Anger and Optimism Expressed Over BMP Maps

6_1_09_bmp.jpgBMP Map for the Westside and Downtown

Last Friday, the city released the first piece of its Bike Master Plan when it posted the draft area maps that will make up the framework of the engineering portion of the Plan.  "Word on the street" is that the City's Planning Department , the body that is in charge of the BMP despite the widely held belief that it's the LADOT Bikeways Division, didn't want to release the plan piecemeal.

If the reaction from advocates and bloggers is any indication of the general feelings towards the plan, then the instinct to withhold wasn't a bad one.

Complaints over the maps released last week range from the content of the plan to the outreach efforts by Planning to even that the Maps were released as low resolution pdf.'s and not a more user friendly technology.  Los Angeles Bike Coalition founder Joe Linton in the comments section from Friday's story provided what was the most positive comment on the maps and it wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement.

If anyone was expecting bike paradise tomorrow... then I'd suggest tempering your expectations. How about rolling up your sleeves, and composing a comment letter to the City Planning Department with suggestions of what you want in the plan. Best to ask for what you'd like to see - please don't just say that the draft plan sucks and is embarrassing... without saying your opinion of what a good plan would be.

That being said, most of the rest of the comments I received said that the draft plan sucks.  Eric Knutzen, of the Bike Writers Collective and Homegrown Evolution sums up a lot of the complaints:

First off I feel left out of the process, not having been allowed to see the plan while it was in progress and before it went to LADOT (presumably to be gutted of anything that would impede motor vehicles). 

As for what has been delivered, it all hinges on if anything substantive is done with the streets categorized as "bicycle friendly streets". Curious that "sharrow" is not mentioned in the description of this category and neither is "traffic calming", two critical components of a bicycle boulevard which, I'm guessing, is the phrase that was used in earlier drafts of this plan (at least that's the terminology from the outreach meetings). Perhaps this will be cleared up when we see the whole thing.

Knutzen is referring to one of the five street categories that are used in the maps.  Three of the designations, "bicycle path," "bicycle lane" and "bicycle route" are ones that are pretty common, both in L.A. and around the country.  The other two, "bicycle friendly streets" and "proposed but currently unfeasible" are unique to Los Angeles.  Knutzen is wondering whether the treatments for the "bicycle friendly streets" are going to be anything worth celebrating or a pat on the back.

Ron Milam, another founding member of the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition, looks at the network of "bicycle friendly streets" as a step in the right direction, with a caveat.

I’m happy to see a proposed network “Bicycle Friendly Streets” – this is something Los Angeles really needs.   In response to the “Proposed But Currently Infeasible” category of streets, I can’t help but think of the many other cities that are actively removing travel lanes and/or on-street parking to prioritize bicycling infrastructure – why can’t we do the same for at least some of these proposed streets in LA? 

Alex Thompson, of the Bike Writer's Collective and Westside BikeSIDE wrote comments that were more critical.

There ain't dick on that map that's new west of the 405.  Give me a break.  All that waiting and nonsense.  The longest change west of the 405 is the addition of the Expo line path, the path in the development down in Playa Vista, and signage along Palms.  The Expo line is the county, so that's not a commitment by the city.  The Playa Vista path is paid for and required of the developer, and is a path to nowhere.  Palms is a fucking mountain range.  This plan has LADOT written all over it .

Also in the Streetsblog comment section was a comment from the Bike Writer's Collective's and Bike Oven's Josef Bray-Ali who found the lack of a plan for East L.A. distressing.

This map sucks. North East LA doesn't even register except for the ridiculous LA River bike path. Where is Riverside Drive? Where is the Class 1 or Class 2 that belongs on San Fernando Rd? Figueroa is bypassed for ... Griffin?! Why is N. Figueroa a car-only highway, when the 110 is located a few hundred yards away? We have too many car-only facilities in NELA! Wake up!

The only direction you'll be able to get downtown is via "Bike Route" (hah!) coming from South LA. Not a single at-grade, Class 2 or Class 1 bike facility into downtown. Really?!

Lastly, Roadblock, who's name has been in the news a lot recently found the plan hopeful although was annoyed at the presentation's poor usability:

Itried to pull it into adobe illustrator to seperate out the wishful thinking parts but its lo res flattened artwork... no dice.  Thus wishing for them to put this into google maps and allow for turning off and on proposed routes versus infeas-able routes etc... perhaps someone at the LACBC could translate this to google?

Thus far there is no formal comment from the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition, CICLE, or the Bike Advisory Committee, although I expect we'll here from some of these groups at tomorrow's meeting of the full LABAC.  In the meantime, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section or email the city at jordann.turner@lacity.org.  We'll have more on the maps and the bike plan in the coming days and weeks.