Tag Archive for waking the sleeping giant

Morning Links: Waking the sleeping giant in LA and Pasadena, and a gut-wrenching Colorado hit-and-run

Lots of news leading up to next month’s elections.

LA’s Bike the Vote reviews Thursday’s Livable Streets forum for candidates running to replace termed-out Tom LaBonge, while Streetsblog’s Damien Newton offers his detailed analysis, along with sound recordings of the event.

My take on night was that Tomas O’Grady and LaBonge staffers Sheia Irani and Carolyn Ramsey stood head and shoulders above the rest, although Mexico City native Fred Mariscal got the biggest applause of the night for insisting LA has to move past its overdependence on cars.

On the other hand, I had major concerns about the ability of the two LaBonge staffers to step out of the shadow of their bike-friendly-in-name-only boss to actually support bicycling and other non-automotive transportation the way they promised.

But in talking to them afterwards, both seemed sincere in wanting to improve safety and make room for bikes on our streets. And while I disagreed with Ramsay on a few points, I came away convinced she would actually listen to bicyclists and be willing to change her mind if presented with compelling arguments, unlike the man she’s running to replace.

Then again, Gil Cedillo made some pretty good promises, too.

But all eight candidates deserve a degree of support for simply showing up, unlike the other six who apparently had better things to do that night.

Meanwhile, Orange 20’s Richard Risemberg seems sold on O’Grady, while the Daily News splits their endorsement between O’Grady and Teddy Davis, who was one of those who didn’t bother to show up on Thursday.

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The LACBC offers great information on how to bike the vote, including responses to candidate questionnaires for council district 4, as well as district 14, where termed-out County Supervisor Gloria Molina is challenging incumbent Jose Huizar, one of the best friends bike riders have had on the city council in recent years.

Personally, I won’t vote for anyone who doesn’t complete the LACBC’s questionnaire. And I hope you’ll base your vote on their responses, as well.

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The candidates in CD 14 talk housing costs and basic services in Boyle Heights. And several candidates, including Molina, O’Grady, Irani and — apparently grudgingly — Ramsey, pledge to take a pay cut if they get elected.

It should be noted that LA city councilmembers receive the highest pay of any large city in the US. Which is one reason the office seems so attractive to politicians who have been termed out of other seats.

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The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition has posted audio of the complete streets portion of a recent mayoral candidate forum for their city, as well as responses to their own candidate questionnaire.

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Why does all this matter?

Because bike riders remain, potentially, one of the largest voting blocks in the City and County of Los Angeles, capable of swaying elections to ensure safe streets for all of us.

But only potentially, until we finally manage to wake the sleeping giant.

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My hometown newspaper offers a gut-wrenching look at the effects a violent left cross and hit-and-run had on a triathlete and father; an exceptionally well written piece almost guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye. Or at least, it did mine.

On Monday, they follow-up with a story asking if justice was served.

That would be a no.

Hell no.

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Local

Confirmation that LA Times automotive writer Jerry Hirsch is one of us. I can personally attest he’s one of the good guys.

A Lakewood bike rider saves the life of a newborn baby who had been abandoned by her mother, scooping up the infant and racing to a nearby fire station. She can be grateful her rescuer wasn’t in a car, or he might not have heard her cries. Thanks to Margaret Wehbi for the heads-up.

 

State

UC San Diego is building a new Class 1 bike path on campus.

A non-cyclist rides the bike lanes of Redlands.

 

National

The bike that Seattle Seahawk Michael Bennett commandeered from the local police to celebrate winning the NFC championship raises $10,000 for charity.

A Michigan bike rider survives a head-on collision with a truck in France to come back and rescue the medical company he built.

A good Samaritan who helped a Florida woman after she fell off her three-wheeled bike ends up stealing it.

 

International

Drawing a thread through today’s news, a proposed mandatory helmet law draws mixed reviews in Saskatchewan; The Netherlands is unlikely to require bike helmets for the young and elderly despite the recommendations of a recent report, and a New Zealand writer says those irritating cyclists need to get over themselves and wear one, already.

The Economist says London is slowly becoming a better place for bicyclists.

Australia’s Rohan Dennis becomes the third cyclist in the last few months to break the previously long-standing hour record, as Bradley Wiggins waits in the wings.

Thai authorities are building bike lanes to accommodate a bicycling boom in Chiang Mai.

 

Finally…

A 13-year old paracyclist sets a new world record for the second time, but it won’t count because doping authorities failed to show up. And a cake, ale and cigarette-loving plump Paddy — his word, not mine — rebels against hectoring from “broccoli-loving cycling fascists.”

Actually, I’m more of a spinach guy, myself.

 

Today’s post, in which I don’t exactly endorse anyone — and urge you to wake the sleeping bike giant

The future of bicycling in LA County and the State of California is in your hands.

Or more precisely, awaiting your vote.

Bike the Vote LA offers a full slate of endorsements for your voting pleasure in tomorrow’s election.

I’ll leave it to you to make your own choices.

Though I will point out, for those in his district, that District 43 Assembly Member Mike Gatto has proven himself to be one of the most effective members of the legislature — and one of the best friends bicyclists and pedestrians have among California’s elected officials.

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As for myself, I plan to cast my ballot for Bobby Shriver for LA County District 3 Supervisor to replace Zev Yaroslavsky.

While I have a great deal of respect for Shiela Kuehl and all she has accomplished at the state level, I’m troubled by her responses to the LACBC’s candidate survey earlier this year. Especially this one, in response to a question about whether she would support protected bike lanes in her district:

Yes, I would, so long as it doesn’t reduce the total number of lanes available to cars.

In other words, she would automatically rule out road diets, even though a US government study shows they can improve safety for all road users by 20 to 50%. And protected bike lanes have been shown to reduce injuries by as much as 90%.

Meanwhile, Shriver expressed strong support for complete streets, and pledged to build at least 40 miles of new bikeways each year.

But don’t take my word for it. Click the links above to read both candidates’ responses, and decide for yourself.

I also plan to vote for Jim McDonnell for LA County Sheriff.

While I’m troubled by his heavy-handed crackdown on the nascent Lang Beach Critical Mass — including bogus tickets and the illegal seizure of some riders’ bikes — I’m impressed by his responses to the LACBC survey. Especially his willingness to meet with cyclists and establish a bike liaison program similar to the LAPD’s to help resolve conflicts between the department and the riding community.

And I have a real problem voting for a candidate who has barely campaigned for the office he’s seeking, and has spent his entire career in a department riddled with allegations of corruption and civil rights violations, as his opponent, Paul Tanaka, has.

On the other hand, I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to throw my vote away by casting it for Republican Neel Kashkari, who has virtually no chance of beating incumbent Governor Jerry Brown. Particularly in light of his misguided pledge to halt California’s planned high-speed rail system — or as he calls it, Jerry Brown’s crazy train — which was approved by voters in 2008, long before Brown took office.

But I can’t in good conscience vote for a man who vetoed every piece of hit-and-run legislation that passed his desk, as Brown did this year.

Is it too late to vote for Meg Whitman?

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One last note. Or rather, vote.

I will be voting in favor of LA County Proposition P, which in effect replaces two soon-to-expire property taxes that have funded parks and bikeways throughout the county.

Prop P would create a 30-year stream of funding for parks and open space, beaches and trails — including, possibly, a 22-mile bikeway from Claremont to Rosemead.

Yes, we could all benefit from lower taxes.

But if Prop P fails, everyone in LA County will be poorer for it.

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Finally, a quick reminder.

As we’ve noted before, LADOT estimated in the 2010 bike plan that there are roughly 400,000 people in the City of Angels who ride a bike on a monthly basis.

Which is about 22,000 more than bothered to vote in the last city election.

And there’s no reason to believe the same doesn’t hold true throughout the county, where only 17% of registered voters bothered to cast their ballots in the June primary.

That makes bicyclists the sleeping giant of LA politics, with the power to sway elections — especially close ones.

But only if we remember to vote in terms of our own self interests.

Or bother to vote, period.

Because we have the power to ensure a bike-friendly future for the City and County of Los Angeles.

And as we’ve seen, it only takes electing the wrong person to undo hard-won the gains we’ve made.

 

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.

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