Tag Archive for political courage

Garcetti orders bold climate plan, couple killed by drunk driver on Goleta bike path, and Corona DIY hit-and-run investigation

Maybe he means it this time.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an executive directive yesterday to enhance portions of the city’s Green New Deal.

Which would be a big deal, if he actually follows through this time.

There’s a lot to like in the plan. Starting with a commitment to active transportation; according to My News LA, the plan would

— promote walking, bicycling and micro-mobility with a comprehensive citywide network of active transportation corridors, including protected bike lanes, paths along regional waterways and low-stress neighborhood bike improvements;

The order also calls for more cool streets and roofs, a congestion pricing pilot program, zero emission buses, and increasing transit speeds by 30% in the next ten years.

More importantly, it calls for reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled through expanded use of transit, walking, bicycling and micromobility.

And of special interest to many of us, more frequent open streets events.

But as always, the devil is in the details.

It remains to be seen whether that implementation plan for an active transportation network means we’ll finally get around to building out the hard-won 2010 Bike Plan that was unanimously passed by the city council when Garcetti was still council president.

Or if they intend to re-invent the wheel yet again, with or without our input.

Curbed reports the mayor at least struck the right sense of urgency.

“Can we make this happen?” Garcetti asked Monday, speaking broadly about the city’s sustainability goals. “We don’t have a choice.”

But they added —

It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to achieve one of the key goals laid out in the city’s Green New Deal: A nearly 50 percent reduction in the number of miles LA residents drive daily.

Although it’s not a bad sign that the NRDC is on board with it.

The problem, of course, is that we’ve been here before.

Any progress on the bike plan, or the mobility plan that subsumed it, ground to a near complete and total stop after Garcetti took office as mayor.

And any real progress on the mayor’s own Vision Zero plan came to a halt the first time drivers complained about a road diet.

The result that not only have bike and pedestrian deaths not declined by 20%, as the plan called for by this year, they’ve actually gone up.

So this could be the beginning of the groundbreaking, tide-turning movement to re-invent the City of Angels into the more livable — and survivable — city so many of us have fought for.

Or it could be just another bold plan that will soon by gathering dust on the shelf.

It’s all up to Mayor Garcetti.

And whether he’s suddenly found the political will to see it through.

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels.

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This is who we share the roads with.

Or in this case, a bike path.

Santa Barbara’s Noozhawk website reports that a married couple was killed in a collision while walking their dog on an offroad Goleta bike path Sunday evening.

The driver, later identified as 39-year old Eric Mauricio Ramirez Aguilar of Goleta, fled the scene on foot.

A writer for the site estimated that Aguilar had to have driven at least 100 yards on the bike path before coming to a stop, slamming into his victims somewhere along the way.

Police took the alleged drunk driver into custody three hours later in nearby Carpinteria. He was a passenger in a car, whose driver was returning from Ventura County after learning that Aguilar was a wanted man.

Authorities threw the book at him, and deservedly so.

According to the site,

Aguilar was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated causing injury, hit and run causing death or injury, fleeing the scene after committing manslaughter, and driving while intoxicated, with an enhancement for causing the deaths of more than one person.

He remained in custody Monday night, with bail set at $100,000.

Fortunately, the dog somehow survived the crash, and was turned over to a family member.

Let’s hope Aguilar gets the hard time a crime like this calls for.

But let’s face it.

As long as drunks continue to get behind the wheel, we’re not safe anywhere. And no amount of jail time can bring back the lives they take.

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This is who we share the roads with, too.

After a Corona mother was killed in a hit-and-run while riding her motorcycle last week, leaving behind eight kids, her husband made it his mission to track down her killer.

Remarkably, he found the car parked in a nearby apartment complex, with passenger side damage matching the details of the crash.

Police arrested the 85-year old driver, Tashiro Isa, on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter.

Once again raising the question of how old is too old to drive.

Thanks to Ted Faber for the heads-up.

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The LAPD is asking for your help to find the heartless coward who fled the scene after backing into a 92-year old man, leaving him bleeding in the street.

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Or as we call it here in balmy Los Angeles, Friday.

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After a British truck driver knocked a bicyclist off his bike in a left hook, the equivalent of our right hook, the driver refused to admit he was behind the wheel — and walks with just a fine and points against his license.

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Take a quick break with mountain biker Greg Williamson doing “dusty laps” on a dry and dirty Kiwi singletrack trail.

I think Dusty Laps will be the name of my new cowboy alter ego, although Twitter user Mumen Rusto suggested that could be my porn name.

But no one wants to see that anymore.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

An Aussie state department of transportation posts a simple question about bicycling rules online. And opens the floodgate for an avalanche of bike hate.

A Tokyo bicyclist catches a punishment pass and a brake check from a school bus driver on his bike cam — while riding in a bike lane, no less.

Sometimes, though, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

Sacramento police are looking for a man who fled on a bicycle after robbing a business and threatening the employees at gunpoint.

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Local

Streetsblog adds its voice to those calling out against plans to widen dangerous Magnolia Blvd, which is already on the city’s Vision Zero High Injury Network.

Bike riders aren’t the only ones being inconvenienced by the closure of the Arroyo Seco pathway; horse people are calling for the equestrian trail to be reopened, as well.

While Los Angeles talks about safer streets, Santa Monica is actually doing something, as the city announces plans to make over deadly Wilshire Blvd to improve safety for bike riders and pedestrians.

Sad news, as longtime bike industry vet Jim Whitsett died of an apparent heart attack before South Bay Cycle, his new 2,100 square foot Manhattan Beach bike shop, could open this coming weekend.

 

State

My point exactly. A writer for California Streetsblog argues that the state is missing a significant opportunity to fight climate change by failing to offer the same sort of rebates for ebikes that they do for electric vehicles. Except we should go further, and offer them for any bicycle intended to replace at least one car trip a week.

They get it. An editorial in the Times of San Diego says driving like maniacs is the root cause of bike and pedestrian collisions.

Fifty-six-year old Julian resident Craig Wendell Nelson faces up to four years and eight months behind bars after pleading guilty to the hit-and-run death of Kevin Wilson as he was riding his bike on a rural road east of El Cajon last month; police eventually found Nelson hiding under some bushes after abandoning his car.

It takes a major schmuck to steal a ghost bike, like the one that was installed for fallen bicyclist Raymundo “Ray-Ray” Jaime following the Palm Springs hit-and-run that took his life; the killer of the 30-year old father is still a large.

Palo Alto considers fixing a “terrifying” intersection used by around 4,000 cars and 20 bicycles per hour during the morning rush. Maybe more bike riders would use it if it wasn’t so scary.

San Francisco bike riders are calling for a concrete barrier along the Embarcadero bike lanes.

Uber says Sacramento ranks second in the world for shared rides, if you include bikeshare and e-scooters along with ride hailing.

 

National

VeloNews says 2020 is all about gravel and e-bikes and smart-bikes and materials and versatility.

Bicycling says blame a stiff neck for your numb hands.

New York bike riders can’t use the city’s bike lanes because they were built wide enough for street sweepers and snow plows, which makes them wide enough for people to drive and park in, too.

New York is finally getting around to questioning whether dangerous drivers should be taken off the road before they kill someone. Not after, like the woman with eight speeding and red light violations who killed a couple kids as they were walking in a crosswalk.

Florida bike riders are up in arms after an 18-year old bicyclist was cuffed and arrested after allegedly running a stop sign; the officer says he and another bike rider refused to stop when ordered to, while the riders say they just didn’t hear him. Advocates also want to know why the kid from Puerto Rico was the only one to get busted. Thanks to Victor Bale and J. Patrick Lynch for the links.

 

International

Canadian Cycling Magazine unveils the secrets bike mechanics don’t want you to know, like maybe you’re putting your bar tape on wrong.

The English city of Coventry just got Britain’s first bicycle mayor. Meanwhile Los Angeles, with ten times the population, is still waiting.

I want to be like her when I grow up. A French woman who may have been the world’s oldest person was still riding her bike as she approached 100.

The Netherlands ranks second in Europe for bicycling fatalities. Which isn’t too surprising, considering they also have one of the continent’s highest rates for bicycling.

An arrest warrant has been issued for an Aussie man who failed to show up for sentencing after pleading guilty to killing a bike rider; the victim frequently posted videos of close passes while calling for a safer passing distance.

Macau leaders shut down hiking trails and bike lanes to combat the novel coronavirus, telling everyone to just shut yourself in and exercise at home.

 

Competitive Cycling

Twenty-three-year old Tour de France champ Egan Bernal will lead the Ineos team in this week’s Tour of Columbia.

New Zealand’s Georgia Williams is making a comeback to the women’s pro cycling tour after being knocked off her bike by the increasingly common Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport, aka RED-S, which prevented her from getting enough fuel for her body while making her bones more brittle.

 

Finally…

Your next bike helmet could fold up to fit in your briefcase or backpack; let’s hope it also protects your head. Now you, too, can compete in the world’s greatest bike races without risking all that road rash and broken bones and stuff.

And apparently, Los Angeles used to be a lot better for bicycling.

Morning Links: Koretz blocks bike lanes while planet burns, LA Vision Zero gone, and Pico Rivera bikeway meeting tonight

Good piece from Curbed, as they ask whether e-scooters are too dangerous for Los Angeles streets.

Short answer, it’s not the scooters that are dangerous.

But CD5 Councilmember Paul Koretz insists the streets — and sidewalks — are just too dangerous for scooter riders, saying they need the kind of bike infrastructure he’s blocked in his district because “political realities” make it too difficult.

Evidently, Koretz thinks he was only elected to do easy, convenient and popular things, and leave the hard stuff to whoever follows him once he’s termed out.

Or maybe just ignore the environment Koretz swears he’s committed to saving, and let cars keep killing us all until they finally kill the planet, too.

Evidently, he didn’t read that copy of Profiles in Courage we gave him last year.

Or watch Do the Right Thing, for that matter.

………

I guess our lives don’t matter, after all.

Los Angeles has taken down its Vision Zero website, and replaced it with LADOT’s Great Streets site.

So you may still die, but at least you’ll do it on a nicer street.

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Active SGV is asking bike riders to turn out for a Pico Rivera regional bikeway design meeting tonight.

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The LACBC will be hosting another round of BEST bike safety classes in conjunction with Metro next month.

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If you’re fond o’ Peter Sagan, here’s your chance to meet and ride with him in Sagan’s new San Diego fondo.

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

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Local

CiclaValley’s Zachary Rynew teamed with volunteer Michelle Paravicini to upgrade and redecorate a ghost bike for 15-year old bicyclist Sebastian Montero, who was killed by a speeding driver on Easter Sunday last year. A rededication ceremony will be held this Sunday.

Tyler the Creator is one of us, going for a fashionable ride in Los Angeles on a BMX from Long Beach bikemaker SE Bikes.

As usual, there will be a bike valet at this weekend’s annual Fiesta Hermosa in Hermosa Beach. So do everyone a favor and leave the car at home.

A handful of hecklers opposed to the recent road diet on the Broadway corridor tried to shout down a couple of Long Beach councilmembers at a monthly public Q&A session. So evidently, it’s not just LA and Pasadena NIMBYs that do that.

 

State

La Jolla follows Santa Monica’s lead and tries to corral e-scooters with painted, on-street scooter parking areas.

Fountain Valley’s newly rebuilt Slater Ave bridge will finally reopen today, complete with better sidewalks and bike lanes.

Where you can walk, hike and bike without leaving Riverside.

Petaluma-based premium bikewear brand Kitsbow is pulling up stakes, and moving across the US to North Carolina.

More bad news from NorCal, as a 28-year old Fremont bike rider was killed by a hit-and-run driver, who later returned to the scene after driving to work with the victim’s bicycle still embedded in his windshield; just one of those danged “unfortunate accidents” according to police. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s CBS outlet blames the victim for wearing dark clothes, while questioning whether he would hav survived if the driver hadn’t waited to call 911.

Sunnyvale joined the Vision Zero club, though advocates say the city isn’t doing enough to prevent bike and pedestrian deaths. Kind of like virtually every American city — including one SoCal metropolis in particular (see above).

San Francisco-based celebrity chef Chris Cosentino finds his balance by returning to his mountain bike.

 

National

CityLab says apps that automatically report problem drivers and blocked bike lanes to authorities — and save the information online — are troubling. Although I’d gladly take one designed to work in the LA area, driver privacy be damned. And let’s change the law so drivers can be ticketed based on photographic or video evidence.

Bicycling offers tips to get rid of that pain in your back. No, from riding, not the one you work for. Sorry.

Peloton says Bontrager’s new WaveCel helmet beats MIPS helmets at preventing concussions. Which matters because other helmets don’t do a damn thing to prevent TBIs, as I’ve learned the hard way. Thanks to Mike Cane for the heads-up.

Bike Portland considers the consequences when bike and e-scooter riders collide.

If anyone has seen Bill Walton’s bicycle that was stolen 42 years ago at an Oregon championship parade, be sure to let the former NBA star know. Although I wouldn’t try to confront anyone tall enough to ride that thing.

The Department of DIY struck in Boulder CO, where someone used toilet plungers to make their own protected bike lane; unfortunately, it didn’t last long before city workers removed them all.

It’s been a month since Arkansas’ version of the Idaho Stop Law went into effect, and the world hasn’t come crashing to an end. Although many people still don’t understand the law that allows bike riders to treat stop signs as yields.

After a Kentucky boy’s bicycle was stolen on his birthday, kindhearted firefighters took up a collection to buy him a new one.

You’ve got to be kidding. After a 76-year old Indiana bike rider was run down from behind by an unlicensed drunk driver, the local sheriff reminds bike riders to obey the law and wear a helmet. How about reminding people not to drive their damn cars after they’ve been drinking. And stay the hell off the roads if you don’t have a license.

A visiting German journalist tries bike commuting in Cleveland, and quickly learns the English word for pothole.

Life is cheap in New York state, where an 85-year old former cop walks with probation for a hit-and-run that severely injured a man riding bicycle, after claiming he didn’t know he’d hit anyone. He also got a ridiculous six-month driving ban; anyone who can hit someone hard enough to cause major injuries without even knowing it should never be allowed behind the wheel again.

New York experts say either fix a frequently blocked bike lane, or rip it out and start over.

A New York “mob” of young men and women beat a sleeping man with a cane and bottle before stealing his bicycle and wallet, then beat and robbed a Good Samaritan who tried to intervene. Note to NY Daily News — if someone who has a bicycle is sleeping on the sidewalk, “bicyclist” is probably not the best descriptor.

Life is cheap in Georgia, too, where a man walked with probation for killing a bike-riding woman; the driver played the universal Get Out of Jail Free card, claiming the sun was in his eyes.

A Florida kid starts his own nonprofit to give bike helmets to other kids at his school.

Miami first responders are riding 150 miles to Key West to raise funds for a local cancer charity.

 

International

Bicycling looks at Britain’s Rough Stuff Fellowship, the world’s oldest offroad bike club, and dedicated to extreme riding. Like biking to an Everest base camp.

Former Tour de France champ and banned doper Jan Ulrich was fined the equivalent of nearly $8,000 for attempting to strangle an escort while drunk and stoned in a German hotel room.

Great idea. A German politician says bicyclists should get an extra day of vacation because they’re healthier and use less sick time. Unless maybe we come down with a bad case of the bike flu, and have to call in sick to go for a bike ride.

At least there’s justice in Australia, where a drunk and stoned driver got a well-deserved ten years behind bars for killing a motorcycle cop who was escorting a charity bike ride; the schmuck had to have a friend blow into the interlock device on his car to get it to start. Which is what I’d call a really lousy friend.

 

Competitive Cycling

The fifth stage of the Vuelta finished in a brief breakaway and a change in leadership. Do we really need to be spoiler-free for the Vuelta, since hardly anyone can actually watch it in this county?

A Belgian court hears that fallen cyclist Bjorg Lambrecht lost control of his bicycle when he hit a roadside reflector during the Tour of Poland earlier this month.

 

Finally…

Repeat after me. If you’re stoned and carrying synthetic weed and meth on your bike, put a damn light on it already. No, bicycles haven’t returned to America’s streets; they were never gone.

And if your bike taillight is shaped like red testicles, take them off right now and go stand in the corner until we say you can come out.

Which may be never.

 

Morning Links: Garcetti unveils LA Green New Deal, sharing the road with texting drivers, and Woon fund nears $10,000

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled his proposal for an LA Green New Deal, calling for a net zero carbon footprint for the city in just 31 years.

Sort of like that 20% drop in traffic fatalities we were promised by 2017.

So how’s that working out for you, anyway?

In addition to other proposals to fight climate change, Garcetti is calling for a zero-emission transportation network by 2050, driven — if you’ll excuse the phrase — by a major shift to buses and trains, resulting in a 45% drop in miles driven.

And yes, he does include bikes and scooters in that LA Green New Deal. Though just how much emphasis they’ll receive remains to be seen.

Which means safe riding routes will be necessary if the city is going to come anywhere near that 45% goal. Let along allow more Angelenos to go carless altogether.

As always, however, the question is whether Garcetti and LA’s other elected leaders have the political courage to make the hard choices necessary to get nearly half the city’s cars off the streets. Or to maintain those goals when new leaders come in to take their place.

Because so far, at least, saving lives hasn’t been enough to do it.

But maybe the city’s climate-conscious councilmembers, such as self-proclaimed environmentalist Paul Koretz, will finally support bike lanes if it means saving the planet.

We can dream, can’t we?

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels.

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This is who we share the roads with.

Pasadena police wrote 366 tickets in just four days for texting while driving during April’s Distracted Driver Awareness Month, along with another 273 tickets for other violations.

Which means that if you think you’re surrounded by distracted drivers every time you get on your bike, you’re probably right.

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It’s been a few days since I checked in on the crowdfunding campaign to give the impoverished infant son of fallen bicyclist Frederick “Woon” Frazier a better start in life.

So I was surprised to learn it’s now just $614 short of the $10,000 goal.

Credit Peter Flax for the jump in donations, whose story for Bicycling called attention to the tragedy of Woon’s death, and the heartbreaking impact his loss has had on those who loved him.

And led to over $8,000 in donations in less than a month.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps going on.

A Tulsa, Oklahoma bike rider was shot in the leg three times by someone in a passing car.

A Peoria, Illinois truck driver threw a water bottle at a bike rider, followed by threatening him with a gun, after yelling at the bicyclist to get out of the road. Must be a rough town; a jaywalking pedestrian was threatened with a gun by another driver two days earlier.

Horrifying news from Michigan, where a hit-and-run driver dragged a bike rider under his car for more than a mile before he shook loose; the victim was hospitalized in critical condition. Seriously, what kind of walking human scum could be so cruel, uncaring and violent towards a complete stranger?

A British man drove 65 miles to deliberately slam his car into a bike rider he blamed for ruining his life — then got out of his car to hit, kick and strangle the victim as he lay in the street with gaping wounds and multiple fractures to both legs.

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Local

More on the opening of LA’s first two-way protected bike lane on Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the LACBC says they’re already talking with LADOT on how to improve the new lanes.

A Los Feliz newspaper recognizes a number of local streets on LA’s Vision Zero High Injury Network; the city says it’s working to make safety improvements to some. Without, you know, actually inconveniencing drivers or anything.

 

State

A new Riverside bike commuter wonders why everyone yells at him when he rides on the sidewalk. Maybe it’s because sidewalk riding is illegal in Riverside. Or maybe just because bike riders are actually safer riding in the street under most circumstances.

Outside follows a San Francisco bike commuter on his two-hour, 35-mile mountain bike ride to and from work along some seriously technical singletrack trails.

There’s a special place in hell for the coward who drove off and left a Sacramento bike rider unconscious and bleeding in the street.

You never know when the owner of your favorite Berkeley coffee shop could turn out to be a former BMX star.

A 15-year old Carmichael boy was critically injured when a red-light running driver crashed into him as he as riding in a crosswalk with the green light. Yet somehow, the police still manage to blame him for failing to wear a helmet or reflective clothing.

A knife wielding Chico man was severely beaten by another man using an unspecified bike part. Which makes me wonder just what part he was using, and whether the rest of us could use it for self-defense against road raging drivers.

 

National

Speaking of Outside, the magazine is conducting its mountain bike testing in my brother’s new hometown.

A writer for Singletracks says all bikes are gravel bikes if that’s where you ride them.

More proof bike thieves are among the lowest forms of human life. After a Portland man was busted while burglarizing a bike shop, police discovered  he was responsible for the hit-and-run death of an 85-year old woman who was run down on her daily morning walk.

A bighearted Washington cop dipped into his own wallet to buy a boy a new bike after his was stolen and the police couldn’t recover it.

Nice story, as a Utah community gathers to celebrate the 70th birthday of a man known to everyone as Bicycle Brent, who makes a point of honking his bike’s horn and waving to the people he passes.

A San Antonio TX newspaper asks if the city can convince — or force — scooter riders to wear helmets. Short answer, no. Longer answer, no one is going to carry a helmet with them all day on the off chance that they might ride a scooter; they’ll either skip the helmet, or skip the scooter and drive instead.

An Ohio bike advocate is urging the police to take a report on all collisions involving a bicycle whether or not anyone says they’re hurt, because bike riders often don’t know they’ve been injured until the adrenaline wears off. That’s a common complaint, which is why I always advise telling police you were injured, whether or not you feel any pain.

I like it. When a Pennsylvania bike rider got tired of being harassed and run off the road, she responded by strapping a BMUFL sign on her back.

After a Texas paper’s DC bureau chief sent a tone deaf tweet calling bike and scooter riders who run red lights “adult assholes” — on the same day bike riders rallied for safer streets following the death of leading advocate Dave Salovesh — a writer responds by comparing the actual stats on how many people are injured or killed by bike riders to those injured or killed by motor vehicles. And no, there’s no comparison.

The NYPD is being sued for fining delivery riders using banned ebikes, instead of following department policy and fining the restaurant owners.

Former NY Rangers hockey star Sean Avery is one of us, calling it therapeutic to confront drivers who illegally park in bike lanes.

Baltimore bicyclists rally to keep a parking protected bike lane from getting ripped out because drivers can’t figure out how to park in it.

Horrifying news from Georgia, where a teenager fatally shot a 60-year old man just to steal his bicycle.

Four Florida bike riders were seriously injured when the wheelchair lift gate on a medical lab truck fell open, and the driver kept going without realizing he was mowing people down.

 

International

An op-ed in a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan newspaper says the bikelash to the city’s efforts to improve safety for bike riders is unwarranted and short-sighted. Pretty much like the opposition to safer and Complete Streets anywhere else.

The Beeb — as opposed to the Bieb — recounts the history of the bicycle, and explains why the future of bikes is so bright it has to wear shades.

An English soccer legend was seconds away from getting hit head-on by a red light-running driver, as he set out on a long-haul triathlon across the country.

A pregnant, cocaine-binging British mom was busted for driving on a suspended license, after she was released from a year behind bars for slamming into a bike rider while high as a dragon in Westeros.

A man in the UK has put together a Twitter thread to demonstrate just how differently bike riders and drivers are treated after killing someone. Which is an exceptionally rare thing for bicyclists; for drivers, not so much.

Brussels, Belgium is planning a protected bike lane on the auto-centric street in front of the European Union Parliament building.

Now that’s more like it. An estimated 10,000 bike riders turned out in the rain to demand safer streets in Budapest.

 

Competitive Cycling

USA Cycling has named the riders who will compete for the national team at next month’s Amgen Tour of California, which rolls in less than two weeks.

 

Finally…

When you have meth at home and your carrying drug paraphernalia on your bike, maybe riding salmon in the left lane isn’t the best idea. Nothing like installing the bollards in the wrong place on a two-way, now unprotected, bike lane.

And there could be an Android smartphone hidden inside your bike computer.

 

The Dept. of Currently Infeasible vs. the Dept. of Just Get It Done.

The difficult, I’ll do right now; the impossible may take a little while.

— Crazy He Calls Me, by Carl Sigman and Sidney Keith Russell

A few years back, I was hired as advertising director for a company that made electronic musical and recording equipment.

Years of mismanagement had put the company in serious financial trouble. And I was given less than five months to hire and train an in-house creative team, develop a new marketing strategy to completely reposition the company, and create an ad campaign good enough to pull them from the brink of bankruptcy.

It wasn’t possible.

I knew it. They knew it. And I agreed to do it anyway.

After countless long hours, including working both Christmas and New Years Day, we got it to the printer just minutes before our final drop-dead deadline, and broke the new campaign on the eve of the most important trade show in the company’s history. Three days later, they left with over $6 million in new sales — nearly 75% of the total sales for the entire year before.

It wasn’t enough. Within a few weeks, the bank cut off funding, and the company’s assets were liquidated in bankruptcy court.

It may not have been my best work, but I am more proud of that than anything else I’ve ever done in my career. Because I refused to accept that it couldn’t be done. And got it done anyway.

Now compare that with the sad state of our local transportation authorities. At a time when this city desperately needs bold leadership to solve its transportation problems, we get excuses and endless delays.

Consider our nascent rail system.

Metro has methodically focused on building just one or two lines at a time, making painfully slow progress on a railway that is decades away from touching the lives of most Angelenos, unless their starting and ending points just happens to be near one of the lines. And they don’t mind going through Downtown to make their connections.

The planned routes that might, someday, turn it into a viable transit system won’t break ground for years — and many, such as the long-promised Subway to the Sea — aren’t even scheduled to be completed in my lifetime. Unless I happen to live a very long damn time.

Contrast that with Denver, where city leaders had talked about the need for light rail for decades, yet it was constantly derailed by one seemingly insurmountable obstacle or another. Until local voters finally elected an administration determined to cut through the red tape and just get it done.

Instead of following L.A.’s example, they committed to building the entire system at once. The result is an integrated regional system that has been fully functional — and successful — virtually from day one. And yes, they actually encourage cyclists to take the trains.

Meanwhile, our own leaders are pushing, with no promise of success, for just three of the 14 scheduled L.A.-area projects to be moved forward a little.

Or take the pitiful, disjointed system of L.A. bikeways that don’t connect, don’t actually lead anywhere and are frequently in virtually unridable condition.

The problem, we’re told, is that the city’s built-out street system is already over-stressed. As LADOT Senior Bike Coordinator Michele Mowery was recently quoted in Bicycling Magazine, “What I need is roadway. Right now, all I can do is try to find places to squeeze bikes in.”

Yet New York City, home to one of the most congested, built-out road systems in the country, recently completed a 200 mile expansion of their bike lane system — increasing the system by nearly 50% in just three years.

The result has been equally impressive, with bike commuting up 45% since the project began — a nearly a 50% increase in ridership in just three years. And it will undoubtedly rise further now that the system is complete, reducing stress on the local traffic and transit systems while helping to improve the health of those new commuters.

The difference is civic leaders — from the mayor’s office down — who recognize the value of bicycles as a legitimate part of the overall transit system, and have the political will to overcome objections and just it done.

The same leadership that had the courage to convert one of the city’s busiest boulevards into a pedestrian walkway.

Yet even L.A.’s proposed Bike Master Plan fails to “squeeze bikes in,” since most bikeways that might actually make a difference are listed as “currently infeasible.” And the people charged with leading the change continue to offer implausible excuses, like telling council members that they can’t move forward with a sharrow test project because they’re worried about cyclists slipping on rain-soaked paint.

And yes, I actually heard them say that. Which makes me wonder just how many riders have been killed or crippled on Long Beach’s new sharrow green lane. Or maybe it just hasn’t rained there yet.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles has the most congested roadways in the nation. Yet we’re still waiting for our civic leaders to recognize that the city’s decades-long focus on increasing traffic capacity has failed miserably. And that maybe, just maybe, the real solution is offering people viable alternatives to getting behind the wheel.

Like biking, for instance. Or taking a train system than can actually get you where you want to go.

And for someone — anyone — with the courage to just step up and get it done.

………

Streetsblog interviews the LACBC. Will defuses a potentially violent situation, and proves he who honks last honks best. Today could be the day you get a ticket for riding through a crosswalk in Santa Monica. An Eastside writer asks if the Class 1 bike path in South Gate could be used to improve the quality of life for local residents. Cycle Chic looks haute on a Batavus Fryslân. No Whip rides the high altitude Alta Alpina Double Century. Texas cyclists vent their wrath on their veto-wielding governor. An experienced bicycle safety instructor is killed after inexplicably turning directly in front of an oncoming car. A Virginia judge laments the lack of civility between cyclists and drivers. Vancouver discovers their new bike bridge could actually turn a profit. San Francisco’s Mission District is about to get new bike lanes, as is Dar-es-Salaam — maybe they just have more road space than we do. Town Mouse discovers the value of a good tailwind. Finally, the Guardian asks if bikes and beer really mix.

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