CicLAvia Highlights Need for Better Bike Infrastructure for Cycling to Grow as a Transportation Option
“Stay to the right!” rang out over the megaphone from a passing police car. “That means you, young lady!”
As CicLAvia came to a close and streets were being re-opened to cars, well-meaning police officers did their best to warn folks on bikes that their two-wheeled utopia was subsisting on borrowed time.
And, while I was flattered that they thought I was young, I was rather flummoxed at the notion that they would have directed me to move from an empty eastbound lane of Wilshire to the right side of the dozen or so cars queuing up to turn right onto Hoover.
Who told them it was a good idea to run cyclists in front of cars turning right? I wondered.
This moment — the instant that the streets re-open to motorized traffic — is both the most informative part of CicLAvia and the most depressing.
It’s informative in that you immediately get a sense of how well-equipped your average person is to navigate traffic on a bike and your average police officer to help them do so. And, it’s depressing because the answer to both of those questions is “not very.”
At Hoover, the officers’ admonitions directing bikes heading east along Wilshire to stay to the far right were entirely counterproductive (and dangerous). Those that took those directions as gospel headed straight for the gutter, hugging the curb as closely as possible. But, because there was no room to ride in the car-occupied lane, many soon moved up onto the narrow sidewalk, where they had to walk their bikes.
All those now-pedestrians crossed through the intersection on foot, creating a tremendous bottleneck along Wilshire. Meanwhile, police continued to direct people to ride to the right of the growing line of cars waiting to turn right, despite the fact that the eastbound lanes remained almost entirely car-free.
Along other sections of Wilshire that had been re-opened to cars, some people chose to ride on the sidewalks, wanting no part of car traffic. Others continued to brave it out in the gutters, slowly battling and weaving their way up hills, sometimes completely oblivious to — or utterly panicked by — the line of cars forming behind them. Still others, apparently lost in the bike-fest bubble, merrily blew through red lights with their children in tow.
This is madness, I thought.
Not necessarily because all these inexperienced people were out on the streets — although that can be problematic, too — but because they were there and they were not protected by better infrastructure.
Earlier in the day, I had been talking with cycling advocate friends about the next steps forward from CicLAvia. Read more…