West Hollywood citizens gave their thoughts on an agenda item before City Council on Monday night that would make protected bike facilities the norm when new bike lanes are built in the city. The item, approved in a 5-0 vote, would affect major road projects in the city’s future and possibly current projects like work in progress on Beverly Boulevard.
SOUNDS GOOD, BUT WHERE’S THE DATA?
I’m a 19-year resident of the city of West Hollywood. I read the staff report on this, and there are certainly a lot of potential benefits; the most important being, it would be a lot safer for our cyclists.
And I know that we have a really passionate cycling community in our city. The other thing, of course, is if it can reduce carbon emissions. So, if people are actually going to ride a bike in these protected lanes instead of driving a gas-powered car, that would make a big difference.
But we’re not the Netherlands. I really doubt that a lot of people would give up their cars. I wish they would; it’s a lovely idea. So, I hope that we would have some sort of reports showing how many people actually do currently cycle in the city of West Hollywood, how many people could be anticipated to give up their cars to cycle if these were approved.
— GEORGE NICKLE
PAINTED BIKE LANES ARE A JOKE
“Of course, I’d like to say that we have much better weather than the Netherlands. For anyone who has tried to ride their bike on West Hollywood’s painted bike lanes, it becomes immediately apparent how little safety they provide.
Every block has multiple obstructions from delivery vans to cars parking, to doors flying out, trying to kill you. Studies show that painted bike lanes actually cause cars to pass cyclists 15 inches closer compared to unpainted streets.
So, anecdotally and scientifically, these types of lanes don’t really work. When people discuss the positives of embracing bicycle infrastructure, they mention increased safety, decreased traffic, air pollution, noise pollution, but a recent study out of Germany showed bike commuters were significantly more likely to positively engage in community activity of all kinds, presumably due to the fact that they’re seeing their community up close on a daily basis. The reality is our city has the capacity to be a great city for bicycle use—from the weather, the flat roads, to the fact that half of all car trips are under three miles.
Most people like riding their bikes; most people don’t want to die while doing it. It’s not complicated. Thank you for your time.”
CAR-FREE BUT NOT CAREFREE
“I moved to Los Angeles in 2015. I started living car-free in December 2017. I have two bicycles and I have five skateboards.
And this is the most fantastic city to cycle around; we are truly blessed. I cycle 365 days a year. I also use the Lime scooters and I’ll come to our companies in a second. I can tell you categorically, because last night I cycled to Santa Monica for a screening, that I’d like you to get competitive with Beverly Hills. There is a section of the cycleway through Beverly Hills that is green and protected, as you’re proposing, so much safer. People stay clear; they respect cyclists. You feel like you’re going to be okay.
The section I came along through the City of West Hollywood, I did not feel safe. I’ve had a car, you know, almost hit me and it was very, very scary. Unfortunately, we have drivers in the city who are not terribly good often, and they don’t understand that they have to respect the right of way of cyclists. It’s very good in theory that they should be an option; they don’t actually respect you being in a cycle path that isn’t a marked cycle path. They see it as an infraction on their right to use the road, and so they drive worse.
I would also like to mention the issue of cannabis. I know this city is very pro-cannabis, as I am an addiction expert on Twitter. I am a little bit more guarded around cannabis, and people are often smoking on their phones and just going like this when they see a green marked route; they do respect you more.
I would also like to say that the issue of scooters—I use the scooters to supplement the cycles sometimes. I always use the fantastic bus network. When you are on a scooter with the restriction with the hills here, it actually makes it very dangerous when you’re going up the hill because you go so slow that you can almost fall off. So, I might need to consider that aspect, but in general, I would say that this is a wonderful city to cycle in.
I had to lock the bike somewhere that wasn’t officially a bike locking area because your car park doesn’t have a proper bike area. The biggest problem with cycling is that I would really ask you to support the enforcement.”
— SEVEN GRAM
WE’RE NOT THE NETHERLANDS, BUT WE OUGHTA BE
“I’m a kindergarten teacher nearby in Hollywood. I bike through West Hollywood regularly. I’m just sharing that in the bike lanes, as they are, I’ve actually been side-swiped twice within a few weeks’ time. And I think one of the reasons we definitely need these protected bike lanes is that I got to talk to the people who swiped me, and none of them thought they did anything wrong.
And so I think that’s exactly why we need the protection is that they will hit you, they will nudge you over, and when you stop them, they think that there’s no reason that they needed to protect you. And so the reason we need to protect ourselves is that drivers are not taking any steps to protect us, and they don’t even think that they’ve done anything that’s damaging.
So in both cases, they said, “Well, I needed to get to that parking space,” and that seemed to justify them pushing me over on my bike. Also, they seem to think that protecting their cars is in the same category as protecting my body. So if they get a scratch on the car, they think that’s the same, or more harmful, than me getting a cut on my body or having my thumb ripped off my hand. So when they say things like, ‘Why can’t you just move over?’ it’s because they don’t realize that a pothole that might give them a little bit of a jarring feeling in their car could kill me if I go over that puddle. So we definitely do need that protection.
For I believe it’s George Nickel who said, ‘This is not the Netherlands,’ one of the things I tell my kindergarteners all the time is we have ambition, and we look to societies and communities that we want to be like. We don’t say our community’s not that great, and so we should just evolve to the lowest common denominator. Yes, I don’t think that people will give up their cars for bikes unless you force them to, unless you tell them to, unless you make them. And no, I don’t think we should be less like the Netherlands. I think we should try to be more like the Netherlands.”