Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CityWatchLA - LA’s Best Bike Plan

CityWatch, Oct 20, 2009
Vol 7 Issue 86

The City of LA's recently released Draft Bike Plan has stirred so much controversy, the cycling community moved right past "public comment" and convened the LA Bike Working Group in an effort to simply go to work drafting "LA's Best Bike Plan."

Drawing people from all over the city and from all walks of life, the first Bike Working Group (BWG) took place this past Saturday in Hollywood, one of the communities that the LADOT and City Planning continue to overlook as they schedule workshops for the Draft Bike Plan process.

The BWG opened up the Draft Bike Plan for discussion and then drew the participants into the process of actually creating a real Bike Plan, rather than simply commenting on somebody else's version. From the opening vision to the need for imperative language, to the standards and designations to the tools for implementation, the entire document is open to revision or replacement.

The release of a "plan" is no news in Los Angeles, a city where at any given moment there are a dozen Community Plans in various states of revision along with an assortment of Master Plans, Specific Plans, Strategic Plans, Overlays, Surveys and Zones, all of which demonstrate that if nothing else, Los Angeles has big plans.

Typically generating little interest from the community, plans such as this are usually decent paydays for a consultant, all in fulfillment of some funding mandate that requires a municipality to maintain a "City Council approved Transportation Plan" in order to qualify for funding that will likely get cobbled together with other funding sources, all of which slips into a murky mess that defies oversight.

According to the Draft Bike Plan, in the last 13 years the City of Los Angeles has spent $65 Million on Bikeways amenities. During that time they have built "13 miles of Bike Paths, 55 miles of Bike Lanes and 6 miles of Bike Routes." I'm sure there are other elements in there such as bike racks, bike maps, little blinkie lights and racing socks. But $65 Million? This Draft Bike Plan is a cry for help, better yet a cry for an audit.

As the LADOT and City Planning come up on the two year anniversary of the initiation of the Draft Bike Plan process, it is apparent that this plan is worse than a mess, that it is a boiler-plate document rife with mistakes and lacking even the simplest attempt or ambition to improve over the old 1996/2002 Bike Plan that currently reigns as the Bike Plan of record.

Two weeks ago at the NC Action Summit, Dr. Alex Thompson presented, as one of the six action issues on the agenda, the Cyclists' Bill of Rights. He called on the neighborhood council members at the Summit to take the CBR to their respective NC's for endorsement and then he went further, urging them to ask for a longer comment period for the just released Draft Bike Plan and to use the CBR as the starting point in their examination of the plan.

Since that time, the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils voted unanimously to ask the City of Los Angeles to extend the comment period for the Draft Bike Plan from 42 days to a minimum of 90 days in order to allow the NC's to analyze the plan and to offer comments.

The City's Bicycle Advisory Committee also voted unanimously, this time to "demand" an extension of the comment period for the Draft Bike Plan from 42 days to 94 days, ending on January 8th, 2010.

As neighborhood councils grapple with their committee and board schedules in an effort to add their voices to the call for a lengthened comment period, a survey of the Draft Bike Plan revealed the true motivation for the enthusiastic push for an accelerated approval process, the document is a pro forma mess!

The LA Bike Working Group will convene again on Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 1 pm to continue with creation of LA's Best Bike Plan. For information visit http://LABikePlan.com.

As for the other issues from the NC Action Summit, the next meeting of the Rate Payers Advocate Task Force will be on October 24 at 1pm, immediately following the SLAP meeting. (4th Saturday). For more information visit the DWP Ratepayer Advocate.

Also meeting on the 24th is the Sidewalk Repair Task Force, at 1pm, immediately following the SLAP meeting. (4th Saturday) For more information visit the Sidewalk Repair Program.

Meetings location:
Hollywood City Hall
6501 Fountain Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90038

(Stephen Box is a cyclist advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at Stephen@ThirdEyeCreative.net)

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