|One of many Metro bus banners encouraging Los Angels to share the road|
In Los Angeles, cars clearly dominate the roads. However, in spirit of expanding and promoting cooperation with all users of the streets, Los Angeles Metro created the “Every Lane is a Bike Lane” (ELBL) campaign. Aimed primarily at automobile users, the push behind ELBL is to bring increased awareness to cycling “without showing cycling as reckless or dangerous.”Drivers and bicyclists alike are encouraged to share the road and exercise patience, especially in situations when cyclists need to use “a full lane to safely navigate certain traffic situations.” The “safe situations” that Metro wants public education highlighting includes common cycling situations such as:
- Keeping clear of cars turning right (“Right Hooks”)
- Doors opening on parallel parked cars (“Dooring”)
- Making a left-hand turn
- Riding on a narrow road
The 3-month long public awareness movement ran from March to mid-May, cascading just prior to Bike to Work Day. But before the sunset of the program, the city saw and heard plenty of promotional material from ELBL. The campaign was focused “on bus backs, billboards, drive-time radio and all across Los Angeles County.” As a takeaway item at community driven bicycle events, such as Ciclavia, bumper stickers were created and distributed to promote sharing the road.
Metro’s “Every Lane is Bike Lane” campaign quickly evolved into a media blitz, extending beyond Los Angeles cycling blogs and those closely working with the transportation community. On March 18th, top-rated NBC Los Angeles ran a story featuring the ELBL campaign in a two-minute segment that included interviews from bicycle commuters and Metro staff. The newscasts timeliness showcased the program at the beginning of the campaign and put a strong message into every Los Angeles home.
While Metro ran a successful ELBL campaign, not all were pleased with Metro’s message. Culver City Chamber of Commerce President Steve Rose called for greater responsibility on the part of Los Angeles cyclists in an opinion editorial to the Culver City Patch. Rose denounced Metro’s “Every Lane is a Bike Lane” campaign and said the campaign sends the wrong message to bicyclists by encourages dangerous bicycling habits, and that bicycles should not have a right to be on Los Angeles streets. The bicycling community responded to Rose vowing to not shop in Culver City until bicycling was welcomed by the business community.
Although Metro wrapped up the campaign in mid-May, this leaves important questions about the future of bicycling in Los Angeles. The program highlights the perception of the “war on cycling” and lack of education on both sides about the legal standing of bicyclists on the road. Adding to the complexity of the campaign’s message, many Los Angeles streets are designed for fast moving vehicles traffic, clashing with the concept of slow moving bicycles in the travel lane. Given the autocentric design of Los Angeles, is every lane truly a bike lane?