bicycling in belgium

rider not using the bike lane

When it comes to bicycling, Los Angeles thinks it's Belgium. Or Beijing. It's not. Unlike Belgium or Beijing, L.A. is spread out, encompassing over 400 square miles.

The L.A. City Council, as a major priority, wants area residents to bicycle everywhere, even though in many cases that is 100% impractical. Many area residents commute dozens of miles to work everyday, each way, via freeway. Many people shop for food, filling an entire shopping cart, and simply cannot lug their food home via a bicycle.

Regardless of the common sense and the reality, L.A. is in the process of converting hundreds of miles of streets and roadways into "bicycle lanes". To do that, the government is taking away a lane of traffic from those streets, thus making the horrific traffic congestion in L.A. even worse. Does that make any sense at all???

Here is an event I personally witnessed at 6:45 PM on Tuesday, August 25, 2015:

I was driving my car north on a newly "bicycle-laned" major street near where I live. It was beautiful summer evening. As I was driving I noticed that there were no bicycle riders ahead of me using the bicycle lane. Not one bicyclist. I looked in my rear view mirror and finally saw one, a twenty-something guy pedaling his bike in the new bike lane. As I watched him, he rode in the bicycle lane for about a block then veered onto the sidewalk, where he rode for several more blocks. Why on earth did he leave the dedicated bicycle lane and continue riding his bike on the uneven, cracked and broken sidewalks of L.A., weaving around pedestrians? I don't know.

I DO know that it makes no sense to add hundreds of miles of bicycle lanes to the streets of L.A., at taxpayer expense, and make vehicular traffic congestion worse, if the bicycle riders are not even going to use the bicycle lanes!

People in Belgium and Beijing and in other places around the world do indeed ride their bikes everywhere. In many other places, bicycling makes sense. for work and play, where distances are short. Los Angeles, however, is spread out. In L.A., it is common to have to travel 10-20 miles or more to get to where you want, and need, to go. And the buses and subway often don't go anywhere close to where you want to go. Unfortunately, all too often, in Los Angeles, you do need a car.

Los Angeles is not Belgium. Or Beijing. And, regarding bicycling lanes, the Los Angeles city government, no matter what it thinks or what it does, will not and cannot make it so.