Are You Bike Friendly? Supervisor District 5 Candidate Billy Malone Responds


Over the past several years, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and BikeSGV have made great strides toward making bicycling a safe and convenient way to travel, connecting diverse communities to make our county more livable, economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable. Critical to this progress has been supportive leadership from our County Supervisors, who also serve on the Metro Board of Directors.

It is our hope that our new supervisors will continue this progress and elevate LA to the next level. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and BikeSGV invite all supervisor candidates to appeal directly to an engaged, thoughtful group of voters–our county’s bicyclists–by responding to our questionnaire. 

Note: The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and BikeSGV are 501(c)3 non-profit organizations and cannot endorse candidates or engage in electioneering on behalf of a candidate. We are offering this questionnaire as a service to candidates to communicate with potential voters for informational purposes only. All candidates have an equal opportunity to respond and responses will be distributed without bias in the order in which they are received.

The election for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors' Fifth District is on Tuesday, June 7th. To register to vote, check your registration, request a vote-by-mail ballot , or find your polling place, visit: ​www.lavote.net.

Below are responses from Fifth District candidate Billy Malone.

1. Please share a memory involving a bicycle that has had a lasting effect on you (whether or not you were the one on the bicycle).

My parents were not wealthy and I grew up in council houses (government housing). I was never fortunate to have a new bicycle, which I now believe was an incredible advantage. I had several secondhand bikes growing up, but the one I loved the most was just a regular blue bike, with nothing distinct about it except it was MINE. Not having the money for good repairs I had to work at keeping it on the road. I patched that bike all the time, changed tires and wheels, chains and handle bars, mostly with used parts. I even painted and put stickers all over it. At one point, I even named it after one of the stickers. This was my bike and it went everywhere with me. I rode that bike to every place I remember as a child and pushed it beyond its limits, taking jumps at the parks and corners so sharp it was ridiculous. Sometimes I remember putting playing cards in the spokes to make that clapping sound that I pretended was an engine (who doesn’t remember that?). I didn’t wish for what I didn’t have but loved what I did. Repairing that bike and keeping it on the road was one of my favorite things in life. The experience taught me a lot about not wanting but appreciating what I had and working towards goals. My first car/cars where constantly assembled by my father and myself from parts discovered in scrap yards (I really miss those bonding experiences with my father). Later on, I went into the engineering field and ended up designing for some of the top companies in the world. I have learned in life you do not have to miss out, you just have to build what you want, or figure out another way to do it, and by doing so you create more than something of use but a life of appreciation. That bike may not have been much but I loved it and it was one of the things that made me who I am today.

2. Bearing in mind there are thousands who do not drive for any number of reasons; under what circumstances would you feel safe using a bicycle as your primary means of transportation?

As a society, we have a tendency to only think of bikes as a recreational activity and not as a life style or mode of transportation. In Europe and many other countries, a bicycle is a tool and a method of getting around. It saddens me when I go around Los Angeles and see empty bike racks everywhere. However, this mentality has to change and when it does it benefits all of us. The expression states, "safety in numbers." If we can get to a place where the roads are full of bicycles an immense feeling and reality of safety will be achieved.

3. To better understand the needs of those who depend on the County’s public and active transportation systems, would you be willing to take the SoCal multi-modal challenge once a year? I.e. Complete your daily routine for 5 days without the use of an automobile?

Absolutely. The best way to evaluate any issue is by experience. Transportation is one of the easiest ways for anyone, especially our leaders, to discover what is working and what are the problems. Just take it. I believe our local leaders should lead by example. What use is it to anyone if you do not practice what you preach? I expect to be taking many forms of transportation within our district on a regular basis. So yes to this question, but our leaders should be doing more than any kind of challenge once a year.

4. County supervisors have great power to improve the safety, health and livability of Los Angeles County through both their role on the Metro board shaping countywide transportation policy and investment decisions and through oversight of County departments, including Public Works, Public Health and Parks & Recreation. In 2012, the County of Los Angeles adopted a Bicycle Master Plan proposing 831 miles of new bikeways due to be completed by 2032. What would you do to ensure that implementation of the Bicycle Master Plan projects continues during your term? How many miles of new bicycle facilities will you commit to implementing each year in your district?

The answer would be as much as possible. To be completed by 2032, we have some work to do. I always say that the success of anything is not in the completion but in the usage. It is not just that we need to build more bike lanes but that we also need to educate and promote the use of those lanes. As a supervisor, I will not just support the Bicycle Master Plan but the introduction of programs, through education and events, to encourage and expand the use of existing bike lanes.

5. The County needs to be a leader when it comes to connecting communities across the district, whether it is by waterway, roadway, or bike path. Many people have felt that the County does not always take ownership of the role it plays in connectivity and bringing communities together. How do you see your potential role as County Supervisor being a critical piece in closing the gaps that you would administer, control, and that are sometimes created with bad planning?

As I mentioned before, being an active participant is the best way to make sure something is working out the way it was planned. The old expression that stated, "If you build it they will come," has been proven time and again not to be true. Just because you build something does not mean it will be utilized. The real problem lies in changing people’s mentality in favor of new ideas. After driving around for 20 minutes looking for a parking space at certain metro stations, I have given up and just driven to my destination instead. If this is the only experience one has, then it is hard to convince that person that public transport is the best way to get somewhere for many reasons. One of the best ways to change mentalities is by tying it into events, especially social countywide events. If we create an environment that fosters positive experiences, then we have won over unlimited support for expansion of all kinds of community connectivity.

6. County Public Works design standards currently favor high speed traffic by requiring minimum lane widths larger than other transportation agencies. This has created an unnecessary barrier to implementing bicycle projects in urban unincorporated areas, resulting in shared “class III” bike routes on major streets where dedicated “class II” bike lanes would be more appropriate. Do you support adopting the Model Design Manual for Living Streets produced by the County Department of Public Health but not yet adopted by Public Works?

Not much I can say here other than ABSOLUTELY. I don’t feel a need to expand, this just makes common sense.

7. Studies have shown that protected bikeways (i.e. those that are separated from moving vehicles by a curb or parked cars) can reduce injuries by as much as 90%, while reducing collisions and improving safety for all road users. The County Bicycle Master Plan calls for the implementation of such facilities, but none have been planned on County streets to date. Would you support the implementation of protected bikeways, and can you suggest any areas in your district where such facilities should be built?

Yes I would support the implementation of protected bikeways. However many citizens that live in unincorporated county, like myself, understand its not just the bike lanes that are lacking but the lack of any kind of planning when it comes to county roads period. I know of one town in unincorporated County 5th district that has only one paved street in the whole town. Unincorporated makes up a large percentage of LA County but most of its roads do not have sidewalks. It is easy to tell when you change from incorporated to county by the condition and construction of the roads. Keeping our pedestrians and bicyclists safe should be a priority of any supervisor and working on our county roads is a must.

8. In Los Angeles County, 19% of all trips are made on foot or by bike and 39% percent of those killed on our county’s streets are people walking and biking, yet Metro only allocates 1% of its funding to these modes of transportation. The three sales tax measures that generate a majority of Metro’s revenue (Proposition A, Proposition C and Measure R) dedicate 0% for walking and biking. Metro’s 2016 potential sales tax, the Metro Plan, could address these underfunding issues, do you support allocating at least 10% to active transportation as part of the Metro draft expenditure plan?

Yes, I do support. As much as metro has been expanding, it doesn’t remove traffic from the roads if a person still has to drive to the station to meet the trains and that the rails are located on, near or by major freeway systems. If we invest that 10% in supporting walking and biking in association with metro, we can eliminate more autos from the streets, gain cleaner and greener air quality, along with promotion and increased ridership with our public transit. We all win.

9. In Los Angeles County, 34% of students walk or bike to school, while motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death for school-age youth. Many more parents don’t feel safe allowing their children to walk or bike to school, resulting in heavy vehicular traffic at school hours and dangerous levels of congestion in front of schools. Metro is currently drafting a countywide Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan, but without an implementation strategy or dedicated funding. Do you support dedicated funding for a countywide Safe Routes to School program that would improve safety for children and parents, and encourage more biking and walking to the over 2,000 public schools in Los Angeles County?

When I grew up, it was normal for someone to bike to school now it has become a rare occasion when you see a student whose mode of transportation to and from the school is a bike. Just like I mentioned in other responses, it is an issue that is not just about making safe routes to school (which is a must) it’s about changing modern mentality back to realizing the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and the use of walking and biking as a mode of transportation. This is becoming increasingly more difficult as it’s a lot easier to play and text on one's phone as a passenger than it is to ride a bike. However, it can be done.

10. In the early 1900's, Los Angeles County constructed a watershed management and flood control system using box channels, rivers, and creeks. These waterways currently criss-cross Los Angeles County and provide an opportunity for creating linear park space, regional connectivity to attractive destinations (downtowns, shopping centers, schools, parks, etc.), and safe routes for alternative modes of transportation. What role can the county play in advancing the development of existing, underutilized waterways into community greenways?

When I grew up, it was normal for someone to bike to school now it has become a rare occasion when you see a student whose mode of transportation to and from the school is a bike. Just like I mentioned in other responses, it is an issue that is not just about making safe routes to school (which is a must) it’s about changing modern mentality back to realizing the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and the use of walking and biking as a mode of transportation. This is becoming increasingly more difficult as it’s a lot easier to play and text on one's phone as a passenger than it is to ride a bike. However, it can be done.

11. Over the past twenty years cities across the world have significantly reduced their rates of serious and deadly traffic collisions by launching and implementing Vision Zero campaigns. The movement’s core principles include:

  • Ethics: Human life and health are paramount and take priority over mobility and other objectives of the road traffic system
  • Responsibility: providers and regulators of the road traffic system share responsibility with users;
  • Safety: road traffic systems should take account of human fallibility and minimize both the opportunities for errors and the harm done when they occur; and
  • Mechanisms for change: providers and regulators must do their utmost to guarantee the safety of all citizens; they must cooperate with road users; and all three must be ready to change to achieve safety.
  • Traffic deaths and injuries are preventable; therefore, none are acceptable.
  • People will make mistakes; the transportation system should be designed so those mistakes aren’t fatal.
  • Safety is the primary consideration in transportation decision-making.
  • Traffic safety solutions must be addressed holistically. 
  • The City of Los Angeles - home to one of the highest rates of traffic violence in the country - was the first City in Los Angeles County to adopt a Vision Zero policy in 2015. If elected, what would you do to reduce and prevent collisions involving pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable road users? Would you support a countywide Vision Zero campaign to focus on reducing serious roadway harm and death?

I would support a Vision Zero policy countywide. No matter how safe an individual may think their driving habits may be we are all only as safe as the worse driver on the road. We have to protect ourselves and our children from the risks of traveling on our road systems. We only need to look at our loved ones, and how to keep them safe, to appreciate the importance of a vision zero policy. No unnecessary death is worth the consequences of doing nothing.

12. AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, calls for the reduction of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020. Passed two years later, SB 375 requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to reduce emissions from passenger vehicles and requires regional metropolitan planning organizations to develop “Sustainable Communities Strategies” that integrate transportation, land-use, and housing policies that plan to achieve the emissions targets for their regions. Given that almost half of emissions in LA County come from motor vehicles, what specific policies or plans would you support to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector?

Presently, there has been a lot of media on the self-driving automobiles. Google is spending literally billions on the technology to get us to that point. But we have had driverless cars for decades, it’s called public transit. I think driverless cars seem incredible but if we truly wish to make a difference, then we need to focus on public transit and decrease the number of trips of one rider in one vehicle.This would solve many of the issues we face today and bring us within the new proposed mission targets.

13. ​Support for Bike Share programs is growing across southern California. How do you see your district getting involved in this program? How can you make sure that Bike Share programs prioritize equity to ensure all community members benefit from the program?

Los Angeles County 5th district is the largest district in the county at around 2,800 sq miles. Larger in geographical size than the other 4 districts combined. Much of the district is comprised of rural, mountain and empty land mass. This means that there is lots of space between many communities in the district. I do support and encourage bike share at the local level within reachable areas but feel that there is a need for more partnerships, like bike rentals for users that might wish to travel futher than within their direct cities, especially in 5th district.

14. What does equity in active transportation mean to you?

As part of my campaign I thought it was extremely important for me to understand and know the issues of LA County 5th district from the very ground level. Because of this I am the only candidate that dedicated walking the entire district, not just walking precincts for votes. I walked 300 miles straight over 27 days. I left from La Verne and reached as far north as the unincorporated communities north of Lancaster and went as far west as Chatsworth. The walk was called “300 miles in your shoes” and was an incredible journey and learning experience. I walked from city streets with wide sidewalks and designated bike lanes to nothing but dirt roads with no markings. I am the only candidate that has this knowledge from this perspective at this level of the county and that perspective can truly understand the need for more equity in active transportation where we all share the roads no matter how we choose our transportation. You can follow the walk, now completed, on Instagram @billymalone2016 on my facebook page billymaloneforsupervisor or linked from my website maloneforsupervisor.com

15. Is there anything else you would like to say to Los Angeles County’s millions of bicyclists?

​Keep on biking, let’s share the road and get more people from 4 wheels to 2. Let’s make LA County the most bike friendly county in the country where it can be the only place where you can bike from mountain to desert to ocean without ever leaving the boundaries of LA County.

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