Will the Bicycle Kill the Car?

Flat. You buy the best ingredients you can, follow the recipe’s instructions, but the cookies don’t rise, and you have a flattened, not so good product. When that happens, the fault is usually the consistency of the fat and how it’s mixed into the dough. Lots of promise in the recipe, an enticing name, but the ultimate product…. Flat. The same thing happened at the Zocalo Public Square’s event, “Will the Bicycle Kill the Car”. With its provocative title, the event promised to be a discussion of cars versus bikes and why the other is dangerous, evil and self entitled – but in the end, just….. Flat.

There was a large contingent of bicyclists in the audience and the panel was also supportive of bicycling–too supportive. There was no one with a perspective through a windshield–no one with an opposing viewpoint. The panel was composed of three white males.Two were middle-aged–Geoff Wardle, the director of advanced mobility research at the Art Center College of Design and Move LA executive director, Denny Zane. The third member was in his 30’s, LADOT bicycle coordinator Nate Baird. Fine men, I’m sure, but there were no bike advocates on the panel. You know, the people who make it their life’s work to ensure safe streets for bicyclists. Also, if the panel was supposed to be diverse, then apparently, only white men ride bikes.

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Here’s two of the white guys. Had to be surreptitious about photos. Zocalo doesn’t allow any.

The moderator was a transportation writer from the Los Angeles Times and her performance was lackluster. She kept reminding the audience that she just arrived from San Francisco after covering the Asiana Airline crash and was tired. In all fairness she tried to ellicit some response from the audience, like when she mentioned, “What about education for cyclists?” Baird responded with, car drivers need education too. It was met with a smattering of applause.

 At one point the moderator asked Zane how bicyclists should react toward cars and he said, “Everyone should just relax.” Then he had a “get off my lawn moment” and went on a diatribe against young fixie riders and accused them of being the majority of scofflaw bicyclists.

 When the moderator mentioned what would it take to get more than the 24% of cyclists who are women to ride bikes, the panel started to squirm. Baird answered the best that he could; he mentioned something about improving infrastructure.

 After the three panelists spoke, it was time for questions from the audience. The one question that stood out was from Ayla Stern with the Valley Bikery. “She found it insulting that there were no women on the panel and that we had to leave it up to three white men to explain why women don’t cycle as much as men.”

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Nate Baird from LADOT

 Afterwards there were drinks available and time to meet and greet the panelists. I asked Baird why he didn’t like bollards, since I mentioned them as a cure for what ails streets adjacent to Rowena. He thought they can be dangerous to cyclists who sometimes couldn’t see them until it was too late.

 I didn’t stay long as I was already bored–flat like cookies ya know. I decided to ride home and since it was dusk, I was too afraid to take the shorter route through the 2nd Street tunnel. Instead, I took Sunset from Grand to Silverlake.

 This is where the evening turned perfect. It was a Dodger home game and there were orange cones dividing the third right-most lane from the other two. It was the bike/bus lane to the stadium. This is the first time that I felt safe on Sunset as I rode down the middle of the lane, not worrying about an impatient driver coming up behind me. There were other cyclists in the lane warming up for a night race. I had a smile on my face even going up the hills. Then I saw them–preliminary markings for new bike lanes on Sunset. This is where everything converged to make it a magical evening.

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Bus/bike only lane to Dodger Stadium. Yay!

 The new markings begin westbound at Elysium and connect to the older bike lanes that begin at Quintero. The eastbound lanes begin at Douglas and end at Innes, where the bus/bike lane begins. There are even markings for four-way continental crossings at the intersection of Douglas and Sunset. I think this is as close to a separated cycletrack that we will get on Sunset. Orange candlesticks would make a perfect replacement for the orange cones after the Dodger season is over when they are removed and the lane is striped permanently as a bus/bike lane. However, I doubt that’s in the plans. Oh well, at least for a while I could forget about the flat cookies from earlier in the afternoon and enjoy the ride home.

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Freshly striped lines for the new Sunset bike lanes

 Like I mentioned earlier, when cookies come out flat, it’s usually the fat that’s the culprit. To prevent unexpectant flatness, you need a solid slightly softened fat, and not a viscous liquid with the consistency of paint when you make cookies. Sugar traps the fat in its crystal matrix and as the fat melts from the heat of the oven it gives off steam which causes the cookies to rise. To prevent an event from becoming unexpectantly flat you need a diverse, solid panel that can live up to a provocative title and some heat from the opposition.

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Snicker cookies–an example of perfect cookies in texture, body and especially taste

 

 

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