The Empire Strikes Back
July 9, 2016 § 19 Comments
Now that the City of PVE’s traffic safety committee has recommended the radical and revolutionary step of putting up a couple of signs that say “BMUFL” and “3-Feet,” a group of residents has proposed banning bikes from certain public roads within the city.
I will be charitable and assume they don’t understand that the streets in PVE are public and that bicycles are legally allowed to ride on them. I will be charitable and assume that they don’t understand that municipalities cannot preempt the California Vehicle Code. I will be charitable and assume that they haven’t thought through the ramifications of a few angry citizens seizing public property.
But I won’t be charitable when it comes to the cycling community.
Here’s why: On July 12, at 6:00 PM, there will be a city council meeting at Palos Verdes Estates council chambers, 340 PV Drive. Cycling and the approval of the new signs is not on the agenda.
However, opponents of the signage, who also advocate illegally restricting cyclists from public roads, have already met with police and city officials. Postings on social media indicate that some PVE residents are going to virulently oppose any affirmative steps taken by the city to make cycling safer, or to increase enforcement of California’s 3-foot law.
Happily, I’m one of the targets in all this. Two members of the Lunada Bay Boys On Mom’s Couch Gang showed up at the protest ride and introduced themselves as “Rich dudes,” then interviewed me and did a great job of proving that I was wrong when I said that none of the roads in PVE were wide enough to accommodate a car and bike side-by-side. After heckling our protest ride, they put together a video and proved pretty clearly that a very short portion of the road we were on was 18 feet wide.
They neglected to note that it was only a couple of hundred feet long before it immediately narrowed down to a substandard width, and they agreed that the 3-foot law needs to be enforced. Bizarrely, the street that they have proven to be wide enough to accommodate bikes and cars (for a few hundred feet) is now part of the very same section of roadway that the angry residents are trying to ban cycle traffic from.
Moreover, they didn’t think my blog was funny, which is weird, because I try really hard to write a fair, balanced, ordinary bicycling blog that is non-controversial. Why? One simple reason: My mom sometimes reads it and I would be mortified if she ever saw me write words like “fuck” and “shit.”
But back to the Lunada Bay Boys On Mom’s Couch. They deserve props for caring enough about the issue to show up, scream at peaceful protesters, video it, spend two weeks and all 56 of their combined IQ points editing it, and then share it from an email called SuperRoidInRB@gmail.com. And I mean that. They do care. They may be unemployed bums, but unemployed bums have a whole lot of choices about what to do in a day, and choosing to counter-protest is pretty healthy for democracy, certainly more so than another drunken day harassing women and vandalizing cars at an illegal rock shelter built on protected public state shorelines.
The bicycling community now needs to build on the success we’ve had with the traffic safety committees in PVE and Rancho PV. What does that mean?
It means it’s time for usto show up.
The city council will allow concerned members of the public to address the signage issue even though the council won’t be voting on it at this meeting. This past Wednesday 17 cyclists made polite, sincere, and intelligent appeals to the PVE traffic safety committee. That needs to happen again on July 12, and again when the council meets to formally vote on the recommendations. You can rest assured that the PVE residents who don’t want the 3-foot and BMUFL signs installed have already met, spoken, and emailed every single council member, the city manager, the city engineer, and everyone on the traffic safety committee.
If you can’t make it, fine. What about your husband or wife pr boyfriend or girlfriend or kids? If you can make it, why not bring your husband, wife, or kids with you? The roads may be in PVE, but PVE doesn’t own them. To the contrary, the city takes hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars to pave and maintain them. They are our roads, too.
Democracy isn’t Facebook. It’s not Twitter. It’s not email or Reddit or NextDoor or campaign contributions and it’s sure as hell not this blog.
Democracy is you, your family, and the most precious resource you have: Your time. The elected officials in PVE are like elected officials everywhere else. They show up, struggle with problems, and try to find the best solutions for the least price that results in the most happy constituents and the fewest angry ones.
In short, if they’re doing their jobs even remotely correctly, they compromise.
We can be part of the compromise, but only if we collaborate by showiung up. I know that Tuesday is Telo training crit day and Eldo training crit day and there are lots of better places to be at 6:00 PM, but we can’t be heard by the people who matter unless we’re in the chambers with our names on a speaker card.
Please show up and help. Ironfly, South Bay Wheelmen, BCCC, PV Bike Chicks, and especially the members of the Double Secret Probation Cycling Committee, i.e. Jim Hannon & Eric Bruins & Mike Norris. LaGrange will be sending people, and they’re not even in the South Bay–they’re coming because public access to public roads isn’t a joking matter, and safety in PV is crucial to every cyclist on the coast.
We need you.
You will be empowered by the engagement and you’ll gain a ton of respect for the council members and the police. You’ll also gain respect for the people who oppose safer and better streets, and who think that bicycles are a plague. They may see the world differently, but they care enough to show up and make their case. They want their city to be a better place, and to them that means fewer bikes.
PS: If you’re planning on attending the Tuesday, July 12 meeting of the PV City Council, please note: 1) Although the meeting starts at 6:00 PM, public comment won’t begin until 7:30, and probably not until after that. So no need to be there at 6:00. 2) The council will be voting on the signs at their next July meeting; this meeting is an opportunity for us to communicate to the council that we support the signage and want them to vote on it at the next meeting. Hopefully you can attend both meetings.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog even though I’d much rather you get personally involved. One BMUFL at a time. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!