Los Angeles News

Mayor wants better bike safety on L.A. roads

Monday, August 16, 2010

Just one month after he was injured in a bicycle accident, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spearheaded a special bike summit on Monday morning, aimed at improving bicycle safety across the city.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's boardroom was filled with cycling enthusiasts, eager to share their view with city planners and transportation officials.

The summit gave cyclists an opportunity to talk directly to the mayor and other city officials about what can be done to make the streets safer and make Los Angeles a more bicycle-friendly city.

"We're going to have to change the culture - a culture where driver sometimes don't pay enough attention to or respect the rights and the right of way of cyclists," Villaraigosa said at the summit.

The mayor is still recovering from injuries he suffered in the July accident. Villaraigosa was riding his bicycle on Venice Boulevard when a parked cab abruptly pulled out across a bike lane, causing him to shatter an elbow.

The L.A. City Council has already put aside a little more than $3 million for bike improvements in 2010, said the mayor. Also, the city has put together a plan to build more than 1,600 miles of bike ways.

"We're setting a target of building about 40 miles a year, and at that rate, we'll build about 200 miles every five years," the mayor said.

Speakers representing cycle advocacy groups said bicycle lanes are key to safer roads.

"The city has prioritized cars for so many years, so I think if you start taking away space from the motor vehicles and start giving it to other modes of transportation like bicycling and pedestrians, that's going to start sending a message out to people that they can use alternative modes of transportation," said Aurisha Smolarski with the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition.

"I don't own a car, and I haven't owned a car for almost 20 years, and I bike and take the bus and take the rail, and it's actually been very safe," said bicyclist Joe Linton.

The mayor said that the city is planning a number of public service announcements to educate bike riders and drivers about sharing the roads.

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