Bike Plan Public Hearings Are Coming, Let’s Roll!
The public hearings during which the draft 2010 Los Angeles Bicycle Plan will be discussed are almost here! The series of four hearings and one webinar begins on Saturday September 25 in Hollywood and concludes on October 2 in Van Nuys (specific dates, times, and locations are listed at the end of this post). Each hearing will give the public the opportunity to review the relevant maps and documents, and to speak up on a bike plan that will be implemented throughout the city over the next 25 years. The period of public comment will officially end on October 8 so these hearings represent the last chance to question the attending officials (from both the Dept. of Planning and the Dept. of Transportation) and to get involved before the draft goes to the City Council.
So here’s a handful of thoughts aimed at getting the ball rolling. Think about the bike plan and what you want from it. We’ll all be riding on the result.
[Note: Where I say "respondents" I am referring to those who answered the DOT online public outreach survey conducted for the bike plan. 'Proposed' always refers to those bikeways that can be accommodated within existing conditions.]
1) Bike Lanes: Further study
The bike plan divides the future bikeways into two categories: ‘proposed’ and ‘bike lanes: further study’. ‘Proposed’ means the roadway is ready for the bikeway to be constructed and ‘further study’ means studies are allegedly needed to assess the overall impact of the bikeway before construction can begin. Neither the studies nor the bike lanes are guaranteed to be implemented. Piecemeal implementation of the 1996 bike plan left cyclists in Los Angeles with an incomplete and fragmented network of bikeways. Only 339 miles of 673 miles of designated bikeways in the 1996 bike plan were ever completed and more than 35% of those are bike routes identified by signage only. Since 90% (511 miles) of the bike lanes in the 2010 bike plan are in this ‘further study’ category – which is also described as ‘speculative’ by the bike plan – this is potentially a huge pitfall.
2) Bike paths
Ninety-nine miles of bike paths are proposed, compared to just 56 miles of bike lane. Bike paths are physically separated from roads and are typically used for recreational purposes rather than utilitarian. Since bike paths are, by design, away from regularly-serviced streets they are initially more expensive to construct and remain more costly to maintain than a bike lane. They receive little or no policing, especially at night, making them a more risky option. According to DOT, one mile of bike path is almost 100 times more expensive than one mile of bike lane ($2.64 million per compared to $28k). Bike paths are almost as desirable as bike lanes, according to the DOT survey, (35% vs 43% for most preferred facility) but only 16% of respondents said they needed a bike path to reach their destination, compared to 63% who said bike lanes were the most needed facility. In summary, all of the bike lanes in the plan (both proposed and those labeled as requiring future study) would cost $19.5 million while the total cost for all future bike paths is over a quarter of a billion dollars ($263 million). Worth it? Have a think!
3) Bicycle Friendly Streets
‘Bicycle friendly street’ (BFS) will be the designation applied to streets that cannot accommodate a bike lane or bike route, e.g. if the roadway is too narrow. BFSs are not particularly cheap ($30k – $300k per mile) but are proposed as a way to ‘provide continuous bicycle access’. That is, they will bridge the gaps between more significant facilities, such as bike lanes. There are 5 levels of BFSs, where treatments range from mere signage to sharrows to traffic diversion (a list of treatments can be found on pg 55 of the Technical Design Handbook). Approximately three-quarters (over 600 miles) of the proposed bikeways are BFSs so it’s important to consider the kinds of treatments that would make your bike ride safer and more comfortable. Do you think the suggested treatments are effective? Which ones need to be prioritized? Currently, specific details on which streets will receive which treatments are not publicly available. One concern is that 600 miles of streets could simply be given “share the road” signs and promptly dubbed “bicycle friendly”. Is this enough?
Things I particularly like: requiring a public hearing for any proposed removal of existing bicycle lane or path, distributing educational leaflets about bicyclists’ rights to drivers renewing their licenses through the DMV, encouraging schools to install quality bike parking, increasing the bicycle carrying capacity of local buses, and installing bike-sensitive detectors at intersections.
Didn’t know all of that stuff was in the bike plan? A summary of the suggested programs, along with schedules and lead departments, is in chapter 4. Look it up!
Mull these things over, identify programs you think are particularly (in)efficient or (un)important and consider how they will be funded and implemented. Attend a hearing and make your voice heard. I’ll be attending the Hollywood hearing, possibly others as well, so I hope to see you there.
Bike Plan Public Hearings:
Saturday, September 25, 10am-1pm. Hollywood Municipal Building, 6501 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90028
Wednesday, September 29, 11:30am-1:30pm. Webinar Public Hearing. Check website for details.
Wednesday, September 29, 5pm-8pm. Felicia Mahood Senior Center, 11338 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Thursday, September 30, 5pm-8pm. Constituent Service Center, 8475 S. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90044
Saturday, October 2, 10am-1pm. Braude Constituent Service Center, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd, Room 1B, Van Nuys, CA 91401