Everyone Agrees: City Should Use Measure R for Cyclists and Pedestrians

6_11_09.jpgPhoto via Metro

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.

  • DJB

    So, if this doesn’t change, ignoring inflation, that’s about $30 million for bikes out of measure R’s projected $40 billion in revenue over the next 30 years? That’s less than 1/10 of 1%. Pathetic.

    It shows (surprise surprise) that we don’t take cycling seriously as a mode of transportation. We point to the current low bicycle ridership as “proof” that it will always be low in the future. We ignore the fact that if drivers had to put up with a similarly crappy level of infrastructure they would rise up and overthrow the government pitchforks and torches (and lattes) in hand.

    Well, I’m preaching to the choir here . . . How do you reach out to the public and get them behind more money for bike infrastructure?

  • You could start by not exaggerating how bad things are by comparing the total County measure R funds to the portion of City local return funds being used for bicycle and pedestrian projects. The estimated total first year local return for the city of Los Angeles was around $40M (probably much less now, considering how far consumer spending has fallen); 1M is 2.5% of that.

    When you consider how cheap bicycle and pedestrian amenities are compared to transit and road projects, and look at potential utilization, that’s not a bad share. Total local return funds for the county are more than double L.A.’s share. So, if other cities follow L.A.’s lead, there could be considerably more available. It’s certainly a huge improvement over what’s available now and over what would have been available without Measure R (essentially nothing). As Damien says, it’s a nice starting point at the very least.

  • DJB

    I still think it’s a grossly insufficient allocation, but I agree that it’s better than nothing.

    Imagine what would happen if we allocated funds evenly to every major mode of transportation: walking, biking, transit, and private vehicles (25% each).

    Unrealistic? Well, I’m a believer in people’s ability to accept the necessity of radical change. It won’t be easy, but what’s the alternative? Without high expectations, we’ll settle for scraps.

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