Friday, May 21, 2010

Bike to Work Week ain't over!

Three years ago Enci and I partnered with the Metro and celebrated Bike to Work Week by hosting a pit stop at the Hollywood & Western Metro station. We did it to celebrate bike culture and to encourage our cycling community, we did it to send a message to the motoring community, and we did it to encourage our friends to spend the day riding with us. (we so cleverly called our celebration "Bike INSTEAD of Work Day!")

We also did it because we were totally pissed that our friend Jen Diamond had been assaulted by a hit-and-run motorist and left in the street, only to have six months pass with no resolution, even though the LAPD had an independent witness and the license plate information of the vehicle.

We brought a prop bike so that the Metro staff could look like cyclists when interviewed on TV, we had a huge Cyclists' Bill of Rights Banner and we rode with the LAPD cyclists to City Hall. It was a great day, so much fun we immediately made plans to repeat it the next year.

Two years ago Enci and I again set up a pit stop at the Hollywood & Vine Metro Station, hauling out the Cyclists' Bill of Rights Banner and leading a merry band of cyclists on an all-day ride that took us to City Hall, to Caltrans, and to USC for the Los Angeles Neighborhood Institute. Nobody ended up at work, we instead focused on equal parts bike fun, bike activism, bike politics and straight up biking. We made friends with Randy, a member of the Midnight Ridazz Aid LifeCycle Team who was taken down by a hit-and-run motorist just a week later. Still she rides!

It was a long day and at the end, we were ready to simply ride home but it wasn't so easy. Heading through the Hollywood & Western intersection we were overtaken by a Metro bus operator who was not impressed with the Bike to Work theme. He was downright homicidal. Still we ride!

Last year Enci and I found ourselves less enthralled with the idea of riding to City Hall and decided to instead explore the controversial Expo Line with our Expo Exposure bike tour. Our friends from Clif Bar (Kitten Kuroi and Marin Vaughn) joined us at Hollywood & Vine and we gave the local commuting cyclists lots of encouragement before heading off on a ride to the westside and then back to USC for the always interesting Los Angeles Neighborhood Institute. The infamous Hummer vs. Cyclists incident had just occurred and cyclists were feeling a tad political, just enough to give the Bike INSTEAD of Work a bit of an edge. Still they ride!

This year, Enci and I intended to host a pit stop for Bike to Work day, we really did. But the simple reality is this, we spent all week on three campaigns and it left us with little enthusiasm or energy for the Hollywood & Western Bike to Work pit stop. To our friends who came by to visit but didn't find us, we hope you understand and we hope you'll join us in working to make Los Angeles a great place to ride.

As for the campaigns:

  • We've been fighting to defend the honor and the rights of a dead cyclist in Glendale. We don't know him but a newspaper article quoting a Glendale Police Detective as saying that a cyclist was killed by a stop-sign-running motorist shared 50% responsibility for his death because he rode his bike on the sidewalk in violation of State law prompted us to engage the Glendale Police Department in an awareness campaign that continues.
  • We've been fighting to ensure that our community supports cyclists. We love Trader Joe's but if they're going to open a store at the W Hollywood Transit Oriented Development without any bike parking, they're simply not welcome in Hollywood. Tough words but we backed it up by going after Trader Joe's Corporate with the full support of our friends and we're determined to prevail, not just for the specific improvements but to set a standard.
  • We've been fighting to develop a more effective relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department. Last night we celebrated Bike to Work Day at the LAPD Headquarters with Chief Doan, Commander Villegas, and Sgt. Krumer. Six months after we met with Chief Charlie Beck and formed the Cyclists/LAPD Task Force, we had results. We reviewed new roll call training on the rights of cyclists along with LAPD Directives and Special Orders that addressed 1) Non-Contact Traffic Reports with Injuries 2) Citation Authority for Impeding/Blocking Bike Lanes 3) LAPD Authority over Metro/Cyclist incidents 4) Interagency Coordination of issues relating to cyclists and their right to ride the streets of Los Angeles safely and free of fear!

Earlier this week I wrote a post for CityWatchLA in which I indicated that I was done with celebrating Bike to Work Week. I meant it when I wrote it and I really do hope that someday, riding a bike on the streets of Los Angeles becomes such a normal thing that there is no need to call out the news team, hold a press conference, and pass out rewards and stickers memorializing the occasion.

Until then I will keep fighting to make Los Angeles a Great City and I will start by fighting to make the streets of LA a great place to ride. For me, Bike to Work Week isn't over until Saturday and I'm proud to be participating in BikesideSPEAKS where 7 speakers will take 7 minutes each to address 7 subjects that are key to making our streets safer for everybody. I hope you'll join us in a real Bike to Work Week celebration!

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