Thursday, November 27, 2008

Transpo Committee - Character Reveal

Last Friday's Transpo Committee meeting was significant, so significant that it warrants another pass, this time to take a look at the three groups who were represented at the meeting and the "character" that was revealed by their participation and performance.

1) The City of Los Angeles was represented by members of the Police Department, the Department of Transportation, the Planning Department and Office of the City Attorney, all of whom contributed to a stunningly cavalier and obstinate display of arrogance and hubris.

Swatting off the requests of the public as little more than the babbling buzzing of the ignorant masses, DOT staff did little other than to demonstrate a commitment to more studies, more reports, more funding requests and more staff. This prompted Committee Chair Greuel to comment "Less studying, more working!"

Planning sidestepped a discussion of integrating the the Bicycle Master Plan into the Community Plans by babbling about meetings and presentations and recommendations, all of which hid the simple truth, the BMP sits on a shelf, a lonely funding tool with no teeth. Supah!

Not wanting to be left out of the big reveal, the Deputy City Attorney referred to the Cyclists' Bill of Rights as "a laundry list of issues!" that would require review, something she had not had the time to do. The motion was introduced over 4 months ago! In all fairness, she has been busy, writing ordinances allowing for the speed limit increases throughout the Valley.

But at the end of the day, it was Chief Paysinger who gave the greatest reveal of character when he went before the Committee, avoided responsibility for the inability of his department to administer the bike licensing program and then refused to suspend enforcement at the request of the Committee.

What kind of job security do these people possess that they can simply duck the hard questions, blow off the charges of the public, ignore and reject the instructions of the Committee? Apparently, it's iron-clad and part of the "business as usual" work-ethic for the City of Los Angeles.

If nothing else was accomplished, the meeting was a brilliant reveal of character for those who spend so much time and effort maintaining the status quo and resisting the efforts of the community to make LA a great city to ride. Thanks for the reveal!

2) The Transportation Committee was represented by Chairwoman Wendy Greuel, Councilman Parks, Councilman Rosendahl and Councilman LaBonge. It was a crazy day, with Greuel opening the meeting solo, LaBonge arriving late and leaving early, Rosendahl and Greuel stepping out to work on budget business and the items on the agenda coming non-sequentially and rapidly, with public comment limited to one minute. 60 seconds! WooHoo!

When that many people from the public show up, the Committee doesn't need the LADOT, the LAPD, Planning or the City Attorney to go and do a study, it simply needs to open up the mic and start engaging the public in the business of making Los Angeles a better place to ride.

The Committee members revealed to the public that 1) they are willing to accept words and studies and excuses over performance and results and 2) they will give instructions and then back down when they are rejected. This is not the leadership that the City of Los Angeles needs!

3) The Cyclistas! They came from all over, with a wide range of experiences and attitudes and goals. But they turned out and they sat for hours, all for their 60 seconds of opportunity, in which they appealed for a Bicycle Master Plan with teeth, support for a bike-share program, meaningful street improvements that would actually support and encourage cycling as a transportation solution, a repeal of the City's bike licensing law, a Sharrows program and the adoption of the Cyclists' Bill of Rights "as written - as ridden!"

They listened to excuse after excuse on why things can't be done. They listened to LADOT explain that they can't paint Sharrows because they don't know if the paint will be slippery prompting one cyclist to comment "Have they never spoken to a cyclist before?"

Another cyclist referred to the LADOT as the department of "Yes We Can't!" while another referred to their presentation as the "Why You Can't Have What You Want" Bicycle Plan.

Through it all the public witnessed City staff that not only lacked any commitment to improving the City but actually demonstrated a resistance to any call for improvement or change, all the while asking for more staff and the public witnessed City Councilmembers who asked the hard questions and gave specific instructions but then accepted excuses and non-answers and outright rejection from City staff.

This was the proverbial fork in the road and the cyclists could have looked at the status quo maintaining agents of mediocrity and grown discouraged by the system but instead the experience resulted in a display of resolve, immediately, that night, the next day and in the days since.

It was on Kill Radio the next day that the cycling community was urged to kick it into DIY and DIT gear, taking responsibility for getting the City going. In discussions on Midnight Ridazz, LA Streetsblog, the LATimes Bottleneck Blog, SoapBoxLA, BikinginLA, Westside-bikeSIDE, sic, MikeyWally cyclists are demonstrating that the time is nigh, that change is on the horizon and that the agents of change are the cyclists and that they are gonna make it happen.

illuminateLA audio

Character Counts!

"See you on the Streets!"

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