WHAT’S THE POINT — Well, summer is almost over for the kids. School starts again next Tuesday which means that this week they are running all over the place trying to wring the last moments of summer fun from their fading carefree days of indolence, blockbuster movies and the beach.
The truth is that Summer rarely leaves us really here in the Bay City. Oh sure it gets a bit chillier and the days become shorter, but the reason we love it here is that you can surf year round, generally an active lifestyle of hiking, biking and yoga are available and we rarely have snow days.
For the truly active minded you can do a trifecta of surfing, golfing and desert hiking in one day if you pushed it. Or for the aquatically bent there is surfing, sailing and paddle-boarding year round.
The one thing though we all need to be more aware of however is the conflict between our desire to be a bike friendly city and the uptick in traffic. It was one thing 20 years ago when this was a sleepy little town of surfdogs and old ladies who never broke 25 miles an hour, but today you’re more likely to see a Lamborghini careening down Broadway than a teen on a skateboard.
In the last year I’ve had two friends almost killed from riding their bikes after being hit by drivers who then ran off.
For a city that wants to be a bike friendly, pedestrian friendly place, we need to do a better job of protecting those who are taking the alternative modes of transport, and yes that even includes the teen on a skateboard.
I know that the police can be more proactive, because all I have to do ride my bike on the Promenade for 20 seconds and I’ll be pummeled by the Ambassadors and the local constabulary about how that is not allowed except for uniformed police officers.
The Downtown District has hired a veritable army of new people to direct traffic at the parking structures making sure that pedestrians and drivers do not collide with each other. So clearly someone is aware of the need to be more alert as we have become more crowded and resemble the crowded streets of Beijing or Cairo.
On the one hand this is a dangerous situation that the city needs to be more alert to, and is clearly making efforts to increase driver awareness. On the other hand, there are many parts of this city that are ignored.
My friend who was most recently the victim of a hit and run was riding his bike on Main Street. The lanes there are wide enough and there are other bikers, skateboarders and joggers so that anyone driving on Main is aware of the presence of non-vehicular traffic. However, that still didn’t prevent someone from hitting my friend who ended up with several abrasions, a black eye and a heavily damaged bicycle.
The driver of the offending vehicle took off leaving my friend to fend for himself. Thankfully he has insurance and had not broken bones, but the fact is that he was hurt.
I don’t know what the driver was doing or thinking. Maybe they were completely cognizant of their actions and chose to be a scofflaw, or maybe they had no idea they hit someone and were just oblivious. Frankly I find the latter hard to believe, but it’s not beyond comprehension.
What I’d like to see though is our city make a greater effort at driver awareness. I know they do the machines that show how fast you’re driving, and we have speed humps in places, but in world where we are assaulted daily with adverts for beer and coffee, we could have more signage to be alert for the bikers, pedestrians and skaters.
Maybe it will bring back a bit of that small town feel that is evaporating if it’s done with a sense of nostalgia. We should do it for the kids.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra