A Letter from Tamika: Reflections on Safety, Equity, and North Figueroa
Dear North Figueroa Friend,
I wanted to reach out and check in about what is happening around the North Figueroa campaign. First, I think it’s important that we thank you for supporting our campaign to make North Figueroa safer to walk and bike. As a nonprofit organization, we’re only as strong as the members we represent. Your tireless work, concern, and advocacy have kept this campaign alive, and for that, I’m extremely grateful. We stand with community members advocating for safe streets and call on the City to effectively engage stakeholders and build consensus.
As many of you know, in our efforts to call on the City to make Figueroa safer, we have participated in a number of meetings with elected officials and City agency staff. Most recently, LACBC helped to organize a Vision Zero event with the Vision Zero Alliance, the Mayor’s office, the Department of Transportation, and the leading national expert on Vision Zero, Leah Shahum. Following that event, I also met with Councilmember Gil Cedillo and members of his team.
Councilmember Cedillo and I talked about a number of things, including the recent tragic passing of Yolanda Lugo. We also discussed his policy around housing, homelessness, and active transportation. We talked about community engagement, where his office has fallen short, and where LACBC has fallen short. I will continue to engage him, and I will share what we’re hearing from our members, like you. I will do so with respect, but with a firm determination to ensure that he hears what is important to so many of us living in his district.
I also left that conversation with a renewed sense of how I must continue to listen. My first year at LACBC is almost complete and I have been spending it traveling all over the county learning about how LACBC has been successful, how we’ve failed, and where we have room for growth.
When I started as Executive Director at the end of last year, I laid out a vision for LACBC to place social justice at the center of our work and build better coalitions around the intersections of active transportation with health, income, equity, housing, race, and jobs. Since then, we have integrated equity into our programs, prioritized outreach in underserved communities, and realigned our campaigns to put first the needs of individuals who often lack a voice. In just the last couple of months, we won a citywide Mobility Plan that shares our priorities of safety and equity for everyone who moves around Los Angeles, by whatever form of transportation. We worked hard to pass this plan despite last-minute efforts to remove critical projects like North Figueroa from it, and will need your continued support to keep this plan intact.
You know that bicycling is good for health, good for the environment, and good for business. In my view, bicycling is also a powerful tool for social justice. At a basic level, bicycling is affordable and reliable transportation for people who cannot or choose not to drive. Beyond that, bicycling builds community. As an organization at the center of the bike community, we have a responsibility to make sure that we are intentional about creating an inclusive community and reach out to likely and unlikely partners in our campaign for safe and equitable streets. We have become more engaged than ever with partners working on issues ranging from affordable housing to public health.
Part of changing the narrative around bicycling requires proactively addressing concerns facing our communities, like displacement and personal safety. As Los Angeles aims toward zero traffic deaths in ten years, we are mindful that increased enforcement could perpetuate injustice without appropriate safeguards or proper prioritization of resources. We are engaging with council members, community leaders, and partner organizations to better define the problems and talk about solutions. My door is open to anyone who would like to share their perspective on these issues. Don’t hesitate to email me. I’d love to grab coffee, get to know you, and hear what you think.
Thank you again for your support. Together we can build a winning coalition for a safer, healthier, and more equitable Los Angeles.
Tamika Butler Executive Director Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition