Our cover story on the rise of bicycle activism in Los Angeles touched a variety of nerves. Readers squared off over the issue of cars versus bikes, of course, but also over urban versus suburban visions for the city, and the March 8 Los Angeles City Council election, especially the District 4 race between incumbent Tom LaBonge and two challengers: bike activist Stephen Box and small businessman Tomas O'Grady.
A reader identified only as “Biker” writes: “One important issue that is rarely if ever discussed in relation to bike riding is prestige/status. As long as people are judged by whether they own a car and what kind of car they own, things won't really change much. We don't have the 50- to 100-year-old bike culture they have in Europe. Sure, a few cool peeps will ride bikes and the city will put in some extra bike lanes, but you're not getting SoCal folks to give up driving, ever. Unless gasoline hits $10-$15 a gallon.”
The comment drew this reply from Tmcg888: “This isn't Europe. Most people in Europe don't live 20, 30, 40 or more miles from where they work. Bicycling here will never be practical for the vast majority of people. With all the distracted drivers here you would literally have to be insane to bicycle on Los Angeles streets.“
To which John Huan Vu replies: “ 'Most people in Europe don't live 20, 30, 40 or more miles from where they work.' Are you saying this is a good thing? Mini-malls, big box stores and tract homes? This is what happens when you design a city around cars and cars only. We can do better.”
Commenter Keforbes praises candidate Box: “I'm all for your enthusiasm, style and message. But please be careful out there, both in the boardroom and in the street … and when possible, encourage other cyclists to have a little more respect and dignity than the flippant anarchist cyclists in San Francisco's critical mass. You'll get more ground … 3 feet maybe … with honey than vinegar.”
Steward 2011 writes: “Seems like Mr. Box is a copy of LaBonge. He finally shaves his hair, has his picture in any event/opportunity possible, of course with his bicycle, claiming … me me me.
“LaBonge and O'Grady also ride bikes, they also have Facebook accounts, they have planted gardens and trees and seem to be more positive in the way they approach different situations.”
Finally, a Northridge reader wants to clarify information about the road improvements that narrowed Wilbur Avenue from two lanes in each direction to one lane each way, with bike lanes. Local residents favored the so-called road diet, which slowed traffic.
“It is Porter Ranch that is driving the recall on the road diet, not the locals who actually live on the street,” writes Safe Streets Northridge.
“Three hundred–plus signatures were signed by locals in the neighborhood who support the road diet because it calms speeders blasting through their neighborhood. Furthermore, the whole process is being dictated by a Porter Ranch–friendly City Council office in CD 12.”
PROSECUTORS PILING ON
Readers expressed outrage at our story about the continuing saga of a teen-ager absurdly charged with “attempted lynching” after he shot a cell-phone video of a campus police officer striking a student.
Our story reported that nearly 20 investigators searched the home of Jeremy Marks, 18, and his mother for nearly three hours, apparently seeking evidence to back up a claim by prosecutors that he is a member of the Pacoima Piru Bloods and has a history of violent crime. Marks' only crime was as a juvenile, when he tried to steal a bike and an iPod — and was given probation.
Reader Claudia writes: “No one seems to care anymore if a black kid — pumped up as a gang member by overzealous law enforcement — has any rights anymore. The cop, who is the sole witness in this case, is in direct contradiction with a bunch of witnesses who happen to be students and who were never interviewed by the police or DA. The logical assumption here — if you listen to the cop and the DA — is that only cops tell the truth and kids never do. Shame, shame, shame.”
Brett writes: “Now that the District Attorney's Office has committed itself to prosecuting this young man, apparently it is all right to engage in Gestapo tactics to try and gather 'evidence.' More appallingly, the 'evidence' the gun-wielding liars in blue are seeking is improper character evidence to try and smear the defendant. Since they cannot prove that he did anything criminal at the scene, now they want to assassinate his character with alleged past misdeeds.”
If you run a photo to illustrate the slow-moving task of assembling dinosaur bones, you have plenty of time to get the caption correct, right? Apparently not. Gendy Alimurung's delightful Candyland column last week introduced us to Phil Fraley, who is putting together a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton for the Natural History Museum. Through no fault of the photographer or the writer, the accompanying photo showed Luis Chiappe, director of the museum's Dinosaur Institute, but identified him as Fraley. For the record, here is a different photograph. Fraley is on the left, Chiappe on the right, T. rex in rear.
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