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comment by veen
veen  ·  192 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Coronavirus is not fuel for urbanist fantasies

Not even in the long term?

The Netherlands wasn’t always a bicycle utopia - it became that way after five decades of slow but steady progress made by urbanists, even if the initial spark wasn’t from them.

I get that there’s bigger forces at play, and you’re probably on the side of those mattering more than anything else. But a city like NYC has gone from “cars yay” to “why do we have citibikes?” to “let’s build two dozen cycleways a year” in less than a decade.

So I know that I’m talking about a city that has both this and a homelessness problem, and that that’s a good example of urbanists failing entirely? But at the same time I’m also hopeful that a long and dedicated bureaucracy like a city, with ideas and help from people like her, can do great things. And who knows, give it another ten years and we’ll see bicycle highways and safe crossings and people will wonder how that came to be, and I think I’d point to people like her continually pushing for more for at least some of the credit.

kleinbl00  ·  192 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You and I are both all about that. We know this. It surprises no one. But you and I would both be scolded by the author for having "urbanist fantasies."


1) The Chandler Bikeway. This was my first real bike path in Los Angeles. It took me from home to work, and also from home to Target, and also from home to Home Depot, which is at Empire Center, which used to be Lockheed, including the Ulta that used to be the Skunk Works. You can ride bikes on it but you have to stop every 300 yards or so because it crosses a lot of traffic and traffic is God in Los Angeles. Most of the time you're weaving around Mexican nationals who like to walk five abreast. Occasionally you dodge disinterested skateboarders. Sometimes you see other bikers. The neighborhood uses it for what it wants and what the neighborhood wants is a place to mill around after dinner.

2) The Marvin Braude Bike Trail. This was my workout run for about five years. I'd do 10 miles up, 10 miles back. It's completely useless on weekends because it fills to the gills with tourists, despite the signs every 25 yards prohibiting foot traffic. Bicyclists in Los Angeles - of which there are many, because this path goes through the wealthiest of the Beach Cities - ride parallel to the trail because that way they can rip around at 20mph without anyone being mad that they're riding bikes on a bike path. Through much of Hermosa and Manhattan there are blinking speed limit signs along the bike path reminding bikers that they can't go over 5mph lest they frighten the pedestrians that aren't allowed to use the bike path. On weekends there are cops that will ticket you if you do not dismount from your bicycle and walk it on the bike path lest you inconvenience the pedestrian traffic that is warned not to use the bike path.

3) The LA River Bike Path. Or, "the LA River Trail" because we'd sure like to rebrand this thing because we sure want people to know there's NAY-churrr in Los Angeles and fuck bicyclists, by the way. During the week the only people who use the LA River Bike Path are the homeless, the drug dealers and myself. During the weekend the drug dealers go somewhere else, the homeless retreat to the bus stations and overpasses while I am forced to contend against every Pearl Izumi'd choad from Ventura to Redondo. They are none of them local, they are none of them hispanic, they are universally white or Asian and they all have BMWs with bike racks back in Griffith Park. They often ride 20 or 30 at a time and they all yawp at each other as they rip past you with their shaved legs and shaved arms because they want you to know they're all so busy looking down to be fast that they need advanced warning that there's an object slower than them in their way. On the one hand they cause neighborhood resentment because they often cream elderly pedestrians stupid enough to want to walk by a drainage ditch on the weekend but on the other hand they attract the exact kind of hipster establishment you'd expect.

To an urban planner, all three of those are bike paths. But to the neighborhoods in which they reside they're anything but. I'm sure there were visions that these things would minimize inequality or some shit but at the end of the day, they're deer trails. They'll get used by the species nearest.

Let's be clear: this is a white Angeleno - the fuckin' "Urbanism Editor" of Curbed - going out of her way to slag every city but Los Angeles for their implied racism in not addressing racism in their cities and it's the kind of woker-than-thou bullshit that really sticks in my craw.