County Bike Plan Pedals ForwardJanuary 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Posted in Bike News, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
Tags: LA County Bike Plan, LA County Planning Commission, Supervisor Yaroslavsky
We have worked hard over the last year since the first draft of the LA County Bicycle Master Plan was released to ensure the Plan really serves the needs of the many diverse and dispersed unincorporated communities. Since the last Regional Planning Commission meeting on Nov 16th, a number of additional changes were made as a result of your many comments and LACBC’s advocacy. Our efforts were further supported by a motion put forth by Supervisor Yaroslavsky in December to ensure innovative treatments were included in the plan. This morning the LA County Bicycle Master Plan was again reviewed by the LA County Regional Planning Commission and was unanimously approved.
We are pleased with the changes that have been made since the first draft. Many of your comments and ours were integrated into the Plan and the changes will provide the people living in or adjacent to unincorporated LA County communities more opportunities to bicycle for everyday transportation and recreation. Since the Plan was first released, the total mileage of projects increased from 695 miles of bikeways to 832 miles of bikeways (currently there are only 144 miles of completed bikeways in the unincorporated communities of LA County).We are pleased that 47% of the projects planned to be implemented in the next five years are in areas where the median income is $40,000 or lower, ensuring the mobility options for low-income residents, many of whom already cycle for everyday transportation purposes or to connect to transit, are improved soon.
One of our campaign goals was to see more miles of bike lanes included in the urban areas of the unincorporated county and that better treatments are provided for rural roads to separate cyclists from sharing the roadway with fast moving vehicles. While 55% of the bikeways in the Plan are routes – 73% of those bike route projects are in the mountain and rural areas of LA County. Many of the route projects in areas like the Antelope Valley will include creating paved shoulders that, thanks to the expanded design guidelines, can include buffers between the vehicle travel lane and shoulder.
We are also pleased to see additional policies and guidelines included in Plan regarding the implementation of innovative treatments such as cycle tracks/protected bike lanes, bike boxes, etc. We also advocated for an expanded description and toolbox for bike boulevards. This was also included in the plan, however the language we were hoping for to specify that all bike boulevards projects will include some form of traffic calming features was not as strong as we would have liked.
We will be working over the next few weeks to address one of the remaining issues we have with the plan. We are concerned with wording included in the Plan that calls for a plan amendment to upgrade a facility. We feel this creates a barrier to implementing “better” bike projects than the ones specified in the plan, particularly in regards to upgrading a bike route to a bike lane if there is existing right-of-way to do so. Since the design of the bikeways identified in the plan will happen at a later date, it is possible that some streets identified as bike routes may have the existing right-of-way to support bike lanes without removing vehicle travel lanes or parking. Doing a plan amendment can take up to six months and adds additional costs to implementing projects and can discourage the Department of Public Works (DPW) from completing the best project possible for a particular corridor. While we want to ensure projects are not downgraded, we do want to see the best projects feasible for a specific corridor when implemented. We will be following up on this issue with the LA County Department of Regional Planning and the LA County Supervisors.
Additionally, the implementation of the plan is dependent on the ability of DPW to secure grant funding. However the county, like every incorporated city in the county, receives local returns from several sales tax initiatives including Measure R. We’re going to advocate that the County Supervisors allocate a percentage of the local sales tax return dollars to be used to fund projects and programs in the bicycle master plan. Similar to the campaign to secure 10% of the Measure R be set-aside for bicycle & pedestrian secured by LACBC, Green LA, and other advocates in the City of Los Angeles in 2010. This funding will help implement the plan, but also provide greater ability to DPW to leverage those dollars for grant funding. Most state and federal grants require a 20% local match, having a dedicated source of funding for bike projects will provide DPW a greater ability to secure grant funding. We’ll be calling on you to help us reach out to your County Supervisors to let them know how important it is to fund the bicycle plan.
The Plan will be heading to the LA County Board of Supervisors in late February or early March. Thanks to everyone who submitted comments and attended County Bike Plan meetings! We’ll keep you posted on upcoming board meetings and ways you can help us address the issues we mentioned above.