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City leaders are starting to follow

Examiner.com: City leaders are starting to follow

Taylor Nichols, hollywood Examiner
August 10, 2011 

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.
   -H.G. Wells


Following a trail blazed by urban planners and bicycle advocates city government leaders across the country are starting to board the mass transit movement. The mass transit movement is not an anti-car movement, but one that moves beyond the car. It is an all-inclusive bus servicing vulnerable road users from all walks and bikes of life.

It is a movement designed to complete the streets and make them sustainable for all road users as population grows. The 405 freeway can only be widened so much, Fairfax Ave. in Hollywood has nine lanes designated for auto traffic (some sections have only seven lanes, but in West Hollywood Fairfax has a parking lane on each side, three lanes of traffic in each direction and a center turn lane that breaks the medium) at a certain point we must choose between parking lots and parks.

Transportation Alternatives started talking about bike lanes in New York City in 1979. Critical Mass took to the streets in San Francisco in 1992 and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition met in a kitchen in 2000. But it wasn’t until 2011 that the city of Los Angeles passed a Master Bike Plan. This is just a plan; no real improvements or safety measures have been added yet, but in the realm of city government—a very important first step.

According to the Los Angeles Times—Los Angeles still leads the country in polluted air.* The city is congested with too much auto traffic and has made very little movement in accepting other forms of transportation on our public streets.

But as bicycle advocates speak-up city leaders are starting to listen and follow. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently called on all the city managers to implement the newly passed Master Bike Plan saying, “The bicycle plan will improve the quality of life for every Angeleno.” Bill Rosendahl, the Chair of the Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee, led the effort in passing a groundbreaking anti-harassment bill aimed at protecting cyclists and the Council is now discussing a bill to require a three-foot safety zone around bikes when a car passes.

West Hollywood is starting its own Bicycle Coalition to join the fight alongside other bicycle advocacy groups such as the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. The WHBC is having their first meeting August 19, 2011 at Plumber Park.

But, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco and many other California communities already have working, effective bicycle transportation networks. What is taking Los Angeles so long? These cities have not suffered economic Armageddon; in fact the opposite is true, bicycles are bringing people back to the street.

Local streets can be an extension of our neighborhoods, connecting us, not a barrier, off limits and too dangerous to cross. Twenty-five cyclists have been killed in collesions with cars in Los Angeles County already this year. A staggering number as a statistic, but a horrible loss for individual families and it is a complete shame for the Department of Transportation.

The mayor of Bogotá, Columbia, the birthplace of Ciclovia, says, “When we build a very high quality bicycle infrastructure, besides protecting cyclists, it is a symbol showing a citizen on a 30 dollar bicycle is as valuable as one in a 30 thousand dollar car.”

So as cities from London to Long Beach are lighting the way it is up to the citizen cyclists to take to the streets, on their bikes, and lead City officials to include the bicycle as a viable, safe and respected choice for transportation.