A report on Monday’s Santa Monica Bike Action Plan open house

These past few weeks have featured a lot of meetings and events I’ve had to — or will have to — pass on, from Metro’s discussion of the Wilshire BRT to tomorrow’s reconsideration of the draft bike plan by L.A. Planning Commission.

One of the meetings I most wanted to attend, and most regret missing, was Monday night’s open house to discuss the Santa Monica Bicycle Action Plan. Fortunately, Eric Weinstein, an actively involved rider I’ve frequently met at various bike-related meetings, was there to fill us all in with a guest post on what we missed.


Bicycle Action Plan meeting Dec 13th 2010

Desired locations for bike parking, bike corrals and bike share stations; photo by Eric Weinstein.

The City of Santa Monica held the Public Input meeting for a bicycle plan Monday night.  Hope you were there, with the 100 (or so) other bike activists.

The meeting was organized by Jeff Tumlin. That was kind of a surprise, since rumor had it that the outside consultant was not a bike person, but Jeff is an extremely well spoken bike planner, and familiar from the LUCE (Land Use and Circulation Elements) process. Many of the City’s departments were represented, including the bike-oriented Planning commissioners and City council members. Santa Monica Spoke was there in its entirety, and several other bike interested parties were there, including school staff and SMPD.

The 1st question in the Q&A dismissed bikes and suggested we all “get along” by sharing the road – which was immediately followed by a Spoke member with a call for a more visionary future. Bad start, snappy reply. The meeting soon moved ahead to the input phase – much better than this sort of debate. The endless debate of cars or parking vs cycling is not part my vision of how to implement better transportation. Bikes are vehicles and deserve safe accommodation on the roads. Period.

Most of the items for discussion are laid out in the LUCE, with several areas set up to gather public input, including:

  • A map to mark frequent destinations to aid in planning the bike network
  • A map to mark priorities for “bike street” improvements such as lanes, bikeways and sharrows
  • An aerial photograph to mark where cyclists might get on the forthcoming Expo Line bikeway, to help integrate with the city’s bike network
  • A chart and map to note where the access needed the most improvement in getting to the beach bikeway, along with notes on route and challenges to getting there
  • One I still don’t understand about work sites
  • A place for additional notes on the LUCE bike parking and business section – where else to add bike valets, how to encourage employees to bike to work and customers to bike to shop.
  • A place to note where to put the next bike-improved street for North-South and East-West travel
  • A small section on metrics, with a survey on how optimistic you are that improvements will be made in mode share by 2030 (20% to 50%)
  • And last (my favorite with the most dots) where to put more bike racks, more corrals and bike share stations

These are the elements of the Panning Departments thinking on bike improvements. And from what was put forward, it looks like the next improvements will include at least some of the following: more bikes lanes and sharrows to close the gaps in the bike network, some more (possibly permanent) bike corrals, more bike racks, a bike station at the Santa Monica Place mall downtown, and some better bike-sensing at traffic signals.

All this sounds like great stuff – the more the better. Better cycling roads and much more parking are very important elements to successful bike infrastructure; however, I do feel that there are quite a few areas where other ideas should be put forward.

My take on the most important missing element is the need to educate returning (adult) cyclists for riding again in urban traffic. If we bicycled like we are traffic, we would be traffic, and most of these car/bike conflicts would disappear.

I’m sure that there are many other ideas that are missing. The Santa Monica planning department is very interested in getting more input, so please send them some. Everyone is invited to send in written suggestions or additions to the Bike Action Plan; you can learn more and link to a survey at www.smgov.net/bikesm.

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