On Sunday, May 20th even more spandex-clad cyclists than usual take to Beverly Hills streets when the Amgen Tour of California launches the last stage of the state’s longest bike race. Departing from Rodeo Drive and turning east on little Santa Monica Boulevard, the peloton continues past Civic Center on Burton Way to Doheney before turning north to rejoin Santa Monica in West Hollywood. Why the convoluted route? Doesn’t our city want these international riders to experience the blacktop catastrophe that is Santa Monica Boulevard’s eastern leg?
Of course Beverly Hills likes to put on the Ritz for visitors. So it’s understandable if Tour organizers took one look at our own little Paris-Roubaix racecourse on Santa Monica Boulevard and decided that these racers might be more comfortable on Burton Way. Who could blame them: Santa Monica is a rim-bending obstacle course with moguls large enough to toss the unsuspecting rider right from the saddle. But these racers are pros, right? Can’t they handle it?
It’s more likely that our city officials know better than to plan a race on Santa Monica Boulevard. It is a public relations disaster. Imagine that Beverly Hills can host a world-renowned bike race but can’t provide even the most basic cycling-friendly facilities (like a bike lane). We can’t even keep our signature corridor in sufficient repair!
We at Better Bike have been complaining about it for two years, and have specifically asked for immediate action on safety grounds, but our Transportation officials have pledged that nothing can be done until the boulevard is resurfaced in 2014 (if even then).
In light of that non-commitment to safety, perhaps the best sendoff we at Better Bike can think of for racers in this high-profile bicycling is a big banner decrying the sad state of bike infrastructure in Beverly Hills. Got ideas for appropriate slogans? We’re all ears! In the meanwhile, plan to get a glimpse of these racers at the starting gate or somewhere along the course.