Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took time out from his busy schedule endorsing Hilary Clinton for president to focus on a dire civic issue: traffic. Yesterday he arrived via a behind-schedule MTA bus to a press conference staged on a downtown bridge over the 110 Freeway and outlined a multi-faceted program designed to get traffic flowing more efficiently. He’s all about: traffic signal syncing; more aggressive ticketing and towing of intersection blockers and illegally parked vehicles; implementing one-way express corridors; public transit; and more. He even gives some love to pedestrians by championing strategic all-way crosswalks at certain key intersections.
And bikes? On that sorely ignored subject the somewhat honorable ‘Tonio Villagarockstar’s said the following (pick one):
A) “I pledge to fully integrate bicycles and other alternate forms of self-propelled transportation — as well as nonnuclear forms of teleportation, and most types of homebrew aircraft and dirigibles — into the future of transportation in Los Angeles. Not as bastard stepchildren who need to be spanked and stuck in a corner for a timeout, but as equal partnters who need to be spanked and stuck into a corner for a timeout!”
B) “Oh yeah, bikes, bicycles… las bicicletas. Las bicicletas fantÃ¡sticas. Riiiiiight. Muy bueno. Those things. Hmmmm. Jeez. Pffft. Yikes. Tough one! Extremadamente difÃcilmente! Let me fake as if I give a shit and pretend like I’ll get back to you on that, but really won’t, ‘K?”
C) Absolutely, positively nothing.
The correct answer is C, which in a lot of ways is like B, which leaves those of us enthusiastic and trailblazing urban two-wheelers trucked out to Oversight County and dumped in the reclaimed toxic landfill that is now Bigfatzeroloservilletown. Again.
So of course I wrote him a letter:
I’ve read through your multi-level plan to reduce traffic congestion, and while I’m impressed that you’re attempting to tackle this pressing matter, I am as equally unimpressed that in all of the options you offer, nowhere and not even once mentioned is the bicycle or efforts that could and should be made to improve its presence on the civic gridscape.
Certainly you could debate that the percentage of bicycle commuters in Los Angeles is insignificant, but that is terrifically shortsighted and short-term oriented.
As a dedicated bike commuter I accumulated more than 3,000 miles across Los Angeles in 2007, in part due to my 26-mile roundtrips between Silver Lake and Westchester at least three times a week. In this first month of 2008 alone I have commuted by bike to work 13 out of 22 working days, which is the equivalent of keeping 13.5 gallons of gasoline out of my gas tank and available for use by you or more urgently Deputy Mayor Jaime de la Vega — unless he’s recently traded his Hummer in for more a more fuel-efficient and less egregious form of transportation.
But I digress. Bottom line is I am part of a growing segment of the city’s population who have made the choice to rely predominately on two-wheels to get around town, and frankly with the continued lack of a functional city-wide network of bike routes, perpetuated by your silence on the subject I feel discriminated against. You had a long-view opportunity to include bicycles and cycling infrastructure improvements in your plan and you shamefully didn’t. Don’t continue to ignore what is an important component in the future of this city’s transportation solutions.