Unfortunately, his op-ed reads like a work of fiction, as well.
He starts innocently enough, telling the tale of a 65-year old woman who broke her leg falling on the sidewalk in Mar Vista, suffering a compound fracture. And says it took the fire department paramedics ten minutes to get there, even though the station was just five blocks away.
But in which direction, he doesn’t say.
Yet somehow extrapolates that to blame the road diet on Venice Blvd — and every road diet everywhere else — and Vision Zero in general.
Los Angeles, like cities nationwide, is transforming its streets. In July 2017 the city installed a “road diet” on a 0.8-mile stretch of Venice Boulevard in Mar Vista, reducing four lanes to two and adding bike lanes separated from traffic by parking buffers. The project is part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities in the city by 2025. Launched in 2015, Vision Zero is the most radical transformation of how people move through Los Angeles since the dawn of the freeway era 75 years ago.
By almost any metric it’s been a disaster. Pedestrian deaths have nearly doubled, from 74 in 2015 to 135 in 2017, the last year for which data are available. After years of improvement, Los Angeles again has the world’s worst traffic, according to the transportation research firm Inrix. Miles of vehicles idling in gridlock have reduced air quality to 1980s levels.
In fact, Vision Zero in Los Angeles was just vaporware until the Vision Zero Action Plan was released in January, 2017 — two years after community groups began work on a Complete Streets makeover of Venice Blvd, and the same year the Mar Vista Great Streets project was installed.
Never mind that the road diet on Venice reduced it from a massive six lanes to a more manageable four, to reduce crossing distances to improve safety for pedestrians and increase livability.
Not two lanes, as LeGras inexplicably claimed.
Then there’s the claim that pedestrian deaths spiked in 2017, two years after Mayor Garcetti announced the Vision Zero program.
But somehow, before any significant work had been done on Vision Zero, because the action plan, and the High Injury Network it’s based upon, weren’t even released until that year.
Not to mention that none of those pedestrians were killed on streets where Vision Zero improvements had already been installed. So rather than being the fault of Vision Zero in some vague, unidentified way, they can be blamed on the dangerous, deadly LA streets that Vision Zero is intended to fix.
Which is about like blaming the vet because your cat got pregnant after he fixed your dog.
And don’t get me started on LeGras’ laughable implication that Vision Zero is somehow responsible for LA’s worsening traffic and air pollution.
Traffic is bad on streets throughout the LA area, including the other 85 or so other cities in LA County that don’t have Vision Zero programs. Let alone on the streets that haven’t seen any Vision Zero improvements at all. Which is most of them.
Oddly, traffic also sucks on most, if not all, LA-area freeways, which have yet to see a single bike lane or road diet.
The reason LA traffic is getting worse is a population that’s growing by an estimated 50,000 a year, with most of the new arrivals bringing cars with them, or buying one as soon as they get here.
Along with countless kids who receive or buy a car as soon as they’re old enough to drive, resulting in four or five cars cramming the driveways of many family homes. When they’re not out helping to cram the streets.
During the 2017 La Tuna Fire, the biggest in Los Angeles in half a century, a road diet on Foothill Boulevard the in Sunland-Tujunga neighborhood bottlenecked evacuations. After the fire a neighborhood association voted to go off the road diet. The city ignored the request and instead added another one to La Tuna Canyon Road.
It’s noble to want to make America’s streets as safe as they can be. But government officials shouldn’t impose projects on communities that don’t work, inconvenience residents, hurt businesses and impede emergency responders in the process.
As for impeding emergency responders, let’s go back to that 65-year old Mar Vista woman with the broken leg.
A ten minute response time in any emergency should be unacceptable. But countless things can take place to delay emergency responders that have nothing to do with road diets.
It took far longer than that for paramedics to arrive when my father-in-law suffered a fatal heart attack. And that was in a residential neighborhood, in the afternoon, before Vision Zero and road diets were a gleam in Eric Garcetti’s eye.
Responders can be delayed by the same sort of traffic congestion you’ll find on any other major street in Los Angeles, with or without road diets or any other form of traffic calming or safety improvements.
Never mind motorists who don’t have the sense to pull to the right like the law requires. Which seems to be the majority of LA drivers these days.
May 21, 2018 /
bikinginla / Comments Off on Another open letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council of Los Angeles #CrashCityHall
There wasn’t time to get all the #CrashCityHall letters online last week.
So we’re going to post the remaining letters over the next few days — starting with this powerful post from registered dietician and endurance cyclist Matt Ruscigno, founder of LA’s iconic Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer hillclimb.
Dear Mayor Garcetti and City Council of Los Angeles,
I’m writing to you today as a long-time resident of our wonderful city, a public health expert, and a recent victim of an inattentive automobile driver. That collision left me with 16 broken bones requiring 6 nights in the hospital, a chest tube, and a surgery to install metal plates in my shoulder and collarbone. If I weren’t a skilled cyclist, I would probably be dead.
It’s easy to dismiss this as an ‘accident,’ but the statistics on the number of people injured and killed by automobile drivers in Los Angeles paint a different picture. This is a public health crisis. Yet we know how to fix it:
Reduce automobile speed limits
Invest in infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians
Reimagine public space to focus on people, not automobiles
Los Angeles and California are leading the way in reducing automobile emissions but are falling behind (see London, Bogota, New York, Copenhagen for examples) when it comes to the public health issue of people dying in the streets because automobile speed and convenience is prioritized over human safety.
Los Angeles is a beautiful city with near perfect weather for cycling and walking year round. And we are simply running out of space to store and transport personal automobiles. The benefits of building infrastructure that makes human-powered transportation more accessible are well established:
Improved air quality and lower rates of asthma, especially among children
Increased physical activity that lowers risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic diseases
Fewer automobile collisions that result in injury or death of our most vulnerable road users
The potential to transform our city is awesome, in the true sense of the word, but it won’t be easy. Copenhagen didn’t become a place where 24% of city trips are taken by bike overnight. It took strong leadership and knowledge to re-imagine how city space is used. This isn’t about cyclists versus drivers; it’s about making it easier for more people to walk and bike more often.
The statistics are there: something needs to be done, and soon. We can build on what other cities have done and apply it uniquely in our wonderful city. There are thousands of us here to help, but we need leadership from our elected leaders. There simply isn’t enough space in the city to keep prioritizing automobiles, so the question is, how many more people have to be injured or killed before we start taking concrete steps? I hope we can do this soon as I’d hate to see a single person go through the pain I’ve experienced over the last 5 weeks.
No Morning Links today, as we get ready to #CrashCityHall Friday morning. Hopefully we’ll see you there; if not, I’ll see you back here on Monday.
What follows is my letter the mayor and city council. And we’ll feature some of the late arriving letters next week.
May 18, 2018
Dear Mayor Garcetti and the City Councilmembers of the City of Los Angeles,
Howard Beale may have been a fictional character, but he might as well be a citizen of Los Angeles trying to survive on our deadly streets.
Because like many other residents of this great city, I’m tired of living in fear for my own life and the safety of others on the streets and sidewalks of L.A.
And like Beale, we’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.
We live in a city where for too long, the movement of motor vehicles has been prioritized over the safety and movement of human beings. To the point that too many people who drive feel they own the streets, and everyone else has an obligation to get out of their way.
Unfortunately, too many members of our city council seem to agree. If not in their words, then by their actions.
The elected leaders of this city have voted to adopt Vision Zero, but failed to adequately fund it. You’ve adopted the 2010 Bike Plan and Mobility Plan 2035, but failed to build it. You’ve adopted Complete Streets policies, but failed to support them when it came time to put paint on the street.
And you hired one of the leading traffic planners in the United States, but you listen instead to the complaining voices of untrained motorists who don’t want to be delayed for a few moments on their commute. Even if it means saving the life of another human being. Or their own, for that matter.
As Stevie Wonder put it, “If you really want to hear our views, you haven’t done nothing.”
So let’s be perfectly clear.
Many, if not most, of the people you were elected to represent may drive cars. But we are all human beings, some of whom bike, some of whom take transit, and all of whom walk.
And none of whom want to bury a loved one or feel threatened on the streets. Yet too many of us do, every day.
As a human being, I don’t want to see one more needless death or injury on the streets of Los Angeles. As a taxpayer, I don’t want my city to waste one more penny on the needless lawsuits that result.
And as an Angeleno, I want safer and more livable streets for all of us.
When you side with the traffic safety deniers, who like climate change deniers, reject the proven science of traffic safety and urban planning, and insist on their right to drive with the pedal to the metal, you are choosing their convenience over the safety of literally everyone else.
And failing the people who voted you into office, and who you were elected to serve.
The people who have written the letters in this packet, and those who will speak before the council today, are not activists. We are the citizens of Los Angeles, who are sick to death of being treated like second class ones at the expense of motor vehicles.
We know that failure to take action now to build Complete Streets and provide safe, viable alternatives to driving that allow Angelenos to choose to leave their cars at home will inevitably lead to a dystopian, smog-choked and gridlocked future.
Because right now, traffic in Los Angeles is as good as it will ever be, as more and more cars are added to an already built-out traffic grid.
Only you can prevent the inevitable failure of a once-great city by taking action right now to ensure the safe, livable and prosperous Los Angeles we all want.
We understand that takes courage to do the right thing in the face of public opposition. But you weren’t elected to blindly follow the voices of those who scream loudest.
Anyone could do that.
You were elected to lead this city. To carefully examine the issues and make the tough decisions that will benefit your district, and all of L.A.. And make this the city that it can and should be, for all of us.
We are your constituents. We don’t want to be the victims of your inaction.
And we’re not willing to wait one more day for safer streets for our children, parents, families and friends.
So we ask you, today and every day, to have the courage to do the right thing.
We’ll have your back when you do.
Council District 4
One more brief note.
This may be the best letter we received for #CrashCityHall, even if it is the shortest.
Dear Los Angeles,
Please be so kind as to stop killing cyclists and pedestrians.
In an effort to “be the change you want to see in the world,” I sold my car ten years ago and have since used my own feet, a bicycle, or the transit system to get around. While the results of this have brought the most rewarding experiences of my life, it has also been a struggle to live without a car in a car’s world.
Drivers are becoming increasingly more distracted, careless, unsympathetic and enraged. These behaviors cause not only car accidents but the deaths of cyclists and pedestrians, who travel without the protection of metal armor. Why do drivers feel so entitled to the roads? Why is this set of traits common in the majority of car owners? It’s easy to see the answer on the streets – they’re designed specifically for cars. With lanes designated for driving, turning and parking, there’s often no space left for a bicycle to squeeze through. And pedestrians must be defensive even when walking through a crosswalk with a walk signal. Drivers are impatient to share the road when they believe it belongs to them.
Every time you see a cyclist in the streets of LA, please understand the fear we’ve overcome to be there. Please know that we have been spit at, screamed at, sworn at, had objects thrown at us, been told to “get off the road,” have had way too many “close calls,” or have lost a fellow cyclist to careless driving or road rage. And yet we’re still out there. As pedestrians and cyclists we’ll continue to defend our space on the streets, but we would truly appreciate some help from our representatives. Please take some steps to create streets that belong to everyone. A city’s priorities are evident in it’s infrastructure and use of public space. If you, dear City Council Members, were to add more bike lanes, create some road diets, invest in green spaces instead of parking lots – think of the message you’d send.
Pico-Union, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Join us tomorrow as we #CrashCityHall to demand safer streets, and urge city leaders to have the courage to do the right thing.
We’re less than two days away from CrashCityHall on Friday to demand safer streets for people on bikes, on foot, and everyone else.
If you’re as mad as I am about the needless risks bike riders and pedestrians face on our streets — and the lack of action from city leaders — I hope you’ll join us as we crash the 10 am city council meeting. And urge the mayor and city council to have courage the courage to do the right thing.
Since many people can’t be there in person, I’m accepting letters from people who want to have their opinions passed on to the council members at the meeting.
Here’s the third of those #CrashCityHall letters, from Sean Meredith.
From: Sean Meredith
Los Angeles, CA 90027
To Mayor Garcetti and all Los Angeles City Council members:
Ten years ago, for a combination of reasons, I began commuting by bicycle. This harrowing and freeing experience changed me even more than fatherhood. I began to open up to the inequities in our transportation system. For myself, I was willing to risk my life riding and being a second class citizen. But when I imagined myself in the shoes of people who had no option to drive a car. I thought that these folk should be able to get to school, work, or wherever they’re going without dying or feeling constantly threatened. I have since dedicated most of my free time to making biking and walking safe for people of all abilities and ages.
Our car culture is dangerous. And the safety deniers who will trample over anyone’s life to keep the status quo of car dominance are a threat to the future of our city and our world.
Ensuring that public spaces truly serve the people is vital to our daily lives and the future of our planet. This requires our society to confront its expensive commitment to modes of transportation that strangle our communities and warm our climate: cars. Making our roads safe for all users immediately improves mental and physical health outcomes for people of all ages, lessens cancer causing pollutants, and reduces carbon emissions. A world class city where walking is pleasurable, biking is viable, and public transportation is reliable will lower automobile dependency and contribute in the Oight against climate change.
In Los Angeles, pedestrians and cyclists are involved in 14% of trafOic collisions but account for 51% of the fatalities. Hundreds of lives are lost every year and hundreds more families are shattered by these tragic outcomes. Livable streets create community, support local businesses, and are a welcoming environment for residents and visitors of all ages and abilities. As transit consultant Jarrett Walker describes it, a modern city does not have the “geometry” to solve car congestion. Our best option is to develop safe, environmentally friendly alternatives.
Families who want safe streets for all are demanding courage and leadership from our city. Now is always the time to act.
There’s still time to submit a letter demanding safer streets for bicyclists, pedestrians and everyone else if you can’t #CrashCityHall in person this Friday.
May 14, 2018 /
bikinginla / Comments Off on Guest Post: Another open letter to the Los Angeles City Council #CrashCityHall
Recently, I announced my intention to #CrashCityHall this Friday to demand safer streets.
And invited anyone who’s just as mad as I am about the needless risks bike riders and pedestrians face on our streets — and the lack of action from city leaders — to join me. And tell the mayor and city council to show have courage the courage to do the right thing.
Since many people can’t attend a 10 am city council meeting, I’m accepting letters from people who can’t make it, but still want to have their opinions passed on to the council members at the meeting.
Here’s the second of those #CrashCityHall letters, from Doug Moore.
May 18th, 2018
To Mayor Garcetti and all Los Angeles City Council members,
I write you today in an effort to get you to start thinking about how dangerous our car culture has become in Los Angeles. And to urge you, our city leaders, to implement ways to make our streets more safe for all that use them.
In so doing, these changes will bring other qualities such as reduced car noise, nicer public spaces, better air quality and stress free walking, cycling, jogging and dog walking –and yes, driving.
Being a cyclist, I am very aware of how badly our streets and boulevards have suffered because of the amount and speed of traffic.
I live in Tujunga, CD7, Council Member Monica Rodriquez district. Each morning, I bike a short way on Foothill Blvd to board LADOT Express Bus 409 to DTLA.
I de-bus at the Glendale Park & Ride, prep my bike then cycle 13 miles to my office at USC.
I travel through Glendale, to Eagle Rock Blvd/Cypress Ave (Council District 14, Jose Huizar) to the Broadway Bridge into Chinatown (Council district 1, Gil Cedillo) to Hill street, then to Olympic Blvd then Figueroa (Council District 9, Curren Price) and finally to campus. In the afternoon I reverse this trip – with a slightly different route. On Fridays I drive.
I would like to provide the following undisputable facts, that come from years of this type of cycling, this type of intimacy with traffic, this type of exposure to our roadways:
Our streets are more dangerous than they have ever been – mostly because of excess speed.
Drivers are more distracted than ever before in our city’s history.
Motorists are driving while smoking weed. Alot!
Many drivers are attentive and share the road. But there is a disturbing trendwhere higher numbers of drivers are doing just the opposite.
Painted cycling infrastructure such as “Sharrows”, striped lanes, colored lanes,pedestrian crosswalk demarcation & similar are often seen as ‘optional’ for motorists.We all know about the latest trend of motorist hit-and-run tragedies. These have left other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists severely injured or dead.Here in Tujunga, in April, a DOUBLE FATIL hit and run occurred on Foothill Blvd. The driver, as of this writing, has yet to be apprehended. An innocent couple, engage to be married have perished from our community.
Where has this selfish, narcissistic attitude from drivers come from?
We all know about the speed of traffic on major roads and boulevards is dangerous even at legal limits, but when most drivers are 10, 15, or even 20 mph above and beyond, the danger level is unacceptable.
Where does this need-to-speed attitude come from?
We all know about the horrible traffic congestion in our city and how it continually downgrades the quality of life here. We skip get-togethers. We forgo dinners and kids sports and other social engagements across town – because “the traffic getting to the Westside from Eagle Rock is a nightmare”.
It’s not funny anymore. It’s a serious soul-sucking way of life in our city. Why have we surrendered our social connections and quality of life?
The answer to all these is the same: Our run-away, out-of-control car culture. We’ve reached “peak-car” in our city.
I know that you, leaders of this city, who are smart and insightful and understanding, know this too. You can see it as we all do.
We must start to make changes. I don’t have all the answers, but there are ideas out there that organically reduce traffic speeds. That help separate cars from people walking. Jogging. Cycling. Walking the dog. That make our public roadways safer for everyone who uses them, including motorists.
Widen the sidewalks, not freeways. Add separated bike lanes, not car lanes. Make streets and boulevards pleasant. Green with more trees and shade. More quiet to provide a nice place to shop. To hang-out with neighbors. To read on a bench.
As far as safety, traffic cops at critical intersections help so much! Intersections are where many of the dangers lie for cars vs walkers and bikers. I love seeing these guys when approaching an intersection, whether by car or on bike. Everyone is instantly on best behavior and courteous.
Getting buy-in and approval on these changes is the hard part, of course. Motorists tend to seethe at reduced speeds and “perceived” increase in commute times. Reduced lanes. Less parking. But this is the right direction for Los Angles. The right thing to do in your district.
We’ve tried over and over to increase the car infrastructure thinking that these projects would help. Did widening the 405 Fwy really help? What a huge, expensive, time consuming project.
It’s time to swing the other way on transportation projects. Less “car-centric”, more “people-centric”. Motorists are people too, and they’ll appreciate these changes.
When faced with options in difficult circumstances such as this, an upside is this: it’s always easy to pick out the correct option. It’s the one that tends to be avoided. It’s the one we put at the bottom of the list. It’s the one that’s the hardest.
Why? Because the right thing to do is always the hardest thing to do. That’s a fact of human nature.
I know you are thinking: “Change the car-culture, yeah, right.” But it can be done. In bits and pieces. You will gain converts. It can build momentum and you must try, as lives of our residents are depending on safe passage to work, school and the market.
In the book “Profiles of Courage”, check out the examples of other great leaders, who have acted bravely. Acted with integrity. Gone against the opinions of their constituents to do the right thing.
As a cyclist (yes and a motorist too) I am growing weary of seeing yet more Ghost Bike installations that signify the death of a fellow rider.
As a motorist, I’m continually saddened and outraged to see yet another makeshift memorial of candles, Crosses and flowers where a Mom or Dad or son or daughter or young couple was killed in a crosswalk.
We can do better and am counting on you all to have the courage to do so.
Thank you for your time today. Be brave. Do the right thing. And finally, a reminder that it’s Bike Month. Get out and ride. You’ll be glad you did.
Recently, I announced that I intend to #CrashCityHall next Friday to demand safer streets.
And invited anyone who’s just as mad as I am about the needless risks bike riders and pedestrians face on our streets — and the lack of action from city leaders — to join me. And tell the mayor and city council to show have courage the courage to do the right thing.
Since many people can’t attend a 10 am city council meeting, I’m accepting letters from people who can’t make it, but still want to have their opinions passed on to the council members at the meeting.
Here’s the first of those #CrashCityHall letters, from Raquel Jorge.
To the City Council of Los Angeles and To whom it may concern:
My name is Raquel, I’m 44 years old and have been using a bike as a mean of transportation for the past 30 years. I have cycled in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, and had the opportunity to learn about urban transportation from Mumbai to Copenhagen, from Hanoi to Marrakesh, from New York to Sao Paulo.
While on the road I have faced harassment, had 3 bikes stolen, saw my life flashing in front of me more times than I could count and lost a few friends to traffic animosity.
But I’m not writing to talk about me. We are at a point where we must understand the importance of empathy. We need to be able to look beyond our little own problems and needs and see the bigger picture. It is no longer a question of what I think or you think. It is a question of what we know, with plenty of data to corroborate this knowledge.
Gridlocks and excess of cars in urban areas aren’t a local issue, but one that every big city in the world is facing. The problem goes behyond safety; it encompasses environmental destruction, increased air pollution, the use of limited natural resources, and health damage to all.
I understand that being able to commute by bike is not everyone’s reality. There are many people who simply cannot do it due to health limitations, distances, nature of work and so on. The way you choose to commute is entirely up to you and it is your right to go wherever you want safely. But it is also mine and that of those who choose to walk, to skate, to rollerblade, to scooter. Understand that owning a car does not give one ownership of the streets. They are there for everyone.
I’m not asking anyone to leave their car at home and ride a bike to work. All I’m asking is to be able to bike without having my life in constant threat. Your right to drive your car on the street is the same as mine to ride my bike.
Changing paradigms is always a hard and long process. Cities like Amsterdam have suffered the same obstacles before it became an example. If we want a better future we need to get out of our comfort zone and start thinking that what benefits the collective will, eventually, benefit the individual.
I’m an experienced rider and I can ride on the streets, no problem. But new riders may not. New riders as well as kids and the elderly won’t consider biking possibility due to fear. That is why a safer infrastructure is vital to ensure a better life in the urban areas. Not today, not tomorrow, but for the next generation. Because let’s face it — if it carries on as it is, it will be unbearable to live in LA and other cities in the very near future.
What world would you like to leave for your kids?
The whole world is desperately searching for solutions, such as investing in public transportation and safer streets for everyone. Paris, London and New York are great examples of that. So I find hard to believe that there are people who are against projects such as Vision Zero. Can’t they see beyond themselves? Go ahead and read about it. See what is happening around the World (or do they really believe that Global Warming is a Chinese invention?). Safer streets are proven to improve the quality of life of communities…Local shops will benefit from more people on the roads…Parking will be less of a problem. Not to mention cyclists are, in general, happier than those stuck in traffic…So let’s keep them alive, shall we?
As far as traffic codes go, there is one that is paramount: “The bigger is responsible for the safety of the smaller.” A truck is responsible for a car’s safety, a car for a cyclist’s, a cyclist’s for a pedestrian’s and a pedestrian’s for the dog’s. It’s as simple as that.
In the meantime, while we are here fighting for a more sensible infrastructure, there is something that we can start practicing right now — mutual respect. I respect your right to drive your car. Please respect mine to ride my bike. And we should all be able to get home to our families in one piece.
If you can’t #CrashCityHall on Friday, email a letter demanding safer streets for bicyclists, pedestrians and everyone else to ted at bikinginla dot com by this Wednesday.
The president and co-founder of the nonprofit group Bikecar 101, and a board member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, his comments were insightful enough that I asked him to write a guest post on the subject.
And as someone who works at CSUN, he offers a unique perspective we haven’t heard yet.
Re: Councilmember Mitch Englander’s Motion on LimeBike Bikshare in Northridge
I am writing you today to discuss the addition of a new transportation mode in the Valley – around the campus of California State University at Northridge. The program is a dockless bikeshare program offered by the company ‘LimeBike’ and has been a huge success. Obviously there are ‘growing pains’ with any new addition to a community. Which is why we need your support – as the community to voice your support of a health promoting (stress reducing), traffic congestion reducing, and economy increasing program. Call Councilmember Mitch Englander or email and express your support for the program or sign a petition initiated by CSUN students, which can be found here.
That is my pitch, now let me back my pitch up with statistics and testimonials to show data contrary to the information produced in a motion by the councilmember for an emergency moritorium on bikeshare in the Northridge area. First and foremost, I must state a disclaimer. I write to you as a RESIDENT of Northridge. I am also an employee at the university – CSUN – but not writing on behalf of the institution. I am a board member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council – but am not writing on their behalf either. Last but not least, I am the president of Bikecar101 – a non-profit organization with a mission to educate and advocate for greater bicycle use on trains (Metrolink, Metro light rail, and Amtrak) in Southern California. Now that I have covered all of my basis for disclaimers, let me show statistics for the newly emerging and exciting LimeBike dockless bikeshare program.
In the following paragraphs, I would like to briefly state the benefits and a few testimonials regarding the new LimeBike program from my perspective. As you will see, the statistics are showing positive momentum for active transportation. Incorporating a dockless bikeshare program into a community provides another mode of transportation which enhances the well-being of the community through health and economic gain.
LimeBike Statistics and Benefits
With the addition of 400 dockless LimeBikes delivered to the CSUN campus, the program has been a HUGE success among students and surrounding participates in the region. Here are a few numbers from the use of students already:
7,000 subscriptions have already been completed. This subscription makes future use easy by storing the user’s e-mail and credit card information.
In just three and half weeks in use, the riders have travelled by bicycle (LimeBike dockless bikeshare) a total of 13,000 miles – Wow!
LimeBike doubled their workforce to implement ‘sweeps’ at 7am and 7pm – which consists of driving around each day and collecting unused (or abandoned) bicycles while returning them to areas of greatest use (high demand).
Students feel safer while riding a bicycle back to their house/apartment at night.
As of last week, a total of 40,000 rides have been taken on LimeBikes in the Valley.
Now that I have stated the facts, let’s put them into perspective. First and foremost is student safety. Students have shown up to Northridge East Neighborhood Council recently (a week ago) and gave statements about the positive attributes of LimeBike use — specifically personal safety at night. Riding a bicycle back home provides a greater sense of safety. Are we as residents of the Valley going to revoke this new emerging (and growing) program? Student safety is on the backs of LimeBike’s opponents.
Next, the numbers of subscriptions and rides are impressive and exceed LimeBike’s expectations. With 7,000 subscriptions, LimeBike users have traveled a total of 13,000 miles through 40,000 rides – Wow! To put that number into perspective – 13,000 miles – the total distance traveled by LimeBikes in less than a month, a person could travel a total of 2 round trips from Northridge to New York City. Another way to visualize 13,000 miles is to use ‘round trips to San Francisco’ as a metric. A person could travel a total of 17 round trips. Yes you read correctly, this means that LimeBike riders have traveled a total of 2 round trips from Northridge to New York City and back or 17 round trips from Northridge to San Francisco and back. That is amazing in just under a month.
Last but not least, the rides taken on LimeBikes have reduced overall traffic congestion in the Northridge area. LimeBikes are being used to access the Metrolink Train Station and the Metro Orange Line. This means that LimeBike is solving the ‘first and last mile’ to other transit modes. This contributes to the growing momentum toward active transportation playing a greater role in the transportation solution in the future. Remember, these students will be the new professionals of tomorrow. Their decisions around CSUN can positively impact future sustainable transportation decisions. Their experiences will influence their future ‘votes’!! With that in mind, local politicians should be jumping on board to promote diversified transportation options. Lead rather than resist change. Change will be on the horizon regardless when these young professionals vote in politicians that suit their needs – promote health by reducing stress and traffic congestion.
LimeBikes staged for initial distribution at CSUN. Photo by Steve.
The first testimonial is from myself as a resident living across Reseda Blvd from CSUN. As a resident, one of the first observations I noticed upon launching the LimeBike program, was dockless bikes left in the path of travel on sidewalks. This was an initial concern. I first noticed this at the bus stop near Reseda and Superior. As I was walking to school, I noticed a LimeBike in the middle of the sidewalk. I decided to move the bicycle closer to the curb. Yes, as a resident, you too can help solve a problem. I wondered at that moment — when would that bicycle would be used next. To my surprise, no sooner than I could push the traffic signal ‘walk button,’ did a passenger get off of the Metro Bus and stare at the LimeBike I had just moved. I walked up and tried to assist him in unlocking a bicycle. He had already begun the process. The only question that I was able to ask in the brief time was: “Are you headed toward CSUN campus?” To which he responded, “No, I am headed a different way.” I walked off to work and stored this memorable memory about the newly launched program to share at a later date in time – the time has come.
The second testimonial which I would like to share is that of CSUN students showing up to the Northridge East Neighborhood Council last week to speak about the emerging LimeBike program. All were enthusiastic about the release of 400 bicycles around campus. Each were impressed at the time saved while riding coupled to the obvious health benefits (lowers stress level). Additionally, each was especially thankful for the safety aspect that riding a LimeBike home after class. I was unaware of this aspect provided by LimeBike. On the way home from the meeting, I asked my wife if she agreed with the testimonials given by the students. She did indeed agree that having the ability to escape via bicycle would give her a greater sense of safety. At the very least, she stated, she could envision ‘throwing’ the bicycle at an attacker to provide a ‘barrier’ between herself and them. This is a strong aspect/benefit of a LimeBike which should not be discounted by opponents.
Last but not least, I would like to share the overall feeling of a Northridge Vision meeting which I attended at Councilmember Mitch Englander’s office regarding the LimeBike program unveiling. At the time, the program had been deployed just three weeks and was skyrocketing with success (and still is). The meeting was with various stakeholders (including neighborhood council presidents, and Northridge Beautification headed by Don Larson). In light of resident’s concerns and the unexpected initial challenges with dockless bikeshare, LimeBike and CSUN representatives discussed potential solutions to bicycles being left on private property and blocking sidewalks. I should make clear that Councilmember Mitch Englander was not present at the meeting.
The LimeBike personnel introduced their product and gave statistics across the nation comparing the way CSUN embraced the dockless bikeshare program with other college towns. LimeBike personnel answered all our questions. After LimeBike personnel introduced their product, Ken Rosenthal from CSUN gave introductions to other CSUN employees who are instrumental to outreach relations with the community: Austin Erickson, Francesca Vega, and Rafael DeLa Rosa. CSUN employees were very vocal in their willingness to collect feedback and work with LimeBike to optimize the program.
Of greatest concern were bicycles blocking sidewalks and being abandoned. Each bicycle is equipped with a GPS unit, therefore unused bicycles are flagged automatically. Keep in mind, that LimeBike makes two rounds per day to collect these bicycles – one at 7 am and one at 7 pm. LimeBike made clear to the audience that anyone can call 1-888-LIME-345 (1-888-546-3345) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and a crew will immediately come and collect a misplaced bike. This phone number is displayed on each bicycle. Additionally, users who abandon bicycles in inappropriate locations can be identified. LimeBike is willing to contact the last user and impose a financial penalty.
The greatest discomfort with the new dockless bikeshare program is embedded in the ‘dockless’ aspect. Ironically, the greatest discomfort contributes to the success of the program – ride a bicycle to your destination and lock the bicycle up without any further responsibility. This locked bike is available for another prospective rider. Which means that a person who is looking for a bikeshare bicycle can look on their ‘app’ on their cell phone, instead of traveling to the nearest ‘hub’ where bicycles must be returned to. The dockless nature of the bikeshare program contributes to the greater freedom of destination. LimeBike suggested that a geographical constraint is an option for the program, called geofencing, but in our view this would be a mistake.
When using Tower Bridge Bike Share in Sacramento over this past winter break, we experienced uncertainty and anxiety associated with riding along the American River. Although the trail was wonderful and offered miles of protected riding, we realized that we had ventured outside the intended geofence of the program. We were unable to lock the bikes for fear of a $100 penalty and ended up calling the customer service to confirm the exact procedure that would avoid the fine. The conclusion is that geofencing causes unnecessary fines and diminishes the utility of the bicycles for their intended purpose of enhancing mobility at a low price point ($0.50 per 30 minutes for those with csun.edu email addresses, or $1 per 30 minutes for non-CSUN users).
I left the meeting thinking that these LimeBikes have definitely shown to be a mode of transportation which has benefited the community health and economy. Of course, any new program has a certain amount of ‘growing pains’ associated with the implementation. This takes time. Which brings me to the last point. Councilmember Mitch Englander has not given the community enough time for the LimeBike program to grow into a beneficial program.
Councilmember Englander Aims to Shut Bikeshare Program Down
Recently, Councilmember Mitch Englander proposed a ‘Motion’ to impose an emergency moratorium on LimeBike to stop the program within the community of Northridge. The councilmember further moves that the city council together with LADOT to write guidelines for substantial permitting process with penalties and revocation of permits if dockless bikeshare companies do not adhere to their guidelines. The motion is shortsighted in my mind and is extremely premature, given that these regulations are yet to be written and have no timeline for completion — which could drag on indefinitely. Yet the LimeBike program will be immediately halted if Englender is allowed to move forward with this agenda.
The meeting at Councilmember Englander’s office was adjourned with steps which would be taken if LimeBike (and CSUN) could not correct or address neighborhood complaints with the initial implementation of the dockless bikeshare program. Remember, Councilmember Englander was not present at that meeting. No indication of resident’s complaints were discussed at the Northridge Vision Meeting on Wednesday, February 14th. Only one resident spoke at the Northridge East Neighborhood council meeting on Wednesday, February 21st and he was upset about students running over cats with their cars (not a LimeBike issue specifically). One resident asked how the LimeBikes would be monitored with respect to theft, which is not an issue since each bicycle is GPS-enabled.
Two days after that meeting, on Friday, February 23rd Councilmember Englander released his ‘motion’ to regulate transportation sharing programs, including bikes, electric scooters and cars. Englander’s motion contains extreme measures which were not discussed at the meeting at his office. Councilmember Englander’s motion did not consider that the community would need time to naturally adjust to the infusion of LimeBikes. Implementation of any new program is going to cause a shift in the limited space available for all road, parking lot and sidewalk users.
Already, in the two weeks since the councilman’s motion was filed, there have been fewer issues with abandoned bicycles and bikes blocking sidewalks. Although it is unclear what factors have been responsible for this change in LimeBike user behavior, we celebrate that LimeBike users have grown more considerate with practice. Admittedly, the month of January offered all users 10 free rides. With a decrease in incentives, there may be fewer casual users and more regular users who appreciate the freedom of the LimeBike program and exercise it responsibly.
Councilmember Mitch Englander is rushing to shut down the program at CSUN. What this shows is that Councilmember Englander is not for active transportation. Furthermore, Councilmember Englander does not support bicycles as a mode of transportation. Although, I have heard him brag in the past about having the “highest density of bike lanes in his district.” These two ideas are at odds with one another. I am disappointed in Councilmember Englander’s position. His motion shows that he is not a ‘forward thinker’ as he claims to be on a frequent basis. He is stuck in a car culture mindset which is sad – since the rest of the world are starting to wake up and incorporate other modes of transportation into their respective communities.
In conclusion, we live in a democracy. As a result, politicians such as Councilmember Englander are elected individuals. Unfortunately, Councilmember Englander has decided to listen to a ‘few residents’ stuck in the car culture mindset and propose a motion to shut down the LimeBike dockless bikeshare system. Since we live in a democracy, this affords us the opportunity to express our views through our votes. Furthermore, in between elections, we can express our views via avenues: social media, e-mail, phone calls, and letter mail. I would ask each member of the region to reach out to Councilmember Mitch Englander’s office and express your concern about shutting down a great addition to the community. Tell his staff or him (more importantly) that you support LimeBike dockless bikeshare program – Do Not Shut Down the LimeBike Bikeshare program!!!
Remember the safety aspect of the program aside from the economic gain for the community. Let’s make our region a better place to travel within. Last but not least, CSUN is holding a petition which you can sign if you choose not to contact him yourself – click here. Below is the contact information for Councilmember Mitch Englander:
We’ll catch up on anything we might have missed tomorrow.
To the board members of the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council,
Tonight you’re scheduled to discuss a response to the draft Hollywood Community Plan, including the proposed bike lanes included in the Mobility Plan 2035.
However, the draft response contains references to maintaining the community’s current over-reliance on motor vehicles, as opposed to improving safety and connectivity for transit, walking and bicycling to encourage people to use other forms of transportation whenever practical.
At the same time, the president of this board is on record as opposing plans for road diets, saying proponents need a reality check. And letters are included that call at least one bike lane through the Cahuenga Pass — and perhaps others — “infeasible.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Or do more harm to the Hollywood community in the years to come.
The truth is that road diets, more accurately known as lane reductions, can actually improve traffic flow and reduce congestion while increasing safety for all road users. And bike lanes can improve the livability of the community, while increasing the commercial health of local businesses and property owners.
Paris did more than conduct a road diet; they converted an entire highway along the Seine to pedestrian use. Despite predictions of gridlock, the traffic has simply disappeared, with no increase in traffic on surrounding streets.
The road diet on Rowena Avenue in Silver Lake has been a proven success, reducing average speed back down to the posted speed limit with no adverse effect on traffic volume, while significantly improving safety for all road users.
And despite the initial complaints of business owners, York Blvd in Highland Park has thrived after a road diet was installed; even just six months after completion, it had no negative effect on local businesses.
Meanwhile, there are additional benefits to bike lanes, with or without a road diet.
The best part is, everyone gets to enjoy these benefits, whether or not they ever ride a bicycle. All that’s required is to make it safer, easier and more convenient for other people to ride their bikes.
On the other hand, the best way to ensure the failure of our traffic grid is to do nothing to encourage people to leave their cars at home, as more and more people move to the city, bringing their cars with them. And more people buy cars thanks to low interest rates and a booming economy.
As counterintuitive as it may seem to some, the solution isn’t to maximize the space given to motor vehicles and their drivers.
Los Angeles streets — and Hollywood in particular — are already built out to capacity. And rapidly filling to it, as well.
Our streets will all grind to halt if we don’t take steps now to make bicycling, walking and transit more viable options for more people. The only thing that’s actually infeasible is to continue on the almost exclusively car-driven path we’re on now.
Simply put, when you say no to road diets and bike lanes, you say no to safety, livability and commercial success. And that your ability to drive unimpeded is more important than people’s lives, and a healthy, thriving community.
Please do the right thing, and support the bike lanes in the draft Hollywood Community Plan.