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08/04/2011: "Gertrude Stein Was Wrong"
Just this morning, my friend and colleague Chris Kidd sent me a link to an enlightening report hot off the virtual presses from the "Bicycle & Pedestrian Facilities Progam of the City of Oakland, California."

This is the town of which Gertrude Stein famously said, "There is no there there."

Apparently that has changed...especially for cyclists and other lovers of urban life.

I was both delighted and dismayed to see what that often-maligned East Bay town has been doing to make cycling feasible on their streets--something which has the happy side effect of making life feasible on the streets as well. Multiple road diets, paving repairs (paving repairs!), wayfinding signage, bike lanes, loads of bike fact, 40% more bike parking than the City of Los Angeles, which is ten times larger! Even a few "bike-friendly" traffic signals.

As of June 2011, Oakland boasts:
Meanwhile, Los Angeles, while finally making some progress, continues to come up with excuses for its persistent timidity in supporting use of the World's Most Efficient Machine as a substitute for land-hungry, tax-sucking, murderous cars on its streets.

But Oakland has all the same excuses. Our northern sister houses just under 400,000 people, with all the racial and income diversity of LA, and probably more. Here are some recent population stats:
In other words, every claimed difficulty LA faces, Oakland faces too. Oakland is a microcosm of Los Angeles, but with less money and a greater ethnic diversity (which I mention because it was once touted as an excuse for LA's doing so little to support cycling).

As Bikes Belong notes, "Oakland, California has the fifth highest bicycle mode share of any major U.S. city--2.2 percent and growing." Meanwhile, LA's mode share has just grown as well--to 0.99%.

Someone's doing something right, and it ain't LA, not yet. Maybe we could learn a little from that gritty little town up north....

Read the report on Oakland here.

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