Friday, April 05, 2013

The Straight and Narrow on LA's Sharrows War - What?!?!

If you want to read the article this post is about: "The Straight and Narrow on LA's Sharrows War"

So I read the above article, and I couldn't help myself, but to write out the following rant.

Forgive me father, for I have sinned, I have ranted in a comment section...

Brief overview: Author Joseph Mallandar espouses that the city sharrow program is a "pacifier for newbie renters who just got into town and are spending their parents' pension", but also believes that the city should not continue to permit "more and more rentals and fewer and fewer single-family homes" and somehow that will address his complaint of the "increasingly higher rents".  Joseph also believes that the paint on the asphalt will "create more confusion" for motorists, in our billboard blighted urban swath.

Also, don't forget, the author of this article has written a book which is titled "Days Change at Night: LA's Decade of Decline, 2003-2013"  so I wonder what his feelings are about our city?

The inherent car positive intellectual bias reveals itself in paragraph 6.

"...[Ciclovia] blocked off streets paved for cars on certain days to bicycle traffic exclusively..."

The streets of any city were not "paved for cars".  Any city founded before 1900 paved its streets for trolleys and carts/wagons.  Streets were not made "for cars".  Streets were made to move people.  I recommend to learn how cyclists are the original group responsible for lobbying for paved roads in America!

Second, what does being a renter vs homeowner have to do with cycling?

"To me, there aren't many cyclists like Will and me, homeowners who still brave the streets.  To me, most of the cyclists are renters, and sharrows are a play to them, ... saying the City loves you, young renter person, even when it keeps permitting more and more rentals and fewer and fewer single-family homes. "

I have lived in LA for 5 years now (4 years in North Hollywood and 1 year (so far) in East Hollywood, and I'm not planning to go anywhere.  I'm working and spending my OWN cash, as are my friends.  Joseph implies in this article that If you weren't fortunate enough to be born 50+ years ago when one could actually afford real estate in Los Angeles without being a multi-millionaire, you are some being "played" to by the city government (because only HOMEOWNERS deserve representation and response from city government, right?)

Don't begrudge young renters for trying to survive in an economy that has left us moored on an island of student loan debt, rising rents, transportation costs, and shrinking job options.

I own a car, but if my job didn't require me to have it, you can bet I'd consider selling it.  It costs me an average of 700 dollars a month to own and operate a car in LA.  (Insurance: 200, Car Payment: 200, Gasoline: 150, Parking, Fines, Maintenance (avg): 150)

Let alone a 1-bedroom rental which costs me another 1320 a month, which I thankfully am able to split with my partner, each dropping 660.  Most American's don't pay that much of their income towards their mortgage payment.

Not to mention my 400 dollars a month I pay in student loans (which unlike in the past, cannot be discharged in bankruptcy!)   So please note that I'm already at about 1700 bucks a month in obligations and I haven't fed or clothed myself.

The city's new "Small lot ordinance" allows more single family condos to be built in LA, which is good, but I haven't seen one selling for less than about a million.  So hardly reachable by your average working person.  Building more individual homes would only drive rents higher, by limiting the number of rentals available.

To recap: Author Joseph Mallandar believes rent is to high, and the city should permit more single family homes (where?) and fewer apartments, because the rent is too high, and that if you are young and ride a bike you're probably living off your parent's pension.  And painting reminders to motorists to share the road will cause confusion and death.  Unlike doin nothing, which has been causing death for years now.

Sharrows do one thing really well--make drivers (myself included) AWARE that cyclists could appear and are on the road.  It doesn't mean that they will see us, or behave, but everytime I see a sharrow from behind the wheel, I think "huh, bikes could be on this street" and most motorists are not used to thinking that thought.  Just like how when the internet first came about, ads used to say "Type "w w w dot mcdonalds dot com" to visit our website" and now they just flash a facebook icon or a url--it is not nessecary to explain it, because we know all KNOW what to do.  But in LA, we still are in the training stage.

Every lane is a bike lane, so sharrows could be put on every street in the city and I think it would be fine and not cause "confusion" anymore than a dotted yellow line causes me confusion.


Anyway, what do you think?  Am I crazy to make this rant? :)