Tag Archive for Uplift Melrose

Alleged San Diego hit-and-run driver pleads not guilty, and more on NIMBY Koretz killing Melrose project

Twentynine-year old Mauricio Flores pled not guilty to felony hit-and-run in San Diego on Monday.

Flores is the minivan driver who allegedly slammed into a 66-year old bike rider near the city’s airport last month, leaving the victim with a life-threatening head injury.

In actions captured on video, he allegedly got out of his van, along with a passenger identified as 50-year old Jessica Bailey, examined the victim lying in the roadway, then calmly removed his bike from under their van and drove away.

They were captured in Kern County less than two weeks later.

There’s no word on whether Bailey is in custody, or if she will face any charges.

And no word on the identity or condition of the victim.

There are several stories from other news outlets, like this one, but they’re all virtually identical. Thanks to Phillip Young for the heads-up.

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Streets For All founder Michael Schneider lays out in painful, step-by-step detail just what went wrong with the Uplift Melrose plan to improve the iconic, if deadly, LA street.

And how the environmentally friendly project was killed by a single LA councilmember, acting on behalf of a notorious NIMBY group.

Just after the Mid City West meeting, the NIMBYs sprang into action. They viewed Uplift Melrose as a threat to the sacred space of vehicles in this city, and were outraged that a project would even be considered that would rellocate space from cars for a bike lane. Those bike lane thieves, trying to take away sacred car space! And while the project was so much more than a bike lane — it was wider sidewalks, new trees, raised crosswalks, new lighting… all they could see was the bike lane.

Jim O’Sullivan, co-founder of Fix The City — a litigious organization that sues over nearly every bike lane and high density housing project using money from questionable funding sources — started sending threatening emails to Councilmember Koretz and eventually to the entire city council. They also posted misinformation on Next Door. When NIMBYs can’t win on the merits of something, then they simply resort to the tired and true “there wasn’t enough outreach” argument.

It’s worth taking a few minutes — okay, nine, according to the article — to read the whole thing.

Because this is what we’re up against.

And what we will continue to confront — and too often, lose — as long as we continue to elect regressive leaders in environmentalist sheep’s clothing.

Speaking of which, Bike the Vote LA is encouraging you to phonebank for CD4 candidate Nithya Raman this Sunday to support an actual environmentalist.

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Something is seriously wrong when the person charged with enforcing a state’s laws doesn’t obey them himself.

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg killed a man riding his bike Saturday night, then continued driving home without bothering to stop, later claiming he thought he’d hit a deer.

An excuse used by countless other hit-and-run drivers, in a usually failed attempt to avoid responsibility for their crimes.

It remains to be seen whether Ravnsborg, who has a long record of speeding and other traffic violations, will be held accountable. Or if his position will shield him from blame.

Although it doesn’t bode well that the state’s Department of Public Safety is withholding key details of the investigation.

Ravnsborg was reportedly driving home from a Republican fundraising dinner, where he swears he didn’t drink.

Even though any rational and sober person would stop to see what they hit after an impact like that.

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Still more proof you can literally carry anything on a bicycle.

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

An American marine biologist in the Philippines with a bad case of windshield bias questions why road space is being given to bike riders when motor vehicles bring in much more “revinue” for the government. He may be many things, but an environmentalist clearly ain’t one of them, regardless of what the headline says.

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Local

Bruce Willis is one of us, riding his Trek ebike through the streets of LA, even if the story somehow comes by way of Islamabad. Yippie-ki-yay, indeed.

Olympic boarder Shaun White and Vampire Diaries actress Nina Dobrev are two of us. Or make that three, as they went for a bike ride through the ‘Bu with her dog in his arms.

 

State

A recovering Newport Beach stroke victim reached his goal of swimming 100 miles Labor Day weekend, then walked a couple miles to where he’d left his bicycle to ride back home.

A San Diego letter writer questions the city’s 42 percent increase in bike ridership, saying it’s meaningless without knowing how many riders there were before. Hate to say it, but he’s got a point.

 

National

Washington state is adopting the Idaho Stop Law next month, allowing bike riders to treat stops as yields — but not treat red lights like stop signs, as is legal in Idaho.

This is how it works in other places. Austin, Texas is going to make permanent a popup bike lane installed during the coronavirus crisis after it proved successful. Unfortunately, unlike countless other cities around the world, auto-centric Los Angeles never bothered to install any temporary bike lanes during the lockdown period to begin with.

Dozens of Louisville KY residents rode to apartment where Breonna Taylor was fatally shot by police, who were looking for her former boyfriend, to see where it happened and demand justice for her.

Chicago is responding to the increase in bike riders by installing a curb and post protected bike lane on a busy street, removing 100 parking spaces to make room.

Boston is raising Austin’s ante by making an entire Downtown popup bike network permanent. Although Boston’s bike boom has also been reflected in a corresponding jump in bike thefts.

Now that’s how to campaign. A New York state assemblyman is riding his bike 116 miles across the state’s 116th Assembly District to raise funds for his campaign.

A 73-year old Franciscan friar in Pennsylvania is riding nearly 400 miles along the Erie Canal to raise funds for an outreach center serving people struggling with rural poverty; it’s the stage-4 colon cancer survivor’s tenth annual ride.

Billy Connolly is one of us, too. The Scottish comic, who suffers from Parkinsons, suffered an eye injury falling off his ebike near his home in Key West.

Unbelievable. Authorities dropped aggravated assault charges against a Florida driver who aggressively drove into a crowd of protesters, then pulled a gun on them when they surrounded his car.

Police in Florida have arrested four men for the January, 2019 shooting death of a man riding his bike, who was apparently collateral damage in a shootout between the occupants of two cars.

 

International

The World Resources Institute says 80 percent of urban freight begins or ends in cities, and it’s time to take it seriously — including using e-cargo bikes to make deliveries.

A bike rider goes skitching, hanging on to a semi-truck trailer on a Toronto highway. Although someone should tell Narcity that there’s no need to pedal when you’re being pulled by a truck.

A Canadian woman explains how Covid-19 finally encouraged her to learn how to ride a bike at the ripe old age of 33.

Financial Times profiles famed British bike rider and designer Paul Smith, calling him the most loved man in fashion.

He gets it. An English cycling instructor says a new protected bike lane isn’t intended to make it easier to drive, but to improve safety for people on bicycles and in cars.

France ie encouraging more people to ride bikes by paying them the equivalent of nearly $60 to get their bikes repaired.

 

Competitive Cycling

Defending Tour de France champ Egan Bernal dropped out after Sunday’s 15th stage, complaining that he just didn’t have any power.

Cyclist looks at Slovenian cyclist Tadej Pogačar, calling him cycling’s newest sensation.

An excerpt from a new book examines the troubled legacy of cycling great Marco Pantani; the 1998 Tour de France winner died of a coke overdose just six years later.

Women’s cycling is still going strong, despite the media’s best efforts to ignore it, including the longest ever stage of the Giro Rosa.

 

Finally…

That feeling when the disabled parking is in the middle of the street. Your next bike could be a folding mountain ebike for just 600 bucks.

And what does it say when the streets aren’t safe enough for police to conduct a bike safety sting?

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask, already. 

Koretz uses one-man rule to kill bike, business and pedestrian friendly Uplift Melrose project

He did it again.

Seven years after CD5 Councilmember Paul Koretz blocked proposed bike lanes on Westwood Blvd, he singlehandedly killed a proposal for a much-needed makeover of Melrose Blvd.

One that had overwhelming community support, both from the general public and Melrose business owners.

A project that could have once again made Melrose the destination street it was decades ago. And one that excited virtually everyone who saw it, with a few notable NIMBY exceptions.

Starting with Koretz himself.

The self-proclaimed environmentalist and climate advocate caved to a NIMBY minority to stop a project that would improve safety on one of LA’s High Injury Network streets, while giving a significant boost to a once-thriving business district that has been in decline for decades.

Kind of like Westwood, where empty storefronts nearly outnumber occupied ones.

Yet in both cases, Koretz personally blocked bicycle and pedestrian improvements that could have revived them.

In this case, he cited his unsupported belief that the project wouldn’t get anyone out of their cars — as he drove the street in his own.

I have done much soul searching, and even driven down Melrose one more time to try and envision the results. Many factors contributed to my decision to not move forward with this process…

I don’t believe that this action will get anyone out of their cars, except for immediate neighbors on short trips who could walk or bicycle. However, it will make it more difficult for potential customers to access Melrose shops by car. The loss of parking could also reduce access by customers, unless the BID is able to cut long-term deals with several locations for large numbers of cars. This is likely to happen, but not a certainty.

I also believe that this will result in a short-term loss of more marginal businesses during construction. Longer term, I think it is likely to raise rents once it is completed, knocking out remaining smaller businesses that give Melrose its charm, for better funded, more chain-like businesses.

Maybe if he actually got out of his car, he could see what wonderful street it could be for walking. Even if it isn’t now.

But bottom line, he makes the anti-environmental, anti-climate choice to keep Melrose a sewer for pass-through drivers, while making it virtually impossible to access the area any other way.

It must be all those boarded up storefronts and Going Out of Business signs that pass for charm in his estimation.

He also ignores the fact that a project like this would once again make the street a draw for people from across the city, and not just out-of-town tourists relying on outdated guidebooks.

Not to mention that the plan actually results in a net increase in available parking, despite the loss of spaces on Melrose itself.

In a must-read story, Streetsblog’s Joe Linton examined the motivations consequences behind Koretz dictatorial decree.

L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz has effectively killed Uplift Melrose, a plan to invest in making Melrose Avenue greener, safer, and more welcoming. Uplift Melrose was initiated by the Melrose Business Improvement District and enjoyed broad local support, including from the Mid-City West Community Council and the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.

He goes on to cite bizarre opposition from representatives of both the police and fire departments.

LAPD Wilshire Area Commanding Officer Shannon Paulson’s August 25 email to Koretz staff states that Uplift Melrose “would undeniably have a direct impact on the ability of PD to respond along this (previously) primary accessway to emergency locations on this stretch of Melrose, as well as… emergencies in adjacent residential neighborhoods.” She asserts that the proposed Melrose lane reduction would “undeniably” create “traffic congestion and delays” on Melrose and “this would also result in more north/south traffic in those nice residential streets north and south of Melrose” where she forecasts “more calls for unsafe speed… and a higher likelihood of vehicle vs pedestrian accidents, stop sign violations, more people feeling not as safe walking their dogs and pushing their strollers on those streets.”

Never mind that the project was still in the early discussion phase, and that most, if not all, of those objections could have been easily mitigated.

She went on to offer this doozy, making her anti-bike windshield bias even more apparent, while broadly dismissing bike lanes all over Los Angeles:

I would also suggest a comprehensive study of the bike lanes. I have seen a lot of money and energy and planning go into some of these bike lanes in the City– which are fantastic for those who use them. But I think in many LA communities the use of these bike lanes have been exceptionally minimal (to almost zero) – this after surrendering very valuable vehicle traffic lanes to create them. I have also been part of conversations regarding their safety, as they design the lanes to be “two way” which results in some dangerous scenarios. I think immediately of the “two way” bike lane currently on Main Street downtown – where you have City Hall employees pulling out of that CH garage near Temple and they look right only as the traditional vehicle traffic on Main St is northbound, yet that bike lane along the curb is two -way. So you have a southbound bicycle coming along at 25 mph crossing them that the driver never see.

Evidently, in addition to being a cop, Paulson is also an expert in traffic engineering and urban planning.

Or at least thinks she is.

And as Linton points out, we’re still waiting for all that money for bike lanes she talks about. Maybe it got diverted into the LAPD’s coffee and donut fund.

As for the objections from the fire department,

Koretz’ staff received Streets L.A. Landscape Architect Alexander Caiozzo’s response to all of the points raised by Getuiza. Caiozzo’s September 3 email emphasizes that the Melrose design represents a “preliminary plan” and, when funding is secured, further refined designs will address all the specific Fire Department concerns.

Never mind that Linton explains that much of the objections raised by the fire department were the result of a fundamental misreading of what was being proposed.

He goes on to point the finger at a self-proclaimed watchdog group that has worked to block progress throughout the city.

One source is the “notorious Nimby” group Fix the City. In 2015, Fix the City filed a lawsuit to block L.A.’s multi-modal Mobility Plan, asserting that the city was “stealing” lanes from drivers, who do not “have the luxury of being able to ride to work on a bike or bus.” The lawsuit was settled by an agreementbetween L.A. City and Fix the City that mandates extensive outreach and analysis before safety improvements can be implemented. Fix the City then uses this agreement to kill safety projects.

The settlement requires the city to evaluate LAFD response times at the station level for all mobility projects of significant scale. If safety improvements degrade LAFD response times, then Fix the City boardmember Jim O’Sullivan waves the settlement around, badgers the city Transportation Department (LADOT) and City Council, and threatens further lawsuits.

Personally, I’d take it a step further, and question whether it’s the soft corruption of campaign contributions and promises of support for the career politician’s next run for office.

Or something worse.

In the aftermath of the Jose Huizar and Englander bribery scandals, any single-handed action like this is immediately suspect. So the question becomes, not just whether someone inappropriately influenced Koretz, but who might have, how and why.

It could be as simple as Linton’s suggestion that Koretz kowtowed to the notorious NIMBYs at Fix the City.

Or it could be something much worse.

The real problem is that Los Angeles has a failed system of government in which each councilmember rules as a king or queen in his or her own district, enjoying near dictatorial power over what gets built, from upscale condo towers to streetscape improvements.

Something we’ll have to change if we ever want to see real progress in the city.

Meanwhile, Mid City West Community Council President Scott Epstein — leader of one of the city’s better neighborhood councils — offers his own insights into the project, and Koretz’ open betrayal of the community.

Bike Talk will be discussing the whole Melrose mess tonight.

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