Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bike To Work Day. Meh.

I posted that photo of a closed bike lane earlier to announce bike to work week primarily as a joke. However in my pursuit of free crap this morning before work, I encountered 2 different places where the Broadway bike lane was in fact closed with signage. The first time was for genuine construction work adjacent the bike lane. However as I approached downtown Santa Monica, the bike lane was blocked all the way across with cones and a sign to announce construction a block and a half away in the right turn lane. It's one of my pet peeves when the bike lane becomes a convenient place to stick signs for things that don't actually block the bike lane.

Already the vibe was bad. But then the kicker was I got to REI too late, apparently they close up Bike to Work promotions right at 9:00, so no dice for any of the many entertainment industry people who start at 10:00ish. So I went even further out of my way to the Santa Monica City Hall pit stop. When I arrived I was informed all the goodie bags were gone, and all that was left was some candy, granola bars, and some baked goods that were surely not vegan (I'm vegan by the way for readers who don't know). So I grabbed a granola bar and went on my way, bitter that I didn't get a blinkie light and bike to work tote bag, and had wasted enough time I was now in a hurry to get to work.

Then I got to work and read the label on the granola bar and realized it contained milk, so I dropped it in the work snack bin for someone else. In a way it shouldn't matter that much that Bike to Work Day was nothing special for me, I don't need an incentive to bike to work, I would do that anyways. However it appeared bike racks at work were no more full than yesterday or last week either, so it seems a poor incentive for anyone else to give it a try either.

We do have a lot of bike commuters here though, and what really got people to try it was a cash incentive for giving up a car parking space at work. So if Metro and the City of Los Angeles, and Santa Monica want to get people on bikes, maybe they should skip the free granola bars and get serious about promoting the seldom practiced, unenforced, California Parking Cash-Out law. Getting a cash incentive program started at my workplace quickly expanded the ranks of bike commuters. The reduction in parking demand has also allowed our company to hire on more staff without having to lease as many extra spaces from neighboring lots as would have otherwise been necessary, an expensive commodity in these parts.

Maybe next year instead of going for a goodie bag, I'll set up my own booth on Broadway. I could hand out fliers with the sort of practical cycling advice that could save one's skin, but that you won't hear from city official types who haven't ridden a bike since they were in middle school in the 70's. I think if we leave bike to work day promotions in the hands of Metro and the cities, it will continue to amount to little, but perhaps if we claim the day as our own and make it something worth celebrating, people might take a little more notice. In any case, I hope your bike to work day went better than mine.


Anonymous said...

Now that's something I can get behind. You set up that booth, and I'll be right there with you.

FYI, on my ride through Santa Monica today, the bike lane on Ocean was blocked so a hotel could get a new sidewalk — nearly causing me to get hit by a car that wasn't going to slow down for anyone. And don't get me started on the roach coach blocking most of the bike lane on San Vicente, because they couldn't be bothered to pull all the way to the curb.

Gary said...

I know that food truck, I swerve into the traffic lane to avoid it regularly as I use San San Vicente a lot in my training rides. There is always about a solid 1-2 feet between the truck and the curb. But looking at the constant violations of the bike lane in New York on Bike Snob's blog, makes me feel a little better about things here. At least we don't have taxis in the bike lane every 20 feet.

Jason B said...

Hi Gary, I stumbled across your blog via a google search for "vegan los angeles". I thought you might be interested to know that I'm organizing a vegan/vegetarian beach bike ride in a couple of weeks. If you're interested, visit (if the link doesn't display, it's meetup dot com slash veggiefun)

jonathan h said...

Way to turn justifiable angst into positive energy. You're tops, Gary.
My ride/commute that day was particularly enjoyable. I was meeting a friend for dinner in Echo Park, rather than going home, and this not-the-norm journey resulted in a more-pleasant-than-usual path I took Fountain from Hollywood to Sunset Junction - actually delightful. Also, I got to use Sunset through Silverlake - which is about the poster child for bike lanes.

LisaNewton said...

I had no idea such a law existed. I'm totally in favor of that. I organized a Metro program at my workplace so employees could get extremely reduced rates using the Metro system. Almost half of our employees participate.

Thanks for the info.

Tyler said...

Don't despair, the goodie bags sucked anyways. Non-recyclable plastic bags stuffed with loads of paper nonsense.
While I admit the metro maps will be helpful to some, I doubt you would have use for the free Wienerschnitzel chili dog coupon.

Instead of Metro spending money on a 8.5x11 color printed flyer in my bag promoting "bike to work week" how about funneling that cash to the streets?