It’s a story that’s told so often, it’s almost cliche. Biking in Los Angels is hard, and dangerous. More people are taking to two wheels in the Car Culture Capital, but they’re taking their own life into their hands. If only Los Angeles were run by people who cared about bicycling, the city could be a cycling paradise. I mean, consider the weather and reasonably flat terrain…
But now there’s a wrinkle: A mayor that goes for a bike ride and gets his wing clipped. Now the story has changed, and people are starting to notice.
On Friday, a piece on the nationally syndicated National Public Radio program “Living on Earth” looked at the state of cycling in Los Angeles and wondered if the mayor’s poor fortune will be a game changer for cycling Angelenos.
As anyone that’s ever read this Streetsblog knows, we write a lot about bicycling and Los Angeles. Even so, it’s hard to balance the dual stories of hope and frustration that cycling advocates contend with when lobbying City Hall for the changes we need to be safe and comfortable on the street. However, this exchange, captured in the L.O.E. piece, between the Bike Coalition’s Ramon Martinez and Mayor Villaraigosa at the Mayor’s Bike Summit captures both hope and frustration very well.
MARTINEZ: Antonio, if you are really interested in moving quickly on bike lanes– there are bike lane projects in the downtown street centers that can be done downtown Los Angeles in dense areas that are transit-dependent, today, right now, with your support.
VILLARAIGOSA: I gotcha, Ramon.
In short, Martinez is saying, “We appreciate what you’re trying to do, but let’s get moving on things that have already been studied now instead of waiting for a Bike Plan to be passed. I emailed Martinez over the weekend to see how he felt about whether we’d be seeing new bike lanes in the Downtown. His answer? That moving quickly on the projects approved when the city passed new street standards for the Downtown would show fulfillment of his promises, but if he doesn’t move it sends a confusing message.
However, the Living on Earth piece wasn’t meant to be a news piece for those pedaling around Los Angeles, in fact no NPR station in L.A. has carried the program for years, but to introduce people around the country to what is happening in Los Angeles. While change may not be happening as quickly as we’d like, it’s clear that even in the car culture capital of the world that bicycles and green transportation is taking hold. And if it can happen here…