This year has brought some strange silver linings for environmentalists. While I wish the Gulf Oil Spill never happened, I am glad the disaster finally made the general public aware of the dirty effects of offshore drilling. And while I wouldn't wish a broken elbow on anyone, I am glad Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's shattered bone suddenly brought a lot of attention to the plight of cyclists in my metropolis!
Regular MNN readers already know that Mayor Villaraigosa fell off his bike mid-July when a cab braked suddenly in front of him, causing him to lose balance. When that happened, Villaraigosa said he'd work to make riding safer for bicyclists in this notoriously car-centric city -- and he's been following through on his word with remarkable speed!
As promised, Mayor Villaraigosa convened a Bicycle Summit on Aug. 16 -- attended by hundreds of Los Angeles cyclists despite the fact that the event happened on a Monday morning. There, Villaraigosa and City Councilmember and L.A. Transportation Committee chair Bill Rosendahl announced their support for a three feet law -- a law that would require motorists to give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing.
Then just a week later on Aug. 24, Villaraigosa unveiled the winner of a Bike Safety Poster Contest. The winning design, dubbed "Give Me 3," graphically educates motorists about giving cyclists space. At that press conference, Villaraigosa reiterated his desire to legislate a three feet law in California.
A day later, some of these posters were already up at bus shelters all over Los Angeles!
In a city where bicyclists often complain about how slowly bike-friendly changes come about, I feel excited and almost confused about this quick turn of events. I hope Villaraigosa's elbow heals soon -- and that he keeps pushing for bicycle safety in Los Angeles.
In the meantime, bike safe out there this weekend. If circumstances force you off your bike and into the car as you go about your weekend, please remember to give bicyclists three feet of space.
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