Advocates Love the Backbone Bikeway Network

2_10_10_reseda.jpgGetting off the Backbone in the Valley. Photo: Fire Monkey Fish/Flickr

Since the maps for the Backbone Bikeway Network burst on to the scene last week, it seems that the discussing the maps, the Backbone, and the concepts and theories behind it is all anyone in the cycling movement wants to do.  Following up on Tuesday’s story, I had the chance to speak with, or email with, many of the advocates and leaders of the bicycling movement in Los Angeles.  The near unanimous verdict?  They love it.

Bicycle Advisory Committee Chair Glenn Bailey calls the plan "a worthwhile proposal," while Ted "Biking in L.A." Rogers gives a more descriptive "absolutely frickin’ brilliant."  CicLAvia’s Stephen Villavaso, who is also a professional engineer and LACBC Board Member, raves about the public process, while Roadblock can’t help but note that the plan is simple in it’s brilliance and should be easy for the city to implement. 

Even representatives for the Bike Coalition and C.I.C.L.E. can’t help but praise the plan.  For the LACBC, Aurisha Smolarski notes that the plan highlights the deficiencies of the city’s Draft Bike Plan, while Joe Linton, campaigs director for C.I.C.L.E., wrote an essay that starts by giving "huge props to the Bicycling Working Group."

After the jump, you can read the full statement from all six cycling superstars in their entirety.  For the record, I put them in alphabetical order by last name.

Glenn Bailey – It’s a worthwhile proposal that should be seriously considered by the planning department.  It looks like a very common sense, workable proposal.

Joe Linton – Huge props to the LA Bicycle Working Group for seeking and receiving
mainstream media attention. Streetsblog covers the problems with bike
planning in Southern California, but the L.A. Times and KPCC have been
silent while the city scandalously works to dismantle the minimal bike
network they approved in 1996. The BWG was able to bust the bike plan
dialogue into the mainstream media!

The 2009 draft L.A. City bike plan is so disappointing and so disrespectful that it really made the Bicycle Working Group’s Backbone
Network (Backbone) necessary. I see the city draft plan and the Backbone
as nearly opposite ends of a continuum. The city plan is about the
least possible that the city could do for bikes (without extreme
measures like banning us.) The BWGBN is about the best possible that
the city could conceivably do for bikes (without extreme measures like
banning cars.) Given that politics is the art of the possible, and
immersed in compromises and negotiations, it’s difficult for me to see
either of these plans being approved – neither the downgraded dregs of
the existing city draft, nor the grand vision from the BWG.

I strongly support the city designating bike lanes for the entire Backbone (plus more – Backbone is just the backbone
bike lanes; there should also an entire circulatory system for all
types of riders – additional bike lanes, road diets, bike paths, bike
boulevards.) At the same time, I anticipate that wholesale approval of
the Backbone is unlikely. Maybe it’s because I’ve become pessimistic from
the lack of smart bold citywide livability moves coming out of Antonio
Villaraigosa’s and Gail Goldberg’s Planning Department. There are a few
excellent smaller planning initiatives that I applaud, but, for
citywide initiatives, they just haven’t yet shown themselves capable of
shedding outdated car-centric assumptions, often reinforced by many
Department of Transportation staff. The Backbone raises the bar, putting
pressure on Goldberg’s Planning Department to step up and do real bike
planning.

Roadblock – What I love about the Backbone Network, beyond what Enci says about not forcing cyclists to zig-zag through side streets to get places and that places you on the main thoroughfares.

The plan itself is something that voters can chew on that they understand.  It’s a measurable plan that the general public can grasp.  They can look at it like its a subway map.  It makes sense.  It’s a great first step in a process that could take thirty years.  This plan can get done much quicker.

Ted Rogers – My first reaction was ‘absolutely frickin’ brilliant.’  The question that comes now is execution.

I originally thought they were planning bike lanes on every street listed, but I see it could be anything from bike lanes to repaving the street to fixing the signage.

But still, it’s the first attempt I’ve seen to make a plan that allows cyclists to go anywhere in the city, the lack of which in the Draft Bike Plan was its major fault.

Aurisha Smolarski – LACBC agrees that the 2009 LA Bike Plan Draft is not providing a
cohesive bikeway system for cyclists. The Draft Plan needs to greatly
increase the number of designated bike lane miles to incorporate more
infrastructure on arterials and major connector streets. The LA Bike
Backbone Network has served to highlight some deficiencies in the 2009
LA Bike Plan Update process and content.

Stephen Villavaso – The proposed Bicycle Backbone Network is a simple and strong
statement about equality of mobility. It provides cyclists
with regional access and connectivity the way a regional network
should. Both the process and the product directly contrast the process
of developing the City’s Draft Plan and its proposed network. The
Backbone Network does not replace the need for neighborhood level
plans, as the Bike Working Group steering committee has stated, but it
does provide a regional system of greater utility than anything we’ve
seen from the City thus far.

First of all, the BWG’s process of developing a preferred network with
the cycling community demonstrates a commitment to understanding their
needs. During the meetings held by BWG, comments were immediately
addressed and discussed in an open forum. At city meetings, the process
of collecting comments which are often never seen again, leaves the
community waiting and guessing. It is widely believed that the comment
process is merely a formality and it’s well understood that it
guarantees nothing in the form of actual changes to a plan.

The Backbone Network places cyclists on the major thoroughfares
getting riders across town and where they need to go, instead of
restricting them to minor collectors and neighborhood streets which do
not connect to important origins and destinations. The fact that the
Draft Plan’s proposed network was disjointed and severely lacking in
regional connectivity was mentioned time and again during the comments
period, and the community is waiting to see how the City will address
this in the Final Draft Bike Plan.

I support making the Bicycle Backbone Network an official city
adopted and implemented network of bike lanes, road diets, and sharrows.

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