One of LA’s Less Attractive Bus Stops
The campaign to urge the Metro Board to include a set aside for bicycle and pedestrian projects in its sales tax expenditure plan is almost over. Thanks to support from the LACBC, CICLE, Midnight Ridazz, Westside BikeSIDE, the Latino Urban Forum, Streetsblog and many others, the letter has been "signed" over 170 times. Early this afternoon, I’ll be faxing the letter to Metro’s Board of Directors. If you’re seeing this letter anytime on July 23rd, you can still "sign" the letter by leaving a comment below or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any signature received before midnight will be included with the final letter given to the Board tomorrow.
A copy of the letter and all the signatures received as of 11:30 this morning can be found after the jump. If I’ve mis-pelled your name or excluded you, some of the hand signature people have given me were less than readable, please drop me a line.
Dear Metro Board Member,
As currently proposed, Metro’s plan to spend the $40 billion that would be created by a half cent increase in the county sales tax includes no funds set aside specifically for bicycle and pedestrian projects. This is a critical mistake, both from political and public planning perspectives. Given recent headlines, it is impossible to argue that the county is meeting cyclists’ needs and after all, anyone that uses public transportation is a pedestrian at the beginning and end of their trip.
By not funding two popular and sustainable modes of transportation, Metro is unwittingly alienating people who would likely support both the proposed increase and many of the projects the increase would fund. To fix this problem, we propose setting aside 1% of the annual intake to fund bicycle projects and another 1% to fund pedestrian projects from the windfall that will be achieved by increasing the sales tax.
The case for better funding for pedestrian projects is an easy one to make. No matter one’s preferred mode of transportation, for part of every trip the traveler spends some time as a pedestrian. People who walk to and from transit stops deserve wide, flat, unbroken sidewalks and attractive and comfortable shelter at the stops. People who only travel by foot are engaging in the most sustainable form of transportation and should be encouraged by their government officials to continue to do so.
Tens of thousands of LA residents travel everyday on their bikes, and many of them aren’t doing it by choice, but because of economic reasons. While the law states that cyclists have equal rights to the road, the reality is they are not treated as equals by their fellow travelers. To not set aside funding for bicycles in a $40 billion budget just affirms what so many people erroneously believe, that bicyclists are second class users of our roads and should not be treated with the same respect as an automobile. Of course, the state of the bike networks in LA County varies wildly depending upon what municipality you happen to be in. Setting aside money for everyone to compete for would create an incentive for all municipalities to put forward deserving and well thought out bike project proposals.
At Metro’s June Board Meeting, Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa compared those interest groups fighting for a favorite project to people fighting over who gets the biggest cookie. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky used the same analogy for pies. Taking their imagery to its logical conclusion, those fighting for better funding for bicycles and pedestrians aren’t even allowed in the kitchen. Instead, we’re being told to wait at the kid’s table to battle it out for the leftover crumbs, i.e. the 20% of the budget called "Local Return" funds that filter back to individual communities to be spent as they wish. With just 2% of the total budget, you would not only send the message that non-motorized travel is critical to Los Angeles County’s future, you also help create a future where cyclists and pedestrians have a safer and more enjoyable way to travel.
The Signators (186)
David V. Bolog
Julio "July" Cardoza
D. Malcolm Carson
David Hale Feinberg
Luis Danny Gamboa
Daniel F. Jimenez
John Koerber Dorothy Le
Andrew C. Merwin
Benjamin G. Mook
Marybeth Miceli Newton
Todd D. Schwartz
Christopher D. Wall
Photo: Fred Camino