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L.A.'s inexorable march to bike friendliness

To the editor: The slow-motion rollout of an interconnected network of bicycle lanes and signed bike routes recalls our half-century effort to re-create a regional rail system to make car-free mobility a choice. Opposition from the community and, most significantly, City Council members like Gil Cedillo are a challenge we'll work through. We simply must build the infrastructure necessary to make corridors like Figueroa Street in Highland Park safe to transit no matter the mode of travel. ("Some bumps in the road on the way to a bike-friendly L.A.," Editorial, July 22)

It's true, state-approved traffic controls like bicycle lanes may sometimes require a "road diet." And that's all to the good: Wide streets and multiple travel lanes are a recipe for speeding, which is a major contributor to injury collisions and deaths. Delays, if any, however, are merely an inconvenience.

Mobility in Southern California will change, and our communities and elected officials must adapt. Building a regional infrastructure for safe, non-motor travel is a long-term effort that will outlast the terms of officials in Los Angeles and beyond. Here in Beverly Hills, for example, our City Council has shown little interest in making our segment of Santa Monica Boulevard (another crucial regional "backbone" bike route) safe for riders. That will change.

In the meantime, though, in Highland Park, Beverly Hills and beyond, we've got our work cut out for us.

Mark Elliot, Beverly Hills

The writer is organizer of the cycling advocacy group Better Bike.


To the editor: I'm an avid recreational cyclist who thinks the bike lanes are a terrible idea.

The traffic on Figueroa isn't created by people jumping in their cars for a two-mile trip across the neighborhood five times a day. The traffic is people getting to the freeway, using those two miles of local roads as the first leg of a much-longer journey. Bike lanes won't make a dent in that pattern.

My one-way commute is 11 miles. Beyond that, my other car trips through the area in the last week have been to a late-night movie, a golf course, Trader Joe's for the week's groceries, to the hardware store and to the barber shop. No amount of bike lanes would have made cycling many of these trips reasonable.

So out of about 175 miles driven in the last week, five were biking-friendly. That's life here. The car isn't the problem; the distance and the sprawl are, and bike lanes don't address that.

Jeffrey Williams, Los Angeles


To the editor: I've been a recreational cyclist for 20 years, and I notice that in all the excitement about bike lanes in L.A., a simple biological fact is rarely mentioned: Cycling is an athletic activity.

When you ride, you sweat. That's OK on a Saturday ride, but anyone who rides to work will arrive in a state somewhere between sticky and drenched.

Then what? Does one sit around in damp bike attire all day? Or does one carry street clothes and change into them over a none-too-fresh body? What about the damp clothing? Does one string it up on a clothesline across the cubical to dry for the ride home?

The hard-core enthusiasts may find solutions, but they are few. For most people, biking to work is just too much hassle even if the distance is not prohibitive. It is therefore doubtful that most urban bike lanes will ever be used enough to justify the disruption to drivers.

Ron Masson, Topanga

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