Are You Bike-Friendly? Kevin James Responds

February 6, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Posted in Bike News, LACBC Events | 2 Comments
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Photo: Andrew Wong, WYTe Studios

LACBC asked each of the candidates running for mayor 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 in the order they were received.

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).

A close friend told me about a close friend of his – Doug Caldwell.  Doug was truly a rocket scientist.  He designed the cameras for the space shuttle.  He was working with LADWP to try to set standards for new homes that would usher in a new era in energy efficiency.  My friend told me that Doug Caldwell was killed while riding a bicycle on August 20, 2010.  Doug’s story reminds me that bike safety isn’t just a policy, it’s about real people.  Background: http://bikinginla.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/details-on-the-august-death-of-cyclist-and-scientist-doug-caldwell-driver-walks-with-no-ticket-or-charges/

2. Just a few months ago, Los Angeles was honored as 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?

Improved engineering to offer more options for bicycle users of all ages and abilities; education for bicyclists and motorists on how to share the road. Whenever possible, install more bike lanes and bike paths.  My City Hall opponents have taken hundreds of millions of dollars from special revenue funds that could have been used to achieve these goals.  (They raided these funds to pay for employee raises that the city cannot afford to pay).  A key example is the Special Parking Revenue Fund intended to relieve parking pressures around the city by building parking structures that would have cleared right lanes of parked cars — right lanes that could have been used for bike lanes.  There are also some innovative ideas that might be implemented to reduce the danger to cyclists from drivers getting out of parked cars (adding a warning light to parking meters to warn cyclists when a car has recently pulled in).

3. The Mayor controls four votes on the Metro Board of Directors, which makes transportation funding decisions for the entire county.  In LA County people walking and bicycling make up nearly 20% of all trips and 39% of roadway fatalities, yet these modes only receive 1% of transportation funding.  What steps would you take to rectify this inequity?  

The steps I will take to address this issue for bicycling are addressed throughout this questionnaire.  For pedestrians, we need to focus on sidewalk, curb and gutter repairs. The City wants to burden homeowners with the cost of sidewalk repairs and to shoulder homeowners with liabilities resulting from damaged sidewalks. I will make sure that homeowners are not burdened with the added responsibility of repairing the city’s sidewalks outside of their homes. There are, however, some homeowners and business owners that are willing to share in the cost of sidewalk repair voluntarily. For those people, the city should make permitting for such repairs as easy as possible. We should also utilize the benefits of the 50/50 plan for those people who voluntarily want to benefit from the plan.

I would also put a stop to the raiding by city officials of the special revenue funds that are used for improvements and maintenance of our infrastructure.

In making street and sidewalk repairs a priority, we must prioritize a plan for long-term fiscal solvency for the City, including collection of a portion of the City’s more than $500 million in non-tax receivables, millions more in tax collections, and other available funding sources that have been ignored by the mismanagement of current City leadership. Furthermore, new technologies enable us to do more in this area with less money. Two technologies that are particularly promising are “full depth reclamation” and “pervious concrete.” Full depth reclamation is simply the recycling of roads in place – it is a proven cost saving method of road repair. The City of Santa Ana was recently able to rehabilitate 80 miles of asphalt streets over 3 years at about half the cost by using full depth reclamation compared to the traditional methods of removal and replacement.  Pervious  concrete is simply concrete that allows water and air to pass through it – it reduces stormwater runoff and recharges the underground water supply. There are also plastic sidewalk technologies available now that assist in the prevention of tree trunk “heaving” that causes so much of the sidewalk damage we experience today.

4. 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?

Accelerated street repair and sidewalk repair.  Improved planning of public transportation projects. Improved connectivity.  Acceleration of the city’s bike plan.  And increased light synchronization, additional left-hand turn signals and right-hand turn signals for more free-flowing traffic on our surface streets.

5. 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 continues during your administration?  How many miles of new bicycle facilities will you commit to implementing each year?

The current bike plan calls for 200 miles every five years.  Given current budget constraints, meeting that goal itself will be a challenge and accelerating it even more so. That said, with a long-term financial solvency plan in place (which I am the only candidate in the field willing to obtain through real pension and salary reform in City Hall), I will be able to make acceleration a priority.

The city has never even come close to meeting the bikeway miles set
forth in any of its three (3) bike plans. In 1977, the city only built 230 of the goal of 600
miles. The 1996 plan had a goal of 673 miles but only achieved 104 miles. The 2010 plan
 has a goal of expanding from the existing 334 miles to 1,684 miles over a 35 year period.
 Yet, the more people that ride bikes in LA, the fewer cars that motorists that are not
able to ride bikes have to deal with. That means traffic moves more rapidly through the
 city, and there are more parking places available for the motorists that are driving their cars. The benefits of becoming a bike- friendly city are numerous. For local businesses, economic benefits come from cyclists parking near their shops. For neighborhoods and businesses, roads are safer as there will be fewer car-to- car accidents, and we will see safer communities because people on bikes are not separated by the walls of their car, car windows, and car radios enabling them to notice burglars, thieves, vandals and other local criminals that plague a community – cyclists serve as a form of community patrol whether they intend to or not.

Once Angelenos that are not bicyclists recognize the benefits they receive from more people in L.A. using bicycles to get around, the easier it will be to grow public support of acceleration of the city’s bike plan.

Disappointment surrounding LA’s transportation options generally, and the implementation of the city’s bike plan specifically, is understandable. Yet even with such frustration among Angelenos, our City leaders have failed to deliver efficient and effective transit. In order to turn the corner, we must turn to new leadership. The days of poor planning, shady bidding, irresponsible outreach, failed implementation, cost overruns, construction delays, and the lack of a common sense approach to smart transit must end – and will end with my administration.

6. Leading cities for bicycling, such as New York and Chicago, are implementing protected bicycle lanes (a.k.a. cycletracks) to encourage “interested but concerned” people to ride a bike.  During your administration, will you direct LADOT to implement such innovative bicycle facilities to incentivize more Angelenos to take up bicycling?

This is something that could have already been started if my city hall insider opponents had not raided hundreds of millions of dollars from the Special Parking Revenue Fund. When funding is in place, this is something the LADOT should begin.   We must also be careful that we don’t remove parking spaces that are critical for small businesses to survive (which is what the parking fund would have insured).  We also need to make sure that over-capacity roadways are not unnecessarily burdened.  My instructions to LADOT will include outreach to each community to make sure each stakeholder group’s needs are included in these improvement plans.

7. 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?

The first thing we must do is improve street safety to prevent these hit-and-run accidents in the first place.   This goal demands that we work to better separate pedestrian, bike and vehicular traffic.  As a former prosecutor, I will work with the District Attorney’s office and City Attorney’s office to establish a hit-and-run task force to explore and implement new technologies in the prosecution of hit-and-run crimes and will explore increasing the penalties for hit-and-run convictions.  The public’s knowledge of increased penalties for hit-and-run convictions will provide added incentives for drivers to stop when an accident has occurred rather than making the mistake of running from the scene.

8. 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?

Public safety is a critical city service and top priority.  LAFD needs a top-down review and restoration of its budget.  The failure of current elected officials to recognize the problem disqualifies them from holding higher office.  They were told in 2002 that response times were in the 40% range.  They did nothing, and allowed the reporting flaws to go unnoticed and failed to follow up.  In fact, when the response time went up from 40% to 86% without additional resources, not one of my opponents questioned the clearly-erroneous increase.

We must replace the current dispatch system with modern technology.  We need GPS systems in our fire trucks.  And, I will require that the LAFD be transparent about what the real response times are. Finally, one of the biggest factors in reducing response times is reducing traffic congestion, which interferes with emergency vehicles’ ability to reach residents in need.

9. CicLAvia has transformed how Angelenos view bicycling and walking in their City.  Will you commit to ensuring that CicLAvia continues to receive adequate City support to ensure its future as the largest open street event in the country?  

Yes.

10. 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?

As you know, the proposed bond measure has been abandoned, at least temporarily. Property owners should not bear the entire burden of the failures of our elected officials.  Further, we can’t make L.A. any more hostile to business or more expensive to its residents.  Increased taxation will restrict growth and only exacerbate the city’s financial problems.  The money for repair of our streets, sidewalks, gutters and curbs will only be available if the next mayor stands up to special interests that are draining the city’s resources.  I am the only candidate willing to stand up to those special interests.

11. Will you commit to meeting with bicyclists or their representatives on a regular and ongoing basis? Would you be willing to lead a regularly scheduled bike ride with your constituents?

Yes, as many members of the bike community already know from my years of covering their issues on my radio show, my commitment to making LA a more bike friendly city will continue throughout my years as Mayor.

12. 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?

Where dedicated bike lanes exist, I feel safer.  Some of our bike paths force bike riders into traffic and force traffic across bike paths to make turns.  There are some innovative steps that can be taken to improve bike safety, especially from the hazard of driver-side doors opening unexpectedly where bike riders ride next to on-street parking.  Unfortunately, my city hall insider opponents have raided existing revenue funds that could have been used to accelerate the city’s bike plan and increase safety for everyone involved.

Are You Bike-Friendly? Eric Garcetti Responds

February 6, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Posted in Bike News, LACBC Events | 6 Comments
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Photo: LACBC

LACBC asked each of the candidates running for mayor 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 in the order they were received.

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).

I grew up on a flat street in the Valley, and I remember the freedom of being able to bicycle safely to the park, to Little League, and to the bus stop.

2. Just a few months ago, Los Angeles was honored as 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?

I am proud to have been a leading proponent of making L.A. more bicycle-friendly. I installed the city’s first sharrows in my district, and now these safety markings are citywide and are a key part of the recently adopted bicycle plan. I played a key role in launching CicLAvia and in installing the first showers and bicycle lockers at City Hall to promote bicycle commuting.

I would push L.A. forward toward Silver and even higher as Mayor. First and foremost, I would focus on increasing cyclist safety. The key metric that I would focus on is bicycle ridership, and I would focus on incentives to increase, including monthly Ciclavia’s, better on-and-off-street bike parking, and planning and innovations designed to increase cyclist safety.

3. The Mayor controls four votes on the Metro Board of Directors, which makes transportation funding decisions for the entire county. In LA County people walking and bicycling make up nearly 20% of all trips and 39% of roadway fatalities, yet these modes only receive 1% of transportation funding. What steps would you take to rectify this inequity?

I would build on my record to better align funding based on how people are actually getting around. As Councilmember, I led the way to establishing the city’s first Pedestrian Coordinator at the Department of Transportation, which has led to an unprecedented focus on pedestrian issues that are based on innovation, metric based planning, and results.

As Mayor, I would continue to elevate the importance of bicycling and walking not only within the City of Los Angeles, but regionally as well. Traffic and mobility transcends city limits and so I would examine County and Metro transportation financing through that lens. I would also appoint Metro Board members who share my view that there is no silver bullet to solving our traffic challenges. We must improve bus, rail, bicycle, and pedestrian transportation, and also focus on innovation. I’m proud to have deployed car sharing in my district, an app that helps people find parking and get off the road quicker (up to 30% of traffic can be caused by people circling for parking), and to have been a proponent of bike sharing.

My commitment to active transportation advocacy is also reflected in my past appointments of Herbie Huff and Joe Linton to the City Bicycle Advisory Committee and Deborah Murphy to the City Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

4. 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?

The update of the former Transportation Element, now named the Mobility Element, is long overdue. For too long we have been prescribing the same one size fits all approach to our transportation challenges and expecting to get different results. Clearly, the status quo must go.

In Hollywood, we worked with local stakeholders to survey every street and created new street standards that take into consideration our transit system, our major transportation corridors, and our historic resources.

The Mobility Element must expand the toolbox that our planners and engineers have to address transportation related impacts and to encourage bicycling, walking and other alternative solutions. In my Council District, I have led the way in prescribing innovative solutions that were outside of the current menu of options. We installed the city’s first bicycle sharrows, prioritized on-street parking spaces for car-sharing vehicles, unbundled parking and promoting shared parking, created a parking app to help drivers find available parking spaces, and directed LADOT to begin evaluating the establishment of a pedi-cab program. I have led on transportation through the application of practical solutions. The Mobility Element must do the same.

As Mayor, I will approach cycling as a key part of our city’s transportation system. First of all, bicycles are already on our streets, and we must address that fact in terms of infrastructure, safety and planning. Looking ahead, our next Mayor must support bicycling as a viable option for short trips and as a way to link with public transit.

5. 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 continues during your administration? How many miles of new bicycle facilities will you commit to implementing each year?

As Mayor, I would continue to support the work of the Bicycle Plan Implementation Team to educate, inform, and gather input necessary to implement the Bike Plan. I am committed to seeing the adopted Bicycle Plan through and pushing even farther. We must challenge ourselves, innovate and draw from best practices across the globe to make L.A. a bikeable city.

6. Leading cities for bicycling, such as New York and Chicago, are implementing protected bicycle lanes (a.k.a. cycletracks) to encourage“interested but concerned” people to ride a bike. During your administration, will you direct LADOT to implement such innovative bicycle facilities to incentivize more Angelenos to take up bicycling?

Yes. As Mayor, I will look at all ways to improve bike safety both to protect cyclists and to encourage more people to bike. That’s why I deployed the city’s first sharrows (road designations to increase bike safety) in my Council District. That led to the installation of sharrows citywide, and they are a key feature in the newly-adopted bicycle plan.

7. 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?

As Mayor, I will work with LAPD and the City Attorney to approach hit-and-runs not as simple traffic accidents but as crimes of violence – it is violent when tons of metal encounters a cyclist or pedestrian. I will also advocate for safe passing laws in Sacramento. I will prioritize cyclist safety as we build out our cycling infrastructure, from markings to barriers. A focus on safety not only protects cyclists, it encourages more people to start cycling.

8. 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?

I’ve been leading the way on response times. I introduced the legislation to bring the fire department back to full strength and stopped the plan to permanently cut 318 firefighters and paramedics.

In addition to resources, another problem affecting response times is the “junk data” the fire department has been relying on. I joined Councilmember Englander in launching an iniatitive called “Firestat,” which is modeled after former LAPD Chief Bratton’s innovative Compstat program that has played a key role in reducing crime in L.A.

I’ve also called for common sense fixes such as GPS units in all fire trucks and ambulances and the immediate dispatch when someone calls for help. Currently, city rules require the dispatcher to ask a long list of questions before sending help.

9. CicLAvia has transformed how Angelenos view bicycling and walking in their City. Will you commit to ensuring that CicLAvia continues to receive adequate City support to ensure its future as the largest open street event in the country?

As Councilmember, I have supported CicLAvia since the beginning, by leading the way on identifying city funds for the first CicLAvia, working with CicLAvia to provide outreach to my constituents during the first CicLAvia that went through my district, and dedicating my staff to help navigate the City bureaucracy.

As Mayor, I will support monthly CicLAvia’s throughout Los Angeles.

10. 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?

This proposal requires more study, and is currently being reviewed by the Public Works Committee. As with any transportation initiative of its kind, I believe it should address auto, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian travel.

11. Will you commit to meeting with bicyclists or their representatives on a regular and ongoing basis? Would you be willing to lead a regularly scheduled bike ride with your constituents?

Yes. Since I took office, I have met face to face with the people I serve by regularly walking door to door, holding open office hours, and making sure Angelenos always have a seat at the table. I set a rule that my office must return calls within 24 hours and I personally interact with constituents on the phone, on email, on Facebook and on Twitter. As an elected official, I was an “early adopter” when it came to starting a blog and a couple weeks ago, I did an AMA on Reddit. As Mayor, I will continue this approach of making government more accessible and will use technology to make it easier to get feedback from constituents.

12. 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?

I ride my bike on L.A. streets, but feel we can and must do more to improve bike safety, from markings to separation infrastructure as discussed above.

Are You Bike-Friendly? Jan Perry Responds

February 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Posted in Bike News, Resources | 1 Comment
Tags: , , ,

Photo: LACBC

LACBC asked each of the candidates running for mayor 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 in the order they were received.

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).

One of my best memories was when I joined thousands of Los Angelenos on bikes at the Los Angeles Marathon. Biking across our great city alongside other Angelenos helped remind me of the diversity of our city. It was a way to explore the city from the street level, enjoying the unique neighborhoods, architecture, and community that make Los Angeles like no other. It was a moment I will never forget.

2.  Just a few months ago, Los Angeles was honored as 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?

The City should always aspire to do better. Over the past few years, we have made great strides in making our city bicycle-friendly. From instituting new green bike lanes, to installing more bike racks, to parklettes, to larger initiatives like our bike plan—we are moving in the right direction. I would continue this momentum and look to leverage local dollars with state and federal dollars to see these initiatives expand tenfold throughout the city.

I would work closely with bicycle advocacy groups and hear directly from them how we can continue to make this city a more bike-friendly place. By doing so, we are supporting alternative transportation options, getting people out of their cars, and bringing people closer to their communities.

3.  The Mayor controls four votes on the Metro Board of Directors, which makes transportation funding decisions for the entire county.  In LA County people walking and bicycling make up nearly 20% of all trips and 39% of roadway fatalities, yet these modes only receive 1% of transportation funding.  What steps would you take to rectify this inequity?

First, I would make sure that my appointees as Mayor understand the importance of funding alternative transportation means such as biking and walking. Secondly, I would make sure that when Metro is funding a traditional transit project that there are sufficient pedestrian and bike amenities. This could be everything from ensuring safe walkways to transit stops, pedestrian level lighting, and comfortable waiting areas with seating, bike lockers and the provision of shade.

4.  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?

The mobility element has to include provisions for bike riders and pedestrians. For the last decade, I have represented a primarily public transit-dependent population and know the importance of biking and walking. It is good for the City for people to get out of their cars. It helps reduce emissions improving our air quality and is a good form of exercise. The average person makes eight to nine car trips per day and if we can help them get out of their car for one or two trips by locating housing and jobs near transit centers that would support our shared goal of improving our air quality, reducing traffic and gridlock, and promoting community health.

5.  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 continues during your administration?  How many miles of new bicycle facilities will you commit to implementing each year?

I am a strong supporter of the Bike Plan and am very excited to be launching the My Figueroa Bike Lane effort in the district I represent. I will continue to work with the Department of Transportation and community stakeholders to locate bike lanes in appropriate areas. I will work hard to make sure there is strong community outreach so when a new bike lane is proposed it is well-vetted and supported.

I believed in a phased-in approach to new bike lanes and would work to maximize our efforts to build bike lanes in a streamlined manner that expedites construction of bike lanes and respects the community process.

6.  Leading cities for bicycling, such as New York and Chicago, are implementing protected bicycle lanes (a.k.a. cycletracks) to encourage “interested but concerned” people to ride a bike.  During your administration, will you direct LADOT to implement such innovative bicycle facilities to incentivize more Angelenos to take up bicycling?

Looking at new and innovative ways to integrate bike lanes, paths, and protected thoroughfares would be an important part of my transportation agenda as Mayor of Los Angeles. I believe we can integrate protected areas throughout the city. A one size fits all model is not the way to do it. I believe that we need to be flexible and direct our LADOT to work within community plans to integrate these lanes into every community where appropriate and respects the character of our neighborhoods. A good plan creates safe biking opportunities for everyone.

7.  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?

Unfortunately, I am all too familiar with the aftermath of hit-and-run collisions. Pedestrian safety has been a huge issue in the District I represent especially along the Metro Blue Line, which was constructed with inadequate pedestrian amenities. I have worked to implement Safe Route to Schools passages and installed signaled mid-block crosswalks throughout the district.

Hit-and-Runs are senseless crimes that should be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I have worked with the Los Angeles Police Department to apprehend these criminals and have introduced several reward motions to provide an incentive for people with knowledge of the crime to come forward. Recently, I worked with law enforcement and community members to bring justice for a USC student who was killed in a hit-and-run accident.

The bottom line is that we need to educate our communities about pedestrian safety, especially our young people. We need to engage stakeholders in the discussion and ensure that we have safety measures in place like mid-signal crosswalks, bike lanes, and bike and street patrolling public safety officers. We must give people the tools they need to keep our roads safe. Part of this includes educating our public safety officers about the importance of ticketing and citing vehicles that fail to yield to pedestrian and bike traffic and educating the public to be mindful of the rights of our biking and walking community.

8.  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?

As Mayor, I will make public safety a top priority, that includes providing the necessary resources to the Los Angeles Fire Department. I will also work to ensure that every community has reasonable access to hospitals and emergency rooms care. There are parts of the city that have to travel much too far in order to access care and that is why it was so important to me to help King Drew Hospital operate at its full capacity.

9.  CicLAvia has transformed how Angelenos view bicycling and walking in their City. Will you commit to ensuring that CicLAvia continues to receive adequate City support to ensure its future as the largest open street event in the country?

Absolutely, I have participated in CicLAvia and know first hand how it transforms the city for a day and have been proud to participate in and support this grassroots community event. It is amazing what closing the streets to traffic can do for a car-centric city like Los Angeles. It opens doors and allows people to truly see the neighborhoods that are part of the patch-work quilt that we call Los Angeles. Instead of driving from community to community—families, friends, and individuals walk their dogs, push strollers, roller skate, bike, and engage in the environment around them. It is wonderful to see people play checkers on one corner, grab a cup of coffee at a small business on another, or just sit on the lawn and enjoy our beautiful weather.

This is why CicLAvia is such an important event for Los Angeles. It is a way for all of us to step away from our cars—even if it is only for just one day—and challenge ourselves to use public transit, walk, bike, or run around our neighborhoods. It is a day for us to meet our neighbors and realize that Los Angeles is more than just a big city, but rather that it is  a wonderful mix of people and communities that combine together to make us a truly unique and special place in which to live. I think we should continue this tradition and expand it further into neighborhoods across the city.

10. 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?

As it was currently drafted, I was not able to support the bond. I believe there needs to be additional community outreach and research done before a bond like this is placed on the ballot. I do, however, believe we need to look at new revenue streams for supporting the maintenance of our streets. We need to go to the voters and see if there is support for a bond and look at appropriate ways in which this can be done.

11. Will you commit to meeting with bicyclists or their representatives on a regular and ongoing basis? Would you be willing to lead a regularly scheduled bike ride with your constituents?

Yes, as Mayor, I will meet with all stakeholders including bicyclists. As the representative for Downtown Los Angeles, I had the privilege of inaugurating the City’s first green bike lanes with community members and would love to be able to do the same citywide. Getting on a bike and joining the community for a ride is a wonderful way to connect on a community level with people across the city and I look forward to having that opportunity.

12. 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?

The City still has a lot of work to do to improve conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians including improving the bike lane network. New bike lanes on major corridors need to be clearly marked and maintained and there has to be an ample buffer between bikers and vehicles. This can be done through a variety of options including enhanced streetscapes and sidewalks. On secondary streets, new bike lanes also need to be clearly marked and maintained and they have to connect to destinations. The City needs to continue to implement the Bike Plan and update the Transportation Element of the General Plan to include transit options other than cars.

Are You Bike-Friendly? Emanuel Pleitez Responds

February 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Bike News, Resources | 4 Comments
Tags: , , ,

Photo: Peter Thai, WYTe Studios

LACBC asked each of the candidates running for mayor 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 in the order they were received.

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).

Growing up in El Sereno, we didn’t have a car. In fact, we were too poor for Section 8 housing and barely had a roof over our heads. Riding my bike was for many years the only way I could get anywhere I wanted to go quickly and for free. My neighborhood was dangerous and there was a constant gang presence, but I always felt safe on my bike. It helped me travel, stay in shape, and feel free. In college, I rode a bike every day. Cycling has been an important part of my life.

2. Just a few months ago, Los Angeles was honored as 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?

I don’t just want to get to a Silver level, I want Gold and beyond. During my first term I will promote bike travel by increasing education about biking in schools, pursuing a bike-share program like those available in cities and college campuses across the country, and creating dedicated bike lanes on more of our streets. To accomplish this goal, I’ll create a Deputy Mayor for Urban Planning, who’ll be responsible for creating a long-term vision and plan for LA’s infrastructure, and making sure all investments we make fit within that plan. I will commit to doing this early in my first term.

3. The Mayor controls four votes on the Metro Board of Directors, which makes transportation funding decisions for the entire county. In LA County people walking and bicycling make up nearly 20% of all trips and 39% of roadway fatalities, yet these modes only receive 1% of transportation funding. What steps would you take to rectify this inequity?

Los Angeles needs to be more pedestrian friendly. It will improve mobility and health. We need to be more efficient with the money that’s currently allocated for walking infrastructure. People aren’t walking or biking because they have to travel so far for food, work, and school. We need to focus on high impact investment in communities, so people can live and work close to their homes if they choose. If people’s needs are met close to home, they will be able to walk. Part of that investment needs to be in the quality of our streets. Some places in South LA, East San Fernando Valley, and the Eastside of LA don’t even have sidewalks. That’s the legacy of neglect our current politicians have left behind and want to continue. As Mayor, I’ll change that – I’ll make LA a leader not just in pedestrian infrastructure, but in other areas too.

4. 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?

LA doesn’t have great or even good infrastructure. I will appoint a Deputy Mayor of Urban Planning to monitor and adjust, in real time, our transportation and mobility strategy for communities across our city. Bicycling plays a huge part in our city’s transportation and a transition to more bicycling and walking will help reduce congestion at a local level. We need more dedicated bike lanes and that will be a large part of my overall transportation strategy. It’s more practical and can happen much sooner than the rail project other candidates focus on.

5. 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 continues during your administration? How many miles of new bicycle facilities will you commit to implementing each year?

The number of miles I implement must be decided based on research and extensive urban planning. I will appoint a Deputy Mayor of Urban planning to expedite my plans for improving our transportation infrastructure.

6. Leading cities for bicycling, such as New York and Chicago, are implementing protected bicycle lanes (a.k.a. cycletracks) to encourage “interested but concerned” people to ride a bike. During your administration, will you direct LADOT to implement such innovative bicycle facilities to incentivize more Angelenos to take up bicycling?

Yes. Dedicated bicycle lanes are important not only for the safety of our cyclists, but also for the functionality of our transportation system.

7. 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?

The expansion of our protected bicycle lanes will help to protect or cyclists. Finding and prosecuting perpetrators, as well as solving efficiency and effectiveness problems in our police department as a whole, comes down to better data management and tracking. Making our police department more technologically equipped and proficient will lead to greater capabilities of our law enforcement. That will help bring those who commit hit-and-runs to justice.

8. 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?

Solving our pension system has to come first in any budget discussion because it’s forcing cuts to essential city services. Faster response and efficiency come down to the technological capabilities of our fire departments. I’ll make the technological development of our fire department a priority along with all of our public safety services. We need to also consider promoting cross training programs that enable police to perform paramedic actions and even going as far as to merge the police and fire departments into one public safety department. Cities in California and across the country have had success with these programs.

9. CicLAvia has transformed how Angelenos view bicycling and walking in their City. Will you commit to ensuring that CicLAvia continues to receive adequate City support to ensure its future as the largest open street event in the country?

Yes, and I don’t think it should just be one day, several throughout the year. As mayor, I’ll promote CicLAvia and similar programs.

10. 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 anychanges should be made to the proposal to serve all those who travel on city streets, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users?

We need to pursue any and all financing options to repair our streets. I don’t think our repairs should fall exclusively on the backs of our tax payers. I will bring private capital and investment to our city and will make sure it goes to the communities that need it the most first, those that have been chronically neglected and underinvested. Places like South LA, the eastside, the East San Fernando Valley, and Pico Union.

11. Will you commit to meeting with bicyclists or their representatives on a regular and ongoing basis? Would you be willing to lead a regularly scheduled bike ride with your constituents?

Yes and Yes. Our bicycling community is important to me and I’ll support it.

12. 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?

Many of our streets and sidewalks are in ruins. We have far fewer bike lanes than we need. I’m confident in my cycling abilities, but cycling is not as safe as it should be in LA and there are times I feel uncomfortable behind the handlebars.

Are You Bike-Friendly? Wendy Greuel Responds

February 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Bike News, Resources | 4 Comments
Tags: , , ,

Photo: Andrew Wong, WYTe Studios

LACBC asked each of the candidates running for mayor 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 in the order they were received.

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).

I have participated in CicLAvia each year since its inception here in Los Angeles. Last year, I was able to share the experience with my son and thousands of other Angelenos who enjoyed the day on their bikes and on foot. I remember a woman riding next to me yelling out “I love LA!” It was a moment when I was very proud to be from Los Angeles and I fell even more in love with the city. My experience illustrates the positive impact CicLAvia has had on the city. It allows Angelenos to gain a fresh perspective on streets they may have traveled by car or bus. Getting to know these streets on a bike allows for a more intimate view of the city and allows us all to pay more attention to details that we might otherwise miss. It is experiences like CicLAvia, biking on the city streets without motor vehicle traffic, that remind me how accessible, diverse and beautiful our city can be.

2. Just a few months ago, Los Angeles was honored as 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?

Yes. Los Angeles should pursue a Silver-level designation, but not for the praise. Being honored at the Bronze-level shows that we have a lot of work to do to become a bicycle friendly city, and I am committed to that work.

Los Angeles should be a leader in innovative bikeway design and programs both for cyclists and pedestrians. I will pursue improvements that will elevate the bikeability of Los Angeles. I will work with local and national bicycle advocates on an on-going basis to seek ways to improve our performance in all areas that the League of American Bicyclists consider, including engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation.

I will build a network of separated and protected bikeways so that existing and new riders feel safe. This network will effectively connect neighborhoods to retail, educational and cultural institutions and we will start to see ridership grow.

I will insist on end-of-the-trip amenities like bicycle parking that is safe, secure and available at the end of the trip. The recently passed bicycle parking ordinance coupled with LADOT’s bicycle parking program is a step in the right direction to expand the number of parking options available.

I will also continue to seek improvements to conditions on roadways including a review of speed limits, a 3-foot passing law, establishing a bicycle education program that could serve both as traffic school for cyclists who receive citations for moving violations and those who simply want to learn how to bicycle more safely in an urban setting.

3. The Mayor controls four votes on the Metro Board of Directors, which makes transportation funding decisions for the entire county. In LA County people walking and bicycling make up nearly 20% of all trips and 39% of roadway fatalities, yet these modes only receive 1% of transportation funding. What steps would you take to rectify this inequity?

I am serious about investing in and creating a multi-modal transportation system and believe that has to be reflected in every aspect of what we do, especially when it comes to the budgeting of our transportation dollars. In addition to increasing funding levels, I would also look at funding sources to maximize our ability to leverage those dollars. We must get in front of funding decisions in Sacramento and DC to ensure our programs are maximizing opportunities. The Governor has just proposed consolidating bike and pedestrian funding into an Active Transportation category and I want Metro to be at the front of the line, ushering in resources to support our bicycle infrastructure investments.

Further, I will ensure that investment in the City of Los Angeles bicycle programs is not hamstrung by Metro’s bureaucracy. I would look directly at the City’s resources, building codes, streetscaping, and facilities to ensure we are supporting cyclists and pedestrians. I will ensure that all who use Los Angeles County’s roads are able to do so safely, no matter the form of transportation.

4. 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?

The City’s current efforts to draft a 21st Century Mobility Element reflects a paradigm shift in how we think of and interact with our streets. The shift from a “Transportation Element” to a “Mobility Element” demonstrates the evolving multi-modal needs and goals of Los Angeles’ transportation network.

For too long, streets were seen as just a way to move automobiles as fast as possible and past Transportation Elements narrowly focused on designing the streets to facilitate the movement of automobile traffic. But that is the philosophy of a bygone era. Today we know that automobiles and traffic congestion impose a heavy toll on our health, infrastructure, environment, and quality of life. The 2009 National Household Travel Survey found that 40% of trips in the US were less than two miles. That’s a bikeable distance, especially in a city like Los Angeles, indicating that bicycling is a viable alternative to automobile travel in our city. I believe that bicycling must be a prioritized mode of transportation with investments made to underscore the importance of bicycling. Going forward, I will prioritize:
• Safety
• Access to multi-modalism across the city
• Sustainable funding for expansion and maintenance

These principles will apply to the implementation of the bicycle plan, innovative infrastructure, education, advocacy on state and federal legislation, the recently adopted bicycle parking ordinance, and upcoming Bike Nation bikeshare kiosks. The Mobility Element is our opportunity to ensure that we have the proper policy and infrastructure planning in place to take advantage of these Complete Streets opportunities and make the City more accessible to all travelers.

5. 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 continues during your administration? How many miles of new bicycle facilities will you commit to implementing each year?

Adopting the 2011 Bicycle Plan was a major milestone in Los Angeles. As Chair of the Transportation Committee as a Councilmember, I showed my commitment to a bike friendly Los Angeles by making sure the bicycle plan moved forward. As Mayor, I plan to not only uphold the city’s commitments of 200 miles of new bike routes every 5 years, but to exceed it as we’ve already done this year. But a successful bicycle network is not measured simply in the number of miles on a map – it is also about sustained funding, routine maintenance, safety, connectivity and education. I will support our existing riders and attract new riders that previously have not considered cycling a viable alternative to driving. To that end, I commit to funding our city and county bike programs, building more separated bicycle lanes and bicycle-friendly streets. I will also work closely with Governor Brown’s new Transportation Agency that has recently re- evaluated how it will administer bicycle and pedestrian programs. I will make sure Los Angeles is at the table in the next federal reauthorization ensuring that funding increases for non-motorized modes.

6. Leading cities for bicycling, such as New York and Chicago, are implementing protected bicycle lanes (a.k.a. cycletracks) to encourage “interested but concerned” people to ride a bike. During your administration, will you direct LADOT to implement such innovative bicycle facilities to incentivize more Angelenos to take up bicycling?

As Mayor, I would instruct LADOT to include cycle tracks in the toolbox of innovations to further our bicycle program. I would ask LADOT to research where protected bicycle lanes can best be placed and used most effectively. In my preliminary review, a great place to start could be the My Figueroa project.

7. 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?

This is a huge safety issue in Los Angeles. While we can proud of our efforts to increase bicycle use in our city, we cannot become a truly multi-modal city if cyclists and pedestrians don’t feel safe on our streets. As Mayor, I will work with LAPD to focus on enforcing existing bicycle and pedestrian safety laws and pursue violators with all resources available. I will also focus on improving the streets with additional safety measures, such as bulb-outs, refuge islands, more protected bicycle lanes, and road diets where appropriate.

I will work with LAPD and LADOT to educate all road users on how to safely share the road with one another. But this also has to be a multi-jurisdictional endeavor, so I would work cooperatively with our neighboring municipalities and State and county governments to develop recommendations and implement strategies. We need to work with our partners in Sacramento to create stiffer penalties for those who flee the scene. In the interest of public safety, we need to aggressively go after those who have no regard for the safety of the general public.

8. 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?

This is a very serious issue, both for cyclists and the safety of our citizens across the board. I recently performed an audit of the LAFD response times and found that there has been an increase in response times for turnout and medical responders. Additionally, I noted that public perception and trust were compromised due to the Department’s poor communication of revising their standard of performance measurement and their use of inconsistent methodology in calculating reporting results.

I called on the department to address the deployment plan to determine how best to deploy our City’s scarce resources. I will continue to work with the LAFD to get their fiscal house in order so that funds can be directed to our first responders. My experience as Controller makes me the candidate best equipped to balance our city’s books and make more funds available for those who save lives during emergencies.

9. CicLAvia has transformed how Angelenos view bicycling and walking in their City. Will you commit to ensuring that CicLAvia continues to receive adequate City support to ensure its future as the largest open street event in the country?

Yes. Los Angeles is progressively shifting away from dependency on personal automobiles. This shift comes out of necessity and out of a general sentiment that there are many viable alternatives to car travel available. People are riding public transit and traveling by bicycle in unprecedented numbers. CicLAvia celebrates and promotes this trend, getting folks into the streets of a car-free Los Angeles, and demonstrating the easily accessible alternatives to the status quo commute by vehicle. CicLAvia will remain a priority since the values celebrated at CicLAvia are those that will characterize the emerging transportation culture in Los Angeles

10. 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?

There is no question that our streets are in a state of disrepair. Before a measure is put forward to the voters, I want to evaluate it and make sure there are appropriate fiscal controls and audits along with a citizen oversight panel before giving my full support.

I believe that improving road conditions should be a top priority for our city and is among the core services city government provides. As a Councilmember, I was proud to earn the moniker “Pot Hole Queen” in recognition of my focus on road conditions in Los Angeles.

Additionally, the proposed measure must also include adequate complete streets requirements. We don’t simply want to make our streets passable, we want to support walking and cycling and prevent costly damage to vehicles from traveling over damaged streets.

11. Will you commit to meeting with bicyclists or their representatives on a regular and ongoing basis? Would you be willing to lead a regularly scheduled bike ride with your constituents?

Absolutely. As a Councilmember, I met with the bicycle community and will continue that as Mayor. When decisions are made that impact bicyclists, they will have a seat at the table. I would love to schedule a regular bike ride.

12. 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?

Los Angeles has made great strides in recent years to make itself a more bicycle friendly city. The bikeways adjacent to the Los Angeles River, Expo Line and Orange Line provide wonderful, dedicated bike lanes that I feel very safe riding on. That said, I worry about riding in traffic. We need better infrastructure to protect cyclists and support bicycling. I was very disappointed that Governor Brown vetoed bicycle safety legislation the last two years.

I do believe that this can change. The city initiated the “Give me Three” campaign, and I will build on this campaign and other safety measures if elected. Ultimately, I believe that programs like this will be the linchpin in making Los Angeles a more bike friendly city. I will work continue to forge partnerships to partner with the State and Federal government, communities, and businesses to make our bicycle infrastructure more robust and user friendly.

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