“The Times’ Editorial Page Is Pro-Bike.”
This weekend, the Los Angeles Times formally launched “Roadshare,” a specialized opinion page that focuses on bicycling, bike culture, and the controversy over creating safe space on the street for all road users. It announced this new web venture with an editorial, “Sharing the Road and an op/ed piece by Robert Greene entitled “Cycling in Los Angeles, The rants, the roads and the bigger picture.
“Sharing the Road” contains one simple sentence that is more important than it might look on the surface. “The Times’ editorial page is pro-bike.” They don’t mean they are professional cyclists, they mean that, “cycling reduces traffic, cuts fossil fuel use and pollution and improves the health of those who do it; in fact, it’s beneficial in so many ways that cities, especially those such as Los Angeles that are beset by automotive-related problems, should go to great lengths to encourage it. “
This may not seem as though it is a big deal, a newspaper saying it’s pro-bike. Considering the hysteria our partners in New York City deal with on a near-daily basis from the New York Post and anti-bike zeaolts such as Marcia Kramer on the evening news, the Times’ declaration is important. And let’s not even get started on Dorothy Rabinowitz and the ongoing threat of the bike lobby.
Locally, the L.A. Weekly is the second most read print publication in the city, and their record on bicycle safety is mixed. On one hand, they seem to view cyclists as a special interest. On the other hand, their report on hit and run crashes was a major moment that changed the conversation in City Hall.
Whether you agree with it or not, media figures are important decision makers and they influence what happens in city halls and board rooms. The Times is the second biggest local paper in the country, and their support is important both inside and outside Los Angeles.
It’s why Streetsblog writes articles critical of the press, because we know that the media is important and we want them to understand our point of view. It’s both gratifying and important to know that they’re listening.
Greene pays homage not just to the bicycling movement, and both Streetsblog and Curbed in particular, but also asks the kind of common-sense questions that many of us have wondered (and expressed) for years. Including, “…how can one city department paint a lane for cyclists while another city department requires residents to put their garbage cans in the middle of it on trash pickup day?”
A couple of weeks ago, one of the opinion page editors reached out to me because the Times’ was excited about this new venture and wanted my/our feedback. We helped put them in touch with many of our readers, and it’s a little exciting to see where they go with the series from this start. Streetsblog will continue to work with the Times’ team as much as they allow to insure they have access to our readers, and vice-versa, as this series continues.