Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bike City

March 1, 2011 might someday be seen as the turning point.  That was the day the 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)


  1. I am a bike nut. Will ride 110 miles from Tucson out and up Kitts Peak tomorrow with 30 other nuts. We did the 21 mile climb up Mt Lemmon yesterday up to 8000 feet. I really appreciate the bike lanes in San Diego. Most are wide enough to keep me safe and still allow cars. Win win ....

  2. If LA had not been built around the car your ideas could have some success.

  3. Actually LA was built around the world's largest streetcar system, which we are now having to re-build. And while it is true that the city is so spread out now that it is difficult to get to a lot of places without a car, there are also large parts of the city that could be re-adapted to make it easier to get around by public transportation, walking and bicycle.

    I am not advocating getting rid of cars, just giving people alternatives so that we can reduce the number of cars.

  4. Now this I agree with. Maybe the city is giving you a birthday present. I am waiting for the OC to follow suit. I was just out on the river trail today.

  5. Samj81, the river trail is cool. I like that route. I have noticed that a rider needs to stay alert to oncoming bike traffic. Some riders are not paying attention. In the past I had a head on collision accident on trails with a rider who wasn't focused and drifted over. He wasn't wearing a helmet to protect his dome and ended up with permanent brain damge. I had a helmet and just broke ribs. On average, cars are safer then bikes -- no doubt. But I won't stop riding.

    Joe, I am in Santa Barbara. The bike traffic here in early morning is heavy. On Modoc Road, east of State Street, bike traffic is almost equal to car traffic. What a city! One thing I have noticed over the years; some cyclists have an attitude that suggests they have the right of way. They run stop signs, red lights, and weave in and out in traffic. This is wrong. If we are going to demand drivers of cars to share the road then we must obey the laws. Drivers of cars know right from wrong. Cyclist (and I am one) tend to make their own rules. If a rider wants to avoid trouble and be respected -- her or she be humble and give respect when on the road.