Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Caltrans7 Bicycle Advisory Committee "Open Space"

Bike activists from Bikeside presented the crowd-sourced LA Bike Map, a Hit-and-Run campaign, and the pedal powered LA Greensters, all as part of the inaugural Caltrans District 7 "Open Space" brown bag session to complement the Bicycle Advisory Committee. The Caltrans 7 BAC meets monthly, typically on the 4th Friday and addresses cycling issues from planning and engineering to education and funding.

Dale Benson, Caltrans District 7 Local Assistance Coordinator for LA and Ventura Counties, hosted the Open Space session and intends to make it a monthly lunchtime tradition to help activists, planners, consultants, and representatives from different municipalities and agencies develop stronger relationships and greater regional connectivity.

Dr. Alex Thompson, the founder of Bikeside, LA's only 501(c)4 Bike Lobby, gave a hands-on presentation of LABikeMap, an online tool that allows individuals to log on and enter the data from their experience on the road, from bike theft to road rage incidents to hit-and-run collisions to road conditions. The program is loaded with existing collision data extracted from the LAPD files and from SWTRS but the most interesting data is the "data dust" that typically falls from the system. By creating an opportunity for individuals to participate without having to wait on an overloaded law enforcement system that may not be responsive to non-emergency calls, LABikeMap creates a solution that benefits any of the agencies and departments that have a piece of the road, even those who simply need good data in order to seek funding for neighborhood improvements.

Sara Bond gave a reprise of her BikesideSPEAKS presentation of a Hit-and-Run campaign, an initiative that addresses both the large number of hit-and-run incidents on our streets and the difficulty victims face in seeking justice. Sara demonstrated that the successful prosecution of drunk drivers has actually incentivized hit-and-run behavior because of the inequity in penalties and in prosecution. Drawing on local incidents such as Ed Magos on 2nd Street, Roadblock on Glendale Boulevard, Jesus Castillo on Glendale Boulevard, Jen Diamond on Sunset Boulevard and Louis Bianco on La Cienega, Sara personalized the issue and dramatized the need for a review of the law, of the enforcement policies and of the mandate to prosecute.

Enci Box introduced the LA Greensters, an all-pedal powered transportation team that originally formed to support the transportation needs of Enci's film "At What Price" which was shot sustainably in East Hollywood and is the subject of the "Reel Sustainable" documentary. The LA Greensters have not only demonstrated that human powered transportation is a viable choice for the Entertainment Industry, but has gone on to participate in everything from Park[ing] Day LA to the South Bay 350 to the AltCar Expo to the Santee High School sustainability education project. The LA Greensters demonstrate with their projects that cycling can be more than a simple commuting choice, that it can also satisfy utilitarian needs efficiently and sustainable.

Plans are already underway for June's Caltrans 7 "Open Space" on June 24th from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm and again featuring three different presentations, this time from the Planning perspective, Regional, Local, and crowd-sourced.

As for the May Caltrans 7 Bicycle Advisory Committee's regular meeting, the theme was "Cyclists and the Law(enforcement)" and featured LAPD's Sgt. Krumer, the cyclists/LAPD Task Force liaison and a presentation of the new LAPD online training on cyclists and their rights to the streets of Los Angeles. Chief Charlie Beck received the Cyclists' Bill of Rights while still a nominee for Chief along with a request that he address LAPD policies for cyclists. He responded quickly and effectively, forming the Cyclists/LAPD Task Force and placing it in Operations with significant heat.

Sgt. Krumer detailed the progress that has been made over the last six months including some of the policies that address issues such as "non-contact traffic injuries," a clarification of inter-jurisdictional authority (Metro vs. Cyclist) and a clarification of inter-departmental enforcement issues. The LAPD was joined by the CHP's Officer Vince Ramirez and Burbank PD's Motor Officer Justin Meadows for a panel discussion on Cyclists and the Law(enforcement), offering up the different approaches to the same issues, safety for cyclists on the streets.

The Caltrans 7 Bicycle Advisory Committee was formed several years ago by then-District 7 Director Doug Failing and has met regularly to address engineering, educational, planning, funding, and law enforcement issues that impact cyclists on the streets in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Failing enjoyed great success with the BAC and he is now at the Metro, an agency that has experienced a "strained" relationship with the cycling community. He recently initiated a Metro Bicycle Roundtable series in an effort to engage the cycling community and to work on developing Metro policies, planning, and projects that support cycling as an integral element of the Metro's Transportation System. We hope that he enjoys the same success at the Metro that he enjoyed at Caltrans.

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