June 4, 2009 at 3:54 pm in Biking in LA
If you don’t ride a bicycle in Los Angeles but happened to read a story about how Santa Monica was just presented with a Bronze award for being a bicycle friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists might make you smile. It might make you happy to know you live in or near such a bike friendly community and you might mention that to friends and family when talking about how great the place you live is. If you work for local media this is a perfect excuse to write a piece patting the city on it’s collective back for a job well done.
What if you found out that the League of American Bicyclists never talked to anyone who rides a bike in town, but rather gave the award based on an application submitted by the city? What if you found out that not only do local cyclists not consider the city bike friendly, but are actively involved with what is often considered outright harassment against cyclists? What if you found out that the miles and miles of bike paths the city brags about having are often unusable & poorly maintained. Now, what if you were a cyclist and knew that the award was bullshit? Unfortunately, that’s what just happened. Alex over at WestSideBikeSide has more details:
The ultimate result is a city inoculated against criticism. Next time cyclists complain stridently of the trials of riding bikes in Santa Monica, officials and staff will point to the award and remark that our own people disagree with us. Nevermind that the League’s offices are located 3000 miles away in DC, their award will be used to resist outside pressure for change. Effectively, the League has just drastically increased the difficulty of getting the city to respond to cyclists. In essence, it has undermined the work of locals to force the city to change.