Monday, October 19, 2009

First UCLA Bicycle Seminar: LA Bike Masterplan

This Friday 23 October the first UCLA Bicycle Seminar: LA Bike Masterplan is taking place at noon, Kerkoff Lawn.  You Have Been Warned. Google "LA Bike Masterplan". Be there to witness how the monster that is cycling lolls, wakes, and transportation may never be the same again. Joseph will speak shortly about the LA City process, your's truly will make some remarks about the unredeemed promises of the UCLA Bicycle Master Plan, and then it is for our cycling public (yes, you) to raise the issues and insults we are exposed to on two wheels.

The paradox is deep and important and needs to be spelled out to be fully enjoyed. Yes, we firmly hold the moral superiority on the road. Yes, more than two thirds of all car drivers have lost their innocence and clearly know they should not do it. They buy hybrids and are still full of shame. If you knock on their window they apologize for driving. Without delay. And still we are somehow unable to translate this perfect storm into action on the ground: Witness the gentlemanly ease with which UCLA claims lack of jurisdiction over the criminal street conditions in Westwood. The lack of access routes. The illegal closure of the National Cemetery where cycling is verboten because it considered recreation. Etc.

What is missing? Why does it not click? Why does our moral superiority not translate into the services we require to stay safe and to become more? I think we are at the brink of something here, and we need every cyclist on Kerkoff Lawn to make it happen. There are cities in this country where you cannot get elected if cyclists do not endorse you. And there are campus administrators who think they have done all they can. And who are about to pat themselves on their shoulder about the big success the Bicycle Master Plan has been. Yes.

Will women on campus accept a male equal opportunity officer? No they don't. Why do campus cyclists accept a transportation service which does not cycle to campus?

There will be comment cards for cyclists who want to make public comments on the LA bike plan right then and there. We'll also announce plans to ride to the Westside "public workshop" (the following Wednesday, Oct. 28 in Santa Monica) which is hosted by LA's Department of Planning and by LADOT to discuss the LA Bicycle Master Plan drafts. We hope to have large copies of the maps from the LA Bicycle Master Plan, but in the absence of those, we'll at least have a couple hard copies of the plan for cyclists to review. And, most importantly, we will have free burritos.

Credit for this seminar is available in Bicycle Heaven. Please give yourself a few hours to look at the documents. Lawyers, Planners, Urban Studies, Architects, Historians of the West LA Veloway are urged to attend. And everybody else.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bike Lanes Grow Overnight at UCLA

Bruin Walk chalked after initiation of Dismount Zone Policy

Along Bruin Walk on Monday, students were greeted by a makeshift lane, drawn anonymously in chalk and created for use by bikers and skateboarders. The pathway extended from the top of De Neve Drive to the area behind the Powell Building. Large capitalized chalk messages at Bruin Plaza declared “Resist the dismount.” (Daily Bruin)

Congratulations! There are plenty more bike lanes waiting for you to be born, and the background to this form of sidewalk art has been told wonderfully by Dan “Banana & Bicycle” Koeppel in his Paint Your Lane

But at UCLA the problem is bigger, and deeper. We have a Transportation Service on Campus in charge of bicycles. But they are not experts, they do not cycle, they do not “Improve Bicycle Accessibility to Campus” (The First Commandment in the Bicycle Master Plan). They have no cyclists to talk to, and so they start dreaming about cycling as a public safety issue.
True, there are some areas on Bruin Walk where uneducated bikes and pedestrians, all ears duly plugged, put themselves into danger. But to pull out CVC 21200 at a rate of 202$ is a bit harsh. And to say that it is consistent with the Bicycle Master Plan seems rather creative, or even deceptive: first because in my copy of the plan, the exclusion is limited to the period between 10:00am and 2:00pm, secondly the exclusion along parking structure 8 has been added without authority of the plan, and thirdly because the Bicycle Master Plan has plenty of recommendations which have not been acted upon – so why pull out the one which limits human powered transportation, and leave all the others in the drawer? Like, well, "Improve Bicycle Accessibility to Campus." And if cyclists use unsafe routes, as they sometimes do, perhaps it would be a good idea to provide a safe route for them, rather then simply serving them a simple street closure. You would think that a premier university in the country could somehow figure that one out.
But there is wider sense of injustice among cyclists: What do cyclists get in return for such restrictive policies? Why are there closing routes for bicycles, without providing an alternative route? Is there equity in the treatment of bikes and cars on the campus when safety is the issue? Or are those cyclists a lost cause, a tiny minority, not listened to, who will have to make do after the cars have had their share?