News has just come in that Los Angeles has been selected as one of ten cities to participate in the Big Jump Project.
The new initiative from PeopleForBikes is aimed at doubling or tripling bike ridership in specific neighborhoods by improving bike infrastructure.
As part of the Big Jump Project, Los Angeles will focus on improving bike infrastructure in downtown LA and University Park, the city’s business core. As a participant in the program, Los Angeles will annually receive the equivalent of $200,000 in technical support from PeopleForBikes, as well as an additional $50,000 in matching funds or financial commitments from local organizations….
Over the course of the next three years, the Big Jump Project cities will be laboratories for innovation, ultimately illustrating the ways in which U.S. cities and towns can tap into bicycles to radically improve the health and vitality of their communities.
The project is part of PeopleForBikes’ new PlacesForBikes program, a three-part plan including an easy-to-understand, data-driven system for rating bike-friendly cities; how-to resources for communities and businesses; and an annual conference for city and business leaders.
Los Angeles was selected along with New York City, Baltimore MD, Portland OR, Memphis TN, Providence RI, New Orleans LA, Austin TX, Tucson AZ and my hometown of Fort Collins, CO.
While it’s great that Los Angeles has been selected as one of the initial cities, it’s unfortunate that it is limited to the Downtown area, which has already seen a jump in ridership, and the area north of USC, which could definitely use the help.
It would have been nice to see infrastructure-starved areas like South LA, Highland Park and Hollywood included in the program, as well as other often ignored regions of the city.
However, as always, the problem in Los Angeles is political will, and the courage of local councilmembers to stand up to the inevitable NIMBY anti-bike backlash.
Or more precisely, the lack thereof.
Hopefully, when people see what can be done to make our streets safer and more inviting for everyone, they’ll demand improvements in their own neighborhoods, as well. And elect representatives who will respond to that demand.
The other concern is whether LA will finally provide adequate staffing and funding for LADOT to meet the requirements of our streets, so this doesn’t result in ignoring the urgent needs of other areas while attention is focused on just two neighborhoods.
As former NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan stresses in her book Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution, cities must be able to respond quickly to needs and opportunities on the streets, rather than taking years to design — and redesign in response to local opposition and lack of leadership backbone — before even thinking about implementation.
Something Los Angeles sadly lacks, and seems unlikely to change.
Maybe this will be the kick in the ass the city so desperately needs.
You can see the full press release here.