ThinkBike Workshop Inspires with New Visions for LASeptember 27, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Bike News, LACBC Events | 4 Comments
Thank you to all those who came out to last week’s Think Bike workshop. Along with invaluable contributions from Dutch planners and engineers–Hillie Talens (CROW), Tonny Bosch (GoudappelCoffeng), Cor van der Klaauw (province of Groningen), and Richard ter Aves (GoudappelCoffeng)–your hard work and participation helped make the program a great success!
The three workshop teams, looking at Downtown, Pacoima, and the USC area (click on the links to see what each of the teams came up with!), drew up a range of possibilities from the visionary to the shovel-ready. Friday’s presentations drew over a hundred committed advocates, planners, and engineers who enthusiastically received our Dutch guests, the teams they assisted, and the blueprints they helped craft.
Employing their newly-acquired slang, our Dutch guests emphasized Los Angeles’ potential to be an “awesome” city for bicycling. Our wide boulevards could easily accommodate generous separated cycle paths. Our climate spares us the hassle of brushing snow and chiseling ice off our saddles. Our streets have staggering excess capacity on weekends, offering the chance to convert barren Downtown streets to lively open-street Sunday plazas. And make no mistake, our community–judging by spectacular turnouts at CicLAvia–is begging for quality bicycling opportunities.
Addressing the concerns of skeptical participants, they assured us that a dedicated community and political will can remedy the area’s history of car-focused planning. After World War II, the Netherlands followed a similar development path as Los Angeles as it rapidly suburbanized and became increasingly dependent on foreign oil. The oil crisis of the 1970s prompted a re-thinking of Dutch transportation policy, and the nation committed to ambitious and forward-thinking policies to improve bicycle infrastructure and public transit.
Thirty years later, 27% of all trips in the Netherlands are made by bicycle–more than half of which are made by women. And bicycle trips aren’t limited to short trips to the market on the next block, accounting for 15% of all trips between 4.5 and 10 miles! This figure should serve as inspiration to skeptical Angelenos concerned that our city’s sprawl makes bicycle transportation unfeasible.
How did the Dutch accomplish this? Credit largely goes to the planners and engineers who sought to provide infrastructure which invited people to get out on their bikes and ride.
Under Dutch law, when a motorist and a pedestrian or a bicyclist are involved in an accident, the motorist is responsible unless she can show that the other party caused the collision. This law embodies the common-sense notion that maneuvering tons of steel on streets shared with other community members demands vigilance and caution.
Crucially, the Dutch aim to make bicycling safe, enjoyable and expedient. Wide bicycle paths encourage couples and friends to ride side-by-side and enjoy each other’s company. Many paths are physically separated from motor vehicle traffic, creating a sense of security which invites a broad demographic including children, women, and older community members. The continuity and connectivity of the Dutch facilities makes bicycle transportation as fast as driving a car.
For years, we’ve admired Dutch-style bicycle infrastructure. ThinkBike afforded us the opportunity to work directly with the world’s leading bicycle planners and engineers. After this event, we have a host of expertly crafted and ambitious visions for Downtown, Pacoima, and USC. Now let’s get to work making these visions a reality!