How John Nese Broke My Heart
Today is the Third Annual Galco’s Summer Soda Tasting fundraiser for the Friends of The Southwest Museum. But I won’t be there this year because John Nese broke my heart. You see, Mr. Nese does not like bikes. That in itself would not be so bad. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But Mr. Nese is actively working to prevent people from riding bikes on York Boulevard or to his store, just as I used to do all the time.
A year ago in May, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation attempted to install a much-needed city bike rack in front of his store. These bike racks can be requested from LADOT’s website. It was a big surprise to this blogger, as well as many other long-time Galco’s enthusiasts, to learn that Mr. Nese would actually work to prevent the installation of a free bike rack on the public right-of-way outside his store.
Mr. Nese likes to claim that he is not anti-bike, yet he has been working so hard over the past year to prevent the implementation of the 2010 Los Angeles Bike Plan in Northeast Los Angeles. Over the past year he has organized his fellow Friends of The Southwest Museum to turn-out at local Neighborhood Council meetings and oppose the installation of bike lanes as part of the already-approved bicycle lane network in Northeast Los Angeles. And while I can’t say I will never shop at Galco’s again, I can say as someone who would regularly bike over to his store for a six-pack, I no longer feel welcomed doing so. (It is sort of like a Person of Color in 1955’s Alabama being told they are welcomed on the bus, as long as they sit in the back.)
Mr. Nese made a name for himself championing small independent bottlers of soda pop. He rejected the large multi-national corporations that demanded shelf space in his store. A classic tale of the underdog triumphing against Goliath. A minority niche soda market given the space they deserve. Yet he intends to keep bicycles marginalized to side streets and parks. More ironically, Mr. Nese wants regular hours restored to the Southwest Museum, even though attendance numbers would not warrant it. Yet, he makes the same argument that bike racks and bike lanes should not be installed because not enough people will use them.
Support Friends of The Southwest Museum, support Galco’s too. But if you think bikes belong, be sure to let Mr. Nese know.