Bike plan push picks up speed
November 23, 2011
Los Angeles County’s new bicycle master plan, now in its final months of preparation, should be retooled to embrace more forward-looking design ideas and innovations for safer cycling on local streets, according to a motion set to go before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
The motion by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky calls on the county Department of Public Works to create a bike plan that “will not just move us out of the 1970’s, but move Los Angeles County forward as a leader in 21st Century bicyclist safety and comfort.”
Specifically, the motion says that the plan should “promote the use of leading-edge designs such as those found in the Model Design Manual for Living Streets that was prepared by the Department of Public Health.” Those include “cycle tracks” that separate bike lanes from traffic with dividers such as a lane of parked cars, and experimental street design approaches—including the possibility of varied lane and sidewalk widths in some areas—that do not fall within current Caltrans standards.
The motion urges the county to take the lead in helping such street layouts receive state approval for broader implementation.
If approved, the motion would not mandate such innovations at any particular locations, but would require that they be placed in the plan as options.
Many in the cycling community have been pushing for a bolder county bike plan, as was made clear by a series of bicycling advocates who appeared recently before the county’s Regional Planning Commission. The plan as currently envisioned would add 816 miles of new bikeways in unincorporated Los Angeles County over the next two decades, at a cost of $327.7 million. But many of those new miles fall into the lowest category of bike routes—those with just signage, no dedicated lanes or designated space within lanes.
The supervisors are expected to act on the bike plan, the county’s first since 1975, by March, 2012. But the motion makes it clear that changes need to be made before the plan’s final environmental impact report is finished in the days ahead.
“It is critical that the Board of Supervisors not wait to send a clear message that we expect this plan to do more to make the County a better, safer place to bike,” the motion said.