Following Bicycle Incident, Villaraigosa Shows More Cycling Support

Still recovering from a bicycle incident involving a taxi cab over a week ago, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa yesterday released a YouTube video thanking people for their support and announcing a future bicycle summit.

"I had a little bit of a scare there," he said, "but I can tell you first hand just how difficult it is to move through our streets, to navigate through a city that is built for the automobile, but in many ways, will be the best place for cyclists will be in."

The New York Times called the incident "a gift to the cycling bloggers of Los Angeles," quoting blogger Ted Rogers: “He’s now officially one of us... Welcome to our world.”

Even Villaraigosa himself followed the incident up with a blog post on the Huffington Post affirming that bikes belong on the streets.

Joe Linton, a member of the city's official bicycle committee, believes the incident has opened Villaraigosa's eyes up a bit more. "I think that people who actually bike on L.A. streets kind of know how it is and we can relate to the Mayor's incident," he said over the phone. "I think, generally, he's been giving lip service and it feels like he's gradually getting more serious about making [bicycle issues] a priority."

In the YouTube video where the Mayor appears to be taking cycling more seriously, he says 1,663 bicycle lanes are planned for the city. But "lanes" might be too general of a term. The bicycle plan currently being developed by the city calls for a total of 1,633 miles of bikeways, which includes lanes, paths, routes and bike-friendly streets. Linton says there are currently 157 miles of bicycle lanes in Los Angeles and that the plan calls for 57 miles of proposed lanes and 511 miles of potential lanes. When all is said and done -- if those potential lanes are actually built and if those numbers are accurate -- there would be 724 miles of bicycle lanes in the city.

While Linton believes the overall plan is not up to par, he is excited about a development from last week. "They actually just published implementation documents and the city is committing to 40 miles of new bikeway each year for the next five years. Historically they do 5 to 10 miles a year."

And perhaps the perfect time to continue improving the bicycle plan is now. Yesterday, Villaraigosa formally introduced his pick, Michael LoGrande, for the Planning Department. During the press conference, Councilmember Ed Reyes called for "planning with the bicycle culture" as a city goal. To that, as CurbedLA noted, the Mayor yelped, "Yeaah!"