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  • OR_biker

    Very interesting read… not sure if the guy is a complete tool, or has just lived within a bubble for so long he can’t actually comprehend the ridiculousness of his actions. Guess it could be both?

  • david__g

    “both Purser and Westside Walkers likened the plastic bollards that lined the Culver Boulevard bike lane to giant white dildos”

    Sounds like the bollards weren’t the only giant dildos in this story.

  • D Man

    And yet your story about fake news is, in itself, fake news. You FALSELY claim that no LADOT officials ever recommended changes to Vista del Mar that Bonin ignored. If you read the lawsuit filed by the Larsen family, they state the name of the individual (Brian Gallagher), his position (Senior Traffic Engineer for the West Division), the date (June 14, 2013) and a quote as to exactly what was recommended, “Install new midblock traffic signal next to Dockweiler Beach on Vista Del Mar about 1200′ north of Imperial Higway…and post “No Ped Xing” signs between the two to prevent pedestrians from walking across a 50 mph roadway.”

    The lawsuit goes on to state, “An email written later that day on June 14, 2013, from Selwyn Hollins, Executive Officer of LADOT Operations to Darrell Powell, Office of Chief Legislative Analyst for COUNCILMAN MIKE BONIN, set forth Mr. Gallagher’s previously stated reconnemdation for a mid block traffic signal next to Dockweiler beach on Vista del Mar about 1200′ north of Imperial Highway which was pending federal funding approval..

    The lawsuit goes on to describe numerous other officials by name, the specific communications and dates of those communications. How can you blame Westside Walkers for using propaganda when you are doing the very same thing?

    • Steak

      Hi D Man: I wanted to post a definitive answer to your question, which reveals the source of this false narrative, one that blends certain facts with other incorrect assertions, and rather than answer it myself, I asked a DOT staffer for a reply. I’ll paste it in full below.

      “Selwyn Hollins is not an engineer, and no longer works for the department. That was under a former general manager (also not a transportation planner/engineer). LADOT management reviewed that recommendation and determined that one signal would not be enough to prevent people darting across the street at multiple places to get directly to their parking spots — and also that we’d need several signals all along the corridor to feel confident that people would not jaywalk, and we had neither the time nor the funds to implement them. Further, the signals would have undoubtedly led to as much or more congestion along Vista del Mar as the lane reduction. It wasn’t Mike Bonin who deep-sixed that idea. It was LADOT.”

      • William Wickwire

        So I guess for $9.5 million you can’t put in a few signals? Maybe they need to get some competitive bids.
        Is it also a false narrative that the settlement of the lawsuit it came just before the deposition of Mike Bonin?
        Or that he had pledged to make it safer but did nothing?

      • D Man

        Your comment confirms that this is not a false narrative. The response you received affirms or implies everything that was alleged in the lawsuit.

        1. Selwyn Hollins was an employee of LADOT. His linkedin profile indicates from 2011 to 2016 he was the “Executive Officer of Finance and Operations” No one claimed he was an engineer.
        2. LADOT did make these recommendations.
        3. They did not refute that Selwyn sent the recommendation to Mike Bonin’s office.
        4. Mike Bonin did not push to have the changes made – regardless of who ultimately decided not to do them.

        The statements in this article claiming that Mike Bonin was not aware of this are FALSE. They are simply not true and nothing you were told refutes that.

        • Steak

          Awesome D Man. Why don’t you go on Nextdoor and thump your chest and tell everyone you “proved” it. And you can get 15 thanks and feel like $1 million.

          • D Man

            You are peddling false information in this article. And now you are trying to attack me personally as you know you got called out for it.

  • Doubtful Guest

    That was somewhat interesting, but the melodrama over a Twitter account is a minor footnote to the mess in Playa del Rey.

    Bike advocates don’t seem to understand where this is heading. The road diets there have created such fury that when — not if — they’re removed, they’re going to be used as an example of why road diets are a bad idea. There are places where they’re probably a good idea, but Playa del Rey will set those efforts back, and dogmatists like Ted Rogers don’t do the cycling community any favors.

    • Ted Rogers

      You’re right, I do have a dogma, a very simple one. I don’t want anyone to die on our streets. Not me, not you, not anyone walking, biking or driving. I’ve lost two people close to me to traffic deaths, and don’t want anyone to ever feel that pain needlessly.

      To that end, I will support anything that improves safely. According to the federal government and countless state agencies, road diets have been proven to do that, increasing safety up to 47% percent. Painted bike lanes have been shown to increase safety up to 40% — not just for people on bikes, but for everyone on the street by calming traffic; protected bike lanes up to 80%.

      That is why I support them. If you can show be a better alternative, I will be more than happy to support that instead.

      But let’s consider one other factor. Traffic right now is as good as it will get in LA. Many streets in the city are already at or over their design capacity. Meanwhile, studies show we can expect 45,000 people a year to move to the Los Angeles area, most of whom will bring cars with them.

      So how are we going to accommodate all those people and their cars, when our streets are already built out?

      The only solution is to provide safe alternatives to driving, such as walking, biking and transit. While we are building more train lines, it’s very expensive and takes years to complete. Improving bus service is vital; right now, buses don’t run frequently enough and are unreliable due to the same traffic congestion drivers have to deal with.

      That leaves improving conditions for people walking and biking, which can be done for pennies on the dollar; a mile of bike lane costs an average of $50,000, compared to roughly $1 million a mile to add a traffic lane.

      The argument that walking and biking are impractical for most people doesn’t hold up when you consider that most trips in Los Angeles are three miles or less, which is easily walkable or bikeable for most people. And no one says you have to bike to work or to take your kids to the school; all that’s needed is to make it safer for the people who want walk or bike on some of their trips to do so. Everyone who doesn’t drive for short trips like that removes one car from the street, making it that much easier for everyone wants to drive, or has to, for whatever reason.

      That’s my entire dogma in a nutshell.

      • William Wickwire

        Cable car gondolas like La Paz, Bolivia.
        Think outside the box.

        • Ted Rogers

          I like it.

      • Doubtful Guest

        Your heart’s in the right place, but the PdR road diet *decreased* safety — road diets are being dismantled and the only thing left to show for it is a lot of pissed off commuters. So don’t be too proud of your dogma — it backfired spectacularly.

        The author of this piece seems like a social media “enthusiast”, and probably the worst thing is to keep clicking this piece, so over and out.

  • jules

    bike advocacy is like just about any other type of advocacy seeking to effect change. opponents will resist that change and they are the incumbents. an effective tool for incumbents is to scuttle, disrupt and confuse the debate. because it’s largely through clear, effective and compelling arguments that change is agreed.

    we see this this all the time with opposition to bike initiatives “I’ll be forced into oncoming traffic” etc etc.

    • Long_Time_MB

      If the bikers would just follow the rules of the road … such as stopping at stop signs, there could be more tolerance.

  • Chris A.

    Cycling is a beautiful activity, and it’s great for a city to be bicycle-friendly. The more friendly, the better. The problem is that one or two misguided projects can cause a massive backlash, which in turn undermines other, less controversial, projects. Also, while Mike Bonin is in some respects a champion of bicycle-friendly policies, he does cyclists a huge disservice, because he is a lightning rod of ill-feeling. And that’s because he has a very specific style of governing, which those of us who closely watch city government are very familiar with. And that style is as follows: if Mike Bonin favors a policy which will result in, say, more parking tickets getting written for a particular offense, instead of leveling with his constituents and explaining why the policy is necessary, or even just keeping his mouth shut, Mike Bonin puts on a huge production about how the policy will LOWER the number of parking citations. He waxes eloquent about the importance of sparing the public from costly parking tickets. He adds insult to injury by creating an insanely intricate misrepresentation. Once people catch on to that, members of the public are naturally repulsed. Cyclists are suffering collateral damage from Mike Bonin’s way of doing things.

  • lizzy

    Oh Peter Flax, you are way too obsessed with twitter. Seriously, you look like a tool.

    • Steak

      Thanks Izzy. That means a lot to me. — Peter

  • Larry @CycleItalia

    Interesting piece. I drove (in a car) through this area earlier this year and thought, “Great, they’re putting some emphasis on getting people out of cars.” But having grown up in LA where the car is king, I know this has got to be a big issue, only made worse by the anonymous comments via social media. I generally try to ignore comments made by folks without the cojones to attach their real name to them, but the “You suck!” “NO, you suck!” arguments too often destroy any sort of intelligent debate. What I find interesting is anti-car movements at first are often hated…but as time goes by they come to be prized for their benefits as the angry motorists find alternate routes or just get used to them?

    • Steak

      Great insights, Larry.

    • Doubtful Guest

      That sounds like the Coates argument that MLK was less popular than commonly believed nowadays, and that protest movements are by definition unpopular. I think it’s a dumb argument to generalize from, as there are many failed, unpopular protest movements. Consider that Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Roe v. Wade was actually a setback for reproductive rights. You can win a battle but lose the war.

      Already, road diets are being undone (http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-mike-bonin-road-diet-20171003-story.html).

  • touristeroutier

    Wow, another reason I’m glad I don’t live in Playa del Rey anymore (moved out of state in 2005). Without even hearing of the issue/controversy before, I knew exactly
    what roads were being discussed (one of which I lived on). Traffic was bad enough back then; I can’t imagine what it was like by removing lanes of vehicle traffic on one of these roads, let alone each of them…

    I don’t know if traffic has gotten worse since I moved, but I never felt particularly in danger while riding, training or commuting there. Not mentioned though is that there are long standing bike paths that run more or less parallel to 2 of these streets (the beach bike path and the Ballona Creek Path; not the most convenient, nor the best riding (I usually chose the roads instead), but if a rider was in fear of motor vehicles, these were certainly options back then.

    What this article lacks is a context to explain how abnormal Playa del Rey is in the context of LA communities. It is a relatively quiet beach town in a densely populated and heavily trafficked area. It is separated from adjacent communities on 2 sides by the LAX airport, and the main channel of the Marina del Rey harbor. It borders the ocean, leaving only 1 side physically connecting to the other communities There isn’t much reason to go there, but there is a tremendous need to go through there if you live in the Southbay communities, particularly if one is commuting north from the nearby cities of El Segundo and Manhattan Beach.

    While I am generally in favor of investments in cycling infrastructure, this particular scenario seems particularly ill advised, in that it really favors a very small minority at a large expense of the vast majority of road users, and those that actually reside in Playa del Rey.

    • Doubtful Guest

      I innocently rode through there a few months ago, with the road diet in effect, and Culver Blvd. was a parking lot. Sitting down at a cafe, two different people pointedly asked me (I was in my kit): “do those lanes make you feel safer?” It was not a friendly question, and I was embarrassed to be a cyclist at that moment.

      • Steak

        If I remember correctly, you wrote a similar note about a picture of Olympic Boulevard in a previous story I wrote. Sorry you felt embarrassed to be a cyclist when people were trying to push you around. Traffic calming and safe infrastructure matters to many pedestrians and cyclists, but not everyone agrees. I get that.

        • Doubtful Guest

          The reason I was embarrassed was because of the mess created in my name, not because I was being asked a pointed question. I couldn’t defend the road diet, so I was in an awkward position. Just because I don’t agree with this particular safety measure doesn’t mean I’m against safety measures; that kind of ad hominem tactic probably doesn’t go over well in community meetings.

          • Steak

            But it WASN’T created in your name. People are wrong about that narrative. The PDR road diet was all about traffic calming. LADOT has been clear about this. Easiest way to turn four lanes into two is to paint a stripe and call it a bike lane. Just because angry drivers want to say it’s cars vs bikes doesn’t mean it’s true.

      • Jaycee Cary

        I am never embarrassed to be a cyclist and I would have told them, “Yes…yes, they do. Thanks for asking!”.

    • Steak

      Appreciate the note. Just a few thoughts.
      1. I tried to offer enough context for people to understand the rest of the story, but this wasn’t the time or place to get into every detail about the road diet situation.
      2. I did explain how PDR is uniquely constrained by water, wetlands, airport, etc. I also communicated the perspective that the reconfiguration was more about traffic calming than creating bike infrastructure. I mention and dismiss the narrative that this is taking pavement from drivers and giving it to a small minority. The city and LADOT have made this clear but folks just don’t want to hear or believe it.
      3. Most important. You describe Playa del Rey like it’s just a regional hub. But it’s an actual community where families live. The original complaints, which started this process, came from families who live there, people who wanted to cross the street without fear, who wanted a downtown that didn’t feel like a highway rest stop, people who wanted the same quality of life as the Soothsay communities where all the commuters passing through have when they get home.

      I appreciate you taking the time to write your thoughts — Peter (the author)

      • Doubtful Guest

        Google “road diet playa del rey” — the first results page is mostly about angry responses and reversals of the road diets.

        The road to traffic hell is paved with good intentions. It’s lasting consequences that matter.

      • touristeroutier

        I understand your space constraints, but please understand this is a global Australia based website; context is key for understanding.

        I lived in Playa for 15 years; I know it extremely well. Calling an area of Playa “downtown” is a bit disingenuous; it is smaller than most “Main St” in small towns. To add context, according to the 2014 data, there were ca 12,000 people living in the community. The problem is that the area you refer to has the intersection of 2 of the extremely busy roads (Culver Bl and Vista del Mar). The traffic is less locals than it is commuters (and on certain days visitors). The residents along the beach such as in Breakers and another area (not mentioned) known as “The Jungle” are already cut off, as they are on the far side of these roads, compared to the majority of the community.

        I understand the desire to be able to cross the street safely; stretching the traffic out doesn’t help this. There are many of ways of installing traffic calming measures, but in a city that has some of the worst traffic in the US, completely taking away traffic lanes sounds like a bad idea. Turning them into dedicated bike lanes is a great way of shifting blame (and directing anger) towards an innocent group of road users, who happen to be an extreme minority of road users, especially when there are/were existing bike paths that run in the same general direction as Culver Bl. and Vista del Mar (and Pershing Drive).

      • William Wickwire

        I grew up in the tree section of Manhattan Beach and one my best friends lived in Playa del Rey. In the gorgeous moderne house at Redlands and Vista Del Mar Lane pictured below…and at the time it was very well kept.
        We drove VDM often back when there were still homes on the bluff west of LAX (bought by LAX and torn down as unlivable, but they looked almost exactly like the hill section homes in Manhattan Beach) and even in the 1960s, my mother said that PDR was a good location, but not a good place to live because of the roads going through it. No one who lives in PDR can make the assertion that they bought there not knowing what they were getting into.
        Until now. Because now you can’t leave or get home from work.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8929ac79be2b35916b2793591318b38123484164fc9a1168edd69a159b93630d.jpg

  • William Wickwire

    Very interesting.
    But you know there is a fully protected bike lane that goes up Ballona Creek, and the people at BikinginLA say they won’t use it because it doesn’t go where they want to go.
    Cycling for transportation will never be practical for everyone, and the goal should be to create public transportation that people want to ride and protected bike lanes that people want to use.

    • Steak

      I ride the Ballona Creek path every day twice. It’s great. The reconfiguration on Culver was a traffic calming measure. BikinginLA does not say what you’re suggesting; the path has serious safety issues (gang attacks especially).

      I’m not aware of anyone suggesting that cycling for transportation should be practical for everyone. They’re saying that the roads should be safe for people who walk and ride bikes. Not the same thing at all.

      • William Wickwire

        Mostly agree. But, commuting speeds at peak times are already super slow. Slowing them more will only create rage, which is what has happened. That helps nobody.

        People NEED to commute…jobs, service calls, appointments…so the “total peak commuting capacity” is what I meant by talking about cars/bikes/public transport solutions. How about promoting a Metro line from Santa Monica, Silicon Beach, LAX to Palos Verdes…an actual common goal. There would be losers there too, with possible eminent domain. But it would be useful, especially with quick load bike racks (yet to be invented.) Or giant cable car gondolas like in Bolivia that move 18,000 people per hour at a low-ish cost. Think Mammoth Village to Canyon Lodge going large-scale.

        Anyhow, it’s OFF peak speeds that are above speed limits. Fix that!

        Bottom line: All taxpayers deserve representation, and removing lanes makes obvious losers of commuters. Commuters are not evil. Most people are short on time, already balancing a tightrope of personal and professional lives. Don’t tip the apple cart!

        We are all part of a complicated melange of ideas intended to advance discussion of regional transportation. Road diets help a few at the expense of the many.

        Casting as “self-absorbed villains” those of us who think that life has risks, that no amount of traffic calming will prevent all bad outcomes, and that some pedestrian and bike deaths are inevitable, does not promote troubleshooting regional transportation solutions.

        • Steak

          Hey William: I know you alerted everyone in MB NextDoor to comment here, which ties in to the theme of the story. I’m really clear on your POV on the road diet in PDR and your comments here at this point have nothing to do with my story. I’m waist deep in the issue, too, but this is the story about a fake Twitter account that disrupted the public conversation about the road diet. You have anything to say about that?

          • William Wickwire

            Yes I did that. It does tie in the theme, but of course I use my real name. Not hiding anything.

            My point of view is simply that everybody needs to share information AND the roads. I’m not anti-cycling and in fact I ride my own bike up Ballona Creek to my office in Culver City.

            Don’t take this personally.

            It really is about alerting people to the issues and making sure people stay informed about what’s going on.

            And by the way, bikinginLA really did tell me that they didn’t think the Ballona path went where they wanted it to go…

            [That path is so brilliant because it has underpasses and controlled access, but what it needs is policing with cameras and actual policeman, along with signage and tree trimming. I guess you are aware of a huge lawsuit because somebody’s bicycle hit a pothole? Imagine going over the edge of the creek because of no guard rail.]

            • Steak

              Believe me, I appreciate talking with someone who uses their real name!

            • Ted Rogers

              If you’re going to quote me, please try to do it correctly. My opinion about Ballona Creek is that it is a wonderful resource if you’re riding between Culver City and the beach; otherwise, it bypasses most major shopping and employment centers, and lacks connections to safe bikeways, making it impractical for most bike commuters. Just like people who drive cars, we need safe, direct routes that take us where we need to go.

              Think of Ballona Creek as a limited access freeway. It’s a great way to cover a lot of distance, and fine if it takes you where you need to go. But just as the 405 isn’t practical for everyone who drives, Ballona Creek isn’t right for everyone who bikes. We need surface bikeways, just like drivers need surface streets.

              As for safety, as I pointed out in our discussion, the isolation of the bike path, set in a stream channel out of public view, presents inherent safety issues. The assaults on people riding their bikes on the path are well documented, and there’s no need to get into them here.

              But of particular concern to me is the problem of safety for women riders. If we are to increase the low level of female ridership, we have to provide safe routes to go where they want to go. In one sense, Ballona Creek does that by removing the risks posed by cars; in the other, it increases risks through its isolation.

              If you’ve been reading my site this week, you’ll be aware that I linked to stories of three women kidnapped and raped while riding their bikes in broad daylight in Detroit. This is a fear women live with every day, and must be considered in providing safe routes for them. I’ve heard from a number of women who prefer busy main streets to quiet residential streets for exactly that reason, let alone a pathway like Ballona Creek.

              • William Wickwire

                Ted. I’m not adversarial. I read most of your blog posts.

                But your comment basically corroborated what I posted. That you do not want to use the Ballona Creek path. I stated that you didn’t think it went to the right places for you (ironically that is like telling people to use the 405 when it is miles east of where they need to drive), and then I went on to talk about safety (police, cameras), which was a reference to what you previously told me about safety. I don’t disagree.
                It seems that cyclists want to have their cake and eat it too.
                Personally, I think the Ballona Creek path DOES go where a lot of OTHER people want to go.
                – It goes to Playa del Rey, for starters. It goes to Silicone Beach. It is exactly 1/2 mile from the “exit” of Ballona Creek path at Centinela to the Jefferson/Centinela “Campus Center Drive” entrance. That’s a 4 minute ride out of the way, for example.
                – It goes to Downtown Culver City, and basically the end is at the big EXPO LINE METRO STATION at Jefferson and National or alternatively it’s only a few blocks off the path to the bigger station at WASHINGTON and NATIONAL. To say it doesn’t go anywhere is just incorrect.

                So, my purpose of commenting here is that I really do care about honest discourse. I find Peter Flax’s article about fake Twitter accounts fascinating…not my style at all.

                So, in the end, why don’t you and you buddies put all this same amount of effort into making Ballona Creek safe to ride. As I repeatedly say…
                1) add safety guard rails
                2) control homeless and other pedestrians on the path
                3) add cameras
                4) add lights (because many people can ride TO work, but not HOME from work)
                5) add a police bike beat. You can’t control all negative outcomes, but those FIVE ideas are bankable. And once people see that it works, they will use the path. Hopefully not so much that it has bike traffic jams!

                Why is it that you continue to bash Ballona (and the path down Culver Blvd, which would be better used for more car lanes since there isn’t any safe way to ride it) instead of working to make the paths safer?

                • Ted Rogers

                  I appreciate you reading my posts. And it sounds like we don’t disagree for the most part. However, I said it’s a good resource fro riding between Culver City and the beach, which you have agreed with. For people who want to go there, it works fine. For people who want to go anywhere in between, not so much. As you say, it’s like telling people to use the 405 when it’s miles east of where they want to go, which is no different than telling people to use Ballona Creek when it’s miles north or south of where they need to be.

                  As for your suggestions on how to improve it, I can’t disagree with any of them. Although pedestrians have as much right to use the path as anyone else under state law, homeless or not; camping on the path is another matter. Other than adding cameras, all have been suggested at one time or another, and all rejected by the many city and county agencies involved, none of which want to take responsibility for the path.

                  As we discussed before, I have tried to get the LAPD, the LASD and the Culver City Police to add the bike beat you recommend, with no luck. Maybe you can accomplish what I have been unable to do. Same with adding lights, which no one seems willing to pay for; maybe you can get them to open purse strings I haven’t been able to.

                  However, the women I have spoken have told me you can do all of those things, and they still won’t feel comfortable riding out of public view. Some will, of course, but others will always prefer riding on a major street in full public view. That’s not my opinion, I’m just repeating what I have been told numerous times.

                  As for bashing Ballona, we’ve been over that again and again. I don’t bash Ballona. I have ridden it many times in the past, and will continue to do so. As I’ve said before, it’s a great asset; however, I also recognize that it has limitations. This should not be seen as an either/or situation. We can improve Ballona, and have safe on-street bike lanes. In fact, we must do both.

                  I don’t intend to get into another long, drawn-out conversation, so I’m going to end here. I wish you my best, and hope you have better luck improving Ballona than I have had in the past ten years of trying.

                  • William Wickwire

                    Ted (bikinginLA).
                    SAFETY: I hear you agreeing with me, but accepting unsafe Ballona Creek status quo as OK, because it’s unfixable. Perhaps a parallel would be drivers accepting the status quo of deaths on bikes and pedestrians on roadways as OK. That’s called a PUNT. I get that you tried. Are there any “celebrated deaths” (sarcasm)? It seems to be what it takes, as rational discourse isn’t possible with the government agencies.

                    USEABILITY: Ballona Creek bikeway goes to the TRAIN. TRAINS go all over. So, just stop saying Ballona Creek doesn’t go anywhere. It goes from the beach into the heart of LA, not just Culver City. It goes within blocks of all the Silicon Beach business and new Playa Vista Housing. A second bikeway is nice, but not necessary if the trade off is fewer cars are the decades-old roads, when there is not an alternate other than spreading the same number of cars out over a longer rush-hour.

                    Robert Purser is right that people are afraid to voice their own opinions and hide behind an alias, because they just get sniped upon. Flax has been sniped upon, but Flax always withholds details about his own commute routes, frequency…a mistake, but it makes it impossible to relate to him for most normal commuters.

                    • Steak

                      What am I withholding about my commute routes? And how are specifics impacting how people relate to me?

                    • William Wickwire

                      Here goes, Peter Flax (steak):
                      Here is how your persona is interesting, but mysterious and unrelatable as you present it here and on other platforms such as LA Times.
                      For example:
                      • You don’t state your exact routes to an approximate destination, so we can get an image of what you do and how long you spend of your day.
                      • Sometimes you say you commute to LA daily. Sometimes implied infrequently.
                      • What does your family do to commute? How do you all go somewhere together?
                      • How do you take luggage?
                      • Do you need to go on sales or other in-person calls during the day? How?
                      • What do you do to go out for lunch?
                      • Does your employer provide a shower and towels? How did you get them to do that?
                      • What do you do to ride home safely after dark?
                      • How long is your in-office workday?
                      • Do your office coworkers also bike-commute?
                      • Have you ever been injured bike commuting?
                      • Have you ever damaged yourself or your bike on improperly maintained infrastructure? Potholes, curbs, tree roots, sandy patches?
                      • Have you ever hit a pedestrian? Has one hit you? Skateboarders?
                      • What is your average speed?
                      • How do you feel about electric assist (as a way of not sweating so much commuting, and generally, both on-and-off the bike path)

                      These are a few of the practical kinds of questions I/we have about bike commuting in general, and, because you represent that community, about you in particular.

                      To be an effective advocate for your point-of-view, I think people need to understand you and your daily life.

                      You are selling a lifestyle change to millions of people, while being mute about how YOU pull it off…thus becoming as enigmatic as the subject of your article.

                    • michael macdonald

                      Hi William-
                      There are many ways to get around L.A., of course. Travel by bike is just one, and can of course be achieved in many different ways, and can contribute to one method of going car-light or car-free. I think much of the point of Peter’s advocacy is related not to his personal decision to primarily commute by bike, but related to safety, which is why this particular piece doesn’t focus on those details of his commute. The reality that streets that encourage speeding through their design will inevitably lead towards roadway deaths is one that we as a culture should consider: do we accept roadway deaths as a price that must be paid as part of the transportation system that we select? There’s also the reality that there are those who cannot afford to travel by personal auto, for whom travel by bike or on foot is a necessity rather than a choice. This is the divide that Peter speaks to in “The Backstory” section of this piece.

                      That said, if you are honestly considering going car-light or car-free, there are many options to choose from depending on what kind of travel you are aiming to do: to work, short/long distances, multiple trips throughout the day, for errands, etc. I spent a few years operating a “bike train” for my community, where I aimed to help with suggestions for people who might be ‘bike-curious,’ so I’ll share some of those here.

                      I did not start off doing the kind of long commuting by bike that I now do. When I started commuting to work by bike, I would pair bike travel with bus and rail lines, and depend on those lines to minimize the amount of biking I did at night. In my general experience, unassisted (non-e) travel by bike for 3 miles or more would make me sweaty in most L.A. weather. I have never had the benefit of an office that provided showers (though I have friends who do have such amenities), so I’ve minimized the length of my commute by biking to and from the bus, brought a change of clothes and used a bathroom sink to freshen up, and — my favorite hack — changed in a super-cooled server room to meet the wardrobe needs of my work (an architect). E-Assist bikes are another great option to minimize how sweaty one might get and extend one’s range, though in my case I was aiming to use my commute as a low intensity workout. I’d say I was pretty slow when I first started biking, and I now think I’m moderately quick, but certainly not any sort of athlete or racer. I’ve selected a sturdy steel bike with wide tires on account of L.A.’s terrible roads.

                      I like to racks, pannier bags, and other means of loading up the things I need and want to get on my bike rather than in a backpack (that can get your back sweaty). For many years this was my primary way of getting items to and from work, and also to pick up groceries. I since have invested in a cargo bike, which I can pick up large quantities of groceries, and transport children and pets with. Mine is an e-assist, which is a great help since I live up a pretty steep hill. Cargo bikes are expensive, but in the context of the cost and upkeep of a car, I’ve found it to be a really great investment.

                      At times when I’ve needed to make a lot of trips in the middle of the day, I’ve used transit and ride share options when I felt distances would otherwise lead me to be sweaty at the end of bike trips. Other times I’ve been ok simply by bringing a towel to wipe down. I do find the bike to be great to grab lunch and for short trips.

                      I use a lot of bright, rechargeable lights on my bike when riding at night to make sure I am seen. The types of bags that I use also have large reflective material on them.

                      I have never hit a pedestrian or crashed as a result of being cut off by a pedestrian. I have been hit by drivers a couple times over the years, each of which was a relatively traumatic experience, and in some cases caused me to take breaks from bike commuting. Each case could have been avoided should I have had the access to quality bike infrastructure.

                      There’s no one-size-fits-all for travel by bike, but there are many considerations — including e-bikes — that can make travel by bike a reasonable and in some cases great option to get around town. Happy to chat in more detail should you be personally considering bike travel and have more questions about how you might approach doing so.

                      Kind regards,
                      Michael

                    • William Wickwire

                      Thanks, Michael, for your constructive answer. That’s what we need. Kind, how-to responses.

                      Yes, the street design does encourage speeding. Because people do not commute to sight-see. But, I totally agree that safety is also important, and as more people do ride bikes, and there do seem to be more pedestrians, there is bound to be conflict.

                      Nevertheless, reality is that LA was built for commuting…and it was a joke back in the days of The Johnny Carson Show, but now it is a grim part of living in LA. Even if you are NOT trying to commute from South Bay to LA/Century City/Westwood etc…, but just from Silverlake to Hollywood…it takes longer than you wish it did. And as LA fills in, it will have to develop into smaller hubs with their own identity, of necessity. I don’t believe studies that show pedestrian scrambles aren’t safer any more than I believe that making people’s commutes more miserable, even ordinary mature adult people, doesn’t cause them to have rage. Or that slowing traffic during commute times causes a reduction in pedestrian accidents at non-commuting times when cars still don’t slow down.

                      Anyway, I am not a totally novice bike commuter. I live by the Strand and used to ride up to Ballona, just like Peter Flax, and my office is at Duquesne and Washington in the Palms section of LA near Culver City. It’s a dream bike commute (except 5 miles too long, and a nasty headwind sometimes) with basically two traffic signals and two stop signs, 100% bike lanes, and a lot of it 100% protected. It’s 14 miles. I stopped doing that because I can’t get home from work safely, and I can’t go anywhere during or after work. I do think that just like UBER-X, there should be a ride-share category that has bike racks. I have another office only 2.7 miles, but the last 1000 feet to my office is a terror.

                      I would love to see consistent, well-planned, safe bikeways. But riding next to cars is not my joy and the fumes are so unhealthy.

                      I am so sad about how this unfolded, because instead of building consensus, road diets are creating enemies.

                    • eastmb

                      William just get a folding bike. You can ride all the way to work and then have your choice of biking, busing, or ubering home.

                    • eastmb

                      Don’t know if he will ever respond so I will because spreading information is good:

                      I bike up the beach bike path from MB to Santa Monica 4 days/week 31 miles
                      Family either drives, walks, or takes lyft generally
                      For luggage, racks on all three of my bikes and a trailer on my ebike
                      No sales calls during the day
                      Plenty of restaurants within 1 mile of my office and I just walk. But I often bring a lunch.
                      Showers and towels aren’t necessary for bike commuting. I just wipe off with a hand wipe after arriving at the office and it works great to get the sweat off. You could even just use a wet paper towel if you wanted to save the 10 cents.
                      After dark generally ride my folding bike and take it on mass transit. Sometimes use lights on my bikes also.
                      Office workday about 9 hours generally
                      Two of my coworkers bike commute. One is only a mile away and one is about 9 miles.
                      No serious injuries although I have taken a spill or two. Cars were not involved.
                      Taken a spill on sand but it was my fault for going too fast.
                      Never hit a pedestrian but a tourist hit me head on on her bike. No damage or injuries.
                      Avg. speed including stop signs, red lights, etc. is about 10-15mph depending on the bike.
                      I love electric assist. As my fitness level grew I don’t really need it as much just to get to work. But it is still great for groceries and hauling heavy loads. Keep in mind other cyclists may harass you.

                    • Steak

                      Hi Eastmb — William asked me this long list of questions on multiple platforms and I wound up answering on NextDoor. I appreciated all your answers, too. – Peter

        • Rob Biddlecombe

          I would never support a cause because of someones rage. Rational mature adults do not “rage”. Also “Casting as “self-absorbed villains” those of us who think that life has risks, that no amount of traffic calming will prevent all bad outcomes, and that some pedestrian and bike deaths are inevitable” is easy for someone who does not bike commute and doesn’t take the risk of being killed . How does your right to drive without interruption, supercede someone else’s right to not be killed? You are saying your right to drive in the manner you want is worth some else’s life. In southern Californinia over 90% of cyclists also drive and pay just as much taxes as you do. They own just as much of the road as you do. Are you willing to steal something they paid for so you can get to work quicker? Tax payers are not a small elite group.

    • Bryce Salmi

      I bike commute Ballona/Strand twice a day and love it. Bona fide
      transportation for work. Road diets in PDR were always about reducing
      speed and not cycling IMHO. As an engineer I can get behind the notion
      that the cheapest and lowest cost to taxpayer method of reducing lanes
      was to paint in stripes and call it a bike lane. Unfortunate side
      effects from public perception. Imperial Blvd goes where I want it but
      it’s also always a scary route even as a bike lane since a driver
      veering into the bike lane would almost certainly mean death, since, well… speed.

  • Raul

    The central issue: Road Diets hurt people who need to go places.
    The bike path on Culver is completely redundant as there was already a much nicer one 50 yards away on Ballona Creek.
    Some people have jobs to do – obviously the windbag author of this does not.
    The screwup in PdR hurt the cause of bikers and will de-rail Bonin and Garcetti’s ambitions.
    There is not just one guy you can “name and shame” – 80% of people in PdR are solidly against this mess.
    Many people cannot ride bikes to work for whatever reason, and this scheme forces them to lose the prime hour out of each day.
    Bikes, YES. Screwing up people’s lives, NO.

  • Ronin

    Playa del Rey. What a disaster. As we speak, some of the “road diets” are being undone. Good.

    It may be hard to understand what’s going on here, if you don’t have a sense for the geography involved. Flack writes as if crazy, right-wing climate deniers are just throwing a hissy fit against necessary progressive change. To save the planet. Or something. But what these geniuses did was essentially cut the traffic flow on an important north/south thoroughfare along the coast in half. This wasn’t a “road diet”. It was radical liposuction with no anesthesia.

    Playa del Rey is precisely the wrong place to employ the strategy of reducing vehicle lanes and introducing bike lanes with a visual/spatial buffer. The inevitable resistance, which being also a driver I find quite proper, sets bad precedents for more sound employments of the strategy. I have in mind Long Beach’s plan. Long Beach is much larger and has a more traditional grid system of streets. They plan on introducing ONE buffered lane running north/south right through the middle of Long Beach, among *many* north/south streets, and ONE buffered lane running east/west right through the middle of Long Beach among *many* east/west streets. These will then connect to separate Class I bike paths on the San Gabriel and Los Angeles rivers, and on the beach, as well the Class II bike lanes Long Beach already has. THIS is effective planning. This has the potential to promote a lot of long-term bicycle commuting.

    Hopefully, none of the fallout from this Playa del Rey mess will influence other, more sound attempts to turn streets into safe bike lanes.

  • Raul

    80% of PdR residents think these changes stink to high heaven.
    It is a vicious tactic to single out one of us.
    Peter Flax, you have waaaay too much time on your hands.
    Nobody cares about your novel here.
    We want our quality of life back and we would like to spend time with our families.
    Is that so bad?
    The bike lanes in PdR are ridiculous because they are redundant.
    Ballona Creek and Beach path are here – the air quality and scenery are much better.
    I have ridden bikes in this area since i was a kid.
    We don’t need outsiders telling us what to do.
    This project gives bike paths a bad name.

  • Nikolas Gloy

    It’s quite shocking that Twitter does not reveal the full name, email address, and phone number of an account to anyone who doesn’t like what that account is tweeting. /s

    • Savine1

      Did Flax strongly and uncategorically condemn his buddies for illegally hacking into that Twitter account? I must have just missed that.

      • michael macdonald

        There was no hack. Peter notes in the piece that people were able to discern matching publicly-available information from the login pages of the two Twitter accounts that Justin Robert Purser was operating that offered a clue that he was, in fact, operating both.

        • Steak

          Thank you for expressing that so succinctly, Michael. —Peter

  • Savine1

    Kudos to all of the commenting residents of PDR fighting back against moralizing, dishonest, account-hacking, unethical bullies like Flax. Very well done.

  • Walt Arrrrr

    Nice work Peter, et al.

    Frustrated and struggling middle-aged filmmakers are the worst. They have been some of the most ardent opponents to road diets in Los Angeles. Rowena Avenue in Silver Lake, Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, Figueroa Street and York Boulevard in Highland Park have all seen their share of people from film and tv production using their ample “down time” to prevent any effective change to our streets. What gets me about this latest escapade in the Los Angeles street wars is Council Member Mike Bonin, who received the most votes of any Council Member in the elections last March, is actually backpedaling street safety improvements out of being pressured by a few wing-nuts calling for his recall.

    • William Wickwire

      Calling people wingnuts because they disagree with you, and degrading their livelihood isn’t nice, Walt.

      People have valid complaints. Do you have a better solution? People just want to get to appointments, restaurants, stores, hospitals. It’s not an evil plot to mow over cyclists. Cyclists on streets, in spite of the law, isn’t a good idea for cyclists…it’s just necessary. Just like skateboarders and bicyclists on sidewalks isn’t good for pedestrians. It’s still amazingly safe compared to most of the world.

      I do agree with Peter’s idea that he tossed about that maybe the fake Twitter account(s) is like a big installation art project. Perhaps a mission statement exists somewhere, LOL.

  • Rob Biddlecombe

    I recently traveled to Playa Del Rey. I hated the place. It is an extremely densely populated area. It will only get worse as the population continues to swell. The idea of everyone traveling exclusively by car when Southern California gets denser and denser will become impossible. It’s just like electronic media replacing paper media. I don’t like it, but is going to happen no matter what. When people choose to live and work in Playa Del Rey, they know they will not be able to quickly commute by car.They can either move into the future gracefully or be dragged kicking and screaming. Either way, nothing will change the inevitable. By the way check out Amsterdam. They did not go kicking and screaming.

    • William Wickwire

      Amsterdam is a tiny city with 800,000 population. And in the suburbs there, they drive too. But at least they do have the trains as options. Cycling for transportation is a great idea, but if everyone did it the bike lanes would be jammed too. Have you seen them in Copenhagen? Car taxes and surge-time tolls (like London) are possible winner ideas.

      • Rob Biddlecombe

        I’m not comparing them physically. Just observing the different attitude. I’m not even suggesting cycling is the solution. But they will be forced to change. If people don’t like it they should try to find a better idea. Taking it back to the status quo is like doing nothing my opinion. I don’t like what the future is going to bring, but the longer they wait , and the denser it gets ; the harder it will be to change and the more it will hurt.

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