Saturday night at Venice Beach, colored by the smoke from the Palisades fire. Credit: Kris Dahlin

E-bikes
Editor:
Various city and Los Angeles County officials should promptly recognize and address that the E-bikes now customarily ridden along the beach bike path are dangerous. Too many times to count I see 250 pound E-bikes traveling at 20 mph or more by many clueless riders of all ages.

The excessive speeds and weights of most E-bikes carry a lot of force to be reckoned with. I’m a 63-year-old cyclist and ride the Santa Monica, Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo Beach paths very frequently. At some point (if not already), someone, some child, is going to get seriously injured by one of these E-bikers. Undoubtedly, it will lead to a law suit against the individual, the city and county.

I don’t know how to solve the problem. I guess E-bikes could be outlawed on the path. It is what should be judged, a motorized vehicle. Or maybe beach cities deploy many more police officers to curtail and ticket offenders (big time), which is now negligible at best.

The great bike path we have by the shore and utilized by many is now getting more and more dangerous. Let’s not have a severely maimed toddler on our hands.
Ted Lux
Playa del Rey

Main Street
Editor:
I had the great fortune to come of age during the sixties at the nexus of psychedelia and respect for earth science, the latter frequently identified as “tree hugging.”

One dream (or vision, or epiphany, it’s difficult to choose the best word here so I’ll stick with “dream”) I remember was a cartoon where I stood weeping with shoulders hunched and head bowed while Mother Earth, her comforting arm around my shoulders said, “Don’t be sad for me, I’ve made it through a great number of extinctions.”

This cartoon came to mind as I got involved in last spring’s Santa Monica efforts to rescue lower Main Street from pandemic collateral damage. “What can be done to avoid economic collapse when COVID-19 mitigations like social distancing erode the customer base from which this business district draws its life blood?” That was the issue.

I clasped onto turning Main Street into an open walkaround traffic-free strip of pavement where restaurants could serve outdoor diners spaced far enough from one another and the passersby who enjoy a wide social space, one with access to attractive and sometimes quirky small businesses — that was the solution. A powerful parklet cohort promoted outdoor dining but timidly restricted it to converting some street parking into table and chair corrals, a plan that was already enjoying some limited success around the city.

I reacted strongly against the al fresco parklets our planners chose as the model for last spring’s $190,000 ‘experimental’ rescue program — repainting the street’s markings to provide two through lanes of vehicle and two of bike traffic with rows of cement “K-rails” on each side to protect curbside patrons from traffic hazards. It was obvious to me that when patrons in the parklets were spaced out with contagion reducing margins between them, not many people could be served. Reducing customer capacity reduces revenue and destroys the efficiency of service to an economically unsustainable level.
“How stupid is it to design a piazza where passing cyclists can sneeze into your table’s guacamole bowl as you breath engine exhaust and get blasted by noise?” I thought. “And look at how the K-rails paint the various storefronts as struggling survivors in a ravaged construction zone.”

I knew that personal urban transportation systems had a huge impact on how people and businesses interact, and on the consequent quality of life. Frugal living in New York City while a teenage employee at the World’s Fair commuting to Flushing from Manhattan’s Lower East Side was excellent exposure to the alternative my previous suburban life provided — life where your car was your ticket to freedom. A summer spent touring Western Europe on a motorcycle and some years sailing in Mexican waters visiting coastal villages and towns exposed me to numerous piazza and town square models where outdoor dining and social activities were well established.

So why couldn’t this happen on Main Street with our generally pleasant climate and a huge nearby potential customer base of COVID deprived people yearning for a pleasant experience? Unfortunately, it is love of the personal automobile and fear that either depriving us of the freedom it offers or the peril of urban traffic invading the nearby residential neighborhoods that is too powerful a force to oppose. Pogo Possum was right when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

At the upcoming City Council’s June 8 meeting, a budget for a few experimental weekends of “Open Street” traffic closings on Main will be considered. Interested people may email the city clerk their thoughts about this. Your email will be posted along with the official agenda and some of the council members will actually read it before they vote.
Marina del Rey was a very special place back then.
Tim Tunks
Santa Monica

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