What LACBC’s Monique López Thinks About When She Rides Her Bike

Monique López, Deputy Executive Director of Advocacy at the LACBC, tells her story at BUSted. (Screenshot of video)
Monique López, Deputy Executive Director of Advocacy at the LACBC, tells her story at BUSted. (Screenshot of video)

What do you think about when you ride your bike? When you pound the pavement and engage area residents? When you have the privilege to sit in rarefied spaces discussing transportation?

Self-described transportation justice advocate Deputy Executive Director of Advocacy at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Monique López calls upon all of her senses. And keeps calling upon them.

Riding through Southeast Los Angeles, she told the crowd gathered for BUSted – “true stories about getting around L.A., told by people who don’t drive” this past September 1 – she feels the breezes of cars coming too close to her in areas where there is no infrastructure and is reminded of being hit by a car as an eight-year-old child. She is aware of the tightening of her lungs in response to the poor air quality along the river there. When she passes a vacant lot in South L.A., she is reminded of the way her family was displaced to make way for a project meant to improve her community that, 20 years on, has yet to arrive. When she passes a renovated home for sale on a walk with South L.A. residents to catalog complete streets needs, she absorbs the concerns they voice about the potential for any improvements to price them out of their community faster.

And when she sits in a meeting with elected officials and city planning staff, she is reminded of all of the folks that do not have the privilege of being there with her, and that they cannot afford for her make concessions that would compromise their well-being.

“From my legs, to my lungs, to vacant lots,” she says, “these are the things that remind me of my childhood [in an EJ (environmental justice) community]. But they also remind me of the poor decisions that a planner, a politician, and the privileged few have made and continue to make.”

See the video of her brief talk at BUSted, below.

  • Jeff

    Is this a parody?

  • D Man

    She’s a “Transportation Justice Advocate”. And you wonder why you can’t have a rational conversation with any of these people about transportation policy. The latest from the Mike Bonin advocates was to start labeling a leader of the opposition to Bonin’s failed road-diets part of the “alt-right”.

  • Is there proposed infrastructure for bicycles that has not been installed and if so what is holding it up?

  • Joe Linton

    No – watch it. It’s real and worthwhile

  • dexter

    Something tells me she’s not the person you can’t have a rational conversation with.

  • Jon Patrick

    What point are you making here?

  • Jon Patrick

    Broad (and active) support

  • It is a really interesting question how you make things better without risking displacing people, especially when it comes to things like bike lanes. And yet if you don’t make things better, you’re neglecting those communities. Catch 22. Probably doesn’t help that the funding sources for things like bikes and transit are usually coming from agencies whose missions have nothing to do with housing.

    I guess the main ways you would try to address it are through affordable housing programs and local hiring programs, maybe other things too, which would be a good reason to talk to the community. Yet the difficulty is to implement. Sometimes it seems almost impossible, but that’s part of the reason why planning is an interesting field.

  • Also worth remembering at a time that immigrants are under attack, one aspect of privilege that I definitely have is not having to worry about ICE kicking me or my family out of the country at any moment, or losing my job because I don’t have DACA anymore, or not being able to vote because the immigration laws don’t view me as worthy of full participation in society.

    There are people in this city who literally are denied their most basic democratic rights because of their immigration status. Agencies that make planning decisions generally don’t care about people who can’t vote. It’s a real issue, and it calls for a solution at the national level, which involves America being less racist, which is a heavy lift, but worth a sustained effort.

  • D Man

    That these bike activists are irrational and unable to engage any any meaningful discussion or analysis of transportation policy.

  • D Man

    What does this have to do with bike lanes? Exactly.

  • Cities make decisions about transportation that affect communities with undocumented immigrants, but those people can’t vote and are constantly under threat of deportation, so can’t properly influence what happens. If the bike lanes make the neighborhood more desirable and they are priced out, they’re out of luck. That’s a problem.

    If Vision Zero means more police enforcing traffic laws, they might see the police as making them less safe because of the history of how the police treat brown people in this country, and/or because they’re worried about being deported, and be less likely to be out in public as a result, etc.