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Council Also Advances Sharrows Plan

11:32 AM PDT on July 10, 2008

Bike Advocates Discuss Testimony as a TV Crew Looks On

While the debate over the Ballona Creek Entrance was the most controversial part of yesterday's meeting, the content of the meeting was dominated by talk of bringing a greater bicycle emphasis to the city's Safe Streets to School's applications to CALTRANS, how best to implement a Bike Master Plan, the creation of a Sharrows program for Los Angeles and bringing better bike amenities to LADOT bus services.

For most of the meeting, optimism and hope were the dominant feelings in the room.  LADOT's Michelle Mowery noted that the day was historic one for cycling in Los Angeles because there had never been this many bicycle items on a city agenda.  LACBC representative Dorothy Le commented that the time is now to make the city more bike friendly.

The two main points of debate were discussion of the city's Bike Master
Plan and a proposal by Eric Garcetti to increase bike markings on
public streets.

However, just because optimism was king, doesn't mean that problems with the city's bike planning were glossed over.  Glen Bailey, a member of his Neighborhood Council and the city's
official Bike Advisory Committee was especially critical of the city's
outreach effort noting that while he had heard of the community meetings through the LABAC, his Neighborhood Council never received notification. The committee, later called the most bike-friendly Transportation Committee every by Council President Eric Garcetti, repeatedly pushed city officials to increase their outreach to the cycling community and Neighborhood Councils.

Councilman Alarcon expanded his complaints to attack the Los Angeles tradition of creating bicycle plans and never bringing them to fruition.  "I want to know when the bike plans we built in the 1990's are going to connect Sylmar to downtown."   The city completed a Bike Master Plan in 1996, but many of the projects listed have yet to be completed.

When Mowery countered that the vision for cycling in the city is constrained by political will, Alarcon countered, "I don't believe the City Council doesn't have the political will to do some radical things with cycling."

An Example of a Sharrow in Baltimore.  Usually Sharrows Are Placed Next to Street Parking

Councilman Garcetti kicked off testimony in favor of adding Sharrows to Vermont Ave., between Hollywood Boulevard and 4th Street, and Fountain Ave., between the 101 Freeway and Hoover Street.  After strong support was shown in public testimony, the committee voted to approve Garcetti's proposal despite some technical concerns from LADOT.  If anything, the committee members were so excited about the proposal they began angling to get Sharrows in their own district.

After three hours of debate on other issues, there was virtually no debate on Garcetti's proposal to investigate how to make city buses more bike friendly.  The Committee moved the proposal unanimously after Councilman Parks noted that there is still confusion about Metro's bikes on buses policy.

Overall the meeting was very positive.  From Councilmember LaBonge's rousing speech calling for European-like bike amenities, especially his call to turn every train station into a bike station; to Councilman Rosendahl's enthusiastic embracing of the Bicyclists Bill of Rights, the Committee seemed poise to bring real change to the way Los Angeles does its transportation business.  Of course, even if Sharrows, better buses and an improved BMP all come to fruition, these are just the first steps in making Los Angeles as bike friendly as cyclists deserve. 

First Photo: Alex Thompson

Second Photo: Damien Newton

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