Getting creative with county bike plan

November 30, 2011 

Schoolkids and others should get an easier ride once the county bike plan is revamped.

The wheels are in motion.

The county’s bicycle master plan—its first in 36 years—is about to get more innovative as it heads toward the finish line, Department of Public Works director Gail Farber said this week.

Responding to a unanimous push from the Board of Supervisors, the county’s bike planners will get to work on integrating more forward-looking design elements into the cycling master plan within the next 45 days, Farber said.

The board acted on a motion by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky which said the new bike plan should “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.”

To get there, the motion said the plan should incorporate “leading edge” designs such as those found in the Model Design Manual for Living Streets recently completed by the county Department of Public Health. Among the proposed innovations are varied lane and sidewalk widths, bolder paint treatments of bike lanes and “cycle tracks,” which separate bike lanes from traffic.

“The motion sends a clear message that the plan needs to do more to make the county a better and safer place to bike,” Farber said. “The board wants us to embrace these design concepts and we certainly plan to do so.”

Cycling advocates have been pressing for a bolder and more ambitious master plan, which will serve as a blueprint for bike facilities in unincorporated Los Angeles County for the next 20 years. The plan as currently drafted would add 816 miles of new bikeways over the next two decades, at a cost of $327.7 million.

The motion approved Tuesday represents a proactive approach to the bike plan, which must be approved by the county’s Regional Planning Commission before the Board of Supervisors formally takes it up early next year.

Testifying before the supervisors’ vote Tuesday was Alexis Lantz of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. She said the motion provided “guidance to staff” to create a plan that “truly improves the safety of our roadways, especially for people who need or choose to bicycle to meet their daily needs.”

A “visionary” bike plan could play a role in creating a healthier and more livable Los Angeles County over the next two decades, she said.

Farber said continued collaboration with the cycling community will be important as the plan moves forward. And she said she sees retooling the current draft as “more of an opportunity” than an obstacle.

“We’re excited,” Farber said. “We embrace the input.”

Posted 11/30/11


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