Thursday, October 29, 2009

CityWatchLA - If Only the Mayor Rode a Bike...

CityWatch, Oct 30, 2009
Vol 7 Issue 89

If Mayor Villaraigosa rode a bike, the current process for updating the LA's Bike Plan would be a lot different. For starters, it would have the Mayor's attention and that alone would be a significant shift, but most importantly, it would be incorporated into the Mayor's campaign for turning LA into a Great City.

1) The Mayor has committed to making LA one of the safest big cities and if he rode a bike, he'd realize that the place to start is on the streets of LA. They're one of the most dangerous places in the city.

People die on a daily basis. It's no longer news. The public as a whole is desensitized to the fact that our streets are a battleground and that nobody is free from the conflict. LA is a city under siege.

If the Mayor were to jump on a bike and attempt to pedal from City Hall to the far reaches of his kingdom, he'd quickly realize that the real opportunity to make Los Angeles a safer city for everybody would be to start with the streets of LA and that would result in a Bike Plan with real vision, with real imperative language and with a real commitment to moving people safely. That would be good for the Bike Plan and it would be good for LA.

2) The Mayor has committed to making LA the greenest big city and if he rode a bike, he'd realize that the place to start is with our air. Breathing LA's air is one of the most significant threats to our health.

Long time residents take it in stride, repeating the "It used to be worse!" mantra that has become the battle cry for mediocrity.

If the Mayor were to look at the city from a bike, he'd realize that supporting alternative transportation is key to greening our city and it that would result in a Bike Plan with a real commitment to the environment and to supporting positive transportation choices.

3) The Mayor has committed to supporting the well funded and long term expansion of LA's mass transit system and if he rode a bike, he's realize that one of the simplest and most inexpensive ways to complement the effectiveness of mass transit is to close service gaps and to offer people more choices.

Cycling is a gap connecting option that allows mass transit passengers to travel more efficiently and it requires little effort to support. If the

Mayor were to use a bike to get from his home to the Metro, he'd realize that simple innovations to accommodate rather that to alienate cyclists would go a long way toward improving the efficiency of the transit system as a whole. This would result in a Bike Plan that strongly positions cycling as a transit solution and would establish strong standards rather than weak suggestions.

4) The Mayor has committed to making the creation of jobs his number one priority and if he were to show up for one of the Bike Plan workshops, he'd realize that the simplest place to start would be to have the City of LA actually hire locals.

The Bike Plan is being developed by consultants from Portland, San Francisco, and Colorado and the city staff who are guiding the process come from Inglewood, Santa Clarita, Fullerton and Long Beach.

If the Mayor were to ride a bike on the streets of LA, he'd realize quickly that there is no "high-altitude" approach to creating a great Bike Plan. It requires rubber on the road experience and it requires local knowledge of not just the streets and the community but of the political landscape.

The people who are in LA after the office is closed are the people who are in the best position to create a robust and powerful vision for LA's Bike Plan. Hiring local would result in a great Bike Plan and it would put Angelenos to work.

Safer streets, a greener city, more efficient mass transit and the creation of jobs!

If only the Mayor rode a bike.

For more information on LA's Bike Plan, visit

(Stephen Box is an LA cyclist advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at

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