The Mayor’s Bike Summit triple fail

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the date and time of his bike summit today – Monday, August 16th from 9am-11am.  The mayor’s staff, renowned for the extraordinary political acrobatics, completed a triple front FAIL in organizing the bike meeting.

Failure #1: The meeting takes place during work day, making it impossible for many of the city’s best bike advocates to attend.  Had the mayor’s staff consulted with bike advocates ahead of time, it would have realized this.

Failure #2: The mayor’s staff did not coordinate with members of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee – the official body focused on bicycle issues in Los Angeles.  Members of this committee learned of the summit secondhand, from press.

Failure #3: The mayor’s staff titled the meeting the Bike Summit, disrespecting advocates who organized two previous bike summits in Los Angeles.  More than 150 people attended each of the two previous bike summits – the Bike Summit in 2009, and the Street Summit (rebranded Bike Summit) in 2010.  The Mayor’s event, early on a working day, can’t compete with the real Bike Summits, so his staff have set him up for a failure.

A summit is a bringing together of the most powerful energies on an issue.  Bikeside endorses the good intentions of the Mayor and welcomes his energy and clout.  We do not endorse the process or timing of this event.  By scheduling the bike meeting during the workday, the Mayor’s staff settled for third place.  The Mayor’s staff sent a clear signal that convenience for city staff will continue to be a higher priority than engaging the community leaders who have been working on bike issues all along.

When the Mayor returned from Copenhagen he said “in the area of bicycling I’ve got to do a better job and the city’s got to do a better job.”  Indeed.  Mr. Mayor, you may begin instructing your staff to move the meeting to a weekday evening, coordinating with existing leadership, and choosing another name.

Good process leads to good results, and bad process to bad.  In the Cyclist LAPD Task Force good conversations, deliberative action, commitment to empathy, and honesty are the prevailing themes.  Good process, good results.  The bike plan update process went dark for 18 months with a group of planners and staff that were hostile to the community.  Result?  The plan is in a do-over phase.  Bad process, bad results.

Alex Thompson

Bikerowave co-founder, Cyclists' Bill of Rights co-author, President of Bikeside, and Math Phd. HULK SMASH straight from Michigan!

14 thoughts on “The Mayor’s Bike Summit triple fail

  1. It could just be that I work in a very collaborative field, but I can’t agree more with the good process = good results formula. I would lose my job sooo fast if I didn’t consult with the talented people around me, talent who have often explored the waters that I’m tasked to tread. It all comes down to a commitment to listening. True listening, even when asking for advice on the most mundane things takes a lot of energy. Most importantly though, listening requires you to open your own views to new ideas, ideas that may challenge or destroy the ideas you’ve formed yourself. It’s not fun to be told you’re wrong and I’m not even saying that this is what’s happening. I just think it’s a fear of disciplined listening, of hard work, of work that when all is said and done may show yourself to not have known all you have. So if you’re afraid of failure, sure, you won’t listen, you won’t even seek out the most honest advice. If you don’t fear failure because you know you’re genuinely seeking success, yeah, you probably wouldn’t be scheduling things at poor times and you’d probably be asking those engaged in the same cause their advice. Maybe I’m blowing it out of proportion, but it sounds like a fear of failure rather than a commitment to success. Nothing great is created out of fear and a lack of listening.

  2. Dan – that’s my sense for what’s going on too – not just in the Mayor’s office, but in general in LA politics. And what is more collaborative than politics? FAIL – this city needs to do better!

  3. Didn’t you recently criticize the LACBC for not acknowleging Stephen Box’s role in the Measure R local return campaign… Here you’ve neglected to mention the two or three (even I forget) Bike Summits held by the LACBC circa 2000-2001… which preceded the UEPI hosted event in 2009.

    I agree that the BAC is basically never respected by the city’s shot-callers, and that a weekday is not optimal (though I think the event will be packed.) But I think that the name “Bike Summit” is more-or-less public domain at this point… I am glad the mayor is taking the initiative… and looking forward to seeing what comes out of it… perhaps the city will actually release the missing lists and corrected maps from the 2010 draft Bike Plan?

  4. Has anyone tried complaining to the Mayor’s office/staff about the scheduling? I assume it’s too late to get it changed but maybe we can lodge the idea of an evening session in their minds (for next time, ha). I submitted a complaint/comment via the Mayor’s website.

    Now excuse me, I have to punch myself for thinking “this is better than nothing”.

  5. I will do my best to make time and scope this out. Early morning on a Monday, yes, it sucks, but we have no choice to try and get as many riders out there as possible.

    Assuming that this is a serious meeting that may actually accomplish something, we can’t afford to have other fools making decisions for us.

  6. The Mayor’s office has heard it directly, but one hand doesn’t talk to another. They’ll hear it again in CityWatch tomorrow, and trust me, they hear that better in many ways than direct contact.

    Mihai – Rach has the Bikeside spirit with the face punching comment – where has your Romanian backbone gotten too? “We have no choice”??? The meeting is 12 days away – we can talk about not having a choice when it’s 5 days away.

  7. I agree the timing is not optimal. In the small victory list, I think how quickly after the accident this event was pulled together is a good thing. I was very skeptical after the annoucment of “Bike Summit” (yes, name is repetitive, but it is fairly mainstream) about how quickly this event would come to fruition. Unfortuantely, I’ll be out of town. I did get an e-mail that I should be receiving the Bike Plan GIS files this week, but nothing yet.

  8. Madeline: accident –> collision/wreck/crash

    I struggle with not saying accident as well but in order to win the culture war we’ve got to reassert that vehicle collisions are not automatically accidental (and that negligence is not accidental).

  9. Lets not beat around the bush the timing is done on purpose not just for for city officials to avoid working after hours, but the simple fact that cyclist can’t come and appear in large numbers. at the meeting the committee spoke of trying to fill the seats which is around 300+.highly unlikely, i am hoping for 40-50 and that may be shooting too high. my expected numbers are pessimistic but realistic.usually there are not high turnouts at meetings in general, i used to attend city meetings regularly. time is a killer for any public involvement in politics.

  10. Hey Alex Thompson

    Double space after punctuation worked on type writers and type setting prior to the 15th century. Today, single space after punctuation is the norm.

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