Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Bike Ride with the LAPD

This past Tuesday I attended my local Night Out celebration, a nationwide series of events bringing together communities and law enforcement to "take back" neighborhoods from criminals and foster partnerships between police and the citizenry. When I heard there was going to be a bike ride with the LAPD, I couldn't resist hopping on my bike and riding straight to Chinatown to join in the fun!

I was reassured that any scofflaws that tried to steal my bike would have to deal with these people.

I was joined by many fellow cyclists, many of whom I had only met virtually on twitter including AliceStrong GraphikDeziner and Ohaijoe. The ride also had a celebrity drop mid way thru the ride, none other than the future council member of the 4th district, Stephen Box!

The ride was a microcosm for the way in which Los Angeles currently approaches cycling. The mere fact that the ride happened at all is a testament to the changing attitudes among the leaders of the city and police, and I am all for that. But the fact that the police felt they needed 2 bike cops, 2 squad cars and a fire truck to safely go on a bike ride says a lot about how "safe" cyclists are in this city. What message does it send that in order to safely ride thru town, you need that much "backup" to ride a 7 mile loop around the city core? I'd rather see a ride without motorized vehicles of any kind, a true "bicycle ride" in the purest sense.

In related news, I am very thrilled that my mayor has officially joined a fraternity of which I am also a member, that is to say he injured himself while riding on a bicycle. My injury was the result of poor road maintenance (thanks LADOT) and my own inattentiveness. His was the result of an inattentive driver. Hopefully the mayor will see the opportunity his injury presents. He can work to take this city away from cars and give it back to people. By reforming the LADOT and implementing proven urban planning reforms, Los Angeles can become the green city he speaks so eloquently about. But if it is to happen in our lifetimes, he'll need to turn the LADOT into a department of YES instead of NO. As I rode home on Tuesday, I took Fountain to avoid obnoxious Sunset traffic. I smiled as I rode over the fresh sharrows that were installed recently. I also wondered why it took over 2 years of fighting the LADOT for that paint to finally get laid down on the road. Mr. Mayor, seize the opportunity you have, if only that it may be your best chance to create a legacy.

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