- Eric Bruins, Planning and Policy Director, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and
- Jessica Meaney, Southern California Policy Director, Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Last week, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition hosted a breakfast for Los Angeles County elected leaders and key staff from Metro, local cities, and school districts to discuss challenges and opportunities to making LA County more walkable, bikeable and transit-accessible. This was a rare opportunity to bring all three levels of government (Metro, cities, and school districts) into one room to discuss these issues. This convening built upon previous engagements with community-based organizations, researchers, environmental and health advocates, city and county staff to build consensus for transportation policy changes across the region. Like other stakeholders, elected officials at the meeting universally stressed the importance of walking and bicycling to Los Angeles County’s health, environment and economy.
Last week’s conversation is part of a changing story of transportation in Los Angeles County. Metro is rapidly building out the nation’s most ambitious transit capital program and, unlike new freeways, transit has a tremendous potential to be neighborhood focused. Our elected officials recognize that active transportation is the foundation of local mobility and therefore a regional priority.
We were excited to share our research findings with the assembled leaders from Active transportation has historically fallen through the cracks between different agencies for lack of resources, technical capacity, and focus. During our discussion, we heard that Metro, school districts and local cities have unique opportunities and challenges when it comes to active transportation. Only by coordinating and sharing resources can agencies achieve common objectives.
- Board adopted a Sustainable Planning policy, providing a framework to address active transportation, among other sustainability issues
- Local sales taxes provide resources to implement, subject to board discretion
- Metrics and modeling capability to prioritize projects
- First Mile/Last Mile targets investments in strategic transit-oriented areas for maximum benefit
- Countywide reach for education and encouragement
- Can’t do it alone – must partner with local jurisdictions
- Has not historically implemented projects, mostly a funder
- Regionally significant projects require interjurisdictional coordination
School District Opportunities:
- Captive audience for education programs
- Can reach students and parents
School District Challenges:
- Need resources and best practices for education and encouragement programs
- Barriers to walking biking to school extend beyond campus: perceived safety (parents’ perceptions), traffic safety, personal safety
City and County Opportunities:
- Control the public right of way and regulate the built environment
- Police departments enforce safe behavior, particularly around school routes during the morning
City and County Challenges:
- Lack of funding for walking and bicycling investments
- Building local support for changes to public right of way
- Technical knowledge on integrating walking and biking into urban design, land use, and transportation engineering
- Collecting adequate data about bicycle and pedestrian travel behavior
- Targeting education and enforcement to address specific issues and general perceptions
Fortunately, every challenge for one agency matches an opportunity for another. By working together and implementing the recommendations identified in Transportation Finance in Los Angeles County: An Overview (see page 8), we can leverage the incredible investment Metro is making in transportation to build a county that is an even better and safer place to walk and bicycle.
The elected leaders breakfast was one in a series of stakeholder meetings that we’ve held throughout the year. On January 8, 2014, we will hold a meeting to bring together all of those stakeholders to continue to increase coordination and work together to make LA County more walkable and bikeable. Please join us for this very special meeting, which will be held at the California Endowment–all leaders, partners and stakeholders are welcome. For more information about the event or to lend your support, contact firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com.
- Metro: Chair Diane Dubois, Directors Pam O’Connor, Mike Bonin, and John Fasana, CEO Art Leahy & staff
- LA County: Offices of Supervisors Molina, and Knabe
- Cities: Bell, Carson, Culver City, Duarte, El Monte, Los Angeles, Lakewood, Lancaster, South Gate, West Hollywood
- School Districts: Azusa Unified School District, Bassett Unified School District, Los Angeles Unified School District, California Latino School Boards Association
- State Legislators: Office of Senator Fran Pavley, Office of Senator Carol Liu
- Other Key Partners: Bike San Gabriel Valley, Pomona Valley Bike Coalition, AARP, Prevention Institute, UCLA Complete Streets Initiative, Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
LACBC asked each of the candidates running for City Council of the City of Los Angeles to respond to our questionnaire. We hope our members will find the candidates’ answers insightful into how each candidate proposes to make our streets safe, balanced, and livable. Responses are posted by Council District, in the order they were received. Here are responses from CD 13 candidate John Choi. The May 21st run-off election is between John Choi and Mitch O’Farrell.
1. Please share a memory involving a bicycle that has had a lasting effect on you (whether or not you were the one on the bicycle).
It was a recent experience where I was actually driving, but pulled up next to a young family on their bicycles at the very busy intersection of Silver Lake Blvd, Temple, Virgil, and Beverly (in the 13th district!). It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and the young mother had her young child strapped into a baby seat on the back of her bicycle. The adult couple was talking and joking together, while the young boy in the baby seat was animated and clearly having fun being outside. As the light turned from red to green, the couple calmly began pedaling through the intersection, with my only view being of the rear of the baby seat with the child’s arms and legs bouncing happily along. I chose this memory because it was a snapshot into the life of young families who are shedding old notions of mobility in our great city – who are leading by example and who are quite frankly, pioneers. There in front of my eyes was the future pedaling down our streets in the midst of heavy car traffic. It was a brief glimpse into a vision that I’m committed to carrying through as a Councilmember.
2. The Department of City Planning is in the process of updating the City’s Mobility Element for the first time in decades. What policies would you prioritize for inclusion in the Mobility Element? What role do you see bicycling playing in the City’s transportation system, if any?
I’m highly focused on improving our bike infrastructure to ensure that bicycles can truly fulfill the vision of a first mile-last mile connected and useable transit system. Metro projects need to include these elements, and as Councilmember, I hope to be appointed to ensure that the City receives its share of funding to increase connectivity. This also means that a focus on strategically improving the City’s bike infrastructure (prioritizing completing bike lanes around new and existing public transit routes, implementing physical barriers in these same locations) around transit hubs.
3. Just a few months ago, Los Angeles was honored as a Bronze-level Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Do you believe the city should pursue a Silver-level designation, and if so, what steps would you take in the first year of your term to move LA up to the Silver level?
Given the hard work of cyclist groups, green activists and eco-minded city officials, I believe Los Angeles can reach silver relatively quickly. I think the most effective step a Councilmember can take is to bring the experts on the issue into the room to discuss what is immediately doable. In the first quarter of my first term I will bring prominent local cycling advocates to the table on these issues, so we Angelenos can ride with ease and peace of mind. One area we can make up the additional level is by increasing “encouragement” of ridership by continuing to promote more events like Ciclavia. I myself will be a leader by publically riding my bike to events in the district.
4. In 2011, the City Council unanimously adopted the Bicycle Plan proposing a comprehensive 1,600-mile bikeway network across the City. What steps would you take to ensure implementation of Bicycle Plan projects in your district? Are there any specific projects in the Plan you would prioritize?
When I am a City Councilmember I will put my experience as a Commissioner on the Department of Public Works to good use in executing the Bicycle Plan in our Council District. My background experience executing street design and the relationships I’ve built during my career will lend to ease in implementing the Plan and I’d bet we’ll see faster and better application of the Bicycle Plan here in CD13 than in any other part district.
I think the City’s Bicycle Plan as a great blueprint for a more bicycle friendly city. We must implement and meet the goals set by the Bicycle Plan by ensuring that a portion of our budget is dedicated to seeing this through completion. We need to make sure that bike lanes are properly designated throughout the city, so that no cyclist feels unsafe while traversing our neighborhoods.
5. Studies have shown that people on bicycles spend more per month in local business districts than those arriving by other modes. What steps would you take to ensure that local businesses in your district are able to benefit from better access by bicyclists?
We need to focus implementation of bike infrastructure in our localized small business centers to further encourage that type of continued growth. Rather than take a shotgun approach that spreads limited resources, I’d like to focus in on targeted neighborhoods where we can build the support with the business and residential communities to push progressive bike policy and infrastructure development. Silver Lake, Echo Park, and Atwater Village could be great fits for encouraging this type of approach. I’d like to show leadership on issues like removing metered parking to provide bike corrals and replacing street grates. Where possible, I’d like to see the development of physical barriers between bike and car lanes to create more permanency and to begin to change the mobility culture in our city. Using the bully pulpit, I’d like to help lead a conversation about small businesses playing a role in reducing car trips by incentivizing bicycle users to bike to their shops.
6. The LA Weekly recently wrote a feature story documenting that almost half of traffic collisions in the City of LA are hit-and-runs, according to LAPD records. Many victims of these traffic crimes are people walking and bicycling. What steps would you take to reduce the rate of hit-and-run and ensure perpetrators are prosecuted?
With the expansion of bike lanes across the city, we need to increase the number of police officers patrolling our neighborhoods on bikes. In collaboration with the LAPD, the city needs to raise awareness and educate both drivers and bicyclists alike about sharing the road.
7. In the event of a collision, the survival of those injured could depend on a prompt emergency response, yet it’s recently been disclosed that response times for the Los Angeles Fire Department frequently exceed national standards. What would you do to address budget and staffing cutbacks affecting the LAFD to ensure a faster response for all those who need emergency assistance?
Our sluggish response times are not acceptable. Although our city is in a financial bind, cutting back on police and firefighters should be avoided at all costs, and once we are fiscally sound, replenishing their ranks should become a priority. I think it’s important that we ensure that internal departmental policy prioritize bike accidents as much as car accidents. As a city councilmember I will work to make sure that the LAFD has the resources it needs to efficiently and effectively carry out its duties to our citizens.
8. A recent proposal has been floated to assess all property owners to bring streets into a state of good repair. Do you support the proposed bond measure, and do you believe any changes should be made to the proposal to serve all those who travel on city streets, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users?
I support creating a dedicated source of revenue for infrastructure development, but believe that any measure should include sidewalks and considerations for bicycle infrastructure improvements. We’ll likely only have one shot at this, and I want to fight to make sure we do it right.
9. LACBC has formed Neighborhood Bike Ambassador groups in each part of the City to work with local businesses, neighborhood councils, homeowner associations and other stakeholders on bicycle issues. Will you commit to meeting with the local Ambassador group in your district on a regular and ongoing basis? Would you be willing to lead a regularly scheduled bike ride with your constituents?
Yes, I am committed to ensuring our streets are bicycle and pedestrian friendly. I think the Ambassador group will play an important part in raising awareness and carrying out dialogue with our civic leaders and community members. I think that riding bicycles with my constituents will be a great way for me to lead by example.
10. Would you presently feel safe riding a bike in Los Angeles, and if not, what would it take to make you feel comfortable on our city streets?
Certainly, there are portions of our city and my district where I feel safe riding a bike. Just the other day I took ride through my local neighborhood Echo Park and felt safe in the neighborhoods as well as on Sunset Blvd, which has a bike lane installed. But safe bike riding should not be exclusive to certain parts of the city. Anyone in this city should be able to get on a bike at home and ride down to their local shops or parks without feeling that they’re risking their life. There is a lot of work to be done to create a new culture where both riders and drivers are comfortable with each other on the roads.
In 2011, the Los Angeles City Council passed the Bicycle Plan, embarking on a quest to make our city friendlier to those traveling under pedal power. Since then, Los Angeles has made great strides toward making bicycling a safe and convenient way to travel, connecting diverse communities to make our city more liveable, economically vibrant, and environmentally sustainable. Each Councilmember has the ability to determine what projects are advanced in his or her district, as well as a vote on citywide policy affecting all people who ride. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition invites all City Council candidates to appeal directly to an engaged, thoughtful group of voters–our city’s bicyclists–by responding to the following questionnaire.
We will post responses to these questions here on our blog and in our weekly newsletter to thousands of voters across the city and region beginning on February 7th and thereafter as additional responses come in. Please email responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and cannot endorse candidates or engage in electioneering on behalf of a candidate. We are offering this questionnaire as a service to candidates to communicate with potential voters for informational purposes only. All candidates have an equal opportunity to respond and responses will be distributed without bias in the order in which they are received. If you have any questions, please call our office at (213) 629-2142.
- Please share a memory involving a bicycle that has had a lasting effect on you (whether or not you were the one on the bicycle).
- The Department of City Planning is in the process of updating the City’s Mobility Element for the first time in decades. What policies would you prioritize for inclusion in the Mobility Element? What role do you see bicycling playing in the City’s transportation system, if any?
- Just a few months ago, Los Angeles was honored as a Bronze-level Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Do you believe the city should pursue a Silver-level designation, and if so, what steps would you take in the first year of your term to move LA up to the Silver level?
- In 2011, the City Council unanimously adopted the Bicycle Plan proposing a comprehensive 1,600-mile bikeway network across the City. What steps would you take to ensure implementation of Bicycle Plan projects in your district? Are there any specific projects in the Plan you would prioritize?
- Studies have shown that people on bicycles spend more per month in local business districts than those arriving by other modes. What steps would you take to ensure that local businesses in your district are able to benefit from better access by bicyclists?
- The LA Weekly recently wrote a feature story documenting that almost half of traffic collisions in the City of LA are hit-and-runs, according to LAPD records. Many victims of these traffic crimes are people walking and bicycling. What steps would you take to reduce the rate of hit-and-run and ensure perpetrators are prosecuted?
- In the event of a collision, the survival of those injured could depend on a prompt emergency response, yet it’s recently been disclosed that response times for the Los Angeles Fire Department frequently exceed national standards. What would you do to address budget and staffing cutbacks affecting the LAFD to ensure a faster response for all those who need emergency assistance?
- A recent proposal has been floated to assess all property owners to bring streets into a state of good repair. Do you support the proposed bond measure, and do you believe any changes should be made to the proposal to serve all those who travel on city streets, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users?
- LACBC has formed Neighborhood Bike Ambassador groups in each part of the City to work with local businesses, neighborhood councils, homeowner associations and other stakeholders on bicycle issues. Will you commit to meeting with the local Ambassador group in your district on a regular and ongoing basis? Would you be willing to lead a regularly scheduled bike ride with your constituents?
- Would you presently feel safe riding a bike in Los Angeles, and if not, what would it take to make you feel comfortable on our city streets?
We are disappointed to report that Sidharth Misra, the driver who killed Alan Deane as Alan was riding his bicycle on Colorado Blvd. in September 2011, was given a light sentence on November 13 in the Pasadena Superior Court. As we suspected before the hearing, the terms of the sentence were predetermined by a plea bargain deal in which Misra was convicted of Reckless Driving. His sentence included 10 hours of community labor, 400 hours of community service, 3 years probation, a few small fines, and restitution that has still not been confirmed (but was estimated to be around $4,000). Commissioner Steven Monette presided over the hearing.
A group of supporters met for a short ride from the crash site to the courthouse where they joined more supporters, along with Alan’s friends and family members. Alan’s aunt, Anita “Cookie” Berman, made a tearful statement which was followed by a statement by LACBC staff member Colin Bogart. In their statements, Berman and Bogart both cited that there should be stiffer penalties in cases like this, specifically the revocation or suspension of Misra’s driver’s license. Misra also spoke to Alan’s family and friends, saying he was sorry and that he understood if they hated him or could not forgive him.
In this case, we are less concerned about Misra and more concerned about the failure of our legal system to protect and seek justice for victims like Alan. Misra does not seem like a bad person, but how can our legal system convict a person of Reckless Driving and still preserve the person’s driving privilege? Somehow, the suspension or revocation of a person’s driving privilege must become automatic in cases like this. It would be a step in the right direction towards making the punishment fit the crime, and would be an incentive for people to simply drive more carefully.
We sincerely thank the supporters who met for the ride and who attended the hearing. At the very least, Alan’s family did not have to face Tuesday’s hearing alone. Alan’s father Gil called to thank the LACBC and everyone who has supported the family. We can all take some comfort knowing that we’ve helped Alan’s family through a very difficult time.
For several years, Sgt. David Krumer has been the bicycling community’s main point of contact with the Los Angeles Police Department. Many can attest that he was always consistent and quick to respond to all manner of issues that arose. LACBC was not alone in relying on him for assistance. Sgt. Krumer has been reassigned and we’d like to thank him for all that he’s done for bicyclists in Los Angeles. Sgt. Krumer, we wish you the best. Come ride with us any time!
With Sgt. Krumer’s departure as the LAPD go-to guy for all things bike, the department recently announced four new liaisons to take Krumer’s place. Each liaison will represent one of four traffic divisions in the City of Los Angeles. Their role is to be available to bicycling public. If, for example, you’ve had an altercation with a motorist or if you have an issue with an LAPD officer that you’ve encountered, the liaisons are there for you. You can contact them according to the traffic division you were in at the time of your incident. For a more detailed description of the change at LAPD, you can read blogger and LACBC Board member Ted Rogers’ post on LAStreetsblog. Starting now, keep this list handy!
- Central Division: Sgt. Laszlo Sandor 213 972-1853 email@example.com
- West Division: Sgt. Christopher Kunz 213 473-0215 firstname.lastname@example.org
- South Division: Sgt. Jon Aufdemberg 213 421-2588 email@example.com
- Valley Division: Sgt. Steve Egan 818 644-8146 firstname.lastname@example.org
Image: The NBC Universal-adjacent reach of the Los Angeles River is featured on the cover of the Revitalization Master Plan.
As the second largest city in the country, Los Angeles is home to major industries including goods movement, film, aerospace, and others, all participants a dynamic, global economy. We are fortunate in that these industries choose to continue investing in our city, bringing jobs and tax revenue to our local communities. Every so often, a major player announces a large project that promises to reshape the public realm for the next generation. Last week, the City of Los Angeles Planning Commission recommended approval for Farmers Field, a football stadium that will transform an already bustling entertainment complex at the southern edge of downtown LA. Next week, the Planning Commission will consider NBC Universal’s plans for the future development of Universal City. Both of these mega-projects will have far-reaching effects on nearby communities, for better or for worse. Considered together, these projects provide a study in contrasting approaches to planning for the future.
Set in the urban core, Farmers Field is planned to integrate itself into its surrounding neighborhood. The stadium is required by state legislation to be carbon neutral and has aggressive plans to reduce travel by private automobile by investing in and promoting alternatives. The separately planned My Figueroa project will introduce the City’s first separated cycletrack on Figueroa, delivering visitors to the event center’s 250 bicycle parking spaces. A future mobility hub will provide additional bicycle parking, as well as bikeshare, carshare, and transit info. The stadium project is required to invest $10 million to add an additional platform at the Pico Blue/Expo Line station to accommodate expected game day crowds. While some may quibble at project details (and we’re no exception), the project has demonstrated a clear willingness to encourage people to arrive by transit, by bike, and on foot.
Universal City is also strategically located on the Metro rail network, as well as at the terminus of existing bike lanes on Forest Lawn Drive and planned bicycle facilities along the LA River, Barham, Cahuenga, and Lankershim. The project applicant, however, has taken a decidedly different approach than Farmers Field, and chosen to meet their transportation demands by investing $100 million in cars, cars, and more cars. The applicant has resisted efforts to include the LA River Bike Path on the County right-of-way adjacent to the River, as prescribed by both City and County bicycle plans and river plans, due to alleged security concerns. The project also includes aggressive expansion of car infrastructure, including adding lanes, doubling turn lanes, and increasing parking—all in the name of reducing traffic impacts (by making it easier for more people to drive). Not to be found in the transportation plan is a single inch of new bike lanes on the City streets outside the project. Worse, the mitigation measures will make planned bike lanes in these corridors all but infeasible. (NBC actually hired consultants to do bike counts in the existing dangerous conditions to justify their claim that there is no demand for bicycle travel.) In a separate project, NBC is forcing Metro to construct a $19 million pedestrian bridge across Lankershim to get pedestrians out of the way of traffic flow. In an industry reliant on attracting creative talent, NBC’s next generation production facilities will not be accessible by the travel modes most desired by young professionals.
We could provide a long list of reasons why the NBC Universal plan went off-track, but ultimately it comes down to whether our corporate leaders share our vision of a more sustainable city wherein people can safely and conveniently travel under their own power, and whether our civic leaders are willing to enforce plans that are carefully crafted with years of public input. Large investments in the built environment are all too rare, which makes it all the more important to follow plans and policies that support strategic investments in public infrastructure when opportunities do arise.
We hope you’ll take action by writing to the City Planning Commission and/or attending the hearing on Thursday, September 27th (8:30 AM at Van Nuys City Hall Council Chamber, 2nd Floor, 14410 Sylvan Street, Van Nuys, CA 91401).
Dear Planning Commissioners:
I am greatly concerned about the lack of bicycle accommodations in the proposed NBC Universal Evolution Plan, including the LA River Bike Path. In this day and age, it is unfathomable to propose a project of this size without seriously considering multimodal solutions to transportation impacts. A stronger bicycle infrastructure component is necessary to provide a safe, convenient alternative to driving for NBC visitors and employees, while also providing regional connectivity for bicyclists in the Cahuenga Pass area.
I therefore request that the applicant be required to fund and/or implement the LA River Bike Path as a condition of the development agreement. I further request that planned on-street bicycle lanes on Lankershim, Cahuenga, and Barham be included in the proposed project’s traffic mitigation measures.
The proposed project will generate close to 30,000 daily trips in an already congested corridor with inadequately developed multimodal transportation infrastructure. The proposed project will invest $100 million in the region’s transportation system to mitigate this impact. It is vital that the City follow through on its plans to enable residents to bike, walk, and take transit to relieve our transportation system’s impacts on health and the environment. The constraints within the Cahuenga Pass area make adequate consideration for safe travel by all modes all the more important.
Thank you for your consideration.
123 River Road
Los Angeles, CA 90000
Over the last year, since the adoption of the City of Los Angeles Bicycle Plan, the City has shown a real commitment to improving conditions for bicycling. This past fiscal years has been the best yet for bicycle infrastructure implementation and planning: the city exceeded its goal of installing 40 miles of bike lanes, installing 51 miles of bike lanes and also installed 20 miles of sharrows; a bike network has been growing in Downtown L.A.; a record number of bike rack requests have been fulfilled; and the City’s first physically separated bike lane was announced.
Looking into what’s ahead for the next year, the City has just released its prepared first-year implementation strategy Environmental Impact Review (EIR) proposal for 43 miles of bike lanes. If you’re wondering why the City is doing an EIR on these 43 projects and not on the many projects that they completed over the last fiscal year it’s because all of these projects require a change in the current roadway configuration that will result in a change to the vehicle Level of Service (LOS) at intersections in the project area. The City of LA has a guide that dictates when an EIR needs to be completed based on certain thresholds. A change in LOS, vehicle delay at an intersection, requires that an EIR be completed for transportation projects. You can download and review the City’s Notice of Preparation for the planned bicycle facilities here.
There are several upcoming scoping meetings to provide an opportunity for you to learn more about the EIR process and give input on the included projects. Below is the meeting information as well as information for a webinar that will cover the same information.
When: July 10, 2012, 5 pm to 7 pm
Where: Caltrans District 7 Building, Room 01.040B
100 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
When: July 12, 2012, 6 pm to 8 pm
Where: LADOT Western Parking Enforcement Office,
11214 W. Exposition Blvd., 1st Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90064
When: July 18, 2012, 6 pm to 8 pm
Where: Los Angeles River Center & Gardens, California Building
570 West Avenue 26, Los Angeles, CA 90065
Webinar, July 17th, 3 PM to 4 PM - Click here to reserve your Webinar seat
As the City continues to move ahead with implementing the adopted 2010 Bicycle Plan, it is critical to show support for the City’s vision. Sign-up to get involved with our new Neighborhood Bike Ambassador Program and help advocate for the many projects included in the EIR and more. These projects can’t move forward without your support and the support of your Neighborhood Council. We need your help to outreach and engage your neighbors with the bike projects planned for your neighborhood. Check out the list of bike lane projects included in the EIR below:
We are actively working to understand how the City’s guidelines can be updated and what other cities are doing in California to make implementing bicycle lanes and other active and public transportation projects easier and less costly. Level of Service does not actually measure environmental impact – it measures the discomfort of drivers delayed at an intersection, many cities around the US are moving away from LOS because it does not take into account how other road users are impacted. We worked with a UCLA Urban Planning graduate student, Jen Karmels, to look at what cities in California are doing. Her research focuses on the cities of San Jose and San Francisco, their two different approaches to making active and public transportation projects easier to implement, and how stakeholders and agencies went about making the changes. We also recently worked with a law firm to review California case law and the city’s guidelines and plans to understand what ability the city has to use a different forms of analysis to evaluate impacts from projects. View Jen’s report here and our legal memo here.
The City and cities across LA County have a lot of flexibility to do things differently but, making the change can take upwards of 4+ years as was/is the case in both San Jose and San Francisco. While we continue to advocate for the City of LA to adopt more progressive policy to make implementing bike lanes easier – we need your help building support for the projects included in the EIR. Completing the EIR does not guarantee these projects will be implemented. Street level, neighborhood support is what ensures these projects and the many more projects included in the 2010 Bicycle Plan get implemented. So sign-up to become a Neighborhood Bike Ambassador, attend your Neighborhood Council meetings, and check out one of the meetings listed above.
Thursday May 17, 2012 is Bike to Work Day in Los Angeles County. If you are planning to bike to work for the first time, that’s great! Here’s a few tips to help make your ride better.
Plan your route ahead of time. A route that works for you will make all the difference. Keep in mind that driving routes and riding routes aren’t always the same. Use a map to identify quieter side streets that you might use for a more pleasant ride. When using side streets, look for traffic signals at major cross streets. Google Streetview is great for this. You can also use Google directions (click on the bike button) to help with route suggestions. Typically you’ll get two or three options that will include exisiting bikeways and avoid hills (if possible). Of course, if you are comfortable with staying on major roads, go for it. Once you’ve identified a route, try driving it on your way to work first to make sure it’s okay. Then try riding it on the weekend to see how long it takes you (hint: Google bike directions will also give you an estimated travel time).
To help ensure you don’t get stranded with a flat tire, be sure to carry a patch kit, tire levers, a pump, and a spare tube with you. If you don’t know how to fix a flat, now is a great time to learn. You will be much less hesitant to ride if you know you can fix a flat out on the road. A multi-tool is also a good item to carry with you, just in case you need to tighten something that’s loose. You may also need a wrench to remove your wheels if they don’t have quick-release levers. As back-up, carry a cell phone or money for a cab or the bus if something happens and you simply can’t finish your ride.
You don’t have to wear spandex to ride a bike. Everyone has a personal preference. Dress however is comfortable for you. Keep in mind that if you ride (and sweat) in regular clothing, cotton gets wet and stays wet. If you prefer to wear shorts and a t-shirt, consider sweat wicking materials that will help you stay drier and more comfortable. Mountain bike shorts are a good option to consider if you don’t like spandex shorts. If you’re going to ride to work in special clothing and you need to dress up at work, take a change of clothes and toiletries to work before bike to work day. Then you can change and gussy up at work.
If you have items you must carry to work with you, there are several ways to go. You can take items in a back-pack. This works well if your gear isn’t really heavy, but your back is likely to get a little more sweaty. You can use a messenger bag. If you think you might want to carry things on your bike more regularly, consider investing in a basket or rack. A basket is a simple way to carry items and forego the backpack option. Baskets typically attach to the front fork and handlebars. If you get a rear rack, you can then carry items in a pannier bag designed to attach to the rack. This is especially good if you have heavy items that you don’t want on your back or in a basket that will affect your stearing.
Hygiene and clean up
Leave early enough so you can ride at a casual pace. If you want to avoid getting really sweaty, it’s a good idea to avoid riding fast or look for routes with less hills. Enjoy the ride. Give yourself some extra time to cool off once you’ve arrived. Use handy wipes or a camp towel to clean up when you get to work. Small camp towels can work as a wash-cloth that will dry quickly. If you have a shower facility at work, that’s great. If not and you really want to shower after your ride, there might be a health club or YMCA near your work that will allow you to use their showers. Once you’ve cleaned up, remember that your riding clothes might still smell a little. Your co-workers will appreciate it if you store your riding clothes in a place that’s out of sniffing range.
If your route is 7 miles or more, you might want to supplement your ride with transit. Metro buses, trains, and most local buses are free on bike to work day. Check Metro’s website for schedules and rules regarding bikes on trains and buses. All Metro buses and most local buses have bike racks on the front of the bus. Metrolink trains also have designated space (and some train cars) for bicycles. If you don’t live close to transit, ride to a point where you can catch a bus or train. Most likely transit won’t get you to the front door of your employer, so you’ll need to ride the last mile or two from the station or stop. Another option to consider on bike to work day is to ride to work in the morning and take the bus or train home. There’s no rule that says you must ride both ways. You’re more likely to be fresh and ready to ride in the morning and tired by the end of the work day. If so, reward yourself for riding in the morning by taking transit home.
Look around your workplace to see if there is designated space to park your bicycle. A locker or secure room set aside for bikes is ideal. If not, ask if you can secure your bike in an unused room or closet that can be locked. If you must lock your bike to a bike rack or fixed object outside, be sure to pick a location that is close to the main entrance of your building and that has a lot of pedestrian traffic. Visibility is key. Don’t lock your bike in a secluded location that’s out of sight. When locking your bike, be sure to lock at least one wheel and your frame. If you have quick release levers, take off the front wheel and lock both wheels and the frame. Never leave a wheel with a quick-release unsecured. They’re way too easy to steal. Remove any accessories that might easily be stolen as well. Things like battery powered lights, frame mounted pumps, or saddle bags are examples of things you want to take with you. If your seat-post and saddle have a quick-release, you might want to take them with you or secure them with an additional lock. A u-lock is the best way to go when choosing a lock. It may cost more than you want to spend, but an expensive lock is usually less expensive than another bike. In addition to locking your bike, you can also deter theft by loosening your rear-wheel quick release so the back wheel will jam against the frame when a thief tries to ride off with your bike. Just remember to re-tighten your quick-release before you ride again!
Tags: bike count, City of Los Angeles Bicycle Counts, Spring Street
We’ve got some good news from Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles. We conducted bicycle counts on Spring Street before and after the installation of the buffered green lane so we could see how this infrastructure investment affected bicycle riding in Downtown and cycling is up 52%.
We conducted our first counts on Tuesday, November 1st and Saturday, November 5th. The Tuesday counts were conducted from 7 to 9am, 11am to 1pm, and 4 to 6pm. The Saturday count was conducted from 11am to 1pm. Our after counts were conducted on Tuesday, April 24th and Saturday, April 28th at the same times as the before counts.
Our findings show gains in the total number of riders after the buffered lane was installed.
The weekday gains were moderate, but still noteworthy. The most substantial increase on the weekday was seen during the midday count, which had 36% more bicyclists after the buffered lane was installed. The morning and evening counts each had increases in ridership of 12%. The weekend count had a whopping increase of over 250% in the number of bicyclists.
Not only were there more people on bicycles after the green lane went in, but more of them actually used the lane to travel down Spring Street on the weekday. The number of bicyclists who used the sidewalk declined 10% overall during the weekday count. On the weekend, however, the incidence of sidewalk riding went up a steep 117%.
Wrong way riding during the weekday remained unchanged for two of the three time periods but went up 75% during the evening time period. Unfortunately, we did not achieve an accurate count of wrong-way riders for the weekend count.
Finally, the most encouraging news from this count is the strong gains in the number of women riding bicycles on the Spring Street lane. As we report in our newly-released 2011 Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Report (see below), the state of female ridership for the city as a whole is not good. The proportion of women who ride bikes in Los Angeles has remained virtually unchanged at below 20% for the past two years. Spring Street, on the other hand, is an indicator of how in just a short while bicycle infrastructure that provides a buffer between auto traffic and the bike lane can make a big difference in the number of women who ride bicycles. Even accounting for the overall increase in ridership on Spring Street, the gains in female ridership are impressive. The number of female cyclists on the weekday went up 100% after the green lane was installed. On the weekend, the percentage increase was a massive 650%. The proportion of cyclists who were women also went up. On the weekday, female cyclists were only 8% of the riders counted before the green lane was installed, but that proportion went up to 13% afterward. On the weekend only 7% of the cyclists counted were women before the green lane went in. That proportion went up to 14% afterward.
We also have finally finished up the 2011 City of_Los Angeles Bike Count Report. We shared results from the 2011 count late last year. The full report of our findings plus our recommendations for what steps to take to make Los Angeles more bikeable and walkable is now available. Here’s a brief summary of what we’ve found and what needs to be done as result:
- There has been a significant increase in the number of people who bicycle in Los Angeles. The number of bicyclists counted at our target intersections went up 32% from 2009 to 2011. Furthermore, there is evidence that much of this increase is among people who ride bicycles for so-called practical reasons such as commuting, running errands, etc.
- Bicycle infrastructure is positively related to the overall rate of bicycle ridership, the number of women bicyclists, and occurrence of safe bicycling practices. The highest numbers of people on bicycles were observed on streets with bicycle infrastructure, especially Class I and II bikeways. Streets that received new bicycle infrastructure between 2009 and 2011 saw major increases in ridership.
- Despite the general increase in the number of people who bicycle, the proportion of female bicyclists has remained basically unchanged at below 20%.
Based on these and other findings, our report recommends the following:
- Increase investment in bicycle infrastructure, especially Class I and II bikeways and the creation of bicycle boulevards. Future infrastructure improvements should also be geared toward promoting further increases in bicycling for utilitarian purposes by creating a more integrated network of bicycle routes.
- Work to increase the number of women bicyclists. Enhanced infrastructure is one factor contributing to increased female ridership, but other barriers must also be identified and resolved.
- Increase funding to research issues relevant to encouraging bicycling and walking in Los Angeles and for tracking changes in bicycling and walking rates.
This past Sunday at CicLAvia, Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa’s announced plans for a bike share program that will put 4,000 bikes and 400 kiosks throughout the City. This will be the country’s second largest bike sharing network. Bike Nation USA, a start-up bike share company based in Southern California, will privately fund and operate the $16 million project. We think bike sharing can really bring a lot to the City and greatly increase the number of people who use bicycles, especially for short trips, and introduce both Angelenos and tourists to bicycling in Los Angeles.
Bike sharing can reduce automobile traffic, increase transit ridership and improve public health and the environment, but in order for bike sharing to thrive, we need to have a connected network of bike-friendly streets and strategically located docking stations. Currently Bike Nation plans to roll out their bike share system in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Playa del Rey, Westwood and Venice Beach with the next 12 to 24 months. These neighborhoods have the potential to support bike sharing, but currently lack complete on-street bicycle networks that safely link people to transit stops and major destinations. While we acknowledge the city has implemented more miles of bikeways then ever before there still remains a lot to be done.
Los Angeles is a city that is interlaced with multiple other cities. From Santa Monica to Culver City, and West Hollywood to Long Beach, we want to insure compatibility in bike share networks as these cities and others in our county consider their own bike share programs. According to Curbed LA, Metro is onboard to create a county-wide bike share plan, however, some cities may choose to go with a different bike share system. We believe that in order for bike sharing to be a success throughout Los Angeles, there needs to be good inter-jurisdictional coordination so a rider who picks up a bike on Main Street in Venice can drop it off at the future Colorado and 4th Street Expo Line stop in Santa Monica. Interjurisdictional coordination needs to be a priority and Bike Nation and other potential bike share companies that enter our region should be required to work together to ensure an integrated bike share system in our county.
We also want to make sure that advertising revenues don’t hinder the expansion of the system or dictate the placement of docking stations in areas likely to get higher media impressions over areas where there maybe higher bike share need, use, and good transit connectivity. This happened in the Washington, DC area when they first launched their system with Smart Bike.
Most importantly, LA’s bike share program must be one in which every Angeleno can feel safe and comfortable using and experience all the benefits that come with riding a bike. This means in addition to the City building out the bicycle infrastructure to support people of all experience levels riding on our streets, the system must be in good repair, easy to use, and convenient. After its inaugural year using a bike share program in 2011, Boulder reported that 45% of users ride a bike more frequently than they did before. By riding instead of driving, Boulder’s bike share participants are estimated to have spared the air of 104,000 pounds of carbon emissions saved 2,700 gallons of gasoline, and burned 4.4 million calories (or roughly 1257 pounds lost)! With a bike share program that is expected to be 36 times larger than Boulder, Los Angeles must work hard to design and implement a top-notch system to achieve even greater results. There is a lot to learn from cities and companies currently operating bike share systems and we hope both Bike Nation and the City of Los Angeles are looking closely at was has and has not worked in other cities.
Streetsblog is currently taking questions for the founder of Bike Nation, Nevin Narang and we encourage you to pose your questions on the comment section on both our websites. We have a lot of questions and are setting up meetings with leadership from Bike Nation and the Mayor’s office, to learn more about the roll out of bike share in Los Angeles. Our goal is to make sure that this immense and extremely important endeavor is implemented right. According to a bike share best practices study conducted by Metrolinx in Toronto, “The decision to invest in a bike share system does not guarantee the success of such a system.” We have high hopes for Bike Nation and bike sharing in Los Angeles. If planned right, the bike share program will not only be a success, but also help make the Los Angeles a better place for all people who bicycle.