Would you let your kids ride on the streets of Los Angeles?
In the past two weeks, three bike riders have been victims of hit-and-run crashes in South Los Angeles. Two of them have lost their lives, and one remains hospitalized. Last week, as you gave your State of the City, you discussed making our streets "free of crime" and emphasized that the streets of Los Angeles “belong to all of us.” The problem is our roads aren’t safe, and they don’t belong everyone. The streets belong to cars, and the streets are far from safe for people who bike and walk around Los Angeles.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I own a business in Los Angeles that designs and distributes commuter and urban bicycles with a mission to "get more people on bikes." I am embarrassed to live in a city that is called the “hit and run capital of the nation,” and that doesn’t make it a priority to keep our streets safe. I am embarrassed that I can’t even ride my bike to work without being called irresponsible by my wife and my parents, and who ask me if I want my one-year-old daughter to grow up without her dad. I am embarrassed that I advertise the benefits of bike riding to my customers and urge them to try to replace car rides with bike rides, even though my friends and family refuse to ride due to safety concerns. I can’t even explain the disappointment that I feel over the safety issues that bike riders and walkers have in Los Angeles, and it is clear that something must change immediately.
There are so many reasons to make meaningful change in regards to making our streets safer for bike riders and walkers that go beyond your fundamental responsibility to make sure our people feel safe. I can easily argue for safer streets from a business perspective as numerous studies have proven that safe, walkable and rideable cities improve sales for local businesses and have increased home values. Additionally, bike riding is not only the most efficient and healthiest form of transportation, but it is also a fun activity that connects our people and makes them happy. What other forms of transportation have those benefits?
Over three years ago you signed an ambitious and exciting plan called the Vision Zero Initiative and declared that you were determined to bring the number of people killed while walking and biking to zero. Since then, we’ve lost over 500 Los Angelenos to the dangerous conditions of our city’s streets. I am asking you to stand up and recommit to Vision Zero, and request that City Council do the same.
We need you to lead and support our City Councilmembers in prioritizing the safety of their constituents. Please stand up for safe streets so that we can have in your words, “a well-run city… A prosperous city… A safe city… A city of opportunity.”
So, I’ll end this letter by posing my original question a different way… what are you going to do to make sure our people feel comfortable letting their kids ride bikes on the streets of Los Angeles?