An open letter to the Beverly Hills City Council

I had planned to attend tonight’s meeting of the Beverly Hills City Council to voice my support for bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd through the city, closing the gap between existing lanes in West Hollywood and Century City when the street is reconstructed next year.

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend tonight. So I’d like to share my thoughts with the Council Members here.

……….

Dear Beverly Hills City Council Members,

I am not a resident of your city.

Yet I frequently find myself traveling through Beverly Hills on my way to meetings in Downtown LA, whether by bike, bus or car. Whenever possible, I prefer to travel by bicycle; I find it more convenient, safer and less stressful than other means of travel.

With one major exception.

The journey through Beverly Hills is usually, by far, the most dangerous part of my trip.

That is not to say that some parts of my trip through the city aren’t safe and enjoyable. The bike lanes that were recently painted on Burton Way are among the best in the LA area; wide enough to keep riders out of the door zone, while moving us safely out of the way of traffic.

The problem is getting to them.

When travelling east from Century City, cyclists have only a handful options to pass through Beverly Hills.

Olympic Blvd is a high speed thoroughfare much of the day, yet dangerously over-congested during the long rush hour periods, safe for bike travel only at night or on weekends.

Charleville Blvd is a safer alternative, though it forces cyclists to either stop at every intersection or flaunt the law in order to conserve energy, while dodging impatient drivers unwilling to share the road. But it takes riders too far south to connect with those bike lanes on Burton Way.

Wilshire Blvd is simply too congested, dangerously unridable most of the day.

Little Santa Monica through the Golden Triangle connects directly with the Burton Way bike lanes, but the narrow traffic lanes force cyclists to ride directly in front of aggressive, and too often, angry motorists. It is an unpleasant place to ride during the day, and dangerous at rush hour.

As a result, many riders prefer Santa Monica Blvd, even though it currently offers a cramped space for cyclists next to traffic that can vary from high speed to severely congested, often in a matter of blocks. And puts riders at risk of being cut off by frequent buses and both left and right-turning vehicles, whose often out-of-town drivers aren’t looking for bicycles on such a busy street.

Carmelita and Elevado Avenues offer much more pleasant options, but again have the disadvantage of having stop signs on every block, and are too far north to provide a viable alternative for most riders.

We need a safe route through your city. We need bike lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard.

By installing bike lanes on Santa Monica, you will provide bike riders with a safe, convenient route through the heart of Beverly Hills, while creating a single, nearly continuous bikeway from the 405 Freeway to east of La Cienega in West Hollywood. The resulting Westside bikeway will bring bike riders — and their spending power — into the heart of Beverly Hills.

Meanwhile, pass-through riders will be easily able continue on to West Hollywood or Century City, or drop down a single block to connect with the bike lanes on Burton Way.

In addition, you will improve safety and traffic flow on Santa Monica by moving cyclists out of the way of traffic — not just on Santa Monica, but on all the streets mentioned above, as cyclists will be encouraged to take Santa Monica rather than streets like Charleville or Little Santa Monica.

In fact, studies have shown that painted bike lanes reduce injuries for all road users by as much as 50% — and up to 90% for protected bike lanes. Bike lanes also act as traffic control devices by channelizing both cyclists and motorists into their own separate spaces and encouraging compliance with traffic regulations.

And bike lanes are a vital step in transforming Santa Monica Blvd from today’s traffic-congested barrier blocking access to the rest of the city, to a complete street that will enhance livability for residents and encourage the tourism local businesses depend on.

Best of all, next year’s planned reconstruction of the boulevard provides a rare opportunity to implement bike lanes at virtually no additional cost, saving future generations the cost of adding them later to correct your mistake if you fail to vote in favor of them tonight.

In fact, a vote in favor of bike lanes creates a unique opportunity in which everyone benefits — motorists and residents, tourists and businesses owners. As well as bike riders who want to pass through the city, and those who want to stop and frequent the city’s many shops and cafés.

I urge you to do the right thing. And cast your vote tonight for a better, safer and more livable future for everyone who lives, visits or passes through Beverly Hills.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
BikinginLA.com

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