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Mayoral Bike Summit

Metro Bike Valet via Mayor Villaraigosa's Flickr

Lauren and Max attended the Mayor’s Bike Summit yesterday,and got featured in the Daily News,along with Joe Linton of LACBC and Jessica Meaney of Safe Routes To Schools!  The story (by Troy Anderson) is here,and excerpted below.

After hearing from more than 100 cyclists on the future of biking in Los Angeles,Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pledged Monday to speed plans to boost bikeway miles in the city fourfold over the next five years.

Speaking at a bike summit,held a month after the mayor broke his elbow in a cycling accident in Venice,Villaraigosa said the number of bikeway miles in the city would grow by 200 a year until reaching 1,600 miles in 2015.

“It’s a little hairy – drivers don’t expect you – but it’s actually really good for your health …and really cheap,”said Joe Linton,co-founder of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

Jessica Meaney,the California policy manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership,said the city’s roads are for everyone,including children,and “not just the incredibly brave.”

“There are schools in Los Angeles that have over 85 percent of children walking and bicycling to school,”Meaney said. “In fact,12 percent of all trips here in Southern California are already being done with walking and bicycling,but we are investing less than one-half of a percent of our regional funds. We really need to change that.”

Pacoima resident Lauren Ahkiam,28,said many city residents are concerned about their safety while riding bicycles because so many residential neighborhoods and schools are so close to industrial areas.

“For Pacoima,not only do we need (the city Department of Transportation’s) help,but also the Planning Department’s help to update the zoning in that area to make it a safer place,”Ahkiam said.

In addition to asking the MTA for additional funding,Villaraigosa said the city plans to use $19 million in Measure R funds to pay for the additional bikeway miles.

“I can guarantee you there will be resistance from business groups and homeowners along these streets,”the mayor said. “But what we need to build is a constituency that says,‘Look,in a city as congested as this one …we want to move people away from passenger automobiles and one way to do that is to increase the use of bikes.”

It was good to see the Mayor,head of DOT Rita Robinson,and newly appointed Planning Director Michael LoGrande were all in the room to hear the comments and questions from over 100 attendees.  It was also great to see fellow allies like Jean Armbruster of LA County Department of Public Health’s PLACE initiative,Alexis Lantz of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition,Carlos Morales of LADOT Bicycles Services Division,and Nate Baird of Metro’s Bike Program.

We hope the momentum continues building,leading to improvements for the city’s cyclists and for the residents of Pacoima!   There’s more coverage at Metro’s blog “The Source“,BikingInLa (who also has coverage of a Latino cyclist killed by a driver in neighboring Canoga Park),LAWeekly’s blog,Streetsblog,and LAist.

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