Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hopefully A New Path Forward For Cycling In Malibu

A lot of noise was generated about the facebook page created by Malibu safety commissioner Susan Tellem, posted briefly first by Ted Rogers of BikingInLA, followed by Streetsblog and myself. The facebook page began with a lot of butting of heads, started by the initial rather inflammatory page description, and I think there is still some head butting lingering. However in a sudden change from a discussion that was going downhill, Tellem has agreed to requests for offline, person to person dialogue on the issue, the only way to really form common ground.

I disagreed with her initial approach toward targeting cyclists, some have expressed stronger words for it. But as I mentioned in comments, I wanted to extend the opportunity for diplomacy even though I made my self very much a part of the offensive effort against the content of the page. Working toward promoting safety on PCH can only benefit from cyclists being involved. I do not think Tellem herself should be overly vilified in this, her comments reflected what are very common undercurrents of mode bias in our culture. What made this time different than a random person on the internet, was this was a public figure overseeing matters of safety in a place many of us ride through. However many of her past deeds and statements suggest she is certainly not an uncaring person, and she has spent a lot of effort criticizing unsafe driving in Malibu in other forums as well. I don't doubt that her interest in safety on PCH is sincere and her strong support and advocacy for tortoises and wild life protection are certainly worth commending. In case you didn't know, I like turtles.

We came in fast and loud asserting our positions, and we have their attention now, but I don't think much good can come from continued arguments on the facebook page. Lets try and transition into constructive solutions mode.

I'll be talking to Tellem tomorrow about arranging a meeting with cyclists. From my experience, sitting down and talking about cycling, in a real meeting, is most effective at resolving disagreements. I'll post more details about further developments as soon as I find out more.


Anonymous said...

Let me know how it goes. I left a comment on her Facebook group offering to talk with her as well.

I do believe she is serious about improving safety on PCH; I just think she's looking at it through the typical windshield perspective, without an understanding of what's safe and legal for cyclists.

danceralamode said...

I'm pretty speculative, since a number of people were asking her to meet and talk, and it took her a long time to even acknowledge any request. (And the only one she acknowledged was yours.)

I hope she is really interested in safety and not just launching an attack to criticize cyclists.

Her page was pretty insulting, and it was directly insulting to all who cycle. Frankly, she owes cyclists an apology. She made a blanket insult of calling us criminals, rude, and insinuating many other things about us. This is basically along the lines of Don Imus insulting the Rutgers Women's Basketball team.

I'm glad she took the page down, but I'm wary about working with some one who doesn't seem to care that she directed very insulting comments at us.

Sirinya said...

Kudos to you and the many cyclists who left insightful and diplomatic comments on the original FB page. I was impressed! Good luck with the meeting and please let us know how it goes.

Rach Stevo said...

Hey Gary, what happened with this?

Gary said...

So current status of the situation is facebook page is down. Tellum has agreed to meet along with other parties from safety commission and possibly sheriff. She has touched base with myself and Ted Rogers. We have been figuring at who should be at the meeting and when to have it, and Rogers has been doing a lot from his angle with LACBC such as finding registered members within Malibu who would be interested in being a part of the discussion.

Nothing firmly solid just yet, but I'm hopeful things are going in a positive direction.

Also the LA Times is doing an upcoming story on PCH road safety and the reporter was directed to contact me by Tellem, for a cyclists perspective on the issue. I'll be talking to the reporter tomorrow.

danceralamode said...

Oh I can't wait to see how she vilifies cyclists to the LAT for all PCH's problems. I don't trust her at all.

SFH said...

any progress on this? I'm curious if a meeting happened and what the results were.