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.

13 Comments

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.

2 Comments

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

Leave a comment

Your Life, Health, and Prosperity Are at Stake

Whether you ride a bike today or not, whether you ever plan to ride a bike in a safer, saner world or not, the planned bike lanes along North Figueroa will bring you—yes, you personally—endless benefits. Yet Gil Ceillo is determined to prevent the road diet and bike lanes that the community approved after so many time-consuming and expensive meetings….

The addition of bike lanes allows people the choice to get around their neighborhood without a car, improving their physical health, lengthening their lives, and involving them in their communities—which leads to healthier communities as well. Your neighbors become faces instead of obstacles, and you are stronger, happier and more alert if you can get around pedaling (or walking) instead of feeling compelled to drive everywhere by the danger and stress of wild-west street designs.

The addition of bike lanes slows down peak car speeds, which means that crashes happen less frequently, and that the crashes that do occur are less harmful. Here are some figures from the UK:

Hit by a car at 20 mph, 1 out of 40 pedestrians will be killed. 97% will survive
Hit by a car at 30 mph, 2 out of 10 pedestrians will be killed. 80% will survive
Hit by a car at 35 mph, 5 out of 10 pedestrians will be killed. 50% will survive
Hit by a car at 40 mph, 9 out of 10 pedestrians will be killed. 10% will survive

Scofflaw drivers routinely exceed 40mph on North Figueroa. Bike lanes, and the road diet, will help slow them down.

But that may not even increase travel time through the neighborhood for the cut-through drivers Mr. Cedillo seems intent on pandering to. In terminally-congested Manhattan, GPS data gathered from taxi fleets showed that motor traffic actually moved faster point-to-point after a road diet, though peak velocities were much lower. Drivers simply didn’t have the chance to speed themselves into traffic jams.

In Manhattan, as elsewhere, calmed traffic and the increase in bicycling and walking brought about huge boosts in sales for local merchants.

Yet, despite this wealth of real-world experience showing that road diets with bike lanes bring constellations of benefits to neighborhoods, Mr. Cedillo continues to oppose this approved, designed, and funded project. His counter-proposal is to slop on a few sharrows, the junk-food of bicycle facilities, and to keep North Figueroa wide open for outside speed demons to use as an alternate to the freeway only a block or two away.

Why this is so, we don’t know. Perhaps Mr. Cedillo will explain at the meeting he has called for tomorrow night, when he will explain to the peasants why they should just shut up and drive.

If you live or own property along North Figueroa, or anywhere in Council District 1, we urge you to show up at Mr. Cedillo’s show-and-tell. Let him know you suport the bike lanes and road diet, that you love your neighborhood, and that you don’t want the street to be reserved for speed-addled drivers zooming through on their way from someplace else to someplace else, with no regard for the lives, health, and prosperity of residents.

Thursday, May 8th, at Nightingale School, 6pm, at the corner of North Figueroa and Cypress. (Click here for more details.)

3 Comments

Gil Cedillo’s big Figueroa bike lane meeting May 8, 2014 6 p.m. at Nightingale Middle School #fig4all

JacksonH_CypressParkBikeLanes_D3Lab from NLI connect on Vimeo.

Councilman Gil Cedillo is holding the first of two “community input” meetings on the North Figueroa Street bike lane plans the LADOT drew up 2 years ago. The meeting is taking place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 8, 2014 at Nightingale Middle School (3311 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065). Come to this meeting to support bike lanes!

Can you remember 2008 or 2009? Those were the years the effort to get bike lanes on North Figueroa Street began in earnest.

Years later, after a bike plan fight, contentious community hearings, dozens and dozens of bike rides and parties, petition drives, and online chatter in support of bike lanes … here we all are.

Nightingale Middle School is an appropriate place to hold this meeting:  in 2012 a group of students lobbied then Councilman Ed Reyes for safe bike access to their school and in their community.

The LA County Department of Public Health recommends bike access to fight obesity and related diseases.

The LA County Department of Public Health recommends bike access to fight obesity and related diseases.

Some reasons to support bike lanes on North Figueroa Street:

 

An idea worth endorsing - the intersection of Figueroa and Loreto as envisioned by Figueroa For All

An idea worth endorsing – the intersection of Figueroa and Loreto as envisioned by Figueroa For All

Are the plans drawn up by the LADOT good enough? Heck no! Here are some of the additional things the folks at Figueroa For All would like to see in the plans:

  • Curb ramps at all four corners at Avenue 26, Amabel, Avenue 52.
  • Crosswalks at all corners at Avenue 26, Avenue 28, Loreto Street, Ulysses Street, West Avenue 37, East Avenue 43, Woodside Avenue, Sycamore Terrace, South Avenue 54, North Avenue 54, Arroyo Glen or Piedmont, La Prada.
  • Pedestrian plazas at Marmion/Pasadena & Figueroa; York & Figueroa; La Prada & Figueroa.
  • A special commission to improve Avenue 26 for walking and transit and the flow of peak hour traffic in the morning.
  • Coordination with LAUSD schools to install bike parking on campus; create programs to get staff, faculty, and students riding or walking to school; ensure safe streets around schools.

The meeting is taking place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 8, 2014 at Nightingale Middle School (3311 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065). Bring your family and friends and let’s show Councilman Cedillo what support for safe streets looks like!

There are THREE Facebook Events to choose from for this meeting:

one created by Flying Pigeon LA

one created by the LA County Bike Coalition

one created by local artist Kelly Thompson

Leave a comment

We biked, voted, and pro-#fig4all candidates won

Gnarly Charly, gymnastics expert and bike riding candidate for GCPNC, won a seat on the board!

Volunteers from Figueroa For All and the LACBC’s RideFigueroa campaign helped “bike the vote” during recent neighborhood council elections – and we elected 85% of the candidates we identified as pro-bike lane! Victory! Will it be enough to convince Gil Cedillo to let the LADOT install bike lanes on North Figueroa? That remains to be seen – the next big bike lane meeting is set for this Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 6 p.m. at Nightingale Middle School. Be there!

Read on for election results.

It can be tough to put everything together to mobilize a get-out-the-vote initiative. This is not because it is a complicated process. It simply takes time and resources to gather a slate of candidates, let as many people as possible know who they are, and lead voters to elections to vote for these people. Without much time, and with zero resources, the people volunteering in Figueroa For All and with the LACBC’s RideFigueroa initiative came up with a list of bike-friendly candidates in NELA’s Neighborhood Council elections, we also created a spreadsheet of as many candidates running for office as possible, and emailed out a survey to candidates asking them if they supported bike lanes. The results of our survey of candidates was published on this shop’s blog. The Flying Pigeon LA shop hosted a bike ride the day of the elections to ensure that at least a few people voted for our pro-bike slate of candidates.

Our merry group of bike riding voters on the way to the HHPNC election.

Our numbers on the ride were low – less than 10 riders voted with our group at all the elections we attended (some joined us to vote in only one election, some voted in all three we visited). There was some drama about how we would ensure our voters had documentation to prove their “stakeholder” status the day before the election (documentation conditions more stringent than current voter registration requirements to vote for a congressman or president) – we know for a fact that some of our voters were turned away at the Greater Cypress Park Neighborhood Council. Fortunately, the people working elections with the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment were able to explain what we needed  to show that our voters were stakeholders. An email the Monday after the elections made sure our votes counted. Whew! Thanks EmpowerLA!

The results of all the typing and communicating in the stolen hours between work and home life?

Figueroa For All endorsed Neighborhood Council candidates won 85% of the seats they were running for!

Here is a breakdown of who was endorsed by Figueroa For All and who won a seat in a Neighborhood Council election:

Greater Cypress Park Neighborhood Council

The GCPNC is made up of 15 board members and a 4-person executive committee, with a pretty big chunk of board positions vacant prior to this election. 4 out of 19 is definitely better than 0 out of 19.

  • Carlos Hinajosa aka “Gnarly Charly” – ELECTED
  • Michael Gunn Gonzales – ELECTED
  • Alejandra Cortez – ELECTED
  • Rory Booten Olsen – ELECTED

 

Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council

The ASNC is a board made up of 21-person board with a 5-person executive committee. 5 votes is not a majority, but it’s a start!

  • Harv Woien – ELECTED
  • Lynda Valencia – ELECTED
  • Martha Benedict – ELECTED
  • Eric Pierson – ELECTED
  • Padraic Cassidy – ELECTED

 

Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council

19-person board with 5 executive committee members. Our voter guide picked a lot of winners in this election! The pro-bike lane council members have a strong majority in the HHPNC!

  • President:
    Monica Alcaraz – ELECTED
  • First Vice President:
    Aaron Salcedo – ELECTED
  • Second Vice President:
    Diego R. Silva – ELECTED
  • Secretary:
    Johanna A. Sanchez – ELECTED
  • Treasurer:
    No Endorsement
    At-Large Directors:
  • Edward L. Braun
  • Javier Cabral – ELECTED
  • Miranda A Rodriguez – ELECTED
  • Amirah Noaman – ELECTED
  • Susanne Huerta – ELECTED
  • David Andrés Kietzman
  • Miguel Ramos – ELECTED
  • Graeme Flegenheimer – ELECTED
  • Jessica Ceballos – ELECTED
  • Carlos Reyes
  • Harvey Slater – ELECTED
  • Boo Caban – ELECTED

 

Glassell Park Neighborhood Council

15 board seats w. up to 10 alternates and a 5-person executive committee. The Figueroa For All group didn’t do very much in this area of NELA and that is something that needs to be remedied. Congrats to Molly Taylor!

  • Molly Taylor – ELECTED

Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council

19-person board with a 5-person executive committee. 6 solid pro-bike lane votes plus many on the ERNC have expressed pro-traffic calming sentiment. That makes this a very bike and pedestrian friendly council.

  • Treasurer
    Ashley Atkinson – ELECTED
  • Civic Director
    Soumya B. Kandukuri – ELECTED
  • Education Director
    Jennifer Nutting – ELECTED
  • Sub-District Director 5
    Matt Harrington – ELECTED
  • Sub-District Director 7
    Elizabeth Weinberg
  • Sub-District Director 8
    John Goldfarb – ELECTED
  • At-Large Director
    David Greene – ELECTED

 

Now that most of these Neighborhood Council members are elected we face the biggest hurdles yet:

  1. Getting the HHPNC, ASNC, GCPNC to endorse pedestrian crosswalks, curb ramps, LAUSD outreach, along with a protected bike lane running the length of North Figueroa Street
  2. Mobilizing bike lane supporters for the upcoming May 8, 2014 “community meeting” (another entertaining fiasco in the making) being held by Councilman Gil Cedillo at Nightingale Middle School at 6 p.m.
  3. Mobilizing bike lane supporters for a Highland Park bike lane meeting in June

The majority of the North Figueroa Street bike lane project runs through Council District 1, overseen by Gil Cedillo. Whether or not Councilman Cedillo is swayed by any of this remains in the air. All of the work behind Figueroa For All, and much of what the LACBC’s RideFigueroa has done as well, has been to convince him that bike lanes, crosswalks, curb ramps, pedestrianizing several intersections, and coordination with local schools is worthy of his approval.

It is unknown whether Councilman Cedillo will stamp out protected bike lanes on North Figueroa Street. His listed “alternative” for the project is worse than doing nothing, and shows a desire to make the project worse for bike riders and pedestrians alike instead of adding positive things to it. His district staff often wince whenever we bring up this issue with them – there is clearly something larger happening in his office with this issue, beyond his self-stated desire to “hear from the community”. These large meetings turn into vitriolic echo chambers for bike lane opponents, their small numbers of shrill complaints holding more emotional sway than the typically polite and well-researched remarks made by kids, parents, seniors, business owners, commuters, students and the like in favor of bike lanes.

A small taste of victory with these “Bike the Vote” results, but will it matter? That remains to be seen. Keep your eyes on the prize, folks, and I hope to see you at the next public meeting on the matter on Thursday, May 8, 2014 at Nightingale Middle School at 6 p.m.

2 Comments

Parking, Hidden in Plain Sight


LA vs Portland downtown parking strategies–which makes better use of valuable land?

Just as the compulsive naysayers rail against lane repurposings of streets, such as North Figueroa, that never see anywhere near the number of cars they were designed for, they also harp endlessly on the supposed “loss” of “vital parking spaces” in neighborhoods that have far more parking spots than cars.

Of course what they want are free parking spaces, or at worst below-market parking reates, with their addiction to cars subsidized by all who use a neighborhood. They may tout “user fees” for cyclists, but they want socialism for themselves and their bloated motorcars. Prices are higher in stores forced to provide “free” parking to these gasoline-powered welfare gluttons, even though in most neighborhood shopping areas, even in Los Angeles, even along York Boulevard [PDF, pg. 32], a majority of customers arrive on foot, on bikes, or by bus. And subsidized street parking, as well as in city-owned lots, means that taxes have to be higher for everyone to pay for the parking of a relative few. Cars, after all, take up a lot of room—far more than bicycles. And of course pedestrians and transit users don’t need any parking at all—yet non-drivers typically spend more at stores per month than drivers do.

The sad irony is that most parts of most US cities, including LA County’s towns, have shoveled so much money at parking, in response to the complaints of the lazy, that much of it goes unused. Just the other day I was in Santa Monica, which has tried hard to balance car use with bicycling, walking, and buses. The city, however, hosts numerous giant parking structures, massive, expensive edifices that displace businesses on nearly every business-district block, supplemented by nearly universal curbside parking at modest rates. I pedaled by two of these temples to government waste last Sunday, at 1PM on a sunny weekend shopping and beachgoing day, which you’d figure would be peak parking hours. The garages featured readouts that proclaimed how many unused parking spots were available in each…and one had 460 free spaces, while the other had “only” 316. Right downtown, where the plazas, stores, and sidewalks were crowded with shoppers.

There’s an excellent article on the People for Bikes site explaining how the city of Montrél surveyed parking prior to a bike lane build on a major street that would have removed oh-my-god 300 parking spots. They discovered that there was a total of 11,000 parking spacess available within 200 meters of that stretch of street.

In my own neighborhood, the Miracle Mile, a crowded, highly-developed stretch of LA’s busiest street, Wilshire Boulevard, there are numerous vast parking lots just out of sight behind streetside buildings, including some bargain pay lots operated by LADOT; there’s also what probably amounts an even bigger inventory of underground parking garages. Because these were built according to formulas from the 1960s and 1970s that were outdated before they were even written, they never fill up. There is a parking lot across from my apartment, which pays a little man to chase down and shoo away any drivers who leave their cars there but don’t immediately enter one of the chain stores the lot serves. I have never seen it full, at any time of the day or evening, in the twelves years I’ve lived here. The parking lot of the wig store across the street from it—also zealously guarded—has likewise never once filled up.

What we need is shared parking to go along with bikeshare and car sharing programs, something even Texas favors (at least in Austin).

But what we really need is to stop wasting expensive resources that rabid drivers cling to with a pathetic desperation even though they don’t use them—excess lanes, excess parking. This land would be better for all of us put to use serving the cyclists, walkers, and bus and train riders who are the true foundations of prosperity and community in our neighborhoods.

3 Comments

Trash cans in LA’s bike lanes: what a drag

I injured my hand riding my kid to school last week – I inadvertently smashed my left hand into a trash can parked in a bike lane. The can was too far out in the bike lane to pass between it and the cars driving by. I tried my luck threading a dangerous needle: a gap between a parked car and an illegally positioned trash can. Someone in a parked car could have opened a door into us (my kid rides in my bucket bike). The other danger when threading this needle is smashing into the trash can – which is what happened to my left hand.

This happened on a street  upon which I have often stopped, dismounted, and politely repositioned trash cans. I have posted stickers on the cans blocking the lanes – informing can owners that it is illegal to block the roadway with them (bike lanes are legally part of the road).

Finally, now that I have been injured thanks to the continued rude, dangerous, and inconsiderate behavior of my neighbors, and finding no reprieve from the LA City Bureau of Sanitation, it’s police officers, the LAPD, nor the highest level of city government; now I have found a way to fight back that matches the inconsiderate nature of this crime.

Sidekicking cans has not been effective, in case you are wondering. People assume other motorists or the trash collector simply operated with an assumed level of incompetence and plowed into their cans. They place them back in the right of way the next trash day.

What works?

My new hypothesis is to give bike lane blockers a taste of what it feels like to have your life endangered by someone inconsiderate of the needs of others.

Now, I grab trash cans and drag them one or two blocks and dump them wherever I feel. Let me tell you: it feels great!

I tried this strategy for the first time this week in front of my kids school. The can that wrecked my wrist got dragged to the corner and shoved against the curb. A good 100′ from where its law breaking owner had left it .

I got my first piece of customer feedback just this evening when an obese man, in a dirty pick up truck, tried to berate me after seeing me grab a trash can positioned in the outer edge of the bike and dragging it two whole blocks before releasing it back into the wild. My reply to his seal like barking and pathetic engine revving??

“¡Llama la policia!”

[Call the cops!]

The big baby was beside himself. His trash can was moved by someone who did not care about his  convenience. The outrage! He might have to take the needs of others into account now. The injustice!

So, bike riders of Los Angeles: drag cans and let’s win this fight!

If you’re tired of having your life put in danger by inconsiderate people take a long drag of trash can justice and let’s see if these abusers of the right of way can take a hint.

23 Comments

Figueroa For All petition drive on Saturday, May 3, 2014 #fig4all

You want to make a difference in your community? You think you are a good person who helps make the world a better place? Put down that solar panel, drop those recyclables, take a break from buying local, and come join us petitioning our community for support for bike lanes!

We will be walking North Figueroa Street from Avenue 26 to Avenue 52 on Saturday, May 3, 2014 to gain support from businesses and residents along the North Figueroa Street corridor.

Meet at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at the Flying Pigeon bike shop (3404 N. Figueroa St. Los Angeles, CA 90065).

We’ll form up into teams and march towards livable streets nirvana – one petition signature and letter of support at a time.

Why are we doing this? Councilman Gil Cedillo has stalled the North Figueroa Street bike lanes for over a year since getting elected and wants to see what the neighborhood thinks about the LADOT’s plans to remove a car lane and install buffered bike lanes on North Figueroa. He’s holding the first of two community hearings on the matter on May 8, 2013 at 6 p.m. at Nightingale Middle School – we want to deliver our petitions at this meeting and bring out community members in support of a road diet, bike lanes, and safer walking facilities.

Meet up: Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 10 a.m. at 3404 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065

There is a Facebook Event for this

Any questions? info@flyingpigeon-la.com

12 Comments

Strange Changes

The extension of the York Boulevard bike lanes almost to South Pasadena has illustrated some peculiar transmutations in the Los Angeles County planning world….

We knew from our first ride that there was a gap between the end of the LA lanes and the beginning of South Pasadena’s. Or vice-versa, of course, if you were heading from SoPas to LA, when the gap is considerably more problematical.

The first impulse, which Pigeon Master Josef acted upon, was to lay the blame on the LA side of the line. This is natural, as the county’s biggest city has a history of building scattered, disconnected, and uncoordinated bicycle facilities.

But in this case, the natural procedure felt a bit wrong.

For one thing, LADOT engineer Tim Frémaux had told me not long ago that the bridge that carries York over the Arroyo and the 110 freeway didn’t really see much traffic, and that a full road diet would be no problem there.

For another, the majority of the gap was on the South Pasadena side of the line. The fresh paving laid down by LA stops at the border, of course, and the gap is east of that.

So I emailed a contact in the South Pasadena city government, and he revealed something that surprised me: it was South Pasadena who scotched LADOT’s plan to road-diet the bridge from four motor lanes to two, leaving room for bigger and safer bike lanes. In other words, South Pasadena wanted two full-width lanes going west across the bridge—even though motor traffic volumes don’t merit it, and apparently never have. I quote my sources response below:

The City of LA presented to the City of South Pasadena Public Works Commission, those plans included a westward bound lane drop as you talked outlined in your e-mail and would have connected the South Pasadena bike lanes and the City of LA bike lanes. The Public Works Commission was concerned about traffic bottleneck so they did not approve the dropping of the westward bound driving lane and the City of LA change their plans to no longer have the westward bike lane connect but to have the eastward bike lane to connect which was approved. Upon implementation of the project to our staff’s surprise the eastward bike lane wasn’t connect and when South Pasadena City staff inquired they were informed that the connection was not going to be completed by the City of LA as part of the project.

The City of South Pasadena would still like to complete the eastward bike lane, as the lane geometry would allow it, but we currently do not have identified funding for that project and would need to contract out to strip the bike lane.

In other words, SoPas is okay with completing the eastward-bound bike lane, but is crying poverty; and it was “concerned” about westward-bound traffic, so kicked LADOT in the teeth and prevented an effective road diet that would have given bicycle users wide, comfortable lanes without impeding measured motor traffic in the least. “Concerned” sounds like that old planning devil, “gut feelings”—nothing more than an admission of ignorance.

The other big surprise, as Josef discovered and wrote about yesterday: John Fisher, who was much vilified by the bicycle community when he was part of the LADOT, seemed to be championing the road diet and bike lanes that South Pasadena’s commissioners cut down—an impression strengthened by a quote from Tim Frémaux on Streetsblog LA a few days ago.

So South Pasadena, which had seemed so much more progressive in its bike plan than LA, suddenly closes its eyes, puts its hands over its ears, and starts chanting “Na-na-na-I-can’t-hear-you” as it lurches towards a Beverly-Hills-like intransigent pandering to diminishing motor traffic, while John Fisher is pushing bike lanes and road diets!

Strange changes, indeed….

6 Comments
  • Flying Pigeon Logo
    Flying Pigeon LA
    3404 N. Figueroa St.
    Los Angeles, CA 90065
    213-909-8986
    info@flyingpigeon-la.com
  • Store Hours

      Mon & Tues. by Appointment
      Wed. - Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
      CLOSED SUNDAY