LADOT Proposes Eliminating Its Bikeways Department

5_18_09_mowery.jpgLADOT Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery talks to Councilman Tom LaBonge. Photo: Ingrid Peterson
Days after the City of Los Angeles sponsored a series of events to celebrate bicycling in Los Angeles, the City Council heard the first draft budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year as presented by the LADOT.  Let's cut right to the chase, the budget eliminates the Bikeways Department completely, or as the Rita Robinson signed memorandum, available exclusively at Streetsblog, explains: 

Discontinue bikeways function, including bicycle path maintenance, bicycle programs and school bicycle and transit education.

Discontinue work on Safe Routes to Schools

While I'm sure there are some of you that look at these paragraphs and wonder how we'll survive without those yellow bracelets that tell us to "ride right and stop at the light," there's more at stake here.  As Kent Strumpell put it in an email:

That LADOT would even consider eliminating Bikeways programs as their solution to this budget crisis is a vivid example of how out of touch the Department is.  With more people riding bikes than ever before, with a vibrant cycling culture developing and with congestion and climate change consequences screaming at us, this is exactly the wrong time to cut the entire bikeways staff.  If you think cycling doesn't get enough attention in Los Angeles now, wait until we have no staff at all to look out for our needs.

I couldn't agree with Strumpell more.  With Los Angeles already a punchline for Car-Culture jokes throughout the world; eliminating the bikeways department is a great way to make certain those jokes continue ad infinitum.  The only argument that would make sense would be if one wanted to argue that Bikeways was under performing; but that would speak to a need to reform the program not eliminate it altogether. Over at LAist, Zach Behrens gets to the bottom of the fiscal nature of the proposed cuts, and why parts of Bikeways should be saved; but even if it makes fiscal sense the LADOT has already sent the message to cyclists that they don't have their full support.

The first pushback against the proposal came this morning on the Council floor when a group of cyclists, Midnight Ridazz and LACBC staffers, took to the podium to rail against the plan.  The proposal will still be heard at least by the Budget and Finance Committee and full Council before it goes to any sort of actual vote.  A full Action Alert by the LACBC, including contact information for Robinson, the Budget and Finance Committee and Mayor Villaraigosa, can be found after the jump.

LADOT THREATENS TO CUT THE ENTIRE BIKEWAYS DEPARTMENT!!  BIKE PROJECTS WOULD BE CUT!!
Los Angeles is facing a perilous budget crisis. All city departments are being asked to submit plans on how they will cut spending, and LADOT have proposed to eliminate the entire Bikeways staff. Not just lay off some people, but cut it altogether.

TAKE ACTION!! 2 things you can do to save LA bike projects:

1) ATTEND MONDAYS COUNCIL MEETING

NEED CYCLISTS TO ATTEND AND GIVE PUBLIC COMMENT TO CITY COUNCIL MEETING MONDAY May 18, 10 am! Get there by 9:30am to sign up for public comment.


WHEN: Monday, May 18, 10:00AM
WHERE: City Hall Council Chambers. 200 N. Spring Street 90012, Room 340

2) WRITE EMAILS AND CALL- 1st THING MONDAY MORNING BEFORE THE MEETING to LADOT, the Budget and Finance Committee Members and to the Mayor.
see below for contact information

Background:
A May 4th Inter-departmental Correspondence titled Shared Responsibility and Sacrifice signed by LADOT General Manager Rita Robinson and addressed to the Budget and Finance Committee, contains the following text under the heading, Transit Capital Programming:

"Discontinue bikeways function, including bicycle path maintenance, bicycle programs, and school bicycle and transit education. Discontinue work on Safe Routes to School."

Numerous bicycle projects are underway which will be curtailed or compromised by this short-sighted move, including:

· The update of the city's Bicycle Plan, already behind schedule.
· Numerous bike lane projects.
· The Expo Bikeway, in which the city must complete its environmental review by the end of the year (to keep pace with the light rail project) or the bikeway may be delayed for years.
· The Sharrows study, which should lead to an implementation plan for this much-needed bikeway enhancement.

Some talking points:
· With more people riding bikes than ever before, with a vibrant cycling culture developing and with congestion and climate change consequences screaming at us, this is exactly the wrong time to cut the entire bikeways staff.
· This city faces rising health problems, obesity and high pollution problems. Encouraging cycling is an easy and cost-effective way to start reducing these problems.
· Cycling is not being prioritized in Los Angeles, if there is no staff at all to work on more infrastructure to create safer streets for ALL users, more injury and deaths will occur.

TAKE ACTION!
ATTEND THE MEETING and/or WRITE EMAILS AND CALL IN ON MONDAY!!! NEED YOUR VOICES IN NUMBERS!!


Contact info:

Mayor Villaraigosa
(213) 978-0600
mayor@lacity.org

Rita Robinson 
Fax: 213  972-8410
rita.robinson@lacity.org


Budget and Finance Committee Members:

Councilmember Bernard C. Parks, Chair
 (213)-473-7008
councilmember.parks@lacity.org

Councilmember Wendy Greuel
 (213)-473-7002
councilmember.greuel@lacity.org

Councilmember Bill Rosendahl
 (213)-473-7011
councilman.rosendahl@lacity.org

Councilmember Jose Huizar
(213)-473-7014
councilmember.huizar@lacity.org

Councilmember Greig Smith
(213)-473-7012
councilmember.smith@lacity.org