Why would a city that’s facing a $200 million budget deficit spend $30 million to extend a recreational bikeway?
Actually, it wouldn’t.
In fact, Los Angeles officials are hoping they can get the job done without spending a dime. Stranger things have happened.
As reported here last week, city officials have begun the process of requesting funds to complete the long-planned final leg of the Marvin Braude Bike Path, from where it currently ends at Temescal Canyon Road to the entrance to the Getty Villa.
What wasn’t reported was the cost — a whopping $15 million each for the approximately two miles of bike lane it would add, due to the need to elevate a significant portion of the bikeway along the beach.
As the esteemed — or in this case, steamed — Dr. Alex pointed out, 30 million dollars would pay for over 1,000 mikes of new bike lanes. Far more than contemplated in the city’s proposed bike plan, and barely enough to meet the needs of the city’s cyclists.
It would also be enough to save funding for L.A.’s neighborhood councils, and maybe even a few of the 1,000 jobs currently on the line in this city.
However, that’s apples and oranges. Or bananas and kumquats, or whatever mismatched fruit more precisely fits your tastes.
Because the funding would not come out of the city budget, or even out of the cash-strapped state’s. And it would not take away from any future funding for bicycle infrastructure, or prevent the installation of a single on-street bike commuter lane.
In fact, the money doesn’t even exist yet. Because the matter currently being considered by various council committees (10-0002-S4) isn’t a motion to decide what to spend the money on, or even to request funding.
All that Council Member Rosendahl has proposed is a resolution asking the Council and the Mayor to go on record as supporting the project. Which will then allow the city’s representatives in Washington to start scrounging around for any funds that may be available for this sort of project.
Even though the country is deeply in debt, there are funds available for things like this, whether as part of the stimulus package, or some other authorization or appropriation bill. And turning it down probably won’t save a penny in the federal budget, because if we don’t take it, chances are, someone else will.
That’s just the way the system works.
It’s not like this isn’t a worthwhile project. While the bike path is used primarily for recreation, opening up this last section will allow cyclists to bypass one of the most dangerous sections of PCH, where riders are forced to share the lane with impatient drivers often traveling at speeds in excess of 50 mph.
In other words, it could save lives — and probably will, if it gets built. And at the same time, open up the coast highway to riders who don’t feel comfortable taking the lane in those first few miles between Santa Monica and Malibu under those circumstances.
Just to be sure, though, I reached out to some of my contacts at City Hall this afternoon. They assured me that no one has any intention of blowing the entire bikeways budget on this one project, and that the extension won’t move forward unless it receives significant federal funding.
So don’t hold your breath.
This is a long shot. But it’s one worth taking.
Update: The L.A. Times has taken notice of the Bike Working Group’s proposed Backbone Bikeway Network, an alternative to the city’s proposed bike plan that uses major arterial streets to connect cyclists to virtually every part of the city. If the mayor and council are truly serious about making this a better city for cycling, they need to take a hard look at this — and ask why their high-cost plan isn’t nearly as effective.
The legal process has begun for the hit-and-run driver who ran down popular local rider Roadblock. Will Campbell schedules his upcoming 8 Presidents Ride for Saturday the 13th. GOOD looks at the plans to turn 4th Street into L.A.’s first bike boulevard. Writing on Bob Mionske’s blog, Rick Bernardi looks at the “I didn’t see him” excuse for hitting a cyclist. The cyclist killed in the Bay Area yesterday was a devoted single father living car-free in Los Gatos; the driver has been arrested. The SFPD plans to use Compstat to track cycling collisions — something we should look at here. World Champ Cadel Evans — or Cuddles, as the Trickster calls him — turns up unexpectedly in Palo Alto Tuesday morning. Professional cyclist Tom Zirbel faces a two-year suspension after his B sample tests positive for DHEA.You won’t be calling it the Utah stop anytime soon, as the Beehive State considers — and rejects — the Idaho stop. A well-known Nevada cyclist, racer and bike shop owner was killed over the weekend. Zeke faces a father and child riding head-on towards his car on the wrong side of a snowy the road. Admiration for living car-free in bullheaded car-centric Texas. Presenting the first self-balancing unicycle. Great photo of cowboy cyclists in Tucson’s Old Pueblo. Call it the Rosetta Stone of cycling; the Bicycle Lexicon tell you how to talk bikes in 23 languages. New Zealand employees are urged to swap four wheels for two during Bike Wise Month. Will Sydney’s planned Bike Hub be successful? Half of all bike thefts in England and Wales go unreported. Finally, a teenage Lancashire driver gets nine months for repeatedly attempting to run a cyclist off the road — not realizing his attempted victim was a police inspector.