Los Angeles Newspaper Group Declares “the Summer of Cycling”

Last week, the Los Angeles Newspaper Group declared the summer of 2013 “the Summer of Cycling.”

To mark the occasion, the papers announced a series of in-depth looks and discussions of bicycling, bicycle culture, laws and customs, traffic enforcement and the future of bicycling. The publisher of papers including the Daily News, Daily Bulletin, San Bernadino Sun, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Pasadena Star-News and many other publications, the Newspaper Group is actually more read than the Los Angeles Times.

But just because the Newspaper Group is big, doesn’t mean they always do the best job covering bicycling and Livable Streets issues. Sure, there are some top notch reporters, the great Dakota Smith at the Daily News springs to mind. But when they announced the Summer of Cycling in concert with a discussion of the causes of road rage and promised a debate on whether or not cyclists should be licensed and taxed, we started to get a little nervous.

Yesterday’s moderated online discussion with Bike Nation CEO Derek Freitheim was a step in the right direction, but we still think the newspaper group could use some help. I know Streetsbloggers have a lot of good suggestions for what would make a good “Summer of Cycling” series, and I look forward to reading them in the comments section. If you want to see my suggestion, read on after the jump.

Dear Los Angeles newspaper group editors,

If you want the Summer of Cycling to have more impact than the Summer of George, you have to understand “both sides” of the issue. Because you insist on presenting the issue through the lens of “bike v car” or the suddenly world dominating “bike lobby v everyone else” you need to be able to place yourself in the shoes of “the other” which in this case is the cyclist. So I challenge each of your editors and writers who will take part in this series to do two things.

First, try biking to work for a week. If you don’t believe you can handle a ride to and from work, then couple up your trip with the local transit lines. It is possible, I promise.

Second, go for a ride with some of your local bike advocates. Let them choose the route. If you don’t know how to find them, email me at damien@streetsblog.org. I’ll find them for you.

Best of Luck with Your Series,

Damien Newton

  • Matt Ruscigno RD MPH

    Profiles on some of the local bike advocates many of us know and love! Jen from LACBC would be a great start.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    I think it would be even better if they recognized that this is an issue that doesn’t have just two sides. Cycling can be transportation, recreation (whether road rides or mountain biking), exercise, or work (couriers and delivery people). People on bikes interact not just with people in cars, but also people on foot and in public transportation. Individuals who ride bikes may do any combination of these sorts of cycling, and may also engage in any combination of the other modes of transportation. Even among people who primarily use bikes for transportation, they may do so for a variety of reasons, and they belong to many different communities. These many different groups have overlapping interests, and different areas of conflict with each other. But regardless of this, they’re all human, and they all deserve a voice in the ongoing conversation our society is having on the role of many different types of technology on our streets.

    If a series on cycling presented only two sides in an attempt to be fair, I’d think they’re missing out on most of the story!

  • John Lloyd

    Great suggestions, Damien. I especially applaud your first one. So tired of people who haven’t ever tried to get from point A to point B on a bicycle presuming to comment on cyclists. Profiling local bike commuters is fine, too, but nothing beats the experience of cycling on actual streets with cars to change one’s perception of the whole issue. I’m not talking about putting their bikes on their cars and driving to the nearest recreation trail, but actually having to get to work, school, shop, on a bike (and transit). If they’re afraid, intimidated, or inconvenienced well, that speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

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