite frankly, LADOT should be embarrassed that the LACBC has to do their damn job for them.
Meanwhile, if you’re not a member of the LACBC, it’s time you became one so your voice will be represented before the council and other government bodies.
And while you’re at it, sign up for the new League of Bicycling Voters LA so that our next class of council members might enter office with a little more knowledge of, and support for, bicycling than many of our current officials.
And Council Member Smith, the next time you need information about bikes, call me.
Have your aides email me, and I’ll give them my number. And I promise to drop everything to track down the data you need.
Because frankly, it will be a lot better for everyone if you don’t try to make these things up.
In today’s jurisprudence report, a cyclist is sentenced for criminal threatening in Portsmouth, NH after wielding a large rock in an attempt to apprehend a road raging driver. Meanwhile, the Critical Mass cyclist-shoving cop goes on trial in NY; the victim admits to taunting the officer after being knocked to the ground — and confesses to being a bad driver.
Will coins a new term we can all relate to. Mickey Wally reminds us that the 2nd Bike Day LA is scheduled for May 2nd. More on the police crackdown that nabbed three bike theft suspects with another at large; however, someone needs to teach them how to use a calendar. The President of the League of American Bicyclists visits Long Beach to see what a bike-friendly SoCal city looks like; note that he did not visit semi-bike-friendly Santa Monica. An 18-year old cyclist injured in a Costa Mesa collision last year says the traffic signal didn’t give her enough time to cross the intersection.
The hit-and-run epidemic claims yet another life, as a New York cyclist is taken off life support. Bike sharing kicks off in Denver on Thursday. Tucson celebrates a successful ciclovia. New Orleans’ Gentilly Blvd gets a road diet with enhanced bike lanes. Making Portland cycling less white and middle class; and while we’re on the subject, what’s with the negativity towards bike racers these days? Walmart sells out of their $150 fixie — which isn’t that bad, but isn’t that great, either. Interesting insights on the challenges of representing a competitive cyclist in a personal injury case. An 83-year old Seattle-area woman is critically injured after stepping in front of two passing cyclists. NJ cyclists required to use transit off-peak will see a 64% rate increase; maybe transit should be planned with bikeability in mind. What does it mean when you see a trail of bike parts along the bike path? Missouri moves forward with Complete Streets and Safe Passing legislation. A Portland woman tries to collect 400 used bikes this weekend to send to South Africa.
Global warming means sea levels will rise, so why not floating bikes? London Cyclist lists the top 50 cycling blogs. A tougher, but Lance-free, route for this year’s Tour of Britain. The University of Edinburgh says Lance is the second-happiest tweeter; former Laker Shaq clocks in at number one. Just three weeks into a three year, round-the-world tour, a cyclist is knocked of the road by a British driver. Can you complain about drivers encroaching in the bike lane when the car lane isn’t even wide enough for a Smart Car? Five years for a “sickening” attack on a cyclist that left him permanently brain damaged. New Zealand cyclists complain about cow crap on the bike path; city officials say go home and wash it off.