Numbers game

Numbers matter. In this case, the number of people who were willing to show up in force to advocate for bike safety mattered.

Two days after the Palos Verdes Estates city council voted to plant signs that say “3 Feet–It’s the Law,” we were blown away to see six of these beauties in place along Palos Verdes Drive South, including a giant yellow sign as you enter the feared chute that brings you into the city.

The signs that read “All Cyclists Will Be Killed On Sight” (except for one that they apparently missed) were taken down and donated to the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch, where they will be laid cross-hatch to build a fort in mom’s backyard as the “boys” fire pea-shooters at passing cyclists and wave their angry “No Gurls Loud” sign from their treehouse.

You want to know what victory looks like? It looks like this:

You want to know what democracy looks like? It looks like this:


And do you want to know what good government is called? It’s called Jennifer King, James Vandever, Betty Lin, Jon Rea, James Goodhart, Ronald Buss, Frank Adams, Dave King, Clark Margolf, and Kevin McCarthy.

Of course the cost of these signs has been horrific. Jonathan Tansavadti, John Bacon, as well as a third cyclist killed on the Hill this year were the human sacrifices that it took to finally get some very cheap, basic signage installed that educates cagers about their legal obligation to vulnerable road users. For the families of the three victims, no signage and no progress will diminish their loss. “Sorry your husband/father/son was killed. Here’s a sign” probably doesn’t make it all better now.

And unsurprisingly, there are residents in PVE who have taken to social media to register their outrage that the city has actually put up signs that state the law. Where is the cheering for these steps that educate, that state the law, and that improve the safe use of public roads for everyone, not just the NIMBYs who live there? Hint: Not here.

This small victory does, however, raise the next key points, which are:

  1. These signs are only the beginning.
  2. We’re in for a long, multi-year haul.
  3. This small victory happened because several hundred cyclists took democracy into their own hands.

The PV Peninsula is a cycling destination and has been for decades. The municipalities within its borders have a duty to begin putting together and then implementing a bike safety plan, and they are doing so. But the details of those plans will be fiercely disputed and fought hammer and tong by people like the PVE realtor who said for cyclists who break traffic laws, death is an appropriate “Darwinian” consequence. In order for the small step that PVE has taken to result in BMUFL signage and sharrows, every person who has been involved has to recommit.

That’s a huge ask because the meetings can be long and contentious. Not everyone can devote 10 hours a month to participatory democracy. But the benefit to belonging to a cycling community that is thousands strong is that we don’t need every advocate present every time. We just need to make use of the powerful and dedicated pool that already exists, and make sure that when BMUFL signage, sharrows, and the bike safety plans are being discussed by traffic safety committees and the city council, we are there in force.

None of this would have happened without the leadership of Michael Barraclough, Big Orange, and the people–too numerous to name–who have refused to sit idly by while good people are killed by the laziness and stupidity of a fringe minority of NIMBY residents who want to defy the law. None of it would have happened without responsive and responsible volunteer city politicians and their paid staff who believe that lives really do matter and that public roads really are public.

Time to take a breath, appreciate the progress, and settle in for the long haul. See you soon.



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30 thoughts on “Numbers game”

  1. Rancho PV could use a few of those “3 Feet” signs, as a start.
    Just yesterday, a humongous MTA bus passed several of us by about 2 feet on PVDS — something that large, with it’s accompanying wind blast, is unnerving.
    There were no cars in the #1 lane, the bus driver could easily have changed lanes (even partially), but she didn’t. Captured on Fly6 video.
    When the bus stopped to unload passengers, I pulled up to bus driver and politely informed her 3 feet minimum clearance is state law.
    She became belligerent and defensive. What a bitch.

    1. RPV is beginning work on a master plan for bike safety. Do you want to get involved? Email me, Everyone knows something needs to change, but the change is hard fuckin’ work!

    2. Please share that video on demand Facebook, and if you can clearly identify the bus number and time of day share it soon with the MTA and ask, in writing, how they will discipline the “coach operator” — they like being called that instead of bus driver. Every transit agency has its own internal culture and the education process needs to be monitored. Like cops, the anti-bike bigotry is entrenched and happy talk from the Public Information officer– a.k.a. their flackinatrix– has to be echoed back to the shift managers. Change is actually possible!

  2. Pingback: Numbers game |

  3. I think it’s funny that the signs went up so quickly. Why do street maintenance people have so much time on their hands and the police don’t have time to follow up on an aggressive driver? The crime volume in PV is so high, they don’t have time to do it now? But nothing is happening with street maintenance except putting up signs on request?

    And I’m not complaining that the signs went up quickly. That’s very cool. It’s more the police dept’s work ethic in contrast.

      1. Yep, I plan to be available for round 2, so that some of the round 1 folk can take a break. It’s all about recovery, as I say. Put in a good effort, recover, come back again strong. Just call me Recovery. 😉 I assume, you and BearClaw will keep us posted here and on FB.

    1. I’ve been told the city makes its own signs! That accounts for how quickly they were put up. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be cheaper for PVE to out source?

  4. Wait “death is a appropriate Darwinian consequence” Yet I see Realtors double parking illegally, jaywalking illegally and putting up advertising illegally then jaywalking again to their illegally double parked cars.Only to repeat the process a few hours later.

  5. These city council members deserve credit for doing what is RIGHT, rather than going for the votes of the cringe-worthy anti-cycling minority. I suppose being a council member one learns to recognize the flakes.

    Good work everybody, but for health issues I would be there with you.

  6. It would appear that next door removed their link to upperhollywoodriviera. I think there must have been some follow-up activity.

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