Tag Archive for voting

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 open letter to the candidates in L.A. Council District 5

As cyclists, we have to get more involved in the political process if we want to see things get any better around here.

So earlier this morning, I sent the following email to each of the candidates running to replace Jack Weiss as council member for Los Angeles’ Council District 5, based on the list provided by The League of Women Voters:

Dear Mr. (or Ms.) ….

As you are no doubt aware, the election for L.A.’s 5th City Council District is just three weeks away. While you, and the other candidates, have addressed any number of various community groups, the concerns of one highly motivated group have largely been ignored up to this point.

There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of bicyclists over voting age here in the 5th District. Some, such as myself, ride for recreation and fitness. Others ride for social or environmental reasona, while for still others, cycling is their primary means of transportation.

Whatever their reason for riding, virtually all are concerned with such vital issues as safe streets and infrastructure, clean air and fair, unbiased enforcement of traffic laws, as well as the effective implementation of the recently approved Cyclist’s Bill of Rights.

I am offering you, as well as the other candidates in the race, an opportunity to address this constituency — at no cost to your campaign.

A resident and active voter in this district, I also operate a popular blog about bicycling in Los Angeles. I’m offering to turn this forum over to your campaign for one day, in order to speak directly to this city’s bicycling community.

You are free to discuss anything you want, from the roll bicycles can play in reducing traffic congestion, to seemingly unrelated issues such as crime rates or responsiveness to your future constituents. If you are an active cyclist, tell us. Or if you want to confront cyclists in some way, feel free. Whatever you send me, I will publish — unedited and without comment — in the order that it’s received.

It may only be seen by a relative handful of district voters; however, with so many candidates, even that could be enough to influence the outcome. Or it could be linked to by other influential blogs, and seen by thousands of eligible voters with an interest in cycling.

All I ask is that you send your statement to me in the body of your email or as a Word attachment, with a maximum of 1,000 words (although less is usually better online). And the sooner I receive it the better, to allow voters time to make an informed choice.

Of course, you’re under no obligation to participate; however, if some of the other campaigns submit a statement and you don’t, it could speak volumes to the biking community.

Besides, it’s free. So what do you have to lose?

I’ve already received a commitment from CD5 candidate Adeena Bleich, who notes that her brother is an urban cyclist who survived a collision with a car.

We’ll have to see if anyone else takes the time to respond. If they do, I’ll post it on here as quickly as I can get it online, as well as creating link or separate page to keep it active at the top of this site.

Because what the candidates have to say to us — or whether they even respond — will have a lot to do with how I cast my vote next month.

And I hope it will yours, as well.

 

Thanks to Damien at Streetsblog LA for linking to a couple of my recent posts, and pointing out that Brentwood boutiques aren’t the only retailers who are clueless about Ghost Bikes. Gary picks up the “That’s so L.A.” theme — hey, we may be on to something here! — with photos of a fast and furious Viper wipe-out. L.A.’s leading biking actress/activists couple tip us to the city’s upcoming bike rack design contest, here and here. Los Angeles rides contributes more well-thought-out ways to get from here to there. Santa Clarita sponsors a century ride at the end of this month. And Portland may, or possibly may not, have its own cycling version of the mask-wearing Lone Ranger.

Today’s post, in which I take the blame

I confess. It’s my fault.

That pothole you hit as you were riding home from work last night? My fault.

The bike lane that disappeared beneath you without warning, leaving you to fight your way through a swarm of angry drivers who really didn’t want you there — and let you know it? Yep, that was me.

That cop who gave you a ticket for leaving the bike lane to pass another rider — even though that’s legal here in California? I’m sorry. No, really, I am.

Because I didn’t do enough to elect government officials who were dedicated to protecting the rights of cyclists. I didn’t put enough pressure on the civil servants who work for those elected officials to ensure safe places to ride. And I didn’t write and call my local representatives, or attend legislative hearings and council sessions to support bills that would have expanded our rights, and done more to protect riders of all levels and abilities.

And neither did you.

Now, I’m not saying you didn’t try. Lord knows, I did. But the simple fact is, we didn’t do enough.

How do I know? Because we get the government we deserve. And you don’t have to look at our elected officials, and the people who work for them, very long or very hard to see that we clearly don’t deserve a government that gives a damn about cyclists.

Until now, anyway.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because Alex Thompson was kind enough to ask me write a post about the need for cyclists to get more involved in politics for the Westside Bikeside! blog. And I seldom have to be asked twice to pull out my proverbial soapbox and start pontificating about biking or politics. Or anything else, for that matter.

I won’t bore you with the same arguments I made there — you can read the full post by clicking here.

But allow me to quote from it, if only for a moment:

You see, the reason they (elected officials) think it’s okay to ignore cyclists is that they don’t think we matter. Yet, bicycle industry figures show that approximately 14% all Americans ride bikes. Which means that, out of the 10 million people who live in the County of Los Angeles, roughly 1.4 million are cyclists.

1.4 million people whose needs are not being met. And who can’t get the time of day from the people they elect.

Of course, we only have ourselves to blame. If that many people were to speak out and demand change, we could not be ignored.

There it is.

If you get involved, and I get involved, there is nothing that we can’t do. Nothing.

From passing the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights to getting a system of bike lanes and off-road paths that actually go somewhere. And an educated police force — even in smaller communities, like Santa Monica and Culver City — who understand the law and cyclists rights, and enforce them fairly and honestly.

So I’ll make a promise, right here and right now. I will never again vote for any candidate who does not fully support bicycling. And I will do everything in my power to ensure that our elected officials support and protect your rights, and mine, as cyclists.

And I only hope you will do the same.

One quick aside. See that graphic up in the corner? The one bout biking and voting? I threw that together a few weeks ago, using my extremely limited graphics skills. From now on, I will include that in any post I make about politics and voting, and every email I send to any elected or government official. Because I want them to know that my vote depends on their support.

I hope you’ll join me. Feel free to copy that graphic and use it yourself. Or if you’re a better graphic artist than I am — and let’s be honest, who isn’t? — make a better one, and I promise to use it. And post it here for anyone else who wants to use it.

 

Today’s reading: Gary continues his excellent series on Bicycle and Automobile Coexistence, discussing why riding on the sidewalk isn’t a good idea, despite what drivers yell at you. Mikey Walley discusses Bike Snob’s comments on the Swoosh’s new (?) line for fixie riders. A couple of Miami-area writers discuss the recent taxi vs. 11-rider crash on the causeway; I particularly like the 2nd letter, though that would never happen here. Or there, probably. A California city actually wants to promote riding. Go figure. An Iowa county has made it illegal for more than 10 cyclists to ride together without liability insurance. Interesting thread from Portland discusses whether helmets should be mandatory. And finally, C.I.C.L.E. suggests bikes and buses go together. And here I always thought those bikes on the front of buses were just from the riders that they’d run over.  

Today’s post, in which I take the blame

I confess. It’s my fault.

That pothole you hit as you were riding home from work last night? My fault.

The bike lane that disappeared beneath you without warning, leaving you to fight your way through a swarm of angry drivers who really didn’t want you there — and let you know it? Yep, that was me.

That cop who gave you a ticket for leaving the bike lane to pass another rider — even though that’s legal here in California? I’m sorry. No, really, I am.

Because I didn’t do enough to elect government officials who were dedicated to protecting the rights of cyclists. I didn’t put enough pressure on the civil servants who work for those elected officials to ensure safe places to ride. And I didn’t write and call my local representatives, or attend legislative hearings and council sessions to support bills that would have expanded our rights, and done more to protect riders of all levels and abilities.

And neither did you.

Now, I’m not saying you didn’t try. Lord knows, I did. But the simple fact is, we didn’t do enough.

How do I know? Because we get the government we deserve. And you don’t have to look at our elected officials, and the people who work for them, very long or very hard to see that we clearly don’t deserve a government that gives a damn about cyclists.

Until now, anyway.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because Alex Thompson was kind enough to ask me write a post about the need for cyclists to get more involved in politics for the Westside Bikeside! blog. And I seldom have to be asked twice to pull out my proverbial soapbox and start pontificating about biking or politics. Or anything else, for that matter.

I won’t bore you with the same arguments I made there — you can read the full post by clicking here.

But allow me to quote from it, if only for a moment:

You see, the reason they (elected officials) think it’s okay to ignore cyclists is that they don’t think we matter. Yet, bicycle industry figures show that approximately 14% all Americans ride bikes. Which means that, out of the 10 million people who live in the County of Los Angeles, roughly 1.4 million are cyclists.

1.4 million people whose needs are not being met. And who can’t get the time of day from the people they elect.

Of course, we only have ourselves to blame. If that many people were to speak out and demand change, we could not be ignored.

There it is.

If you get involved, and I get involved, there is nothing that we can’t do. Nothing.

From passing the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights to getting a system of bike lanes and off-road paths that actually go somewhere. And an educated police force — even in smaller communities, like Santa Monica and Culver City — who understand the law and cyclists rights, and enforce them fairly and honestly.

So I’ll make a promise, right here and right now. I will never again vote for any candidate who does not fully support bicycling. And I will do everything in my power to ensure that our elected officials support and protect your rights, and mine, as cyclists.

And I only hope you will do the same.

One quick aside. See that graphic up in the corner? The one bout biking and voting? I threw that together a few weeks ago, using my extremely limited graphics skills. From now on, I will include that in any post I make about politics and voting, and every email I send to any elected or government official. Because I want them to know that my vote depends on their support.

I hope you’ll join me. Feel free to copy that graphic and use it yourself. Or if you’re a better graphic artist than I am — and let’s be honest, who isn’t? — make a better one, and I promise to use it. And post it here for anyone else who wants to use it.

 

Today’s reading: Gary continues his excellent series on Bicycle and Automobile Coexistence, discussing why riding on the sidewalk isn’t a good idea, despite what drivers yell at you. Mikey Walley discusses Bike Snob’s comments on the Swoosh’s new (?) line for fixie riders. A couple of Miami-area writers discuss the recent taxi vs. 11-rider crash on the causeway; I particularly like the 2nd letter, though that would never happen here. Or there, probably. A California city actually wants to promote riding. Go figure. An Iowa county has made it illegal for more than 10 cyclists to ride together without liability insurance. Interesting thread from Portland discusses whether helmets should be mandatory. And finally, C.I.C.L.E. suggests bikes and buses go together. And here I always thought those bikes on the front of buses were just from the riders that they’d run over.  

Today’s post, in which I take the blame

I confess. It’s my fault.

That pothole you hit as you were riding home from work last night? My fault.

The bike lane that disappeared beneath you without warning, leaving you to fight your way through a swarm of angry drivers who really didn’t want you there — and let you know it? Yep, that was me.

That cop who gave you a ticket for leaving the bike lane to pass another rider — even though that’s legal here in California? I’m sorry. No, really, I am.

Because I didn’t do enough to elect government officials who were dedicated to protecting the rights of cyclists. I didn’t put enough pressure on the civil servants who work for those elected officials to ensure safe places to ride. And I didn’t write and call my local representatives, or attend legislative hearings and council sessions to support bills that would have expanded our rights, and done more to protect riders of all levels and abilities.

And neither did you.

Now, I’m not saying you didn’t try. Lord knows, I did. But the simple fact is, we didn’t do enough.

How do I know? Because we get the government we deserve. And you don’t have to look at our elected officials, and the people who work for them, very long or very hard to see that we clearly don’t deserve a government that gives a damn about cyclists.

Until now, anyway.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because Alex Thompson was kind enough to ask me write a post about the need for cyclists to get more involved in politics for the Westside Bikeside! blog. And I seldom have to be asked twice to pull out my proverbial soapbox and start pontificating about biking or politics. Or anything else, for that matter.

I won’t bore you with the same arguments I made there — you can read the full post by clicking here.

But allow me to quote from it, if only for a moment:

You see, the reason they (elected officials) think it’s okay to ignore cyclists is that they don’t think we matter. Yet, bicycle industry figures show that approximately 14% all Americans ride bikes. Which means that, out of the 10 million people who live in the County of Los Angeles, roughly 1.4 million are cyclists.

1.4 million people whose needs are not being met. And who can’t get the time of day from the people they elect.

Of course, we only have ourselves to blame. If that many people were to speak out and demand change, we could not be ignored.

There it is.

If you get involved, and I get involved, there is nothing that we can’t do. Nothing.

From passing the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights to getting a system of bike lanes and off-road paths that actually go somewhere. And an educated police force — even in smaller communities, like Santa Monica and Culver City — who understand the law and cyclists rights, and enforce them fairly and honestly.

So I’ll make a promise, right here and right now. I will never again vote for any candidate who does not fully support bicycling. And I will do everything in my power to ensure that our elected officials support and protect your rights, and mine, as cyclists.

And I only hope you will do the same.

One quick aside. See that graphic up in the corner? The one bout biking and voting? I threw that together a few weeks ago, using my extremely limited graphics skills. From now on, I will include that in any post I make about politics and voting, and every email I send to any elected or government official. Because I want them to know that my vote depends on their support.

I hope you’ll join me. Feel free to copy that graphic and use it yourself. Or if you’re a better graphic artist than I am — and let’s be honest, who isn’t? — make a better one, and I promise to use it. And post it here for anyone else who wants to use it.

 

Today’s reading: Gary continues his excellent series on Bicycle and Automobile Coexistence, discussing why riding on the sidewalk isn’t a good idea, despite what drivers yell at you. Mikey Walley discusses Bike Snob’s comments on the Swoosh’s new (?) line for fixie riders. A couple of Miami-area writers discuss the recent taxi vs. 11-rider crash on the causeway; I particularly like the 2nd letter, though that would never happen here. Or there, probably. A California city actually wants to promote riding. Go figure. An Iowa county has made it illegal for more than 10 cyclists to ride together without liability insurance. Interesting thread from Portland discusses whether helmets should be mandatory. And finally, C.I.C.L.E. suggests bikes and buses go together. And here I always thought those bikes on the front of buses were just from the riders that they’d run over.  

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