L.A. Council District 5 — Paul Koretz

May 6, 2009

As I noted on here a few weeks ago, I was recently approached by representatives for both of the candidates in the race for L.A.’s 5th Council District. They each offered to have their respective candidates address bicycling and transportation issues here, so I sent each campaign a list of five questions. Former state Assembly Member and West Hollywood City Council Member Paul Koretz is the first to respond. I’ll repost this on the CD5/SD26 page above and keep it there through the election on May 19th, and will post David Vahedi’s responses as soon as I receive them.

Paul Koretz

pk-headshot-smallbicyclist was killed by an intoxicated hit-and-run driver in Echo Park recently, the latest in a string of hit-and run incidents. What can be done on the city level to reduce the rate of both drunk driving and hit-and-runs? And what can be done to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians?

First, we need to educate people about drinking in moderation by promoting alcohol abuse awareness programs and making the public more conscious of the serious consequences of drinking and driving.  Second, I think one of the largest contributing factors to drunk driving in Los Angeles is the lack of an accessible and effective regional public transportation system. We simply do not have a system in place for people to safely travel between local bars and restaurants and their home. Expanding our existing public transportation system would be the first big step. I also believe that penalties for hit-and-run drivers need to be substantially increased and enforced. It’s a serious crime and the penalties need to be much stiffer for offenders.  I strongly believe that our current system lets drunk drivers off the hook too easily.

I have met with neighborhood groups throughout the district who are deeply concerned with the recent increases in alcohol-related accidents that have caused serious bodily harm and in some cases, unfortunately, death. We need to increase traffic police activity near major intersections and thoroughfares throughout the district to deter speeders and red light runners. Cross walk sting operations (near Robertson and Pico) have been able to temporarily increase awareness among morning and evening commuters. In addition, we should also increase traffic lights and reflectors near intersections to alert drivers at crossing areas. Finally,  I am also in favor of increasing penalties for violations of these regulations.

One step we could take immediately to help make our streets safer would be to support Assistant Majority Leader Paul Krekorian in helping pass AB 766, the Safe Streets Bill. This important legislation would address the problem of rising speed limits in our neighborhoods and empower give local cities and neighborhoods to regulate their own speed limits, while still being able to enforce them.  The Safe Streets Bill will equip local governments with the tools to keep the speeds traveled on local roads at a rational level and make the streets in our community safer for bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians alike.  

The Los Angeles City Council recently gave approval to the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. Are you familiar with this document, and if so, do you support these rights as written? Are there any you disagree with, and why? And what would you consider the next steps to transform those rights from mere words into tangible action?  

I am well-versed with the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights and I support it.  It goes without saying that Cyclists should be entitled to the same protections under the law as everyone else. I believe the first step is to transform these rights into tangible action by increasing the role that cyclists play in urban and roadway planning. I strongly encourage input from the cycling community on how to improve our public transportation and specifically how we can increase access to and use of mass transit. We all need to work together to create conditions that will ensure safety for all parties – pedestrians, cyclists and mass transit passengers.  

There is often a high level of tension between cyclists and drivers in Los Angeles as they compete for limited road space, as illustrated by last year’s incident in Mandeville Canyon. What can the city do to help reduce that tension, and encourage both sides to safely and courteously share the road?  

It’s not easy to get motorists in Los Angeles, who are so dependent on their cars, to realize that bicyclists have the same rights as someone in a car. That being said, I think the driver in the Mandeville Canyon incident went far beyond extreme – deadly. I am pleased that Councilmember Rosendahl (who has endorsed my campaign) agreed to introduce the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights, which I whole-heartedly support and I think is a step in the right direction to addressing the tension.  

What role, if any, do you see bicycles playing in city transportation policy and improving traffic flow within the city?

When I was the Mayor of West Hollywood, I requested input from the bicycle community on how to implement bike lanes on part of Santa Monica Boulevard. I think Los Angeles needs to adopt a regional public transportation approach that not only addresses improving traffic flow, and mass transit, but also how we can improve options and the quality of life for bicyclists.

In general, we need to focus on the creation of an effective bicycle infrastructure. Los Angeles, with over 330 sunny days a year, should be the world leader in bicycle commuting. We need to start the work of building many more miles of safe bikeways and adequate secure parking for commuters. These two steps will be a good beginning in our efforts to alleviate congestion and improve traffic flow.

Are there any other issues you want to address, or any additional comments you’d like to make to the bicycling community?

I am very proud to say that I rode a bicycle all the way from San Francisco to Los Angeles as part of the AIDS Lifecycle. It was one of the most rewarding experiences because I got to see California from a unique perspective while supporting a great cause.


Los Angeles CD5: Things are getting interesting

April 22, 2009

Monday night, I attended a debate between the candidates in the May 19 general election for Los Angeles 5th Council District, Paul Koretz and David Vahedi.

Afterwards, I had hoped that I might be able to talk to someone from the Koretz campaign and encourage them to finally provide their comments about bicycling and transportation issues, like four of the six candidates in the primary election did, including Vahedi. Unfortunately, they left before I had a chance to catch anyone.

Instead, I was approached by Vahedi’s campaign manager. He asked if I had any questions for Vahedi, and offered to have him write another post for this blog.

Yeah, like I’m going to turn down an offer like that.

Then the next morning I received an email from someone with the Koretz campaign, who offered to respond to my earlier request for his comments.

So I gave it a little thought, and taking my cue from Damien Newton’s survey for the city attorney candidates, I emailed both campaigns a brief list of questions this morning:

1. A bicyclist was killed by an intoxicated hit-and-run driver Saturday night, the latest in a string of hit-and run incidents. What can be done on the city level to reduce the rate of both drunk driving and hit-and-runs? And what can be done to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians?

2. The Los Angeles City Council recently gave approval to the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. Are you familiar with this document, and if so, do you support these rights as written? Are there any you disagree with, and why? And what would you consider the next steps to transform those rights from mere words into tangible action?

3. There is often a high level of tension between cyclists and drivers in Los Angeles as they compete for limited road space, as illustrated by last year’s incident in Mandeville Canyon. What can the city do to help reduce that tension, and encourage both sides to safely and courteously share the road?

4. What role, if any, do you see bicycles playing in city transportation policy and improving traffic flow within the city?

5. Are there any other issues you want to address, or any additional comments you’d like to make to the bicycling community?

We’ll have to see if they actually follow through, and what they’ll have to say. If they do, I’ll get it online as fast as I can. And if not, that should tell us something as we prepare to cast our ballots.

Either way, things are starting to get interesting around here.


Streetsblog reports on the appearance of a new ghost bike at Flower and La Brea. Congratulations are in order, as Gary graduates to CAT 4. Stephen Box explores the homeless encampment known as the Orange Line Bike Path. Alex provides a step-by-step plan for bicycle activism. West Seattle is becoming a hub for cycling; so, evidently, is Changwon. Finally, an Irish writer asks why it’s so hard to transition to two wheels, while another hangs up her helmet for good.


An open letter to the candidates in L.A. Council District 5

February 10, 2009

As cyclists, we have to get more involved in the political process if we want to see things get any better around here.

So earlier this morning, I sent the following email to each of the candidates running to replace Jack Weiss as council member for Los Angeles’ Council District 5, based on the list provided by The League of Women Voters:

Dear Mr. (or Ms.) ….

As you are no doubt aware, the election for L.A.’s 5th City Council District is just three weeks away. While you, and the other candidates, have addressed any number of various community groups, the concerns of one highly motivated group have largely been ignored up to this point.

There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of bicyclists over voting age here in the 5th District. Some, such as myself, ride for recreation and fitness. Others ride for social or environmental reasona, while for still others, cycling is their primary means of transportation.

Whatever their reason for riding, virtually all are concerned with such vital issues as safe streets and infrastructure, clean air and fair, unbiased enforcement of traffic laws, as well as the effective implementation of the recently approved Cyclist’s Bill of Rights.

I am offering you, as well as the other candidates in the race, an opportunity to address this constituency — at no cost to your campaign.

A resident and active voter in this district, I also operate a popular blog about bicycling in Los Angeles. I’m offering to turn this forum over to your campaign for one day, in order to speak directly to this city’s bicycling community.

You are free to discuss anything you want, from the roll bicycles can play in reducing traffic congestion, to seemingly unrelated issues such as crime rates or responsiveness to your future constituents. If you are an active cyclist, tell us. Or if you want to confront cyclists in some way, feel free. Whatever you send me, I will publish — unedited and without comment — in the order that it’s received.

It may only be seen by a relative handful of district voters; however, with so many candidates, even that could be enough to influence the outcome. Or it could be linked to by other influential blogs, and seen by thousands of eligible voters with an interest in cycling.

All I ask is that you send your statement to me in the body of your email or as a Word attachment, with a maximum of 1,000 words (although less is usually better online). And the sooner I receive it the better, to allow voters time to make an informed choice.

Of course, you’re under no obligation to participate; however, if some of the other campaigns submit a statement and you don’t, it could speak volumes to the biking community.

Besides, it’s free. So what do you have to lose?

I’ve already received a commitment from CD5 candidate Adeena Bleich, who notes that her brother is an urban cyclist who survived a collision with a car.

We’ll have to see if anyone else takes the time to respond. If they do, I’ll post it on here as quickly as I can get it online, as well as creating link or separate page to keep it active at the top of this site.

Because what the candidates have to say to us — or whether they even respond — will have a lot to do with how I cast my vote next month.

And I hope it will yours, as well.

 

Thanks to Damien at Streetsblog LA for linking to a couple of my recent posts, and pointing out that Brentwood boutiques aren’t the only retailers who are clueless about Ghost Bikes. Gary picks up the “That’s so L.A.” theme — hey, we may be on to something here! — with photos of a fast and furious Viper wipe-out. L.A.’s leading biking actress/activists couple tip us to the city’s upcoming bike rack design contest, here and here. Los Angeles rides contributes more well-thought-out ways to get from here to there. Santa Clarita sponsors a century ride at the end of this month. And Portland may, or possibly may not, have its own cycling version of the mask-wearing Lone Ranger.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 365 other followers