No, really, I did. I blocked out this past Tuesday evening over a week in advance to attend the latest Metro Bike Roundtable at Metro Headquarters.
Then as so often happens, I just couldn’t make it work out on a day when I found myself pulled in too many directions with too many deadlines.
Fortunately, a friend and sometimes contributor was also planning to attend, and graciously agreed to fill in for me at the last minute, though she requested that I keep her name out of it.
Here’s her take on the meeting.
The so-called “roundtables” aren’t what they used to be. They’re useful, and good at what they are, but they’re nothing like the first exciting year of bike roundtables. Mind you, I’m not whining. The initial roundtables were absolutely instrumental in shaping policies & implementing some terrific changes. Now, though, they’re just lovely informative meetings with a series of brief presentations along with updates on new & ongoing projects.
Significantly, the meetings continue. They haven’t been squelched without reason by Metro or killed by lack of interest. And important people show up. By “important people” I mean “the folks who are generally enthusiastic about bikes & knowledgeable about what’s going on,” if you accept this as a definition. BAC reps, politicians’ staffers, community leaders, lone wolf activists, they were all there. True believers like Lynne Goldsmith (in gorgeous black easy-to-pedal-in boots) & Dave Somers (DCP here representin’, YO!), LACBC & SRTS. And a schlub or two like me. The mix is good, but attendance is a lot smaller than the very first SRO meeting, and it’s really no longer about soliciting input.
I wish to repeat that I’m not in any way criticizing the importance of these meetings, because they’re more than informative. They’d be exponentially more helpful if they allowed for more input from the community, and were followed by a happy hour. No, I’m not joking about the happy hour thing. Shiny happy people talking bikes? For an extra hour? NOT a bad idea. There’s certainly no point in trying to suggest this, or anything, because the roundtable no longer focuses on collecting input.
For example, I would have liked to point out that the new wayfinding signage that allegedly directs riders from the El Monte Transit Station to the San Gabriel River Path is insufficient. Of course, I base this exclusively on the tiny data set of “my repeated failures to locate it.” On the most recent visit, I asked for directions from no fewer than nine people (including two Sheriff’s deputies, four cyclists, the Foothill Transit customer service girl & a security guard), in addition to walking around and getting yelled at/threatened for hovering at the invisible boundaries of off-limits areas. Next time, I’ll attack from the river path, and work my way back. It would have been useful to get this info at the roundtable so I could use it myself and disseminate it, but now I face the added hassle of exploring and then writing a strongly-worded letter to the people who are patting themselves on the back for accomplishing the task of installing invisible signage. Also, when I do eventually find the signs, I will cringe at my own goddamn stupidity, and Metro will never apologize for or even acknowledge their complicity.
The subject of the useless stair rails at the aforementioned transit station came up as well. Metro’s thrown a study together, because in the future they’ll be installing the ramps at other stations. Well, hopefully not the same type of ramp, because as stated, the ones at El Monte suck. There’s just no euphemism. I have dozens of pictures of people giving up and just carrying their bikes, and I feel really bad for the folks who struggle — the ones who really need to use the elevator but attempt, with hope and gallantry, to use the little ramps. These ramps are an expensive kick in the dignity of multi-modal transit users. Incidentally, these rails do not accommodate any of my bikes (all fixes), period. Pedal strike, you know. Which is fine ’cause I feel like a total bad-ass hauling a 19 lb. bike up a couple flights. Not so fine for the guy with bad knees and two full-time jobs and a heavy Walmart “mountain bike” and the added burden of shame for looking like a simpleton who’s too stupid to figure out some self-explanatory stair rails.
Anyway, there was cheerful stuff on the agenda too. Planning for Bike Month is well underway, with the following laid out for Bike Week so far:
- May 10th: Get Ready and Fix Your Bike!
- May 11th: Bicycling is for Everyone Celebration!
- May 12th: Kick-off Bike Week LA
- May 13th: Blessing of the Bicycles
- May 14th: Guided Ride Day: Bike Lanes and More!
- May 15th: Bike to Work Day
- May 12th-18th: Bike Local
This was copied verbatim, but personally I think they need more exclamation marks. It’s nice to see maintenance/repair clinics on the list, and I’m particularly impatient for more details on the guided rides. “Bike Local” will encourage ridership because everybody likes a discount. Also, on May 3rd, there’ll be a ride in conjunction with Union Station’s 75th anniversary.
The 2014 messaging campaign will be revealed in May, and will build off the success of “Every Lane is a Bike Lane.” (As an aside, I was rolling homeward from Bike Night at the Hammer in a group that included two prominent biketivists when a group of drunks hollered “EVERY LANE IS NOT A BIKE LANE!” at us. So the message definitely reached its intended demographic, though its educational effect is questionable.)
Metro’s already submitted an application for an OTS grant to fund their bicycle safety campaign in 2015.
Metro will continue to sponsor CICLE’s group rides, the next one being Saturday’s Ride for Love (and what nobler reason is there?!) in Watts.
The exciting Open Streets timeline was presented. The final application package was revealed at last month’s Open Streets Program Workshop, and applications are due by March 14th. In June, the Metro Board will make their approvals of recommended events, and in summer, they’ll execute agreements for funding Open Streets events for Fiscal Year 2015. It’s gonna be CicLAvia-a-Go-Go in L.A. County!
And about Bike Share. Last fall, Metro initiated a bike share industry review. Last month, they reported the results of this review to the Board. They’ve identified potential pilot (“Phase 1”) locations, and are preparing to launch an implementation plan. They’ll be reporting back to the Board with an update in April. The identified pilot sites are in downtown LA, Pasadena & Santa Monica, and the program includes future coordination with the City of Long Beach.
Just a couple other quick notes.
In case you missed it — and I can’t imagine how with the furor that has erupted in the bikeosphere over the past few days — a representative of the Suffolk County NY Legislature responded to a high school student’s urgent pleas for bike safety by telling him to give up and get a car.
The young man’s own mother had been hit by a car, as had four friends. But this auto-centric jerk — and I use the term advisedly — offered little sympathy and no hope for those on two wheels.
I have lived in West Islip most of my life and my personal feeling is that no one who lives in our hamlet or for that matter in Suffolk County should ever ride a bicycle or a motorcycle. I cannot tell you how many constituents over the years have told me that they are taking up bicycling for pleasure and exercise. I have told them not to do so but they usually do not listen – 90 percent of those people eventually were hit by an automobile many like your mother with serious physical injuries.
So instead of lifting a finger in his official capacity to make the streets safer for the people he was elected to represent — especially with such an astounding rate of injury — he insists streets are for cars.
And if you don’t like it, tough.
Let’s hope his constituents run him out of office. Hopefully on two wheels.
As noted the other day, Santa Monica’s city council has unanimously approved the city’s first neighborhood greenway, as well as Safe Routes to School improvements around Santa Monica High School; Santa Monica Next and Santa Monica Lookout offer more information.
The Voice of America says bike trains beat LA traffic.
Touring Westwood by complimentary hotel bike.
The LAPD is cracking down on traffic crime in the Northeast division; now if they could just extend that throughout the city our streets might finally be a little safer.
San Diego has a new pro-bike, pro-gay Republican — yes, Republican — mayor.
Nicholas Santiago has reportedly pled guilty in the semi-hit-and-run that took the life of 78-year old Moorpark cyclist Bernie Cooper. Santiago’s car hit Cooper’s bike with so force his body was found in the branches of a nearby tree; he left the scene before returning to take responsibility.
A Palo Alto columnist looks at the laws governing cyclists. And somehow manages to get it wrong.
Finally, in case you’ve wondered just why our streets are so dangerous, consider this:
A drunk Portland nanny picks up four kids from school with a BAC over four times the legal limit, pulls to the curb, cries, passes out, hits a bike rider, flees the scene, lets the kids out, passes out again, then fights with paramedics who come to help her. And gets probation and a suspended license — even though it was her third offense.
Too easy to get, too hard to lose.
Update: I knew I forgot something. LADOT announces that the city’s first Bicycle Friendly Business District is coming to Northeast LA. Maybe Westwood can be next, if the local councilmember can be convinced that bikes are good for business.