Pedaling Towards Advocacy

I realized it’s been a while since I’ve been active in the bike advocacy scene, so spurred by a Facebook event invitation, I decided to check out a local meeting for  the 4th St. Bike Boulevard’s media campaign for an event on Saturday, July 24.

“The 4th Street Bike Boulevard” is a grassroots-initiated project to transform Los Angeles’ 4th Street, a a road already popular with cyclists, roughly between Vermont and La Brea,  into a true “Bike Boulevard,” with amenities like traffic circles and other traffic-calming devices meant to enhance safety for cyclists and pedestrians alike, plus resultant effects on the street and in the community.  With the City’s new sharrows also being placed along 4th Street, things seem to be pointing in that direction.

The meeting took place on Thursday night at Makkah Halal Tandoori Restaurant on Vermont and 4th, where 5 others were in attendance. We basically talked about how to best promote their July 24 event which consists of a bike ride and pedestrian walk through sections of 4th street, where participants would get to survey parts of the street and outline in chalk places where various traffic calming amenities should best be located. All while noshing on samosas and tikkas.

The emphasis was also to invite local media to cover the event, not just for public awareness, but to hopefully springboard their efforts into getting political support and Metro Prop R bikeways funding, which they hope to apply for in early 2011.

I chimed in with some thoughts on how to promote it within the community – the consensus there was not to promote this as a “bicycle thing,” but as a project that would make the streets safer for the community. In my community experience, even the most car-addicted people are still very concerned with (other people’s) cars carelessly speeding on their streets, and many default to requesting speed bumps. So traffic calming is an issue many people are already concerned with.

One of the participants, Joe Linton from LA Eco-Village, also tied in some of the efforts of the Ciclavia car-free Sunday event, which will be happening on September 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will run from Hel-Mel in East Hollywood to Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights. How cool to have it (literally) down my street.

I also offered to help invite certain members of the media over, though at the end of the meeting no one got my contact info nor was a sign-up sheet passed around (huh?). I guess everyone in the cycling advocacy community already knows each other?

After the meeting, I rode back towards East Hollywood via New Hampshire with Alexis from the LA County Bicycle Coalition, who facilitated much of the meeting. The LACBC folks are the main organizers and advocates for the 4th Street Bike Boulevard Campaign.She, like many others involved in the LACBC circle, has an urban planning background and wants to apply that towards the abuilding bike infrastructure here in Los Angeles.

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