Are You Bike-Friendly? Wendy Greuel Responds

February 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Bike News, Resources | 6 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).

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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