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03/09/2011: "Box on the Out"
The election results for my Los Angeles City Council district are in, and bike activist Stephen Box has lost, and lost resoundingly, with less than 14% of the vote. The incumbent, Tom La Bonge, a political careerist, won easily with 55% of around 16,000 votes. (A third candidate, Tomás O'Grady, won 31%.)

You'd think that as a cycling advocate myself, I'd be worried. But I'm not.

In fact, La Bonge has been a cycling advocate himself for years--not as passionate nor as vociferous about it as Box, but steady. I remember taking my son along on Mayor Richard Riordan's rides (which La Bonge organized) when the lad (now in law school) could barely straddle a BMX bike. And while La Bonge's support of bicycling programs has seemed to me to be responsive rather than pro-active, it has always been there. He does need to be pushed into action, but once pushed, he does act.

(Well, usually--4th Street is still pretty sad despite a decade of pushes.)

The truth is, I voted for Box primarily for non-cycling reasons, especially his support of small businesses. I was in fact uncomfortable with Box's strident opposition to the Community Redevelopment Agency, which suffers many real flaws (especially its taking of private properties, under a variant of eminent domain, not for public use, but to grant to private developers, a practice I do abhor)--but which also has done great good for the poorer communities of this city--communities almost universally snubbed by local developers. In the end perhaps Box was too conservative (in areas other than transportation policy) for a solidly liberal district.

La Bonge is a cheerleader more than a policy wonk, and I think we would have done better with a policy wonk for a least a while--but La Bonge has been cheerleading for bicycle programs and infrastructure for at least twenty years, so, while there is cause for cyclists to be a little disappointed, there is no real reason for us to despair.

The new Bike Plan (which La Bonge supported enthusiastically) won't fall into a giant pothole and break a rim.

That is, as long as it stays off 4th Street....

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