Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Response to Dave Weaver's Comments on Cycling

On Tuesday night the Glendale City Council finally approved the long awaited Glendale Safe and Healthy Streets Plan, which lays out a framework for improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists in Glendale (full post on the meeting here). It was a wonderful and energizing moment for Glendale. The only sour note of the entire evening was sounded by Councilman Dave Weaver, who reluctantly voted for the plan, but made these comments about the prospects for safer streets in Glendale. Please watch his comments in their entirety, and read my response.

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Councilman Weaver,

Congratulations on your re-election and thank you for your support of the Safe and Healthy Streets Plan last night despite your reservations. I was at last night's City Council meeting (I spoke in support of the plan - the bearded fellow who lost a lot of weight) and there are a number of points you made in your comments regarding the plan that I would like to respond to.

Many of your concerns had to do with redesigning roads to take away traffic capacity.

As you pointed out, most roads in Glendale cannot be widened. As we continue to grow, the roads we have become more congested. Moving people around efficiently with the roads we have is key. Whether by car, bus, foot, or bike. You are certainly correct that most people will still get around by car. It will just get more difficult as more cars continue to clog the roads and gas prices continue to rise. These are both inevitabilities.

I bike to work in downtown Glendale everyday - a little over a mile. It takes me 6 or 7 minutes. It would take me several minutes longer to drive, as I would have to drive up to the third floor of the parking structure on Maryland, walk down, and then walk back up to my office. My bike is a more efficient choice for me. It's also a more efficient choice for the city: every day, my bike is one fewer car clogging up Brand Blvd and one fewer car taking up space in a city parking structure. I am actively reducing transit congestion, and the fact that it makes me healthier, saves money and is fun is just gravy.

There are many others throughout the city for whom riding bikes short distances would also be an efficient choice - if they felt it was safe to do so. I'm not talking about riding across the whole county, or even the whole city - a 1-3 mile trip only takes a few minutes on a bike and can provide some relief from high gas prices and congestion. These are the people whom the city should be courting to make our road networks safer and more efficient.

As you pointed out many times in your speech, being on a bike in Glendale can be very unsafe. This is a situation a great city like Glendale should be ashamed of. Providing a network of bike routes is a public safety issue. I am a tax-paying Glendale resident, and it is a high priority among the services I expect the city to provide. One only needs to look to Burbank, Pasadena, or even the City of LA to see that Glendale has fallen far behind in providing for the needs of its residents in this regard. To neglect to provide basic amenities that can increase the public safety of my fellow residents - your constituents - is not realistic, it is defeatist. I ask that you reconsider your attitude and research the experiences of cities that have had success in creating bike networks.

I look forward to your support on the council as I continue to volunteer my time towards implementing these important public safety improvements in our fair city.


Scott Lowe

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Cathy said...

Hey, I was at that meeting (came too late to speak). Bravo to your comments that night, and your rebuttal of Councilman Weaver's "this is a car city and it's not safe to do anything but drive" speech.

Happy cycling -- if we pass on the street, I will be the very, very slow cyclist on the raspberry-colored entry-level comfort bike, hauling groceries.

Scott said...

Excellent, thanks for the kind words, I look forward to seeing you on the road. You should come to the bike master plan outreach meetings and say hi. I'll post the dates of the next ones soon. Stay safe out there.