Sharing Lessons From Long Beach

January 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Bike News, Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal talk to County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky & County Dept. of Public Works leadership

Earlier this month LACBC organized a bike tour of Long Beach with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. The Supervisor invited a team of LA County Department of Public Works (DPW) staff to join him including Deputy Director Pat DeChellis, John Walker, Head of Programs Development, Dean Lehman, Head of Traffic & Lighting Division, Sree Kumar, Head of Design Division and Allan Abramson who works in the Programs Development Division and is responsible for the LA County Bicycle Master Plan. Our goal with this tour was to show the staff of DPW the type of bikeways we want to see in the many unincorporated communities of LA County.

One of the best way for anyone, including engineers, to understand innovative infrastructure treatments is to experience them. And as LACBC members know, Long Beach has become the local leader for innovative bicycle infrastructure projects. The City was a generous host and we were joined on the tour by Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, staff from their traffic engineering department responsible for helping design and implement the many innovative treatments, bike coordinator Allan Crawford and local bike mobility guru Charlie Gandy.

The tour included the protected bike lanes 3rd and Broadway, the Vista Bike Boulevard, the green sharrow lanes on 2nd Street, the beach bike path, and a number of other streets that have recently be upgraded with bike lanes, as well as stop at Bikestation and a few of the Bicycle Friendly Business Districts (BFBDs).

Charlie Gandy explaining to Supervisor Yaroslavsky & county engineers about protected bike lanes

The bike tour was a great opportunity for County engineers to experience the innovative new facilities in Long Beach, but more importantly it enabled them to experience the streets by bicycling, something many of these staffers have not done in years. There was a lot of good dialogue between the County engineers and the Long Beach engineers. Ideas were flowing about bike boulevards and traffic calming ideas. We hope that once the county bike plan  is adopted we’ll see many of the ideas discussed implemented in the many unincorporated communities the county plan covers. Already we’re hearing from DPW staff that they are looking for projects to enhance with some of the traffic calming treatments they saw implemented in Long Beach. As we recently reported, the county bike plan now includes an expanded design guide and language regarding innovative treatments, thanks to the leadership of Supervisor Yaroslavksy. We hope the Supervisor will continue his leadership and take an active role in improving the bike-ability of his district and the county.

In particular, we were excited to bring Supervisor Yaroslavsky on this tour because of his role on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACTMA or Metro) Board. As a Metro board member he is also responsible for deciding how much funding is allocated to active transportation projects through the Metro Call for Projects. The ‘Call’ has provided funding for many of the project Long Beach has implemented or will be implementing in the next five years, including a bike share program they hope to get off the ground in 2012.  We hope that the Supervisor will draw upon this experience and continue to increase the funding allocated to active transportation through the Metro Call for Projects. We have and will continue to encourage the Supervisor to ensure bikeway facilities serve people of all ages, abilities, and experience in LA County as well as make sure bike parking facilities implemented by Metro follow the lead of Long Beach and Santa Monica and account for the future growth of cycling in LA County.

View a video from the tour put together by Supervisor Yaroslavsky office.

County Bike Plan Pedals Forward

January 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Posted in Bike News, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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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.

Next Steps
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.

County Bike Plan Goes to Planning Commission; Demand a Better Plan!

November 10, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved, Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Less than a month ago the LA County Department of Public Works released the ‘final’ draft of the LA County Bike Plan, which focuses on the unincorporated communities in LA County. This coming Wednesday, November 16th the LA County Bike Plan will head to the Planning Commission – while this plan does provide 816 miles of new bikeways  for the many unincorporated communities in LA County, the majority are bike routes (458). We feel the plan still needs a number of improvements, including more miles of bike lanes and bike boulevards (also referred to as bicycle friendly streets) before any action should be taken on it.

This is the first update to the County’s existing bike plan in over 30 years and should provide a real vision and commitment to greatly increasing the safety of our unincorporated communities’ roadways and encourage more folks to bicycle to school, work, transit, their daily needs, or for fun over the next 20 to 30 years. If realized, the implementation of the plan should link residential neighborhoods, schools, business districts, transit hubs and the unincorporated communities to neighboring incorporated community and would have a significant impact on the region’s air quality, public health and safety of the county.  However, the latest draft does not go far enough to create this network. We recommend the following:

Investment in Safer Infrastructure

The Plan should provide more bike boulevards and bike lanes and further enhance many of the proposed bike routes. The success of the County’s plan in increasing bike modal share will largely depend on its ability to make County residents who do not cycle now comfortable riding a bike on city streets, especially women, children and the elderly. Unfortunately the current draft fails to make use of the types of infrastructure that experience in other cities has shown are needed to convince these segments of the population that cycling is a safe and viable transportation option. While we appreciate that the County does not want to implement treatments that are still be piloted by other jurisdictions, we feel there is still more that could be done that is well within what is currently stipulated by the state.

For example, about 270 of the 816 miles proposed in the plan involve paving shoulders or widening roadways to install a Class III Bike Route, a road treatment that does little to encourage cycling among these groups, particularly on streets with average road speeds above 30mph. This does not make sense. If the County is prepared to incur the expense of intensive road construction, it should at least convert these miles to buffered bike lanes. The added cost of paint is negligible in comparison to the cost of road widening, but the facility’s quality and perceived safety would be dramatically improved. We especially recommend treatments like this in the Antelope Valley where travel speeds on local roads are posted at 50mph and people regularly travel faster than what is posted.

Additionally, the County Department of Public Health recently released the “Model Design Manual for Living Streets” and is in the process of adopting a “Healthy Design Ordinance” elements of both of these intiatives should be reflected in the County Bike Plan. Specifically the Plan should adopt the lane width standards set out by the Model Design Manual for Living Streets.  Instead of uniformly applying Caltrans Highway Design Manual standards across a County so diverse in density, urban form, and local need, the County Manual provides more flexible standards which better reflect local uses.  On streets with design speeds below 35 mph, 10’ lanes are standard, with widths up to 11’ considered if heavy bus or truck traffic is present.  On streets with higher design speeds, the Manual is silent, permitting DPW to continue to utilize Caltrans highway design standards where prudent.  Recognizing that drivers adjust to narrower lanes by reducing their speed, the County Manual emphasizes that “desired speed” should guide lane width determinations.  In addition to desired traffic speed, we strongly request that the County give due consideration to bicycle traffic volumes and history of collisions involving bicycles.  Finally, to the extent the County will seek of guidance from the Caltrans Highways Design Manual, it should document exceptions to 11’ and 12’ lane standards as provided for in Chapter 21 of the Caltrans Project Development Procedures Manual.

Equitable and Rational Prioritization of Projects

In order to make best use of limited resources over time, projects should be prioritized in a manner that develops infrastructure in communities with the greatest need from a public health, safety, and transportation justice standpoint. The current project prioritization grading scale should be amended so that it scores safety (based on local collision data) higher, awards points to projects serving low-income, transit-dependent communities as was done in the recently adopted City of LA Bike Plan; and grants preference to projects in communities with the highest obesity rates. By awarding more points in these areas, the County can ensure that the roll-out of its plan over the next few decades will positively impact the unincorporated communities in greatest need of safer streets for cycling first.

Clear, Ambitious and Easily Measurable Goals

Clear and measurable goals need to be set so that the public and policymakers have a clear track of the success of the plan. Therefore there needs to be a mode share goal beyond the first five years of the plan and it should be an ambitious one. We suggest a 10% bicycle mode share by 2032 for all trips, as well as an intermediate goal such as a 5% mode share by 2022.

We are  encouraging everyone to write to the Regional Planning Commission by Monday November 14th so that all letters are in by the Wednesday November 16th. A template letter can be found here, we encourage you to personalize it and add your own thoughts, especially if there are roadways you feel would make ideal bicycle boulevards. We also encourage people to attend the public hearing Wednesday, November 16th and speak out for a better LA County Bike Plan.

You can view our previous letters and comments; LACBC_CommentLetter LACBC_PolicyComments_land, and LACBC_CountyPlanEIRComments.

LA County Planning Commission

Where: Hall of Records - Room 150
320 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

When: Wednesday, Nov 16th – 9am

Insightful Dialog at County Bicycle Plan Workshop in Altadena

April 6, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | 1 Comment
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The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and Alta Planning hosted the sixth meeting (in a series of eleven) to collect feedback on the Draft Bicycle Master Plan for Los Angeles County, Tuesday night in Altadena. The County Plan, which hasn’t been revised since 1975, covers all the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, and is divided into 10 large planning areas. Once completed, the plan will be part of the County’s General Plan with implementation to begin in 2012.

Community members review a map of proposed bikeways for Altadena

The purpose of the meeting was to present the Draft Plan to community members, give them an opportunity to respond, and potentially incorporate the comments into the Plan. It was encouraging to see that roughly 20 community members attended the meeting at the Altadena Public Library. Included in the diverse group were self-identified recreational and commuter cyclists, long-time Arroyo Seco Activist Tim Brick, Southern California Cyclocross promoter and racer Dorothy Wong, and Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA) board member Steve Messer.

Following a period to review maps and information sheets posted around the room and a short presentation by County staff, the meeting was open for questions and comments. The group proved to be a savvy bunch as they expressed a range of concerns including:

  • A need for language in the Plan that recognizes experimental facilities (such as protected bike lanes), encourages their consideration for implementation, and assures their implementation in the event such facilities become part of state recognized standards.
  • Policies that will emphasize more robust incentives for people who bike to work instead of driving such as allowing employers in the County to unbundle parking for employees who would prefer to bike to work and cash out.
  • Language to ensure that developers are required to include bicycle infrastructure as they develop new areas of the County in the future.
  • The philosophy behind the proposed routes chosen in Altadena coupled with a request to designate more non-arterial roadways that provide the same connectivity, but with much less traffic.

At the end of the two-hour meeting, the attendees were assured that their comments were recorded and were further encouraged to submit additional comments using cards that were provided, or by going to the County’s website for the Bicycle Master Plan update.

Now it’s your turn! It’s not too late to attend one of the remaining community meetings or to submit your comments via the website at http://lacountybikeplan.com/. The deadline for submitting comments is Friday, May 20, 2011.

As mentioned in a previous post, here’s a schedule of the remaining meetings (maps):

Monday – April 11, 2011 – Calabasas, CA – 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Las Virgenes Water District
4232 Las Virgenes Road
Calabasas, CA 91302

Tuesday – April 12, 2011 – Los Angeles, CA – 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Ladera Park Senior Center
4750 West 62nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90056

Wednesday – April 13, 2011 – Marina del Rey, CA – 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Marina del Rey Library
4533 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292

Thursday – April 14, 2011 – Rowland Heights, CA – 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Pathfinder Park
18150 East Pathfinder Road
Rowland Heights, CA 91748

We hope to see you out there!

- Colin Bogart

You’re Invited to Craft the County Bike Plan!

March 23, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | 2 Comments
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Planning Areas in the County of Los Angeles Bicycle Master Plan

The County of LA Bicycle Master Plan is divided into eleven planning areas, shown above.

Do you live in Los Angeles County? Do you bike in Marina Del Rey, the Santa Monica Mountains, East LA, the San Gabriel Valley, or West Whittier? Or any of the other 128 unincorporated areas of LA County? Then we need your input to improve the County of Los Angeles Bike Plan! Meetings are coming up next week and continue through the middle of April. They’ll be held in a community near you. Click here for the schedule, and check out where the meetings will be held by visiting this map.

As the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, we want every nook and cranny of LA County to be a wonderful place to bike.

There’s a bike plan in the works that covers a lot of those nooks and crannies. It’s the LA County Bike Plan, and it guides the placement of new bike paths, lanes, and routes in unincorporated areas of LA County.  There are a whopping 128 of these unincorporated areas, so this plan could have a big impact on biking conditions throughout the county. If, for example, the county leads the way by striping a bike lane on a street that continues into adjacent cities, the county’s leadership could catalyze the neighboring cities to add bike lanes in their jurisdiction. We saw this happen on Foothill Blvd in the La Canada area.

For a map of the areas the plan covers, check out Chapter 3 of the plan here. The County of Los Angeles Bicycle Plan also specifies policies and programs related to bicycling – from Bicycle Skills courses to Bike and Hike to Parks programs.

The draft has just been released, and the County needs cyclists’ input to make it better. They’re hosting a series of public workshops, where cyclists can pass on all of our street-level knowledge about biking in LA County. We can pore over draft maps. We can recommend routes the plan left out. We can praise the policies we love and strengthen the ones we think are too vague. We can rank the projects we think are most important. We can make sure the proposed bike lanes, paths, and routes make sense. In short, we can make sure that the County’s vision is our vision.

Here’s the line up for the meetings.

Next week:

  • Monday,  3/28 in Topanga at 6 PM
  • Tuesday, 3/29 in Baldwin Park at 6 PM
  • Wednesday, 3/30 in Athens Village at 6 PM
  • Thursday, 3/31 in Lancaster at 7 PM

The week after next:

  • Monday, 4/4 in Newhall at 6:30 PM
  • Tuesday, 4/5 in Altadena at 6:30 PM
  • Wednesday, 4/6 in East LA at 6:00 PM

Finally, two weeks from now:

  • Monday, 4/11 in Calabasas at 6:30 PM
  • Tuesday, 4/12 in Ladera Park at  6:00 PM
  • Wednesday, 4/13 in Marina del Rey at 6:00 PM
  • Thursday, 4/14 in Rowland Heights at 6:30 PM

Again, all the details on the workshops are here, and a map of the workshops is here. If you can’t make a meeting, you can always check out the draft document and give your feedback by visiting http://lacountybikeplan.com/.

We look forward to seeing you there and to making all of LA County a better place to ride!

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