Earth Day Celebrated!

Mark Elliot and Ellen Lutway at the BBBH Earth Day boothThe City of Beverly Hills got an advance jump on Earth Day 2011 with a blow-out Farmers Market this past Sunday. Hundreds of new folks turned out, and Better Bike Beverly Hills members Mark Elliot and Ellen Lutwak (at right) were well-prepared to greet potential bike advocates with maps, flyers, and plenty of commiseration!

We have to call our participation in this event an overwhelming success. To our existing membership roster we’ve added dozens of new supporters, we distributed flyers for Better Bike (an LACBC local affiliate) and the upcoming River Ride in June. We even met up with riders from Santa Monica Spoke on their way to CicLAvia. And boy were these folks tricked out for a ride!

Earth Day Farmers MarketMost importantly, we made contact with many Farmers Market visitors who might not have thought about bike planning. Once they saw our banner, however, the stories began to flow. How much they like cycling or that it has been too long since they last cycled.

One woman had never learned – and we referred her over to Ron Durgin of Sustainable Streets Los Angeles, who had a booth for the 2nd year running across from the Better Bike table. We’re not sure he was able to help her that day! But Ron did have much useful info for cyclists and would-be cyclists, not to mention a handy air pump and a demonstration bike lock the size and weight of which would safely secure a tanker ship to port. Such is the state of cycle thievery (and often unprotected racks) that we must turn to hardened anti-theft tools to secure our ride.

Earth Day Farmers MarketTo the last visitor at about 1pm, visitors to the Better Bike Beverly Hills Farmers Market booth hailed cycling but complained about the deplorable state of cycling safety on our roads. They remarked on the lack of bike lanes and that there was no signage. Frustration with impatient motorists topped the list, of course. A handfulhad been told by motorists, “Get off the road!” yet also admonished by pedestrians not to ride on the sidewalk.

We understand!

The reality is that it’s dangerous to ride our roads, and in many places in the city it’s even illegal to ride on the sidewalk. While the Beverly Hills municipal code includes confusing and contradictory language about where sidewalk riding is allowed, we ALWAYS recommend that cyclists keep to the road. First, motorists are unprepared to see a cyclist crossing an alley or a driveway on the sidewalk; danger is increased when a cyclist seems to appear as if out of nowhere. Second, we should use the roads because we’re <i>entitled</i> to ride them. One of the mistakes less-experienced riders make is to yield too much to motorists. Wrong! They share the road and we must claim our space.

To recap, we had a great day at the market and thank the city for supporting vendors there so well. We’re going to take other opportunities to bring folks in Beverly Hills and beyond up to speed with our efforts, so stay tuned. We’ll be in the schools soon, too, and, as always, in the corridors of City Hall.