Tag Archive for L.A. bicycling community

Looking at the big picture

Call it the curse of an inquisitive mind.

Instead of just enjoying the moment, I have a habit of trying to figure out the big picture, and put it all in perspective.

Take last Friday’s Transportation Committee meeting, for instance. In retrospect, it feels like a watershed moment. But where, exactly, is that water flowing?

Some of it sprang from the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights, as the committee members voted to send it to the full City Council, with their recommendation for approval — although they did ask the City Attorney’s office to review it, as they should. Even though the odds of the lawyers keeping their hands off it are comparable to Barack Obama asking George W. Bush to stay on as ambassador to Iraq.

Ain’t gonna happen.

Then there was the unexpected support that cyclists received from the members of the committee. Or at least, unexpected to me, anyway.

Maybe people who had been more involved in this process had some inkling of the support we were about to receive. But based on my previous experiences with city hall, I was surprised, shocked, stunned and stupefied. And those are just the S’s.

In fact, the only thing more shocking was the audience.

A quick look around the room revealed an unexpectedly large turnout of riders, of nearly every possible description.

Old riders and young riders. Slow riders. Bicycle commuters. Fat tire fans and fixie fanatics. Roadies, off-roaders and racers. And everyone in between. About as disparate a group of two-wheelers as you’ll find anywhere, and all united, for once, in demanding their right to the roads of this fair city.

Except, for once, we didn’t have to. Which was probably the most shocking thing of all.

So what does it all mean?

It means we have friends at city hall. Or at the very least, people who understand the value of bicycling in reducing traffic congestion and smog, and are willing to support us in making this a more rideable — and livable — city.

Then again, as the Times’ Steve Hymon suggests, it’s not unusual for politicians to say they support something, as long as they don’t actually have to do anything. And the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights will be nothing more than a lot of pretty words until the city actually turns those concepts into concrete action.

It means that we all owe a big round of thanks to the people who started this process, back when the chances of success were every bit as infinitesimal as that of a black man becoming president, so that the latecomers — like me, for instance — could enjoy the fruits of their success. And take some small pride in jumping on the bandwagon before it crosses the finish line.

And it means I was wrong.

Because despite what Enci had to say following the good doctor’s Mandeville Canyon brake check, I really didn’t believe this city had a bicycling community. That unfortunate incident marked my introduction to the local cycling community; Friday’s meeting offered proof that it really exists as more than just a series of ships that pass in the bikeway.

It’s one thing for cyclists to unite in outrage when someone deliberately assaults our fellow riders — and forces us to confront that fact that it could have been any of us. But it’s quite another for such a widely varied group to come together and sit through a typically bureaucratic committee meeting in support of their rights as riders.

However, as Stephen Box’s latest post makes clear, we still have a long way to go.  It’s clear that the L.A. Department of Transportation’s Bikeway’s Department isn’t exactly on our side, whether due to an abundance of caution or outright opposition to cyclists on the roads. And as we’ve seen, there’s a large segment of the driving public of that doesn’t exactly welcome our presence on the road, either.

So yes, we won this round, and we should feel good about it. But we have a lot more work to do to turn that Bill of Rights into concrete action that ensures our place on the road, as well as the safety of every rider.

Because no one should ever have to risk their life — or sacrifice their rights — just to ride a bike.

And arriving home safely is the most important right of all.


San Diego cyclists are up in arms when a ghost bike is removed earlier than promised. As long as we’re talking about L.A.’s getaways, turns out it is possible to do Santa Barbara without a car. Streetsblog L.A.’s Damien Newton interviews C.I.C.L.E.’s new Exec Director. LACBC gets into the t-shirt biz. Lance’s comeback helps kill next year’s Tour de Georgia, while N.Y. cyclists complain police are writing tickets for using the bike lane. An Altadena weather cam catches what looks an awful lot like a UFO. And finally, this is why we live in L.A.

Sometimes, not riding is the right thing to do

Just as the weatherman predicted, this turned out to be a beautiful day. A perfect day for riding, in fact — warm, mostly sunny and almost no wind.

In fact, when I stepped outside this morning, every fiber of my being urged me to get on the bike, and not look back until I had at least 30 miles under my belt. Every fiber, that is, except the ones that insisted I belonged here, instead.

Maybe it had something to do with putting my money where my mouth is. Maybe it was a genuine desire to make a difference, or hold our elected officials accountable.

Or maybe I just wanted to meet some of those people I read every day. Like the ones you’ll find over there on the right.

So I rearranged my schedule, put off a couple of work calls, and made it out of here about 15 minutes after the meeting was supposed to start. Then there was the hour drive it took to travel 12 miles from West L.A. to downtown. (Note to L.A. traffic planners: if you really need another reason why we need to put more bikes — and fewer cars — on the roads, I’d say that just about sums it up.)

Combine that with the 15 minutes it took to hike from the parking lot and pass through security, and I got to the 3-hour City Council Transportation Committee meeting about the time it was halfway over. So I’ll let someone who was actually there for the whole thing tell you what happened.

What I saw, though, was surprising enough.

From a room full of cyclists of every possible description, to council members  — like Bill Rosendahl and Wendy Greuel — who actually seemed to give a damn about making this city a better place for bicyclists, not to mention the other people we share the roads with (or with whom we share the roads, if you prefer).

And to be fair, some of the other people who were there had good things to say about Tom LaBonge, who was called away before I arrived, and Bernard Parks, who was largely silent while I was there.

By the time the meeting was over, I was ready to kiss Rosendahl. Though I don’t think either one of us would have particularly enjoyed that.

The speakers from the L.A. Department of Transportation were a different matter. Sharrows have been used successfully in a number of cities for years now — even right here in Los Angeles, on the campus of UCLA. And yet, to hear them talk, you would assume it was some sort of new technology that must be tested in double blind safety studies to prove they won’t explode or turn us into brain-sucking mutant zombies.

And not only could they not figure what streets to put them on, they weren’t even sure if the paint would be too slick to ride on safely. (Note to LADOT: just call UCLA and ask them what the hell they used, since it hasn’t seemed to have killed anyone yet.)

They also weren’t sure sharrows could, or should, be painted on busy streets. (Note to LADOT: we already ride on those streets. We’d just like it to be a little safer, please.)

In the end, though, it turned out to a pretty positive experience — even if it did cost me a good ride.

And all those cyclists I met?

They turned out to be pretty nice people, too.

L.A. has a bicycling community? Who knew?

Imagine my surprise. Here I’ve pictured myself a lonely voice crying in the bicycle wilderness, and it turns out I may not be so lonely after all.

As part of the continuing coverage of the July 4th Mandeville Canyon incident, KABC-7 did a follow-up report on yesterday’s evening news (thanks to laist.com for posting the link — if KABC has it online, they’re doing a damn good job of hiding it). As part of that report, they mentioned that L.A. city council member Bill Rosendahl has endorsed the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights.

Say what?

That sent my little fingers running to the Google, as our fearless leader calls it, which told me I could read all about it here. Not only did I discover an effort by my fellow cyclists to help keep us all safe and alive, I found out there is actually a community of writers focused on bicycling.

Obviously, I’ve got some reading to do. For instance, here’s a good post on California bike laws and road safety.

Meanwhile, this Cyclist’s Bill of Rights seems to make a lot of sense, and it beats the heck out of my best idea, which was to wear a jersey reading “Thank you for not killing me today.”

Personally, I’m fond of Nos. 3 & 4, based on my own personal experience (see my post from July 8, Road rage against the machine).  But the whole thing makes a great platform for future city planning, as well as giving cyclists a voice in the community, and — finally — the equal protection under the law even, yes, bicyclists are promised under the Constitution.

Frankly, I thought my rabble-rousing days were long over, but it looks like we’ve all got some politicking to do. You can contact the Mayor of Los Angeles here — just don’t expect anyone to actually get back to you (again, based on my own personal experience) — and you can find contact information for city council members here.

And if you ride Mandeville Canyon, don’t forget to attend Rosendahl’s Town Hall meeting on Monday, July 14 starting at 6:30p to discuss how bicyclists and residents can co-exist in the canyon. (Thanks to la.streetsblog.org for posting the notice, since even Rosendahl’s own website doesn’t make any mention of it yet.)


%d bloggers like this: