Los Angeles City Council approved a plan that could lead to the designation of 1680 miles of bicycle lanes and paths in this most car-centric of cities. This would mark an historic change, if it means that we have finally said, enough! Enough giving over of precious urban resources to automobiles, which only make cities less liveable. Enough of the incessant street-widening and freeway building, which only seems to cause more traffic congestion. Now is the time to take back some of those streets and make them available for cleaner and healthier transit.
I would not call myself a bike nut, though I do like to ride sometimes, but I'm a strong supporter of almost all measures that would reduce the amount of acreage given over to cars, especially in urban areas, where way too much prime real estate is just handed over to drivers who are not paying for that space, and who are making life a lot less pleasant for the rest of us. So in addition to bike lanes, I favor more street parking, tolls for the use of central city streets, wider sidewalks, narrower streets, bus lanes, any kind of rail, demolition of many urban expressways, and improved mass transit. I also think we should tax gasoline at about the same rate we tax cigarettes. All of these measures would help reduce the number of cars on the road, which would solve so many problems all at once: reducing pollution, noise and traffic; promoting energy independence; and generally improving the quality of life in cities.
If Los Angeles, a place where most people cannot imagine life without their cars, can take a step in that direction, there is hope for cities everywhere.
(photo of 2010 Ciclavia event from Bicycle Fixation)