City Council Wants to Get Cyclists More Involved with Bike Planning

5_27_09_labonge_via_alex.jpgTom LaBonge addresses cyclists after "May Day Storm the Bastille." Photo: Dr. Alex Thompson/Flickr

If anyone doubts that the city is starting to hear and understand the issues of cyclists after a series of organized May rides, those doubts should be expelled today.

During a rather routine LADOT report on how $6 million in funds collected in 2005 and 2006 would be spent on bicycle and pedestrian projects, Councilman Bill Rosendahl spoke up to ask what input was given by the cycling community?

The LADOT lamely responded that it thought that the list was presented at a Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting.  Michelle Mowery, LADOT Senior Bicycle Coordinator, also opined that the
committee was aware of the projects in the list, but maybe not the list
itself.

To bolster their claim of outreach to their own Advisory Committee, one can note that the entire report was copied to former BAC Chair Alex Baum.  Of course, a cynic might note that Baum had been replaced as chair two months before the report was completed. 

The questions took a turn for the aggressive when LADOT representative Paul Meshkin responded to Rosendahl that there was no input gathered that he knew of, an aggressive Rosendahl wondered out loud why not.  After being pressed by both Rosendahl and Tom LaBonge, the LADOT committed to getting word of this $6 million in funding out to the bicycling community and to solicit feedback on what the community thinks of the project list.  Rosendahl insisted that communication include a notice that the City Council would open up the record at a full meeting for comments before passing the list.

Well Councilmen, I’m here to help.  The entire project list can be found on pages five and six of the report available here.  It includes partial funding for Phases I and II of the San Fernando Road Bike Path (which I had thought was already completed,) various maintenance and study programs and a slew of pedestrian projects.  When the Council posts that there will be a full hearing, I’ll post a notice with all the relevant details here.

That being said, Rosendahl and LaBonge’s larger point wasn’t just about getting a list in front of cyclists who read blogs and are on official mailing lists; it’s about getting the greater community involved and interested in bike planning and specific projects.

While I can certainly appreciate the Council Members standing up for cyclists after getting caught twice in ride-bys; I can’t help but notice that this is a list of bicycle and pedestrian projects yet there was no discussion of getting input from the larger pedestrian community.  Because the "pedestrian community" includes everyone who’s ever entered city limits, they could have just made sure the list was also presented to the city’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee, a far less controversial mirror to the Bike Advisory Committee that has been chaired by Deborah Murphy since it’s inception in the 1990’s. 

Of course, it’s entirely possible that Rosendahl and LaBonge are unaware the PAC exists since they haven’t appointed representatives to the committee at any point during their terms, despite nearly a dozen letters from the Committee, the LADOT and even Transportation Committee Chair Wendy Greuel asking them to do so.

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