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Bikeside Asks Again: Is L.A. Bike Friendly?

(Note: All week Streetsblog will be celebrating bike week by providing you five simple ways you can celebrate our “special week”without going to special events that occur during work hours. – DN)

Bikeside, the 501c(4) lobbying group for cyclists, is back after a short hiatus. Looking to track any changes in cyclists’ attitudes, Bikeside is building off their August 2011 survey and again asking cyclists if L.A. is a bike friendly city. You can take the survey, here.

2011 results. Click on the image to see a larger version.

As you can see, the August 2011 numbers are bleak. Even amongst hard-core cyclists, sentiments ran 2 to 1 against L.A. being considered a bike friendly city.

Of course, a lot has changed since August 2011. There have been four CicLAvias with two more announced. Los Angeles was recognized as a “bronze level bike friendly city” by the League of American Cyclists. Hundreds of miles of bike infrastructure have been painted.

Is that enough to change cyclists’ mind on whether or not the city is really a bike friendly one? Stop by and register your opinion. It took me less than five minutes to fill out the survey. Respondents are also given a chance to mark their preference for either Eric Garcetti or Wendy Greuel.

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Victim of Hit and Run, Where Louis Deliz is 3 Years Later

In late 2009, Louis Deliz became the victim of the ever growing hit and run epidemic in Los Angeles. Louis spent eleven days in the I.C.U. and was kept alive by machines as he was out in a chemically induced coma for approximately 8 days, living at the hospital for a total of 49 days.

I first met with Louis in March 2010, roughly two months after he had been released from the hospital and wrote the story of his near-death experience on Bikesidela.org. Three years later, I met with Louis for a second time and found myself sitting cozily in his West Hollywood apartment next to his loving Service Dog, Lucy. He is still the same Louis I remember, but brighter, happier and more positive than ever.

Louis Deliz and his PTSD Service Dog Lucy. © Lydia Marcus Photography / www.lydiamarcus.com © Lydia Marcus Photography /www.lydiamarcus.com

Louis tells me Lucy was a friend’s dog that he had always taken care of while the friend was traveling. When this friend needed someone one to take care of Lucy for long term, Louis went through the steps to make Lucy his Service Dog. He jokes, his friend has “visitation rights” – but you would never know they have only been together for 6 months as it seems Louis and his chocolate labrador have been in each other’s lives for years. Lucy’s ultimate purpose is to help Louis as he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder and Panic Disorder. The two spend every moment of every day together hiking, walking, shopping, exploring. Lucy even has her own carriage that is pulled off the back of Louis’ bike.

A half hour into our conversation, I notice Lucy’s agitation and constant grumbling toward Louis. Louis smiles, acknowledges Lucy’s persistency and takes his medication. All at once, my admiration for Lucy in Louis’ life multiplies. She is magical.

When I ask Louis what he has been up to for the past three years, he tells me that the Court Recorder sought him out after his trial. Though Louis wanted nothing to do with anyone let alone hear any advice, she finally got through to Louis and introduced him to Nichiren Diashonin Buddhism.

I am schooled in under twenty minutes. Read more…

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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: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,

“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. Read more…

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CicLAvia Update: Mini-Grants, Meet the Candidates, City Ponies Up Cash

"Southpaw" taken by Alex Thompson at the 10/10/10 CicLAvia

As we get closer to the 10/9/11 CicLAvia, expect more and more coverage here at Streetsblog. Of course, you can stay up to date by “liking” CicLAvia on Facebook or visiting their blogpage anytime.

But for regular Streetsblog readers who want their news in one place, we’ll be offering semi-regular updates on the CicLAvia news you might have missed otherwise. Don’t forget, CicLAvia runs from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. on Sunday, October 9.

  1. CicLAvia announced the winners of its $500 mini-grant contest.  The goal of the contest is to create more of a giant street party feel instead of a giant bike event feel that’s existed for the past two events.  The grant winners include the “Eagle Rock Yacht Club” which is really a dodge ball outfit, various performance and music based events and even “street chess” are on the docket.  A complete list of the mini-grant winners can be found after the jump.
  2. One great idea that didn’t win a mini-grant, comes from Bikeside, which is hosting a space for candidates in the CD 15 City Council race to replace Janice Hahn to come and talk to cyclists and CicLAvia revelers.  The forum will be held right in front of LAPD’s Downtown headquarters from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M.
  3. The City Council Transportation Committee will debate tomorrow a motion to allocate $200,000 to CicLAvia to help cover the city’s expenses.  Any leftover fund from this allocation will be spent on CicLAvia’s in 2012, if the Council approves.

Mini-grant winners in 3…2…1…

Read more…

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Finally, a Draft Bike Plan That Cyclists Actually Like

Nearly three years ago, Mia Birk, a principal with Alta Planning and Design, stood in front of a skeptical audience and promised that the final Bike Master Plan would be something that all Angelenos would celebrate.  What followed was a three year slog which saw repeated battles between cyclists, LADOT, cyclists, City Planning, and cyclists.  But now the end is in site.  A new draft of the plan was released yesterday to the cheers, yes cheers, of our city’s bike advocates.  The first hearing on this draft will be held next Thursday, December 16th at 8:30 am. at San Fernando Valley City Hall, 6262 Van Nuys Boulevard, Van Nuys, California 9140.

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When we last checked in on the Bike Plan, Joe Linton reported that a broad coalition of cyclists took over a City Planning Commission Hearing and managed to delay the plan’s passage until a host of issues were addressed.  Following the meeting, City Planning met with the organizers of the protests at the Commission, Los Angeles County Bike Coalition’s Alexis Lantz and Aurisha Smolarski, Bikeside’s Alex Thompson, and Linton to hammer out the details that were holding up the plan.  The result is that yesterday the plan was released, and for the first time in three year’s, Birk’s long-forgotten promise became reality.  Finally, everyone appears happy.

Looking at this plan, Linton sounds happy, but not overjoyed, “While it’s not perfect, it’s good enough to be a tool for the next phase of improvements to LA streets.”

Granted, the plan is still a long read, and the devil could still emerge from the details.  Streetsblog will have in-depth coverage of the plan next week, and the Bike Coalition promises an in-depth review on Monday.  But for now, let’s take a moment to enjoy not just the progress, but getting to watch everyone celebrate.

The most obvious winner is Bike Working Group, that labored so hard to create the Backbone Bikeway Network (BBN).  The newest draft of the plan is full of references to the BBN, as well as the Neighborhood Network, and the Green Network.  Via email, Thompson writes, “The bike plan has turned around three times now, but this last one was a pirouette.  It’s a great document – this is what can happen when experts of all sorts get together and work it out.”  A full copy of Thompson’s statement can be found at the end of the article. Read more…

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This Weekend: Bikeside Speaks (and Films, and Parties…)

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Streetsblog found the original Bikeside Speaks to be a great night of entertainment and advocacy.  This Saturday, Bikeside Speaks is back with Part Deux featuring new lineup to be followed by a short-film festival and after party.  This time the event isn't being hosted in the Bikerowave, but at Cynergy Cycling in Santa Monica with an after party following the film festival at the Hotel Erwin on the Venice Beach.  You can RSVP for each event on Facebook.  (Bikeside Speaks: here and the Disposable Film Festival: here.)

So what exactly happens at Bikeside Speaks?  Some Streetsblog commenters complained that the last event only featured short speeches by the Bikeside Board of Directors.  While I don't see a problem with a group promoting the work of their Board, even that minor complaint doesn't apply this time.  In addition to City Council Candidate Stephen Box and Bikeside President Alex Thompson, the speaker's lineup includes Gary Kavanaugh of Santa Monica Spokes, Terry O'Day from the Santa Monica City Council, State Assembly Candidate Betsy Butler, C.I.C.L.E.'s Felicia Willams, Burbank City Planner Cory Wilkerson and "Cool Ass Mike."  It's quite a lineup, and every speaker will have a unique topic ranging from discussing their organization to promoting Bikeside's "Life Before License" campaign.  Each speaker has fourteen minutes for presentation and questions.  If you want more, go right to the source and read more about the event at Bikeside's blog, right here.

If you're wondering what a "Disposable Film Festival" is, I needed some help on that one too.  A disposable film festival is one featuring films shot on camera phones, flip video or other non-traditional cameras.  The Festival is a "bike-in," so bring your blankets and refreshments.

Bikeside promises the next "Speaks" event is coming east (way east) in September.  Who else is looking forward to Bikeside Speaks in the Inland Empire?

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Bikeside Speaks (Times Seven)

5_19_10_bikeside_speaks.jpgThe unmistakable style of Alex Thompson

Los Angeles has been home to many groups pushing for transportation reform, and one of the new groups that's been making a big impact has been Bikeside.  The group has been a leader in highlighting some personal stories as well as data mapping crash history from LAPD maps.  They've also put their pedals where their mouths are and organied a ride to Beverly Hills City Hall to push their Council to reform the city's policies towards hit and run crashes.

This Saturday at 5:00 P.M. Bikeside hosts a unique event at the Bikerowave, 12255 Venice Blvd., designed to educate and empower cyclists to get more involved in the decisions that make an impact on their rides. 

The program?  Seven of the top bike activists in the city each give seven minute presentations on seven different topics.  Each of the seven presentations are followed by a question and answer session that's seven minutes.  I have to admit, I like the "seven" motif.

The roster for speakers includes:Jeremy Grant, Stephen Box, Mihai Peteu, Ron Durgin, Sara Bond, Enci Box, and Alex Thompson.  Topics range from Moving L.A. with the Greensters, Crowdsourcing & LA Bike Map, and "Every Street Is a People Street."  It promises to be a lively and engaging conversation...so lively that I might stay up past my bedtime to make it there myself.

So get in on all the fun this weekend at the Bikerowave.  The popular Crank Mob ride may (or may not) follow Bikeside Speaks.  As a result of the event, Bikerowave will be closing early for all but the most urgent of repairs.

There's plenty of places to find out more about Bikeside Speaks! and the event is open to the public.  For more information, check out Bikeside's website, TwitVite, or Facebook page.