Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The big silence...and other festering thoughts

In the continuing saga of my incorrect citation the BIG news is that there is no big news. The great silence. After a few days of optimism that something would be done (receiving emails from various public officials), that THIS could be the great defining moment in Long Beach where law enforcement and bicycle advocates could work together....Nothing.

I've been assured that "something" would be done. But what? And why am I not involved in the middle of that "something"?

I have some ideas. No one asks me what they are. Even when I volunteer them, which I do often, what comes of it?

And this is what is really bothersome to me. I might as well just say it. How is it that the city can mobilize and allocate resources so quickly to have the Long Beach Bike Festival, but not do the same to address bikes and law enforcement when the latter would have a much more PROFOUND affect on the city in terms of being bicycle friendly?

Don't get me wrong, I like to watch a bike race as much as the next guy, but I'm skeptical as to how "aware" it made people of bikes in the city. It made them aware that they could race on a closed course or do skids down the street, but for me, it felt like there was a real lack in any "hey man, cyclists are people too and they're not doing anything wrong so lay off the horn." It made them aware, perhaps, of the new bike lanes and bike infrastructure, but it certainly didn't make anyone aware of the cyclists MOST BASIC RIGHT to ride on the street lawfully.

I wish the city would show as much verve and enthusiasm towards these more fundamentally important ( and admittedly less sexy) issues as they do to things such as festivals and races.

I could be wrong. It might be the fact that while watching the racers gracefully swoop around the corners with ease and aplomb, a few spectators had a thought, nay, a quasi-religious moment thinking, "watching this race has affirmed in me the belief that cyclists do indeed have a legal right to the roadway that should be respected. I should treat them with the common courtesy as is due any other roadway user....OUCH! Dude did you see that crash! He totally ate shit!" And maybe, there were several spectators that had this epiphany despite the distracting carnage on turn 6, but I can assure you that the officer that ticketed me last week was not among the converted.


Jamie Fellrath said...

It's always easier for city leaders to feign interest in an issue by hosting something temporary. It's a much harder deal to be actually interested and do something on an ongoing basis.

Seems that it's rarely about actual improvement for them, it's more about perceived improvement.

Laura Crawford said...

A big festival allows all the power brokers and money holders in the city to puff out their chests and slap each other on their backs, put some more taxpayer money in their pockets and continue believing they're the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Doing something other than a festival requires that our city officials actually do some work that looks out for someone besides themselves. If there was a way that they could make a huge amount of money off of cyclists, or leverage their work with us to move up the political ladder, that's when we'd see them leap into action.

David Martinez said...

Remember Russ,
California is the center of the universe when it comes to car culture. We host some of the top design facilities for car design in this state. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally on your side on this - but when push comes to shove the number one purpose of law enforcement is to protect us, then protect the law - yet they are wrong many many times defining it - as in this instance, but they are interpreting before attempting to enforce which leaves lots of gray area.

I can't see officials staying excited about this issue, as they are dealing with things like gang violence, a broken economy and other big fish on any given day.

Before I get flamed...YES, biking is super important to improving quality of life in many metropolitan cities - but honestly, keeping the people in charge focusing on it sounds like a huge task with the other issues they have to look at daily.

This could have been turning point for the city (and for a leader to really step up and champion it) to really look at biking as a true commuting platform - but alas the powers that be are too used to, even personally - using cars as their main form of transportation. I guess what I'm saying is - they can care, but they can't *really relate - unless they are out there on two wheels.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Dave Martinez

Anonymous said...

Get out while you still can....