Bike Route Pilot Late Meeting Notice is Par for the Course

Were you seeking official notice for tomorrow’s Traffic & Parking Commission Bike Route Pilot meeting but couldn’t find it? You’re not alone: it simply wasn’t posted online. Not on the Bike Plan Committee’s documents page; nor on the Commission’s agenda page; and not even listed on the city’s web calendar. This meeting seems to have disappeared into a black hole like much of the public input given to Transportation to date.

Bike Route Pilot Leaves Much Off the Table

Given the legendary congestion and mobility challenges facing Beverly Hills, couldn’t we could use a crack engineering outfit to get us moving more smartly? A firm with experience, say, in bicycle planning, and maybe with plans already in hand to help us boost walking and cycling near transit hubs. And what if we had that firm on contract? The possibilities: we could integrate into our plans Complete Streets principles and develop a real network of bike-friendly streets. Hey wait a minute – we’ve already got that firm on retainer – Fehr & Peers! And of course they already did conduct our bike route feasibility study. So why is that study so bereft of innovations that we see in surrounding cities?

Cultural Attitudes Toward Driving Evolve

Young People Without Driver’s Licenses Has Increased chart

As noted in a Marketplace piece today, the Frontier Group, an environmentally-oriented public interest organization affiliated with the federation of Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS), has dug into the data to find that fewer young Americans are licensed to drive, and those who do drive are today driving fewer miles than ever. The think tank’s report suggests not only a change in transportation patterns but a cultural shift is underway too. Are we getting over our century-long swoon with the automobile? Has the next generation moved on? And what do these findings suggest for the policies and subsidies that have kept big auto and big oil in business?

Are We Seeing the End of the Exurbs?

Change in population distribution 2000-2010 map

The Census Bureau garnered headlines when it reported that the LA connurbation was among the most densely-populated in the United States. It was a man-bites-dog story: famously sprawling Los Angeles beats highly-centralized cities like New York and Chicago on density. And that’s despite the dearth of comparable mid- and high-rise housing. Where are our bustling downtown streets? Crowded metros? Do the new census numbers suggest an epochal reversal is underway?

The Bike that Got Away

Anthony Catalano's Raleigh Chopper circa 1974

Oh, the rides that get away. Most every longtime cyclist has a tale or two about the one that disappeared from school or was snatched during a few moments of inattention. In time that sting tends to taper off as we quickly move on to the next ride. But then there are the lost rides that never seem to let go of our imagination. Anthony Catalano’s superlative Raleigh Chopper, stolen in 1974 in Brooklyn, just two years after he pressed it into wheelie service, was for him the one for that got away.

Beverly Hills Attends US Conference of Mayors

US Conference of Mayors logo

The 80th Winter Conference of Mayors just wrapped up in Washington, DC. At this conclave of city leaders (pop. 30,000+), our own Beverly Hills Mayor Barry Brucker sat at the dais, where Mayors from across the country pow wow to try to put urban policy back on the DC radar. Scanty federal appropriations these days means that cities take it on the chin, and the Conference is where elected leaders scheme to hold their own against special interests wooing Congress despite an austerity agenda.

On Google’s Terms, A Panopticon Matures

Google's new network

Google recently announced a change in how it collects information from search and online activity conducted through Google platforms and proprietary services like Youtube. While Google long collected IP addresses as a proxy for location, and also used cookies to identify return visitors, the search giant is going a big step further now: it will begin to marshal data from users’ activity data from across all of its services and then will attach it to a user account. All the better to know you and serve you ads. And so much more!

Michigan engineers on bikes

Aside

Today I took a leg-stretcher from my place in Beverly Hills to the Marina to meet up with some LACBC folks. I had ample opportunity to enjoy the bike lanes on Venice Boulevard through Culver City & Mar Vista, and I can say that they are an unequivocal mess. Broken pavement, faded striping, perilous grooves, and of course that bane of road cyclists everywhere, the magic disappearing lane at the approach to an intersection. Just when cyclists and motorists need guidance most, it’s gone.

It got me thinking: do the people who lay down these lanes ever use them? Last month, Streetsblog ran a piece on Michigan Department of Transportation road engineers strapping on the ‘training wheels’ for some perspective behind the handlebars. I can’t help but feel that this may be an approach that would benefit Los Angeles, Culver City, and Beverly Hills transportation officials too. If there is anything enjoyable a ride to the Marina, it’s certainly not the pleasure ride down Venice. There the poorly planned and maintained bike lanes add nothing to an urban environment that gives West Los Angeles a run for its money as the most monotonous neighborhood in the region.

Do We Need an ADA-Style Equity-in-Access Law?

The Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law just over two decades ago. The landmark legislation requires ramps, curb cuts and reserved parking, of course, but it also marked a new era by codifying universal access as a new civil right for people of all abilities. Accommodations that ensure access we see in the physical environment every day. But the cultural change is less-noticed but more important. Do cyclists need a right of access like the Disabilities Act in order to secure the accommodations we should expect by right, and to spark the cultural shift necessary simply to create conditions for our safe travel on public roads? I believe that we do need it, and I suggest we campaign for … Continue reading

Dennis Romero

Aside

Leave it to the LA Weekly to glance at the new Los Angeles anti-harassment law, the one that for the first time offers civil recourse to cycling victims of motorist violence, and see only legal action. Read the piece and have a look at my reply to ‘Crazytown’ blogger Dennis Romero:

No road user is served by the crappy column you dished up for the Weekly about LA’s new anti-harassment law. Not the cyclists who fall regularly to motorists on our streets and daily must dodge aggressive drivers.  Not pedestrians who must skitter because motorists fail to slow down on our auto sluiceways. And certainly not motorists themselves, who until this anti-harassment law had little incentive to be attentive and respectful.
As a cyclist AND a motorist, I know that anything we can do to cause road users to take the aggression down a notch is positive because it will make my own car travel more enjoyable. It will also lower my insurance premiums over the long run.
Since there has been plenty of rational commentary on the new law to inform the unenlightened, there is no excuse for thrusting intentionally provocative crud into the debate. It serves nobody.

Sears Got No Bike Spirit!

I dropped by Sears in Santa Monica the other day to fill an eyeglass prescription. Welcome to middle age, I know. Having held out this long with serviceable vision, I’m comfortably resigned to my toting around my new personal vision-enhancing apparatus. I figured that Sears would be accessible and affordable and probably have a decent selection of eyeglass frames. The spoiler: I didn’t get my glasses at Sears after all. Their price and selection was just fine. But shopping there was almost an alien experience. The onetime king of all dry goods retailing seems today so socially and physically disconnected from the surrounding community that it once served. Worse, I simply couldn’t find a place to hitch my bike.

Update: Where Things Stand in Beverly Hills

Better Bike over the last week has met with three of our five City Council members (including the Mayor) and touched base with our contacts in Transportation, at the school district, and at Library to assess progress toward a more bike-friendly city. During these dog days of August (and aren’t we grateful it’s not been very doggy?) we can report that progress is not very positive to date, but can turn on a dime with policymaker support. Here’s a rundown of our initiatives and an overview of where we are (or aren’t) starting with the good news.

Open Letter to BH Traffic and Parking Commission

To: Bev Hills Traffic & Parking Commission From: Better Bike Re: Total lack of progress This week we at Better Bike celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Ad-Hoc Bike Plan Update Committee’s formation. Since this committee has met in public only one time and made uncertain progress over the past year on bike-friendly improvements, we think it’s time we dropped in to share our observations and concerns. You can read about it in our open letter to the Traffic & Parking Commission. It meets tomorrow at 9am at Beverly Hills City Hall. Please join us if you want to celebrate.