The snapshot is of some of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s new Civic Engagement Committee members showing up for last night’s meeting, at a restaurant only a couple of blocks from home for me.
This was our fourth meeting (I’d missed the first one), and we had a slightly larger group than usual. Ted Rogers (of Biking in LA) is the chair, and besides him, I was there (obviously, representing Bicycle Fixation), as was LACBC staffer Eric Bruins, the peripatetic Eric Weinstein of Santa Monica, and Mark Elliot of Beverly Hills’s Better Bike. There were also three people whose last names I didn’t catch but who contributed mightily: a colleague of Ted’s named Patrick, a fellow named Wesley whom half of you readers probably know, and Karen of the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition.
The business at hand was a questionnaire that we intend to present to the candidates for District Attorney to see how they stand on matters legal that affect cyclists and pedestrians, especially distracted driving, bike theft, and—most important in our minds—the vigorous prosecution of traffic crimes that are killing and injuring far too many cyclists in our county. Most especially hit-and-run—about a third of all collisions in the City of LA are now hit-and-runs.
This is something that affects drivers and passengers of cars as well—but it seems that there is a special level of neglect reserved for hit-and-runs that involve cyclists, which have rarely been prosecuted in our region except after highly-publicized outcries by our community.
We’d worked up the questions at the last meeting, and we refined them last night, tweaking the wording, changing the order of presentation, and eliminating one question entirely.
Soon we’ll present them to the two candidates for this office, Jackie Lacey and Aaron Jackson, hoping thus to discover which of the two might actually be willing and able to do something to protect cyclists who are exercising their rights on the county’s streets. Realizing that refusal to answer is an answer of sorts as well.
We’ll be working on plenty of other questionnaires in the coming months. Our hope is to quiz every candidate for every public office in LA County on their attitudes and intentions regarding you, me, and all our fellow cyclists.
Bicycle advocacy groups and bike-friendly city planners (which believe it or not, includes LA’s) all agree that lack of political will does more than anything else to hold back the development of infrastructure and policies supportive of cycling—everywhere in the world. This is one small way to help build that political will—by electing politicians who will be on our side.
The questionnaires will help reveal just who those might be.
It’s more work than you think, and we could use your help. Join us; we might have missed an important question that you’ll bring up!
The committee meets on the last Tuesday of each month. Email Ted for details if you want to get in on the action.
This is how a bike culture is bred.