L.A. County Holds First Bike Advisory Committee…But It’s Hidden from the Public

1_11_10_mdr_digable_sould.jpgRiding in Marina del Rey, aka unincorporated L.A. County. Photo: Digable Soul/Flickr

The County of Los Angeles is working on a Bike Plan and, under the guidance of Alta Planning, has embarked on the journey by convening a  Bicycle Advisory Committee, complete with instructions that the public is not invited. In light of the fact that the majority of the BAC members are appointed by elected officials, in this case County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky, Gloria Molina, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Don Knabe, Michael D. Antonovich, it would seem that an open and transparent process would be the minimum and that a robust public process would be the goal. Such is not the case.

Abu Yusef, the LA County Bikeways Coordinator, explained in a letter to the BAC members "Due to the parking restrictions and the security measures in place at the Hall of Administration, we will only able to accommodate the BAC members at this meeting." Perhaps Alta Planning's experience during the outreach phase of City of LA's Draft Bike Plan was less than ideal, resulting in the proposed "off the grid" meeting of the County Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Of course, the larger issue is simply "Who are these people on the County Bicycle Advisory Committee and how do they purport to represent us?" Apparently, the office of each County Supervisor was "allowed" to nominate a BAC representative and an alternative, along with Caltrans and the Metro, resulting in 14 total members.

As for the purpose of the LA County BAC, it appears that the upcoming Alta Planning LA County Bike Plan has created the "need" for an advisory body, hence the creation of the BAC. The Alta Planning developed LA County Bike Plan will direct the development of bikeways facilities on unincorporated County land which means that in some districts, such as Zev's where less that 5% of the district is unincorporated, there is little if any bikeways planning taking place. Of course, the greatest opportunity is to make sure that the County Bike Plan integrates with the 88 municipalities within LA County which begs the question, "Why are none of the 88 municipalities represented?"

Two areas of great controversy that may or may not be addressed in the LA County Bike Plan are:

1) The land around the NBCUni development that sits next the LA River in Universal City. The river section has many parents including County Public Works, Flood Control, Army Corps of Engineers, City of LA, and anyone else with an interest in the river. Current plans for the LA River Bike Path include a detour because of the NBCUni development, taking cyclists off the river and up a hill. Will the LA County Bike Plan address this area? Since the meeting is closed, we won't find out on Thursday!

2) The land around the County section of the Gold Line extension is a heavily congested multi-modal area and it would seem like a great place for innovations such as shared-lane markings and road diets, resulting in traffic of moderate speed that complements the development and success of the Gold Line. These are not new suggestions, but the public's ability to advocate for them is limited if the County's Bicycle Advisory Committee meets in private.

As for the members of the LA County Bicycle Advisory Committee, the privilege of representing the community comes with an obligation to the community, in this case to advocate for an open and participatory process. The simplest thing the members of the LA County BAC can do if they truly want to be effective, is to stand up and reject an exclusive and private BAC process. As for Thursday's meeting, it should not take place until it is open to the public and until the public has been given sufficient notification. At the least, a little respect.

Gloria Molina                                     molina@bos.lacounty.gov                              213.974.4111

Mark Ridley-Thomas                           markridley-thomas@bos.lacounty.gov            213.974.2222

Zev Yaroslavsky                                 zev@bos.lacounty.gov                                  213.974.3333

Don Knabe                                        don@lacbos.org                                           213.974.4444

Michael D. Antonovich                        fifthdistrict@lacbos.org                                  213.974.5555