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Mandeville Canyon Crash Continues to Dominate Bike Discourse

8:44 AM PDT on July 14, 2008


The horrific July 4th Crash in Mandeville Canyon continues to be a focal point for discussions about bike safety. On Saturday, the Times published a remarkable editorial pleading with drivers to give cyclists their due respect on the road. Later in the day, Councilman Rosendahl's office announced the cancellation of tonight's scheduled meeting on bike issues in the canyon, opting instead to form a task force to decide how best to calm the relationship between riders and drivers on LA's streets.

The Times' editorial is probably the most pro-bike writing to appear in a mainstream LA publication in years. It starts and ends with an unequivocal statement not just that cyclists deserve equal space and treatment on the road; but that choosing to bike someplace is a superior decision to choosing to drive.

As frequent Los Angeles cyclists well know, there are three things you need if you want to ride a bike in this town: a good helmet, a stout lock and a very good life insurance policy.

If the street wars between drivers and bikers in L.A. are a lot less deadly than the gang wars, they are no less irrational. Bikers, after all, perform a public service by reducing traffic and emissions. Few drivers seem to appreciate that. Talk to an L.A. cyclist and you will hear horror stories about drivers who cut them off, yell at them, throw things and otherwise endanger their lives...

...But it's hard to escape the conclusion that no matter how bike-friendly our government or businesses become, L.A. will remain a rough ride until motorists learn to share the road. Bikers are boosting their health, their pocketbooks and the city's environment. If it's a battle for moral authority between drivers and bikers, the bikers have already won. Give them a break.

While the LA Times celebrated bike culture, Councilman Rosendahl's office backed away from a public meeting on how to improve Mandeville Canyon after last week's incident fearing an ugly confrontation between cyclists and those living near the road. The official announcement soft-sells the potential for some sort of angry confrontation at the meeting, but does say:

Over the past few days, officials with homeowner associations and the bicycling clubs that train on the winding, 5-mile stretch of road expressed concern that the tenor of media coverage and of blog posts would make a Monday public meeting counter-productive. Many said they worried the issue had become larger than the specific issues of Mandeville Canyon

While some cyclists have expressed regret that tonight's meeting was canceled; the new task force isn't the only bike-friendly iron Rosendahl has in the fire. On Friday, Rosendahl introduced the Cyclists' Bill of Rights as a City Council Resolution calling on all city departments to adopt it's principles in their plans and the execution of those plans.

Photo: Alex Thompson

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