Thursday, June 23, 2022

$20 Million Rosenfeld Hall Leaves Cyclists in the Gutter


Maxine and Eugene Rosenfeld Foundation
Los Angeles CA 90024

CC: Peter Hendrickson <>,,, David Karwaski <>, Carrie Byington <>, Michael Beck <>, Amelia Neptune <>

Dear Maxine and Eugene,

Congratulations! The new Rosenfeld Hall on Westwood Blvd is slowly nearing completion.

Although this is a very significant contribution to UCLA, please allow me to highlight a problem that your generosity has produced. Of course, building works have impacts on neighbors, and we at the UCLA Bicycle Academy do understand this. Unfortunately on our campus—whether from ignorance or from a lack of policy—these impacts are consistently thrown into the path of cyclists. For more than 18 months UCLA Capital Programs and UCLA Transportation have removed the bike lane that used to run in front of the Rosenfeld Hall. Instead, the bike lane has become a loading zone for a dumpster. This arrangement forces those Bruins who use the most sustainable and healthiest mode of transportation into a dangerous conflict with car traffic. Rather than reducing the number of traffic lanes for cars and maintaining a functional bike lane, the campus administrators mis-used your generosity to create a problem for people on bikes.

The suspended bike lane was a celebrated achievement for a campus which is proud of its bicycle friendly (Gold) designation awarded by the League of American Bicyclists. A bike counter was installed only a few hundred meters from the dumpster. But there is no accounting for the number of Bruins who have been deterred from using two wheels for their commute by the imperfect arrangement in front of Rosenfeld Hall for the last 18 months.

The ease with which UCLA suspends facilities for bikes is disappointing. But it is not new. The construction of the Geffen School of Medicine blocked a major route onto campus for more than two years. In front of Rosenfeld Hall it is an enormous dumpster that eclipses cyclists. On Tiverton Avenue it was a series of portaloos which took precedence over the needs of people on bikes.

When the new Rosenfeld Hall will be opened, we hope to join the celebrations with you. Cyclists attending will then ring their bike bells, celebrating the return of the stolen bike lane, and reminding the campus of its failure to consistently prioritize people on bikes. We also hope that your gift for the next Rosenfeld Project on campus will come with the proviso that no bicycle infrastructure shall be impacted during the building work.

This is not the complaint of a few entitled cyclists who are endangered or inconvenienced on UCLA roadways. Our complaint is that the campus and the health system you have supported so generously in the past is failing, even in the light of an accelerating climate emergency, to support and encourage more people to get around without a car, and without setting our planet on fire.

Dr Michael Cahn
Secretary, UCLA Bicycle Academy

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Final Exam

We historians at UCLA are lucky to have Darrell Hunt as our dean who leads us with the motto Engaging LA, Changing the World. And I was lucky to be able to teach a group of really smart students about the history of transportation: How wheels have changed the world, from the Roman Empire to the missing bike-lanes in Westwood. One of the aims of the course was to establish that transportation is never a logistics problem of moving stuff effectively, but always involves how we live our lives and where we create distances and between whom. Transportation involves the inequitable policies that have governed land use, but it also involves health: That would be the road violence which is embedded in the aggressive design of your next SUV. That would also be the "Car-Enabled Comfort that Provokes Persistent Waves of Disease" which provided such a rich bounty for the Corona virus in this country.  

It seemed a good idea to bring these issues to a head locally, on Westwood Blvd, on the Medical Plaza Driveway (soon to be renamed Medical Plaza Bikeway). The final assignment for my students was to bring what we have learned about the complexity of mobility to the attention of the leadership of our medical provider, and to challenge our non-profit academic health center to recognize their responsibility as a stakeholder in local healthy transport planning. 

I liked what I saw, and I think the students deserve answers to the letters they have written. Here is some poetry, some artwork, a Rap sheet, and many powerful arguments. Here is the pdf.

A limited edition of the Examination: "Unhealthy Mobility" will be issued and paper copies will be distributed to 

John Mazziotta, CEO, UCLA Health 
Johnese Spisso, President, UCLA Health 
Kelsey Martin, Dean, UCLA Medical School
Carol Mangione,  Community Engagement Implementation Team, UCLA Health 
Medell Briggs-Malonson, Chief of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, UCLA Health 
Michael Altschule, Community and Government Relations, UCLA Health
Tanya Andreadis, Chief Marketing Officer, UCLA Health
Wendelin Slusser, Associate Vice Provost, Healthy Campus Initiative, UCLA
Michael Beck, Administrative Vice Chancellor, UCLA, Bicycle Commuter
Jennifer Poulakidas, Associate Vice Chancellor Government & Community Relations, UCLA 
Carrie Byington, CEO, UC Health 
Matthew St.Clair, Director of Sustainability, UCOP
Kieran Flaherty, State Governmental Relations, UCOP
Michael Drake, President UC
Rodney Hanners, CEO, Keck Medicine of USC

Saturday, August 8, 2020

An Active Transportation Policy for UC Health

No Bike parking at the cardiologist? Unhealthy car parking subsidies at our Health System? Does your hospital find it difficult to grasp the health gains of active transportation? The open letter below is directed at the UC Regents' Health Services Committee.  They are in charge of six large hospitals and many hundreds of medical offices all over the state. This letter is a joint effort of  UC Bikes! and the UCLA Bicycle Academy. This is a state-wide initiative. We have the support of three Nobel Laurates and many more stakeholders (here)
Please sign here
See who has signed here
The letter will be presented at the Regents Meeting on 20 October 2020
For precedents of medical institutions getting involved in healthy transport issues see our previous post.

Dear Regents, Dear Carrie Byington

Over the last decade, UC campuses have worked hard to support healthy and sustainable transportation. Seven Bicycle Friendly University awards are proof of a consistent and admirable effort throughout the system. The UC 2025 carbon goals are an important plank of this effort.

But given the acceleration of global warming and the dramatic impacts of Covid-19, we see new opportunities for UC Health. Strategies to reduce driving and improve health are in very high demand. The e-bike revolution has vastly increased the number of people who could commute without a car. Covid-19 has led to soaring bike sales. The Gear Change program in the UK and the Verkehrswende (Transport Transition) in Germany affirm that poor health and too much driving are really a single problem, one that can be addressed with two wheels.

Now is the time for UC Health to acknowledge its own transport footprint. We therefore ask the Regents’ Health Services Committee to initiate an active transportation policy. This policy would end the marginalization of those who do not have access to a car and discontinue hidden subsidies for car use like “bundled parking”. It would guide our hospitals to actively engage with local communities by supporting active modes of transport. Such programs have invariably led to financial savings while also offering access to physical activity for Black, Brown and low-income communities. Every UC Health location (owned or leased) must provide safe and welcoming bicycle facilities for visitors, patients and staff.

When seeing patients, our doctors invariably recommend an active lifestyle. Yet currently many UC Health premises are not set up to support and encourage and reward active modes of transportation. The active transportation policy will address this disconnect, invest in encouragement programs and avoid the scandal of ignorance and hypocrisy.

With such a policy UC Health will emerge as a national leader for healthy transportation. Our’s will be the first health system to act on the overwhelming evidence public health experts have provided: Active transportation prevents obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. California is the state to recognize this and the UC is the institution to act on it. UC Bikes! and bicycle advocates throughout the state are eager to assist with this process. The signatories to this open letter request that the Regents’ Health Services Committee instruct EVP Byington to work with stakeholders and experts to develop an active transportation policy for UC Health.

From Gear Change UK

Saturday, February 29, 2020

UCLA Health: Welcome to Santa Monica (An Open Letter)

Johnese Spisso, CEO, UCLA Health
c/c Rick Cole, City Manager, Santa Monica

Dear Johnese,

UCLA Health is going from strength to strength under your leadership. Congratulations! I am a resident of Santa Monica and I understand that the hospital is now the largest employer in our fine city. Welcome to "populus felix in urbe felici." For the healthy transportation advocate the car dealerships on Santa Monica Blvd always were a sorry sight. I am sure your new premises there will be a great improvement.

Over many years our city has developed a sophisticated planning process which ensures new developments conform with the long term vision of our community. While you are exempt from most of this process as a state entity, I am sure you will use this privilege with caution and keep in mind your local impacts on our community. 

But the relationship between the hospital and its community is also about money. The IRS has certified the hospital as a charity, hence exempting you from local (and other) taxes. As a resident of Santa Monica I personally do not mind that I may now pay a little more for our roads, schools, policing and garbage collection because the tax-paying car dealership will be replaced by a 501c3 entity. But I am extremely interested that the tax privilege is part of a local engagement that makes a real difference in your service area. 

Let me outline some pointers how the hospital can become a positive presence in Santa Monica, rather than a tax exempt trip generator, unrestrained by planning guidelines. (Traffic engineers tell us that medical offices do generate a great deal of car traffic) 

A recent piece by Danielle Ofri, MD, in the New York Times ("Why are Nonprofit Hospitals so Highly Profitable") has argued that the arithmetical exercise that declares Medicaid losses as a community benefit may be insufficient to justify these tax benefits. Those health fairs she considers marketing pure and simple. That is why improvements in the structure and delivery of community benefits are needed. The community is footing your tax break and it must have a say in the design of such benefits. But delivering benefits from inside the marketing department gives them a self-interested appearance that is most disconcerting. The Bicycle Academy engaged with the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) process recently but were disappointed: The Metro Best program, which would have delivered bicycle safety education for staff, patients or community members at no cost, was not pursued, in spite of our best efforts. Ofri's piece suggests there may be legal remedies.

At the UC Regents Health Services Committee, UC Health CEO Carrie Byington has recently spoken of the need to better present the community benefits the system must provide as part of its tax exempt status. Ambiguity at the highest level is often paired with a real reluctance about proper, hands-on community engagement. Sure, medical research is a benefit for humankind, but what is needed across the road from the hospital in Santa Monica may be funding for a Safe Routes to School program to keep kids healthy and to reduce driving in our community. Because community (and planetary) health suffers greatly from a transport system that discourages the use of active modes, we hope the hospital will establish a Healthy Transportation Committee in conjunction with public health researchers on the other side of Westwood Blvd. Your marketing department will then be keen to place your brand on a local bike share system and underwrite the message that active transportation is healthy. The committee would remind capital programs never to enter into leases that include bundled car-parking. And  R Gluckson's message that "unfortunately", "u-n-f-o-r-t-u-n-a-t-e-l-y, there are no bike racks or any place for visitors to park and lock their bikes at your new premises in Glendale" will seem as outrageous as a doctor who recommends smoking. Your director for government relations will then eagerly seek the dialogue with local transport agencies, because he has your back when joining the conversation about community health (obesity, diabetes and cancer) which need to be addressed in the transport domain. Because less drive we must! And if we drive less, we and our planet will be healthier.

Welcome to Santa Monica, Johnese! The UCLA Bicycle Academy and many stakeholders in Santa Monica and on the Westside are eager to assist you to become a shining beacon of healthy transportation. Perhaps a meeting in Santa Monica City Hall with Professor Richard Jackson or another public health expert of your choosing would be a good beginning. 

Dr Michael Cahn
Secretary, UCLA Bicycle Academy

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Path to Platinum Leads through the Neighborhoods of UCLA


Congratulations, Gold Level Bicycle Friendly University! Good stuff is happening on campus. The next stop: Platinum.

Now is a good time to survey some of the approaches to campus. Because on the roads to and from campus we really struggle to convince Bruins to leave the car at home. Connectivity for active modes is our weak point. The attitudes are in place, the desire to improve our communities has been established, the need to address the climate crisis which is burning only a few miles from Murphy  Hall is evident. All that is in place. But we need help. Help to work with our neighbors, help to facilitate the collaboration among our neighbors, help to address decades of car-centric infrastructure around UCLA. We need the Bike Fairy (him/her). Here are some examples:

1) Streetlight Down

A streetlight rests on the sidewalk at Sepulveda. The sole and unpaved sidewalk herewith fully blocked. Bruins will have to lift their bike over this obstacle. Wheel chair? Forget it! Who would dare to block a traffic lane for cars for a whole week? UCLA Bike Fairy (him/her) makes the call to have it removed, presto. Because pedestrians and cyclists are important for UCLA. Very. Very very.

2) Detour?

The unnamed CALTRANS bike path leading from the VA to Church Lane (and on to mountainous Montana Ave) is closed. UCLA Bike Fairy (he/she) calls the contacts at these agencies, questions, reminds, resolves, and re-opens this path for the benefit of our current and future bike commuters. And for the benefit of our planet. Because we simply can not afford to lose a single cycling Bruin. Indeed, we need to find many more.

3) Deadly Manhole cover on Veteran

Two mean manhole covers on Veteran and Wellworth. They are going to be chief witnesses in a million dollar legal case brought by an injury lawyer. The ignorance of the road maintenance crews who would sign off on such criminal workmanship beggars belief, but that is what we have to deal with here. (Attention Injury Lawyers: The office of the local councilmember has been informed) Who? Which fairy?

3b) UCLA Health Supports Active & Healthy Modes 
A recent study at UCLA Health Facilities found that 30 % of employees would consider a bicycle commute if incentives and secure parking for bikes was on offer. Bike Fairy (m/f) springs into action and makes sure that all UCLA Health locations offer secure bike parking and that leases for medical offices do not include bundled car parking. Bike Fairy may also facilitate a research project with UCLA Fielding School for Public Health to encourage patients riding their bike to their neighborhood clinic. Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) will include healthy transport programming. Because our hospitals and our health clinics know that cycling is healthy. For our communities and for our planet. And urgent.

4) Walk with Bike (WTF)

Planners sometimes made life difficult for cyclists. Whenever bicycle convenience was an obstacle to car convenience, they used cement to tell our riders to get off and to walk their bike. An ancient vestige of this attitude has been found on Sepulveda, on the official and advertised access route to campus. In large letters the sign commands: Walk with Bike.

The full height curb will force anybody to dismount. But the UCLA Bike Fairy (m/f) knows that the times of torturing cyclists is over. Bike Fairy will investigate, arrange for the removal of signage and amend this curb to its proper sunken state. And a new sign will go up: It will be straight. It will read: UCLA Welcomes Cyclists! Because UCLA does.

5) Yuck under the I-405

Roadways are cleaned weekly. Sidewalks less so. One of the most important sidewalks connecting Brentwood and Westwood - for those who do not drive - has not been cleaned for years. Fancy car ramps soar overhead, but down under pedestrians are treated to years (years!) of accumulated refuse, dust and excrement. Located under the freeway, some mid-ranking administrator has simply dropped the ball. The UCLA Bike-Fairy (him/her) will identify the responsible party, get this stretch onto the schedule of weekly cleaning, and help to make a nightmarish campus approach just a little less horrible. With a sidewalk neglected like this, how would you even dare to suggest that anybody walk or ride rather than drive? Yet less drive we must. Must.

6) Wilshire Center Picks a Fight with Cyclists

Wilshire Center, right at the intersection of Westwood and Wilshire, is a high-rise with many UCLA offices. If you have arrived at Wilshire Center, you have survived, by limb at least, one of the most dangerous intersections in the country. Now get ready for a "Not A Walkway" fight to access a few poor bike racks perversely placed, and over-regulated by someone who really tries to pick a fight with the most sustainable mode of transportation. The regulatory venom on display here is a kick in the head for any Bruin who would consider getting out of the car. It sign shouts out:
Go Away! We really do not want you here! 

Our Bike Fairy (Any pronoun) will make the call, investigate leases entered into, push to amend them, arrange for the removal of signage and provide for easy and welcoming and plentiful bike parking at Wilshire Center. Because we must! UCLA pays a lot of rent here, but Bruins on two wheels get the worst service. The sheer inequity of it.

7) Find the curb and hit your head

Bruins driving cars from Brentwood to Westwood have ten car lanes, lanes designed for speeds of 50 MPH or more. Bruins riding a bike to campus along the same route will soon enough make the acquaintance of a non-compliant street sign mounted so low, and located right at the sunken curb, that it must have caused many a concussion with cycling heads. Bike Fairy, please! Do something. Do we really need to call our Senator to get this sign out of the path of Bruin heads? 

8) Narrow Sidewalk / Bike Path: Just Add the Bus Stop 

Bruins taking the tree slalom sidewalk on Wilshire along the National Cemetery have a hard time managing pedestrians and these mid-path tree obstacles. Now a bus stop chicane has been added to the mix. Really? So there are ten high speed lanes for cars, and a narrow congested sidewalk for the rest. This is how they used to do it before the Bike Fairy (she/he) looked into it. Because we urgently need more space for sustainable and healthy modes around UCLA. The planet is burning. And our communities expect that UCLA and UCLA Health will speak out for a better future.

9) Bike Parking Rift Found on Kinross

Some Bruins drive their gas guzzler to campus. The combined weight and acceleration of these vehicles ruins the roadway, so much so that a rift has now opened on Kinross, large enough to securely place a bike into the slot which has appeared here. But woe if your bike wheels ever get stuck in this opening. The lack of road maintenance throughout the Westwood Village is a scandal, and it gravely affects sustainable modes of transportation. Calling Bike Fairy, environmental justice hero, to the rescue! 

10) Don't go here between October and February

(image of Wilshire dark)
The I-405 widening project included community input, and UCLA was part of these conversations. But back then nobody invited the Bike Fairy to the table. This is why so much pedestrian and bicycle injustice has been cemented along Wilshire. Consider streetlights for the sidewalk. Missing. So for four months every year, when the sun sets before you go home, the walk and the ride along the VA becomes a hair-raising adventure in the dark. Blimey, we forgot to put in street-lights for the sidewalk. Blinded by fast moving cars, the sidewalk users are struggling to find their way. Is that even legal? What says the Bike Fairy?

11) UCLA Health Pathway

(image cover of report)
The project to create a improved bicycle connection between Santa Monica and Westwood hospitals is on life support. The project has been designed on paper, now the conversations with neighbors have to follow. With the help of the Bike Fairy, the Best in the West Hospitals we take full ownership of this project, and make sure it will be built. Because being in the health business gives you an keen awareness of the unhealthy consequences of our dominant transport modes. Unhealthy for people, unhealthy for planet.  

12) Only in Westwood

Imagine a world-class hospital where the main approach is without a bike lane. Imagine a world-class university where the main approach is without a bike lane. Is cycling not healthy and sustainable? Do we not all need to do much more of it? Without bike lanes? How then?  
The students have painted their own bike-lane here, but it was removed without delay. A great street, a great campus, a great hospital, all suffer from a lack of bicycle infrastructure on the main approach. Why is it still all about cars?

Bike Fairy to the rescue: Facilitating a committee of hospital leadership, campus leadership, public health experts, local stakeholders and neighborhood leadership, laying out the path to a safer Westwood, more equitable and more sustainable. Call it Paul Koretz Bike Lane if you want, but do [expletive deleted] paint it. Sure, this is a big one. This is why our Bike Fairy that has the full support of UCLA Health and of the campus, this is why it can draw on the legal firepower of our Law School, and on the expertise from the hospital and from the Fielding School of Public Health. Yes we can. Yes we must.

13) Discouraging Cycling 

Last year, traffic planners in West LA turned a trickle of bicycle traffic headed for UCLA into a odd occasional drop.  At Barrington & Goshen, a relatively quiet route to campus, a forced right turn sign has appeared last years. Bruins on two wheels who follow the signage will have to make a left turn at Wilshire & Barrington: A most hostile intersection for bikes. Can we please have a "Except Bicycles" addition to this signage? And can we please have the UCLA Bike Fairy (m/f) at the table when the regional traffic planners come up with ideas that simply do not help us to get more people out of cars? Why do so many minor planning decisions in the environs of our campus still point in the wrong direction, failing to make it easier, safer, simpler for the most sustainable street users we try to recruit?  To remedy this, the Bike Fairy will also call on the support of experts from the UCLA School of Law, who are eager to help to make Los Angeles a sustainable, resilient, more equitable, more livable city. As our Executive Vice Chancellor Emily Carter said

x) Metro First & Last Mile 

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x) Greta and Arnold

Here is Greta Thunberg cycling in Santa Monica. In a few years she may apply at UCLA. It is high time to get our bicycle infrastructure into shape: For this prospective student, and for everybody else. Luckily, we have the Bike Fairy (him/her). Arnold is on standby to help in real difficult cases. So that we can "help LA to become the city it should be, the city of the 21st century, an opportunity unlike any other on this planet that UCLA should seize." As our Executive Vice Chancellor Emily Carter said.

What Bike Fairy? 

Not a genuine likeness
The Bike Fairy comes about through the joint commitment of UCLA Health Leadership (Johnese Spisso), UCLA leadership (Emily Carter), and Associate Vice chancellor for Government and Community Relations. (Jennifer Poulakidas). It is a production of the UCLA Sustainability Committee under the leadership of Vice Chancellor of Facilities, Michael Beck. The godparents come from the School of Law (Environmental Law), the Institute of the Environment, and the Fielding School of Public Health. Together they fund and task the Bike Fairy (him/her) to revert decades of car-centric infrastructure around UCLA. Adept in facilitating close interactions with a large number of jurisdictions and administrations in the neighborhood of the campus, the UCLA Bike Fairy fills a glaring hole in how the UCLA Health and the Campus relate with our communities. These are some of the agencies involved: The National Cemetery Administration, the Veterans Administration, the Veterans Hospital, the cities of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Culver City, Metro, Caltrans, transit companies, neighborhood stakeholders, etc. The Bike Fairy will convene and advance a consistent agenda with a variety of stakeholders who for too long have heard far too little from the campus and from UCLA Health. The Hospital and the Campus need to take the lead in these conversations, because as a world class hospital and university in an urban context, it simply is our civic obligation. If we don't show leadership here, well beyond the safe walls of our campus, all campus talk of sustainability will remain hollow and fake.