Bikeside went to the Bike Plan Implementation Team meeting on Tuesday. Here’s what we learned and what we think:
7th Street lane: the project from Catalina to Figueroa is in the outreach phase and city staff are meeting with community stakeholders before finalizing the design.
7th Street continued: as part of the Wilshire Grand, the developer is setting aside 9 million dollars for street improvements in the immediate area. Part of that money will go to a bicycle facility on 7th Street extending east from Figueroa.
Sunset Blvd: Although Sunset is part of the Backbone Network, city staff decided not to take advantage of resurfacing between Douglas and Figueroa to install any facilities. Staff stated that it was not in the Top 10 and in an anti-gridlock zone, which makes it protected by city ordinance. Staff also stated, however, that Sunset was purposely restriped in paint, not thermoplastic, so it will be much simpler and cheaper to retrofit.
Venice Blvd: This will continue the lane from Crenshaw east to Main Street, creating the city’s first continuous facility from Downtown to the Westside. Staff divided the route into five sections based on road width, each with their own alternatives including lanes, road diets, and sharrows.
BPIT offers a chance to get inside Bikeways’ thinking. Their Venice presentation began with all the “negative” affects like decreased speed and less auto capacity. Advocates were quick to jump on that, countering that those things don’t necessarily happen and in some cases aren’t even negatives. Traffic is not a fixed science, and installing a bike lane does not necessarily increase congestion, advocates said. If you put in a bike lane in front of Magnolia Avenue Middle School and it decreased traffic speed, wouldn’t that be a good thing?
This mode of thinking is not exactly new. Lots of cities do innovative treatments that increase safety and demonstrate alternative thinking. Bikeways seems stuck in the past and unable to demonstrate the kind of current planning their constituency yearns for. Other communities continue to change the meaning of the urban street and Los Angeles slogs through the mud. Bikeways should be leading the charge towards a livable Los Angeles, but instead they appear preoccupied with how their projects will affect car travel. That is bike planning for the 1980s, not the 2010s.
They’re not consciously trying to do this, they’re just stuck in an outdated model and are not directed otherwise. Take the same staff and plop them in NYCDOT or the Portland Bureau of Transportation and I’m sure they’d do just fine. And, of course, the next slide of the presentation listed all the benefits of putting in a lane on Venice Blvd. But why lead with the bad that isn’t actually all that bad? Look around, Bikeways, this is a new era, and you’re getting left in the dust.