Malign Neglect: Shaming the City to Keep Bike Lanes Safe

BIKE RIDERS’ EQUITY-I’ve written before about the City of LA’s fire-and-forget policy towards bike infrastructure -- how it throws down a stripe or two and then leaves them to fade away under the scrubbing of thousands of car tires -- or ignores tree branches hanging so low over bikeways that riders are forced out into fast traffic. 

It may have been as a result of that post that the branches I photographed on the York Boulevard bridge were recently trimmed…though my fervent hope is that the city remained innocently unaware of my rant and simply got around to doing what it should have done weeks earlier: trimming them out of regard for the facility’s users. 

In case it’s the less desirable option -- that they were responding to a public complaint -- I will note another instance of such neglect, this time in the near Westside. You see it in the photo above -- a barely-serviceable bike path alongside Jefferson Boulevard between National and Rodeo, overgrown with handsome but misplaced pampas grass that pushes cyclists out into high-speed traffic. The broken glass that litters the lane doesn’t help, and both those conditions should have been addressed long ago as part of a functioning civic administration. 

This particular bit of road may belong to LA or to Culver City, or alternately to both -- the online maps I found were not granular enough to determine who owns which portion -- but in any case, cities have a duty to maintain the ability to travel freely on public roads for all users, not just occupants of motor vehicles. The “malign neglect” to which they subject cyclists reveals what our public so-called servants really think of us, if they remember us at all. 

Add to that the engineered-to-kill unmarked mixing zones where many bike paths veer across right turn lanes with not even a hint of a marking or sign -- see my article on Conflict Zones  -- and you could be forgiven for thinking that city administrations are acting as collective hit men for a public raging to clear the roads of anything but cars, cars, cars. 

Mayors and councils make grand plans left and right, whisper sweet nothings into the future’s ear, but in the end, they’re in bed with the car-addled past they can’t let go of. If there really were an “all-powerful bike lobby,” our bodies, our neighborhoods, and our economies would be much healthier.

But we can’t seem to distract our “leaders'” from the chrome tramp that’s got them by the lugnuts….


(Richard Risemberg is a writer. His current professional activities are centered on sustainable development and lifestyle. This column was posted first at Flying Pigeon.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.




Vol 13 Issue 98

Pub: Dec 4, 2015