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.

  • Lots of interesting perspectives here….wonder what women, kids, and others living in LA might think….

    where is the Los Angeles Bike Advisory Committee meeting tomorrow night? Parker Center?

  • It seems difficult to feel anything other than cynicism about the future of bikeways in L.A. —

    At this point, perhaps a more tempered approach is in order. One in which anger and optimism interact directly with intelligence and creative solutions. Certainly the former could inspire the latter.

    The Department of DIY also has an educational department with an in-house Library. It is a comfortable place in which to dream of those practical solutions that Joe Linton was talking about.

  • What do women think? Well I can’t talk about anybody other then me. And I think that this plan is a very expensive document that puts LA to shame! This plan is very far from making LA bike friendly and very far from making LA more sustainable for future generations to come. This map is a disgrace!

    The West Side and the East Side have been left out of this plan. Why? Why has the Bike Community not been involved? Why has the LABAC not been notified? Why has the Caltrans 7 Bicycle Advisory Committee not been notified?

    I’m pissed off that I never received a notification about the process, to get me involved via email or mail. I was at 3 of the planning meetings, the LADOT and the Planning Department has my address as well as my email address and they never notified me, never involved me and never asked for my input.

    LADOT sucks big time and so does the LACBC! LACBC sends me a bunch of emails about their fundraiser, but they don’t get on top of the Bike Plan. They don’t involve the community, they don’t push the LADOT to make LA bike friendly. LABAC only pushes people to send them money so they can pay a staff member to send emails about their fundraiser.

    Some of the comments about dreaming and thinking positive is also bull! The civil rights movement didn’t happen because people were dreaming and patting each other on the back. It happened because people demanded their rights. It happened because people demanded respect! It happened because people demanded and fought for equality and justice!

  • LABAC will meet tomorrow evening at 7:00 P.M. in the Parker Center

  • nobody

    I may take some heat, but if their “Bicycle Friendly Streets” become Bike Routes, I don’t think the plan is half bad. It seems like it gives better bike access to areas of town under-represented, like South LA. If they decide to do little or nothing with these streets, then we have problems.

  • Wow. Well we’ve got the ANGER part covered.

    Anyone going to look to the practical?

  • The sad fact is that we need the mayor on our side and his office doesn’t give a damn about what we need. Two long years and we’ve got council members on our side, but they don’t have the clout the mayor (legally) has.

    We need a way to get Villaraigosa’s office turned onto this issue. Bike friendly streets are a big part of our shared future – and that is being reflected in cities across the US. LA’ mayor needs to turn around on his baloney “congestion relief” campaign promise and come to the light side of the force.

  • Neil Okamoto

    Damien wrote: “I tried 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?”

    So why wait? I just sent an email to Jordann Turner asking if the Bike Plan data can be provided in a Google Maps compatible format.

  • Anger has been giving way to mild depression concerning anything cycling in Los Angeles for me. Occasionally I hear a story that gets the anger fired up again, but then it starts sliding into depression soon after. Such is the state of affairs for cycling in Los Angeles. I think we need to make an effort to write more feel good stories if for no other reason then our own sanity.

  • I think we need to get meaner and more politically focused, but that is just me. I jokingly wrote to Damien that I was ready to burn the Bike Plan in effigy in front of Rita Robinson’s house (a bad joke, which I have no intention of ever doing) – but that is sort of how I am feeling about everything right now in LA regarding bikes.

    What is wrong with trying to get people fired? I think we should do that when a city bureaucrat has made it their business to shut us down and keep bike riders from taking car lanes. If it is a political and paper shuffling “war” that LADOT wants to wage, then let’s have at it. What laws do they have to back them up? The state has tons of stuff on the books that we should be able to sue the city over.

    Here is an example: (1) The state has found that bicycle riding reduces our dependence on foreign oil and improves air quality (2) The City collects Prop C money expressly for the purpose of improving air quality and reducing our dependence on foreign oil (it’s in the language of Prop C) (3) That money is spent on pro-car projects (WTF?!) that increase Vehicle Mile Traveled and induce more car driving (transportation-based air pollution is the biggest source of greenhouse gases and the biggest consumer of foreign oil).

    We should sue to revise the LADOT’s policies (if they actually have any written down, the cowards) to allow car travel lanes to be removed for Class 1 bike facilities using Prop C money. End of story.

    Sue, sue, sue, and sue some more. Further, if our leaders don’t have the cojones to do what is right, we’ll elect some others and tear apart the ones that don’t believe in what we want. It’s what every interest group wants to do but rarely executes. We’ve got more than enough people to do this sort of thing, we’ve got a lot of expertise.

    The bike advocacy movement in L.A. needs a funded center to slam away at city government – I nominate Stephen Box. Nobody is better at kicking ass in the bike scene and getting good press. There are a couple of people out their like me able to put in the work on efforts lead by someone else.

    Let’s kick some ass already.

  • I’m with you Umberto Brayj!

  • Amen to Enci and Umberto Brayj! Sometimes I feel like the cycling community here has Stockholm syndrome (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome, in case you need a definition). It’s time to push back. True, we won’t get anything substantive until we have a mayor with vision, but in the meantime let’s do what we can. Lets demand that this plan be revised to advocate:

    1. Connectivity between major destinations
    2. Real bicycle boulevards.
    3. Transportation over recreation.
    4. A new LADOT bikeways department unfamiliar with the word “unfeasible”.

  • There are parallel solutions to be created.

    Frustration and Anger have their place and value.

    So do Collaboration and Communication.

    Vision and Dreaming have a vital place in the process as well.

    People who work behind the scenes to shift the policy are just as necessary as the people out protesting in the streets.

    When we learn to respect and value each other and the roles we play on a team together all working for the same goals….

    then and only then will we have a chance.

    LIVE THE DREAM.

  • Stephen Box put together an excellent breakdown of this whole sorry “Bike Plan” state of affairs.

    http://tinyurl.com/mhqvzq

    This whole waste of time has all been an exercise in keeping a couple of bureaucrats employed. Let’s just be honest about it and admit that a bike plan has nothing to do with us getting results downtown. Sitting on our hands and waiting for some loser in a suit to tell us what is good for us isn’t a winning strategy in any political system I’m aware of.

    Screw this bike plan, and let the people who put it together rot in the obscurity they rightfully deserve. There is more that we can gain by working more overtly for policy changes and political changes in the city.

  • I went to the BAC tonight and heard the craziest line of b.s. from Michelle Mowery about the bike plan. All of a sudden, this whole bike plan is the dept. of planning’s baby, and they are the ones to talk to. Somehow, none of the entities she says are responsible for the bike plan are ever in the room: Plannings Jordan Turner, missing; Alta Planning, missing; the mountain bike consultant, missing.

    Someone asked her about this and we got a shoulder shrug and some line about how hard it is to get other agencies to work with the LADOT. If your job description is a “BICYCLE PROGRAM COORDINATOR” and you don’t coordinate between agencies and committees … umm … are you really earning that paycheck? Do we really need the bike program coordinator to be housed in the LADOT?

    This whole process stinks, and i think we need a do-over with some legitimate answers from Mowery’s higher ups about what the hell is going on with the $500,000+ that has disappeared into this orgy of spending and disregard for the public. We need a plan that at least takes a bold tack and lays out the Class 1 and 2 bike facilities that a politician can choose to fund or ignore.

  • Rob Meyers

    Found this posting to be pretty interesting. I mean, come on, can’t we squeeze in a bike lane into that useless Beverly Hills “park.”

    http://servelikesampras.blogspot.com/2009/06/los-angeles-bike-lanes.html

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