News from the Summit: Dude, Where’s My Bike Plan?
The StreetSummit workshop update on the Draft Bike Plan was very much a good news and bad news sort of event. On one hand, the newest Draft of the plan looks better than the one released last summer. On the other hand, after listening to Janette Sadik-Khan and Charlie Gandy rallying the troops earlier in the day; it was a stark reminder of just how far we have to go.
The good news is that the staff from City Planning and the Department of Transportation seem to have picked up something from the Bike Working Group and the Backbone Bikeway Network. The next draft of the Bike Plan, tentatively scheduled for release early next month, not mid-February as it still says on the Draft Bike Plan website, breaks down all planned improvements into either being part of the Citywide Network or a local network. Insiders are reporting that the Citywide Network looks awfully similar to the Backbone Bikeway Network, and staff at the summit claimed that the first goal of the new plan is to close the gaps in the Citywide Network in the next three to five years.
The bad news is that while the City of New York plans on striping fifty miles of bike lanes every year, the City of Los Angeles has painted fifty one in the last fourteen. While the city has designated over one-hundred and thirty four miles of road "bike routes" in the same time, LADOT Senior Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery admitted that if routes are just streets with tiny green signs, they’re "useless."
That holds especially true of some of the more narrow streets, and LADOT is actually working to "un-designate" some of those routes, such as stretches of Pico and Olympic Boulevards, to reflect that these streets aren’t the most safe for cyclists. I’m not sure if this is a sign that either the city was too cavalier in designating some streets bike routes to make the city appear more friendly than it is, or whether it’s a sign that the city really needs to do more to make the existing routes more safe. Either way, it’s reflective of a sad reality.
The other depressing reality is that all of those exciting changes they’re implementing in New York and planning to implement in New York are in a section called "non-standard design" in the upcoming draft. Mowery explained that means they’re possible to do, but they’re not planned for anywhere in particular. "If you want to see these, tell your City Council person to tell us to do it," Mowery encouraged the crowd. "Non-standard" design? Maybe in Los Angeles. I’m wondering if "non-standard designs" are going to become the "proposed but currently infeasible" in the newest draft plan.
So what’s the timeline before all of us in the general public can actually see this plan? Remember the schedule presented in 2008 that had the plan certified sometime last year? Well, that’s clearly out. Then the plan was to have the plan certified by June. Well, you can scratch that too. Here’s the newest timeline to get the plan out in the public and before the City Council:
Revised draft to the public in April
Supporting environmental documents completed in May
Two-month public comment period, including two more workshops, April-June
City Planning Commission Hearing in July
In front of the City Council in the "Fall"
Of course, the moment we hear that the newest revised plan is available on the web, we’ll let you know.