Tag Archive for Bike Master Plan

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.

The L.A. Bicycle Master Plan — Imagine a great city. Or not.

Recently, I was going through my files, and stumbled across the this:

Thomas-Guide-Cover

When I moved back to Los Angeles — the city of my birth — a few decades back, my mother sent me the old 1951 Thomas Guide they’d used when they lived here. Why she kept it, I have no idea. Nor do I really know why I never bothered to look at it until a few weeks ago.

Inside, I found a few hand-written notes marking places our family had lived before I was born, as well as the usual lines and markings people make on maps, indicating routes they had taken and places they’d been.

I spent hours combing through every page, as if it was a personal message from beyond the grave, connecting me to a personal history I’d been too young to remember.

It also connected me to this city’s past. And as I looked through it, what struck me most was something that had long-since disappeared from L.A.’s streets — the many routes of a rail and streetcar system that had once connected virtually every inch of the metro area, as well as extending out to Orange, Riverside and San Bernadino Counties.

The legendary Red Cars of the Pacific Electric Railway, and the Yellow Cars of the Los Angeles Railway.

Thomas-Guide-2

It was, at one time, one of the finest interconnected mass transit systems in the world. Yet this particular map was notable for capturing a period that marked the rise of the freeway and the rapid decline of the Red Cars.

Thomas-Guide-3

Within another 10 years, the final passenger line was discontinued, and the Pacific Electric Railway would cease to exist — perhaps the biggest mistake Los Angeles has ever made, as we now spend billions of dollars to recreate a pale imitation of this once vibrant system.

Now the city is on the verge of another mistake rivaling the dismantling of the Red Cars.

At a time when L.A.’s bicycling community is growing stronger than ever before, and cyclists are demanding a greater voice in the political process, the city has tried to sneak out the much delayed Bike Master Plan by releasing it to neighborhood councils rather than letting cyclists see it — even those who have been deeply involved in the process.

Of course, cyclists soon got wind of the plan, since some serve on their neighborhood councils. And the overwhelming response was that the city had failed once again.

Instead of the bold plan that had initially been expected from the famed Alta Planning + Design, we got an underwhelming, water-down map completely lacking in vision.

No bold thinking. No bike boulevards — let alone bike boxes or even sharrows. No commitment to complete, livable streets that serve all users, rather than just moving vehicles in and out with ever decreasing efficiency. And most of the suggested new bike lanes, at least here on the Westside, came under the heading of “Proposed but Currently Unfeasible.”

It’s been suggested by members of the LADOT that Los Angeles is built out, and there’s no more room to accommodate bikes. But if New York — one of the most crowded and built out cities in the world — can dramatically increase their network of bike lanes, Los Angeles certainly can.

So instead of capitalizing on the momentum provided by the bike community and a rare opportunity to rethink, not just the nature of L.A. transportation, but the very nature of Los Angeles as a more livable city, we get yet another failure of leadership.

A failure that begins at the top, and works its way down through the bloated bureaucracy that actually runs L.A.

 

Liz points out the need for yet another ghost bike, as a cyclist is killed by a DWP truck in the Valley. While Los Angeles can’t figure out how to build, let alone pay for, biking infrastructure, Glendale proposes building a bike corridor using federal stimulus money. Bicycling Magazine reports on how L.A.’s DIY cyclists take the creation of infrastructure into their own hands — something likely to become more common, given the failure of the Bike Master Plan. Stephen Box joins the chorus commenting on LAB’s tarnished bronzes. JHaygood decides to take his kids to school in a Chariot. Flying Pigeon sponsors back-to-back dim sum rides. UBrayj casts a vote for the League of Bicycling Voters. And in Texas, the Safe Passing Bill is on the way to the governor’s desk.

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