Rise and Shine, Mayor Announces “Bike Summit” for August 16

(Note: You can read full copies of the statements of everyone quoted below here.)

7_18_10_villaraigosa.jpgThe now famous picture of the mayor fooling around the night before his crash.

Following his bike crash and broken elbow, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vowed to hold a "Bike Summit" to talk speak with cyclists about ways to make the city safer for bicycling.  Yesterday, the Mayor made good on his promise, announcing that the Summit will take place at 9:00 A.M. in the Metro Board Room on Monday, August 16.  Villaraigosa sounded an upbeat note in his press release announcing the Summit:

“Let’s get together and talk about what we need to do to make the streets safer for cyclists,” said Mayor Villaraigosa.  “Whether you depend on your bike for commuting or just take it out for fun, I invite you to come to the Bike Summit to talk about your experiences and learn about what we’re doing in Los Angeles to make streets safer for everyone.”

Many cyclists are taking a cautiously optimistic tone about the event, but others are concerned the Mayor is using cyclists as a prop and still doesn’t know or understand the issues regular cyclists face on our street.  For example, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition saw the sunny-side of the announcement, while Bikeside labeled the Summit a triple failure.  Speaking for the LACBC, Aurisha Smolarski writes:

LACBC appreciates the Mayor’s newest initiative to focus on the needs of Los Angeles cyclists. We see the Summit as a way to provide the Mayor with ideas on how to quickly create safer streets. We would like the Mayor to walk away from from his bike summit with concrete action items and a clear commitment to directing the LADOT and other city departments to better work with and for bicyclists. Overall we hope the Summit is the first step in the Mayor taking leadership for creating a more bike-friendly Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Bikeside noted that there are some pretty big issues to be concerned about with the timing, content and even title of the Summit.

Timing

A 9:00 A.M. Monday morning in August doesn’t seem to be the best time to bring out a crowd for a Summit.  While this may be one of the few times the Mayor had a hole in his schedule, a first-thing-in-the-morning Monday meeting already sets a tone that this isn’t a major issue in the Mayor’s office…broken elbow or not.  However, the CicLAvia blog argues that even if cyclists can’t set the time and place for the Summit, it’s still a chance to show the Mayor and every other decision maker in the city how organized and enthusiastic the cycling community can be.  I’m guessing that CicLAvia is hoping that the Mayor would, I don’t know, finally officially announce the date for CicLAvia?

Of course, one reason for the odd timing of the meeting, might be that it was the only way to wrangle the schedule of the leaders of the LADOT, Bureau of Street Services, City Planning, LAPD, etc…  If that’s the case, the Mayor’s Office should release a list of who will be attending.  Also, if you’re asking a community to give up the start of its work week for a summit, it would speak volumes about the Mayor’s commitment if he managed to stay for the entire two hours.

Content

Villaraigosa talks about his crash with Ryan Seacrest

A second issue has to do with the content and organization of the Summit.  In their press statement, Bikeside charges that the Mayor’s office hadn’t reached out to cyclists, even the city’s official Bicycling Advisory Committee, about the event.  LABAC Chair Glenn Bailey confirmed that he hadn’t received any details on the Summit until it was publicly announced. Similarly, moments before the Mayor’s release hit the wires another member emailed me to see if I had any details on the Summit because he hadn’t heard anything since the announcement last week that there would be a summit.  Bailey did note that the Summit will be discussed at next week’s re-scheduled BAC meeting.  Bailey is the Mayor’s appointment to the BAC.  It should also be noted that when the city released the Draft Bike Plan in 2009, it did so without the input of its official advisory committee and was roundly criticized.

Of course, a lack of cyclist input and involvement into the agenda, leads to major concerns about what it is that is going to be discussed.  Bikeside’s president, Alex Thompson, makes the point that the Mayor’s announcement pushes infrastructure improvements as the cure to what ills the city despite the fact that his crash was caused by a negligent driver.  All the infrastructure in the world can’t protect a cyclist from a driver that doesn’t care enough about safety to notice a mayor surrounded by LAPD officers cycling down the street.  Thompson writes:

The mayor was hit in the Venice Bl bike lane.  Actually, the mayor was
hit in the Venice Bl. bike lane while protected by his LAPD security
detail.  Yet the mayor puts forward, above all, building bikeways as a
solution.  If mayors with police security details are getting clobbered
in bike lanes, building bikeways isn’t going to do the trick.  We need
education and enforcement.  We need a real educational program, and we
need additional funding for LAPD enforcement activities related to
cycling.  Above all, we need more walk and less talk.  Less bike talking
with the mayor, more of the mayor walking into council with bike
proposals.

Another cyclist, who wished to remain anonymous, echoed Thompson’s point about educating drivers about rights and cyclists about safe cycling should be the focus of the summit, not infrastructure improvements:

Infrastructural improvements? The Mayor was riding in a Bike Lane but
was quoted as saying his security was to the left to protect him from
traffic. The Mayor had LAPD support. He rode close to the right where he
thought he would be safe. EDUCATION should be the focus. The Mayor has
already discredited the participation of the LAPD by declaring that the
Taxi Cab operator did nothing wrong. The Mayor was wrong and he has
demonstrated that EDUCATION is the key, starting with the Mayor.

Bailey, after welcoming the Mayor’s focus on cycling, also expresses an impatience with the pace of improvements for cyclists and calls on the Mayor to make some changes in the way City Hall operates.  Unlike the two cyclists just listed, Bailey wants to see more infrastructure on the street:

But the time for more "talk" has long since
passed.  The Mayor needs to immediately direct all responsible City departments to do
their jobs and fully implement the adopted 1996 Bicycle Plan.  They
need to report at the "Bike Summit" in detail what they will be doing
during the next month and the year ahead to
comply with the existing plan and the pending 2010 plan requirements.  Because in the past, the Department of Transportation, as an example, has been installing peak hour lanes on the
very streets the current Bicycle Plan designated for  bicycle lanes. 
Needless to say, the bike lanes were never installed.

Meanwhile, Joe Linton had three specific suggestions for things the Mayor can do right now to make the city a safer and better place for cyclists:

1. Release the Full Draft Bike Plan: The draft
bike plan that the mayor’s YouTube stated "the Planning Department is
putting the finishing touches on" should actually be released in advance
of the summit. The plan is incomplete without the listing of
facilities. If it remains sloppy and non-committal, bicyclists aren’t
going to support it, and it’s going to drag out for a long time.

2. Implement the Approved Bike Lanes in Downtown L.A.:
Last year, the city approved Downtown bike lanes on 7th, 2nd/Glendale,
Figueroa and Flower. These are easy, very cheap, already approved,
high-visibility projects that should be implemented by the end of this
year. The city is mainly implementing bike projects in the Valley
lately, the mayor should work with the LADOT to implement inexpensive
bike projects in population-dense places where Angelinos already ride
for transportation. 

3. Visibly and Vocally get behind CicLAvia:
Mayoral staff, along with LADOT and LAPD, have been very supportive of
CicLAvia scheduled for 10/10/10 – another very cheap project that can be
done this year! I would urge the mayor to be more vocal about his
commitment to CicLAvia. It would be great if he could promote it in
places like youtube, press releases, press conferences, and other media
appearances – especially Spanish-language media.

What’s in a Name?

One last issue is the name of the event, "The Bike Summit."  I remember advocates and Occicdental College holding a "Bike Summit" in March of 2009.  When I called Linton about the appropriation of the name, he laughed it off.  His theory was that advocates should be happy the city is co-opting the language used to promote past events.  Besides, he informed me that the Bike Coalition held Bike Summits in 2000 and 2001 and before that a group called "Bike Expo" had held similarly named events in the city.

  • Ross Hirsch

    I’ll be attending this–and biking there.

    I’d love to ride there with the Mayor. In fact, I think I’ll go ask him now.

  • It seems to me that rather than hold his own bike summit, the Mayor could attend the BAC meeting once and awhile and educate himself on what the issues of cyclists really are.

  • One thing I’d like to address is the way the city collects and publishes data about vehicle trips as well as crash and fatality rates. I found out earlier this year that when the city does a manual count of traffic, they also count pedestrians and bikes (as well as motorcycles!). This information is never compiled into a report on the most used, the most dangerous, the most safe roads and intersections in L.A.

    Focusing on safety will let planning for bicycles shine. Bike planning means slower cars speeds, an emphasis on safe pedestrian crossing points, local commercial foot traffic, and general improvements in livability. Cyclists need the city to monitor and report on its streets. Our council regularly makes uninformed decisions, based on faulty or purely anecdotal evidence, that profoundly affect our lives and our safety.

    Tracking the effects of the LADOT’s singular focus on automobile speeds and throughput with safety maps and counts of other modes is critical to ensuring that it won’t take an army of angry cyclists just to get some silly sharrows painted on the ground (and improperly painted at that).

    Our design goals need to be things like: “10% of hand counted trips by bicycle”; “Reduction in car vs. bike crashes by 50%”; “Severity of car vs. pedestrian crashes reduced by 30%”.

    Not design goals like: “LOS maintained at level of B or higher during peak hours”.

  • Ross Hirsch

    I agree with the comments posted above so far–but it’s clear they won’t be addressed in a 2 hr meeting.

    Sounds like the Mayor should follow the lead of the LAPD and start a regularly meeting Bike Task Force to address these long overlooked issues.

  • Cory

    “Sounds like the Mayor should follow the lead of the LAPD and start a regularly meeting Bike Task Force to address these long overlooked issues.”

    Perhaps we can call this new Bike Task Force the City of Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee? It has a nice ring to it!

  • We spend billions in this country on education but in this case it won’t work? Sorry – don’t buy it. This is country that “educated” itself right into McCarthyism – the power to shape minds with PR is real and it can be utilized to make cyclists safer in a short span of time. I’ve witnessed first hand a rapid turnaround in the attitudes of police officers in Beverly Hills toward cyclists based on conversations with LAPD who have themselves rapidly changed their attitudes. Huge strides can be accomplished with education, and they can be accomplished now . . . not 10 years later by an LADOT resistant to change.

  • Cory

    I have to back Alex on this one, the average bike path costs between 1 and 3 million dollars per mile… do you know what I can do with 3 million dollars in marketing, education, and outreach?! There are so many funding sources out there that will only fund infrastructure, yet education and enforcement can do so much more for so much less.

  • Those areas also have more *bicyclists*:

    http://www.tsc.berkeley.edu/newsletter/Spring04/JacobsenPaper.pdf

    Jacobsen:

    “Results: The likelihood that a given person walking or bicycling will be struck by a motorist varies
    inversely with the amount of walking or bicycling. This pattern is consistent across communities of varying
    size, from specific intersections to cities and countries, and across time periods.”

  • Cory

    The car culture in Los Angeles has done well to remove expectation from motorists. For example when a motorist pulls out of a parking lot in an area they know to have little pedestrian traffic, chances are the motorist will pull directly across the sidewalk and stop at the curb line before proceeding into the street. In an area known for high pedestrian activity the chances of a motorist stoping at the sidewalk before proceeding to the curb line are improved… they have an expectation that people will be in the sidewalk. The same concept applies to bicyclists, when a motorist frequently sees bicyclists traveling predictably in the travel lane the begin to expect to see cyclists and are therefore less likely to respond aggressively to the bicyclists presense. How much to you think auto manufacturers spend annually on promoting car culture in Los Angeles? That is how they sell cars. They do not sell cars by resurfacing or widening streets. Nor will motorists drive more if they have a nice new street to drive on. They drive a car because “nobody walks in LA”.

    I conducted a survey recently to attempt to identify barriers to bicycle travel, the number 1 reason people claimed that they do not ride is because they do not feel safe, not because of lack of infrastructure. Safety is more of an education issue than an infrastructure issue because it is perception based. The Mayor was riding his bike in a designated bike lane, the cabie did not think to check for a cyclist because he did not expect to see a cyclist, he was probably looking for cars. Separate space does not provide safety. The most efficient and effective expenditure of government funds to improve safety for cyclists is the same method used by car culture… education, outreach, and marketing. The DIY sharrow poster campaign was probably the best bang for your buck bicycle improvement that Los Angeles has seen in the last 10 years.

  • ^^^ Cory = BeastModeSolja. Perception perception perception!

  • Responding to the question of how infrastructure is still needed even though Villaraigosa’s incident was indeed in a bike lane: (from a guy who believes in infrastructure)

    If we build a network of bike facilities (bike lanes, paths, bike boulevards, etc.) then we encourage more cyclists – and we get more safety in numbers – and drivers expect more bicyclists and become more aware and share with them.

    I think we need education, enforcement, encouragement… but it all works together. If we educate bicyclists and drivers, but our infrastructure still says “cars are the only important things on our streets” then we’re not going to get ahead.

  • mandor

    Hey, maybe things like infrastructure and education both matter for safety! I certainly feel more safe riding in cities that have bike lanes that aren’t placed in the door zone. Sometimes they’re even separated, swoon. Those cities also tend to not privilege moving cars over the safety of its citizens.

    Bike paths have their place! I am not down with the arguments against them due to their cost. I want it all, damn it. I love seeing the little kidlets out with their family on the LA River path. More than once I’ve seen a kid learning how to ride on two wheels out there.

  • Cory

    It is my job to plan for, go after funds for, and implement bicycle improvements. So don’t think that I am anti-infrastructure, because the value it gives to the community (kiddies and all) is priceless. There is nothing better in this world for me than to watch my boys learning to ride a bike for the first time. But working in government on these types of projects I have a different view of not just the costs of bicycle improvements but also the funding mechanisms (i.e. what money can I spend on what type of improvements).

    At the moment I am managing millions of dollars being spent of bicycle infrastructure projects like bike paths, lanes, parking etc… But I only have about $65,000 that I can spend on bicycle education, outreach, and marketing. And that money is specifically only for youth-based programs. The simple fact is that between local designated money and grants, there is quite a bit available for bicycle infrastructure improvements for agencies. The education component is negligible. Funds for education, enforcement, outreach almost always have to come out of a City’s General Fund, which is at best a complicated task.

    The frustrating part for me is that these types of programs are so easy to implement (no construction required). The cost to fund these programs do not even compare to the costs of infrastructure and yet they are the most diffuclt funds to obtain. Like I said, do you know what I can do with $65,000 in education funds? 3 million?

  • Sadly, I’ll be out of town during the Mayor’s Bike Summit. Curses!

  • LAguy

    For the record, the Mayor has FOUR appointees on the 19-member City Bicycle Advisory Committee.

  • Cory

    I understand your argument, but I have collected the data myself and there is no correlation between the subjective feeling of safety and on-street facilities. I have taken groups of new riders around the city on streets with bike lanes and if the cars are going 40+ they still do not feel safe. However, I have also been with a group of new riders around the city as part of a Traffic Skills course and after a little bit of confident cycling training they feel much more comfortable on streets with no bike lanes.

    Now there are very few cyclists out there that do not enjoy riding on an off-street facility. They are great and they certainly fill a need. However the Los Angeles area is a built out City, it is very difficult to find new right-of-way to install an off-street path. It is even more diffult to build a network of connecting off-street paths. But without that network off-street paths end up being used primarily for recreational cycling not necessarily for getting somewhere. Obviously there are some exceptions but that requires some effort on your part to work the path into your life rather than have the path work itself into your life. Does that make sense?

    Now you bring up the argument of on-street protected bike paths that have worked really well in Europe and New York. They are even being installed in Long Beach. I think they are awesome, but lets look at what it takes to make them work well. It takes a minimum of 16 feet of right-of-way on a two-way street to install this type of facility (8 ft each way). There are not too many streets out there with 16 feet to spare, so what we are talking about is removing travel lanes (or parking). Coming from someone who has removed travel lanes for an on-street facility it is really, really hard to do. People that have never been to a public hearing come out of the woodwork! There is tremendous backlash from motorists and that honestly scares most elected officials. So if you are going to do it, it better work. You cannot do it on just any street. The blocks need to be long with minimal driveway access points. This creates a problem because Los Angeles was built for cars and there are alot of driveways! Every driveway is essentially an intersection and visibility is important if you are riding between parked cars and the curb, so parking needs to be restricted for 50-100 feet before each driveway/intersection. Long story short, they are very difficult to do, but there are places in the area where it can work. And where it can work it should be pursued because they are awesome to ride in!

    I am not, nor will I ever advocate against the installation of bicycle infrastructure. Bike blvds and neighborhood networks can and will work great in the Los Angeles area. They are also great for new riders who prefer to ride on nice quiet streets. But in my opinion the most valuable thing that we can offer is a strong education program for all ages and modes. This education should start in grade school and continue all the way through adulthood. Confident cycling and bicycle awareness will take Los Angeles to the next level and it will make the crazy progressive stuff like protected bike lanes palatable to the elected officials and the everyday motorist. I believe that some of the infrastucture monies would be well spent if it was diverted to these types of programs. We can do more, with less, faster!

  • I just emailed this to a bunch of people, but here is what I’m bringing to the table regarding a long-term strategy in Los Angeles for advocates:

    – measured benchmarks for improvement (reduced traffic crashes and reduced severity of those crashes)
    – measured increases in cyclist, pedestrian, numbers (the city DOES count bikes, just not very often, and no reports are made other than these: http://ladot.lacity.org/mancountlist.htm )

    The reality is that along with all the education and outreach work that needs to be done, our biggest fight is a political fight for roadway space. That is, roadway space needs to be subtracted from the auto-only network and re-programmed as sidewalks, bike lanes (or traffic calming elements), etc. This isn’t expensive to do, it isn’t hard to build, it is a political fight that we need to be upfront about with the mayor: take away road space and reduce car speeds, measure the results appropriately, and publish those results

    The only way to keep these guys honest is by setting goals (X% increase in counted bike trips, X% reduction in crashed, Y% reduction in traffic fatalities) that can be physically measured and documented. Otherwise we get glad-handed then pushed out of the office.

  • Cory

    The “Bike Summit” is only 2-hours! To make the best of it, I feel like the message from the bicycling community to the Mayor and/or staff should be clear and precise. As ubrayj suggested, an organized long-term strategy from advocates is crucial. I would be happy to share any of my successes and failures. Additionally, I am in the process of gathering before and after data for a project that involved the removal of travel lanes in exchange for bicycle lanes. Once complete I would be happy to shared this data with anyone interested as it may be valuable when assessing the feasibility of similar projects elsewhere.

  • Ross Hirsch

    Cory, pls contact me offline. Your information could be very helpful.

    Ross
    rhirsch (at) candffirm (dot) (com)

  • Cory:

    I think you make a very important distinction between recreational and transportational cycling modes, something which is often muddled up in the minds of the public and some activists as well.

    While the two modes are by no means mutually exclusive, it’s imperative that facilities be designed with a clear intent to be one or the other, otherwise we end up with transportation resources spent on things that don’t solve transportation issues.

    BTW, for anyone that doesn’t know, all off-street paths in LA are legally designated as recreational, despite how they are labeled in the bike plan. If you hit cracked cement on the LA River Path and are injured, the city is not liable.

  • @Alex Thompson

    “We spend billions in this country on education but in this case it won’t work?”

    you defeated your own reasoning with your comment…. we spent billions on education in this country and our education system isn’t working too well… exactly how the money will become available to educate drivers year in year out will somehow transform our city’s drivers into respectful people is not clear.

    It’s going to take both education AND infrastructure with emphasis on infrastructure because infrastructure in itself is education. Signs and facilities clearly stating that bikes belong on the road I would argue go much further than a couple questions on a drivers test with nothing on the streets to back it up.

  • Actually Roadblock, it’s working great, just not in the way you want it to. Advertising – in the sense that it seeks to propagate ideas – is extremely effective. That may not be what you mean by effective education, but you can’t deny that advertising works.

    There are forms of infrastructure which educate, sometimes referred to as Education through Engineering, and they vary in effectiveness. However, I’m with Cory. Direct, face to face education and other forms of deliberate education are far more effective than the passive “throw infrastructure at them” approach.

  • re-read. I’m not denying that advertising and education can work – I’m pointing out exactly what you said – it costs BILLIONS to educate people be it advertising (a trillion dollar industry) or our education system it still cost A LOT. You won’t have enough money in the proverbial budget to educate motorists year in year out to respect other users of the road without proper reinforcement via concrete infrastructure.

  • Cory

    You are correct, there is a lot of open space out there that is currently unused (along freeways and rail corridors). The spaces are often controled by other interests that tend to sit of them for “further expansion”. Infrastructure requires some political will and we are out numbered. The more people we have on bikes, the better off we are. Even as a minority elected officials will listen if that minority has a strong voice. So education presents an interesting opportunity. Education requires very little political support, especially when it comes to kids… everybody loves the kids! So for each kids class you invite the parents to participate and now you have an active audience of both parents and kids. It is the same method used by the anti-smoking campaign. Through this process you are building an army of families to support bicycle infrastructure. I have to tell you, there is nothing more convincing in a council chambers than parents and kids! I am just advocating for timing. Educate first, build an army, and you can get almost any infrastructure you want. Education is inexpensive and quick. With a grassroots marketing and advocacy strategy a lot can be accomplished.

  • dave

    my prediction…

    Tony V. shows up at 10:30, makes a rambling speech about how wonderful he is (no questions please), photo op, out the door by 11.

  • Regarding kids:

    I would agree that kids are a very powerful, uncontroversial force for exposing cycling to more people.

    However, it should go without saying that the needs of kid and adult cyclists are not always the same. For instance, with very few exceptions, kids are not commuting to a job.

    I’m afraid that if we over-emphasize kid and family-oriented facilities, we’ll be squandering opportunities that allow utility cycling to solve real transportation issues.

    In essence, some facilities need to be built with adult users in mind if the bicycle is going to be taken seriously as viable transportation.

  • Education is good. But it costs a lot more than people think. Cory you say you could do a lot with 3 million dollars… Give us an answer. Exactly how many people do you believe can be educated with $3 million dollars?

    I spent $70 to take a Traffic Skills 101 class from a non profit, and an additional $235 to become an LCI… and I know those programs are put together on shoestring budgets and with volunteers… I wonder what the cost would be to actually have a useful educational component for 12 million people in the greater Los Angeles area before they 1) feel comfortable driving with cyclists 2)feel comfortable riding in traffic

    I’m interested in the math here but I do know as a person who has worked in the advertising industry for years and years… there is a reason that BIG money is being spent on advertising (education)… it takes a lot of effort to change people’s minds.

    Without the lines on the street, that education fades pretty quick when a driver is angry in traffic every day.

  • Tony V. shows up at 10:30, makes a rambling speech about how wonderful he is (no questions please), photo op, out the door by 11.

    Right on the money.

    This guy has sat on his hands for years while we’ve gotten hit, killed, injured, harassed, had our lives threatened, and he wants to dedicate 2 hours of photo op time for us?

    I say we bring the rage.

  • Roadblock

    I’m going to remain cautiously optimistic about the mayor. But yeah, if he doesn’t stay the whole two hours expect some rowdy BOOs from the crowd who took the morning off!!

  • Cory

    @angle A well planned network can serve both kids and utilitarian cyclists. You should remember that kids are commuting to school and that has become one of the biggest traffic problems that Citys are facing. I won’t even go into the health implications but remind you that bicycles are not just about commuting.

    @roadblock I would probably have to consult Chris Quint or Ron Durgin to adequately establish a budget for the a complete education program. But as an example I can use the youth education program I received funding for through SR2S. The total cost is 65000 and that includes three professional bike demos at each of our middle schools as a kick off. A series of bike and ped safety courses through our parks and rec and school district. And a bike co-op for kids. There a lot of low cost marketing opportunities available to Citys. Direct mail campaigns through the utility (DWP). Moving billboards on buses. Bus stop ads. Bike racks. Sharrows etc… These are all the low hanging fruit that should be utilized first where the cost of 1 mile of bike path could go a lot farther. Could that all impact a city of 12 million? Maybe, maybe not but it would impact more folks regionally than 1 mile of bike path is going to impact locally.

  • Roadblock

    @Cory it sounds like funding for education comes from different sources than infrastructure which means we can go after both options equally agressively.

    And I’m not naysaying education by any means. I believe in it. In fact I’m going to be assisting Ron Durgin with free classes on traffic skills funded by the city of West Hollywood starting this week. Come out and bring a friend. More info here:

    http://www.midnightridazz.com/forums.php?topicId=15690

  • Cory

    @Roadblock you are most certainly correct and funding sources for education are few and far between. I aggressively pursue and manage funding for both education and infrastucture on a daily basis. My advocacy comes from that experience, I want to see more funding for programs! If there were educations funds available next week I would be writing a grant application right now! But as it stands the only funds are SR2S (which on a state level can only be 10 percent of the infrastucture cost), OTS, and general funds. It is really hard to ask a City Council for general fund money when my managers are working so hard to keep me and my co-workers employed.

    I am glad to hear that you will be working with Ron. I was very happy to hear about the new group he is putting together. As a bicycle planner for a City it is hard to find organizations out there that will offer (and bid on) these types of services. When is the next LCI class? Sign me up!

  • Roadblock

    the situation sounds even more desperate for education than infrastructure…

    here is the info for Ron’s classes:

    http://sustainablestreetsla.org/bike-ed/

  • Roadblock – by the numbers $3 million would get you 13 full time educators and a program administrator for 3 years. How many people can 13 people teach working full time year round?

    I’m pretty sure that has a lot more impact than the 1.1 miles of river path the same price tag fetches. How it stacks up against 110 miles of bike lane I don’t know, but that 110 miles of bike lane doesn’t include EIR costs.

  • 1.1 miles o rive bike path isn’t what roadblock was talking about though, was it? That’s being a bit unfair.

  • Cory

    We have in fact been talking about the cost of 1 mile of Class 1 infrastructure versus the cost of education. I believe that Roadblock understands the value of education. He is correct that because all funding sources are usually programmed for a specific use (education, infrastructure, or occassionally both), cities would be prudent to pursue all funding opportunities. In my particular case I believe that education is a crucial next step for the purposes of building support from both motorists and cyclists for bicycle projects. So in the case where funding can be used for education or infrastructure, I would likely pursue education. Those funds are simply rare to come by.

    I cannot make the same argument (infrastructure versus education) about other types of infrastructure because they tend to come at a much lower-cost. Also on-street facilities can be categorically exempted from CEQA as a minor alteration of an existing use(see 15304(h)). I am getting the impression from the powers that be, that funding for Class 1 infrastructure will no-longer be favored in future funding cycles. In order to remain competitive for outside funding sources cities (myself included)would do well to focus on less expensive (cost per mile) infrastructure.

  • @Cory:

    “Also on-street facilities can be categorically exempted from CEQA as a minor alteration of an existing use(see 15304(h)).”

    Except for reductions in lanes . . . see SF bike plan!

    @fairness police

    Actually we were talking about that, to varying degrees, and I provided a qualified estimate on bike lanes as well (and 110 miles of bike lane would be far more politically difficult to achieve than $1 million/yr for education.)

    If you want to do some fairness policing you might take a look at RB’s debatable series of assertions on education. He first discounted education because he doesn’t believe it effective, and then was reminded of the magnitude of investment in education. He then discounted education by narrowly defining it as traditional education – K-12 and college – and then asserted that the US’s educational system is failing – ignoring the fact that the benchmarks for career education are waaaaay higher than for simple bike education, and ignoring that education takes place to great degree outside a school classroom (advertising, vocational, on-the-job training, around the dinner table etc etc.) He then asserted that education is too expensive, without doing even a back of the envelope calculation on cost. So, in terms of fairness, it is RB who is out on a limb, and whose arguments have been largely about asking questions that are easy to ask but harder to answer.

    Not to mention that advocating an infrastructure response to the Venice bike lane failing for the mayor is questionable in the first place.

  • Cory

    CEQA is tricky like that because it does not specify anything about vehicle travel lane reductions at all, even though these activities may have have potential vehicle traffic impacts. It is generally better to err on the side of caution when it comes to most exemptions. Most things sneak by without any question but anything (as in SF) can be challenged. So it is a gamble. San Francisco was a little bit of a different case in that it was a city-wide plan of proposed changes that could have cumulative impacts. But you bring up a worth while revision that any vehicle travel lane reduction should include a C.Y.A. traffic analysis. We did that when we did our recent road-diet.

  • @Cory – CYA – nice acronym, what’s it mean?

  • Cory

    @AT Cover Your Ass.

  • LOL!

  • For the record I actually am talking about the LA river bike path. And I DO believe that spending $3 mil of 1.1 miles is “worth” it in the sense that that 1.1 miles is is adding to a greater overall picture which is connecting distant areas of Los Angeles from the Valley to Long Beach Pasadena to Ballona Creek (via exposition bike path/lanes) that’s HUGELY value-able and worth every penny to me as a long distance commuter. As I understand it, bike path funding is yet a different source than street lanes? That river path will last decades. A great investment. This will only make sense if you’ve ridden other cities and countries with comprehensive bike highways such as Northern European countries and to a lesser degree cities like Portland.

    Sure, the LA River bike path at this point is recreational to a degree. Recreation is education too.

    The LA River bike path is educational in that it provides a fun easy way to get comfortable riding a bicycle for all ages. I personally learned how to ride a bike on the LA river bike path 30 years ago with my parents when the path was much shorter and (from what I remember) had an open leg on the east side of the river. It was for me hugely educational being that I grew up on a 4 lane major arterial… where crossing the street was daunting enough let alone riding a bicycle on it as a kid.

    As an LCI in training, I have come to terms with how much education it will take to teach people to ride vehicular. A LOT. Even after a class, the amount of courage needed for someone to up and ride on city streets with no infrastructure to get somewhere meaningful is quite an obstacle especially when asked to mix in with 35-45mph traffic. Compound that with the educational component for law enforcement and car drivers and it gets expensive. People understand lines on the ground because the education is already in place for lines on the ground.. and perhaps the biggest reason that cab driver didnt look for mayor V (the circumstances of his crash are not totally clear IMHO) was because despite there being a lane, there just arent enough riders on the road yet to get into the habit of looking. and thus, we have to again look at what brings more riders out… infrastructure. The vehicular cycling crowd has yet to prove otherwise.

    @Alex you think the US education system is a success? wow. well, maybe for people who have rich parents and live in quality school districts, but not for the masses and especially inner city where education on street riding is needed most… can you use my direct quotes when you summarize my words because you are mis-characterizing my arguments when you say things like “He first discounted education because he doesn’t believe it effective” I never said it wasn’t effective, I said that it’s EXPENSIVE. And as Cory points out, it seems quite difficult to get money for education as it is.

  • in other words…. you can educate drivers and law enforcement with a bomttomless budget. but it’s still going to take a lot fo build a constituency of bicycle riders to fill streets that dont have infrastructure. and if there are not many cyclists in the streets, then all that education is nil if it doesnt create the habit of looking for cyclists in practice, that habit coming from actually encountering cyclists not just being educated that they exist. In this chicken and egg scenario… the cyclists will first have to be a normal part of the traffic grid, and no matter how much education you give to a cyclist, it’s understandably scary to mix into a traffic grid that wasnt designed to accomodate them. We need infrastructure first and foremost complemented by a great educational component across drivers, law enforcement and potential cyclists to support that infrastructure.

    WE NEED IT ALL!

  • Cory

    @RB “We need infrastructure first and foremost complemented by a great educational component”

    You could not be more correct when you described it as a “chicken and egg scenario”. The problem in the Los Angeles area as a whole is that infrastructure requires political will and political will requires constituent support. We do not have the strong political systems that you find on the East Coast, nor do we have the historical bike constituency found in the North West. Elected officials are just that, elected by a majority constituency (well a majority of the voting constituency). There is political fear to do something so bold as remove vehicle lanes in exchange for bike lanes. So infrastructure requires enough support to allow the elected officials to feel comfortable in a bold decision. We need more people like yourself, Josef, Alex, Box, Damien, the LACBC crew, and whoever else pedals this fine city and is willing to step up to the podium to demand WE NEED IT ALL! Because through all of this conversation about minutia I believe everyones goal is just that. Education does not require the same level of political support as infrastructure, it is more under the radar. My hope is that the development of solid education programs will help to build more folks just like yourselves. Folks with passion for bikes regardless of our inability to agree on the minutia.

  • Since cyclists are still a tiny constituency, one thing I discovered was a strategy to build relationships with non-cyclist constituencies and ultimately political support for bike lanes was my experience in going to bat for the Reseda bike lanes last year. It was in that fight that I realized that homeowners could be won over by speaking to them and pitching bike lanes not as a “solution for cyclists” but as a solution for home owners who were suspicious of the LADOT’s “secret” cut through traffic policies. My pitch when I spoke to both Northridge neighborhood councils was that bike lanes were their (homeowners’) political line in the sand to the LADOT’s plan to expand peak hour lanes. With bike lanes in place the LADOT would have a much harder time converting a street to peak hour since they’d have to fight both homeowners and cyclists. The case to homeowners was further made that the Bike lanes provided a bufferzone between their houses and the traffic, and reducing cut through traffic in their neighborhoods increased their property values. I know a lot of this is not a new idea but none the less, this kind of language was met with rounds of applause from people I’d normally expect wouldnt care so much about bike riders if at all.

    If I were in charge of a funded bike advocacy org, I would be organizing presentations to neighborhood councils that coordinate 6-8 months in advance of re-pavement schedules and encourage the constituency to lobby the LADOT and councilmembers to put in bike lanes upon repavement (essentially costing zero dollars.) I wouldnt even bother trying to convert them to cyclists though that could also be part of an additional presentation at another time.

    If all the bike groups got together, analyzed the BOSS re-pavement schedule across the entire city and plotted out NC presentations (pitched from a homeowner’s perspective) according to what streets were next up to be re-paved with the approved 96 bike plan, I bet we could get some infrastructure placed quicker than if we tried to go top down politically.

    on another note I am pretty excited to see that the LADOT is now placing bike lanes in Northridge with improved crosswalks at two locations that just last year was being studied by LADOT as a place to remove crosswalks. Total reversal and I cant help but feel like our actions at the NC level helped.

  • We need to go to this event with all of our arms in a sling. Do it for the LOLz.

  • I’m kind of late to this but I think infrastructure and education are both important and not mutually exclusive. I do think infrastructure is a valid topic regarding the Mayor’s collision, because the nature of our bike lanes often deliberately places cyclists in a position of conflict with parked cars either pulling out or opening their door, and bike lanes are often insufficiently wide enough to have a safe buffer and time to react to these hazards. In some cases bike lanes feel like tokens of left over road space that would have mostly gone unused anyways, and they just stamp a bike symbol on it and pat them self on the back and call it a day. We can do better with our infrastructure.

    Whether one is for or against integrated or segregated cycling facilities, or support both, there are also infrastructure issues regardless of the existence or non-existence of bike lanes. Signals that don’t detect bike traffic, or signal timing that is too short, are infrastructure issues that unfairly put cyclists in difficulty and reinforce the idea that we don’t matter as much as drivers. Infrastructure changes can also be used to calm traffic speeds more effectively than education and enforcement alone, and speeding cars discourage cycling on a street and represent a hazard to everyone.

    Education is essential both to promote safe riding and driving, and also to clarify cyclists rights. It should be a non-debate that we have a right to the street, and yet we constantly have to defend that right. This is something only education can fully address, because bike routes do not make it clear that cyclists have a right to the road regardless of the presence of bike routes signage or lanes. We need more education on all fronts, from face to face classes, to school curriculum, to mass media and PSA’s, to DMV tests, anywhere and any we can get it out there.

  • Cyclist should participate in the summit because this would benefit them they would come up with an agreement. It is better to have an open communication in order to solve some issues. Training for cycling can also be done at streets so it is better if the government and the cyclist would come hand in hand to come up with a plan that would enhance the safety of the cyclist when cycling in roads.

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