Mayor on the State of Air: We Need to Walk and Bike More

Maybe it’s just me; but has anyone else noticed a chance in our mayor recently when it comes to discussing walking and bicycling?  All of a sudden it seems like the Mayor can’t get enough of talking up the virtues of moving from place to place sans automobile.   First there was a mention in the State of the City and earlier this week on Huffington Post he touted people powered transportation as one of the best things Angelenos can do to clean up our air.

The City of Angels no longer needs to be known for smog and sprawl, but
it will take our collective efforts to ensure that we will all breathe
cleaner air. Government action is key, but there are many, simple
things people can do to help reduce air pollution: drive one less day
per week, bike and walk as often as possible, avoid burning wood.

This might not seem like a big deal to people who live and breathe bicycle or pedestrian advocacy; but it’s not everyday we see politicians willing to place some of the responsibility for the declining health of the planet on the choices normal people make everyday.  Think back to the 2008 presidential election, can you remember any of the major candidates, Barack Obama included, telling people to change their lifestyle habits for the planet?  When I wrote about the campaigns before the 2008 Super Tuesday primaries for NYC Streetsblog I couldn’t find a mention of that for either the Republicans or the Democrats.

But more importantly than just talking the talk, we’re starting to see a shift in policy.  Let’s hope that the good news doesn’t end with 30/10 and a 10% set aside for bicycles and pedestrian projects.  My prediction, based on Dan Koeppel’s twitter feed, we’re about to get some good news on CicLAvia.

Oh, and in case anyone’s interested; it turns out that burning wood in an urban environment, with high particulates in the air, is a bad idea.  Don’t do it.

  • Jeff Jenkins

    Walking and biking…. Why not its not a bad idea. Everything positive about it too!

  • Will Campbell

    I’ve noticed it. During his first five years in office he never once uttered the word “bicycle.” It’s a welcome change, but he’ll really impress me when he proves that he knows how to actually ride one.

  • joe

    We need a ride with the mayor.

  • Haha, strange that he threw in “burning wood”… sure, it can be a contributor, but I bet I’ll never see the day that someone can look at LA and accurately say that anything more than driving is the cause of smog.

  • SM Bay used to be known as the “Bay of Smokes’ when the spanish first came, as the Tongva campfires created smog back then too. Stat: “Fireplaces are used in about 1.4 million of the 5 million households governed by the district, producing an average six tons a day of particulate soot in the air basin, according to the air district.”

    Still pales in comparison to cars, but it’s not nothing.

    One reason I prefer steel bikes is their much lower embedded energy–the energy it takes to make them–compared to alu or carbon. (Both elements of carbon fiber are made out of oil directly., and alu takes huge amounts of electricity to make compared to steel.)

    One reason I don’t favor separate bikepaths is that 70% of LA is covered in concrete or asphalt already–and asphalt’s made of oil, and concrete emits one ton of CO2 for every ton laid down.

    It all adds up.

    We need to bike more on the streets we already have. In fact, what LA needs is what Joe Linton calls “road diets”: removing car lanes to add bike (and transit) lanes, removing car parking to add bike parking. This is what Portland has done–and enough people have switched modes–to bikes, buses, and trams–that the remaining car traffic looked to me to much more smoothly in a very dense and lively downtown than it ever does in car-centric LA.


LA Streetsblog Chat with Author and Cyclist Erik Knutzen

Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne write the blog Homegrown Evolution, chronicling their adventures as urban gardeners and farmers. Kelly and Erik recently released their first book The Urban Homestead from Process Media.  Last Friday, Erik, who is also a board member of the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition, sat down with me in their garden […]

A Brief Interview With CicLAvia Executive Director Romel Pascual

Romel Pascual is the Executive Director of CicLAvia. If you’re reading Streetsblog L.A., you probably know that the non-profit CicLAvia collaborates with cities to host open streets events throughout Southern California. Pascual and his crew are gearing up for the next CicLAvia event, their Iconic Wilshire Boulevard route, coming up on Sunday August 14. The […]