Hey, Where’d You Go?

Downtown Los Angeles from Montecito Heights
It’s not so far away as it looks….

At the July 5th Bike Plan Implementation Team meeting (AKA the “BPIT Moshpit”), the City side of the room announced that there wouldn’t be an August meeting because of staff shortages–whereupon an immediate outcry arose, and Planning relented. And then they asked that the public send in items for the August meeting agenda. They followed this with an email a few days later, sent to all participants repeating the request.

This is one of the concessions we’d been asking for almost from the start of the process–a more direct involvement in setting the meeting agenda than simply bellowing out suggestions over the hurly-burly and hoping someone would note them down.

Well, optimistic fool that I am, I sent in my suggestions.

A couple of weeks after that, I was riding along York Blvd. when my cell phone rang, and I rolled to the curb to answer it.

It was the Planning Department’s Jane Choi, calling to announce that the August meeting was cancelled after all–the staff shortages were still an issue, and the meetings had become so contentious that they were taking much longer, so Planning (which runs the meetings) was switching them to a quarterly schedule and to a larger room that could accommodate more participants.

Then she mentioned that I received a personal phone call instead of just an email announcement because–get this–I was one of only two persons who had bothered to send in agenda items.

Okay, folks, WTF?? There were twenty-five to thirty non-administration participants there who heard the announcement and then received the email.

After all the sound and fury, all but two of us just sat on their hands and couldn’t take five minutes to type out an email?


Yeah, I know, everyone wants it to be like New York City, where Janette Sadik-Khan is putting in bikelanes the way Robert Moses put in highways there. But do you really want to depend on just one person in an imperial office? What if the next election cycle sees an unsympathetic mayor come in, and Sadik-Khan gets canned? And replaced by someone with Robert Moses’s transportation philosophies as well as his methods? You’ll see see some real bikelash then.

Here in LA, it’s up to us. We’ve been complaining for a long, long time. Partly because of that, and partly because of generational changes in the LADOT and Planning Departments that we had damn well better take advantage of, we have been working our way into the process. No other city that I know of holds meetings anything as remotely as open as the BPIT meetings. Anyone can walk in. Anyone.

We’re starting to get what we want–not as fast as we want it, but we’re starting. We have a chance to work within the system now–to have our hands on some of the levers.

Let’s not throw it away just because we’re not used to the idea.

Oh, yeah: Planning’s asked for your agenda items once again, this time for the meeting on October 4th. Send them to Jane Choi at City Planning by September 2nd. In case you’ve already deleted the message asking for your input, here’s her email address: jane.choi@lacity.org. Be serious.

Here’s what I sent:

  1. Continued education of the LAPD with regard to cyclists’ rights on streets with or without bike facilities.

  2. Educational programs for LA’s motorists, not just “Give me 3” but a simple, comprehensive bullet-point statement of cyclists’ rights under CVC 20212 et al.

  3. Informational materials on the benefits to all road users (and affected area residents and businesses) of road diets. These cause a great deal of contention simply because the results of road diets are counterintuitive to persons raised in car culture. Yet there is now a growing body of evidence of their benefits in cities similar enough to LA to count. I can provide the documentation if you need this. LADOT has made some cursory promotion of road diet benefits, but mostly internally.

  4. Accelerating progress towards employment of Multi-Modal LOS. It’s been mentioned in nearly every BPIT meeting, but we’d like to know details of how Planning & LADOT are going about making it possible to use these more realistic models for traffic level projections. Right now we ignore not only bicycles but even articulated buses that carry 80 to 120 passengers in the road space of 2.5 cars, and we also ignore all Metro rail lines in a corridor, though their capacities exceed those of freeways.

Your turn.

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  1. Posted August 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the reality check, I just mailed a few suggestions of my own.

  2. Posted August 12, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Great post – a reminder that we need to stay involved. As they say about rights, use ’em or lose ’em.
    I haven’t attended BPIT meetings because I’ve been focused on my own backyard, but I wonder how broad is the LADOT mandate? It includes infrastructure improvements, sure, but as for education programs, and two things I’d like to see – bike registration and LAPD reporting of bike-involved collisions or injury accidents – will LADOT take the lead on moving such programs forward too?

  3. Posted August 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Mark, LADOT programs encompass education as well as engineering–and LAPD relations as well. Sgt. David Krumer, LAPD’s excellent bicycle liaison, is scheduled to appear at the October meeting last I heard. By the way, the BPIT meetings are run by Planning, not LADOT, though of course LADOT participates.

    Meanwhile, LACBC has come up with a bike/ped incident map showing distribution of recent (2000 to 2008) fatal crashes countywide and correlating them with socioeconomic indicators. See it here:


    The data is available but rarely used. There is a link to the raw data in the article.

One Trackback

  1. […] The city releases its first quarterly report on the Bike Plan Implementation Team (BPIT); thanks to George Wolfberg for forwarding the link. But when cyclists were offered a chance to set the BPIT agenda, only two people bothered to respond. […]

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