Yesterday, about 200 cyclists filled the board room at the MTA building to discuss the safety and mobility issues bicyclists face in Los Angeles. It was our first LA City-sponsored Bike Summit, and I was inspired to hear so many impassioned, informed views on how our city and region can promote and improve cycling in LA.
It's clear we haven't done enough to incorporate bicycles into our transportation planning. But with so much community engagement, and so many good ideas, we can and we will do a better job.
For starters, we need to build more bicycle infrastructure, enforce existing laws, and change drivers' attitudes towards cyclists. Our reputation as the car capital of the world does not excuse our drivers from common courtesy on the road or from obeying the law.
Also, Los Angeles is an ideal place for cycling, and we've got to get Angelenos to reconsider biking as a viable, fun means of transportation. A great first step is the event my office is planning with CicLAvia on Sunday, October 10th. On 10/10/10 , we will be closing off certain city streets from Boyle Heights to East Hollywood exclusively for cyclists and pedestrians. Events like this are already a huge success in Mexico City - they can be a success here as well.
And we have to make cycling safer. So over the coming months the City of LA will be launching a PSA campaign to increase bike safety awareness among drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
The PSA campaign will have two key messages:
First and foremost: Watch and share the road. Drivers need to give cyclists at least 3 feet of room on the road. If you can't pass a cyclist without getting closer than 3 feet, then don't pass until there's more room. It's just too dangerous.
I am standing with the LA County Bicycle Coalition and Councilmember Bill Rosendahl in telling Sacramento that the "3-foot rule" should be a state law.
Second: Protect your Brain, Wear a Helmet. I believe strongly that every cyclist should be required to wear a helmet. When I fell off my bike I hit my head first, then I shattered my elbow. If it wasn't for my helmet, I might not be here today. I know not every cyclist supports this, just like not every motorcyclist supported their helmet law. But the motorcycle helmet law worked -- it has saved lives and a bike helmet law will too.
Several people told me that they don't want yesterdays event to be the last they hear from me on bikes. I can assure you, it won't be.
I'll host another bike summit next year, so we can check on our progress, and I encourage people to keep posting questions and votes at our Google Moderator page. Later this week I'll be posting responses to the most popular questions.