How to Make LA Bike Friendly

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Central City Critical Mass, February 2008

While I've been traveling around the country, two of Los Angeles' better known bike advocates and bloggers were busy  writing about how to make Los Angeles a better place for bicyclists.  Their two pieces, written separately but pushing towards the same goal, outline both how your average blog reader can get involved in making our streets more welcoming and what the city needs to do to reach that goal.

 The first piece, written by Westside BikeSIDE's Alex Thompson for Emerald City breaks down where riders can volunteer their time.  Those who don't mind getting their hands dirty should consider spending some time with one of the Greater Los Angeles area's bike co-ops the Bicycle Kitchen, Bike Oven and Bikerowave.  Those who are more interested in the nuts and bolts of policy should consider the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition (LACBC) or Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange (C.I.C.L.E).  People that find joining a group to be more than they're currently willing to commit should check out Thompson's earlier piece on talking to your friends and family about biking.

Meanwhile, over at Brayj Against the Machine, regular Streetsblog poster Josef El-Brayjerino, known here as Ubrayj02, has created a list of the changes the city needs before it can be considered bike-friendly.  Read the bulk of El-Brayjerino's post after the jump, but feel free to click on the link above to see the whole article.

Get Money for the Citywide Bike Network
At the direction of the City Council or the Office of the Mayor, the City should find, apply for, or allocate the $60 million required to completely build-out the Citywide Bike Network described in the 2002 Bicycle Plan. As planned in the 2002 Bicycle Plan, this money can be allocated piecemeal over the course of 10 or 15 years in amounts ranging from $4 million to $6 million per year. This amount, for a City the size of Los Angeles, is peanuts - but a completed Citywide Bike Network has the potential to get 5% of all trips in L.A. to be done by bicycle.

New, Official, Street and Highway Designations
At the direction of the Council, the Planning Department, the LADOT, and the LADPW should develop new Street and Highway Designations that are inclusive of bicycle, transit, and pedestrian uses of the right of way. This process would require at least one or two years to complete, and would require public hearings, it would likely require an EIR as well as $1 to $2 million in staff time and material.

Legal Definition Tweaking
These redefinitions will allow any unrestricted "transportation" dollars to be allocated to projects that do not speed up cars. Sidewalk improvements, traffic calming, bicycle facility construction, bus bench improvements - all of these will be able to use non-restricted transportation funds.

  1. Legally define "Transportation", in the Los Angeles Municipal Code, to be:
    "Any method or mode of moving goods or people using a street, highway, road, or public right-of-way. Bicycling, walking, using transit, and vehicular use are transportation."
  2. Add "Bicycling is a mode of transportation" to the legal definition of bicycle in the Los Angeles Municipal Code;

  3. Add "Walking is a mode of transportation" to the definition of walking and pedestrian in the Los Angeles Municipal Code.
Monitor and Evaluate the Street in a Different, and Scientific, Way
In the Monitoring/Evaluation segment of the bike plan (and the General Plan), as well as in the City's Street Designations and Standards, it would help cycling a great deal if something more than a cyclist count was employed to measure the performance of the roadway.

Currently, the streets of L.A. are measured by the City primarily by observing how many motorized vehicles can go as fast as possible on a street. This is a dysfunctional method of roadway performance measurement. Measuring the road this way turns the public right-of-way (which should serve commerce, civic life, and transportation) into a car-only sewer pipe that hurts local business interests, and destroy traditional civic life.

We all know the proportion of cyclists on the road is minuscule.

However, the effects of cycling, and bicycle infrastructure, are not minuscule.

Photo: Digable Soul/Flickr