The Dutch’s Think Bike Workshop Comes to LA with an Interesting View of Our Streets

Dutch Bicycle Engineer Hillie Talens leads a presentation at a packed City Council Board Room. I counted over 110 people in attendance.

Earlier today, Hillie Talens, a Dutch Bicycle Engineer, kicked off the two-day “Think Bike” planning workshop in Downtown Los Angeles with an interesting presentation at City Hall. The bicycle planners, which are different than traditional transportation planners who are focused on the automobile, will lead three groups in redesign exercises for Van Nuys Boulevard in the Valley, Jefferson Boulevard in South L.A., and parts of Downtown Los Angeles. The innovative program is sponsored by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the LADOT.

Talens’ entire presentation will be posted at the LADOT Bike Blog later, and we’ll link to it then. More exciting than the series of road treatments she outlined that are popular in Dutch cities was what she had to say about Los Angeles.

After comparing our situation to that of Miami, cities with wide streets and hotter-than-average climates, Talen discussed how Dutch planners are jealous of Los Angeles’ streets. The jealousy isn’t because of what we do with them, but what we could.

“As Dutch, we are envious of how much space you have,” Talens commented. “There’s a lot you can do with roads that wide.”

This statement is sort of remarkable to hear for transportation advocates. Too often, reformers are told that the city is limited in its options because there’s only so much space on the streets. But here, an expert in transportation options is telling us the opposite, that our streets are brimming with potential.

Think Bike is on a tour of sorts this week, and this team was in San Francisco completing a similar program earlier this week. Talens herself learned something new in the Bay Area and was excited about the “Parkletts” program where car parking spaces are permanently turned into mini-parks. L.A. Councilmen Jose Huizar and Jan Perry are pushing L.A. to consider a similar program and Talens vowed to take the program back to the Netherlands.

Over 100 people packed the City Council Chambers to hear Talens’ presentation, including LADOT General Manager Jaime De La Vega (who, like me, was probably thrilled not to be at the Metro Board Meeting), LAPD Sargent David Krumer, crews from LADOT Bikeways and Metro’s bicycle division, City Council staff and a who’s who of bike advocates ranging from LACBC staff to the Bike Oven’s documentary film crew: Josef Bray-Ali and DJ Chicken Leather.

Included in the attendees was Dale Benson, the head of bicycle planning at Caltrans’ District 7, who was excited about what he heard and the planning process of the next two days.

“It’s good to see Los Angeles thinking about new ideas,” he began. “It’s good to see them willing to think about the benefits of bikes.”

The session will end with a closing ceremony where the final designs will be unveiled tomorrow at 3:30 at the LAPD’s auditorium. We’ll have more coverage of Think Bike on Monday.

  • Ryan Lehman

    Damien – Glad you got the votes to cover ThinkBike, thanks for the detailed write-up. One correction, Councilmember Jan Perry is partnering with Councilmember Jose Huizar on the LA Parklets program.

    Ryan Lehman

  • Anonymous

    Just because the Dutch claimed today in their materials that The Netherlands is “one of the most densely populated countries in the world”, doesn’t mean we have nothing in common.  Indeed quite the opposite, The Netherlands is almost half as dense as L.A. County!

    Netherlands:  1,041.5/sq mi (402.1/km2)
    Los Angeles County:  2,066.1/sq mi (797.7/km2)

  • Illithid Dude

    Are these designs actually going to be used? Like, are these official implementations? 

  • Dennis Hindman

    I was real happy to see that the LA.Streetsblog vote count favored your being there Damian, rather than at the Metro board meeting. You picked up information that I did not catch when I was there, which is great.

    A few things in Hillie Talens presentation that stood out for me.

    She stated that bicyclists are not pedestrians. If you look closely at the Orange Line bike path, it’s basically designed as a wide pedestrian sidewalk with ramps to get you up or down to street level. It’s got pedestrian buttons that don’t line up with the ramp cut outs and the ramps don’t line up with the path. She pointed out that bicycles do not usually have suspensions and need a smooth, flat surface.

    She pointed out that the bikeway designs in the Netherlands are geared towards making the bike the fastest and easiest way to get around, when compared to a car.

    I’m hoping that the Dutch will present the stark reality of how simply putting paint on a street may be a cheap way to get bikeways mileage, but it’s not likely to attract many women, recent immigrants, older people, or children to bike there. It’s simply targeting a small percentage of the population.

  • Kthompson1346

    Hillie Talens totally rocks! I was so inspired and felt for the first time in a long time, hope. I think the time is now to “Think Globally “. I learned that a successful infrastructure leads ultimately to a better more joyful life as well as an economic up turn. I look forward to the results of the seminars as well as the celebration at Angle City Brewery.

  • El Barto

    The Netherlands has tons of dykes rivers moats farmland and park land. Therefore  taking all that extra space into account it is probably on par with LA in density. neener neenr

  • El Barto

    The Netherlands has tons of dykes rivers moats farmland and park land. Therefore  taking all that extra space into account it is probably on par with LA in density. neener neenr

  • El Barto

    The Netherlands has tons of dykes rivers moats farmland and park land. Therefore  taking all that extra space into account it is probably on par with LA in density. neener neenr

  • Anonymous

    True, but the dykes and the farmland can be built upon. Actually, Holland reclaimed too much land from the sea for both housing (Lelystad) and Farming (the Polders) for their current needs.  So yes, they could let it go back (and rising sea levels will take some back) and increase their density.  But our population is growing through in migration and our population is having babies at a higher rate than The Netherlands.  We can’t create land like they can and filling in places like Lancaster and Palmdale only raises our density.

  • Anonymous

    Further reading thanks to DJ Chicken Leather:
    ThinkBike Workshops: A Dutch Boost to Los Angeles’ Bikeability

    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0BxpHiwVtkGPIY2Q5ZmE3MDAtYmYyOC00ZjUwLTkyYTQtNGNjNzZiYTRlZDEw&hl=en&pli=1

  • John Breza

     I was at the opening session this morning and was surprised  that they did not speak(think) about other forms of human powered transit like inline skating or stand up scooters or electric assist powered bikes and scooters. The Dutch refuse to wear helmets – and fixies are not legal to ride in Holland ???- to give them credit they are recognizing the power of the electric bike. 

  • amanda

    I can’t help but wonder if these two days of positive vibes will amount to anything. Will LADOT engineers and city planners listen to what the Dutch engineers have to say and then dismiss them as not being applicable to LA? Because I’ve seen bike advocates present similar ideas (to what I saw in the introductory presentation yesterday) in BPIT meetings that are immediately shot down by city officials. 

  • Tmarq3711

    Will somebody bring up safety please!   We have the bike lanes, great, is an improvement, however, who is taking the responsibility of addressing to educate the city on bike lanes,  Educate and inform bicyclists on safety, specially young adults driving a bike with no fear or concern for themselves or others.

  • Tmarq3711

    Will somebody bring up safety please!   We have the bike lanes, great, is an improvement, however, who is taking the responsibility of addressing to educate the city on bike lanes,  Educate and inform bicyclists on safety, specially young adults driving a bike with no fear or concern for themselves or others.

  • Tmarq3711

    Will somebody bring up safety please!   We have the bike lanes, great, is an improvement, however, who is taking the responsibility of addressing to educate the city on bike lanes,  Educate and inform bicyclists on safety, specially young adults driving a bike with no fear or concern for themselves or others.

  • LvdM

    In your comparison, you fail to account for the fact that The Netherlands consists for a large part of farmland. The cities are much denser: for instance, Amsterdam has 4,457 inhabitants per km2.

  • density has no correlation with cycling rates. And travel/commute distances in the US are awfully similar to those in the Netherlands. Meaning for instance: over 50% of all trips are less than 7 miles.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Panel Review: “The New Streets of L.A.”

|
We might want to remember that Levi Strauss & Company is a clothing company which follows fashion trends while indeed playing a role in the creation of trends.  The above Levi’s Commercial in which an internal-combustion-powered vehicle is apparently allowed onto the trading floor of a major stock or commodities exchange in New York City […]

What Should Downtown L.A. Do to Get Ready for Bike Share?

|
Metro regional bike share is coming soon. If all goes as planned, a year from now, downtown Los Angeles will have system on the ground. It will include about 1,000 bikes at 65 docking stations. The system will extend from Union Station to USC. For more detail, see SBLA’s earlier preview. It’s not too early […]

Metro Finalizes Call for Projects List

|
Earlier today, the Metro Board of Directors approved the project list for Metro’s Call for Projects.  Every couple of years, Metro makes the call and communities submit applications for projects that are supposed to improve mobility and air quality.  This year, with the pot of funds lower than ever, the percent of money going towards […]

Is Los Angeles Ready for Bike Sharing?

|
A motion on today’s City Council Transportation Committee Agenda requires LADOT to examine whether or not the city should invest in a bike sharing program similar to those in Paris and Washington, D.C.  For those of you that don’t know, bike sharing is a program that provides short-term bike rentals in areas near transit hubs […]

The Changing Face of Downtown for Cyclists

|
In 2011, the City of Los Angeles passed a new Bike Plan which included a  “5 year bike network implementation plan.” The implementation plan focued on a handful of “core” areas to focus the bulk of the new bike facilities. One of those areas is Downtown Los Angeles. A year and a half later, checks […]