City Council Wants to Get Cyclists More Involved with Bike Planning

5_27_09_labonge_via_alex.jpgTom LaBonge addresses cyclists after "May Day Storm the Bastille." Photo: Dr. Alex Thompson/Flickr

If anyone doubts that the city is starting to hear and understand the issues of cyclists after a series of organized May rides, those doubts should be expelled today.

During a rather routine LADOT report on how $6 million in funds collected in 2005 and 2006 would be spent on bicycle and pedestrian projects, Councilman Bill Rosendahl spoke up to ask what input was given by the cycling community?

The LADOT lamely responded that it thought that the list was presented at a Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting.  Michelle Mowery, LADOT Senior Bicycle Coordinator, also opined that the
committee was aware of the projects in the list, but maybe not the list
itself.

To bolster their claim of outreach to their own Advisory Committee, one can note that the entire report was copied to former BAC Chair Alex Baum.  Of course, a cynic might note that Baum had been replaced as chair two months before the report was completed. 

The questions took a turn for the aggressive when LADOT representative Paul Meshkin responded to Rosendahl that there was no input gathered that he knew of, an aggressive Rosendahl wondered out loud why not.  After being pressed by both Rosendahl and Tom LaBonge, the LADOT committed to getting word of this $6 million in funding out to the bicycling community and to solicit feedback on what the community thinks of the project list.  Rosendahl insisted that communication include a notice that the City Council would open up the record at a full meeting for comments before passing the list.

Well Councilmen, I’m here to help.  The entire project list can be found on pages five and six of the report available here.  It includes partial funding for Phases I and II of the San Fernando Road Bike Path (which I had thought was already completed,) various maintenance and study programs and a slew of pedestrian projects.  When the Council posts that there will be a full hearing, I’ll post a notice with all the relevant details here.

That being said, Rosendahl and LaBonge’s larger point wasn’t just about getting a list in front of cyclists who read blogs and are on official mailing lists; it’s about getting the greater community involved and interested in bike planning and specific projects.

While I can certainly appreciate the Council Members standing up for cyclists after getting caught twice in ride-bys; I can’t help but notice that this is a list of bicycle and pedestrian projects yet there was no discussion of getting input from the larger pedestrian community.  Because the "pedestrian community" includes everyone who’s ever entered city limits, they could have just made sure the list was also presented to the city’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee, a far less controversial mirror to the Bike Advisory Committee that has been chaired by Deborah Murphy since it’s inception in the 1990’s. 

Of course, it’s entirely possible that Rosendahl and LaBonge are unaware the PAC exists since they haven’t appointed representatives to the committee at any point during their terms, despite nearly a dozen letters from the Committee, the LADOT and even Transportation Committee Chair Wendy Greuel asking them to do so.

  • Brian

    Wow. I’m both amazed that things are so byzantine, impressed by Mr. Rosendahl’s perspicacity, and appalled at how difficult bicycle planning can get in this county. Speaking of County, I notice that as a Redondo resident, I don’t really have a demonstrable stake in the LADOT’s activities, but is there a county equivalent to the LADOT bicycle plan?

    Love this blog, by the way. It’s slowly but inexorably politicizing this weekend rider toward transit issue activism.

  • This is exactly why cyclists from every niche in the riding community need to get more involved in the political process. When we flex our muscle, we can be as powerful as any of the special interests City Hall usually kowtows to.

    Clearly, Rosendahl gets it, and is rapidly becoming my favorite council member — although some of the others on the Transpo Committee are giving him a run for his money.

    On the other hand, may I politely ask who the hell LADOT thinks they’re serving?

  • Quick summary of report (byzantine? hah! I’ve seen worse!):

    A small slice of state-collected gasoline tax (“TDA 3 Funds”) is supposed to go to “local jurisdictions” based on their population. In Los Angeles County, the MTA gets this gas tax money and holds onto it for a couple of years before releasing it to a City (like LA).

    This is a bunch o’ mumbo jumbo to instruct the City Council to make the necesary motions to get this already-collected money from the MTA and dump it into accounts the City of LA controls that go to fund previously approved bike projects.

    A big chunk of the report is dedicated to repeatedly mentioning where the TDA 3 funds come from and what they are supposed to go to. Snore.

    A slightly more detailed description of some of the listed projects which is available on pages 10 and 11 of the pdf file.

  • Okay, so along with this un-collected slice of gas tax (which in the budget goes not to the special funds listed in this report, but to something called the “Capital Improvement Expenditure Plan”) there is also money from the following funds that are set aside specifically for bicycle and pedestrian projects (all values are approximate):

    PROPOSITION C ANTI-GRIDLOCK TRANSIT IMPROVEMENT FUND
    Total Value of Fund: $83,000,000
    Total amount to bikes from this fund:
    Bicycle Programs $30,000
    Bicycle Path Maintenance $500,000
    School Bike and Transit Education $250,000

    MOBILE SOURCE AIR POLLUTION REDUCTION TRUST FUND
    Total Value of Fund: $5,400,000
    Total amount to bikes from this fund:
    Bicycle Patrol Program (Various Depts) $100,000

    TRAFFIC SAFETY FUND
    Total Value of Fund: $16,000,000
    Total amount to bikes from this fund: $0

    LOCAL TRANSPORTATION FUND
    Total Value of Fund: $4,600,000
    Total amount to bikes from this fund: ???

    The City also receives money from the federal government and state government for specific programs. For example, the Environmental Affairs Department received around $2,250,000 in 2007-2008 for “Alternative Fuel Vehicles”.

    The Department of Transportation and a few other departments cleared a couple of million every year for smattering of various bike and pedestrian projects from these funding sources.

  • Clearly, things are being done in LA to build bike projects and pedestrian projects. We’re about two or three orders of magnitude below the type of funding that automobile projects get. When a bike project gets $1 million; a car project will get $10 million or $100 million in combined local, county, state, and federal funds.

    Fighting the money fight doesn’t matter so much to me. What does matter is that we’re spending profligately to make our city much less livable, less safe (on the roadways), and worse for local businesses dependent on retail foot traffic.

    I’m not sure what the best solution is, but we’ve got to ensure that this money being splashed around willy nilly. If we have a dedicated source of money for bikes, it should be used as leverage to get even more funds to be pulled from pots of money that are going to signal timing and left turn arrows (both of which are smoke and mirrors anyway). With a solid $10 to $20 million a year towards building out the bike master plan and paying for staff time to work on these issues with the community, we’ll get some facilities built quickly and appropriately.

  • anonymous

    Why is the committee approving money allocated almost four years ago? Troubling to say the least.

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