Los Angeles politicians have a history of bending over backward for the city's strong, united group of bike activists.

Over the last year, faced with an unusually large heap of transportation problems amid the budget crisis, even for L.A. — potholes, bus cuts, parking, freeways are all at their worst — the City Council jumped to support and approve everything cyclists asked for, with gusto.

Aside from avenging his own bike accident, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's interests were clearly to earn some more kudos for leading the way in smart green gaslessness. Which makes the League of American Bicyclists' new rankings even more of an ouch:

Los Angeles was not included in this year's list of 25 “Bicycle Friendly Communities.” It did receive an Honorable Mention, but that wasn't enough to earn itself official “BFC certification.”

According to the league's press release, “the application to become a BFC is rigorous and an educational tool in itself.” So we know L.A. was trying. In 2011 alone, City Hall passed an anti-bike-harassment law throughout the city. They ardently supported California legislation that would make coming within three feet of a bike illegal. They approved a mind-boggling 1,680 feet miles of new bike lanes bikeways throughout L.A.

Still — not good enough for BFC.

Perhaps the league caught wind that the lanes won't be rideable until approximately 2046, if they're even built at all. Bike advocate and all-around environmentalist Stephen Box recently told the Weekly: “This is a city of plans, but if we are not going to implement them, then what does it matter?”

[Update: League spokeswoman Meghan Cahill says that L.A. got an honorable mention because “they have a lot of projects that are in the planning phase,” but that certification will only be possible if those projects become a reality. “Just because you say you have the whole bicycle network planned out, were not going to necessarily award you for it … until you have it in place,” she adds. Good advice in general, re: City Hall's many promises.]

Pollsters on the BikeSideLA blog heartily agree. Despite the city's desperate efforts to become the next Long Beach, 70 percent of respondents said L.A. is not bike friendly.

The survey also asked how long our car-centric city will take to earn that distinction: The majority said about five to 10 years.

Shucks. Looks like L.A. pols might have to wait until 2021 to get their gold star. Until then, bikers: Expect a lot more special treatment via favorable, if perfectly meaningless, legislation. If it wasn't before, ribbon-cutting mode is now in overdrive.


LA Weekly