Bicycling Magazine Ranks Top Fifty Bike Cities: Whither Southern California

Screen_shot_2010_04_07_at_8.31.09_AM.pngA couple of striped bike lanes sounds pretty good to me.

Last month, when Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson was in town for the Street Summit, we were talking about the great work going on in Long Beach.  He commented that it would make a great Streetfilm showing that there can be great work going on in Southern California in the realm of Livable Streets and Bike-Friendliness.  I commented that there’s a lot of great stuff going on in places such as Pasadena, Glendale, and Santa Monica.  Eckerson was nice enough not to argue with me on the spot, it’s clear that Southern California is lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to creating bicycling friendly cities.

Yesterday, Bicycling Magazine released its list of the top fifty cities in America.  I hope you’re sitting down because while the other Streetsblog cities were ranked 6th, 8th, and 13th; Los Angeles wasn’t ranked.  As a matter of fact, the only city to get a nod was Long Beach which clocked in at #23.

When I look at some of the cities that "beat out" Los Angeles, it’s really amazing that the City of Angels can’t do a better job of being competitive with some of these mid-sized second and third tier American cities.  Think about all of the natural advantages Los Angeles has over a city such as Anchorage, which not only has some of the least-bike friendly weather in the world, but also has to deal with moose occasionally wandering the street.  Rochester, Billings, Boise, Fargo; no offense meant to these cities, but they shouldn’t be in the same class as a world class city such as Los Angeles.  And when it comes to bicycle friendliness they aren’t.  Instead, these cities are years ahead of Los Angeles…and good for them for making the effort.

One point that is repeated over and over in these rankings is the status of the cities’ bike plans.  I’m sure it didn’t escape the notice of the people in charge of these rankings that twenty seven months after the Los Angeles publicly launched its bike plan efforts that cyclists are still waiting for a revised draft of the plan to be released to the public.

One hopes that listings such as these can serve as a wake-up call to city leadership, that when it comes to the greenest form of transportation other than walking that Los Angeles is falling behind.

  • Congratulations to Long Beach! They’ve done a lot to deserve their spot… and will likely continue to move up.

    (and LA says its new release is coming out it mid-April… let’s not wait for it before we push the city for more bike lanes.)

  • It’s 25 degrees Fahrenheit in Anchorage right now and we lost to them. That really speaks for itself.

    This city could have supervised volunteers painting sharrows immediately if the legal issues were worked out. I don’t get it. That would at least be a start.

  • Seems like just yesterday that Bicycling Magazine ran the headline “A Future Best City: Los Angeles” and we were filled with hope. The League of American Bicyclists got caught up in the frenzy and awarded Los Angeles an honorable mention for Bike Friendly City based on our good intentions.

    Those were exciting times!

    http://www.bicycling.com/article/0,6610,s1-2-15-17079-1,00.html

    Then came the audit, somebody checked the math, the Department of “No!” prevailed, Alta Planning moved on to other friendlier cities, and LA now watches the “Bike Friendly” world from the sidelines.

  • Madeline

    It’s frustrating to see a place like Alaska spend more on their pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure than Los Angeles. Here’s a thought, why aren’t there any bike projects in Villaraigosa’s 30/10 plan? We are spending $40 billion and getting no bike lanes! The Bike master plan is a small chunk of money, especially in comparison. LA and CA need to commit $$ for bike/ped projects. I agree with the weather point. And Minneapolis! We have excellent weather and don’t have to deal with salt on the roads all the time, and our network is pathetic. We need our leaders to commit to invest and back it up with political will like that in NYC.

  • John K

    From the website touting Anchorage:
    “The city provided 70 elementary schools with kits to teach children bike safety. Additionally, Anchorage recently drafted its first bicycle master plan.”

    That’s it? And they get on the list? Part of the criteria listed at Bicycling Magazine’s website was a “vibrant and unique” bike culture and bike shops? How does L.A. not get recognized fr that? We have one of the most unique bike cultures in the whole country and three amazing bike co-ops. L.A. has a lot of work to do but we deserve t be in the top 50, especially considering cities like Boston made the list.

  • Cory

    I would just like to point out that Davis did not make the list either?? Aren’t they the only City in California designated by the League as a “Platinum” bicycle friendly city? And not even a nod… strange.

  • Davis was too small. They only looked at cities with 100,000 or more people.

    See what I had to say about this article over on NYC Streetsblog: http://tinyurl.com/yf6w47m

  • George Rosar

    I’m from Minneapolis (the #1 bicycle city ) and when I go to California on business I find that it is very car centric and in my experience the drivers are pretty rude to pedestrians. I think you need to fix the “me” attitude first – particularly when it comes to the auto culture.

    Being # 1 is all about culture. Don’t get me wrong, we have a long way to go when you compare Minneapolis to Amsterdam or Copenhagen — these two cities are oozing of bicycle culture — that is what it is all about. I’d recommend that you check out Minneapolis Bike Love blog to find out what we are doing.

    Also: Street Films is awesome – went to a local presentation last week when Streetfilms was in my city.

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