Beverly Hills Approves Bike Lanes for Santa Monica Blvd

Bike lanes are coming to Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Image via Better Bike
Bike lanes are coming to Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Image via Better Bike

Last night the Beverly Hills City Council unanimously approved adding bike lanes to Santa Monica Boulevard. The new lanes are expected to be completed in mid-2018.

Better Bike‘s Mark Elliot describes the approval as ushering in a new era of connectivity: “We in Beverly Hills have conclusively put to rest the fictions that have long-driven our transportation planning: That we could remain an isolated suburb in the center of a sprawling urban region with serious mobility and quality-of-life challenges; and that we could cling tight to a 20th-century car culture even as we enter the second decade of the 21st century.”

The push for these bike lanes has taken many years, including several dashed hopes. The vote itself indicates new leadership on the council, led by pro-bicycling voices Mayor Lili Bosse and councilmember Robert Wunderlich, along with councilmember John Mirisch, who has a longer record of support for completing Beverly Hills streets. The approval is testament to the perseverance of a handful of bicycling advocates, including Mark Eliot, Kory Klem, Eric Bruins, Rich Hirschinger, Danielle Salomon, Sharon and Lou Ignarro, Barbara Linder, and Tish and Greg Laemmle.

Hirschinger described public testimony at last night’s council meeting as “39 were in favor, 3 opposed” with the opposition including two former mayors of Beverly Hills, one of whom stated that all the cyclists in favor of bike lanes were “professional cyclists.”

From Elliot’s account at Better Bike:

The incredulity expressed by councilmembers regarding our opponents’ flimsy arguments against bicycle lanes suggested two things as the evening progressed:

1. Complete streets is a concept whose time has finally come in Beverly Hills. We’re embarking on a complete streets plan process now, and the embrace of safe, multimodal mobility makes all the difference between ginning up a pro-forma, check-the-box complete streets plan; and a real policy statement and implementation framework that would actually make our streets safe for all road users. It’s the difference between cynicism and optimism.

2. The gathering momentum of tonight’s discussion suggested that the mobility NIMBY zombie, the skulking black cloud that has loomed over every discussion of new modes of mobility here in Beverly Hills, is finally banished. It seemed even that the opposition forces couldn’t muster the enthusiasm (let alone the numbers) of years past.

In addition to approving the bike lanes, the council approved upgrading them to be more visible. Again from Elliot:

In what amounts to a total victory, we not only gained five votes for lanes; we also have support from three councilmembers for high-visibility lanes. On that point, the only discussion concerned just how conspicuous we could make them. Councilmember Mirisch suggested a very specific shade of blue to pop out; even better, he said, let’s make any colored treatment self-illuminating.

Beverly Hills Santa Monica Boulevard bike lanes will be added as part of the currently under-construction project to improve Santa Monica Boulevard between Wilshire Boulevard and Doheny Drive. Though the new Beverly Hills lanes will largely close a significant gap between bike lanes in West Hollywood and Century City, adjacent cities will need to extend their bike facilities before Santa Monica Boulevard will be a contiguous bikeway across the Westside.

  • Mike

    This is really very exciting. North of Venice Blvd, there are no great bike options for east-west travel. The few bike trips I’ve taken from West LA through Beverly Hills toward Hollywood have all been a bit frightening.

  • Awake-and-Sing

    YES! YES! YES!!!!

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    Bike lanes in Beverly Hills – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly…

    I worked for 20 years in Beverly Hills, and have commuted by bicycle and automobile along this stretch. At one time I knew every bump and dip. Personally, I never had any issues/fears on this street (except for one issue detailed later).

    First, let’s start with a little history. Santa Monica Blvd was formally Highway 2. The land on the south side was the former Red Car trolley line. Up until the early 80’s, freight trains still travelled on the tracks to service a bakery and lumber yard. (The businesses were located at the Santa Monica and Beverly Blvd intersection.) Caltrans had plans to build a freeway along this route, but the City of Beverly Hills fought it. The final plans to build the freeway as a cut and cover tunnel were also nixed. Even though Beverly Hills is an enclave, the city wanted to be a destination city, not a pass through city. As we all know, the freeway was not build; but Century City and West Los Angeles were. Beverly Hills is now both a tourist/shopping/dining destination and a pass through city.

    I will divide Santa Monica Blvd into three segments: 1) The Triangle, Wilshire Blvd to Rexford Drive; 2) Rexford Drive to Beverly Blvd; and 3) Beverly Blvd to Doheny Drive. Starting with segment #3, this is a perfect place to have a bike lane. The eastbound lanes have no turning conflicts, and is a location where frustrated commuters tend to be a little heavy on the accelerator pedal until they must stop at Doheny. The westbound side does have residential street access, but their use is minimal. With a lack of turning motorists, the hook/cross risk is minimal. There will be an issue at Doheny. Most likely the bike lane will end where Civic Center Drive merges with Santa Monica. This area is a motorist mixing zone as motorists either want to merge on to Santa Monica or merge off of Santa Monica to turn right or continue on Melrose Avenue. Here cyclists should take the right trough lane and stay in the middle of it until the bike lane picks up again in West Hollywood.

    The westbound stretch of segment #2 is similar to segment #3. The eastbound side will have a major conflict zone at Beverly Blvd. A properly stripped bike lane will have a dashed section that moves to the left prior to the right turn lane. Here again is another stretch that has heavy footed motorists. A cyclist must look over their left shoulder to see if there is any oncoming traffic. I never had any issue with this coupled with an outstretched arm indicating I am moving left. Motorists actually appeared happy that I was not blocking the right turn lane and signaled my intention to merge left. A cyclist who simply follows the bike lane without looking over their shoulder may have a very unpleasant surprise.

    Now the ugly – The Triangle. The issues on the westbound lanes are similar to the eastbound lanes, just not as pronounced. This section has all types of motorists, the cut throughs, the workers, the tourists, the shoppers, doctor’s patients, diners, etc. There are many motorists when travelling eastbound that suddenly realize that they can turn right on the upcoming street; and do so without signaling. The only near-miss right hook incident I ever had was along this stretch. Another issue is left turning motorists. Motorists will stop at intersections to prevent gridlock. Left turning motorists use this opportunity to make their left turns. Even though cyclists would have the right away, they may not be seen by the turning motorists. Personally, after my near miss, I split the lanes similar to a motorcyclist. Finally, the westbound lanes at Wilshire should have the bike lane flow into the second lane from the right (this is a through lane that allows for right turns). Sharrows and Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs need to be installed.

    Police enforcement may be an issue. How will the Beverly Hills Police Department treat cyclists? If I am capable of riding at the flow of traffic and choose to use the general travel lane, will I get a CVC 21208 violation? If I am involved in a right hook or left cross accident, will I get a CVC 22350 violation?

    Similar to the door zone bike lanes in West Hollywood, cyclists will appreciate being able to pass grid-locked traffic. Whereas a cyclist in the West Hollywood bike lanes has to be super sensitive to car doors, cars pulling out of parking spaces, and cars pulling out of driveways; cyclists in Beverly Hills segment #1 need to be super sensitive to right hooks and left crosses. If a cyclist doesn’t take an LAB or Cycling Savvy class, how will they know to avoid these pitfalls?

  • Mick

    I stopped reading where you said; First, let’s start with a little… Zzzzzz.

  • Josh

    So why reply at all? Dick.

  • Bruce_Mitchell

    What and where are LAB classes? A search led only to places that are great distances from L.A. Please provide a link if possible. THX

  • Joe Linton

    League of American Bicyclists – various groups offer these classes in various parts of the county – start by contacting the LACBC http://www.la-bike.org/

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    LA Metro has offered them for free.

    https://www.metro.net/riding/bikes/safety-classes/

  • aka_SFB

    Curious:
    Will the new bike lanes be “non-reflective forest green color” as LADOT recently moved to?
    [ref http://la.streetsblog.org/2017/06/13/ladot-and-film-industry-agree-to-compromise-on-green-bike-lanes/%5D

  • Bruce_Mitchell

    Thanks… but I gather you did not go to the site or you would have seen the first paragraph (in bold type):

    “This series of bicycle safety classes ended on October 1, 2015. No new classes are currently scheduled, but check back in spring of 2016.”

    Anyway, I see from the description of past classes that they are not really what I had in mind.

    Thanks anyway.

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    In all fairness, i did say “has” as in past tense.

    Bottom line, we cyclists, especially in an urban environment, need to educate ourselves. Until 100% of all motor vehicles are autonomous (i.e. remove the human error), no amount of paint, or “Protection” will keep us safe from motorists. My love of two-wheel travel extends to motorcycles. I made a point in my early to mid-twenties to properly educate myself on operating two-wheeled vehicles. Though it has been 15 years since I last rode a motorcycle, the education I received lasts a lifetime. Motor vehicles have their own body language. Learn to read that, and cycling becomes stress free.

  • D Man

    This makes sense. They are NOT removing lanes of traffic but adding a bike lane. This is a win, win, win. Unfortunately Mike Bonin hasn’t figured out this model.

  • Vooch

    agreed – much of defensive driving training motorcyclists receive applies to bicyclists.

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