Los Angeles County Elected Leaders Focus on Walking and Bicycling

September 26, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reposted from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership blog

Co-authors:

  • Eric Bruins, Planning and Policy Director, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and
  • Jessica Meaney, Southern California Policy Director, Safe Routes to School National Partnership

Last week, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition hosted a breakfast for Los Angeles County elected leaders and key staff from Metro, local cities, and school districts to discuss challenges and opportunities to making LA County more walkable, bikeable and transit-accessible. This was a rare opportunity to bring all three levels of government (Metro, cities, and school districts) into one room to discuss these issues. This convening built upon previous engagements with community-based organizations, researchers, environmental and health advocates, city and county staff to build consensus for transportation policy changes across the region. Like other stakeholders, elected officials at the meeting universally stressed the importance of walking and bicycling to Los Angeles County’s health, environment and economy.

Last week’s conversation is part of a changing story of transportation in Los Angeles County. Metro is rapidly building out the nation’s most ambitious transit capital program and, unlike new freeways, transit has a tremendous potential to be neighborhood focused. Our elected officials recognize that active transportation is the foundation of local mobility and therefore a regional priority.

We were excited to share our research findings with the assembled leaders from Active transportation has historically fallen through the cracks between different agencies for lack of resources, technical capacity, and focus. During our discussion, we heard that Metro, school districts and local cities have unique opportunities and challenges when it comes to active transportation. Only by coordinating and sharing resources can agencies achieve common objectives.

Metro opportunities:
  • Board adopted a Sustainable Planning policy, providing a framework to address active transportation, among other sustainability issues

    Los Angeles County Elected and Key Staff Convening 9/17/13

  • Local sales taxes provide resources to implement, subject to board discretion
  • Metrics and modeling capability to prioritize projects
  • First Mile/Last Mile targets investments in strategic transit-oriented areas for maximum benefit
  • Countywide reach for education and encouragement

Metro challenges:

  • Can’t do it alone – must partner with local jurisdictions
  • Has not historically implemented projects, mostly a funder
  • Regionally significant projects require interjurisdictional coordination

School District Opportunities:

  • Captive audience for education programs

    Los Angeles County Elected and Key Staff Convening 9/17/13

  • Can reach students and parents

School District Challenges:

  • Need resources and best practices for education and encouragement programs
  • Barriers to walking biking to school extend beyond campus: perceived safety (parents’ perceptions), traffic safety, personal safety

City and County Opportunities:

  • Control the public right of way and regulate the built environment
  • Police departments enforce safe behavior, particularly around school routes during the morning

City and County Challenges:

  • Lack of funding for walking and bicycling investments
  • Building local support for changes to public right of way
  • Technical knowledge on integrating walking and biking into urban design, land use, and transportation engineering
  • Collecting adequate data about bicycle and pedestrian travel behavior
  • Targeting education and enforcement to address specific issues and general perceptions

Los Angeles County Elected and Key Staff Convening 9/17/13

Fortunately, every challenge for one agency matches an opportunity for another.  By working together and implementing the recommendations identified in Transportation Finance in Los Angeles County: An Overview (see page 8), we can leverage the incredible investment Metro is making in transportation to build a county that is an even better and safer place to walk and bicycle.

The elected leaders breakfast was one in a series of stakeholder meetings that we’ve held throughout the year.  On January 8, 2014, we will hold a meeting to bring together all of those stakeholders to continue to increase coordination and work together to make LA County more walkable and bikeable.  Please join us for this very special meeting, which will be held at the California Endowment–all leaders, partners and stakeholders are welcome. For more information about the event or to lend your support, contact jessica@saferoutespartnership.orgor eric@la-bike.org.

Breakfast Attendees:

  • Metro: Chair Diane Dubois, Directors Pam O’Connor, Mike Bonin, and John Fasana, CEO Art Leahy & staff
  • LA County: Offices of Supervisors Molina, and Knabe
  • Cities: Bell, Carson, Culver City, Duarte, El Monte, Los Angeles, Lakewood, Lancaster, South Gate, West Hollywood
  • School Districts: Azusa Unified School District, Bassett Unified School District, Los Angeles Unified School District, California Latino School Boards Association
  • State Legislators: Office of Senator Fran Pavley, Office of Senator Carol Liu
  • Other Key Partners: Bike San Gabriel Valley,  Pomona Valley Bike Coalition, AARP, Prevention Institute, UCLA Complete Streets Initiative, Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

See pictures from the event on our flickr stream

Take Action: Carson Master Plan of Bikeways watered down

July 30, 2013 at 10:26 am | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | 3 Comments

We are asking those who live, play, or work in Carson to send emails to Carson City Council and advocate for the originally drafted Bike Plan.  Since the draft plan was released, bike lanes on Avalon, Watson Center Road, and Wilmington have been removed, including cycle-tracks on Albertoni and University.  

The opportunity for Carson to provide real improvements to encourage safe bicycling has hit a snag.  What was originally planned to be a robust network of bike routes, bike lanes, and separated cycle-tracks has been watered down due to opposition, namely from the Watson Land Company and the StubHub Center, formerly the Home Depot Center.  Given a recent bicyclists’ death in Carson, we hope that elected officials realize the urgent need to make the streets of Carson safer.

The City of Carson has been working on developing their Master Plan of Bikeways for over a year to build off of a few scatterings of bike lanes and bike routes in the city.  Community support grew as the project moved ahead, with several well-attended community meetings, biking events, and consultation with city staff and the bicycling community.  Over the course of this process, the Master Plan of Bikeways evolved into a draft that the community was impressed with and grew confidence in.

Since then, major players in the city have put their foot down in opposition to parts of the plan.  At June’s Planning Commission meeting, StubHub Center (home to the Velo Sports Center) and Watson Land Company were successful in diluting the proposed plan, which in its current form, is heading to City Council on August 6th.

Here are the arguments against certain aspects of the plan, and who was behind them.

  • The Watson Land Company expressed concern about installing bike lanes where there is heavy truck traffic, which include many of the arterials in Carson because of the large industrial presence in the city.  Watson Land Company believes bicyclists are put in danger if encouraged to ride in bike lanes alongside heavy traffic.  Despite the plan’s effort to install colored buffered bike lanes along Wilmington Avenue, where no travel lanes would be removed and is one of the few North/South corridors in Carson, Watson still rejected the idea and had the project removed.  The same goes for Watson Center Road, originally planned for a standard bike lane without having to remove a travel lane, now gone.

Watson Land Company has always prefaced their disinterest in bicycle improvements in Carson with safety of bicyclists as their main concern.  Unfortunately the feelings are not based in reason.  Time and time again we see studies that show bicycle lanes make it safer for bicyclists, marking a clear designation for bicyclists and other users of the road.  It appears Watson Land Company wants to maintain the status quo, where currently bicyclists and trucks need to share the same travel lane, and somehow in their minds that is safer.

  • StubHub Center (what used to be the Home Depot Center) also cited safety concerns and disruption of traffic flow to/from their facility, specifically by installing cycle-tracks and bike lanes on Central, Victoria, and University.  These streets (and Avalon) encompass both StubHub Center and Cal State Dominguez Hills, where many people bicycle to campus and also to the Velodrome.  Despite their main parking lots facing Avalon and Victoria, StubHub Center was able to exclude cycle-tracks on University from the plan because it would require the removal of one travel lane.  Albertoni was also eliminated from the plan because of concerns of ingress/egress for StubHub Center despite the fact that it does not affect the 91 Freeway on/off ramps’ turn lanes.  The StubHub Center has asked that we clarify their position – you can find their letter citing specific concerns in a commission report here.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is looking to continue to advocate for safer streets for all users in Carson.  As we anticipate passage of the Carson Master Plan of Bikeways at August 6th’s City Council meeting, we want to make sure that the integrity of the approved plan is based on sound studies and rooted in desires from the community.  We strongly disagree with Watson Land Company’s assertion that adding bike lanes to a corridor will make biking more unsafe.

Take Action: Tell Carson City Council to preserve the Master Plan of Bikeways’ original intent of having a cycle-track on Albertoni and University, and preserving the proposed bike lanes on Avalon, Watson Center Road, and Wilmington. 

If you cannot make the meeting on August 6 at 6 p.m., please call Mayor Dear at 310-952-1700 ext 1000 and email the rest of council at:

jdear@carson.ca.us
myfrancisone@yahoo.com

lholmes@carson.ca.us
mgipson@carson.ca.us
arobles@carson.ca.us

City of Los Angeles Turns Attention Back to Hit-and-Run Epidemic

July 24, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Posted in Bike News | 5 Comments

The Public Safety Committee will hear the LAPD report on Friday, July 26th at 8:30 AM in City Hall Room 1010.  Please join LACBC in requesting that the City take a leadership role to fix state law to increase penalties for hit-and-run.  You can also write the committee members at councilmember.englander@lacity.org, councildistrict15@lacity.org, councilmember.bonin@lacity.org, and councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org.

Los Angeles’ high rate of hit-and-run collisions disproportionately affects bicyclists and pedestrians, the most vulnerable travelers on our city’s streets.  Many of us have friends left injured by fleeing drivers, or have been victims ourselves.  The Los Angeles Police Department, at the direction of Councilmember Joe Buscaino, produced a report with hard numbers confirming our perceptions: nearly 60% of those severely injured or killed by hit-and-run drivers are pedestrians and another 14% are bicyclists.

That is over 90 pedestrians and 20 bicyclists being severely injured or killed in the City of Los Angeles every year.  The number of bicyclists severely injured or killed spiked to 31 in 2011–almost 3 per month.

By any measure, this is an unacceptable crisis in public safety.  LACBC eagerly awaited the LAPD’s report detailing steps the department is taking to curtail the hit-and-run epidemic.  Unfortunately, the report made considerable effort to debunk the LA Weekly article and defend the City’s hit-and-run rate as comparable to other cities.  Deeper analysis reveals the opposite: Los Angeles continues to be among the worst cities, behind only Chicago in injury and fatal hit-and-runs per capita.  Angelenos have a greater than 1 in 1,000 chance of being injured or killed in a hit-and-run every year.

How does the LAPD come to a different conclusion?  Instead of calculating exposure to hit-and-run like any other crime stat (i.e. how likely is a person to be a victim), LAPD chose to compare hit-and-run rates per vehicle-mile traveled (VMT).  Because Angelenos are addicted to their cars and drive more per person than all other cities compared in the report, this dilutes our hit-and-run rate in the department’s analysis.  Cities with more pedestrians and bicyclists and less driving come out as more dangerous in the LAPD’s report, despite being considerably safer.  LAPD’s report calculates that New York is 56% more dangerous than Los Angeles.  In fact, Angelenos are 122% more likely to be the victim of an injury or fatal hit-and-run than New Yorkers.  The result is highly misleading and undermines the sense of urgency to fix the problem and make our streets safer.

Ranking by Per VMT Hit-and-Run

  1. Chicago
  2. New York
  3. Houston
  4. Los Angeles
  5. San Francisco
  6. Seattle

Ranking by Per Capita Hit-and-Run

  1. Chicago
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Houston
  4. Seattle
  5. New York
  6. San Francisco

Despite this flawed comparative analysis, LAPD does make strong recommendations to change department practices, improve data collection, and amend state law.  These proposals align closely with LACBC’s priorities and we look forward to working with LAPD and the City Council to push for state legislation to enhance hit-and-run penalties.

Climate Ride 2013 Recap

June 20, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Bike News, LACBC Events | 1 Comment
Tags:

Congratulations to our LACBC team for completing the 5-day, 320-mile California Climate Ride! Our team and individual members not only met their fundraising goals, but Team LACBC was also the highest fundraising team!

Team LACBC enjoying a free beer for being the team with the most money generated!

Team LACBC enjoying free beer for being the team with the most money generated! Photo courtesy of Lisa Liberati.

We’re catching up with some of our riders who participated in this ride. We first have Gregory Laemmle. Greg led the LACBC team as the team captain and also in terms of fundraising. He was pleasantly surprised that people generously donated to his ride so readily.

“People are concerned about climate change,” Greg says.  “Maybe not enough to become daily bike commuters, or to put solar panels on their roof, but concerned.  And so they were generally only too happy to contribute toward this cause.  I relied strictly on mass e-mails and Facebook posts.”

In terms of training, Greg was thoroughly prepared for this ride, although he had to make a few adjustments in his schedule to make time on the weekends for longer rides. What Greg really enjoyed about these ride was that a few friends and other Climate Riders tagged along with him to train. He also was able to ride in new places such as Nichols Canyon and Old Mulholland Highway. Being able to ride 50 miles on consecutive days allowed him to climb over 20,000 feet with no aches, pains, or injuries.

Greg is already extremely excited for next year’s ride, and even though they may change the route, he knows that it will open up more opportunities for other riders to see different scenic parts of California. He is also proud of the LACBC team for raising the most fundsand cannot wait for recruitment. He hopes to bring a larger team, as well as raise more dollars.

Next we have one of our featured riders, Michael Rippens. As Michael prepared for this race, he worried about the weather conditions for the Climate Ride with previous rides being faced with rain. Luckily this year, the ride did not have to deal with rainy weather and everyone fared with beautiful, sunny days, with the tradeoff of some heavy wind.

One of Michael’s misfortunes during this ride was a slight “wardrobe malfunction” where his wind vest got caught into his front wheel which caused him to flip over. Luckily he did not have any serious injuries and was able to finish the ride. To top it off, Michael was able to challenge himself by doing the optional century ride on Day 3!

Here’s a quick scenic video of the ride!

Lastly, Michael felt that even through the struggles, the ride was completely worth it. “But, the best part about the Climate Ride, by far, was all the amazing and inspirational people I met along the way. Each and every rider and support person had an interesting personal story as well as a passion for cycling, preserving the environment and making our world a better place to live. I certainly made some lifelong friends on the ride and I can’t wait ‘til next year to do it all over again!” As it was an unforgettable experience for him, he along with Greg cannot wait for next year!

Team LACBC after the ride at San Francisco City Hall! Photo courtesy of Lisa Liberati.

Team LACBC after the ride at San Francisco City Hall! Photo courtesy of Lisa Liberati.

Thank you to all of the Team LACBC Climate Riders: Lisa Liberati, Laurie Gelardi, Kathy Gelardi, Marc Horwitz, Leonard Laub, Yvonne Ascher, John Cork, Michael Rippens, and team captain Greg Laemmle!

Thanks again to our intern Vincent Ho for writing recap of the ride and to Michael Rippens and Greg Laemmle for speaking with us!

Spring Street to Remain Green-ish

June 19, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Posted in Bike News | 5 Comments
Compromise design for Spring Street bike lane

Compromise design for Spring Street bike lane

By now you’ve probably heard that the beloved Spring Street green bike lane is set to receive a makeover. Today’s vote by the City Council scales back a project that was installed in late 2011 to much fanfare and acclaim by downtown residents, bicyclists, and livable streets advocates. Despite steadfast support from Councilmember Huizar and the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council, film industry representatives were able to repeatedly delay the vote and force a compromise.

While the outcome is a step backward for the continued revitalization of Spring Street through downtown’s Historic Core (the Spring Street Park opened just this week!), the new design is not all bad for bicycling Angelenos. Today’s decision begins the next chapter of the City’s green lane pilot program, which tested different designs and materials on Spring Street and on 1st Street in Boyle Heights. As a result, LADOT now has a much better idea how to install green lanes to maximize their effectiveness while minimizing their cost. The compromise design preserves much of the safety benefit of the full green treatment at a fraction of the cost since color is only used at the most important locations. In some ways, the final* design on Spring takes the best of both existing pilot green lanes to create a hybrid approach. The savings from the Spring Street repainting will get poured back into bike infrastructure elsewhere in the city, including potentially new green lanes.

Which bike lanes would you like to see painted green? Let us know in the comments.

Please take a moment to thank Councilmember Huizar for being a champion of livable streets in the City of Los Angeles. From bike lanes to parklets to bike corrals, Huizar is leading the charge to reclaim our streets for people. You can email him at councilmember.huizar@lacity.org.

*The compromise design approved today includes elements that have not before been used in the United States and will require a request to experiment from the California Traffic Control Devices Committee. A decision by the CTCDC may alter the ultimate design to improve safety.

Thank You from the 13th Annual Los Angeles River Ride

June 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Posted in Bike News, LACBC Events | 1 Comment
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Photo: Brian Minami

We at LACBC are in our 13th year for the River Ride, and each year we have different experiences, challenges, and triumphs in putting this massive event together. This year, we added a new ride–the 25-mile Long Beach Loop– and 2,400 riders came out to ride the river on a gorgeous Sunday. As always, we would like to thank the army of folks who helped make the River Ride possible: the participants, to the volunteers, the sponsors, and the supporters.

Thank you to the following people and organizations:

  • Stewart and Lynda Resnick– The ride wouldn’t have been possible without them.
  • Former Mayor Richard Riordan, for his sponsorship and for leading off the rides
  • Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, his deputy Lori Wheeler Garcia, and NBCUniversal, as well as River Revitalization Corps. for their work on the River and the beginnings of Greenway 2020
  • Our LACBC River Ride Fundraisers: River Ride Fundraising Champion Nancy “Tish” Laemmle, Carrie Ungerman, Paul Des Marais, Douglas John, Kevin Hopps of Team Hopps, and Sebouh Asparian
  • LA River Swim Team and Fathers and Sons for playing music for us
  • Councilmember Tom LaBonge for the potties
  • Councilmember Ed Reyes for all his support over the years, he was given the Howard D. Krepack Service to Cycling Award
  • CH2MHILL, a longtime River Ride supporter
  • Pocrass & De Los Reyes, our  new friends and new supporters
  • Laemmle Theatres, longtime River Ride supporters
  • County Supervisor Don Knabe and Deputy Erin Stibal
  • County Supervisor Gloria Molina and Deputies Teresea Villegas and Martha Jimenez
  • New Belgium Brewing and Aimme Gilchrist, our longtime friends and supporters who made the VIP beer garden and booth possible and donated another awesome New Belgium Cruiser Bike to our Runner-up fundraiser
  • The REACT team for keeping everyone on the paths safe
  • INCYCLE and Specialized for the kids’ bikes
  • Aquarium of the Pacific, Port of Long Beach and TERN made Long Beach start and finish possible
  • Cafecito Organico for helping us wake up at 4 a.m.
  • DTLA Bikes for the awesome bikes for our raffle and fundraisers
  • KOA, our longtime friends and supporters
  • REI, our longtime friends and supporters
  • VBT Biking and Walking Vacations awesome Bike Trip to Tuscany prize
  • Cynergy, Performance Bikes, El Maestro, Bike SGV, Downey Bicycle Coalition, and pit stop captains for pit stop and tech support
  • Our local chapters and Neighborhood Bike Ambassadors for running the info booth
  • Our volunteers: goody bag stuffers, REI wristband pickup teams, route markers, ride marshals, office help, registration folks, SAG drivers,   parking attendants, kids’ rodeo helpers, and more
  • Our graphic design volunteers: David Fletcher and Aislinn Glennon
  • Clif Bar and Brooke Donberg
  • Yelp and Katie Burbank
  • American Apparel for our t-shirts
  • Walt Disney Company and Adam Gilbert for the free parking
  • Whole Foods Beverly Hils
  • FIRST 5 LA, Lucie Spencer Murray or Run Kids Runs, and Tana Ball of Youth Educational Sports for the kids’ ride
  • Kat Namey, who led off the rides in her colorful tights and with her tall bike.
  • The Autry National Center
  • The River Ride Committee, which had the all good snacks

Our awardees–Councilmember Ed Reyes, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and NBCUniversal (represented by Universal Studios Hollywood President and Chief Operation Officer Larry Kurzweil)–stand with our executive director Jen Klausner.

At Sunday’s River Ride, LACBC was also delighted to recognize three leaders for their contributions to bicycling and the Los Angeles River:

  • Councilmember Ed Reyes, who represents neighborhoods west and north of Downtown and a significant stretch of the LA River, was honored with the Howard Krepack Service to Cycling Award for his many years of championing bicycling on the Los Angeles City Council.  Reyes may be less vocal than some of his colleagues, but he has always worked diligently and passionately behind the scenes to advance bicycling in underserved communities as a social justice issue.  LACBC expresses our deepest gratitude for his support and wishes him well as he leaves elected office at the end of the month.
  • Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has long been a champion for bicycling on the County Board of Supervisors, including shepherding the County’s Bicycle Master Plan in 2012.  Earlier this year, Yaroslavsky secured over $13 million for planning and construction of the LA River Bike Path along NBC Universal’s river frontage.  Yaroslavsky is working feverishly to see this project break ground under his watch.  LACBC commends Supervisor Yaroslavsky for his commitment and steadfastness on behalf of the LA River.
  • Universal Studios Hollywood President and Chief Operation Officer Larry Kurzweil accepted an award on behalf of NBCUniversal for their unprecedented financial contribution to the LA River Bike Path.  In response to LACBC and river allies, NBCUniversal recognized the LA River’s potential and stepped up as a corporate steward.  LACBC eagerly awaits pedaling along Universal Studios at future River Rides.

Thanks for coming out! You can check out photos from the day on the LACBC Facebook page.

Meet Andy and the Aus, LACBC Super Volunteers!

May 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | Leave a comment
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Andy Au

Eric, Andy, and Amber Au wear their LACBC best.

Meet Andy Au, one of our most dedicated volunteers here at LACBC.  He has been with us since hearing about the LA River Ride back in 2010. This upcoming LA River Ride will be his 4th time participating in this event, and he will once again be bringing two awesome children, Amber and Eric, along to ride and volunteer to help control the crowds.

Andy has always found riding a bicycle as a great way to get around. As a child, he used to ride around for fun but while in college at bike-friendly UC Davis, bike-riding became his main source of getting around to class and also to the grocery store. Easy add-ons such as a water bottle holder and a simple basket allow him to not only ride around but also run errands.

Andy sees bicycling growing in the next few years. He sees that the amount of people who ride will increase with upcoming bike-sharing programs coming and with more advocacy from communities here in Los Angeles. Andy helped in the process with the South Pasadena bicycle lanes and also shows up to LACBC events to show support and to also help out whenever he can. As people are biking more here in Los Angeles, one thing that makes him feel great is that he is able to give back and help with causes such as advocacy and safety.

Andy is also a driver but knows that we all should share lanes and recognize each other. For fun he enjoys taking his children out to bicycle, which has made the Au family become some sort of local “bicycle celebrity family.” In interviewing his children, we found out that he wears a bright vest with his children, which can be very embarrassing for them, but they acknowledge that it helps make them safe by being seen.

Amber and Eric brought up ideas on why bicycling is great: more control, getting around faster, and, of course, stronger legs! When asked why we should advocate for bicycle lanes and safety, they responded that it is important to be safe and also they want riders to feel comfortable. On a final note, they also said that we all should still pay attention and stay focused by not zoning out when riding.

You can find Andy, Amber, and Eric at several LACBC events including the 13th Annual Los Angeles River Ride on June 9th! Interested in volunteering with the the Aus and the hundreds of other volunteers that make River Ride possible? Sign up to volunteer by checking out the River Ride Volunteer page.

Are You Bike-Friendly? CD 13 Candidate John Choi Responds

May 13, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

LACBC asked each of the candidates running for City Council of the City of Los Angeles to respond to our questionnaire. We hope our members will find the candidates’ answers insightful into how each candidate proposes to make our streets safe, balanced, and livable. Responses are posted by Council District, in the order they were received. Here are responses from CD 13 candidate John Choi.  The May 21st run-off election is between John Choi and Mitch O’Farrell.

1. Please share a memory involving a bicycle that has had a lasting effect on you (whether or not you were the one on the bicycle).

It was a recent experience where I was actually driving, but pulled up next to a young family on their bicycles at the very busy intersection of Silver Lake Blvd, Temple, Virgil, and Beverly (in the 13th district!).  It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and the young mother had her young child strapped into a baby seat on the back of her bicycle.  The adult couple was talking and joking together, while the young boy in the baby seat was animated and clearly having fun being outside.  As the light turned from red to green, the couple calmly began pedaling through the intersection, with my only view being of the rear of the baby seat with the child’s arms and legs bouncing happily along.  I chose this memory because it was a snapshot into the life of young families who are shedding old notions of mobility in our great city – who are leading by example and who are quite frankly, pioneers.  There in front of my eyes was the future pedaling down our streets in the midst of heavy car traffic.  It was a brief glimpse into a vision that I’m committed to carrying through as a Councilmember.

2. The Department of City Planning is in the process of updating the City’s Mobility Element for the first time in decades.  What policies would you prioritize for inclusion in the Mobility Element?  What role do you see bicycling playing in the City’s transportation system, if any?

I’m highly focused on improving our bike infrastructure to ensure that bicycles can truly fulfill the vision of a first mile-last mile connected and useable transit system.  Metro projects need to include these elements, and as Councilmember, I hope to be appointed to ensure that the City receives its share of funding to increase connectivity.  This also means that a focus on strategically improving the City’s bike infrastructure (prioritizing completing bike lanes around new and existing public transit routes, implementing physical barriers in these same locations) around transit hubs.

3. Just a few months ago, Los Angeles was honored as a Bronze-level Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Do you believe the city should pursue a Silver-level designation, and if so, what steps would you take in the first year of your term to move LA up to the Silver level?

Given the hard work of cyclist groups, green activists and eco-minded city officials, I believe Los Angeles can reach silver relatively quickly. I think the most effective step a Councilmember can take is to bring the experts on the issue into the room to discuss what is immediately doable. In the first quarter of my first term I will bring prominent local cycling advocates to the table on these issues, so we Angelenos can ride with ease and peace of mind.  One area we can make up the additional level is by increasing “encouragement” of ridership by continuing to promote more events like Ciclavia.  I myself will be a leader by publically riding my bike to events in the district.

4. In 2011, the City Council unanimously adopted the Bicycle Plan proposing a comprehensive 1,600-mile bikeway network across the City.  What steps would you take to ensure implementation of Bicycle Plan projects in your district?  Are there any specific projects in the Plan you would prioritize?

When I am a City Councilmember I will put my experience as a Commissioner on the Department of Public Works to good use in executing the Bicycle Plan in our Council District. My background experience executing street design and the relationships I’ve built during my career will lend to ease in implementing the Plan and I’d bet we’ll see faster and better application of the Bicycle Plan here in CD13 than in any other part district.

I think the City’s Bicycle Plan as a great blueprint for a more bicycle friendly city. We must implement and meet the goals set by the Bicycle Plan by ensuring that a portion of our budget is dedicated to seeing this through completion. We need to make sure that bike lanes are properly designated throughout the city, so that no cyclist feels unsafe while traversing our neighborhoods.

5. Studies have shown that people on bicycles spend more per month in local business districts than those arriving by other modes.  What steps would you take to ensure that local businesses in your district are able to benefit from better access by bicyclists?

We need to focus implementation of bike infrastructure in our localized small business centers to further encourage that type of continued growth.  Rather than take a shotgun approach that spreads limited resources, I’d like to focus in on targeted neighborhoods where we can build the support with the business and residential communities to push progressive bike policy and infrastructure development.  Silver Lake, Echo Park, and Atwater Village could be great fits for encouraging this type of approach.  I’d like to show leadership on issues like removing metered parking to provide bike corrals and replacing street grates.  Where possible, I’d like to see the development of physical barriers between bike and car lanes to create more permanency and to begin to change the mobility culture in our city.  Using the bully pulpit, I’d like to help lead a conversation about small businesses playing a role in reducing car trips by incentivizing bicycle users to bike to their shops.

6. The LA Weekly recently wrote a feature story documenting that almost half of traffic collisions in the City of LA are hit-and-runs, according to LAPD records.  Many victims of these traffic crimes are people walking and bicycling.  What steps would you take to reduce the rate of hit-and-run and ensure perpetrators are prosecuted?

With the expansion of bike lanes across the city, we need to increase the number of police officers patrolling our neighborhoods on bikes. In collaboration with the LAPD, the city needs to raise awareness and educate both drivers and bicyclists alike about sharing the road.

7. In the event of a collision, the survival of those injured could depend on a prompt emergency response, yet it’s recently been disclosed that response times for the Los Angeles Fire Department frequently exceed national standards. What would you do to address budget and staffing cutbacks affecting the LAFD to ensure a faster response for all those who need emergency assistance?

Our sluggish response times are not acceptable. Although our city is in a financial bind, cutting back on police and firefighters should be avoided at all costs, and once we are fiscally sound, replenishing their ranks should become a priority.  I think it’s important that we ensure that internal departmental policy prioritize bike accidents as much as car accidents.  As a city councilmember I will work to make sure that the LAFD has the resources it needs to efficiently and effectively carry out its duties to our citizens.

8. A recent proposal has been floated to assess all property owners to bring streets into a state of good repair.  Do you support the proposed bond measure, and do you believe any changes should be made to the proposal to serve all those who travel on city streets, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users?

I support creating a dedicated source of revenue for infrastructure development, but believe that any measure should include sidewalks and considerations for bicycle infrastructure improvements.  We’ll likely only have one shot at this, and I want to fight to make sure we do it right.

9. LACBC has formed Neighborhood Bike Ambassador groups in each part of the City to work with local businesses, neighborhood councils, homeowner associations and other stakeholders on bicycle issues. Will you commit to meeting with the local Ambassador group in your district on a regular and ongoing basis? Would you be willing to lead a regularly scheduled bike ride with your constituents?

Yes, I am committed to ensuring our streets are bicycle and pedestrian friendly. I think the Ambassador group will play an important part in raising awareness and carrying out dialogue with our civic leaders and community members. I think that riding bicycles with my constituents will be a great way for me to lead by example.

10. Would you presently feel safe riding a bike in Los Angeles, and if not, what would it take to make you feel comfortable on our city streets?

Certainly, there are portions of our city and my district where I feel safe riding a bike. Just the other day I took ride through my local neighborhood Echo Park and felt safe in the neighborhoods as well as on Sunset Blvd, which has a bike lane installed.  But safe bike riding should not be exclusive to certain parts of the city. Anyone in this city should be able to get on a bike at home and ride down to their local shops or parks without feeling that they’re risking their life. There is a lot of work to be done to create a new culture where both riders and drivers are comfortable with each other on the roads.

Meet Team LACBC Climate Rider Michael Rippens

May 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Posted in Bike News | 2 Comments
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Last but not least in our showcase of our LACBC Climate Riders, we have Michael Rippens. Michael has been a member and volunteer for the LACBC since moving back to California over seven years ago. He was also one of our winners in our Laemmle Theatres contest last month.

After Michael’s college years, he found himself living in Brooklyn, New York, and saved up money to purchase a “cheap, clunky, Frankenstein-esque hybrid bike.” He mainly used his bike to run errands and to meet up with friends and one day he was invited over to a Critical Mass ride from a friend of his who works at Time’s Up.

While doing this he collected donations in a box with the Climate Ride logo on one side along with “Air for People” and “People for Air”.

At CicLAvia – To the Sea, Michael collected donations in a box with the Climate Ride logo on one side, along with “Air for People” and “People for Air.”

“My mind was blown!” he recalls. “Taking over the streets of Manhattan at night with hundreds of other cyclists. . .  was hugely empowering and probably the most fun I ever had on two wheels. I’d never before felt ownership of city streets in that way and realized that the roads are public spaces that should be made safe and accessible for everyone–not just cars, cabs, and the occasional parade. Just as importantly, I had the epiphany that the simple act of riding a bicycle could be a powerful tool for engaging in activism and inspiring change.”

After moving back to Los Angeles, Michael purchased a road bike to get around, and when he went on his first Critical Mass ride, there was a lot of frustration in how difficult and unsafe it was to get around via a bicycle. He soon became a member of LACBC and continued commuting to get around wherever he could via bike. Soon Michael heard and attended the AIDS/Lifecycle Ride in 2007 and had a great experience from it. While riding this, he was able to pick up the bike touring bug that has gotten him to continue riding not just locally but beyond the L.A. County limits.

In terms of preparation for the ride, Michael has been training with a couple of friends by going on weekly rides to build up stamina and mileage. They all went on a overnight tour to San Diego. Sadly, a week after the tour and after he found out that he was a winner in the Laemmle Theatre contest, Michael injured his elbow from a pickup soccer game. Luckily, nothing was broken and he has been recovering through therapy. Although he is somewhat nervous about the rigorous five-day Climate tour, he is still determined to ride for the causes he supports.

Through the ride, Michael hopes to raise awareness of environmental issues and also support LACBC in our daily goals. He hopes that riding over 300 miles without burning a single drop of gasoline will make a bold statement in how we get around and that there are alternative ways that are more efficient, healthier, and also environmentally-friendlier—such as a bicycle!

Says Michael: “I bike to make a statement that bicycles belong on city streets and that our infrastructure needs to evolve in order to allow biking to be a safer, more efficient and practical alternative to driving. I bike as a tool for raising awareness and support for causes that I care about and to hopefully inspire others to support my efforts even if they can’t ride themselves. I bike to experience nature while also expressing my respect for the environment by transporting myself in a sustainable, non-destructive manner. I bike to stay active and healthy and to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride by challenging myself physically. But mostly I bike because it’s just darn good fun.”

Michael also knows that alternative means of transportation are hard to swallow but he also knows that organizations like LACBC and movements like the Climate Ride are here to educate and spread the word on these types of issues.

On an ending note, Michael is still working hard to fundraise for the Climate Ride. At the last CicLAvia on April 21st, he brought along a floor pump and searched around for anyone who would need air for their tires. Michael collected donations in a box with the Climate Ride logo on one side along with “Air for People” and “People for Air” to advertise this event on top of fundraising. Although he only managed to raise $18 during the ride and a little more on his donation page, his favorite moment came when a kid standing on the side of the road pointed and screamed out “Hey, it’s the People for Air!” It made him laugh and gave him an idea that maybe he should start up an organization named that. Wouldn’t you support an organization named People for Air?

Lastly if you would like to make a donation to help Michael, do can do so here.

He’ll also be co-hosting a karaoke fundraiser this Friday night if you want to sing some tunes and support LACBC and his Climate ride. Here are more details from Michael:

Join us this Friday, May 10th for an evening of song, dance, food, drink, prizes and good vibes all in support of the 2013 California Climate Ride. It’s free to get in, but proceeds from song donations and the silent auction will benefit three Climate Ride beneficiaries: Los Angeles County Bicycle CoalitionGreenAmerica and B-Lab!

When: Friday, May 10th / Karaoke from 7 pm – 10 pm / Hang out from 10 pm – late

Where: Subrosa – 3416 Glendale Blvd., L.A., 90039 (Enter trough the alley next to Thank You For Coming)

Why: To help stop climate change and have fun while we’re at it!

What can I win: Silent auction prizes may include bike gear, movie tickets, a guitar and even a virtual Climate Ride experience!

Hosted by Climate Riders Michael Rippens & Garrett Schneider. This event is made possible by the generosity and awesomeness of Thank You For Coming. We encourage everyone in L.A. to visit TYFC for lunch, dinner, a quick snack, or to just drop in and say “hi.” They will be open for dinner during the Fun-Raiser.

Many thanks to our intern Vincent Ho for writing another profile and for Michael Rippens for joining our Climate Ride team and taking the time to speak with us!

Meet Team LACBC Climate Rider Laurie Gelardi

May 1, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Posted in Bike News | 1 Comment
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Laurie has been riding for about two years and has found out about the Climate Ride from LACBC.

Laurie has been riding for about two years and has found out about the Climate Ride from LACBC.

Continuing on with our The Climate Ride highlights, we’ll be highlighting Laurie Gelardi today. Laurie has been riding for about two years and has found out about the Climate Ride from LACBC. She has participated in various rides and triathlons and has a serious passion for cycling. At first she started riding as a form of exercise but to also improve her health. Soon enough she felt the benefits from riding as it grew more upon her and has also changed part of her lifestyle with Laurie commuting to work by bicycle.

In preparation for the Climate Ride, Laurie is still making progress as there are still a few weeks before the ride begins. The ride will be challenging for her since she will be riding roughly 300 miles over a span of 5 days, but she is looking forward to this ride with excitement as in the past with previous events she has attended.

Laurie will also be riding with her partner, Kathy. They are both excited for the Climate Ride and also for the experience. They do not always have time to ride together since they trade off workout times to watch their children. Although they know the ride will be challenging, they know that it will be enjoyable since they will be riding together and also enjoying the beautiful California scenery.

Kathy will be joining Laurie for the Climate Ride.

Kathy will be joining Laurie for the Climate Ride.

Laurie hopes to bring more advocacy and awareness for bicycle lanes through this ride. As a commuter, one question that is sometimes posed to her is, “Aren’t you scared?” At times she is scared, but as one who wants to bring change into the community, Laurie does not allow the thought of being scared to stop her. Safety and the environment are important issues not only for herself and her two children, but also for others in our current and future generations to enjoy as well. Aside from preparation, Laurie and Kathy hope to meet their fundraising goals, which as been a challenge since they are asking the same group of friends and family to meet their requirements. On a final note, Laurie says, “For our health and the health of our environment, we need to get off the couch and out of the car.” So get up and enjoy some fresh Spring weather outside!

If you would like to support Laurie and Kathy, LACBC, and the Climate Ride, you can donate to Laurie’s ride here and Kathy’s ride here.

Thanks to our intern Vincent Ho for writing this profile and Laurie Gelardi for taking the time to speak with us!

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