Gil Cedillo trades our park space for votes

It was way back in 2009 when I published my first post on the abuse of Lincoln Park by several local institutions and terrible management by the City of Los Angeles. That post, entitled “Campaign for a Car Free Lincoln Park, Pt. 1“, along with a couple of follow-up posts and videos did result in some positive changes in the park.

One problem that has persisted, however, it the abuse of the park’s lawn by patrons and employees at Plaza de la Raza. Instead of using the available curbside parking (which used to be restricted during peak hours, but now is open to the public), and instead of using the newly paved and re-striped parking lot on Selig Place (which used to be abused as shuttle bus storage by nearby El Arca, Inc, but is now open to the public), instead of taking the bus, or riding a bike, or walking; instead of any of those options the patrons and employees of Plaza de la Raza drive directly inside the park and use the lawn to store their vehicles.

Is this illegal? Yes, it is. Former councilman Ed Reyes erected an “Authorized Vehicles Only” sign at the entrance being illegally used by Plaza patrons and staff – but somehow the sign never did its job (big surprise).

With a new councilman in office, one Gil Cedillo (despoiler of bike lane plans in Council District 1), is change going to come to the abused landscaping and park space at Lincoln Park?

Hah! Hell no!

Cedillo’s endorsement list for his city council run in 2013 includes the name of one Fredy Ceja, President of the Board at Plaza de la Raza. Since being elected in May of 2013, abuse of the park has continued unabated.

So, along with being anti-bike, Councilman Cedillo is strongly pro-cars-in-the-middle-of-parks. How can this be a winning strategy for local office in Los Angeles in the 21st Century?

Councilman Cedillo is up for election in 2017 – so it’s at least 3 more years of LA’s new patron saint of pollution and car-dominated, unsafe, streets and shattered communities.

Go for a drive on the lawn and foot paths of a local Los Angeles park today! Councilman Cedillo will be there in spirit, smiling, as you turn the last refuge of neighbors desperate for relief from the freeway-throttled asphalt hell-scape  local streets into another symbolic offering to the gods of combustion engines.

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How on Earth Did This Happen?

New bike corral in front of Flying Pigeon LA and Antigua coffee

There it is, folks, an official City of Los Angeles bike corral, right on North Figueroa Street—that’s right smack in the heart of CD1 capo Gil Cedillo’s all-cars-all-the-time dedicated speedway for us cut-through commuters!

I’m guessing our good buddy the council member’ll get the entire LADOT fired for this. Or maybe send out a few bulky men in black T-shirts and ski masks in a plateless Sprinter to tear it up with crowbars on some smoggy night, while the neighbors pretend not to notice. Yeah…. We can only hope.

We’re not kidding around, folks! This could be the slippery slope to safe streets, prosperous local businesses, and kids free of asthma!

I mean, come on: we know that asthma is a rite of passage for NELA’s young’uns, every bit as important as getting that driver’s license when you turn eighteen, so you too can crush your neighbors and poison their kids on the way to the Kwik-E-Mart. Just like the generations before you!

Can you imagine them kids pedaling away on bicycles? Like they was afraid of a heart attack or something? And in your way to boot!

And that’s what this mess will lead to: next thing you know, “they” are gonna start griping that they need a bike lane so they can get to this so-called “bike corral” and spend their welfare dollars at the coffeehouse on the corner. Hell, that might even lead to one of those so-called “road diets,” slowing down busy people like you and me just so some old lady can cross the street. And they call that progress!

Progress? Well, that word sounds like socialism to me, pardner! I don’t need no nanny state telling me when I can or can’t run down some damn old lady jaywalker, and neither do you.

And that radical bike shop next door, where they sell so-called “Dutch” bikes—well, they’re made in Europe, fergawdsake!, and that’s just next door to Russia. Sarah Palin could tell you all about it!

They even sell bikes for women, if you can imagina that. Hell, I think the Taliban has it right; women shouldn’t be riding no bicycles. It might give them ideas of the sort I can’t mention in print, y’know….

So get yourself right down to the corner of Figueroa and Lo-ree-to fast as you can in your biggest V-8 and take a look. This thing could be a sign of the future, and you’d better be ready for it….

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Pigeon Politburo: HLP real estate for ransom? Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 7 p.m.

“Fuck hipsters” by Waltarrrrrr on Flickr

Join us at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop for a screening of the film Real Estate For Ransom and a Q&A with Australian director Karl Fitzgerald.

Is the nefarious hipster to blame for skyrocketing housing prices and rents in Highland Park? Or are there other, less fashionable, causes?

Many of us bemoan the displacement of communities due to the rapidly rising rents and home prices in our neighborhood. What is behind all of this and what can we do about it?

Curbed LA has covered the affordable housing crisis for months, if you’re looking for some background info with up to date data.

Refreshments? They will be served. Minds? Will (hopefully) be blown.

There is a Facebook Event for this screening.

Any questions? Show up and have ‘em answered! Or email info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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What Part of “Traffic Calming” Don’t You Understand?

Of course…another post on the manufactured controversy over the North Figueroa road diet in NE Los Angeles.

I’ll summarize the situation, in case you’ve been hiding in a barrel for the last few weeks:

Not long ago, after numerous community meetings, presentations, straw votes, speaker cards filled out and emails sent, etc, etc, the LA City Council voted unanimously to approve the plan to restripe North Figueroa with two new bike lanes and one fewer one general traffic lanes. The community had spoken, the Council had studied, the money was approved, and LADOT’s engineers did all the design work.

Then came an election, and termed-out council District One favorite Ed Reyes was replaced by career politician Gil Cedillo, himself termed out of his Sacramento seat and looking for a new perch in the public henhouse. And Cedillo immediately set himself to work blocking at least two community-oriented projects that Reyes had initiated. One is the sweet little Ed P. Reyes River Park, which would be a delight to its otherwise dreary neighborhood if Cedillo would allow it to open; it remains padlocked months after construction was wrapped up. The other is the North Figueroa road diet.

Cedillo is attempting to frame his concerns as worries over “safety,” which is odd, since road diets have been conclusively proven to increase street safety for all users—motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike. He also tried to claim that the road diet would impede emergency vehicle passage, which claim was quickly unmasked as utterly spurious and perhaps a blatant attempt at manipulatiion through prevarication.

But the real concern of the frantic ranters who loom large in Cedillo’s eyes, though they represent a minority opinion in the community, seems to be nothing more than the freedom to drive fast.

And drive fast they do, with the result that this stretch of North Fig averages nearly one death, and eighty or so injuries, each year, as a result of manic motorists and their lust for speeding.

Yet, to judge by the results of other road diets all over the US, they don’t get where they’re going very fast: the LADOT’s own calculations, which are decidedly automobile-centric, project an increase in rush-hour drive time of around forty-one seconds, spread out over five miles.

But analysis of New York City’s taxi fleet GPS data shows that road-dieted streets in that traffic-clogged city not only suffered no delays; on several such routes, motor traffic moved from point to point more quickly than before!

How can that be?

Simple. With a full-length center turning lane, drivers waiting to cross traffic into driveways and alleys don’t back other drivers up behind them, which, because of swerving, obstructs both lanes. And when drivers slow down in response to narrowed lanes and road space, they don’t rush themselves into traffic jams at every intersection. Moving more slowly, they get through more quickly, because they’re actually in motion more of the time. For example, in New York City’s Union Square area, one of the many benefits of adding a protected bike path was that, for motor traffic, “speeding decreased by 16%, while median speeds increased by 14%.”

Oh, yeah, and business receipts went up, while vacant storefronts nearly vanished. in fact, on NYC’s 9th Avenue, business income soared 49% after bike lanes went in, while on untreated streets around it, receipts tottered feebly upward by only 3%.

Aside from all this is the fact that the road diets resulted in fewer dead and maimed residents. However, this actual safety factor has no hold on Cedillo’s mind, nor on that of the car-addled cabal that seems to pull his strings.

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Caught in a Lie


Example of intractable traffic on North Figueroa at noon on a weekday….

Council District 1′s bossman, Gil Cedillo, has been caught in a lie again in his campaign against the North Figueroa road diet. I say “again” because, though this recent prevarication is one of the most blatant, the entire campaign is founded on untruth: false claims that cyclists are an “outside interest,” while Cedillo panders to cut-through drivers who have no interest in the Highland Park community (except as it represents an obstacle in their commute from somewhere else to over there); false claims that his opposition to bike lanes is based on “safety,” when dozens, probably hundreds, of studies of real-world road diets have conclusively proved that the changes Cedillo is stonewalling do in fact reduce crashes, injuries, and deaths for motorists as well as pedestrians and cyclists; false claims that road diets are bad for business, when again repeated studies the nation and the world over show that they boost receipts, often by vast percentages, for the amjority of retailers along their routes.

Now Cedillo has trotted out another false claim: that the road diet will “hinder emergency response,” bringing visions of houses burning down, old folks dying unattended, and criminals running gleefully about whilst fire trucks, ambulances, and cop cars wail in frustration behind dawdling cyclists….

He even trotted out a couple of local badges who asserted in that, in their personal opinions, the road diet would slow them down.

Not that they ever claimed to have studied, or even seen, a road diet.

But at the highest levels of LA’s police and fire departments, the opinion is that the road diet would have no effect on response times. The departments were consulted for the EIR that evaluated the project before the City Council unanimously approved it in the pre-Cedillo days. Streetsblog LA quoted the relevant passage in their article on the matter:

The implementation of the proposed projects would not impede emergency access. Bicyclists would follow the same protocol as vehicles in surrendering the right of way to emergency vehicles. The design of all bikeway facilities will be governed by the Technical Design Handbook and applicable federal, state and local guidelines.

The proposed projects would comply with all City of Los Angeles fire department requirements. Less than significant impacts to emergency access are anticipated.
(CEQA analysis, page 25)

Cedillo should have read the EIR on coming into office, or been briefed on it by his staff.

Of course, since the road diet would reduce crashes, there would be fewer emergency calls to the LAPD and LAFD, a disproportionate amount of whose time is spent cleaning up after collisions….

This isn’t the first time the reactionaries have resorted to outright lying in their attempts to keep the northeast LA’s streets a speedway for the lazy and arrogant. I covered another recent effort at persuasion through prevarication in a recent post here, titled The Lies that Failed. That was during their attempt to block the revitalization of Colorado Boulevard on the other side of NELA.

Neighborhood residents also report being canvassed by council office staff and volunteers who ask what seem to be leading questions designed to elicit negative feelings towards the road diet. This assertion is supported by an email to Tom Topping, editor of the tablid Boulevard Sentinel and the loudest and most virulent voice of the odd cabal opposing safer streets. You can read it here.

One might try to be charitable and say that Cedillo is merely ignorant of the real-world facts of the matter, and really is letting himself be swayed by the foaming-at-the-mouth reactionaries leading the effort. But that can’t be so. For one thing, Cedillo, a career politician, is not exactly naive; for another, I have personally sent copies of relevant studies to his office more than once, as have others, and this material is widely available and well-publicized in community and planning journals nationwide. You can study this mass of data yourself on Google Drive.

We know Cedillo is not stupid—you can’t be as machiavellian as he is without some brains—and he can’t claim that he was misinformed. So, unless he’s a catspaw for some special interest that he’s keeping hidden, that doesn’t leave many explanations for his behavior….

You make the call.

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Riff Raff


Riff raff casing San Marino, with ringleader “Chuck” in white

The Pasadena Star-News recently broke a story on San Marino, reporting on how a brave anonymous tipster revealed the city’s plan to build a bikeways network, one that would flood the defenseless little town with “riff raff” from nearby downmarket cities such as Pasadena.

What neither the tipster nor the Star-News could have known is that a cabal of cyclists, many of them disguised as elderly white guys, has been casing the city for years, preparing for this invasion! Under the shallow pretense of a monthly “Vintage Ride,” these desperadoes have been methodically surveying the sacred provinces of San Marino’s innocent gentry.

I know, because, as an investigative reporter, I have chosen to infiltrate this gang and ride with them as they plot their depredations.

And so, to ensure that no one misunderstand the danger of these incursions, I am risking my life to publish the street names and criminal specialties of these malefactors. Brace yourselves for what follows….

“Chuck”the ringleader of this ruthless band, a retired graphic artist who has worked for the likes of George Lucas and Sports Illustrated, and taught at Art Center College of Design. His lair is a sprawling hovel in the crime-ridden South Pasadena ghetto.
“Charles”formerly a classical music program director at notoriously-liberal KUSC, now a psychotherapist.
“Aaron”producer & director usually found lurking in the favelas of the Hollywood studio district.
“Brian”a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library, a shadowy organization known to teach immigrants how to read.
“Yvonne”curator, textiles collection, LACMA.
“James”mechanical engineer.
“John”computer programmer.

And so on and on and on….

Let no one be fooled by this band of paunchy grandpas, with their scatter of younger pirates-in-training; the hard-won status of San Marino society is at risk of being elevated considerably by their mere passage through the town!

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The Westside Whirlpool

San Vicente is one of LA’s oddest streets: a diagonal avenue that starts near downtown at Venice Boulevard, slants across Midtown, the eastern edge of Beverly hills, and through West Hollywood to Santa Monica Boulevard, where it more or less stops….

…Only to start up again on the far West Side, just past UCLA and the VA, where it continues at approximately the same angle to connect Wilshire Boulevard with Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.

It’s as though an immense but unnoticed earthquake had split the street and left a ten-mile gap between its two segments.

There have long been bike lanes on the westernmost portion of the street, from the edge of Brentwood to the Palisades, and those was recently extended through Brentwood itself as far as Wilshire.

But bicycle facilites have grown rather piecemeal along the Midtown stretch, with West Hollywood painting bike lanes on their bit of it several years ago, and Los Angeles promising to do likewise…eventually.

Well, eventually finally came, at least on the half of San Vicente that is in LA: from Wilshire to West Hollywood, there is in fact a bike lane…for westbound pedalers. Unfortunately, the eastbound lanes belong to Beverly Hills, a city resolutely committed to the ineffective car-only paradigms of the past, though there is a snippet of bike lane on the eastbound side till just past Burton Way, which might be in LA, though I’m not sure.

That means that someone somewhere had to figure out what to do at the massive, messy, and menacing intersection of San Vicente, La Cienega, and Burton Way, the “Westside Whilrpool.” Because all of these streets feed into each other. In particular, westbound San Vicente splits as it approaches Burton Way, with two lanes swerving right to continue as San Vicente, and two swerving left to feed into Burton Way, plus right turns onto La Cienega, with traffic flowing like riptides all over the various channels as drivers try to sort themselves out, while sometimes not being quite sure of where the hell they are anyway.

I am both a photographer and a writer, and I’ll tell you that a picture is rarely worth a thousand words…but in this case it is (though it will take more than one picture). Here’s a package of views showing how LADOT resolved the issue of feeding cyclists through the intersection and accommodating all the choices they might want to make:


Believe it or not, this solution, while not ideal, makes for a far more comfortable intersection than it was before. I go through here often, and it seems that so do many other bicycle riders. I certainly saw a number of fellow pedalers while wandering around taking pictures, and I wasn’t there at anybody’s peak hour, either.

So I’ll throw this into the reading public’s lap: How do you feel about this treatment, given that it would be a budget-buster even to think of reconfiguring the intersection in any extensive way? Have you ridden it? Would you ride it? What would you do differently?

Ladies and gentlemen, start your comments!

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Where is the Vast Liberal Conspiracy When You Really Need It?

Last Sunday, I dropped by KCRW’s presentation, the one pumped as Reinventing the Wheel:the Future of Mobility in LA, which I must admit I approached with an undisguised misgiving in my heart. My fear was that it would be yet another view of the future through the windshield perspective.

This feeling was but magnified when the “ample bike parking” they touted on their website turned out to comprise precisely six (6) racks, providing room to lock a grand total of twelve (12) bicycles. Two of those were behind an outlying building a circuitous quarter-mile or so from the actual event gate, and were empty when I finally found them during my Grand Bike Parking Survey after I left the hall. There were dozens and dozens of bicycles there—invitations had gone out to almost every local bicycle organization, and LACBC was there, along with Linus Bikes and a few purveyors of electric motorcycles disguised as bicycles. So it was irritating to see hordes of bikes locked to railings, trees, poles, and parking meters all around the venue:


Also disquieting was the prominence granted to Art Center College of Design on said website. Art Center has traditionally supplied the US automobile industry with most of its car stylists.

So I was disappointed, though not surprised, when the first thing I saw upon entering the hall was a car, dominating the passageway:


An electric car, but so what? Bad as air pollution, resource drawdown, and Global Warming are, even cars that ran on magic would still wreak havoc with the land and our communities, because cars just take up too damn much room for what they do! Sprawl is as deleterious to life on both the grand and intimate scales as Global Warming.

To paraphrase a line from an old blurb of my own, titled Methadone for Road Hogs:

Go stand over the Hollywood Freeway at rush hour and imagine that all the cars you see there are electrically or fuel-cell powered. Then go into the parking lot at the mall and imagine the same thing about the rows and rows of Hondas and Chevys there. They have all been suddenly changed into zero-emission vehicles. What’s different about the scene? That’s right: NOTHING!

Maybe the problem isn’t what type of cars we drive. Maybe the problem is cars.

Cars as cars are destroying our health, our watersheds, our communities. It doesn’t matter how they are powered; they still cause vast damage.

And of course, rarely does the juice for plug-in electrics come from wind, solar, or hydro; those cars pollute, just somewhere else.

So I was pissed. But, I says to myself, maybe it gets better in the actual hall. Where the first thing I saw was…you guessed it: another car!


After casting about like an aging bloodhound for a while, I did find some bicycles…half-hidden behind—yes!—more cars:


The free beer having run out before I arrived, I turned my attention to the Panel of Authoritative Persons, two of whom even had the English accents that seem to be mandatory for acceptance into faux-progressive forums such as this one. The sound was muddled by reverberation and somewhat reminiscent of announcements on an airport PA system, but it certainly seemed that the panel started off with long, nostalgic reminiscences of the Good Old Days when LA’s freeways were new and relatively uncrowded and one could drive about aimlessly for hours with the top down. This should not have been surprising to me, and it wasn’t…because, according to the website, the panel comprised:

  • Geoff Wardle: “Educated first as a vehicle engineer and then as an automotive designer at the Royal College of Art in London, Geoff has had extensive experience as a professional vehicle designer across four continents and remains a passionate car enthusiast.”

  • Craig Hodgetts, who brought to the table “a broad-ranging background in automotive design, theater and architecture.”

  • Harold Belker, described as “a force of nature in the area of automotive design with a list of design credits that include the Smart Car, the Batmobile for Warner Bros. Batman and Robin film, and the futuristic cars of Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report including the sporty red Lexus.”

  • Michael Lejeune, “Creative Director for Metro Los Angeles” and the lone, beleagured representative of mass transit on the panel.

So really, what could one expect?

Well, one could expect a lot more from a prominent and supposedly progressive entity such as KCRW pretending to discuss mobility in Los Angeles.

But the truth is that you’ll do much better reading bike shop blogs.

Which, I am glad to see, you’re already doing.

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Bait and Switch

I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise when a politician proves duplicitous—and it’s not. But it is unavoidably disappointing.

I’m referring, of course, to Council District 1′s new overseer, Gil Cedillo, who has been busily doing everything he can, or so it seems, to stand in the way of North Figueroa’s evolution to a community street with calmed traffic, bike lanes, and prospering businesses.

Bike lanes in particular have been stalled, though the project ground through nearly a dozen community meetings, was approved after demonstrations of overwhelming community support by people who live in the neighborhood, contrary to the continuing lies of opponents, and has been funded, designed, and ready to build.

North Figueroa has been shown to be overdesigned for the level of traffic that it sees, resulting in scofflaw drivers speeding down the wide lanes, killing and maiming residents and visitors alike and creating a bleak and harrowing ambience that diminishes the curb appeal of local businesses. The road diet and its accompanying bike lanes would restrain the speed demons, and the bike lanes themselves would allow neighbors the option to get about without cars, which so many of them do not own anyway. This would improve job access and bring more customers to local stores.

In Highland Park one in ten families owns no cars at all. In fact, 40% of new families established in Los Angeles since 2005 do not own a car. Vehicle miles traveled per person has been dropping in California, as all over the US, since 2004, steadily and dramatically. And even if you do own a car, it doesn’t follow that you wish to be a slave to it, driven to drive by half-baked infrastructure. And half-baked describes both North Figueroa today, and Cedillo’s plans for it tomorrow.

Yet Cedillo, who in the video above enthusiastically speaks of the city’s need to install “real bike lanes” such as he studied in Denmark, now is sitting on the project, and in fact giving the appearance of orchestrating the new community meetings he’s set up to make the opposition look bigger than it is. Of course the video was taken when he was fishing for the votes of the cycling community prior to the last election….

So it’s sad that we were bamboozled by clever campaign “events” designed to mislead.

Let’s not make the same mistake next time.

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Fun on the cheap: bicycle inner tube jump rope

To make a bicycle inner tube jump rope you need:

  • a 26″, 700c, 27″, 28, or 29″ inner tube;
  • a pair of scissors;
  • and, a willing jumper.

 

Instructions:

  1. Cut the valve out of the inner tube with the scissors.
  2. Jump! Jump! Jump!

 

The big guy in the video is local artist/frame builder Steve Campos of Steel Fabricated Arts. The whole thing was his idea.

Any questions? info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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