Good news and bad news — Box finishes third in CD4, LACBC’s City of Lights honored

Newly re-elected CD4 Councilmember Tom LaBonge with LACBC board member Scott Moore.

Despite running what appeared to be a very smart campaign, bike activist Stephen Box lost overwhelmingly to Council District 4 incumbent Tom LaBonge yesterday.

While he appeared to have support from many in the cycling community — as well as backing from food truck operators — it wasn’t enough to keep him from finishing third in the three man race, with less than half the votes of second place Tomas O’Grady.

And far behind LaBonge, who sailed to victory with over 55% of the vote — echoing predictions from internal polling.

I won’t go into a lengthy post-mortem here. Bicycle Fixation offers a good look at what went wrong, while pointing out LaBonge’s re-election is far from a disaster.

However, it would be wrong to look at this as a failure of the cycling movement in Los Angeles. Prior to the election, a number of cyclists told me privately that they preferred the more moderate and usually bike-friendly LaBonge; so despite how it may have looked before the election, the bike vote may have actually been split between the two candidates. And it’s important to note that many of Box’s most ardent supporters live outside of his district.

In the end, he lost out to one of the city’s most likeable politicians. As well as the power of incumbency, which seems almost impossible to overcome in L.A.

It is worth noting that LaBonge will be termed out in four years, leaving an open seat; whether Box will try again is another question.

So let me congratulate Councilmember Tom LaBonge on winning another four years, and encourage him to continue to be a friend to the cycling community.

And hats off to Stephen Box for a very hard-fought, if ultimately unsuccessful, campaign. And for opening the door for cyclists to run for city office.

Whatever the reasons behind his loss, it wasn’t due to a lack of effort.

And he certainly won’t be the last to try.


Congratulations to the LACBC’s City of Lights program, which was honored last night with the Best Practices Award from the Alliance for Biking and Walking at this year’s National Bike Summit.

The Best Practices Award goes to an organization that serves as a model for other bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations. In 2010, countless individuals and a number of advocacy organizations drew information and inspiration from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. The LACBC’s City of Lights initiative elevated the conversation about “invisible cyclists” – men and women who ride bicycles but whose voices aren’t heard and needs aren’t acknowledged because of language or economic barriers. Through thoughtful outreach and, more importantly, true collaboration, the LACBC is changing the dialogue among city officials about urban planning, bringing new advocates into the movement and, expanding the scope of the bike-ped movement to address critical issues of social and economic justice.


Lately, it seems like half the links on here have to do with the state of cycling in New York City. For instance…

A writer for the New Yorker bizarrely says he supports programs that encourage cycling, as long as they don’t affect his ability to park his Jag, although he does seem to consider bipedalism a passing fad; Aaron Naparstek artfully deconstructs — or perhaps eviscerates — his arguments. The Observer says straw men on bikes represent the city’s last culture war. Turns out that NY pol was only joking about ripping out the bike lanes; it was a real knee-slapper alright. The suddenly embattled Janette Sadik-Khan reports that her controversial efforts to reshape Gotham’s streets have improved safety 40% for all road users; yeah, I can see why they want to get rid of her. Bob Mionske offers his typically insightful perspective on the city’s bike wars. And the Guardian says it could negatively affect the future of cycling worldwide.


If you find yourself in the Valley Thursday afternoon, stop by the groundbreaking for the West Valley L.A. River Greenway. Streetsblog reports $2.6 million in local Measure R funds will go to L.A. bikeways. LADOT Bike Blog looks at the role of mini-roundabouts in calming traffic on bike-friendly streets; considering the way drivers race around the one near me at Eastborne and Westholme, it doesn’t seem to be working. Local SF residents want to live on a street, not a virtual freeway. Cyclicious offers a more in-depth look at the new Bicycle Studies Program at Lees McCrae College.

Looking at the politics of cycling from a female perspective. The National Bike Summit is now underway in Washington DC; one of these days, I’ll find a way to be there. New national bikeway design standards are released. Why you should participate in group rides. The top five most influential women is cycling. After just one year, People for Bikes is one-fifth of the way towards their goal of 1 million cyclists. Traffic-meister Tom Vanderbilt offers an interesting infographic on the causes of traffic jams. Eight states continue to hold out in efforts to create a national bike route system; someone should tell them bike tourists spend money too. A New Mexico State Police spokesman tells cyclists to stay off the open roadways; having spent a lot of time in the Land of Enchantment, I can attest that covers most of the state. In a tragic incident, a blind Illinois cyclist is killed by an apparently distracted driver. A bike theft with a happy ending. Minneapolis cyclists find strength in numbers.

UK cyclists fight back against Northern Ireland’s proposed mandatory helmet law. Evidently, becoming the UK’s leading bike city doesn’t happen overnight, or even in three years. A look atSouth African cyclists. And a brilliant post on looks at driver bias and says cyclists don’t own the road, we rent it; seriously, if you don’t read any other links today, read this one.

Finally, a new study shows that traffic fatalities increase after nail-biter finishes in sporting events, but only in the hometown of the winning team. So you might want to be careful riding after Lakers games, but feel free to ride after Clippers play.


  1. Joe Linton says:

    Valley River Bikeway/Greenway groundbreaking is tomorrow afternoon (you stated “today”) – 2:30pm Thursday March 10th 2011. Thanks for the mention!

  2. What’s this about food trucks, anyway?

  3. La Bonge wants to regulate food trucks and restrict their operation to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants; Box was gung-ho for gourmet food trucks.

    It’s a complex question. Many of the restauranteurs complaining about food trucks were small independents who are deeply involved in their neighborhoods, whereas food trucks come and go without commitment. then again, the competition from the food trucks has led some of the brick-and-mortar operators to revamp their menus and respond the way myth has it businesses respond to competition.

    I eat at some food trucks, but basically they are subsudized as all motorzied road users are ) see “The Gas Tax Fallacy“) and tend to create a lot of trash that other people have to pay to pick up. they are not any holier than regular brick-and-mortar restaurants.

    Anyway, Box made his support of them a centerpiece of his campaign. Myself, I think both Box’s food-truck boosterism and La Bonge’s knee-jerk opposition to them are misplaced.

    Food trucks show up at a lot of cycling events here but have no inherent connection with cycling. Hell, most of us hang out at Pure Luck and Cafecito Organico to be with bike pals, and those are both brick-and-mortars. And many brick-and-mortar restaurants have now started operating a food truck–adding to traffic on LA’s roads, yes?

  4. The Art of the Group Ride says:

    Love your blog, thanks for the link!

  5. PlebisPower says:

    I agree that we in the cycling community do keep a great advocate, but I don’t agree that Box was “too conservative” a candidate (per Bike Fixation). And I definitely disagree on the LA/CRA. That agency has to go. But I digress; I argue the point here because BF doesn’t allow comments!

    Read my post-mortem here:
    The spoiler: blame the electorate. Better yet, blame those eligible to vote but don’t even register.

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