No Objections to Rosendahl/Garcetti Mode Count Motion

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Count the people, not the cars. Photo:Tilda Show/Flickr

In 2008, then Metro Board Chair, and current Board Member and Santa Monica City Council Woman Pam O’Connor wrote during one of her online chats that,

…one problem is that current environmental review focuses on the movement of the single occupant vehicle and "mitigations" to keep those moving often have a detrimental effect on the movement of transit (much less pedestrians and bicyclists). We need to analyze proposals not on "level of service" based on how long a car is delayed, but on the "level of service" for transit and other modes.

Streetsblog readers were delighted, but nearly two years later; the mode count issue hasn’t gotten any better. The city, and Metro, continue to count cars and buses equally and cyclists and pedestrians not at all. Seeking to change that, Councilman Bill Rosendahl introduced a cost-effective motion that would require developers to include bike and pedestrian counts when completing studies for their mitigation plans. As we noted on Monday, the proposal is a good one and could lead to some major changes in the long-term as the data begins to create a bigger picture of how people are moving throughout the city.

Wednesday, the motion was heard at the Transportation Committee, and it provided a rare "kumbaya" moment as nobody in the room had anything bad to say about the motion. Metro planner Tony Jusay noted that there is "Definitely a lack of data for bicycling and pedestrian…this would definitely help us evaluate projects throughout the county." Bikeside’s Jeremy Grant voiced support for the proposal before asking that the program be expanded to include surveys as well as counts. While he had some concerns about the process creating the motion, it was just introduced lsat Friday, Bike Advisory Committee Chair Glenn Bailey praised any plan to bring better bicycle data to the city.

Even LADOT got in on the act.

A representative from their planning department seemed as enthusiastic as the advocates. "The timing is perfect!…We can start requiring these counts immediately!" he noted before giving all of the health and environmental reasons to support an increased mode share for people-powered transportation.

Councilman Paul Koretz had some concerns that the new data wouldn’t be as useful as advocates hoped and wondered about the impacts of placing a greater cost on developers. Again, LADOT defended the proposal noting that the costs are minimal and the benefits of having this data, at no cost to the city, is a positive step in creating streets that are safer and more comfortable for other mode users.

  • Jeff Jacobberger

    My concern is that, given LA’s bike-hostile streets, the counts are going to show very few bicyclists, which LADOT and developers will gladly take as evidence that they don’t need to plan for bicyclists.

  • If the costs are so minimal, then why can’t LA’s own hand-counted Traffic Survey data on car, bus, motorcycles, pedestrian, and bike trips be compiled and released to the public in an easily digestible format?

    Must we download the thousands of .pdf files, design a piece of software to scrape the data, and then figure out what it all means?

    Aren’t there people in City government that can do this work for the public and the elected officials?

    If you were a councilmember, wouldn’t you want to know the 10 most deadly/dangerous intersections in your district? Wouldn’t you want to track how well your effort to pedestrianize a business area are going? Wouldn’t you want to see how the effects of your decisions ripple through the transportation system?

    I mean, this is just a basic good governance issue, and leaving it up to piecemeal developer-funded traffic counts is stupid and absurd. The LADOT is the principal transportation planning agency in LA, with a megaton of legal authority to make transportation decisions, but they seem to make their decisions with milligrams of data and heaping helping of arrogance, father-knows-best rhetoric and outright lies.

  • Jeff,

    The counts will of course show meager numbers of cyclists!

    The whole point is to know how many there are. If there are no goals to be met, then what exactly are we fighting for in city hall? Good vibes from Michelle Mowery’s chakra?

    You’re not the first person to voice such a concern – I’ve heard it from all the principal public employees working on bike issues in Los Angeles. I think what they’re really afraid of is a set of numbers that show what a shitty job they’ve been doing, or they saw what a terrible pro-car culture they operated under and didn’t dare expose how small the group they served was.

    Well the group that these folks serve isn’t so small anymore, and we’re not marginal either – we’re part of a culture change taking place in cities across America, and the politics of transportation are getting re-wired right before our eyes.

    We need facts to make informed decisions! This is the basis of rational thought and the foundation of good governance.

  • Bj Sauce

    Paul Koretz is an idiot.

  • Do it. In life you have to be bold. Too short to be conservative. Be responsible with money and you will make it work. Get motivated and just do it! Thank You ;).

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