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Here's a good story of local politics, and also a glimpse into the future. With fuel prices set to steadily increase in the coming years, don't be surprised to find more and more of Us.

We are Bicyclists.
We are Legion.
Expect us.

We're an increasingly feisty group of folks. It's mind-numbingly frustrating to visit cities like Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin, Portland, or any of the other countless cities that integrate bikes into their infrastructure, then come back to L.A., where everyone complains about driving but won't stop doing it.

Though LA is hardly a Manila or Bangkok in terms of road congestion, it's still quite dangerous for bikers. A cab hit the mayor, resulting in a broken arm.

And thus we begin our tale.

LA TIMES:

When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa crashed his bike on Venice Boulevard last summer, he did more than bruise his head and shatter his elbow. He became an advocate for the city's bicycling community.

After he was jolted off his bike by a turning taxicab, Villaraigosa convened a bicycle summit, launched a safety campaign to educate drivers and threw his support behind the city's first CicLAvia, which closed 71/2 miles of city streets to traffic for most of a day.

He also put his clout behind an ambitious bicycle master plan that is expected to be passed Tuesday by the City Council.

The plan lays out a long-term goal of 1,680 miles of interconnected bikeways and calls for more than 200 miles of new bicycle routes every five years. It suggests that such major arteries as Figueroa Street, Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard get bike lanes in the near future.

And it marks the ascendance of a brash new breed of cycling civic activist.

Believe it or not, there's a fair number of bicyclists in Southern California. I've always wondered how helpful it would be to put 'bike freeways' alongside rail lines or other commute paths. The weather here is perfect for bikers, and it's pretty flat overall. Here in Orange County, there's a few decent hike/bike trails around the county, but LA doesn't have much.

Given the amount of excess fuel being carried around as body fat by the average american, it is time to say DRILL BABY DRILL....RIGHT INTO OUR FATTY DEPOSITS. Endorphins are a natural and free chemical high for your brain, and we love to do drugs in this country, pharmaceutical and otherwise. Bikers. We are Legion..just waiting to happen once folks hop in the saddle.

If you build it, they will come. Plus, LA already has a movement:

The coalition was founded in 1998, when many fewer cyclists braved the city's famously unfriendly streets and activism consisted mostly of Critical Mass bike rides. Early meetings were held over potluck dinners.

But cycling has become more popular, with local census data showing a 50% increase in commuters bicycling to work over the last eight years.

The President's Transportation Secretary impressed me by making a commonsensical-yet-still-pissing-off-corporate-interest-shills proposal for our national transportation plan.

Ray Lahood: “Today I want to announce a sea change...This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of nonmotorized.”

But back to LA for a sec. You want to talk about local politics? Look at these bicyclists in LA doing it:

It's not just in the plan that they've made their presence felt. Bicycle racks recently have gone up outside City Hall. And one of the most vocal cycling activists, Stephen Box, who found his calling after he was nearly hit by a bus, is running for office against veteran City Councilman Tom LaBonge.

Box's campaign has held get-out-the vote bicycle tune-ups at local farmers markets and canvassing rides across Council District 4, which includes parts of Koreatown, Hollywood and North Hollywood. The fight over the bicycle plan, he says, was a turning point for the cycling community.

After the city made a bad proposal for bikers, they organized and worked for three years. The result?

By the time the final draft was approved by the Planning Commission last month, many cyclists felt pretty good about what they'd been able to push through. Mannos said she was pleased with the stronger emphasis on safety and education — including a city-sponsored bike-to-work week — and the call for bike-friendly improvements in low-income neighborhoods, such as the area around MacArthur Park.

One of the new plan's central features — a freeway-like system of upgraded streets known as the "backbone network" — was first suggested by Box on his website. The idea is to work quickly on the city's major arteries, which can then serve as the spine of a complex of similarly improved residential streets.

(snip)

Last year, bicycle advocates successfully lobbied the City Council to put 10% of the city's share of money from Measure R, the 2008 sales tax to support transportation projects countywide, toward initiatives for cyclists and pedestrians.

"We'll have a couple of million dollars right out the gate," Rosendahl said.

If the plan is approved, the mayor will sign it on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday. He has mostly recovered from his accident, although he still cannot completely straighten his right arm.

Originally posted to theytookmyblogalready on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 11:21 AM PST.

Also republished by California politics.

Poll

I ride my bike like it's the cover of the Queen album

75%18 votes
8%2 votes
16%4 votes
0%0 votes

| 24 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fix up your bike, take a ride! (11+ / 0-)

    especially if you get good weather. If my lazy ass was able to commute 26 miles RT to work last year, then you can expect more folks to hop on two wheels in coming months and years.

    The last year I owned a car was in 2008, and don't miss it as much as I imagined I would. Being able to overeat and still be in shape is fun.

    witness the GOPranos...rethugs....Paul Wolfowitz: "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too."

    by change the Be on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 11:10:02 AM PST

  •  Biking will help LA's local economy (7+ / 0-)

    Elly Blue at Grist wrote a nifty article, How bicycling will save the economy (if we let it)

    ...Communities designed exclusively for motor vehicles impose a major financial penalty on those who are compelled to take on the expense of driving. But if you're one of those who lives in a bike-friendlier place, you'll be doing your local business community a good turn and padding Uncle Sam's pockets as well as your own if you trade four wheels for two.

    In the many North American cities where two-wheeled transportation is taking off, a new bicycle economy is emerging. It's amazing how much money can stay in your community when it isn't being pumped into the gas tank, big insurance, and the auto market...

    One estimate is that if car ownership is reduced by 15,000 cars, $127,275,00 could stay in the local economy.

    •  that's my life motto...saving cash (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Magnifico, BYw

      no california vehicle registration fees, no dmv fees, no insurance, no car payments, and no gasoline, plus no paying for parking in the city.

      that's at least a few grand a year. and for those of us on the bottom tax bracket, every dollar counts.

      Biking also does force folks to shop more locally, which is great, because it makes neighborhoods more livable.

      too many people drive all the way across LA for a coffee, or a bite to eat, or some other trivial thing. we need a frickin train to the westside, and more bikes for local traveling. Get people to bike for fun, and over time more will use them to commute.

      suburbs are seemingly perfect for biking, but if you like to do something besides bike past california subdivided track homes, then you gotta become more of a distance biker. south O.C. offers good riding, though.

      Biking seems so hard until you do it. It's not half as hard as jogging is.

      witness the GOPranos...rethugs....Paul Wolfowitz: "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too."

      by change the Be on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 12:08:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  With rising gas prices, (5+ / 0-)

    We should think about a series on cycling issues.

    * How to get started if you haven't ridden since you got your driver's license
    * BWOW (Biking While OverWeight - not as scary as it sounds!
    * Finding the right commuter bike
    * Safety and sharing the road
    * Panniers, trailers and baskets
    * Rails-to-trails movement
    * Equipment and repair
    * Community rides
    * Community issues
    * Bike porn

    The last is a favorite subject in our household.  Drooling over the latest innovations we can't afford, the supported tours we can't afford, and the absolute essentials we can't afford but will probably buy anyway.  

    I'm on my trainer til the ice melts - probably another couple of weeks.  But by then I should be ready to rocket out the door!

    "Right wing freak machine" General Wes Clark

    by Tracker on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 11:42:45 AM PST

    •  I'd add another category: (5+ / 0-)

      Advocacy for bikeshares.

      I'm a member of Capital Bikeshare here in DC... similar programs have been put in a few other U.S. cities and are, of course, common in European cities.

      Bikeshare is a useful service for people who want the convenience of bike travel, but don't want to have to deal with the hassle of having to keep/maintain their own bikes. For example, I can ride in to work (downhill) and then take the Metro back out... and I don't have to worry about maintenance or theft or any of the other million things bike owners have to worry about.

      •  brilliant. (0+ / 0-)

        I dare to dream of a day when most urban cities have a program like that, so travelers can easily rent a bike instead of a car.

        witness the GOPranos...rethugs....Paul Wolfowitz: "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too."

        by change the Be on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 12:11:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Honestly, though... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BYw

          ...I don't know that I'd recommend renting a bike for tourists in DC, unless they've got some experience in urban riding.

          DC is a working city, even in the more "touristy" areas; drivers here are generally prepared to deal with people who know what they're doing and where they're going, but I don't know that they're ready to deal with a family of four from Peoria who've never ridden in a city.

          Maybe it would be a good way for them to get up and down the Mall, but once they hit the streets near there - and sidewalk riding is illegal below H St, if I recall - they'd be putting themselves, and the local drivers, and probably the local pedestrians, at risk.

          (Of course, I don't know that I'd recommend renting a car for tourists in DC either. Best to use our world-class public transit system, then go home and call your representative to tell them to put more money in DC's world-class public transit system so that maybe you'll run into a working escalator once in a while.)

          •  Well, I want one (0+ / 0-)

            if it's not snowing or icy, I'd prefer to bike when I travel if long-distance travel is not needed

            witness the GOPranos...rethugs....Paul Wolfowitz: "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too."

            by change the Be on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 12:23:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  If they can do it in Paris (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            esquimaux

            also a "working city", they can do it in DC.  

            And what's wrong with people taking responsibility for looking at a map, observing traffic rules, and biking safely?  I know it's anathema to expect that anyone takes any sort of precautions while driving, but I still believe it's possible for them to do so.

            "Right wing freak machine" General Wes Clark

            by Tracker on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 12:32:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  As someone who works in Portland, (0+ / 0-)

    I love the transit system, and would use it more if I could, but driving downtown or on busy eastside streets is made much more dangerous by bicyclists often, and I mean much more dangerous for bicyclists.  I hate driving around bicyclists.  Go ahead and ride your bike, but stay the hell away from my truck.  I don't want anyone to get hurt.

    A lot of people here complain about obnoxious bicyclists, and I don't really see it (more obnoxious drivers, if anything), but that doesn't mean I love bikes.

    "Intolerance is something which belongs to the religions we have rejected." - J.J. Rousseau

    by James Allen on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 11:46:58 AM PST

    •  That's what bugs me... (6+ / 0-)

      ...about the common refrains about bicyclists.

      A lot of people here complain about obnoxious bicyclists, and I don't really see it (more obnoxious drivers, if anything), but that doesn't mean I love bikes.

      "They roll through stop signs!" "They go too fast!" You mean, you've never seen a car do that? The people who say such things can't generally point to an instance where they advocated the kind of stringent regulations on cars that they want to put on bikes.

      Not to mention, bicyclists tend to be generally more aware of their surroundings - partially because it's necessary for their survival, and partially because they're not inside a steel and glass cocoon - than most automobile drivers.

      •  Breaking the law (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        silence, change the Be, BYw

        Nearly all drivers break the speed limit. For every biker that rolls through a stop sign, there's at least one driver going faster than the legal limit (and probably on the same street).

        The best law forbicyclists and stop signs is in Idaho.

      •  That's it, though, (0+ / 0-)

        if I scrape by another car I'm making contact with  steel or plastic or something.  I get the same feeling with bikes as I do with motorcycles-really anxious.  If I scrape by them I'm not making contact with steel, but with a person.  Now add that they often ride right on the edge of the car lane, not in a bike lane, and its just dangerous.

        "Intolerance is something which belongs to the religions we have rejected." - J.J. Rousseau

        by James Allen on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 12:00:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  not every biker is perfect, but on averag (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tracker, BYw

          we're way better than crappy LA drivers.

          witness the GOPranos...rethugs....Paul Wolfowitz: "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too."

          by change the Be on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 12:03:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Of course we ride in the traffic lane (0+ / 0-)

          Whenever someone has complained that I was riding in a regular traffic lane rather than a bike lane-- which I do often-- it's always been for one of three reasons: (1) there isn't any bike lane on the road I'm on; (2) there is a pretend bike lane, but it is actually a striped-off area showing cyclists the door zone, which  we cyclists should avoid at all costs; (3) I'm passing another cyclist.

          I'll ride where it's safe for me. If my riding in a safe location on the road (that is, at least four feet away from parked cars) delays some motorists... oh well. Motorists delay me too. Local roads are paid for by property taxes, which I pay. The roads are mine too. On my bike, I'm just another part of traffic.

  •  Sacramento here... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, Tracker, change the Be, BYw

    Fixing to get back to adding a bike ride into my daily commute.

    During the winter I take a neighborhood commuter bus downtown both ways. Starting with DST I'll toss my bike on the bike rack of the bus for the AM ride in and peddle home in the evenings. Can't wait to get back in the saddle.

    It's a little tough on those +100º days, but at only 9 miles I can take it. HA

    Good diary, glad to hear LA is getting organized. I got started in SF and miss hanging out with the SF bike coalition folks.

    My moral compass is just fine... now where was I going?

    by cooper888 on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 11:52:27 AM PST

  •  Republished (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    change the Be, BYw, cooper888

    to California Politics. Thanks!

  •  You missed one in your poll (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    change the Be

    I have a bike,but I hardly ride it. Not because I'm lazy, but I would like to grow older and want to see a grandchild born before I kick off this planet.
    The only good bike lanes around here are on campus and around the lakes in that area. Bad thing is I don't live there anymore.
    If gas goes up anymore I will be forced to ride my bike and that scares the bejeebus out of me.

    My city is so hostile, if it doesn't make money it doesn't get considered! Now they even want to shut down public transportation without any regard to the people who have no other means of transportation.

    Muslims, Christians we're all Egyptians.

    by mint julep on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 12:36:30 PM PST

    •  you're right (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mint julep, BYw

      public transit is taking hits in most places. in orange county it certainly is, the OCTA system has been cut. It's also inferior to LA's bus system by a large margin.

      so, public transit is without a doubt the top priority for any mid size city or urban area.

      problem is--gas keeps dipping down just enough to keep ridership down in some places. LA is a very good example. $4 gallon gas is great for LA, in terms of the immediate cut in air pollution and gasoline consumption in '08-09 (I don't know about last year's numbers), and with the increased ridership. [metrolink got itself mired in millions of $ in lawsuit settlements, and is overall poorly run]

      but I digress.

      witness the GOPranos...rethugs....Paul Wolfowitz: "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too."

      by change the Be on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 02:31:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bicycling in LA (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, change the Be, cooper888

    When I was going to graduate school in LA way back in 2003, I rode my bike from my home (Koreatown) to UCLA (Westwood) every day during the more than month-long transit strike. It was about 10 miles each way.

    While I was in the best shape of my life, each day was a dance with death. I tried to avoid Wilshire and take secondary streets but the nature of LA's streets is such that many of these secondary streets dead-end.

    However, LA should and could be one of the greatest cycling cities. It is mostly flat, it has clement weather almost all year and the city is laid out on a grid.

    All it needs is the will.

    "Humanity won't be happy until the last capitalist is hung with the guts of the last bureaucrat." - Paris, 1968

    by turthlover on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 12:40:30 PM PST

  •  Better Defined Laws (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    change the Be, BYw

    are needed for bicycles.  Here in San Diego we have police who tell us to ride single file in the bike lane even when there are few cars on the road.  Bicyclists have been ticketed for not putting their foot down at a stop sign (like all cars come to a complete stop!).  It would be nice to have some laws that better spell out the rules for cyclists, obviously you can't run stop signs or red lights, but what constitutes a stop?  I would also like a 5 ft rule for passing when there is no bike lane and if San Diego is not going to maintain (ie pave) bike lanes then no one should be surprised that cyclists ride in the road.  

  •  Great biking-in-SoCal-traffic video. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BYw, cooper888

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 01:24:27 PM PST

  •  Most efficient form of transportation known to man (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kairos, cooper888

    There are 20,000 BTU's per pound of gas, 6 pounds per gallon, 252.164 calories per BTU, 1000 calories per "food calorie".
    This equals about 30,259 food calories in one gallon of gas.  Bicycling is about 33 calories per mile.  This makes 916 miles per gallon. Can't beat that!

  •  Anybody twitter? U think its irrelevant? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    change the Be, cooper888

    Well its not. If you do twitter follow @PEMBAserves. If you tweet them with the hashtag #carfreeme they report the number of miles commuted each day.

    Today's #carfreeme commuting data: 10 miles reported by 1 #awesome commuters. Yearly total: 6748 miles. Grand total is 20770 miles.

    The sad thing is, as I've watched, there are few people reporting the miles they ride. I suspect its because few do it, not because of failure to report.

    So jump on the bandwagon and 2-wheel it. And report it to let others see your enthusiasm.

    We need more people speaking out. This country is not overrun with rebels and free thinkers. It's overrun with sheep and conformists. Bill Maher

    by Kairos on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 03:14:44 PM PST

    •  Your comment made me wonder about... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kairos

      ...an app for the phone that works on GPS. Sure enough there is one called SportyPal works on Android and iPhone and possibly others. Tracks your speed, average speed and highest speed while plotting your route on a map. Pretty cool.

      They are also coming out with a SportyPalBike specifically designed for bike riding. One of the the things missing in the non bike version is when you come to a stop at a stop light the app doesn't pause your trip so your average speed is affected. I hope they fix that in the bike version.

      Anyway.... thought that was pretty cool and can't wait to try it out!

      My moral compass is just fine... now where was I going?

      by cooper888 on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 06:45:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good diary about my city. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    change the Be

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 10:32:27 PM PST

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