The UnStated State of our City

[[image:on_pedal_front.jpg::inline:1]]I'm thinkin' that we didn't get to hear Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's complete State of the City address on Wednesday.


Published April 20, 2007 by C.I.C.L.E.
Contributed by Paul Serchia

I'm thinkin' that we didn't get to hear Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's complete State of the City address on Wednesday.

Somewhere between Villaraigosa's seat and the lectern at East Valley High School in North Hollywood from which he delivered the annual speech, a page must have fallen out of Hizzoner's prepared text. Or maybe that page from the speech was ripped out of its binder by forces of nature. The winds in the Valley WERE fierce on Wednesday.

I'm just giving the mayor the benefit of the doubt for an obvious omission from the State of the City address, which was followed up on Thursday with the release of his proposed 2007-08 budget.

About 1,600 words into his speech, Mayor Villaraigosa declared that Angelenos "need to put our foot on the pedal when it comes to traffic." Maybe you thought that Hizzoner didn't want to weigh down his oratory with extraneous details when he delivered that line. Most motor vehicles are equipped with at least two pedals. So which one of those pedals was Villaraigosa talking about?

Unless Villaraigosa wants Angelenos to drive our cars like the way that New Jersey state trooper drove the gubernatorial SUV last week, you might assume that our mayor meant to say that we need to step on the BRAKE pedal when it comes to traffic.

Me, I have a different interpretation.

I think that what the mayor meant to say was that we all need to put our foot on the BICYCLE pedal. And that leads to my theory that the text that Villaraigosa read from on Wednesday in North Hollywood was incomplete. In his delivered speech on Wednesday, the mayor went on to talk about things that he has done to fix traffic and keep L.A. moving.

Achievements ticked off by the mayor included a ban on rush hour construction, traffic light synchronization, and placement of traffic officers at busy intersections. And the accomplishments still to come that the mayor previewed on Wednesday include spending more funds for street maintenance and resurfacing, installing a "gridlock tiger team," and making "transit-oriented development and pedestrian villages a reality in the City of Los Angeles."

Clearly, something got left out. My guess is that the missing text would have come right on the heels of the line about Angelenos putting our foot on the pedal. It would have outlined a bold new initiative by the mayor to unclog our congested thoroughfares. And it would have read something like this:

Yes, it's time for Angelenos to put our foot on our pedals…place helmets on our heads…practice making turn signals with our arms rather than with steering wheel levers…and slip into slimming Spandex shorts!

Bicycles are the mode of transit of the future. L.A. has some of the best weather in the nation for cycling, yet few Angelenos choose the cycling option for their commute. And who can blame them? L.A. motorists drive like nuts!

To coax commuting Angelenos out of cars and into saddles, my new budget calls for creating a system of bike lanes throughout our city. Roads in the most progressive cities in the nation already have dedicated lanes for bicyclists. It's time for Los Angeles to catch up! Yes, friends, the time has come to spawn a reduction in traffic…make our air safer to breathe…and become healthier! We can and must get L.A. in gear! City Hall will lead the way!

At that point in the State of the City address, Villaraigosa would place a shiny blue cycling helmet on his head and raise a large yellow road sign depicting a bicycle above the command "Share the Road." Confetti and balloons would fall from the ceiling, festive music would play and a "tiger team" of city cyclists would spin down the aisles of the auditorium.

Ah, yes. It would have been beautiful. Historic, even.

Well, while this year's State of the City address is over and the TV cameras have been turned off, it's not too late for Mayor Villaraigosa to fix the glitch in his speech and lead the charge for truly reshaping L.A. transit. To borrow the mayor's own rhetoric, Villaraigosa could accelerate those ambitions as soon as Saturday, just by checking out the spiffy brigade of hundreds of AIDS/LifeCyclists that will fan out from Santa Monica to celebrate our annual Day on the Ride, a 40 or 80 mile spin along some of L.A.'s most scenic highways.

Saddle up, Mister Mayor, and join the fun! And should you need to appoint a Cycling Czar to help you blaze your bold new trail? Well, I know just the right guy!

About the author: Paul Serchia writes a blog for Aids Lifecycle You can also help Paul raise funds for AIDS/LifeCycle 6, June 3-9, 2007