Yesterday, the City Council Transportation Committee met and had it’s first substantive discussion of what to do with the un-restricted transportation dollars the city will receive as part of the Measure R Local Return funds.
The news was mostly good for the 200 advocates who signed a letter to the Metro Board last year asking for a bicycle and pedestrian set-aside in Measure R. While we were rebuffed by the Metro Board; Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa went out of his way to let us know that many municipalities, including Los Angeles were interested in using Measure R to improve safety and comfort for non-motorized transportation.
Yesterday’s hearing was only a directive to the LADOT and Department of Street Services to prepare a report to help the Council allocate Measure R funds. LADOT representative Ken Hustings, last seen on Streetsblog at the recent Pico-Olympic hearings, outlined the LADOT’s priorities for Measure R funds: to provide a match to state dollars on large projects, to help relieve shortfalls on Prop. A and Prop. C and to set aside $1 million a year for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
That $1 million isn’t a large number, but it’s a great starting point for debate. During the Council’s part of the presentation Councilman Bernard Parks brought up the idea for a yearly set-aside for bicycle and pedestrian projects and he did this before me and Dorothy Le of the LACBC raised the idea in public comment. After we said our parts, Councilman LaBonge approached Le and myself to voice his support and Councilman Alarcon said he thought it was a good idea before the LADOT received the go-ahead to work on a Measure R report. After the meeting, outgoing Transportation Committee Chair Wendy Greuel commented that it was "good we reminded them" about the Mayor’s promise from last year.
Obviously, yesterday was nice but the final victory won’t come for months when we see the final report on how the city will spend its Measure R funds and the Council vote on a spending plan.
Also on the agenda was a new contract for Ilium Strategic Marketing & Design, a Seattle-based company that designs the city’s bicycle maps, schedules and apparently does the LAPD’s outreach to cyclists. Given the LAPD’s outreach to cyclists is abominable, and that the bicycle map is two years late in being updated, you might expect some pause in giving Ilium more money to design new DASH and Commuter Express schedules. You would be wrong. The motion to extend them a new contract passed unanimously.