I may give Councilman Tom LaBonge a bit o’ the pffft now and then for being a shrewd and consumate politician operating from behind such an aw-shucks, good-ol’-angeleno exterior, but there’s no denying how much he loves his native city (he has “LA” in his last name for corn’s sake), and despite my jaundiced eye it’s ever so easy to get caught up in his seemingly boundless enthusiasms — especially when it has to do with a subject near and dear: bicycles.
Of all our civic leaders I can’t think of any one of them that does more to promote and encourage their use and inclusion… not by just talking about it, but by pedaling what he preaches. Every year he leads the bikes-only night through Griffith Park’s LADWP Festival of Lights (though more than one would be nice Tom), and he was ultimately receptive and attentive to tireless bike advocates Stephen and Enci Box when they called bullshit on plans to prohibit cyclists from visiting the Griffith Observatory when it re-opened last fall. And my favorite personal example of LaBonge’s support came in June 2003: after a night partying hard at the annual L.A. Zoo fundraiser, the next dawn there he was at the end of the 110 Freeway in Pasadena at 6 a.m. to enthusiastically send off all the cyclists who’d gathered to ride the Arroyo-Seco Highway closed to cars down to Avenue 26 and back just for the occasion.
Well pardon the lengthy preamble but he’s adding to the legend tonight. The L.A. County Bike Coalition has announced that the public’s invited to join LaBonge at 6:30 p.m. at Shatto Park (map) where he’ll be donning helmet and straddling saddle to bike the length and back (six miles) of what’s become known as 4th Street Bike Boulevard (4SBB), a grassroots initiative to make that thoroughfare uniquely bike friendly whose proponents worked valiently to get LaBonge’s ear and interest.
Looks like it’s paid off.