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Also Coming Later Today: L.A.’s Bike Plan

9_29_09_bike_plan.jpgExcerpt from the 2009 Draft Bike Plan

Via the LADOT Bike Blog comes the news cyclists and community activists have been waiting for: The Department of City Planning and LADOT will finally be releasing the final draft of the Bike Plan, a mere half a year behind schedule.  Sources at LADOT have told me to expect the new plan to appear at later today.  The Bike Blog offers a preview of some of the differences we can expect between the much-panned draft released last summer and the new version:

In all, the plan calls for 200 miles of new bicycle infrastructureto be built over the next 5 years.  This 200 miles would be in additionto the current 383 miles of existing infrastructure and infrastructurethat has been funded but not yet completed.  All existing projects thathaven’t reached construction stage yet are considered separate from the200 miles called for in the plan.  40 miles are projected forcompletion annually during this 5 year period, with the most direct andfeasible projects coming first.

The Bike Blog also outlines some of the new types of infrastructure that could be put on the newly minted "bicycle friendly streets," "enhanced bike routes," and "transit bike lanes."  These new terms promise big things for the city, and make it sound as though big changes are coming.  Of course, they could have called the streets "bike boulevards," "bike routes" and "bus-only lane."  But hey, who's counting?

As you would expect, the Bike Blog is absolutely cheerful and optimistic about the plan, but naturally there's going to be a lot of things to look for when you sit down and try to pore through the plan this weekend and beyond.

The first thing many people will be looking for is whether or not the "Backbone Bikeway Network" is somehow included in the final plan.  The Backbone was a concept developed by grass roots Bike Working Group last fall as an alternative to the Draft Bike Plan.  While LADOT's Senior Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery seemed opposed to the plan when it was first introduced, the presentation made in March at the Bike Summit by Mowery and City Planning's Jordan Turner included a lot of the Backbone's mapping.  Similarly, many cyclists will also be checking to see if the Cyclists Bill of Rights is included, as was instructed by Council Woman Wendy Greuel in 2008.

While it's great that the city is planning on completing fifty miles of bike infrastructure a year, the "what" and "where" are as important as the amount.  If the fifty miles are twelve miles of Wilshire Bus-Only lanes and a couple dozen "standard" bike routes, that would be a sad state of affairs.  If the fifty miles include an integrated plan to connect cyclists to the Gold Line Eastside Extension, that could be a community-changing event for a segment of the city.

A third issue is the public outreach before the plan is finalized.  Before the plan is set in stone, it has to go through another round of public hearings, the city planning commission, the city transportation commission, the City Council Transportation Committee, the City Council Planning Committee and the Full Council before being signed by Mayor Villaraigosa.  But before all that, the city will hold another round of public comment.  In both the initial outreach for the plan and the public comment on the draft plan, the city was sharply criticized for not allowing enough time and for changing the contents of the online plan without notice.  Extrapolating a schedule from the one outlined in March, when LADOT and Planning announced the plan would be finnished in April, we can expect something similar to this:

Revised draft to the public in June

Supporting environmental documents completed in July

Two-month public comment period, including two more workshops, June-August

City Planning Commission Hearing in September

In front of the City Council in the "Fall"

Streetsblog will have a full review of the plan, assuming that it is actually released today, on Monday.

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