Bicycling Magazine Ranks Top Fifty Bike Cities: Whither Southern California

Screen_shot_2010_04_07_at_8.31.09_AM.pngA couple of striped bike lanes sounds pretty good to me.

Last month, when Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson was in town for the Street Summit, we were talking about the great work going on in Long Beach.  He commented that it would make a great Streetfilm showing that there can be great work going on in Southern California in the realm of Livable Streets and Bike-Friendliness.  I commented that there’s a lot of great stuff going on in places such as Pasadena, Glendale, and Santa Monica.  Eckerson was nice enough not to argue with me on the spot, it’s clear that Southern California is lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to creating bicycling friendly cities.

Yesterday, Bicycling Magazine released its list of the top fifty cities in America.  I hope you’re sitting down because while the other Streetsblog cities were ranked 6th, 8th, and 13th; Los Angeles wasn’t ranked.  As a matter of fact, the only city to get a nod was Long Beach which clocked in at #23.

When I look at some of the cities that "beat out" Los Angeles, it’s really amazing that the City of Angels can’t do a better job of being competitive with some of these mid-sized second and third tier American cities.  Think about all of the natural advantages Los Angeles has over a city such as Anchorage, which not only has some of the least-bike friendly weather in the world, but also has to deal with moose occasionally wandering the street.  Rochester, Billings, Boise, Fargo; no offense meant to these cities, but they shouldn’t be in the same class as a world class city such as Los Angeles.  And when it comes to bicycle friendliness they aren’t.  Instead, these cities are years ahead of Los Angeles…and good for them for making the effort.

One point that is repeated over and over in these rankings is the status of the cities’ bike plans.  I’m sure it didn’t escape the notice of the people in charge of these rankings that twenty seven months after the Los Angeles publicly launched its bike plan efforts that cyclists are still waiting for a revised draft of the plan to be released to the public.

One hopes that listings such as these can serve as a wake-up call to city leadership, that when it comes to the greenest form of transportation other than walking that Los Angeles is falling behind.

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