City Council Gives Unanimous Nod to New Bike Plan

It’s all over but the signing.  And that’s scheduled for tomorrow.

By a 12-0 vote, the Los Angeles City Council approved the Bike Plan sending it to the Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s desk for a signature.  The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and Villaraigosa have already announced the signing will take place tomorrow on the steps of City Hall.

Too bad Council Members Alarcon, Parks and Smith weren't present. Especially Alarcon who helped push for progressive planning at the Transportation Committee when the plan was more controversial.

The only drama that remained was how to placate the representatives of the city’s equestrian community who were fighting to get any mention of mountain biking in city parks removed from the plan.  A motion by Councilman Tom LaBonge, which basically re-stated existing city law that any changes would have to go through the parks commission, seemed to mollify the group much to the relief of nearly everyone involved.  There’s already enough progressive transportation planning being held up by lawsuits in this town.

However, if you block out the testimony by the horse people, the meeting was pretty much a love fest.  Councilman Ed Reyes gave shout outs to the Bike Kitchen, Bike Oven and “Pigeon Bike Shop.”  Later, he complimented the LACBC and their City of Lights Program.  Councilman Bill Rosendahl recounted his first story visiting the “Bike<mumble>wave” and twice noted the hard work of Alex Thompson.

While not at today’s hearing, Villaraigosa tweeted his congratulations and released a statement to Streetsblog promising a bright, and well-funded, future for bike planning.

“The 2010 Bicycle Plan is another great example of Measure R funds at work–we are investing in bicycling as a viable transportation option and in the process encouraging Angelenos to lead healthy, active lifestyles. With the addition of 1,600 miles of bikeways, Los Angeles is on the path to becoming a world-class city for bicycling.”

To top it off, city officials were sounding like advocates, or at least adopting our terms.  LADOT Interim General Manager Amir Sedadi referred to the Backbone Bikeway Network and Councilman Paul Koretz talked about the “4th Street Bike Boulevard.”  These terms have been the turf of insiders for years.  But today, everyone was an insider.

As for the plan itself, there are many highlights.  Quoted text via a fact sheet from the Mayor’s Office.

The plan builds on the City’s past two plans (1977 and 1996) by more than doubling the number of bikeway miles to be developed.

The overall goal is to construct over 1600 miles of bikeways and create a continuous north-south/east-west bicycle network in the city.

In order to ensure that this plan does not just gather dust on a shelf, the Mayor’s office insisted on including an aggressive 5-year implementation strategy.

Original Member of Bike Advisory Committee, Alex Baum, motioned for final approval of plan on behalf of LaBonge,

“Unlike previous plans, this plan has an implementation plan,” commented Alexis Lantz of the LACBC.  Basically, this time parts of the plan are actually going to get built quickly.

The implementation strategy includes a commitment to build 40 miles of bikeways a year. This is a fourfold increase over the past average of 10 miles a year.

The implementation strategy focuses on projects that close existing gaps in the network, create new bikeways in lower income and underserved communities and build the foundation of the citywide network.

Staff for Paul Koretz noticed some gaps in the network of “Bicycle Friendly Streets” and successfully moved that these gaps, most noticeably at the end of the “4th Street Bike Boulevard” be bridged so that the final network provides safe and smooth transitions.

The City has created a Bicycle Plan Implementation Team (BPIT) to ensure public participation and transparency for implementing new bicycle facilities and programs.

The 2010 Plan is a joint effort of the Department of City Planning, the Department of Transportation, members of a multi-agency Technical Advisory Committee, and the City’s consultant team, Alta Planning + Design.

Of course, the battle for a safe Los Angeles doesn’t end with the Mayor’s pen stroke tomorrow morning.  Different projects will require outreach efforts and political pressure to go from paper to city streets and of course the plan will need to be modified from time to time.  “This is a work in progress,” Rosendahl reminded the speakers and Council Members, “I’m not going anywhere, at least for a couple of years.”

To see this plan through to the end, cyclists better not be going anywhere either.