BWG V – what you may have missed…

By Jeremy Grant

The Bike Working Group met for the fifth time this past March 6, 2010 to work on the LA’s Best Bike Plan and was well attended despite the sporadic rain. Thanks to the Hollywood Adventists we had a dry space to present, review and discuss the Best Bike Plan and the Backbone Bikeway Network. Alex Thompson started with an presentation of what the Backbone is and addressed the common misconceptions spurred by media attention.

Most everyone came to a consensus that the policy of the Backbone is to open the streets to all users (drivers, bikers, peds) and share the streets the safest way possible. The Backbone standards do not require physical removal of car lanes; but, in some cases a road diet may be demanded of the current condition. On some streets, it’s just a matter of connecting or extending the existing bike lane (Venice Bl or Santa Monica). Maybe it’s as simple as green lanes or sharrows. Some intersections and straightaways might need more traffic enforcement to keep the speeders and light runners at bay. It could be a just a sign that directs bicyclists to the safest route. There are many solutions — the Backbone isn’t just a single solution plan.

“This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.” -Ray LaHood, US Secretary of Transportation

The philosophy of the Backbone Bikeway Network is connectivity. The Backbone will be a lifeline that gives priority to people and their choices in life (work, play, shop, eat, etc.). This is in deep contrast to the status quo. Up until now the roads have come to divide one neighborhood from another. A safer transportation environment that is geared to the user (and not the device) will transform the cluster of communities we call the City of LA and connect them in a way that makes it easier, friendlier, and safer for everyone.

Alex unveiled the LA Bike Map that showed the number of bike related traffic incidences just around the Hollywood area where the meeting was at. It wasn’t surprising considering the concentration of traffic the nearby streets see everyday. Unsafe traffic conditions are what keep most people from using a bike for local commuting and short leisure trips. By taking the data from the LA Bike Map the Backbone Bikeway Network can address the need of safety across the whole City and bring new riders to the streets.

Part of BWG V was set aside to review and critique the Backbone Bikeway Network Maps. As in the last meeting, the maps were broken down into Central, Valley and Harbor areas and reviewed one at a time by each group. This way the Bike Working Group promoted joint ownership of solutions and defuses the typical confrontational attitudes between community and infrastructure development. Individual stakeholders from throughout the City, the Mayor’s office, and co-operatives (Valley Bikery and Bikerowave, just to name a few) offered their input on what the best streets for Backbone should be. Keep an eye out for map revisions after the Backbone Bikeway Network is fully examined and evaluated.

After the review of the maps we moved on to presenting the wayfinding and signage element of the Backbone Bikeway Network. You can view the full presentation here.

Once the Backbone is in place it is essential for people to be able to use it in a very practical and almost effortless way. Signs informing cyclists of Backbone Bikeway Network direction changes and to confirm distance, direction, and destination allows cyclists and pedestrians (and even motorists) to know their location if they are not already familiar with the area. Wayfinding signage would encourage more people to use the Backbone and make bicycling integral to our daily life. It would bring together the neighborhoods that are left so disconnected today. (…full article)

We finished up by having a group discussion about the vision of the Backbone Bikeway Network and the next steps that will be taken to put this plan in place. The word is definitely out on the street with radio, television and newspaper mediums picking up the story. The time for change is now. The City’s planning and transportation departments need to recognize that the citizens of Los Angeles suffer on a daily basis because of their inability to coordinate a safe bikeway network. We must inform residential and commercial communities that a strong bicycling infrastructure will enhance their neighborhood’s economy, environment, health, and safety. It’s time we improve the quality of the streets for the people and make them efficient for everyone.

Photos by Mihai Peteu.

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2 Responses to “BWG V – what you may have missed…”

  1. A lot of constructive energy at this meeting. I wish we had someone taping these proceedings, so many good ideas put forth – it would be worthwhile to record and put them online.

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