Ted Rogers Phones It In

By Alex Thompson

On Friday Ted Rogers of Biking In LA attacked John Fisher, Assistant General Manager of Operations of LADOT, claiming that Fisher is ultimately responsible for Bikeways failures.  In “Who’s the man behind the curtain of L.A. bicycling?” Rogers, a board member for the LACBC, exonerates Michelle Mowery by arguing that she is not powerful enough to be responsible for 15 years of bikeways failures.   He then shifts blame off Rita Robinson, who runs DOT, by insulting her, arguing she’s not up to the job of managing engineers.  The real problem, says Rogers, is Fisher, Rita’s 2nd in command.

It’s bullshit.  Rogers gets it wrong from the intro to the conclusion.  The bulk of the article is speculative commentary based on blog comments by Ramon Martinez, LACBC sharrows program lead, Joe Linton, LACBC co-founder, and Josef Bray-Ali, Bike Oven founder.  The article gets critical facts wrong – for example, Rogers alleges Fisher is 2nd in command at DOT, when there is no 2nd in command at DOT – and steers readers to damning conclusions with leading questions in a failure of journalistic ethics.

This follows hot on the heels of Rogers criticizing the Bike Kitchen based on another blogger’s negative review – an article in which he provides plenty of commentary based on no direct experience.  In another recent series of articles Rogers summarizes the LA Critical Mass incident and aftermath, but again phones it in from his apartment, not bothering to make the trip to the public meetings he reports on.

I began reading Rogers’ blog when he had only a handful of readers, but lately I’ve found the content to be off the mark.  In the Bike Kitchen article, he writes “I wasn’t there either night, so I can’t comment on what really happened.”  The entire article is a comment on what happened!  In the same article he asks “are we discouraging the people we need to encourage?”  We?  Rogers has never volunteered for a bike repair collective, nor has he, I believe, been to one as a customer.  He’s not part of the “we”.   In his article on Fisher, he dares the reader to spot Bikeways in the organization chart, then doesn’t bother to show where it is (the Bureau of Capital Programming), and fails to show the reader where Fisher is on the org chart.  Rogers, who has a car and sometimes drives, wrote about the May 28th Critical Mass beatdown “as I write this, cyclists are confronting representatives of the LAPD at tonight’s meeting of the Bike Advisory Committee.”  Close your computer, put the keys in the ignition, and make the trip; go to the meeting.

I’ll be publishing four articles in the next few days criticizing Rogers’ analysis.  In the first article I will analyze DOT to show that Bikeways is not Fisher’s area of responsibility, and dispute the notion that Fisher is a good strategic target.  The second article will be about Fisher’s position on biking, based on my recent conversation with him.  In the third article I will discuss Rogers’ reporting on events he played no part in, such as the negative review of the Bike Kitchen and the Los Angeles Critical Mass incident.  In the fourth article I’ll discuss how LACBC board members and employees amplified the well intentioned opinions of Josef Bray-Ali, manufacturing a false consensus on Fisher.

I called John Fisher and got his comments on the Rogers piece, and I’ve been to a bajillion public meetings involving DOT.  I co-founded the Bikerowave and I’ve talked with volunteers, customers about Rogers’ piece on the Bike Kitchen.  I was not on the May 28th Los Angeles Critical Mass, but I met Chief Beck at the Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting while I assisted cyclists in filling out comment cards, I went to the press conference by Manny Gallegos, I went to the police commission, I arranged multiple interviews of victims by the press, and I was on the phone my whole holiday weekend.  I’m downtown every week.

I was there and Rogers wasn’t.  These are my thoughts on Rogers’ misrepresentations.

(Read more in “Why Org Charts Matter“.)

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