Bike Summit Weekend Kicks Off with Press Conference and Meetings

3_6_09_press_conference.jpgFrom left to right: Ron Milam, Elly Blue, Denise Fairchild, Robert Gottlieb, Jennifer Klausner and Noah Budnick
Yesterday, Bike Summit Weekend kicked off with a press event at Los Angeles Trade Tech and meetings between the visiting dignitaries and public officials.  The press conference was a mix of press conference and college lecture, as dozens of students sat in classroom formation while New York's Noah Budnick and Portland's Elly Blue talked about the changes going on in their respective cities while local advocates exhorted the students to get and stay involved. 

Perhaps the strongest case for increased bike investment was made by Los Angeles Trade Tech professor Denise Fairchild who noted that "For many communities of color, bicycling is the only way to get around.  To not have infrastructure for them is just part of the social injustice that is experienced."

Occidental College Professor Robert Gottlieb noted that Los Angeles wasn't always trailing cities such as Portland and New York when it comes to bike amenities.  In fact L.A. was once thought of as the bike capital of America...as recently as the 1890's.

But our out-of-town guests urged us to think beyond the challenges and hurdles put up on our streets and by our governments and take a more worldly view.  Budnick talked about a world-wide community of urbanites and how we can share and learn from each other.  "We're thinking of cities around the world and that everyone that lives in a city has something in common: common lifestyles, commone experiences...and common problems."

Budnick also noted that some areas in Los Angeles already have part of what they need to transform the city into a less car-dependent place.  Just across the street from Trade Tech is a transit hub and the campus itself was covered in bikes, most of them not owned by people attending the press conference.

Blue noted that her own experience biking in the city was "thrilling, but sometime too thrilling" before noting that the best way to make streets safer for cyclists is to get more people cycling.  As proof, she noted that Portland experienced a huge bike boom, yet the number of crashes has remained static.

Closing the conference was the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition's Jennifer Klausner who noted that L.A. has many more people cycling than most people think and we deserve more from our government,.  "Hundreds of thousands of people do ride bikes everyday, but things could be so much better, so much safer for all of us."

Of course, yesterday's press conference was just the kick off for things to come.  Remember tomorrow is the main event, the Bike Summit itself.  If you haven't registered or checked out their website yet, you should.

For those of you that can't make it tomorrow, check back here later today for other ways you can check-in on tomorrow's proceedings.  For those of you that can, see you tomorrow!