Important meetings on Main St road diet and Verdugo Ave bike lanes tonight, and bike safety in Signal Hill

Just a few quick notes before I get back to work.

First up, the Venice Neighborhood Council meets tonight to discuss the planned Main Street Road diet, among other issues.

While I strongly support the plans to make the street safer and more inviting for everyone, a work deadline is going to keep me home slaving over a hot laptop long into the night.

But if you’re free this evening, I strongly urge you to attend the meeting to show your support.

Here’s what long-time bike advocate and former fellow LACBC board member Kent Strumpell has to say on the subject:

SUPPORT MAIN ST. BIKE LANE PROPOSAL AT SEPT. 20TH VENICE NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL MEETING

The City of Los Angeles proposes to extend the bicycle lanes on Main Street in Santa Monica to the Windward Circle in Venice.  This project will be on the agenda for the VNC Board of Directors to consider supporting at their Sept. 20th meeting.  Please come show your support for this important bikeway improvement.  You can also email the Board (see below).

LADOT counted 730 cyclists on Main St. in Venice in a 6 hour period earlier this year, making it one of the most important bicycle routes in Venice.  Providing bike lanes on Main Street from Navy to Windward Circle will create a “Complete Main Street”. The proposed bike lanes will rebalance the street and provide more safety for all road users whether they be on bicycle, foot, or in a car.  Creating a complete Main Street will require removing a travel lane in each direction in order to accommodate the bike lanes and a two-way left turn lane in the center of the road. All on-street parking will remain.

This reconfiguration of Main Street will provide better bicycle connectivity to nearby areas, help achieve more sustainable transportation in our beach community and encourage a more bike-able, and walkable Venice!

Proposed changes for Main Street in Venice

PROJECT BENEFITS

1. Encourages more bicycling and walking in Venice and fewer car trips

2. More trips by bicycle means less demand for parking

3. Businesses can benefit: increased customer access by bike and foot traffic, reduced demand for parking, calmer traffic allows more people to notice businesses

4. Deters speeding, increasing safety for all road users

5. Provides a dedicated center lane for left turns, decreasing rear-end and side-swipe collisions

6. Improves visibility for motorists exiting driveways or turning onto Main Street

7. Provides dedicated space and enhanced safety for bicycles on Main Street

8. Provides better visibility of and for pedestrians crossing Main Street

ACTION

Attend the Venice Neighborhood Council meeting and speak in support.  Fill out a speaker card for the Main St. agenda item when you arrive.
When:  Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, 7PM
Where: Westminster Elementary, 1010 Abbot Kinney (just south of Main).

Email the Venice Neighborhood Council board to express your support and why you think it is needed.  Please send a email even if you plan to attend, to: board@venicenc.org

More info at:  LADOT’s blog post – https://ladotbikeblog.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/main-street-bike-lanes-need-your-support/#more-4279

Damien offers more on the story on Streetsblog, and Gary Kavanagh offers his support after initially opposing the plan.

And on a somewhat related note, Joe Linton looks at LADOT’s approach to the proposed 4th Street Bike Boulevard, and foresees a forthcoming failure snatched from the jaws of apparent victory.

……..

In another important bike-related meeting on a busy Tuesday, the Burbank City Council will consider making the bike lanes on Verdugo Avenue permanent.

As you may recall, a road diet was installed on Verdugo over a year ago; after complaints from some motorists, the city council voted to keep the lanes in place on a trial basis.

Today, that trial comes to an end.

If you ride in the area, you’re urged to attend the council meeting tonight starting at 6 pm at 275 E. Olive Ave in Burbank. Or if you can’t attend in person, the LACBC offers a sample email you can send to express your support.

……..

The Signal Hill Police Department has kicked off a campaign to increase bike and pedestrian safety — which usually translates into a crackdown on bad bike behavior, rather than dangerous practices by drivers that have the potential to kill or injure cyclists, law abiding or otherwise.

However, they say the right things, for the most part, offering valid advice to cyclists and pedestrians on how to remain safe, and advising motorists on how not to kill someone.

Although nothing in state law requires cyclists to ride single file, particularly in substandard lanes where it can actually be safer to ride two or more abreast in order to hold the lane and prevent unsafe passing. And the law is quite specific that slow moving vehicles — which includes bikes — aren’t illegally blocking traffic unless there are five or more vehicles following behind and unable to go around.

But good luck arguing that point with a traffic cop who may not be as well verses in bike law as well as you are.

And I wouldn’t exactly take comfort in this comment from Signal Hill PD Traffic Department Supervisor Sgt. Chris Nunley:

“Unfortunately some people forget that the roadways are primarily for vehicle traffic and walk or run four deep across lanes of traffic.”

Actually, roadways are intended for all legal road users, which includes cyclists and pedestrians. And everyone is entitled to use the roads in a safe and legal manner, with no preference given to mode of travel.

In other words, bikes have as much right to the road as motor vehicles, though no one has the right to needlessly block the roadway.

The program is intended to start with an educational campaign before moving to an enforcement phase.

It remains to be seen whether it will be targeted equally towards all road users in a genuine attempt to increase safety, or simple be used as an excuse to crack down on cyclists.

Read more at the Signal Tribune (scroll to page 9); thanks to Nate Baird for the heads-up. (Note — all comments are mine, so don’t blame Nate; he just pointed out the story.)

……..

A new study from a Dutch consulting group shows that the benefits of properly constructed biking infrastructure significantly outweighs the cost.

In fact, the return in improved travel times, better health and environmental benefits outweigh costs by margin of 44% — increasing to a whopping 358% if ebikes continue to gain in popularity.

It would be interesting to see if the results could be duplicated on this side of the Atlantic.

Thanks to @bplusradsport for the tip.

……..

Much has been made of a report released over the weekend showing that roughly 1,000 pedestrians are injured badly enough by bicyclists to require hospitalization in New York State every year; roughly 500 of those are in New York City.

While that sounds damning, the report fails to note who was at fault in those collisions, merely that they occurred. And also fails to note how many cyclists were injured, as well.

So instead of suggesting, as the authors seem to imply, that it is the result of out-of-control scofflaw cyclists riding rampant on sidewalks and blowing through crosswalks, the collisions could just as easily be the result of pedestrians walking illegally in bike lanes or stepping into the path of riders.

And even that surprisingly large number pales in comparison to the roughly 15,000 New York pedestrians injured by motor vehicles each year. Yet no one seems to be calling for a crackdown on dangerous scofflaw drivers.

It should also be noted that the number of pedestrians injured in bike collisions is trending downward, despite a dramatic increase in ridership in recent years.

Testament, perhaps, to the efforts of that crazy NYDOT director Janette Sadik-Khan to make NYC streets safer for everyone.

Including cyclists and pedestrians.

Note: While I largely dismiss the results of this study, it’s important to remember that pedestrians are the only road users more vulnerable than cyclists. So it’s up to you to concede the right-of-way to pedestrians — even when they’re wrong. And never, ever ride through a crosswalk when someone is using it.

……..

Finally, a timely reminder from L.A. cyclist, bike advocate and attorney Rosh Hirsch that if riding your bike doesn’t make you smile, you’re not doing it right.

My smile wasn’t quite that big when I was riding yesterday, but it was there.

Third grade student Tristan Hirsch demonstrates proper cycling technique, starting with the huge smile; photo by proud papa Ross Hirsch

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