Council Celebrates Bike Week by Reforming Advisory Committee

Activists Gather in Front of City Hall for Bike to Work Day 2007

Bike activists have long complained about the city’s official Bike Advisory Committee (LABAC).  In fact, I’ve never heard anyone that wasn’t on the committee say something nice about the committee.  Today, those complaints will be heard and amplified when the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee hear a motion to reform the LABAC.

The most common complaint is that the committee has neither the teeth nor the will power to enact major changes.  Streetsblog reader Ubrayj2 actually referred to the committee as an “April Fool’s Joke” in a post at his blog last month.  Other complaints deal with members who don’t show up for meetings and that by forcing people to sign-in, the meetings are in violation of the Brown Act.

The motion, put forward by bike activist’s go-to Councilmember, Ed Reyes, and Transportation Committee Chair Wendy Greuel, recognizes that “there are certain structural and operational changes which must be made at this time in order to allow the Bicycle Advisory Committee to reach its full potential” and makes the following changes. 

Will be jointly staffed by the Department of Transportation and the City Planning Department;

A liaison from the Department of Recreation and Parks will be assigned to assist the committee as needed;

Appoint an administrative staff person to be responsible to post meeting minutes, agendas, and other support services;

Establish that any member of the Bicycle Advisory Committee may make a motion for the election of a new Chair; and that upon
a majority vote of the members, an election for the Chair will be immediately held for a minimum term of one year; and

Require each member to have an assigned alternate member.

The motion, if passed, would address two major problems.  Adding staff members from the Department of Planning and the Department of Recreation and Parks should make the LABAC a stronger body, one that has the teeth to handle both short and long-term issues.  Second, assigning an alternate member will increase attendance and participation at meetings.

Assuming the motion is passed in committee, it must also be passed by the Transportation Committee before moving to the full Council.  Currently, the Transportation Committee does not have a hearing scheduled on the motion, although that could change as soon as the Planning and Land Use Committee move the bill this afternoon.

Photo: Ubrayj2/Flickr 

  • Hey! It made it out of PLUM for a little while and will soon go before Transportation (then back to PLUM)!

    I had a chance to address the committee today and nobody seemed to care much about the issue, except of course Councilman Reyes. That, to me, bodes well – as this is a small matter that will not get killed by the concerns of an employee union or something like that.

    One of my favorite parts of the day was hearing the LADOT’s Michelle Mowry dodge some direct questioning and then drop a bomb that she, “… would be the first one in favor of removing a travel lanes for bikes …”

    Mowry went on to explain that that is heresy to her colleagues, and that as a result of a lack of political will, she was keeping the L.A. Bike Master Plan focused on side streets and inexpensive projects.

    Reyes’ staff were really friendly to me, and I hope his (and Councilwoman Gruel’s) work to reform the LABAC gets them some well deserved recognition.

  • I should clairfy that Mowry quote – the gist of what she said was: She would like to take away car lanes for bikes, and provide access on arterial roads (where we all know bicyclists ride when bicycling for transportation). Politics, she says, has prevented those changes from taking place.

  • Damien Newton

    That’s funny. Telling a City Council committee that she’d like to do more, if only the politicians would let her.


  • Standard Mowery speech. I have it on tape and I just splay it back right before I do my hill repeats.

    3 + 8 is the 4th prime.

  • I kind of feel bad trashing Michelle Mowry all the time. She has been through a lot of battles in L.A., and I imagine she goes home at night feeling like crap that when bikes are finally starting to come into their own that she is seen as a sort of villain by bicycle advocates.

    I guess that is how things happen. She kind of got in the way of a bunch of angry bike riders instead of channeling and exploiting their energy.

  • Damien Newton

    AT, I see your point, that it feels like shifting the blame when a DOT director blames the city for our bike conditions, but the difference is in the audience. It’s one thing when she tells me or you that it’s the pols’ fault. It’s another thing when she tells the same thing to the pols.

  • DN,

    I wasn’t disagreeing. I was just noting that this the same speech we’ve all seen Mowery give on a number of occasions. The fact that she queued (hard word to spell!) and played it back to politicians is !!!!WEIRD/!!!!

  • Larry

    Michelle takes everything into account and is far more aware of what it takes to implement actions by the board or the public sector.
    It takes lots of work cooridinating ideas to the finished project than most people can understand.
    I understand the publics concerns on the speed of City Government, but it does not seem necessary to shoot the messenger

  • “Michelle takes everything into account and is far more aware of what it takes to implement actions by the board or the public sector.”


    I’ve got to disagree with you there. I think she knows how to write plans and fill out grants applications. Other than that, I don’t think Michelle Mowery it the right person to look to for real change in the way policy makers wield their power.

    She doesn’t have too much to show for her expertise over the past decade (politically) – and I chalk that up to her being an employee of the City (and thus sort of unable to lobby for change the way someone ought to).

    There is no need to shoot the messenger, but the messenger had better be able to deliver the frickin’ message! If she knows what is L.A.’s bike riders need, then why not WORK WITH ACTUAL BIKE RIDERS to see those needs get met?

    Instead, she treats members of the public like interns. It feels like all she wants out of us is to show up and listen to her lose multiple political battles in City Hall.

    She has the cures to what ails this city’s cyclists but she does not have a political route to address those maladies.


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