Gottlieb in the Times: Stop Climate Change By Bringing More Bikes to L.A.

12_14_09_gottlieb.jpgRobert Gottlieb via UEPI

Robert Gottlieb, of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute
at Occidental College
, penned an op/ed piece for today’s Los Angeles Times arguing that the key for Los Angeles to meet it’s environmental goals is to encourage more people to get out of their cars and into their bicycles.  UEPI is the main sponsor for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Summit that takes place in March.

The thrust of Gottlieb’s piece is that for Los Angeles to truly be a world leader in environmental issues the city needs to embrace cycling.  In a city with many psychological barriers to getting on a bike, the city needs to reach out to under-represented communities when it comes to riding a bike such as seniors and women.  The op/ed comes days after the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition released the results of their bike count showing only 12% of cyclists counted were women.  Further, Gottlieb argues that we need more leadership from the city after singleing out Mayor Villaraigosa for talking the talk on the environment.

We need visionaries and "practical idealists" (as
Villaraigosa likes to say) to push these kinds of changes forward.
Janette Sadik-Khan, New York’s transportation commissioner — who is
coming to L.A. in March to receive an honorary degree from Occidental
College — has been an inspiration to bike advocates and climate change
activists alike. Wander around Times Square or down Ninth Avenue and
you immediately see how the streetscape has been changed to accommodate
bike riders and walkers.

I’m already reading some mild criticism of Gottlieb’s piece in email from activists.  Some of the complaints have to do with a lack of specifics after Gottlieb states an idea or his apparent unawareness that there is a strong movement to bring ciclovia style events to Los Angeles already underway.  However, after having opinion pieces I’ve written in the past get cut to pieces before publishing, I’ve learned that it’s best to focus on what is in an op/ed not what’s not in it, because oftentimes the editing is completely out of the author’s control.  Besides, Gottlieb sure didn’t seem like a lightweight when he sat down for an interview with Streetsblog almost a year ago.

  • Wow! Cool!!

    It’s so neat to here such ideas coming out of an auto dominated place like Los Angeles.

    I think we need to realize that over accommodating the automobile helps makes intercities the scary, people unfriendly places that Americans love to hate and therefore avoid. This is particularly true in large cities like LA that already have the population and in many cases the density to support a comprehensive mass transit network along with walking and biking networks.

  • Just wanted to add the link to this year’s LA StreetSummit, the “bike and Ped summit” alluded to in the above article (formerly known as the LA Bike Summit). The call for workshops is open to anyone and everyone, help us make this year’s Summit bigger and better than ever.

  • Man, today is feels like the turning of the guard. Op-eds, bike count data – if only we had the on-street improvements to make all this rhetoric and planning a reality.

    I’ve been following Villaraigosa’s Twitter feed, as he bounces around Europe during the Copenhagen climate summit.

    He’s signing agreements to “share clean-tech best management practices” and he’s even got this silly web-site set up:

    Yet, when it comes to some of the cheapest methods of both improving the climate for local business, making Angelenos safer, and preventing pollution from over use of private automobiles his office is dead silent. He should put in the time here in LA across the street from his fancy office at the LADOT HQ in the CalTrans building.

    We need some political pressure to allow car lanes to be subtracted from our roadways, and have bus lanes, bike lanes, and wider sidewalks added.

    I’ve got a shop that is selling the equipment that Copenhagen residents ride on a daily basis, but this stuff won’t get used until the gubmint slows cars down and makes room for bikes. That doesn’t require flying across the planet – it requires sitting down and banging away at an entrenched auto-only culture in the LADOT. It requires having some vision and showing leadership when the LA Times and the Daily news turn on you for “causing congestion” (which is a red herring argument against removing road space for cars).

  • Hmmm… sorry to hear about the “mild criticism” for what was left out of the article. There’s definitely a lot of organizations working on these campaigns. I am glad that someone is making a high-profile link between global warming and bikes – I don’t see Mayor Villaraigosa making that connection yet.

    I wish he had put the periods between the letters in C.I.C.L.E., but was glad we were mentioned!

    (Interested Party note: I worked for Bob Gottlieb’s UEPI to put on this year’s Bike Summit and am working to make the 2010 Street Summit happen.)

  • Let me refine my critique of our mayor a bit. He has made a special entity, known as “The City of Los Angeles”, more environmentally friendly the way a major corporation would – by changing where it gets its power superficially, and what it does for landscaping.

    To the rest of us, living in “LA” (the living breathing city, not just a thin crunchy government shell), the mayor’s decisions with “The City of Los Angeles” don’t address the negative environmental impacts of designing a city solely around private automobile use.

    Maybe this is not sexy enough of an issue for him, or it would require brokering some tough political deals with small-time players in the tiny districts of LA (each one a home to mini-community leaders and business interests the mayor likes to glide over). In either case, he has focused on this macro-level green smoke blowing, while not addressing the fundamental problems with how his city structures our daily lives – and that is as much the root of our global climate troubles as which plants are going to go in the median.


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