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L.A. County Holds First Bike Advisory Committee…But It’s Hidden from the Public

1_11_10_mdr_digable_sould.jpgRiding in Marina del Rey, aka unincorporated L.A. County. Photo: Digable Soul/Flickr

The County of Los Angeles is working on a Bike Plan and, under the
guidance of Alta Planning, has embarked on the journey by convening a 
Bicycle Advisory Committee, complete with instructions that the public
is not invited. In light of the fact that the majority of the BAC
members are appointed by elected officials, in this case County
Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky, Gloria Molina, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Don
Knabe, Michael D. Antonovich, it would seem that an open and
transparent process would be the minimum and that a robust public
process would be the goal. Such is not the case.

Abu Yusef, the
LA County Bikeways Coordinator, explained in a letter to
the BAC members "Due to the parking restrictions and the security
measures in place at the Hall of Administration, we will only able to
accommodate the BAC members at this meeting." Perhaps Alta Planning's
experience during the outreach phase of City of LA's Draft Bike Plan
was less than ideal, resulting in the proposed "off the grid" meeting
of the County Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Of
course, the larger issue is simply "Who are these people on the County
Bicycle Advisory Committee and how do they purport to represent us?"
Apparently, the office of each County Supervisor was "allowed" to
nominate a BAC representative and an alternative, along with Caltrans
and the Metro, resulting in 14 total members.

As for the
purpose of the LA County BAC, it appears that the upcoming Alta
Planning LA County Bike Plan has created the "need" for an advisory
body, hence the creation of the BAC. The Alta Planning developed LA
County Bike Plan will direct the development of bikeways facilities on
unincorporated County land which means that in some districts, such as
Zev's where less that 5% of the district is unincorporated, there is
little if any bikeways planning taking place. Of course, the greatest
opportunity is to make sure that the County Bike Plan integrates with
the 88 municipalities within LA County which begs the question, "Why
are none of the 88 municipalities represented?"

Two areas of great controversy that may or may not be addressed in the LA County Bike Plan are:

1)
The land around the NBCUni development that sits next the LA River in
Universal City. The river section has many parents including County
Public Works, Flood Control, Army Corps of Engineers, City of LA, and
anyone else with an interest in the river. Current plans for the LA
River Bike Path include a detour because of the NBCUni development,
taking cyclists off the river and up a hill. Will the LA County Bike
Plan address this area? Since the meeting is closed, we won't find out
on Thursday!

2) The land around the County section of the Gold
Line extension is a heavily congested multi-modal area and it would
seem like a great place for innovations such as shared-lane markings
and road diets, resulting in traffic of moderate speed that complements
the development and success of the Gold Line. These are not new
suggestions, but the public's ability to advocate for them is limited
if the County's Bicycle Advisory Committee meets in private.

As
for the members of the LA County Bicycle Advisory Committee, the
privilege of representing the community comes with an obligation to the
community, in this case to advocate for an open and participatory
process. The simplest thing the members of the LA County BAC can do if
they truly want to be effective, is to stand up and reject an exclusive
and private BAC process. As for Thursday's meeting, it should not take
place until it is open to the public and until the public has been
given sufficient notification. At the least, a little respect.

Gloria Molina                                     molina@bos.lacounty.gov                              213.974.4111

Mark Ridley-Thomas                           markridley-thomas@bos.lacounty.gov            213.974.2222

Zev Yaroslavsky                                 zev@bos.lacounty.gov                                  213.974.3333

Don Knabe                                        don@lacbos.org                                           213.974.4444

Michael D. Antonovich                        fifthdistrict@lacbos.org                                  213.974.5555

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