Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I like to blog about all-things Santa Monica but today, I broaden my passion for where I live to include Los Angeles -- and I actually love L.A., warts and all (not as much as Santa Monica -- but I digress). I read Matthew Fleischer's article in today's Los Angeles Times, "Imagine: L.A. Bicyclists in the Driver's Seat, One Day a Week". The opportunity to create something no one would believe L.A. could or would do has been suggested by a volunteer group of bicyclists called "cicLAvia" -- an idea born in Bogata, Colombia, 30 years ago! Los Angeles has fewer parks, per square mile, than even New York City! The statistics for child-asthma and obesity are escalating with ever-decreasing support for physical education in public schools starting with kindergarten. The rest of the world, including many who live here, consider L.A. devoid of community. Neighbors can live next door to each other for years and never know each other's names. Many come to L.A., on their way to somewhere else or as an "escape from" destination where one can disappear in a metropolitan jungle. Many, though, come here to build anew, to reinvent, to create something powerful and lasting. One day a week won't reverse the negative trends for lifestyle, health, economy and general pride for where one lives. Yet it cannot be denied how amazing it would it be if one day a week only pedestrians and bicyclists travel major L.A.'s streets. It's thrilling to think about it. If that's too crazy an idea then, how about one day a week when only pedestrians, motor-less and electric vehicles can travel the streets? Still too hard to imagine? How about one `burb at a time takes on the challenge? It's so easy to conjure reasons it won't work. There'd still be accidents because lousy drivers are lousy drivers no matter what kind of locomotion they use. Many Angelenos get bent out of shape if they're inconvenienced one Sunday a year when 26.2 miles of L.A.'s streets are reserved for the L.A. Marathon. Still, this is an exciting idea with tons of benefits to share. Political and civic cooperation as well as the will to work through the obstacles can make it happen. Besides some L.A. political leaders including Mayor Villaraigosa, groups like Community Arts Resources, California Foundation and Green L.A. Institute are looking for ways to make this cicLAvist dream come true for this city. Like everything new in life, it starts with a dream.