20 January 2010

Ignoring the Bull in Los Angeles - L.A. DoT PSA

Classic example of how not to promote cycling from the Los Angeles Department of Transport. It rarely gets as silly as this.

It's got it all. Ignoring the Bull. Continued marginalisation of cycling as a sub-culture and not a mainstream transport option for regular people by A. Using one of those sporty cyclists to represent ALL cyclists and B. Dictating that the cyclist should 'behave'.

Hands up, how many people would rather hear this dialogue:

"The average car weighs 6000 lbs. The average bicycle with user weighs 210 lbs."

"A typical car travelling 35 mph has 220 times the momentum, or energy, than a bicycle travelling at 10 mph."

"The car has the capacity to kill any cyclist or pedestrian it hits. That's why the L.A. DoT is lowering the speed limits for cars, implementing traffic calming measures to benefit our pedestrians and cyclists as well as building safe, separated infrastructure for bicycle users."

"The car is an important part of our daily lives, but we're dedicated to drastically lowering the chances that a car will kill you as well as increasing fines for drivers who break the law."

"We're clamping down on motorists who don't Drive Right, Stop at the Light or Watch the Road".

Hands up... who's in?

At least, as it was pointed out in the comments, the driver is wearing a motoring helmet so L.A. DoT has something right. Motoring Helmets for Real Safety!

Thanks to Flying Pigeon L.A. for the link.


Brent said...

"That's why the L.A. DoT is lowering the speed limits for cars..."

That part of the fantasy got a chuckle out of me. As far as I know, the only "lowering" LADOT has done in recent years has been a slight slowdown in its pace of raising speed limits citywide. Combine the higher limits with lax enforcement, you get streets where traffic regularly travels at near-highway speeds.

Su Yin said...

Wow. Just wow. I can't believe how insulting and condescending the LA DOT is!

Don't they know that other motorists fail to obey these rules too?

Kim said...

At some part in all our days we are all pedestrians.

A cyclist jumping a red light is an irritation, a driver jumping a red light is potentially life threatening.

I know which I would rather see prosecuted first.

Green Idea Factory said...

This is a total horror. I am from L.A. so perhaps it makes it hurt even more.

There are some other hopeful signs, see here: "Cyclists, LAPD Working on Their Relationship" http://la.streetsblog.org/2010/01/19/cyclists-lapd-working-on-their-relationship/ but the proof is in the pudding.

By the way that large structure in the LA DOT fear of cycling promo is the Sepulveda Dam on the L.A. River., which I think further downriver - as it were - was used for the chase scene early in "Terminator 2" and I think even further towards the sea, for scenes in "Grease", "Repo Man" and perhaps countless others.

The L.A. River is a concrete-bordered creek which becomes a torrent when it rains. There used to be floods but the Army Corps of Engineers changed all of that, also on many other watercourses in the L.A. area.

There are many initiatives to bring some nature back to these watercourses, and in fact behind the dam in the photo is a hybrid recreation area-wildlife sanctuary. It is actually pretty cool.

Along parts of the L.A. River and other concrete rivers are paved bike paths for which perhaps another reader can describe in detail. But even back in the late 1970's I used to ride on from my home about 7km to the beach. Yes, generally good inspiration for separate infrastructure.

Andy in Germany said...

Looks like the UK is getting involved:

"Children at a school in Norwich face being ordered by police to get off their bikes and walk on the pavement unless they are wearing reflective safety gear during the hours of darkness, although there is no legal requirement for cyclists, whatever their age, to do so."


Yeah, let's drive cyclists off the road. If you can't scare them, force them.

Anonymous said...

I do NOT ride right. Because I believe it is much more dangerous to ride right (on the very right, I mean) instead of riding in the middle (or slightly right) of the right lane. If you ride on the very right, cars will overtake without changing the lane - which is extremely dangerous (for the cyclist, of course, not for the car driver). This is not possible if you don't ride on the very right.

Anonymous said...

Maybe LADOT has a perverse incentive to marginalize, scare, and insult cyclists(people) and or cycling. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Both hands up!
It's soooo goddamn obvious!!!

Emar Tino said...

If the cyclist is going the same direction of traffic, he is still being hit at 25 mph from behind. At least the cyclist can take evasive action when he sees a car coming at him.
Oh, but looking at the positive,gI must contratulate LA DoT for embracing motoring helmets! The car driver is dressed to survive his dangerous ride!

anna said...

I'm in!

ZA said...

Nice but I suggest this mod:

"The car *can* kill any cyclist or pedestrian it hits. That's why the L.A. DoT is lowering the speed limits for cars, implementing traffic calming to *protect people.*"

"The car is an important part of our daily lives, but we're *increasing enforcement to protect those lives.*"

"We're clamping down on motorists who don't Drive Right, Stop at the Light or Watch the Road".

Mark said...

This is daft - a cyclist would never ride into another vehicle unless they were certifiable or suicidal. Cars driving into cyclists however are a whole different kettle of fish...

So who should the blame rest with? Why are the cyclists being told how to behave?

A very poor commercial indeed - and to think money was actually spent on this garbage!

MrRevolution said...

That's an extraordinarily disturbing piece of work. Really strikes terror into anyone considering riding in our streets with the motorized beasts rolling right next to us. NYC had trouble getting things right with its "look" campaign to "raise awareness" of cyclists to motor weapon drivers . . . but this piece is a whole new level of terror pitched at cyclists. DOT commish must really hate bicycles - they won't even allow pedicabs in city limits after all these years. - Gregg @ Revolution Rickshaws

DanaPointer said...

Question for individual in SoCal is whether to fight the system or relocate, I did/do both.

It would be interesting to quantify how much DOT idiocy is costing LA in terms of people and businesses choosing to leave to places with better bike infra, including elsewhere in SoCal like north county San Diego or even Santa Monica for example.

LA has some advantages like beautiful buildings and rail/roads all converge there, so with building real city like infrastructure that caters to pedestrians and cyclists could really turn things around.

Good thing that SoCal has something like well over 100 independent cities to choose from.

ubrayj02 said...

If you'd like to express your opinion about this matter, try contacting LA's mayor through Twitter @villaraigosa

His press people will get the message in a hurry, and after all of his B.S. posturing while at the COP15 (and his lies about truck emissions being cut), he stands to gain something by changing this city into a more bike-friendly town.

In LA, the LADOT has sole control over transportation planning functions - this sort of abusive crap should definitely be turned into what Mikael suggests above. Cars are dangerous and ought to have their speeds lowered in urban contexts!

Eric said...

Although rather crass, the point of the video is to prove the danger of riding against traffic. I don't have a problem with that at all...

Riding with traffic: 35 mph (speed of car) minus 15mph (speed of cyclist)equals 20mph (closing speed).

Riding against traffic: 35 mph plus 15mph equals 50mph. Good luck making evasive action!

Seems logical to me.

However, for the video to rely on the motorized vehicle's dominance over cyclists is ignorant. They could have gotten this point across in a much less offensive way.

moby doug said...

Obviously the LA DoT is totally car-centric, which is symptomatic of a larger problem with Los Angeles and SoCal. The ad DIScourages, rather then encouraging, cyclists and wouldbe cyclists! And to think city bureaucrats and commercial filmmakers were paid plenty to concoct this crap!!!!!! I'd like to know how much they were paid, how much the fiasco of a film cost, and the names of the idiot bureaucrats responsible.

Anonymous said...

Wow... You would think they are drowning little kitty cats with all the horror comments.

Insulting is that you assume that the readers of this blog cannot see anything positive from this public service announcement.

It seems that the only thing we know what to do is to pass on the responsibility of safety to someone else. If this PSA changes one driver's mind to the fact that they need to be responsible while behind the wheel it was worth it.

quit complaining.

shametrainla said...

It is clear that this spot places the onus on the cyclist, whereas the exponential power of a motor vehicle respective to a bicycle carries with it the power to make others watch out for it.

Although some folk here may prompt the occasional anonymous arsewipe to think that kittens are being drowned, clearly some people are too ignorant to understand the power of this spot as well as what it clearly implies. Sadly, such arsewipes tend to be behind the wheel all too frequently, multi-tasking Crayons out of their noses while faxing and texting and whinging about all the traffic jam of which they are a part.

But enough of that.

LADOT has managed to get some a local cycling advocacy group to put together a rudimentary poster that feebly attempts to make motorists bear some responsibility while "driving" the streets of Los Angeles. Unfortunately there are loads of problems with the entire campaign and some of those problems are discussed here: