There was no power point presentation. Instead LADOT, City Planning and Alta Planning just made mini-presentations in front of a series of poster board. The balloons were not related to the presentation. For more images, visit the Streetsblog Flickr page.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived at last night's Bike Plan meeting for the Westside was that the format had completely changed from the 2008 meetings. In 2008 the format consisted of a public presentation and "Q+A" session which last time devolved into a contentious debate over the state of cycling and the ability of the city to deliver on its promise of better cycling in the city. Last night there were three sets of posterboards manned by staff from Alta Planning or the city and tables with maps for people to draw comments. All city and Alta staff took comments on large paper note pad.
"They're learning," joked Stephen Box, who helped organize protests about the public outreach and content of the plan in 2008 and the Bike Working Group meetings this year. But LADOT Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery said the new format would allow for people who aren't usually heard to make their case:
It's been really great, because too often we don't hear from shy people...We're getting tons more comments than last time (in the winter of 2008) and it's been great for me. People are sent to me with specific issues on their commutes, on their streets, and I can help fix many of those problems.
Jordan Turner, the point of contact for the plan, agreed with Mowery that the format was the right one and that comments continue to pour in, both good and bad.
We're hearing from a range of people, a range of comments from everything from people that like the plan to people that want us to start over.
When asked what has been a theme running through the comments from all the meetings thus far, Turner answered
People are focused on implementation. They want to see stuff on the ground. Most people seem happy that we're doing this, that we're thinking and planning, but what they really want is to see something happen.
Indeed, what we're actually going to see come out of the plan seemed to be on the mind of most in attendance. Mark Peterson of the Bike Writers Collective was handing out ride cards mocking the Bike Plan as the "Plan with no teeth." He explained that a lack of timelines and clear accountability makes for nice reading, but he doesn't believe we'll actually see any of these projects.
Some of this stuff has been in a plan for thirteen years. There's no time parameters anywhere. When will this get done?
That's not to say that there weren't those in attendance who support the plan, or at least parts of it. Biking In L.A.'s Ted Rogers noted that it's "a good start" while two LACBC Board Members gave the plan a qualified thumbs up.
Kent Strumpell, who also serves on the Bike Advisory Committee and on the Bike Plan Citizen Advisory Committee, after notied that the Bike Plan is just that, a plan, and not an enforcement document. However, he pointed out that the matrix in Appendix B gives certain jobs and action items to specific departments creating accountability within the city. He also noted that the plan creates policies that will empower local bike activists to get the most that they can from the developers and the city from project mitigation funds.
Giving a less enthusiastic pat on the back was Dr. Michael Cahn who managed to call the plan a "monument of seriousness and a monument of failure because it embraces incremental-ism." Cahn did seem overall supportive of the plan opening with, "It's wonderful to sit down with a five hundred page pdf put together by smart people that takes bicycling a little seriously."