LADOT: LA Lacks Bike Network Needed for Bike Sharing

LADOT: Several Obstacles Lie in Way of Bike Sharing for L.A.

This Friday, as part of their Big Bikes Meeting Volume 2, the Council will consider whether or not to ask LADOT to begin soliciting proposals to bring bike sharing to Los Angeles.  However, based in part on testimony delivered when Chairwoman Greuel first brought up bike sharing, there’s a few obstacles mentioned in the LADOT report that the city would need to overcome before bike sharing could be succesful in LA.

The largest obstacle?  The city’s disjointed bicycle network.

While the City is in the process of updating its Bicycle plan and the development of a bikeway network, the City still lacks a continuous network to accommodate bicycle use for the bike sharing program.

This simple statement seems to be both a blunt assesment of the city’s failure to bring provide comprehensive infrastructure for cyclists, but also bit of bar raising for the Bike Master Plan currently being developed by the city and Alta Planning.

The incomplete bike network isn’t the only challenge facing bike sharing.  The report also details the difficulty in placing the new resources, the revenue stream needed to get the program off the ground and the discrepency between insurance requirements involving helmut usage and California State Law.

It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out this Friday.  Chairwoman Wendy Greuel has been a proponent of bike sharing since she saw the transformative effect a well-run system could have at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.  However, Transportation Committee Vice-Chair Tom LaBonge has stated in the past that Los Angeles should invest in other bike priorities before moving forward with bike sharing.

Photo: Los Angeles Streetsblog

  • So…are they saying that we can’t make improvements to our bike programs because we’ve neglected our bike programs for so long? So, we stink and so we are going to continue to do what we are best at…stinking. Awesome. No really, perhaps I’m missing it, but is that actually what they are saying?!?!?

  • The solution to this is so simple.

    The LADOT plans and designs the road for car trips only – because our general plan, and our bike plan, calls only for private automobile measurements to be used to judge all transportation projects.

    If the City of L.A. gave its engineers some relatively simple, and cheap, standards that would give the engineers clear cut, measurable, reasons to accommodate bus, bike, or pedestrian throughput (over that of cars) then we’d have a bike network without the foot dragging this department does every time it is faced with a bike, pedestrian, or bus project.

    Here are some measurements that they can apply around a transportation project area:

    -Retail sales tax income per address in a commercial area
    -Livability survey 100 or 300′ around project area
    -SCAQMD-style air quality monitoring in a project area
    -CA Office of Noise Control standards for road noise in a project area
    -Measure total throughput of humans on a street (not just vehicles)
    -Survey pedestrians, compare survey data with census data

    These types of measurements will show the negative effects of automobiles in an area, and will demonstrate the benefits of planning for pedestrians, buses, and bicycles.

    Set a threshold, for example: “We want to increase the average number of friends people have on their block” This can be achieved by lowering the average speeds of cars on that block, and by reducing the total number of cars on that block. Further pedestrian improvements to the block will result in a block with people who are friends with one another, who feel comfortable letting their kids play outside, etc.

    These types of standards will allow concerns of bad “Levels of Service”, low “Average Daily Trips”, low “Vehicle Miles Travelled”, and low “mobility” to be set aside.

    We already have the city departments to perform these tests, and the equipment is of a minimal cost. Man hours spent doing this can easily be taken off of fluff projects like “community outreach” by the Environmental Affairs Department, or the Community Relations Departments.

    I am a total gadfly, and I have no say in how this City is run, but the solution to our bike network problem is not complex, nor is it expensive. We could have a bike network in a few years if we had the political will to deny automobiles space in the road in exchange for bikes, pedestrians, and buses. These alternative roadway measurements would allow an engineer to construct a reason for eliminating cars from the road.

  • I’m assuming that if bike sharing should, by some miracle, go forward here, there will be a rental fee for the bikes. Wouldn’t it make sense to dedicate those funds to help pay for a real bike network?

  • I begin by thanking you for your informative entry on the status of the bike sharing initiative in Los Angeles. I agree that Los Angeles currently lacks the infrastructure to sustain a bike-sharing program, but several more factors that obstruct the implementation of bike sharing in Los Angeles. Realistically, Los Angeles is home to too many poor people who would profit from stealing the bicycles. Indeed, the cities where such programs flourish, such as Coppenhagen and Amsterdam, the citizens have some of the highest standards of living in the world. In Los Angeles, the crowded urban areas house the members of the lowest socioeconomic status. The safety of the bikes would be a huge issue if Los Angeles implemented a bike-sharing program. While Councilman Tom LaBonge does not support a comprehensive program for bike sharing, he does concede that a small, localized program in Santa Monica would be feasible because of the high foot traffic. However, if headed downtown to the fashion district, he would see high foot traffic there too, but just people of lower socioeconomic status. Given the minority composition of Downtown, South and East LA, does implementing a program in predominantly wealthy white Santa Monica (despite its likely success) inadvertently bring up issues of class discrimination and even worse, racism? As a resident of South Los Angeles, from my experiences I can confidently say that if the city gives me a bike to share, it will likely be stolen. Worse, even if it is not stolen, I will not use it to bike 11 miles to West LA. Given this sprawl that characterizes Los Angeles, a bike infrastructure would be nice, but as LaBonge explains, it must be part of a greater public transit network. After all, European cities built their infrastructure for dense population cities before the advent of the automobile. Can Los Angeles ever rid itself of car culture? That is yet to be seen. What is understood is that Los Angeles must address its own unique problems of infrastructure and equity before bike culture can begin to proliferate.

    Here is the link to my blog post:

  • “Los Angeles is home to too many poor people who would profit from stealing the bicycles.” – Veena Senra

    *head explodes*


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