Tag Archive for L.A. City Council

A quantum leap in L.A.’s cycling culture

Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is. Do you Mr. Jones? — Bob Dylan, Ballad Of A Thin Man


It can be challenging growing up with a physicist for an older brother.

Oddly, it doesn't look any different.

By the time I was in 7th grade, I had a better understanding of physics than most of the people who tried to teach me. Like the time I found myself trying to explain Schrödinger’s Cat to one of my science teachers, who couldn’t grasp the concept that a kitty could be both alive and dead at the same time. Or what it was doing in the damn box in the first place.

Or trying to explain that quantum leap doesn’t mean a sudden dramatic change, as most people assume. But rather, it’s an infinitesimally small shift at the subatomic level; yet one that can result in a dramatic change over time.

Sort of like what’s happened over the last year in with bicycling in Los Angeles.*

Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out just when things started to change around here. Maybe it was the Mandeville Canyon case that finally made cyclists mad enough to coalesce around a cause. Maybe it was the LAPD’s tepid response to the infamous Hummer Incident that caused riders to storm City Hall.

Or maybe it was when a group of cyclists got together to metaphorically nail their 12 theses on City Hall’s Wittenberg Door.

I really don’t know.

All I know is that something has changed. And for once, it seems to be for the better.

Take City Hall, for instance.

A year ago, there was minimal support for cyclists in local government. At best, a council member might host a bike ride or two, or stage a two-wheeled press event on Bike to Work day. Current TranspoComm chair Bill Rosendahl seemed to be one of the first to take cycling issues seriously when he tried to host a community meeting to discuss the Mandeville case. And failed, due to the overwhelming anger on both sides.

And no one could seem to recall Mayor Villaraigosa even mentioning bikes, let alone favorably.

Things look a little different today.

Somehow, that quantum leap — or series of leaps — has resulted in a dramatically changed environment for cyclists in this city, especially in the last month or two.

The City Council has responded to the concerns of cyclists by proposing an anti-harassment ordinance, pushing for sharrows and a bike-sharing program, and demanding a real response from the city’s police department. Council President Eric Garcetti went so far as to offer his personal assurance that he’ll keep the anti-harassment ordinance moving forward.

Even the mayor has recently expressed support for the planned CycLAvia. And just this week, he tweeted about his concern for making the streets safer for cyclists.

When Antonio Villaraigosa notices cycling — and actually supports it, no less — you know there’s something serious going on.

For the first time I’m aware of, LADOT General Manager Rita Robinson also offered public support for bike safety and educating drivers about cycling. And Bikeways Coordinator Michelle Mowery assured listeners yesterday that much of the proposed Backbone Bikeway Network is already being incorporated into the revised bike plan, based on feedback from cyclists.

We’ll see.

Meanwhile, the recent appointment of new LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has apparently resulted in a sea change in the department’s attitude towards bicyclists.

In recent weeks, the department has established a task force to address cyclists concerns, and has begun tracking bicycling collisions — revealing that a full 23% of reported bicycle collisions are hit and runs. In addition, they’ve issued a call for cyclists to report dangerous intersections so they can step up enforcement and recommend changes to city planners, and started to crack down on bike theft.

And they’re working on a program to educate officers on the rights of cyclists, and ways to educate drivers and cyclists on how to share the road safely.

Next up, Chief Beck is scheduled to address a special bike-focused meeting of the Council’s Transportation Committee meeting on the 24th. And hopefully he’ll listen to cyclists, as well.

The real test, though, will come when — and if — this change in attitude filters down to the street level.

Then there’s the LACBC.

When I started this blog a couple years back, like a lot of other local cyclists, I didn’t have a lot of use for the County Bike Coalition.

As far as I was concerned, they were wasting their time on relatively trivial matters, and unwilling to take on the serious challenges that face cyclists in Los Angeles. Maybe I was wrong; maybe they were working on things that went under the radar. Or my radar, anyway.

Or maybe they’ve just seriously stepped up their game in the last year or so.

Either way, the LACBC has been actively involved in the changes currently taking place in Los Angeles, from pushing for sharrows, bike-sharing and the anti-harassment ordinance to fighting for the 4th Street Bike Boulevard, a better bike plan and reforming the way the LAPD deals with cyclists.

They’ve also learned to hold their own with aggressive and sometimes unfriendly council members, without backing down. And yes, I’ve been impressed.

So much, in fact, that I’m seriously thinking about joining myself. Which is not something I would have considered a couple years ago. Or last year, even.

And the news media have taken notice, as the L.A. Times, KPCC’s Patt Morrison and Larry Mantle, and others have begun covering cycling on a regular basis.

Things are changing.

It’s up to us to keep up the pressure — on the Council, the Mayor, LADOT, LAPD, and yes, the LACBC. Because it’s up to us keep things moving forward.

And make sure this is just the beginning.

*Admit it, you were wondering where the hell I was going with this.

………

Riding outside the box and keeping yourself — and the city — moving in a more positive direction. Learning from San Louis Obispo’s bike boulevards. Can the Backbone Bikeway Network make North Fig bike friendly? Planning to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe on the Rose Bowl loop. Two new Bike Stations in Claremont and Covina. San Antonio becomes the latest city to approve a three-foot passing distance, while Portland delays a vote on their 20-year bike plan. The Bicycle Leadership Conference wants your input, including a separate survey for female cyclists. Better signage for better bikeways. Encourage cycling through a positive focus, or discourage it through a negative focus on safety? Slap your car with a Bicycle Safe Vehicle sticker, assuming you have one, of course. Busting the myth about taking the lane on a high-speed highway. A missionary’s son bikes from Alaska to Argentina. Cyclists will ride further for long distance trains with fewer stops; maybe cyclists should just park their bikes at the train station and stop complaining. The Bicycling Baronet rides to the rescue of Parliament. Will the Vancouver games result in more than a short-term uptick in cycling? Drivers target cyclists along the Australian coast, and Tasmanian drivers consider cyclists hazards; one in four reports a collision or near miss with a rider. A British cyclist is killed on her way to visit her Alzheimer’s-afflicted husband in a nursing home. Finally, yet another cycling collision in Orange County — but this time, it’s cyclists vs. raccoon. And at least it’s a reason for running late.

An open letter to the Los Angeles City Council and the cyclists of L.A.

The purpose of government is not to enforce the will of the majority, but to protect the rights of minorities and the most vulnerable members of society.

And on the streets of Los Angeles, the vulnerable minority are the people who ride bicycles.

As was noted in a recent meeting of the Public Safety Committee, Los Angeles is a city dominated by motor vehicle traffic, to the detriment of other legal road users. In fact, Council Member Dennis Zine was quoted on KABC-TV as saying,

I think we are a car culture here in Southern California.  I don’t know if we’re ever going to change that.

Yet the continued livability of this city requires that we do.

Many of this city’s streets are already at or above capacity. Repeated attempts have been made to increase capacity and maximize vehicular throughput, often to the detriment of the surrounding community. Yet these street “improvements” typically result in only short term relief before returning to a state of congestion.

The only viable option is to reduce demand on the streets. We must get people out of their cars by encouraging alternative methods of transportation, such as effective mass transit and bicycling.

Studies have shown that nearly 40% of all trips made in the U.S. are less than 2 miles in length and could easily be done by bike, and that more people would ride bikes if they felt safer on the streets. Yet Council Member Tony Cárdenas recently summed up the attitude of many Angelenos when he said that the city’s streets are so dangerous that he won’t allow his own children to ride on them.

One reason for that fear, in addition to a lack of adequate bicycle infrastructure, is the harassment cyclists face too frequently on city streets.

Most drivers attempt to share the road and operate their vehicles safely. However, virtually any cyclist can tell a tale being harassed by angry drivers, who often lack a knowledge traffic law and the rights of bicyclists, and incorrectly believe that bikes don’t belong on the road or in the traffic lane.

Too often, these driveway vigilantes attempt to take the law into their own hands, and illegally enforce their interpretation of the law by honking or shouting at cyclists, throwing objects at riders, and hitting or pushing riders. In addition, some drivers attempt to use their cars as weapons to threaten, intimidate or injure riders by passing dangerously close to cyclists, intentionally opening car doors into riders, encroaching from behind, deliberately turning across the path of riders or intentionally braking in front of them — as happened in the Mandeville Canyon incident — or purposely striking a cyclist.

Fortunately, you have an opportunity to do something about it.

This Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council will consider a resolution requesting that the City Attorney draft an ordinance banning harassment of cyclists in Los Angeles, Council File 09-2895.

I urge the Council Members to approve this measure, without the unnecessary step of requesting that the City Attorney first report back on what can be done by the city without conflicting with state law; any conflicts can be addressed by the City Attorney in drafting an ordinance. I also urge cyclists to contact their council member or appear at the meeting to support this vital resolution.

Other cities have taken similar approaches. Even though traffic law is generally the responsibility of the states, Boise, Idaho and Columbia, Missouri have both passed ordinances banning harassment of cyclists and mandating a minimum three-foot passing distance; San Antonio, Texas is currently considering a similar law.

I would, however, suggest one minor change to the resolution. I request that the City Attorney and LADOT also coordinate with a local bicycling organization, such as the L.A. County Bicycling Coalition, to ensure that the voices of cyclists are heard, and that the final ordinance will truly protect vulnerable road users in Los Angeles.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers

The resolution will be considered by the Los Angeles City Council this Wednesday, January 27; item #22 on the agenda. The meeting will take place starting at 10 am in room 340 of the Downtown City Hall, 200 North Spring Street; a resolution concerning the proposed bike sharing program is also on the agenda (#20, 08-2053).

………

A Riverside traffic safety engineer and cycling advocate was injured last month in a deliberate incident reminiscent of the Thompson case. And in a truly heartbreaking story, a grieving mother took her own life late last year — three years after her cyclist son was run down by a car driven by a homeless meth addict.

………

Dr. Alex observes that when the other Dr. Thompson returns to L.A. after five years in prison, he may not recognize the city — if cyclists stay involved. Flying Pigeon rides to, and samples the offerings of, the Eagle Rock Brewery this Saturday. Famed framebuilder Dave Moulton takes a look at the recent meeting between bike activists and the LAPD. Witch on a Bicycle returns after a long, computer-failure-imposed absence, with a story of trying to save a driver in a horrific accident. A cyclist wearies of fighting for her place on the road; Yehuda Moon knows the feeling. Photographic evidence: Boulder’s contraflow bike lane, and asking a cop why the bike lane is blocked. Thousands of riders turn out to honor the cyclist killed by an intoxicated musician in Miami last week. Lance finishes 25th in the Tour Down Under, and considers competing in this year’s world championships. Yet another English woman is killed in a collision with a large truck. The head of the historic Wilier Triestina bike racing brand was killed in a head-on collision while cycling on Saturday. Lancashire authorities say watch out for wobbly cyclists. China says it’s time to go back to cycling, while Jakarta’s government calls on citizens to support cycling. LADOT take note: Danish State Railways finds an effective and affordable way to reach Copenhagen cyclists — you know, in case you ever have some good news to tell us. Finally, a seven-year old London cyclist organizes a bike-a-thon in his local park, and raises over $100,000 for earthquake victims in Haiti.

An idea whose time has come — waking the sleeping giant

Here it is, over a week later, and we still don’t know who won Los Angeles 5th Council District. And from the looks of it, it may be a very long time before we know for sure.

But one thing is certain. Whichever candidate is ultimately declared the winner, we should have another friend on the city council. That’s because both candidates addressed local cycling issues as part of their campaign, and each pledged to support bicycling as an integral part of the overall transportation plan.

But something else is also clear.

As important as this election was, only a handful of eligible voters even bothered to cast a ballot. In fact, it’s a pretty safe bet that more L.A. cyclists voted for the loser of American Idol last week in last weeks’s election.

And that has to change.

The cycling community is the sleeping giant of local politics. Based on statistics provided by Bikes Belong, up to 38% of all Americans ride bikes — which means that as many as 3.8 million residents of L.A. County may get around on two wheels at least part of the time.

Even if we use the significantly lower estimate of 12.4% of Americans who ride bikes, that still makes cyclists one of the largest potential voting blocks in L.A. politics — certainly larger, and potentially more powerful, than many of the special interest groups who currently hold sway at City Hall.

And yet, we still can’t get sharrows. Let alone the respect we deserve from the LADOT — or the LAPD. Or our fair share of transportation funding.

It’s time to wake to that giant up.

Lately, some L.A. cyclists have been trying to flex their political muscle. And our government leaders are finally starting to take notice.

But we need to do more.

You only have to take a look at the streets of this city to understand the kind of cycling city Los Angeles could be — a potential that lead Bicycling magazine to name it a Future Best City for bicycling. And you only have to ride those streets to realize how little has been done.

If you’re not pissed off yet, maybe you should be.

Next up: Waking the sleeping giant. And taking back our government — and our streets.


L.A.’s best-named bike shop now offers an American-made alternative to Dutch cargo bikes, and a Pasadena firm introduces its new commuter bike. Gary nearly gets hit over the weekend, even while walking his bike. The Eastside’s Random Hero rides the Marathon route. An Oregon writer offers a half-baked attack on the Idaho Stop Law. Dublin officials support cycling, as does London’s mayor, who barely survived a recent exploratory ride. A recent incident in Boulder, CO offers a reminder of why we all have to be careful on off-road paths. A New York writer insists that cyclists should be licensed and insured, while an Examiner writer asks why we can’t get insurance. New Zealand police say there’s nothing suspicious about finding a dead cyclist in a ditch. And finally, New York’s latest Broadway hit may not win a Tony, but seems to be winning fans.

An earthquake and an endorsement

Nothing like a little earthquake to get your attention.

Appropriately, it struck last night just as I was reading about the LADOT’s absolutely moronic and incredibly short-sighted plan to eliminate the entire bikeways department and cut all bicycle funding in Los Angeles.

450-Vahedi-StickerNo more endlessly delayed bicycle master plan. No more non-existent sharrows. No more attempting to put off the required environmental review for the Expo bikeway.

In other words, pretty much what they’re not doing right now, but without all the meaningless excuses.

But instead of cracking the whip and telling LADOT to get off their collective asses and do something — anything — to make cycling a legitimate part of the city’s transportation plan, the city may seriously consider just cutting their losses, and politely tell every cyclist in the city to just go screw themselves.

If you’re really surprised, you haven’t been paying attention.

Oh, and did I mention that there is a vital city council election for L.A.’s 5th Council District on Tuesday?

Are you starting to get why it matters?

As cyclists, we do seem to have friends on the council, as evidenced by the adoption of the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. But it will take a lot more than just words to make this city safer for the most vulnerable road users.

It takes real resolve, support and action from our civic leaders. And as this proposal clearly shows, that seems to be sadly lacking these days.

And that is why it is so important to vote for David Vahedi tomorrow.

No offense to Paul Koretz. He has an impressive background in local and state government, and had some great responses to my recent questions about biking and transportation issues.

But David Vahedi clearly understands the importance of bicycling and the issues facing cyclists in this city.

As a lawyer, he fought to protect the rights of cyclists. And as a community activist and a member of his local homeowner’s association and co-founder of his neighborhood council — as well as a lifelong resident of the 5th District — he has worked to protect and improve the quality of life around here.

He has also proven to be exceptionally responsive — which is a breath of fresh air after 8 years of Jack Weiss.

When I first got involved in this race, I reached out to each of the six candidates in the primary election for their comments on biking and transportation issues. Much to my surprise, four of the candidates — Vahedi, Adeena Bleich, Robert Schwartz and Robyn Ritter Simon – responded; only two candidates — Paul Kortez and Ron Galperin — did not. (As the above link shows, Koretz did respond to the second set of questions I submitted for the general election, however.)

Only one of those candidates reached out to me, though.

Instead of just talking about the need for more bike lanes, Vahedi wanted to understand the issues from a rider’s perspective. So he picked up the phone and asked me. And then he did something so rare for a political candidate that I was actually stunned.

He listened. Then responded with more questions, until he truly understood what I was trying to say.

That was the first time I ever spoke with him. And the first time I seriously thought of him as someone who could make a real difference in Los Angeles.

Since then, we’ve spoken a number of times. Each time, he’s made it clear that cyclists will have a friend on the council and a genuine voice in city government if he is elected.

He’s also made it clear that he may not always agree with us. But he’s committed to always being open, honest and objective, and listening to whatever we have to say before making a decision. Then casting his vote based on what’s best for his district and for the city, rather than the special interests that currently run city hall.

And that’s all we can ask of any elected official.

I’m not the only one he’s impressed. Vahedi has been endorsed by The L.A. Times and the Daily News, as well as former Daily News editor Ran Kaye. And you can read more about both candidates in the L.A. Weekly and in this article from yesterday’s Times.

There will also be a bike ride tomorrow to help support David Vahedi in tomorrow’s election. You can see the details on Facebook, or just show up at Vehedi headquarters at 10 am on Tuesday, May 19 at 10714 Santa Monica Blvd, on the southeast corner Overland Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

But whatever you do tomorrow, please — get out and vote.

Officer Krupke, you’ve done it again — Cyclists plan to Storm the Bastille

Man the barricades.

Last week saw a vehicular assault on a group of cyclists, which was followed by threats of gun and gang violence — not to mention the crushing of several bikes as the driver attempted to flee the scene in his plate-less two-ton Hummer.

Then, in an action many cyclists recognize as typical of the LAPD, the driver was allowed to leave the scene without so much as a warning — despite being stopped by the police with a bicycle still lodged beneath his vehicle. And to top it off, the officer in charge not only said that he would have done the same thing, but implied that he might have used a gun himself.

Clearly, whatever may have lead up to this event, cyclists will never be safe on the streets of Los Angeles until we have the full support and protection of the LAPD that should be the right of every citizen of this city — and something that is promised by the 1st, 3rd and 4th clauses of the recently adopted Cyclists’ Bill of Rights:

1) Cyclists have the right to travel safely and free of fear.

3) Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement.

4) Cyclists have the right to the full support of our judicial system and the right to expect that those who endanger, injure or kill cyclists be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

This past Tuesday, a group of cyclists met with Los Angeles Police Commission and the police Inspector General to file a protest.

Now riders are being called on to attend this Friday’s City Council meeting at the Van Nuys City Hall to express our dissatisfaction and demand action from the city government. If you can’t attend in person, contact your city council person now.

I’ll leave it to Dr. Alex to explain why immediate action is necessary.

Because we all have the right to be safe on our streets, whether we use two wheels or four.


Gary rides bikes, and now tweets, too. Lance starts his comeback at New Mexico’s Tour of the Gila. Coconut Grove cyclists take a page from the Dutch. The good news is, California no longer leads the nation in cyclists killed; the bad news is, we’re number two. Our rash of hit-and-runs spreads to neighboring Arizona, while a Utah driver who intentionally drove into a group of cyclists is sentenced to just 30 days in jail. An Iowa cyclist is injured after being struck with a full can of beer thrown from a passing car. Finally, a judge in Australia blames a rider’s accident on not having a headlight — even though he was hit from behind, despite his rear flasher.

Today’s post, in which I call long distance

Switchboard.

Hi, uh…is the Big Guy in?

Hold please.

“…Heaven…must be missing an angel…”

God here.

Uh, the God?

Yo.

All knowing, king of kings, creator of heaven and earth…?

Look, was there something you needed? I’m kinda busy here.

Sorry. Just didn’t think you’d be, you know, so easy to reach.

Good timing. Just got off a call on the Pope’s direct line.

The Pope has a direct line?

Yeah. Just wish he’d use it a little more often, you know?

Yeah.

So?

Oh. Sorry. See, I’ve been working in-house for a company out in the Marina this week…

Mmmm hmmmm. All knowing, remember?

Oh, right. Sorry.

Stop saying that.

Okay, sor…uh, yeah, so I noticed when I was driving back from work…

You could ride, you know.

Well, there’s no place to shower, see, and I have to run errands at lunch.

Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

Anyway, I’ve been worried about some of the cyclists I see when I’m driving. I mean, some of these guys are out there at rush hour, riding in the dark, with no light, no helmet and no common sense, cutting in and out of traffic like it was daylight. Like this one guy, dressed all in black on a dark street with no streetlights, if he hadn’t been backlit by another car’s headlights, I never would have known he was there.

And…?

I was hoping you could do something for them, you know, like divine protection or something. ‘Cause they’re gonna need it if they keep riding like that.

Look, I’d like to help. Really, I would. But there’s only so much I can do.

But you’re…

All powerful. Yeah, I know. But it’s that free will thing. I can’t protect people from their own foolish choices.

Okay, I get it. But can we at least give them sharrows or something?

Take it up with city council. It’s a jurisdictional thing. I get the planets and stars, they get the city streets.

Bummer.

Yeah, you’d think they could at least get the damn streets paved.

Well, thanks anyway. Wish your son a Merry Christmas for me.

He’s Jewish.

Oh. Well, happy Hanuk…

(CLICK)

 

Alex dodges a hot pursuit in Culver City. And for once, they weren’t running cyclists out of town. Timur ruminates on his second Critical Mass. Town Mouse reminds us that there are more challenging surfaces for cycling than our crumbling city streets. Our local Bike Snob is shocked – shocked – to find a Rock Racing cyclist on dope. A couple local cycling clubs are holding Toy Rides for Tots. And finally, it turns out Gold Line stations may not be the best places to leave a bike.

Today’s post, in which I call long distance

Switchboard.

Hi, uh…is the Big Guy in?

Hold please.

“…Heaven…must be missing an angel…”

God here.

Uh, the God?

Yo.

All knowing, king of kings, creator of heaven and earth…?

Look, was there something you needed? I’m kinda busy here.

Sorry. Just didn’t think you’d be, you know, so easy to reach.

Good timing. Just got off a call on the Pope’s direct line.

The Pope has a direct line?

Yeah. Just wish he’d use it a little more often, you know?

Yeah.

So?

Oh. Sorry. See, I’ve been working in-house for a company out in the Marina this week…

Mmmm hmmmm. All knowing, remember?

Oh, right. Sorry.

Stop saying that.

Okay, sor…uh, yeah, so I noticed when I was driving back from work…

You could ride, you know.

Well, there’s no place to shower, see, and I have to run errands at lunch.

Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

Anyway, I’ve been worried about some of the cyclists I see when I’m driving. I mean, some of these guys are out there at rush hour, riding in the dark, with no light, no helmet and no common sense, cutting in and out of traffic like it was daylight. Like this one guy, dressed all in black on a dark street with no streetlights, if he hadn’t been backlit by another car’s headlights, I never would have known he was there.

And…?

I was hoping you could do something for them, you know, like divine protection or something. ‘Cause they’re gonna need it if they keep riding like that.

Look, I’d like to help. Really, I would. But there’s only so much I can do.

But you’re…

All powerful. Yeah, I know. But it’s that free will thing. I can’t protect people from their own foolish choices.

Okay, I get it. But can we at least give them sharrows or something?

Take it up with city council. It’s a jurisdictional thing. I get the planets and stars, they get the city streets.

Bummer.

Yeah, you’d think they could at least get the damn streets paved.

Well, thanks anyway. Wish your son a Merry Christmas for me.

He’s Jewish.

Oh. Well, happy Hanuk…

(CLICK)

 

Alex dodges a hot pursuit in Culver City. And for once, they weren’t running cyclists out of town. Timur ruminates on his second Critical Mass. Town Mouse reminds us that there are more challenging surfaces for cycling than our crumbling city streets. Our local Bike Snob is shocked – shocked – to find a Rock Racing cyclist on dope. A couple local cycling clubs are holding Toy Rides for Tots. And finally, it turns out Gold Line stations may not be the best places to leave a bike.

Today’s post, in which I call long distance

Switchboard.

Hi, uh…is the Big Guy in?

Hold please.

“…Heaven…must be missing an angel…”

God here.

Uh, the God?

Yo.

All knowing, king of kings, creator of heaven and earth…?

Look, was there something you needed? I’m kinda busy here.

Sorry. Just didn’t think you’d be, you know, so easy to reach.

Good timing. Just got off a call on the Pope’s direct line.

The Pope has a direct line?

Yeah. Just wish he’d use it a little more often, you know?

Yeah.

So?

Oh. Sorry. See, I’ve been working in-house for a company out in the Marina this week…

Mmmm hmmmm. All knowing, remember?

Oh, right. Sorry.

Stop saying that.

Okay, sor…uh, yeah, so I noticed when I was driving back from work…

You could ride, you know.

Well, there’s no place to shower, see, and I have to run errands at lunch.

Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

Anyway, I’ve been worried about some of the cyclists I see when I’m driving. I mean, some of these guys are out there at rush hour, riding in the dark, with no light, no helmet and no common sense, cutting in and out of traffic like it was daylight. Like this one guy, dressed all in black on a dark street with no streetlights, if he hadn’t been backlit by another car’s headlights, I never would have known he was there.

And…?

I was hoping you could do something for them, you know, like divine protection or something. ‘Cause they’re gonna need it if they keep riding like that.

Look, I’d like to help. Really, I would. But there’s only so much I can do.

But you’re…

All powerful. Yeah, I know. But it’s that free will thing. I can’t protect people from their own foolish choices.

Okay, I get it. But can we at least give them sharrows or something?

Take it up with city council. It’s a jurisdictional thing. I get the planets and stars, they get the city streets.

Bummer.

Yeah, you’d think they could at least get the damn streets paved.

Well, thanks anyway. Wish your son a Merry Christmas for me.

He’s Jewish.

Oh. Well, happy Hanuk…

(CLICK)

 

Alex dodges a hot pursuit in Culver City. And for once, they weren’t running cyclists out of town. Timur ruminates on his second Critical Mass. Town Mouse reminds us that there are more challenging surfaces for cycling than our crumbling city streets. Our local Bike Snob is shocked – shocked – to find a Rock Racing cyclist on dope. A couple local cycling clubs are holding Toy Rides for Tots. And finally, it turns out Gold Line stations may not be the best places to leave a bike.

For once, I shut up and let someone else talk

Ever since last Friday’s Transportation Committee meeting, I’ve been filtering my own thoughts in preparation of discussing the subject today.

But then Damien Newton of Streetsblog Los Angeles added a comment to my initial post on the subject. And since not everyone clicks the link to read the comments, I thought for once, I’d just shut up and let someone else do the talking.

So take it away, Damien:

It was pretty awesome to see us pack a board room like that…a hundred cyclists, ready to take part in the process…Unfortunately, we’ll still see a lot of setbacks before we get the kind of changes we want to see, and I hope the enthusiasm stays high.

In the meantime, I wrote up a draft letter on bike licensing that people should feel free to use if they want to get City Council to take up this issue. Rosendahl, LaBonge and Parks all seemed ready to go…

councilmember.greuel@lacity.org, councilmember.alarcon@lacity.org, councilmember.parks@lacity.org, councilmember.rosendahl@lacity.org, Councilmember.labonge@lacity.org,


Dear Member of the City Council XXX,

As a committed cyclist, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for respect and concern you showed at last Friday’s committee hearing on bicycling, bicycling infrastructure, and bicyclists rights. During the sometimes heated hearing, you continued to listen to our concerns and questions.

While it is not going to be easy to recreate Los Angeles as a cycling haven, there is one thing that can be done quickly and that is placing a moratorium on the bicycle licensing program. Whether a mandatory program is necessary is a conversation that can’t occur until cyclists are not being harassed for not having a sticker license that is difficult to obtain and not being distributed by the LAPD as they are required to.

Unfortunately, as you saw on Friday, the LAPD doesn’t seem interested in suspending their uneven enforcement of bike licensing even after being confronted on the program several times by Council Members LaBonge, Parks and Rosendahl at last week’s hearing. To that end, we are asking that you not let go of this issue and that you quickly introduce a motion to suspend the program. We understand that Councilman Rosendahl will not be at tomorrow’s hearing, but that doesn’t mean you cannot take action.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to working with you in the future on other bike-related issues.

Sincerely,

X

Just copy, paste and send. Or if you prefer, use Damien’s email as a template, and put it in your own words. But as one who has been an active rabble-rouser over the years, I can tell you that letters and emails like this really do make a difference.

I’ll be back with my own thoughts soon. In the meantime, you can read a recap of the meeting from Stephen Box of the Bike Writer’s Collective — creators of the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights (and a big thanks to all of you for your efforts). Or you can listen to Enci’s recording of the meeting here. 

Note: I’m waiving copyright for this post, in case anyone wants to repost Damien’s letter — and I’m sure it would be okay with him, as well. Right, Damien?

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