Flawed Views on Bicycling, Part 2

(This is part 2 of a response to John Nese’s article “Safety on York Boulevard”. See an introduction and Part 1 here)

Part 2

The article continues:

“I think bicyclists can be good for businesses like mine. In fact, I would love to see how creative cyclists can be with carrying their purchases. I know in some countries, it’s quite a feat to carry large packages, boxes, etc. atop a bike.

But my overall issue with bikes is about safety.”

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Flawed Views on Bicycling, Part 1

(Less than a day after Walk Eagle Rock published an article titled “Galco’s and Bike Lanes“, John Nese of Galco’s published – what appears to be a response – on his business’ website, an article titled “Safety on York Boulevard“. We at here at Walk Eagle Rock feel safety is paramount and we would like to address Nese’s article, which actually extends beyond safety and discusses Nese’s opinion on bicycling in Highland Park more broadly. The following is part 1 of 2 a response addressing claims made in Nese’s article)

Part 1

Nese opens his article stating:

“The new bike lanes on York Boulevard scare me. Not just as a business owner, but a resident of the area and a grandfather.

I see cars, as many as 1,200 an hour I’m told, rushing down the street and, with the introduction of these bike lanes, I am fearful that when they meet up with a two-wheeled biker, things won’t be pretty and with the bicyclist getting the short end of the stick.”

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Galco’s and Bike Lanes

Did you catch the most recent issue of the Boulevard Sentinel? On the front page there’s an article about the new bike lanes on York Boulevard titled, “New York Blvd. Lane Striping Annoys Business“.

The article suggests that the newly extended bike lanes on York Boulevard could have a negative impact on business. In the article John Nese, the owner of Galco’s (located at 5702 York Boulevard, in front of the new bike lane) and the sole person interviewed, states the following:

“The bike lanes are nice, but they’re not good for business. You’re not gonna see anyone buying cases of soda pop or anything else sizable when they’re on a bicycle.”

I was rather surprised to read that quote from John Nese for several reasons.

First off, how can one evaluate the effects of a bike lane within mere days of its installation?

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Embrace Occidental College

Eagle Rock is very proud to be home to the humble and increasingly well-known Occidental College, or Oxy as it is known among the college’s students and locals. The sign that welcomes people at our town’s eastern end, at the  intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Wiota Street, reads “Eagle Rock, Founded 1911. Home of Occidental College”. Every year when Occidental College starts the Fall semester a banner hangs at the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard that welcomes Oxy students back to Eagle Rock. These are literally signs of the affection and positive relationship fostered between the College and Eagle Rock.

There is no doubt that Occidental College has had a positive impact on our community, and that Eagle Rock has been good to Oxy. Though perhaps Eagle Rock can be more welcoming to Occidental College, particularly to its students, and equally benefit to the community at large through ways that embody the messages we put on our welcome sign and the banner that hangs over our town’s major intersection.

While Eagle Rock has always been home to a handful of Oxy students, about 60% of the school’s students are not from California, which demonstrates quite clearly many students are seeing Eagle Rock for the first time. Eagle Rock being the lovely and cool neighborhood that it is is definitely worth exploring, but is our community accessible and inviting to the many car-free college students who’ve never been here before? Our residential streets are typically relaxing and nice to walk along, but unfortunately the same cannot be said of our car-centric commercial corridors– which is a shame because that’s where our local businesses are! But things can change, for the better.

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Embrace Bikes, Embrace Business

In discussing Take Back The Boulevard (TBTB), the initiative seeking to improve various elements along Colorado Boulevard to make the street more safe and pleasant, it is not unusual for residents to be divided. Do we make more intersections signalized or add bike lanes to reduce speeding? Do we reduce number of travel lanes or increase amount of parking to make the street more pleasant? The community organizations that have spearheaded TBTB (Collaborative Eagle Rock Beautiful, the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Eagle Rock Community Preservation and Revitalization Corporation, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society, Occidental College, The Eagle Rock Association, and the Twentieth Century Women’s’ Club of Eagle Rock) have tried very hard to please all parties and incorporate all needs in pursuing a better Colorado Boulevard that functions for everyone. 

However, while the general idea of improving safety through reducing speeding seems to have near unanimous support, there’s one notable conflict that emerges in almost all discussions of TBTB. All to often it seems neighbors break out into a “bike lanes vs car parking” debate, as though these are two ideas that can only work against each other. It appears to some as an either/or proposition: either we provide bike lanes, or we provide more car parking through converting parallel parking to angled parking, by reallocating superfluous travel lanes on Colorado and achieve the goal of reducing speeds.

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