Thursday, December 24, 2009

Grinch of the Year poll includes LADOT's rising star

In a last minute surge of unpopularity, LADOT's Bicycle Coordinator Michele Mowery has earned herself a spot in the running to become L.A. Metblog's Grinch of the Year. It's been a tumultous month for Mowery, who saw her star take off following her comments at a recent City Council meeting:

BILL ROSENDAHL: Alta Planning is reportedly one of the finest consulting groups in the world for bike planning. How is it that the City of Los Angeles kicked off the Draft Bike Plan process with Alta but did not incorporate the robust Bike Plan process that Portland used/is using to develop their own Bike Plan? For example in Portland Alta maintained eleven working groups, and they used community bike rides to engage and survey.

MICHELLE MOWERY: With all due respect the City of Portland is 450,000 people. It’s a homogeneous community that is very white, and very progressive with respect to transportation. They have a trolley system that works very well, as well as their transit overall. We are a very diverse, disjointed city of 4 million people. They are 30 years ahead of us in the development of their, well, they’re not quite 30, they’re more like 20 years ahead of us in the development of their bikeway. So we’re a step behind Portland in what we’re trying to do. Granted, several of us would like to see a lot of changes in the city happen very quickly, but again we have a very diverse city with a lot of needs.

quote from Westside Bikeside

Ouch! Whatever Mowery intended to say, it sure sounded like she thinks L.A.'s diversity is a hindrance to a robust bike plan process. The anger and outrage came quick for Mowery, resulting in calls for her termination and more recently, a fake twitter account has been tweeting the thoughts of one Michelle Meowery, complete with cat ears and whiskers. While some view this as a childish response from the rascally wing of the L.A. cycling community, I believe it represents much more.

Due to her inarticulate response to a single question, Mowery catapulted herself into a figurehead position. She now embodies the City and LADOT's attitude of disinterest and outright disregard for the needs of cyclists in Los Angeles. She is the machine incarnate and the cyber rotten vegetables are coming fast and furious. I am sure Michelle Mowery is a nice enough person, who may be genuinely interested in promoting cycling in Los Angeles. But this is not about her. This is about a city bureaucracy, that time and again, drags its feet and fails to deliver meaningful and lasting improvements for cyclists. Whether she deserves it or not, Mowery is now the face of that bureaucracy.

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