Tag Archive for Bike Master Plan

The Department of DIY takes on the bike plan

Maybe the problem isn’t the bike plan. Maybe it’s trying to create a single plan that encompasses the entire city of Los Angeles.

Recently, I came across a Chicago Tribune story about a study by the League of Illinois Bicyclists. In it, they looked at 46 roads in the Chicago area that had recently been reconstructed, to evaluate them for pedestrian and bicycle travel.

What they found was the projects that rated highest were the ones that had been planned on the local level; the projects that rated lowest were managed by the state Department of Transportation. The clear conclusion was that people on the local level had a better understanding of the needs of local users than those at the state level, where the focus tended to be strictly on vehicular traffic.

Sound familiar?

Shortly after reading that, I came across this article written for Streetsblog by Siel of Green LA Girl, which seemed to dovetail neatly with the Tribune story.

In it, she suggests that cyclists could consider the bike plan on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis, rather than trying to tackle the entire 212 page document at once:

Byrne’s suggestion got me thinking: Would it be possible to get multiple bike plans going in various L.A. neighborhoods — with shorter drafts of the plans that cyclists in that area could get through more easily? Might that get cyclists more engaged and active in the areas that they live or work in?

It makes perfect sense.

I know Westwood, Century City and surrounding areas like the back of my hand. I can tell you what street would make a great bike boulevard, and where a minor change in signage would make a big improvement in ridability.

But I don’t know a damn thing about riding through Hollywood, the Eastside or the Valley.

So maybe the solution is to follow Siel’s suggestion. Let’s take the proposed bike plan apart, and look at it one neighborhood at a time, by the people who live and work along and ride on those streets. And then make our own map, using the proposed plan as a starting point — because there are some good ideas in there, watered-down and obscured though they may be.

Then we can put it back together, adding one neighborhood to the next, until we’ve built our own plan for the city from the streets up, rather than LADOT down.

And it starts this Saturday.

The LA Bike Working Group is inviting cyclists to meet at the Hollywood Adventist Church, 1711 N. Van Ness Ave., in Hollywood, starting at 2p — note the new time and location, which has changed from the ones shown in the link.

It’s your opportunity to break into groups and tackle a specific section of the plan, page by page, by cyclists for cyclists. And try to come up with something that will work for riders, rather than pushing us aside in favor of moving more motor vehicles.

I’ll let Matt from No Whip take it from here, since he’s written a better call to arms than I ever could:

Come to the LA Bike Working Group meeting this Saturday at (2pm at the Hollywood Adventist Church) as we work to improve the plan. 1000 come to a social ride, but we’re lucky to get 10 to a meeting. You can do both and you can influence how policy is written in our city. More info here and facebook is here.

Write a comment about the 2009 Bike Plan here: Los Angeles 2009 Bicycle Plan. Yes, they do read and note them. Imagine if we generated 10,000 responses demanding more bicycle infrastructure and actual implementation! You should review it and form your own opinions, but the most popular arguments are: lack of vision, no real plan for implementation and cyclists’ concerns are secondary. If you only read one article, read L.A.’s Draft Bikeway Plan: Non-Committal, Sloppy and Perhaps Illegal by Joe Linton.

Get involved with a campaign. There’s C.I.C.L.E, the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition, and even Midnight Ridazz has some advocacy plans. And don’t forget that the Department of DIY always has open positions (DIY bike lanes, DIY park).

Read. Seriously. We need substance beyond rhetoric and need to be educated on the case for bicycles.

Speak with cyclists, friends, activists. These ideas and events need to be given life. No one is going to do it for us. Tell others about what is going on.

Donate money. My least favorite of the actions. We need money for all that we do, but we’d prefer you and your energy. Donating money creates the mentality that others will do it for you, but those most invested in this have spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars of their own money because of their passion. Buy an activist a burrito!

Learn more and offer comments at labikeplan.com.

………

Riverside decides to let local cyclists develop their bike plan; what a novel concept. The latest assault by young Hollywood on the people of L.A.: a TV star is accused of a drunken collision with a 17 year old cyclist. L.A. drivers are enough to make a grown woman cry. The hit-and-run plague hits our neighbor to the south. A truck driver in San Mateo had no idea he ran over and killed a cyclist. My friends at West Seattle Blog ask why put a bike lane on a crappy bumpy road? A Columbus, OH rider asks why don’t cyclists follow the law? A Chicago bike lawyer offers tips on what to do after a cycling accident. Portland cyclists reach an agreement with local police for fairer enforcement. Finally, the ultimate Halloween decoration — a man commits suicide on his balcony in the Marina, then lies in plan sight for four days because the neighbors assume he’s a Halloween display.

And now, a not-so-simple adjustment in biking infrastructure

Let’s take a look at something a little more involved that just changing signage.

Like changing attitudes, to start.

As Joe Linton noted in a recent comment, a bike boulevard can be a pretty hard sell. The name alone is enough to enflame rampant NIMBY-ism among local homeowners. And leave city officials reluctant to take on a similarly enraged mob ever again.

The simple fact is, not many people want a bike boulevard on their street. At least, not until they understand what it actually means.

And that’s our fault. As I’ve noted before, cyclists don’t have to be sold on the concept. The name alone tells us everything we need to know. Problem is, we expect everyone else to be as excited about it as we are.

It just doesn’t work that way.

On the other hand, the solution is simple. Instead of speaking in terms of our interests, we need to look at it in terms of what’s in it for people who don’t bike.

And there’s a lot in it for local homeowners.

By diverting traffic onto other streets, local residents can finally free themselves from the headaches of high-speed traffic in front of their homes. No more heavy trucks or hot-rodding hooligans in the middle of the night. And no more commuters taking a shortcut through a quiet residential neighborhood to bypass congested boulevards, turning a formerly peaceful street into a mini-throughway.

Eliminating through traffic can give residents a quieter, more livable neighborhood, where children can play outside and families stroll along peaceful sidewalks. It can also mean a more attractive place to live, as homeowners take advantage of the opportunity to clean up their streets, and the barriers themselves provide opportunities for beautification projects.

After all, nothing says barriers have to be k-rails; they can just as easily be planters, artwork, fountains or any number of similarly property-value enhancing enhancements. And that’s another key, because property values often go up as the newly peaceful neighborhood becomes more desirable to home buyers.

Then you tell them the best part. It won’t cost them a dime. Because one feature of this wonderful new street plan is something called a bike boulevard — a gap in those barriers that allows bikes and pedestrians to pass through — the DOT will pick up the entire tab.

They don’t even have to make a commitment. The whole thing can be installed on a temporary basis to prove how well it works before they agree to a permanent installation.

Now how many homeowners wouldn’t beg for something like that? And once people in other neighborhoods see it, chances are, they’ll beg for one of their own.

All you have to do is identify a street where homeowners are already fed up with traffic. Which pretty much means any street with speed bumps.

Military Ave. looking north from National Blvd.

Military Ave. looking north from National Blvd.

Like Military Avenue, for instance, which runs between Pico and Palms just a few blocks east of the 405 Freeway.

Since the street parallels busy Sepulveda and Westwood Boulevards, it’s often used by drivers looking for an easy way to bypass traffic. At least two rounds of speed bumps have already been installed to reduce and slow traffic; when the first didn’t have the desired effect, the response was to install more and larger humps — with little or no apparent decrease in traffic.

Which means they’d probably jump at the chance to block their street to through traffic, while providing full access to local residents. Even if it meant putting up with more of those damn cyclists.

And Military would make an ideal bike boulevard.

Military between National and Palms

Military between National and Palms

It’s straight and flat for most of the way, other than a small hill on the south end. The northern section is more than wide enough for bikes, cars and parking on each side, while the narrower southern section is lightly traveled and easily shared.

A bikeway on Military could also be extended south to connect with the existing bike paths on Venice Blvd. And it would only require a few new stop lights on Butler Avenue at Pico and Olympic to provide an easy link from Venice to Santa Monica Blvd.

Evidently, I’m not the only one to notice this.

The new bike plan shows Military as a “Bike Friendly Street” from Pico to Venice (page 67) — whatever that eventually ends up meaning.

Maybe that means they’re planning to make it a bike boulevard, but don’t want to use that name; maybe it means nothing more than sticking up a few signs indicating it as a preferred route for bikes. Or maybe they have no idea what they’re going to do there, but recognize that it’s an ideal place to do… something.

Then again it could just be a line on a map. One that never results in anything on the street, like so much of the previous bike plan.

That would be a lost opportunity for everyone.

Including homeowners.

………

More on bike racks, or the lack thereof: good and bad placement in West Hollywood; LAPD ignores Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. The next Dim Sum Ride rolls through Old Town Pasadena this weekend. A proposed new development in the Valley straddles the Tujunga Wash and could interface better with transit and a proposed bikeway. Burbank cyclists will get a new route connecting with the popular Chandler Bikeway. Cynergy Cycles offers a free lecture on Heart Rate Specific Training tomorrow night. The LA Times discovers Critical Mass — in Chicago. Tips on how to lead your own themed ride. A NY pedicab driver gets into an altercation with an impatient cabbie. Dave Moulton finishes his look at the history of frame design. Actor/musician Jared Leto leads fans on a bike ride through an unnamed city. Proof that not all drivers hate cyclists. Finally, as if cyclists don’t have enough to worry about, Alaska riders have to watch out for bear attacks.

A simple adjustment in biking infrastructure, part 2

Let’s consider another easy fix the city could make right now, at virtually no cost.

Take the bike lanes along the recently rebuilt Santa Monica Boulevard.

In just a few short years, they’ve become one of the most popular riding routes through the Westside — largely because they’re among the few dedicated bike lanes than run on a major street. And the only ones I know that don’t run next to a parking lane, eliminating the risk of dooring.

On the other hand, you do have to deal the poorly designed crossover lanes, which force cyclists to dodge cars entering and exiting the roadway, as well as buses that cut into the bike lanes little or no warning.

bus-bike1Then there’s the way they end abruptly, dumping unsuspecting cyclists into the middle of a heavy high-speed traffic lane.

Although a large part of that problem, on the east end at least, stems from the transition from Los Angeles to Beverly Hills, which seems dead set against allowing bikeways to besmirch their gilded streets. If any city ever needed a Critical Mass…

One major advantage these lanes offer is the limited number of cross streets — only Beverly Glen, Westwood, Veteran and Sepulveda cross from both directions. All other streets enter from one side only, such as Avenue of the Stars and Century Park East and West in Century City, which enter from the south, and Selby, Kelton and Camden in Westwood, which come in from the north.

SM-Bike-Lane-1However, that means cyclists riding on the opposite side of the road often have to make a decision whether to obey the law, or common sense, when faced with a red light, with a clear lane in front of them and no cross traffic from any direction.

Some stop and wait alongside the idling vehicular traffic until the light turns green, for no other reason than it’s what the law requires. Most, however, proceed through the light, recognizing that stopping serves no purpose, in terms or safety or rationality — putting them at risk of a ticket, and pissing off every driver waiting for the light to change.

But all it would take to address the situation is one little sign at each of those intersections, saying “bikes proceed on red.”

That’s it.

Overnight, bike flow is improved and scofflaw cyclists are made legal — with zero impact on traffic.

The only possible risk would come from careless drivers who might drift into the bike lane while completing their turns on the boulevard. And even that could easily be addressed by placing a simple barrier — anything from plastic cones to a brief raised curb — on the outer edge of the bike lane.

Or better yet, install a raised curb along the entire length of the bike lanes, broken only by intersections, and crossover exit and entrance lanes.

Then cyclists would enjoy L.A.’s first separated bike lanes, at minimal cost to the city.

And the cars, motorcycles and other assorted motor vehicles that currently use the bike lanes to bypass stopped traffic would be banished once and for all.

This same approach could also be used on southbound Ocean Blvd in Santa Monica, another roadway where cyclists have to choose between breaking the law and stopping for no apparent reason.

……..

Gary writes movingly about that heartbreaking photo of Kylie Bruehler at the funeral of her tandem-riding parents. Even the positive Joe Linton criticizes L.A.’s proposed bike plan, while Stephen Box says stamp it Return to Sender and the BAC demands an extension of the comment period. Box also says a lack of bike parking makes cyclists second class citizens. While L.A. makes plans, Long Beach makes bikeways. GT shares a great route when you want to work hills. Will Campbell risks his credibility to register his bike. Oakland police try to link an online threat against cyclists to a hit-and-run driver who stood over his victim before fleeing the scene. More great photos from the Path Less Pedaled. Bob Mionske’s Blog takes a critical look at a wreck blamed on a sidewalk cyclist, which leads to a call for better police training. Famed framebuilder Dave Moulton continues his discussion on the evolution of frame design. Chicago Now takes a critical look at Critical Mass. Finally, a truly frightening photo of the aftermath of an S.F. dooring incident.

A simple adjustment in biking infrastructure, part 1

I confess. I haven’t read the new bike plan yet.

Most of us need a little time to get through a plan that, with appendices, checks in just this side of War and Peace. And Tolstoy didn’t include complicated maps that have to be studied with near microscopic attention.

Or leave out street names, as on the Westside map.

So it’s possible that this could have been addressed in the plan, although a cursory look suggests otherwise.

Yet while city officials frequently cite a lack of funding as a primary reason why we see so few improvements in bikeways and biking infrastructure — even though they have a history of leaving money on the table — there are a number of things they could do that would cost almost nothing and have little or no impact on traffic.

Take Westholme Avenue in Westwood.

It’s currently a Class 3 bike route, offering a safe, quiet route from Santa Monica Boulevard to the UCLA campus — although the new plan shows it’s due to be downgraded to a “bicycle friendly” street. And according to the LACBC, it’s one of the streets that’s under consideration for the upcoming Sharrows pilot project.

Unfortunately, north of Wilshire Blvd, cyclists face a steep, three-quarter mile climb to get to campus. It’s not a problem when you’re southbound and down; not so much fun when you’re struggling to make it uphill.

Westwood-3-wayTo make matters worse, just as the hardest part of the climb begins, there’s a three-way stop at the intersection where Westholme, Glenmont and Le Conte come together.

From a driver’s perspective, it helps control a quiet, but confusing, junction. From a cyclist’s perspective, though, it forces riders to either ignore the law and blow through the stop, or lose all momentum at the base of the hill, just when they need it most — making it a difficult, if not impossible, climb for many riders, and deterring them from attempting it a second time.

And it’s completely unnecessary.

As the photo shows, there’s no parking in the intersection, which means that cyclists can comfortably ride to the right, out of the traffic lane, without risk to or from traffic in any direction. It’s as if we had our own little through lane there.

So why should we have to stop?

Westwood-3-Way-SignsLADOT could address the problem by adding another sign below the stop sign, reading “bikes yield” or “except for bikes.”

Problem solved.

Overnight, it becomes a much more attractive street for riders of all levels — at almost no cost to the city. And without inconveniencing a single driver.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

……..

Streetsblog has posted links to the bike maps released earlier in the summer for anyone wanting to compare the current draft of the bike plan. Why the lack of diversity at the recent Byrne panel discussion? The top 10 facts about cycling. Dallas police will no longer enforce the city’s mandatory helmet policy — the one that was put in place to stop drug traffickers (?!?). Portland police release their internal bicycle training video. Advice from Boston on avoiding the door zone. Delaware declares female bike commuters extinct. A ‘60s era video from GM gives a driver credit for avoiding an accident — caused when she nearly right hooks a cyclist. Women in the UK consider cyclists the most attractive males. Well, duh. A cyclist’s view of rush hour in Scotland. In case you missed it earlier this week, the UK’s Guardian asks if California will become America’s first failed state. Finally, this may just be the most heartbreaking photo I’ve ever seen.

Today’s post, in which I don’t criticize LADOT. Much.

Maybe you missed the cycling community’s response to the release of the full draft of LADOT’s proposed new bike plan.

Yeah, me too.

Aside from a minor pissing match in which Green LA Girl, L.A.’s meiststress of all things ecological, called out Dr. Alex and Bike Girl for their damnable negativity, the plan landed with an overwhelming thud.

It’s not that we’re not interested. As Mikey Wally, who recently completed a coast-to-coast ride of his own points out, most L.A. cyclists are keenly aware of the appalling lack of infrastructure in this city. As well as the risks we take in merely trying to get from here to there on two wheels.

It’s just that A) we weren’t expecting it, considering that it was already six months overdue, and comes months after the much-maligned map that introduced the phrase “currently infeasible” to the local cycling vocabulary; and B) at 212 pages plus appendices, we have no idea what to think about it yet.

It’s going to take a lot more than a single weekend to make heads or tails out of this. And that’s exactly the point Bike Girl and Alex were trying to make.

LADOT’s current timeline gives cyclists and any other interested parties a mere seven weeks from the release of the plan to read, digest and analyze all 212 pages plus appendices, form a considered opinion, and convey that opinion in a reasoned and effective manner. Even less, considering that the first public meeting is scheduled for less than one month from today.

Or we could just do what we usually do, and base our opinions on previous experience. In which case we’d already be readying the torches and pitchforks.

Personally, I think giving us sufficient time to respond is a better option.

But hey, that’s just me.

Then there’s the fact that only four public meetings have been scheduled in a city of nearly 4 million people — which works out to just under 1 million people per meeting.

I hope they’ve reserved a big room.

Then again, they may have considered that. In what could only be read as an attempt to limit public participation, three of the four meetings have been scheduled to begin at 5p — an hour when much of the city is just starting to get off work.

Anyone interested in attending would have to make their way across the city through rush hour traffic to get to the meeting site. And as anyone who has ever attempted it can attest, in riding at rush hour is a contact sport in this city.

And it takes a very, very long time.

The irony here is that if the city had good cycling infrastructure — based on an effective bicycle master plan, of course — there might be more bikes, and fewer cars, on the streets. Which would make it a lot easier to get to one of those meetings.

Another problem is that there are no meetings scheduled in Downtown or East L.A. — despite their large cycling populations, including many for whom a bike is their primary means of transportation. And as Alex points out, the current timeline effectively prohibits any input from any of the city’s 89 Neighborhood Councils, as well.

In fact, a cynical person might suspect that LADOT anticipated a negative response to this plan, and scheduled the number, time and location of these meetings — as well as the short deadline for comments — in a deliberate attempt to limit public input.

Fortunately, I’m not a cynical person, so that never occurred to me.

So I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. And ascribe the inadequate public schedule to a well-intentioned, if ill-advised, desire to keep the process from falling any further behind.

However, I will take the advice offered by Alex:

Email West LA Councilman and City Council Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl and express displeasure with this situation – Councilman.Rosendahl@lacity.org.  I recommend asking for amendment of the deadline to January 4th, 2010.

In fact, I’ll take it one further, and suggest that everyone email their own council member, as well. And demand more time for an effective, reasoned — and reasonable — response.

Meanwhile, I’m marking my calendar for the West L.A. meeting on October 28. And I hope to see a room filled with informed and passionate cyclists.

Torches and pitchforks optional.

No one knows the streets of this city better than the people who ride them. So take a look at the plan, particularly as it affects the areas you ride. And if you have any comments you want to offer, feel free to email me at bikinginla at hotmail dot com.

……..

Dave Moulton suggests that a more positive attitude can result in a more positive cycling experience. The four most common causes of single bike crashes; not listed is a Connecticut bridge that has repeatedly taken out unsuspecting riders. Columbia, MO’s mayor sets out to set the standard for cycling cities. For once, police offer advice for safe cycling that focuses on drivers as well as cyclists. A Philly reporter asks if cyclists have been given too much of the road, while the St. Louis Post-Dispatch demonstrates just how low journalistic standards have fallen. Tampa Bay cyclists want sharrows. An Indian man is injured in a bike-on-bike collision, then disappears from the hospital without a trace. London cyclists are give the green light to ride the wrong way. After being bitten while riding on the Scottish moors, will Town Mouse transform into a werejackrussel on the next full moon? Finally, thanks to reader TricksterNZ for calling attention to a bad weekend in New Zealand in which two riders were killed — including one in which a driver went through a stop into a group of passing cyclists. As usual, the comments blame the victims.

Today’s post, in which I beat a dead horse

Let’s take a quick look back at last week’s LADOT controversy, before I move on to other subjects.

As you may recall, last Monday I broke the news that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation was secretly planning to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Blvd, which would have necessitated the removal of two miles of existing bike lanes, as well as the cancellation of another long-planned — and long delayed — 3-mile extension.

This came to light courtesy of Glenn Bailey, chairman of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. He had learned of the plans in an official LADOT status report to the BAC, which indicated that the planned extension conflicted with “peak hour usage in the near future.” Bailey then confirmed those plans in a conversation with Ken Firoozmand, Transportation Engineer for the West Valley division of LADOT.

The response was overwhelming, as the story quickly spread through the Internet. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition issued an action alert from urging cyclists to attend a meeting of the Northridge West Neighborhood Council, which was planning to vote on a resolution in support of the plan after learning about it from Bailey; the large, highly motivated turnout resulted in a unanimous vote against the peak hour lanes.

And that’s when the inevitable backlash began.

Representatives from LADOT contacted both Streetsblog and LAist, insisting that the agency had no plans to install peak hour lanes on Reseda and that “…It was all based on rumor, nothing that we had propagated.”

Obviously, they were mistaken. Or lying. I chose to give them the benefit of the doubt; others didn’t.

Joe Linton, BAC member and founder of the LACBC, responded by providing the original document revealing the existence of the peak lane plan, and expressed concern for the LADOT staffer who was only doing his job in providing that information to the BAC.

Meanwhile, Glenn Bailey circulated an open letter providing full details of how he became aware of the plan and confirmed its existence with Firoozmand. He also pointed out the Notice of Street Work for a one-mile section of Reseda where the proposed bike lanes would go, which local residents were concerned would provide an opportunity to install the peak hour lanes; Glenn has requested that this section be restriped for the long-promised bike lanes, instead.

A commenter on Streetsblog noted that the bridge over the viaduct near Victory Boulevard was widened with the express purpose of turning the Reseda into a major north-south thoroughfare. In my initial conversation with Bailey, he’d quoted Firoozmand as saying “We wouldn’t have widened the bridge if we weren’t planning to include peak hour lanes. The only reason I didn’t include that in the initial story only because I had failed to write down which bridge he was referring to.

Yet incredibly, when LADOT was confronted with proof of the plan, they stuck by their initial denials. Damien at Streetblog offered this official response from LADOT:

The information provided yesterday is accurate and still stands: the Department has no current plans to remove any portion of the bike lane or to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Boulevard.

Note the key word “current.”

All they had to do was acknowledge their error, and admit that a plan had been considered but was no longer under consideration — whether or not that had anything to do with the massive response in opposition to the plan.

Instead, they chose to engage in a cover-up — not exactly the kind of open, honest government we have a right to expect as citizen of a democratic society. And in the process, they continued to smear both Glenn Bailey and me as the unnamed sources of those unfounded “rumors.”

Unfortunately, as of this writing, a few local websites still haven’t corrected the stories based on LADOT’s false denials, despite the overwhelming proof to the contrary.

And a full week later, none of the council members I contacted before publishing the initial story — Rosendahl, Kortetz, Zine and Smith — has bothered to respond in any way.

Meanwhile, Joe Linton has written an open letter to Rita Robinson, General Manager of the LADOT, as well as Mayor Villaraigosa, Council President Garcetti, and Council Members Rosendahl, Smith, and Zine. It reads in part:

It doesn’t surprise me that LADOT would favor a peak lane plan that would increase capacity for cars, indeed this is LADOT’s job and what LADOT has historically successfully focused on. What surprises me is that LADOT staff lied. Governmental agencies depend on the trust of the public to make our city work. When LADOT staff deny something that LADOT staff have already put in writing, this duplicity damages the public trust and makes it difficult for all of us to work together in the future.

I urge you to work with your staff to be honest, clear and transparent and to rebuild the public trust that their actions have strained. I also urge you to immediately implement the long-delayed bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard.

Meanwhile, the LACBC has sent out another Action Alert calling attention to the LADOT’s false denials, and urging everyone to contact the appropriate officials:

Some of you may have been getting letters assuring you that the bike lane was never going to be removed and that this was all a rumor.  Due to the overwhelming response to this threat, it seems that DOT has retracted their plan and is now claiming that there is currently no plan to install a peak hour lane.

We want to make sure that there will never be a plan to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Blvd.

Let’s install the already approved bike lanes on Reseda Blvd!

Due to your emails and the extreme circumstances of this issue, Mayoral staff requested a meeting with LACBC. They suggested that if there is community consensus, a bike lane could be completed this year.

Here’s what you can do:

Please write to Councilmembers Smith and Zine and let them know that you would like to see the already approved extension of the Bike Lane of Reseda Blvd from Vanowen to Rinaldi installed by the end of 2009.

Please send in and email your letters to:

Honorable Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis Zine
200 North Spring Street, Suite 450
Los Angeles, CA 90012
councilmember.zine@lacity.org

Honorable Los Angeles City Councilmember Greig Smith
200 North Spring Street, Suite 405
Los Angeles, CA 90012
councilmember.smith@lacity.org

Jonathan Brand, Planning Deputy for Dennis Zine
jonathan.brand@lacity.org

Phyllis Winger, Chief Planning Deputy for Greig Smith
phyllis.winger@lacity.org

Honorable Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
mayor@lacity.org

It’s your government. And it’s up to you to decide whether to accept secret plans and cover-ups. Or whether you’re going to do something about it.

This just in: Did LADOT lie? Or don’t they even know what they’re doing?

Earlier this evening, Joe Linton left the following comment on today’s post — about LADOT’s official denial of any plans to put peak hour lanes on Reseda Boulevard — which I’ve moved up here to give it the attention it deserves:

The LADOT owes you an apology, Ted! Bicyclists were responding to an earlier document from LADOT that pretty clearly states that they intended to implement the peak hour parking restrictions, and put the bike lane project on hold. From the June report from the LADOT bikeway engineer to the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee – regarding the status of the Reseda lanes: “West Valley District does not concur with the [Reseda bike lane] project, cites peak hour lane usage in near future.”

See the original LADOT report document here: http://glatwg.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/bike_lane_projects_in_progress1.pdf

Cyclists deserve an apology from the LADOT for their lie… and the immediate implementation of the long-delayed Reseda bike lanes.

Note item #8 from the LADOT document:

Reseda-1

And note the status report:

Reseda-Cropped

The question is, did LADOT intentionally lie to us? Or do they honestly not know what their various divisions are doing?

I don’t know which possibility scares me more.

Thanks, Joe. I owe you one.

But I’m not going to hold my breath on that apology.

Update: 8-14-09, 3pm:

BAC Chairperson Glenn Bailey has written a detailed rebuttal to LADOT’s denial of their plans to install a peak hour lane on Reseda Blvd. Damien Newton has put the full text of Glenn’s letter online at Streetsblog — and says he doesn’t believes that LADOT intentionally misled him.

LADOT: We didn’t do it, nobody saw us do it, you can’t prove anything*

We could declare victory. But the opposition now claims they were never playing.

In fact, they have no idea what we were even talking about.

No, really.

I first heard about the West Valley DOT’s plans to install Peak Hour Lanes on Reseda Boulevard when I was sitting in on the meeting of the Bike Advisory Committee last week. Committee Chairman Glenn Bailey mentioned it in passing, saying he’d like it added to the agenda for the next meeting.

He said it had come to light when bike planners had tried to coordinate with their West Valley counterparts about installing another three miles of bike lanes on Reseda, and were told not to bother because it wasn’t going to happen. The decision had been made to go with the peak hour lanes instead.

In speaking with Glenn later, he related a conversation with a district engineer who confirmed the plans.

Yet a spokeswoman for the LADOT now tells Damien Newton that there were never any plans to install peak hour lanes or to remove the existing bike lane.

Fair enough.

Maybe a few rogue engineers had been acting on their own without getting approval from their superiors. Maybe it was only under consideration and they were just making preparations in case such a plan was approved.

Or maybe they were surprised by the overwhelming opposition from the cycling community, and are now in full backpedal mode, sounding like Sgt. Schultz as they deny any knowledge of any such plan.

As Stephen Box sagely points out, the fact that the old bike plan called for a bike lane the full length of Reseda, while the new bike plan calls that “currently infeasible,” indicates that someone, somewhere made a decision to do something else with the boulevard.

But that’s the advantage of secret plans.

They’re easy to deny if anyone finds out.

*Also known as the Bart Simpson approach to public relations

……….

Bike Date uncovers the latest high-tech bike prototype, complete with biodegradable wheels. Metblogs notes the opening of Bikrowave 3.0. Stephen Colbert offers his tips for cyclists. A blogger questions the quality of police investigations of cycling accidents — scroll down for some fascinating insights from a retired cop. Following the recent attempted shooting of a cyclist, an Asheville writer calls for a peace treaty between cyclists and drivers. Four years after a near fatal collision on the same spot, a New York cyclist marks the opening of a new protected approach to the Manhattan Bridge. A new Missouri law allows bikes and motorcycles to run red lights if they fail to change. A Minneapolis-area driver attacks a cyclist with an ax following an on-road dispute. The author of the new Colorado Bike Safety bill explains how it should benefit cyclists and drivers. Finally, a Louisiana cyclist is stopped for riding with a three-foot alligator on his shoulders.

Incomplete Streets: A line in the sand — and on the street

The line is drawn.

At first, I didn’t notice a lot of excitement following yesterday’s post about the West Valley DOT’s secret plan to remove two miles of existing bike lanes from Reseda Blvd, along with another three miles of planned lanes.

Then Damien at Streetsblog picked up the story.

The next thing I knew, it was featured on the website of KPFK and a topic of discussion on the Ridazz forum and on Los Angeles Fixed Gear, as well as countless Facebook and Twitter pages. LAist gave it a brief mention, as did the Examiner.

And the LACBC sent out an action alert late in the day — thought they failed to give BAC Chairman Glenn Bailey credit for his legwork in bringing this to light:

EMERGENCY ACTION NEEDED:

STOP THE REMOVAL OF RESEDA BIKE LANES!

TAKE ACTION TODAY!!

Unbelievably, LADOT’s West Valley office has proposed to REMOVE the existing bike lanes on Reseda Blvd. between Ventura Blvd. and Vanowen to make room for peak hour traffic lanes.  The City’s current Bicycle Master Plan actually calls for extending these lanes three miles farther north, which would also be killed by plans to run the peak hour lanes there as well.

There is a motion in favor of the Peak Hour Lane proposal before the Northridge West Neighborhood Council Tuesday night at 7pm, in the auditorium of Beckford Avenue Elementary School, at 19130 Tulsa Street in Northridge.

What you can do:

1) Attend this meeting and oppose this outrageous plan!

Where: 19130 Tulsa Street in Northridge

Auditorium of Beckford Avenue Elementary School

When: Tuesday 7 pm

2) Contact the local Council Member, Dennis Zine, to let him know how you feel!

Jonathan Brand, Planning Deputy for Dennis Zine

jonathan.brand@lacity.org

213-473-7003

200 N. Spring Street, Rm 450

Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 473-7003 Tele

(213) 485-8988 Fax

3) Contact LA Mayor Deputy Borja Leon Borja.Leon@lacity.org and Deputy Mayor Transportation Jaime de la Vega jaime.delavega@lacity.org

Key points:

• Rather than removing the bike lanes on Reseda, they need to be extended north three miles as called for in the current Bicycle Master Plan

• The current Bicycle Master Plan also stipulates that before any bike lanes are removed, there must be a public hearing before the Transportation Commission. -Insist that this procedure be followed.

• Peak hour lanes have also been installed recently on Balboa, De Soto, Tampa and Topanga Cyn Blvd., key arterials in an area that serves cyclists poorly.

• Are the peak hour lanes were actually needed?

This is a significant move backwards on bicycling issues in Los Angeles.  With the LA Bicycle Plan soon to be released, we need to take positive steps forward.

According to Glenn, the result was a great last minute turnout at the Northridge West Neighborhood Council meeting last night — with over 60 “bicyclists, homeowners, residents and stakeholders” — which he was told was their largest crowd ever.

And as a result, they voted unanimously to oppose the plan.

Unfortunately this is only the beginning. A line has been drawn, but it’s going to be a long, hard fight.

So don’t stop just because we’ve won the first battle. Call or write your councilmember, as well as councilmembers Zine and Smith, who represent the districts affected, along with the deputy mayors listed in the LACBC alert.

As Glenn put it,

This effort has just begun, and it won’t be easy.  Fighting City Hall never is.  But that will make our ultimate victory that much more significant.

…………

Evidently I inadvertently broke the news about the new Transportation Committee officers. Oops. A cyclist collided with a deer on Angeles Crest Highway over the weekend; L.A.’s Cycling Examiner says be prepared to offer first aid in an emergency. Green LA Girl calls our attention to this weekend’s Bike Day LA. Stephen Box calls on LADOT to slow down its mad rush to approve higher speed limits that risk everyone’s safety. Bike Date looks at Idaho Stops and bike lanes that disappear at intersections. Someone is attacking Wilmington, DE cyclists and joggers with blow darts. The Philadelphia Enquirer says it’s time for détente between cyclists and drivers. A Boston writer uses the cycling death of her own daughter to call for fairer treatment for bicyclists. Following a typical anti-cyclist rant, a Baltimore writer says we all have to share the road. Finally, after a conflict between Critical Mass riders and a driver in the bike Mecca of Ogden, Utah, the mayor plans to ride with cyclists. Yeah, like that could ever happen here.

Incomplete Streets: DOT’s secret plan to take away your bike lanes

Prepare to get mad.Parking-Sign

Because this is a city that lacks even a minimally sufficient level of biking infrastructure. A city where the new bike plan fails to include a number of routes proposed in the previous plan that no one ever got around to building. And where the vast majority of potential routes that cyclists might actually use are considered “currently infeasible.”

Yet the Department of Transportation is preparing to remove an already existing bike lane in the San Fernando Valley.

That’s right.

West Valley traffic planners intend to erase the thin line of paint that carves out just a tiny fraction of Reseda Boulevard for bicyclists, just to feed an ever increasing need for motorized vehicle capacity. Regardless of what effect that might have on the safety of cyclists. Or the livability, and sustainability, of our city.

Or maybe they just didn’t get the memo that there are other road users on the streets of L.A.

And now it’s up to us to stop them.

Not surprising, they’ve done their best to keep local residents and business people in the dark — along with the area Chambers of Commerce and all three of the Neighborhood Councils in the effected area.

Then again, the people who live and work in the affected area shouldn’t feel alone. The Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee, and even the DOT’s own bicycle planning department, were kept out of the loop, as well.

Evidently, as far as the West Valley DOT was concerned, it was on a need to know basis. And anyone who might possibly object didn’t need to know — even though public hearings are required before removing an existing bike lane.

According to BAC Chairperson Glenn Bailey, it only came to light when bike planning engineers tried to coordinate with the West Valley traffic engineers about long-standing plans to add another three miles of bike lanes, and eventually extend the current bike lane the full length of Reseda Blvd.

Instead, they were told not to waste their time. The WVDOT had already overridden those plans in order to create Peak Hour Lanes along Reseda Boulevard — meaning that all on-street parking will be banned during peak hours.

As a result, the three miles of planned bike lanes, which would have run next to the parking lane, were no longer under consideration. And a full two miles of the existing bike lanes on both sides of the road between Van Owen and Ventura Boulevard would have to be removed.

Similar Peak Hour Lanes have recently been installed along Balboa, Tampa and De Soto, as well as Topanga Canyon Blvd — a state highway where CalTrans had been willing to put in a bike lane, but was overridden by the DOT’s inexplicable lust for maximum motorized throughput at the expense of any form of alternative transportation. Even though research shows half of all car trips could be walked or biked.

Evidently, four north/south Peak Hour routes within just a few miles aren’t enough, even though evidence has repeatedly shown increasing capacity usually results in short term gains, at best.

Of course, when Glenn tried to get more information, his emails were ignored — despite that fact that he chairs a supposedly important civic committee and was appointed by the mayor himself.

Then when he finally reached the West Valley District Engineer by phone to ask about the cancelation of the planned extension, he was told “I’m not going to put in a bike lane for one or two bicyclists.”

This despite the fact that neither the city, nor anyone else, has yet conducted an accurate survey of existing ridership along the route, or potential ridership if the route is completed. And the fact that a completed bike lane would serve Cal State Northridge, as well as other area schools, and countless commuters who might feel more comfortable riding to work if they had a dedicated lane to ride in.

Instead, area residents will be forced to contend with high speed, curb-to-curb traffic, which will only serve to discourage cyclists and pedestrians, while putting both groups at greater risk.

Not to mention the inconvenience faced by people who live along Reseda, who will no longer be able to park in front of their homes and apartments. Then there’s the impact an unexpected loss of street parking will have on local businesses already struggling to survive in an adverse economy.

It’s only a bike lane.

But removing it would establish a dangerous precedent, putting every bike lane in the city at risk. And rendering the proposed Bike Plan meaningless, because even existing routes could be eliminated at any time, for any reason.

Mad enough yet?

It’s draw a line in the sand. And fight back.

There is a motion in favor of the Peak Hour Lane proposal before the Northridge West Neighborhood Council Tuesday night at 7p, in the auditorium of Beckford Avenue Elementary School, at 19130 Tulsa Street in Northridge.

If you live or ride in the Valley, I encourage you to join Glenn at this meeting to oppose the motion and fight for your bike lanes. Or if you can’t make it, email your comments to Glenn at glennbaileysfv @ yahoo . com (remove spaces).

And contact your councilmember — as well as councilmembers Greig Smith and Dennis Zine, who represent to affected area — to demand a halt to this misguided, short-sighted plan.

Because it may just be a bike lane. But it — and what it represents — couldn’t be more important.

I emailed councilmembers Smith and Zine to ask for their comments, along with Transportation Committee Chairperson Bill Rosendahl, and my own councilperson, Paul Koretz, Vice Chairperson of the Transportation Committee. So far, I haven’t received a response from any of them; if it turns out someone actually cares enough to get back to me about this, I’ll let you know.

………

Like me, Will Campbell comes down squarely in the helmet-wearing camp. Flying Pigeon announces this month’s non-Dim Sum ride. Enci and Stephen are looking for volunteers for what could just be the coolest bike ride in L.A. Allstate says L.A. and Glendale drivers are among the worst in the nation. Well, duh. L.A. Creek Freak examines construction on the L.A. River Bikeway. Detroit shock jocks say they’d love to lob something at your head. Lance Armstrong urges Colorado’s governor to revive the great bike stage races of the ‘70s and ‘80s. A newspaper in Rochester, MN argues that bike-friendly streets need bike-friendly drivers, while New Mexico cyclists argue for safer streets. A bikeway named after America’s first black cycling champion is treated with as much respect as he was. In other words, not much. With a little luck, you can buy former Talking Head David Byrne’s folding bike on E-Bay. Spanish riders get the world’s longest bicycle commuter tunnel. Finally, if you’ve ever felt like your bike could fly, an English cyclist proves you may just be right.

%d bloggers like this: