Aside from a few equestrian types worried about their horse lanes in the foothills, the long-labored plan to build 1,680 miles of bike lanes along Los Angeles streets (at least 200 miles every five years) was embraced by one and all at today's L.A. City Council meeting.
Streetsblog LA went so far as to call it a “love fest.” All present councilmembers voted the plan through in resounding unity (then again, when don't they vote in unity), and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — who's slated to sign the legislation on the steps of City Hall tomorrow morning — made his position clear beforehand with a victory Tweet:
(Now, if only the mayor could log into Twitter when city drivel like special meetings to shield hundreds of millions of dollars from essential city services need announcing, we'd really be getting somewhere. But bikes are so much more Tweetable than rich-get-richer redevelopment fraud, in the end.)
On February 11, the LA Weekly ran a cover story on bike activist and current City Council candidate Stephen Box, who helped make this unquestionable support for bicyclists the norm in a city made of solid car. From “The Bikeroots“:
After decades of neglect, L.A. is finally taking bike riders seriously, thanks in part to a mayor and City Council members who ride bicycles, but more because of activists like Box, who approach the issue with all the fervor and righteousness of civil rights marchers in the 1960s. They're challenging the car-centric culture that all but defines Los Angeles, and demanding a new vision.
Best Box quote from the story: “Everybody is a pacifist until they get run over.”
That truth is even applicable to Villaraigosa — just the guy bike activists needed on their side. The Los Angeles Times has the mayor's show-stopping hit-home moment:
When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa crashed his bike on Venice Boulevard last summer, he did more than bruise his head and shatter his elbow. He became an advocate for the city's bicycling community.
After he was jolted off his bike by a turning taxicab, Villaraigosa convened a bicycle summit, launched a safety campaign to educate drivers and threw his support behind the city's first CicLAvia, which closed 71/2 miles of city streets to traffic for most of a day.
He also put his clout behind an ambitious bicycle master plan that is expected to be passed Tuesday by the City Council.
At a time when the Metropolitan Transit Authority is raising bus rates and cutting routes, a correlation that the Bus Riders Union considers racist, it's a little suspicious that the city feels it has enough money for all this bike lane-age.
Plans are still pretty rough, but councilmembers seemed confident that bike-lane funds can be found in Measure R, the California Transportation Development Act and the MTA's own Call for Projects.
Thus proving that when the council wants something, it will be funded, no matter how fat the deficit. And in this case, that's an amazing thing. The scattered 378 miles of bike lanes currently spread throughout Los Angeles will see the gaps between them eliminated and stations constructed along them, creating a sort of bicycle-lovers' Disneyland.
Councilman Ed Reyes was so excited about the decision, he even pointed out his preferred first leg: According to City News Service, Reyes “wants to see a bikeway developed on Seventh Street, from Beaudry to Hoover, starting next year. He proposed a 'road diet' where one lane would be devoted solely to bicycles.”
Which brings us to the vast L.A. majority: non-bicyclists. Get ready for even worse gridlock than usual, not to mention strong pangs of jealousy as the lean, green bike kids whiz past your stagnant hunk o' metal. They're the winners today. And unless you're looking to fix up your two-wheeler for the morning commute, you're most definitely the loser.