Santa Monica Wins Bike Friendly Award. Local Cyclists Call Bullshit.

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.

6 Replies to “Santa Monica Wins Bike Friendly Award. Local Cyclists Call Bullshit.”

  1. yeah, um, i’m gonna go ahead and go out on a limb here and suggest that the LAB actually knows wtf they’re doing. it’s not like Santa Monica is the first second-rate town with fifth-rate biking infrastructure to get a Bronze award.

    these types of awards are often used as the ‘carrot’ to bring city councils and mayor into the fold. the ‘stick’ is often provided by the bike activists.

    but i have an idea — someone should just call the LAB and ask what is up. it’s not like it’s the Leage of American Cars or something.

    sheesh. get a grip.

  2. Why not just put the collective money where the collective mouth is and send in documentation to LAB about how bad it sucks? If not, it would be like complaining about how bad the government is/was and not voting.

  3. Once-a-week cyclist and Santa Monica resident here, and I have to say that I’ve never had any problems cycling in the city. I’ll admit that I haven’t cycled it extensively, and I’ve heard the complaints about the police and Critical Mass. The bike lane along Broadway, which I ride most often, is great to have, and the road is much better than Ohio in Los Angeles (which is what Broadway changes to), where there is no bike lane and where the road is in much worse shape.

    The city prints maps showing where marked bike lanes are, which streets have significant hills, and what streets don’t have bike lanes, but are bike-friendly. That’s much better than anything Los Angeles has done.

    I’m not saying Santa Monica is perfect when it comes to cycling issues, but I do think it’s a lot better than most cities in Southern California, and for that I’m glad.

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