League of American Cyclists Awards Los Angeles Bronze Medal for Bicycle Friendliness

Has CicLAvia helped make Los Angeles more bike friendly? The League of American Cyclists says it has. Photo:##http://www.flickr.com/photos/29300710@N08/6227734519/sizes/z/in/set-72157627856292138/##L.A. Streetsblog/Flickr##

Over the last two and a half years, Los Angeles turned a corner. While the city has a long way to go to be a safe and welcoming city for pedestrians and cyclists, things are getting better. The change in attitude has also changed the debate from, “What can the city do to make things better?” to “Is it doing all that it can?”

Earlier today, the League of American Cyclists stepped into the discussion by awarding the city a “Bronze Medal” for bicycle-friendliness.

“Los Angeles is honored to be recognized by the League of American Bicyclists for our work making LA a more bike-friendly city,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “From building 1,600 miles of bikeways over the next 30 years to increasing the number of bike racks in the city by 80 percent, we’re making it simpler and safer for Angelenos to get around on two wheels.”

Earning the Bronze is an accomplishment for a city, and mayor, that are taking bicycling seriously as a form of transportation. However, the League has four levels of bicycle friendliness: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. While advocates were happy to give the city its due, they also don’t want the city to settle for reaching the bottom rung of the ladder.

It was just two and a half years ago that cyclists had to take bicycling safety campaigns into their own hands. Photo: March 10, 2010, ##http://la.streetsblog.org/2010/03/18/caution-please-pass-with-care/33Streetsblog##

“There’s still plenty more to do, but recent progress has been unprecedented – and worth acknowledging ” writes Joe Linton, an advocate who has literally done it all from the founding of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), to working as the executive director of C.I.C.L.E., to planning the first River Rides, to being the first staffer for CicLAvia.

“Mayor Villaraigosa and the LADOT deserve a great deal of credit for implementing more than 50 miles of bike lanes last year, hosting CicLAvias, and generally beginning to pay more attention to active transportation. Let’s hope that LADOT continues to make great progress, and hopefully aims for silver or gold very soon.”

Many advocates hope that the city uses this award as a springboard to become a truly great bicycling city. Neither Portland or Long Beach became bike-friendly cities overnight, and the size of the city and its car-centric planning could leave cyclists with a long hill to climb before true bike-friendliness is achieved.

“In the span of about 10 years, we have achieved what many thought was impossible in this car-centric city. At this rate of progress, it could be possible in another 10 years for Los Angeles to be known as a premier bicycling city. Keep in mind, Copenhagen’s status didn’t happen overnight. It took almost 40 years for the Danish city to reach 40% of the population using bicycle transportation,” writes Dan Dabek, the executive director of C.I.C.L.E.

No matter how one counts it, Los Angeles shattered all of its previous records for building bicycle facilities in the last year. The city says it constructed 75 miles of new bikeways, Streetsblog’s count was 62. But, even if one chooses Streetsblog’s math over the official tally, 62 miles of new bikeways was still more than the previous three years put together.
“This award would have been unthinkable just a few years ago,” begins Ted Rogers, author of the popular Biking In L.A. news site. “When I started my blog a little over four years ago, which was my introduction to bike advocacy, Los Angeles was a very bike-unfriendly city. There were no sharrows, few bikeways connected to one another, and the only major bike lane built in recent years unceremoniously dumped riders off with no warning in the middle of high-speed Century City traffic a few blocks from even more bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills. And, we had no voice whatsoever in City Hall or LADOT.”
In its press statement announcing the award, the League noted the diverse advocacy groups representing all parts of the city, be they advocacy organizations such as the LACBC, groups that encourage and train cyclists, such as C.I.C.L.E., or the city’s various bicycle co-ops.

One of the featured groups is Multi-Cultural Communities for Mobility (née City of Lights), a bicycling organization designed to engage and empower immigrant and non-English speaking communities. City of Lights has become a national model for advocacy organizations in other cities.

“In the past three years, as we’ve advocated for low-income cyclists in the City of Los Angeles, we’ve seen a sea change in bicycle facilities in the neighborhoods where they’re most needed. The City has made leaps and bounds in implementing the 7th Street bike lane and bike racks in Pico-Union, campaign priorities of MCM. We will work to make sure that the City continues to focus on implementing the majority of new facilities in high poverty areas, just as the Bicycle Plan calls for,” said Allison Mannos, Board President, Multicultural Communities for Mobility.

The LACBC notes that earning a Bronze Medal isn’t just about building bike lanes, but about building a culture that supports bicycling in all levels of government and, of course, on the streets.

“However, a Bicycle-Friendly Community is about more than just bike lanes, and the City of Los Angeles has advanced by leaps and bounds in these areas as well. The LAPD has been a national leader in engaging the bicycle community, recently appointing a local liaison officer in each of the City’s four divisions,” begins Eric Bruins, the Policy and Programs Director of LACBC in a statement. “The City’s “Request a Rack” program has made getting a bike rack as simple as filling out an online form. Bike corrals, which can fit up to 16 bicycles in the place of one automobile parking space, will soon be coming to business districts throughout the City through an expanded pilot program. In the next few weeks, a Bicycle Parking Ordinance that would ensure that all new businesses and apartments provide bike parking for their customers, employees, and residents will be before City Council.”

While everyone Streetsblog reached out to responded with favorable comments, there was widespread acknowledgement that the Bronze Medal is a first step that the city has to make to meet the needs of those choosing to leave the car at home or never buy one in the first place. When the League announced that Los Angeles received an “honorable mention” last year, the advocacy group Bikeside released a survey showing over two of three cyclists did not believe Los Angeles is bicycle-friendly. While L.A. may have had a “banner year” last year, there are still a lot of streets and communities that need better facilities and fairer law enforcement.

  • MarkB

    Let’s take a moment to congratulate everyone involved, from long-suffering activists all the way up to the mayor. Job well done!!

    [breathe]

    OK, now on to silver!

  • Yolo Watefah

    To the experts who bemoan LA’s intransigence and red tape, who talk in circles about how the LA Council and the Mayor are, by turns, repressive overlords and incompetent puppets – the change in LA’s streets and the gradual change in its transportation policy reflects how political change takes place here.

    LA is a city ruled by citizen apathy. The system itself is built to make us lose interest in civic affairs. The very fabric of our streets and domiciles tells us all throughout the day that we are isolated, we are alone, we should stay that way.

    The bike scene in LA brought together the bare bones of the intellectual class in this city and got them to whine, cajole, threaten, complain, and document endlessly how to make the city better for bikes.

    Once these bourgeois bike complainers got to a critical mass, we lucked out and had a mayor in desperate need of green credentials. Villaraigosa has more than earned his place int he Obama administration as a transportation flack.

    It wasn’t a concern for safety, it was the numbers of people we could bring together around the idea of safety. It isn’t health, and the environment, it is how many people we can consistently bring together to scare the crap out of local politicians. Storming the Bastille made a difference. Places like the Eco Village made a difference. Partying as protest made a difference.

    I am glad that the time has come to start handing out the accolades, but there is a shit ton of work to do. Our civilization is broke, especially at the local level. This bike stuff is really neato, but we have some serious financial concerns to deal with. Bikes are just the beginning.

    Here is to getting this ship turned around and heading in a slightly less reckless direction.

  • It is the League of American Bicyclists, not the League of American Cyclists.

  • In partnership with this http://triventek.com/dryiceusa.com/files/TRIpdf260320081600535.pdf technology -FROM DENMARK!!!- I WILL   be letting the free market kick cars HARD off our coastal streets and  restore sane communities to ALL humid  climates first- then worry about the logistics of manufaccturing enough ‘weightless’ child carriers/shoes and/or w[ITCH-]less broomsticks etc. The problem with  segway was it had wheels and relied upon batteries instead of TES.

    TES IS OUR ECONOMY STUPID!   Dry ice is better then titanium fiber self powered helicopertertechnology.

    To win GOLD only will be sad- but I’ll get us there in under a year. MAKE WAY Tina Fey!

  • PC

    These guys must not ride bikes much.

  • Roadblock

    Word on the street is that certain bike org(s) were tasked with
    deciding who got to share the podium in celebration of this
    “accomplishment” and guess what…. the biggest most influential most active
    bike “org” in years didnt get an invite… might have been nice being
    that the Midnight Ridazz have been fueling the bicycle revolution in LA
    for nearly a decade now…. But perhaps either Ridazz are too radical for
    the camera or perhaps not thought of in “legit” bike org circles because
    we are a bit uncooth or vocal or ok sometimes a little crazy and…
    un-funded…. but let it be known that the unsung heroes who’ve organized
    thousands of rides for FUN and culture and community have also done a
    good share of advocacy themselves. bringing literally hundreds of
    scrappy passionate voices to city hall out of pure passion (and ok being young and jobless helps too) hell even
    painting and postering the streets demonstrating and organizing. we did
    it to ask for safe streets and the endless years of chatter and group rides did just as
    much to convert LA that any of the non-profit orgs have. the Ridazz community deserved
    to be a part of this too… juss sayin…

    The city does not yet deserve any kind of award really… LA still
    consistently kills and hits and runs just as much as it did last year
    one suspects…
     

  • yanli937

    tinyurl.com/8rezfs7  

  • PC

    So why worry about not being invited? The best response would have been to boycott such a patently bullshit award anyway.

    Did they have the ceremony in the middle of Glendale Boulevard where the freeway dumps into the street? That might have made it worth attending…

  • Roadblock

    meh… It’s not a total bullshit award.. It’s actually pretty cool considering where the city was even 4 years ago. I’m just being passive aggressive at the LACBC I guess. the kudos shouldnt just go to the paid advocates with planning degrees and grant writing skills… it should also be shared with the people who have been DIY organizing and riding showing people how easy and fun bikes can by creating this amazing bike culture that LA didnt have before. it should be shared with the crazies who have made many trips to city hall hounding and chattering out of pure passion of which there are many of us (including yourself!!) who’ve done it on many occasions over the years. somehow the paid orgs seem to forget that when it comes to these photo-ops.

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