Monday, August 03, 2009

Bikes! Bikes! Bikes!

Years ago Enci and I were on a large evening ride that took hundreds of cyclists through the greater LA area. As we rode through one of the neighboring cities, I noticed that the intersection up ahead was "corked" by the local police department. "Why, that's thoughtful of them!" I said to myself, smiling as I basked in the obvious respect that we were drawing from the local authorities.

As we approached the next intersection, the police had blocked the intersection so that we all turned right. "Excellent! This is what it's like to be accepted into the mainstream paradigm of "transportation" and to be treated as a solution, not a problem!" I said to myself. (It was a noisy crowd, I did a lot of talking to myself)

As I rode my high-horse, it dawned on me that the friendly faces that were "corking" intersections for us were actually simply steering us out of town. The route was simply "Anywhere else, very quickly!"

We were run out of town. But for most of the trip, we were convinced that they were working for us, that right then, they really liked us and wanted to help us.

I learned then to look closely to see if the "help" is really helpful or if it's simply a way to get the cyclists out of the way.

This brings us to LA's Bike Plan. What should be a document that positions cycling as a legitimate transportation solution instead dresses up like a "We're here to help!" solution but it's really a "Get out of the way!" ploy to move cyclists to the fringe.

The current Bike Plan is still under wraps but the Bike Plan Maps reveal less Bikeways facilities than the old plan had which means the City of Los Angeles paid its consultants $450,000 to erase the inconvenient elements.

The proposed Bike Maps are unintelligible without the Bike Plan, unless of course you have an LADOT decoder ring. They're also Orwellian and seek to position "infeasible" as an engineering term that purportedly supports cycling as a safe and effective means of moving through Los Angeles, as long as it's done from within the confines of a spin class at the Equinox.

All of this is to say, take a look at the motion Alex Thompson is working through the Mar Vista Neighborhood Council:

"The MVCC finds that, with respect to Mar Vista, the maps for the draft Bicycle Master Plan show that the plan does not offer a significant improvement over existing conditions for cyclists riding in Mar Vista. We therefore recommend that the scope of the work be rewritten to position the Bicycle Plan as an inspiration and aspiration document that will support cycling as a transportation choice."

Take a look at the presentation I gave at Saturday's Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition where I asked the NC's to simply ask the hard questions and to endorse the Cyclists' Bill of Rights.

Most importantly, look closely whenever the City of Los Angeles presents the cycling community with a gift that positions "Safety, Security and Liability" as their motivation for action or, more likely, inaction.

It's Equality that should be the foundation for our mobility and public space policies and anything less is an effort to get somebody out of the way.

"See you on the Streets"

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