Thursday, October 15, 2015

The UCLA Health System needs a Bicycle Master Plan

The UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative was a milestone. Our public health experts led the way. The campus commitment is significant. Applause. Applause. Applause. But UCLA Health, that part of UCLA which employs more than 50% of all UCLA employees, always seemed distant when UCLA Transportation worked hard to reduce car trips and support cyclists. The Tiverton Bike Route blocked by building work, Bicycle racks replaced by valet parking for cars, and off campus locations, well, we just don't know. It is time to find out what UCLA Health is really doing for healthy and sustainable modes on and off campus. It is time that the high standards of support for non-motorized modes developed by UCLA Transportation are applied to all sites where UCLA Health operates.

Hence our invitation to Dr Mazziotta, the Vice Chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences, the Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the CEO of the UCLA Health System.

Click on Image to view pdf 

To prepare for the conversation with Dr Mazziotta, we need to hear from those who are involved with the medical schools and UCLA Health, be it student, staff, faculty or patient. Please point us to areas where small changes would have a big effect. Tell us about unsafe infrastructure, about a history of collisions, about administrative processes which discourage alternatives to cars use, and all the other malignant side-effects of that well ingrained notion that everybody drives a car in LA. The car-centric default is alive and well here, even though it leads to obesity, diabetes, asthma and cancer (evidence). Tell us how you were able to commute between UCLA and the VA hospital before 9/11, how that embarrassing Tiverton closure affects you or your colleagues. Are there questions which a public record request could answer? Are there conflicts of interest which make it difficult for UCLA Health to come on board with the bicycle turn?

Please come to our monthly meeting at noon on 5 November 2015 where we will prepare our dialogue with Dr Mazziotta. Please leave a comment on this page, email, tweet or share your thoughts on social media.

UCLA Health could be missing the train towards a better bike-able future. Even Cedars-Sinai tells you where to park your bike. Our health system is not "against"cyclists: They just don't own the problem that many not-yet-cyclists would choose healthy and sustainable modes if the right support and infrastructure was in place. That is what needs to change.

Lets try to give this big ship a slightly different direction: Back in 2006, the Bicycle Master Plan was virtually boycotted the largest unit (by $ and people) of UCLA: Not a single representative of UCLA Health is among the 67 names acknowledged on the first page. Things change late in 2014, when two deans of the Medical School, Linda Sarna and Eugene Washington, spoke out in support of bike lanes for Westwood. Mazziotta can build on this support and on the research in Public Health to bring his own houses and hospitals (6 hospitals and a large medical group) in order. As he unites the various leadership roles on the medical campus, now is a unique moment to move towards a Bicycle Master Plan for UCLA Health.

In the meantime, Noel, Physical Therapist at UCLA Rehabilitation, rides ahead with some sensible advice.

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