The Real Econ 101

Everyday rider in NE Los Angeles
She may just be the future of commerce…

Slate recently ran an article that doesn’t mention bicycling but should still interest most readers of this blog. Entitled “Econ 101 is killing America”—to which I would add, it ain’t doing no favors for the rest of the world either. It details how so many broad, often emotional, and generally untested assumptions underlie the bombastic pronouncements of the self-anointed economic “wizards” who have repeatedly brought the US economy into recession or worse.

People who couldn’t see the housing and credit bubbles getting ready to burst, and who cajoled us all to put our faith into a Doctrine of Imaginary Value.

This has played out even in our little corner of Northeast Los Angeles, as the blowback on plans for road diets and bike lanes on Colorado and Figueroa has shown. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve already endured my rants on the absolutely clueless assumptions some merchants and residents have brought up to oppose changes that have actually benefited neighborhood commerce in city after city across the country and around the world. They’ve swallowed the Kool-Aid, but the poison has affected us all.

Fortunately, though they were louder—much louder, in their tantrums!—than supporters of the bikelanes, they were also far fewer, and it looks as though the projects will go forward.

In some other parts of town, it hasn’t been so hard, and merchants who have spit out the Kool-Aid are leading the way. Even the sort of big corporate entities that are usually last to wake up. For example, just this morning Ted Rogers of Biking in LA reports that the Century City mall, owned by Australian megacorporation Westfield, is now providing free bike valet for its customers who pedal in. It’s right at the eastern end of the bikelanes connecting Century City to Westwood too.

Not only that, but the mall will soon be hosting the first Bikestation in the City of Los Angeles! There’s no hint of it on the Bikestation’s website yet, but Ted is ever reliable, so the mall rats among us can look forward to mixing bikes and shopping on the near Westside very soon.

And I do note that though the Santa Monica Bikestation is also associated with a mall, it is used by the broader community as well. Perhaps Westfield saw the good that bikes have brought to the Santa Monica shopping scene, both in and out of the mall, and decided they wanted a taste of the action.

Meanwhile we still wallow in community and retail desolation here in NELA, though York Boulevard has certainly perked up since the bikelanes went in, contrary to the rantings of our Neanderthal cousins. Shopfront vacancies have plummeted, and street life is up.

So maybe the future is looking good here on the Eastside as well. Let’s keep it moving forward!

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