Early Wednesday Morning, Transportation Committee Has Full Bike Agenda

5_8_09_cyclists.jpgCity Council Meeting packed with Cyclists on May Day, 2009.  Photo: Dr. Alex Thompson

The City Council Transportation Committee has re-scheduled the "bike themed" meeting that was postponed from mid-May for next Wednesday, June 17, at 8:00 A.M. in room 1050.

There is a clear tier to the agenda.  The "big ticket" items include a report from the LADOT on the Bicycle Plan, which for some reason has lost the word "Master" in its description and a report from the LAPD on it’s internal education on bicycle and pedestrian issues and a report on the late April "Hummer incident."

Let’s hope that city officials come prepared attend the meeting to answer questions on both of these agenda items.  Last week at the Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting, LADOT Senior Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery claimed she wasn’t able to answer any question about the Bike Plan becaues it’s Planning Department is in charge of the plan and Alta Planning and Design did all of the work. 

The same holds true for the LAPD’s report.  When the police tried to address the hummer incident at Council it didn’t even bring a copy of the report on the crash and was prepared to talk about how it wants to educate cyclists and pedestrians not how it does internal communications.

The debate on the Bicycle Plan could be very interesting.  Based on what’s been made available on the maps released two weeks ago, a debate has broken out on whether or not the best bet for cyclists is to work to amend the plan we already have or lobby to scrap it altogether and start over.  The Los Angeles County Bike Coalition is soliciting suggestions to improve the plan, but I’ve also heard plenty of chatter that the plan is already not salvageable.

Also on the agenda are motions having to do with funding, a resolution to lower the speed limits on sidewalks to an arbitrary "speed that is reasonable and proper," a motion directing a slew of departments to develop a plan that brings back bike licenses in a form that promotes safety and discourages theft, and a question of what to do with abandoned bicycles at city-owned racks.

  • Brent

    If bicycle licenses really are necessary, maybe Copenhagen’s RFID implementation could provide a better solution.

  • Marcotico

    Re: the bike plan. I was thinking about a lot of El Brayjerino’s comments on replacing purely auto-centric street standards with standards that encourage livable streets. It got me to thinking about the whole traffic modeling process and how bicycle traffic should be incorporated. I found out recently that when it comes to regional transportation modeling, even state of the art models don’t model bicycle volumes. All they do is lump all “non-motorized” travel together as a mode and assign it a percentage of travel. These trips then are subtracted from the other two modes (auto and transit). But there is no analysis of bicycle traffic’s affect on roadway speeds or vice versa. Bicycle planning and policy remains qualitative and the quantitative aspects are only made up of surveys.

    So it got me wondering whether the original scope of work for the Master Bike Plan had allocated any funds to bicycle volume counts (probably not). In the world of traffic engineering and travel demand modeling there are sources of information for traffic volumes and transit ridership, but one of the reasons bicycling is not acknowledged as a viable part of the overall transportation network is that it isn’t modeled. Without modeling you can’t do alternatives analysis, and without alternatives analysis its hard to get the big bucks.

    So one (of the many) political projects for a unified bicycling constituency in LA should be to get resources for viable roadway and intersection counts of bicycle travelers, then get the resources to code and run bike volume models. This may be helpful in demonstrating that a) bike volumes are sufficient to require facilities b) without facilities bicycle volumes degrade auto travel and c) increasing bike mode split is possible. For this last point bike modeling will prove that the objective of increasing the mode split can be measured, quantified, and evaluated in the future.

    Right now all professional bike planners do is say, ” Gee wouldn’t it be great to be like Portland” and then quote statistics of overall mode splits based on census data like travel to work mode, and car ownership. But if we could start the long process of establishing bicycling volume baselines at the street level, we could actually model a regional network of bike facilities, and actually demonstrate how bicycle facilities will improve other modes.

  • Brent


    I think volume counts would be interesting, but I wonder whether they would hurt or help. Every so often, I take a look outside my office onto Santa Monica Boulevard’s West LA bike lane, and spend a minute or two hoping to see a bicyclist. Once in a while I’ll see one. But compared to the volume of cars, they’re a non-event. And this is on one of the better bike lanes in the city.

    I really think it’s a chicken-and-egg thing. If the city gives us great separated bike paths, that go somewhere useful for day-to-day life, I think we’ll have volume. But without them, people are afraid to ride.

    I’ve been reading Jeff Mapes’ “Pedaling Revolution.” As it turns out, some of the reason we don’t have more separated paths falls on us, the bicyclists. John Forester, a strong voice in bicycles during the 1970s, argued against them…and usually won. He thought that better education and integration was the answer. It’s not clear now that he was right, as the bicycle share in places with separated paths is quite a bit higher than our own.

  • Don’t worry about bike counts being the official death knell for cycling amenities. They need to be part of a suite of roadway performance measures that counterbalance measures like LOS, ADT, and VMT.

    Bike volume is significant, but doesn’t address the other positive benefits that slower auto speeds and traffic calming can have in a community. The LADOT has a “Neighborhood Protection Plan” process that is a pretty thorough measure of the effectiveness of this sort of roadway treatment. They only roll that out ot punish unpopular developments, but it is a worthwhile process for every sort of roadway design in an urban area (I feel).

    There are state-wide standards for road noise, air pollution, etc. that can easily be applied locally.

    The reality is that, even of the car-based measures, the LADOT doesn’t really do much measuring of anything! They do one-time traffic counts, on request, but do not have a city-wide model worth the paper it is printed on.

    For Christ’s sake, they don’t even track crashes, deaths, and injuries in an annual or quarterly safety report! Lord knows what this “transportation/planning” agency is up to, but it certainly isn’t plan the roadway in a comprehensive way.

    BTW, thanks for the plug Marcotico.

  • Brent

    By the way, it seems there’s a motion for consideration on Wednesday to require bicyclists to notify pedestrians “audibly” when passing them on a sidewalk. While it doesn’t appear that this motion would mandate bicycle bells — you could announce your presence by voice, too — it might have the practical effect of requiring them.

  • Jenni X

    We are AGAINST this riding on the sidewalk thing, right? With respect to @Brent and his comments above, Bike Paths are not sidewalks, right? Sidewalks are for walking; streets are for transportation. I’m all for a little tolerance each way, but to people (and ostensibly, jurors) i know, rules that say you CAN ride on the sidewalk mean that it’s jst tough noogies when your ride in traffic and get hit.

    Motorists need to know they MUST share the road safely with cyclists or suffer the remedies of law. Otherwise, they will continue to presume the cyclist on the road actually has LESS right to road safety.

  • John G.


    Reducing Parking Hassles, Traffic Congestion, and Air Pollution

    Promoting bicycle use for safe transportation is my highest priority. It’s a chicken and egg proposition. Making biking safer can promote more riders and having more riders can spur the former. People in cities throughout the world use bikes instead of cars far more than we do; yet it is we who are blessed with mostly flat terrain and year-round good weather, ideal for bicycle use.

    I have been a bike shopper along Ventura Boulevard in Studio City for almost 30 years and find that most routine errands and shopping, except for the weekly trip to the supermarket, can be done on my bicycle equipped with a cardboard box on the cargo carrier over the rear wheel. Backpacks and baskets work as well. Biking saves a lot of time and parking hassles; I can do numerous errands in one trip. My bike has a sign on it: “One Less Car.”

    Bicycle use can be good for businesses by giving easier access to those who must drive. And using bicycles offers an easy and cheap way to cut excess air pollution that comes from neighborhood stop and start driving.

    Some Suggestions:

    • Riding on the sidewalk is legal in LA (Sec. 56.15, Chapt. V Article 6 LAMC) and is much safer than riding in busy streets, which many people give as their primary reason for not riding bikes.

    Where sidewalks on busy streets are wide enough, they can be divided by painting a stripe down the middle: the side towards the street is for cyclists, skateboarders, scooters, etc. and the other half is for pedestrians. I’ve seen this in Berlin and other cities. It creates a dedicated bike lane away from traffic. This could easily and inexpensively done on a few streets on a trial basis.

    .• Building a new curb a few feet out thus leaving a safe space between parked cars and the sidewalk can make a dedicated bike lane on streets wide enough.

    • The manufacturers and distributors of bicycles never show a bicycle with a luggage carrier or basket. Bikes are sold for fun and recreation. Let’s require that most bikes come equipped with a horn, headlight, and luggage rack. Let the customer take them off, rather than have to buy these items as optional equipment.

    • Encourage schools to add “Bike” to the annual Walk to School Day, by providing incentives for doing so, and organizing bike fairs with local bike shops and police to promote safe bike use.

    John Glass



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