Sunday, June 19, 2011

Meeting Richard Jackson

Dick Jackson has been called a Public Health Advocate. He is the Chair of the Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA School for Public Health. His latest project: To teach UCLA to become a bicycle friendly campus.

Jackson has introduced the term Land Use into the public health discourse. His career includes a directorship at the Centers for Disease Control and serving as the highest State Health Officer in California. He is the co-author of "Urban Sprawl and Public Health: Designing, Planning, and Building for Healthy Communities" (2004). Most recently has has collaborated on a major PBS series Designing Healthy Cities which will be broadcast soon. The Federal Transportation Bill is a Health Care Bill was the title of a recent contribution to LA Streetsblog.

When a public health expert joins the board of the American Institute of Architects, then big and important questions appear on the horizon. Jackson is part (and inspiration) of the remarkable public health funding opportunities which have come to bicycle advocacy recently (Place Grants, Renew Grants). Public health agencies have started to fund bicycle coordinator positions (Glendale, South Bay) and develop Complete Streets Guidelines. Now it is time for UCLA to receive the good news.

Jackson means business. He proposed an F grade for UCLA in terms of bike friendliness, and without hesitation he asked the jugular question: How much money are they spending this year to improve the lot of cyclists? One answer he found on page 62 of the Bicycle Master Plan from 2006:  The document envisions an annual budget of approx 100.000 for bike programs. Jackson likes to quote their bike budget in CSSCE (Car Storage Space Construction Equivalents): Less then 2. (1 CSSCE = $50.000) Which includes those give-away aluminium water bottles. For a campus with 22.000 car parking spaces, that does tell a story. The story of a campus in Southern California where active transportation is not a priority. Not yet.

But there is hope. There is now a new generation of administrators who get it. The Public Health Departments get it, and the schools for public health get it too. They have a clear understanding of the health costs of motorized transportation, and how land use has to be addressed (SB 375).

UCLA Bicycle Academy welcomes Dick Jackson to our effort to make this a stellar bicycle campus. The suspicion of transportation malpractice taints the image of UCLA. With his help and that of his colleagues from the UCLA Health System, we are poised . . . for a great ride!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bicycle Friendly University (Bronze)

The League of American Bicyclists has included UCLA in the list of  Bicycle Friendly Universities. This is the first year of this new program. It has awarded our campus the distinction at the bronze level. (Press release)
Congratulations! Things are happening on our campus, no doubt. We had a "sweet" bikeumentary (Thanks Herbie & Mihai for all those wonderfully executed left turns), we have a bike library (students rent a bike for 35$ a term), Bruin Bikes for campus department use, the give me three feet campaign to educate car drivers, and a pledge to be alert (distracted driving campaign). We also have the Be=a=Green=Commuter blog. We even have a few (precariously placed) sharrows. Respect. R e s p e c t !

Of course, this is not the whole story. There is the continuing ban of cyclists from Bruin Walk, limited rewards for those who don't commute by car (aka Ride Card), there is a continuing loss of bikes through theft. There is a campus architect who is more committed to aesthetic standards than to serve his most sustainable commuters. And there is our chancellor who has forgotten to make those phone-calls to the city, the county, to Metro, to Caltrans, the Country Club, the congress. The list is long: To advocate for cyclists on Sunset and Wilshire, to get these roads re-surfaced around campus (how can anyone miss the badly torn-up interchange at Le Conte and Westwood?), to limit the impact of the 405 widening for cyclists, to re-open the  National Cemetery for cyclists and pedestrians, to demand improvements for cyclists on the VA site, to get a bike facility where Wilshire crosses the the Los Angeles Country Club, to make UCLA the hub of a functioning bike network.  That is what the UCLA Bicycle Master plan from 2006 referred to as Improving bicycle access to campus, calling it the first priority of the plan. In 2006.

What do you think? Join us for the monthly lunchtime meeting April 1st, and let's get these phone calls started.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bicycle Politics: Stephen Box in District 4

March 8 the LA City Council Elections are taking place, and for cyclists, especially those who can vote in District 4, this is a very important date. March 8. One of the Candidates in district 4, Stephen Box, has a long track record as a bicycle advocate in LA. Stephen is a friend of mine. Our paths have crossed on the board of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and again on the Board of Sustainable Streets, a non-profit working in the area of bicycle education and encouragement. I know him as a great speaker, a sharp thinker, and a man of the greatest integrity. There is very little warm and fuzzy about Stephen, and that is how it must be, because cyclists don't need warm and fuzzy. We need solid and robust. We need an eloquent, sharp, intelligent representative on the city council.

City Council Elections have a very long tradition of favoring the incumbent. This is never good for democracy. If you have a way to support this challenger, please do it. Share this with your friends who live in North Hollywood, Toluca Lake, Laurel Canyon, Los Feliz, Larchmont Village, Koreatown, Hancock Park, Silver Lake, Park La Brea, Studio City. Find out more about Stephen Box at his campaign website, on facebook, on You Tube, and Twitter.

Stephen has received many significant endorsements. I am happy for him to count the UCLA Bicycle Academy among his supporters.

Dr Michael Cahn

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January Meeting Notes

The January meeting of the UCLA Bicycle Academy was held on 7 January at Lu Valle Commons. Special guests were the 2006 UCLA Bicycle Master Plan and Donald Shoup. Donald is Professor of Urban Planning with a special interest in transportation and parking. He is the author of The High Cost of Free Parking, a revolutionary study which is of great relevance for sustainable transportation advocates. He is also the editor of ACCESS Magazine, a publication from the UC Transportation Center (free subscriptions are available). The latest issue has a paper about Electric Two-Wheelers in China

Our other special guest, the 2006 UCLA Bicycle Master Plan presented itself in all its glory. 120 pages, ring bound, with many colour maps, tables and graphs, this is a veritable mine of information and good intentions. The plan was created by Sam Corbett, who now works for Alta Planning in San Diego. We have invited him to tell us about the plan at the February meeting. It was also resolved that those present will produce reviews of some the seven recommendations of the plan, comparing the language on the page with the reality on the ground
  • Improve Bicycle Accessibility to UCLA
  • Improve On-Campus Bicycle Accessibility
  • Improve Bicycle Parking at UCLA
  • Offer Incentives to Bicycle to Campus
  • Campus Bicycle Regulations  
  • Bicycle Safety and Education 
  • Bicycle Marketing
The "reviews" will appear on this blog. Some slots still open, please get in touch if you are interested in a particular topic and want to share your reading notes with the group 
Also present (apart from the usual suspects) were four apologies (one dentist, one vet, two conflicts). If all goes well we will need two tables for the next meeting on the 4th of Ferbruary. Spread the word !