It's hard to run a city like Los Angeles. It's a town with lots of competing perspectives on everything from the best taco truck and ramen place to the role of our streets and sidewalks. Tacos and ramen though are easy. Ask people about the streets and it can get ugly.
It's why the city faces a challenge in passing the buck back to property owners for sidewalk repairs and why some still don't get why we should be building protected bike lanes and sharrows (shared bike/car lanes) around the city.
As for the sidewalks, my big concern with the city's proposal is what will happen to the street trees when owners have to pay to maintain the walk. Will some cut the trees down and pave over the tree basins or will they embrace the shade, green and street cooling that the trees provide? I expect it will depend on the neighborhood and economics. As is, too many L.A. residents take an ax to street trees they view as a nuisance. And of course with enforcement a perennial problem, can we really expect property owners to do any better a job maintaining the sidewalks than the city?
I am also troubled by a comment I heard attributed to a prominent Angeleno who doesn't get the push for more bike lanes in L.A. Bike lanes are fine if you're a Danish city, is the gist of it. The comment reminds me of what we used to hear just a few years ago about the push for more public transportation -- that it will never happen because no one will ride. Then and now, as awful as their car commute may be, too many Angelenos can't seem to see beyond their dashboard.
That's a shame. As is the bike lanes comment as it ignores the rainbow of bike riders who ply our streets with or without protected bike lanes.
Bike riders in L.A. comes in all shapes, sizes, races and ethnicities and their incomes are as varied as it gets. Which underscores the perception gap that prevails even among those who should know better.
And, as I noted in "CicLAvia Means Business", bikers and pedestrians are good for business as they tend to shop and patronize local businesses at a higher rate than those driving by.
Last Sunday was CicLAvia's 13th event, the first held outside of the city's boundaries in Pasadena. Like all of the others, CicLAvia Sunday in Pasadena was a fun-for-all bike, skateboard and pedestrian (WalkLAvia) street party featuring fitness, music, dance, health education, food and more.
CIcLAvia is a free to the public event supported by Metro, charitable foundations, individual donors and companies. It's largely volunteer driven, an impressive logistical undertaking that harnesses the longing for community that was missing from our city before CicLAvia arrived.
CicLAvia is also a teachable moment for community leaders like the bike lane hater. I don't know if this person has ever participated but it sure sounds like the answer is no.
Thankfully, CicLAvia is already planning its next event for Sunday, August 9th from Culver City to Venice.
That's plenty of time to get your bike and self in shape or to pick up a good pair of walking shoes. To those who haven't been, try it. It won't hurt and it will explain the growing recognition that LA is for pedestrians and bike riders as well as your second home on four wheels.
Yours in transit,