An Exciting First Look at the Santa Monica Bike ACTION Plan
Monday night, Santa Monica’s draft Bike Action Plan (BAP) was presented to the public for the first time at a Santa Monica Spoke meeting at 502 Colorado. Six city staff, one city council member and even one former mayor were in attendance. The atmosphere was jovial, and borderline celebratory.
Seems as if co-blogger Alex Thompson’s experience at the last Los Angeles Bike Plan Implementation meeting was the polar opposite of mine. Bikeside Chris also seems to have caught a mean case of the BPIT Blues.
Chapter 4 of the Santa Monica Bike Plan boldly contrasts the heel dragging felt on the LA Bike Plan with the heading “Make it Happen”. The sight of that phrase alone sets the tone, and quite frankly, should be expected from a forward-thinking group of city planners who sense a wave of change sweeping through. Using the word “Action” in the title suggests that city staff are indeed taking an active stance, hopefully translating into quicker implementation. Now on to the plan’s contents.
The Plan is driven by simple concepts, all chips off the old LUCE block:
- no net new automobile trips, achieved by encouraging cycling
- facilitating affordable and healthy transportation
- recognizing that a walkable, bikeable city supports economic health
There is a set of 5-year projects that are clearly doable given the current political climate, and a set of 20-year goals, similar to the way LUCE milestones are organized. The long term projects would certainly elevate ridership but are currently considered risque, such as Bike Boulevards on Michigan and Washington. These are referred to as Neighborhood Greenways in the BAP. Some audience members were quick to point out that since most of the funding is secured for many of the 5-year projects, the whole process could be accelerated.
The plan is too large to go into detail, so I will single out three reasons that SM City Planners “get it”.
1) The newly installed bike racks throughout Santa Monica, which effectively double the amount of bike parking. They are rubberized, as to not scrape up one’s frame, and they have a helpful sticker visually explaining how to secure your bike using the rear triangle method.
2) Furthermore proof of the planners’ attention to detail is the design for the Arizona bike lane extension in a hilly section. To make room for a buffered bike lane on the climbing eastbound lane, so traffic can pass up the (potentially) slower rider, sharrows are opted for instead of bike lane on the downhill westbound section.
3) The inclusion of cyclist profiles in Chapter 2 (pg 2-25 to 2-28) paint a human picture of the community while giving individuals a chance to express their concerns.
The visuals below establish that cycling has picked up in Santa Monica, giving the BAP some political capital that it plans to spend.
Priority Bikeway Network
The Priority Bikeway Network sets forth a timetable for bikeway completion (Chapter 3, pg 3-24). Corridors of high priority:
- North/South: Main St, 16th, 17th, Stewart/28th
- East/West: Broadway (Appendix B, pg B-18), Michigan Wiggle Neighborhood Greenway (Appendix B, pg B-18, B-28)
These choices were heavily influenced by public input meetings where local cyclists voted for their favorite routes. The future bikeway network has a evenly spaced-out gridline of routes typical of Gold and Platinum bike-friendly cities. Scott Reiter, a local cyclist, believes a tipping point will be reached once a solid North/South route is established and Broadway gets the buffered bike lane treatment.
- Green-painted Super Sharrow lanes on Broadway and Santa Monica Bl in Downtown area (Appendix B, pg B-17)
- Broadway, Arizona, Ocean Park get buffered bike lanes
- Washington Greenway (Ch 3, pg 3-51)
- Green Wave (implemented in Copenhagen, Valencia St in San Francisco) to ensure a steady flow of bike traffic through traffic light timing (Ch 3, pg 3-66)
Some of these individual projects represent fractions of the cost of, let’s say, widening a frickin’ freeway. The Arizona buffered bike lane (including extension of the bike lane from 26th St to Centinela) is estimated to cost $250,000 (Appendix B, pg B-13). This project is slated for the 20-year plan, but the only reason it would take that long to implement is bureaucracy encountered due to the potential removal of parking spots.
Appendix G1 defines the Public Bicycle Parking Guidelines – different styles of parking racks are assigned to each district (eg smaller footprint racks are used in commercial districts tight on sidewalk space). Listed are Inverted U, Bollard, and Modified Inverted U racks. Thankfully no mention of Wave-type racks.
For a map of existing bike racks in the city, see Chapter 2 (pg 2-22).
The BAP includes the Citywide Bikeway System map from the 2010 LA Bike Plan which focus on Backbone routes leading into West LA (Executive Summary, pg ES-7). Lucy Dyke mentioned the importance of the Westside COG reaching agreement about shared routes such as Santa Monica Bl. For now, streets like Wilshire, Santa Monica, and Pico will remain auto priority streets, with the possibility of Sharrows being added in the rightmost lane.
This post barely scrapes the surface of the BAP, so dig in and find out for yourself what a bike plan written by cyclists, for cyclists looks like.