Attendence Down at Bike Plan Hearings (Updated, 3:16 P.M.)

A small corridor made the meeting look more crowded.
A small corridor made the meeting look more crowded.

(Note: There is a Bike Plan meeting tonight in South L.A. and Saturday in Van Nuys.  Check out the Streetsblog calendar for more information.  A list of Streetsblog’s complete coverage of the Bike Plan from the launch of this website can be found here.- DN)

In February of 2008, the LADOT, City Planning, and consultants Alta Planning held a series of four meetings on what was then called the Bike Master Plan to solicit feedback on what should be studied as the city embarked on a planning process that promised to lead to safer cycling throughout the city.  Eighty people showed up to a hearing at the Felicia Manhood Constituent Service Center, and the mood at the hearing was contentious.  Nobody could claim that there was a lack of passion in the room.

Twenty months later, the two city agencies and their consultants were back at the Service Center with an updated plan that had already been widely panned by the bicycle community.  This time, there was no power point presentation and no chance to give public testimony on the plan.  Nevertheless, nearly 50 people attended the meeting; most with bad things to say about the current draft of the plan.

Yesterday, a mere eleven months after the last round of meetings, the final round of public meetings kicked off last weekend in Hollywood.  Last night we were back in auditorium at Felicia Manhood.  An hour into the meeting, which consisted of the poster boards pictured above and a public comment period; not even two dozen people had signed in.  Even Alta Planning was nowhere to be seen.

Last night was proving the rule, not the exception, to a turnout slump.  City Planning staffer Jordann Turner confirmed that turnout was significantly lower than two dozen at the Hollywood Meeting held on Saturday although more of those that did attend took time to comment, and Streetsblog commenter Dennis Hindman noted that only four people took part in a “webinar” earlier that day.  What can be the cause of this low turnout?  Are cyclists so happy with the current draft of the plan that they didn’t see a need to turn out, or are they just exhausted after nearly three years of public meetings and delays?  The latter explanation seems unlikely, as gathered around the poster board people continued to wonder what exactly a “bicycle friendly street” is really going to look like and prognosticate that most of this plan won’t be completed anyway.

The highlight of the meeting wasn’t even the presentation given by city staff, but an opening comment by City Council Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl.  Rosendahl’s comments can be seen after the jump.

The rest of the public comment was short on speakers.  Six people testified, and one of the speakers was a Cheviot Hills homeowner who wanted to complain about the Expo Line Bike Path.  Another was Bike Advisory Committee Chair Glenn Bailey, who is appearing at all of the meetings to promote the BAC and deliver, over the course of six minutes, pieces of a large testimony.

There were some other notable comments.  Hindman noted that nearly 50% of the funds in the five year expenditure plan, covering from now until 2015, will be spent in the San Fernando Valley instead of the Downtown, Mid-City and Westside where there are already more people cycling.  Madeline Brozen, a UCLA planning student, noted that an unused rail along the San Fernando Road would make an excellent Rails to Trails program and took the time to mock a “bike route” sign on Ohio Avenue that points to the sidewalk.

Another interesting point was brought up by Eric Weinstein, a member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and volunteer at the Bikerowave, who questioned why there was no language referencing “Complete Streets” in the plan.  With a state “Complete Streets” mandate going into law later this year, it seems odd that a Bike Plan, even one that contends that all streets are for bicycle use, would leave out language that any road project should study whether there should be a bicycle component.

The “Final” plan, including responses to public comment, will go to the City’s Planning Commission on November 7th and will also be heard by the Transportation Commission, two City Council committees and the Full Council before final approval.

Update: Tuner writes in with the following:

In regards to the Complete Streets Act, the draft Bicycle Plan contains numerous references to the Complete Streets Acts.  Chapter 2 (pages 33 and 34) describe how the implementation of the Bicycle Plan would fulfill the goals of the Complete Streets Acts.  Additionally, Chapter 4 (Policies and Programs) contain policies and programs design to implement the Complete Streets Act.  As an example Policies 1.14 and 1.1.6 contain programs that encourage the inclusion of bicycle facilities as Bicycle Friendly Streets and the inclusion of bicycle lanes as part of the reevaluation of the City’s street standard designations.

. Complete streets (chapter 2 page 33, 34 and numerous programs that reference goals of complete streets  (chapter 4)  ie   Street designation review to include bicycle lanes (1.1.4 and 1.1.6).
  • Uh, Glenn Bailey

  • Brent

    I guess I was one of the four signed into the webinar. I had two problems with it:

    1) It was opened to questions immediately. Usually a “webinar” has some kind of introduction, and I was hoping for something, anything at all, really, to bring me up-to-date on the plan, but after a couple of moments about how the software worked, the presenters asked for questions.

    2) I had no microphone on the computer I was using. Even if I had questions, I couldn’t have said them. There may have been some form of instant message capability; I don’t recall if that option was brought up in the technical presentation.

    I’m really happy the city is holding hearings on the plan, but a webinar without some kind of “dog-and-pony-show” will make it hard to attract participant commentary.

  • @Damien – Since City Planning took over the draft bike plan from Alta, there wouldn’t be much reason for them to have attended the new meetings.
    @Brent – I’m sure that City Planning would want that kind of feedback on the webinar. It’s a new tool to their department and they’re still experimenting. If they can develop it into a successful tool for pubilc outreach and feedback, there’s a greater chance it will spread to other city departments.

    Also, LADOT Bike Blog will be at the Van Nuys meeting this Saturady. More reason to attend!

  • MU

    I was also at the webinar (for the first half). Actually, it was specifically and repeatedly stated that the administrator (Jordan Turner) could NOT answer questions. As there was also no presentation from the city side, it appears the point was just an opportunity for people to make comments. If this was made clear in the advance materials for the session, I did not pick up on it.

    Unfortunately, it seems only Mr. Hindman came prepared with any specific comments. Mr. Turner did his best to keep the session useful although there wasn’t much he could do. It obviously suffered from a limited number of people attending, but I think these types of sessions could be very useful as long as better advanced notice of what will go on is given.

    I think the general lack of attention to this round is due to a number of factors:
    – relief that this version is at least a big improvement over the last one
    – the assumption that this is pretty much the final document that will get presented to the council regardless
    – general burn out on complaining about the plan
    – many of the key people who drove debate on the plan have sunk their energies into other issues at this point and don’t see a huge expected return for investing a lot of time into the bike plan anymore.

  • I noticed that only four people spoke during the webinar and up to 12 were signed on at any one time according to Jordan Turner and he was checking with each person to see if they would like to comment if they had a microphone on. Since this was a two hour webinar mainly for public comments and there was only four public speakers, this created alot of dead-air time along with frequent technical glitches with Jordans’ microphone. There may have been some misunderstanding about what the webinar was about, but judging from the two public meetings that I attended in the last few days, I would have to guess that most of the public listening to the webinar did not want to speak.

    Jordan Turner also mentioned to me that there have been thousands of comments sent in about the bike plan. So even though fewer people attended these latest rounds of meetings there has been a large number of written comments on the plan.

    At the Westside meeting I tried to explain in my puplic comments that for people with transportation choices, bicycling in the San Fernando Valley competes with motorized transportation that routinely moves at 40-45 miles an hour. Bicycling becomes a slower and more inconvenient choice for most people in that situation compared to the more crowded streets in the central part of the city where the bicycle competes more favorably in speed to motorized traffic. So to me the greatest potential increases in bicycling are to found on the crowded downtown to westside corridor.

    Yet half the capital expenditures in the bike plan for 2010-2015 is going to be spent in the San Fernando Valley, albeit mostly on bike paths and with fewer bike lane density than the central part of the city.

    My suggestion was to rearrange some of the construction projects on the plan so that a greater emphasis is on the central core of the city in the early years with some of the San Fernando Valley projects pushed to the later years. The San Fernando Valley is already years ahead in the pace of bicycle infrastructure compared to most parts of the city with recent additions of bike lanes to Reseda Blvd and Wilbur Ave as just two examples and the Orange Line bike path running east-west in the southern part of the Valley. There are also seven major bike paths shown on the 2010 bike plan as potential or current paths in the San Fernando Valley.

    Rearranging the scheduling of some of these projects would perhaps give the perception to many that the amount and pace of installing bicycle infrastructure was greatly increasing and would hopefully get more people excited about bicycling in Los Angeles in the short term. That in turn may quickly demonstrate the payoff in installing bicycle infrastructure.

    Also, I plan on stopping off at the Van Nuys bike plan meeting on my way to work on Saturday to see if a meeting on a weekend in the Valley can draw more people than a weekday in Hollywood or the Westside.

  • I can tell you exactly why I am no longer participating in these ridiculous wastes of time: NOBODY ON THE OTHER SIDE IS LISTENING.

    The political decision to kill an EIR for the plan was made years ago, and that one decision will prevent any meaningful lane removals or traffic calming from being part of the plan.

    The vision-less, idiotic, decision to monitor and evaluate NOTHING in the plan’s monitoring and evaluation section, with no regular reporting schedule was made due to incompetence, fear, or oversight.

    I don’t need to be shined on by a bunch of low level bureaucrats. I could sit down and break off a big piece of my mind to these clowns – but I’ve got a family to take care of, bike rides to organize, a business to run, and frankly fuck these guys.

    There is not going to be a bike project in my neighborhood for decades. I have the traffic counts, I have the manual surveys, we have the SWITRS data, the bike plan consultants recommended a road diet – but the DOT says, “No”. And our councilmembers quake and say, “Gee, okay, I guess, no.”

    In NELA the Department of DIY has achieved more on-the-ground infrastructure in the last five years than the city on a budget of less than $200. We crank out cyclists, bike repairs, rides, educational events, movie screenings, sharrows, flyers, art shows, etc. with no government support, with no government sanction or backing. When we beg, demand, and plead for facilities, cite the portions of the budget they can pull from, remove all legal arguments from the table, we still get shut down due to “politics” or “this is L.A.” bullshit from DOT and Planning upper management.

    Life is too short. Fuck off LA Bike Plan.

  • EIR or I will lobby to kill this piece of shit plan.

    Monitor and evaluate modal splits, implement regular bike counts, regularly publish results and analysis, track fatalities and injuries or I will lobby to kill this stupid plan.

    We always have to come to them with their precious little public input periods, but the real decisions are made in an insulated vault in a few small offices in City Hall.

  • MarkB

    I didn’t participate in this round for three reasons: 1) I’m in a crunch time at work and haven’t been able to keep up with what (if anything) has changed in the plan since the last round of input; 2) The meetings are at inconvenient locations and times; 3) Burnout. The plan seems to a perpetual [slow]motion machine.

  • minibikebar

    Wow, have some patience… and sorry, bike naysayers…not with you on this one. I want to the Westside meeting and took part in the webinar, too. I got to talk to staff, and other advocates, and advocate organizations and got my questions and concerns answered. You don’t have a lot of people at these meeting because the plan is good in my eyes, it has: education(adult and children), bike lanes, street friendly roads, sharrows, bike paths, bike signs, road diets, parking, new street treatments, outreach, law, and accountable for all city departments and politians to think and implement bicycle facilities, etc. I could go on and on!

    Patience, also translated as long-suffering process unwavering fidelity. How is this conviction manifested in our lives? Bicyclists should not be easily disturbed by the fluctuations of bureaucratic events. I’m content to wait with confidence for the bike plan deliverance in every situation. It may mean a willingness to wait, but wait with awareness that the plan will be successful. In the bicyclist eyes the situation may feel and look daunting, with no end in sight. It may have no meaning or good purpose in our limited vision. But, we wait and trust with patience. It does not mean that we take no action. It does not mean that we do not advocate for more bike facilities in Los Angeles. It does mean that while we act, we may also be waiting. It does mean that while we act, we trust in cities promises, advocates fidelity, Politian’s and city staff to move the new bike plan forward to full implementation and make the City of Los Angeles a great place to ride your bike.
    We do not derive our time from the bike plan achievements. Image if we all work together: the city, advocates, mayor, city council, media and local businesses, how far bicycling will go in Los Angeles. Now, get on your bike and ride.

  • la rider

    Sorry, what’s the point. All we do is plan and nothing gets done. It costs so little to make bike infrastructure improvements. We just don’t want to do anything here in Los Angeles, everything requires an EIR. This is just retarded, no vision, no milestones, no focus. The red tape makes it impossible to get anything done in America.

  • minibikebar, I’ve been following this plan for two years now. I’ve written about it, read it, researched alternative, gone to meetings, met with politicians, held group meetings about this and I’m fed up.

    My entire community is being swaddled in “potential” “need more research” bike facilities. The plan has no teeth, it has no benchmarks, it has no monitoring. I’ve read the 1996/2002 plan and in this respect they are similar: no accountability built into the plan; supportive sounding prose but ineffective implementation.

    Here is my paraphrasing of the bike plan:
    ACTION ITEM 11523.1
    Safe Routes to School: Staff shall encourage children to walk to school safely and shall encourage other staff to prepare applications for SRTS grants.

    What the hell does this mean? It means nothing! Absolutely nothing. Staff shall … “encourage”. What does “encourage” mean in this context?

    No, what we need is this:

    Safe Routes to School:
    Projects in plan that fit Safer Route to School Criteria:
    – A
    – B
    – C
    City staff assigned to grant applications for these projects:
    Mr. Fluffy Pants
    Ms. Puff N. Stuff
    Both hailing from the Dept. of NO, supervisor one Mr. Slushy Knees McWimplebutt

    Planned completion of projects (pending full funding from SRTS and other grant sources)
    A – 2020
    B – 2040
    C – Ain’t gonna happen

    That is the gap between what we have in the current plan and what we actually need in the plan.

  • One more missing thing:

    Children walking to school in project area A is: 3
    Upon completion of project, we estimate the project area A will have this many more kids walking to school: 2
    This project will cost: $10 million
    Heart attacks saved (not counting city straff donut related pre-existing conditions): 1
    Affect on traffic casualties in Project area A: -3 per annum
    Carbon saved: 5 grams per kid per year
    Road maintenance savings: .05 cents

    Etc. etc. etc.

    There is no quantification of the results of these project (assuming they even get built). With no baseline measurements called for, and no analysis of the after affects, we’re all left with the standard L.A. procedure: complaining when it’s too late to fix anything with no chain of command for the project.

    Get real – this plan still sucks!

  • Madeline Brozen

    I think part of the problem is that many cyclists and residents alike are experiencing “planning fatigue” with the bike plan. While many people are understandably apathetic, this is the plan that we have. I think everyone is ready for implementation, and less planning/commenting. However, it is important to make sure CONSTRUCTIVE and necessary comments are put forward. Like for the Ohio ave existing facilities, it’s frustrating to see those on the map. Ohio is a great alternative to the death trap intersections of the 405 and Wilshire/Santa Monica.

    Dennis, I still think you are terribly incorrect and somewhat ridiculious by requesting funding be directed out of the valley. 2 bike lanes that you are mentioning for 2 million people? The comments you are making are similar to the argument, well Santa Monica has infrastructure, why are you West LA’ers complaining? The northeast valley is in desperate need for improvements. Areas like Pacoima, Sylmar, Sun Valley are dangerous and low-income populations are much more at-risk for being victims of collisions because they in fact have higher walking and cycling rates than more affulent areas. Also with bus service being cut, improving infrastructure can greatly assist for the beginning and end of trips.

    The rail line along San Fernando Road (still active actually for MetroLink) is an eyesore. It has an ugly fence and is constantly littered with trash. A bike path along there is a great chance for investment in neglected communities and maybe we could even plant trees so people wouldn’t have to suffer from the extreme valley heat at the bus stops.

  • Joe

    Speaking only for myself, I’m burned out on public input meetings. I mailed in my comments.

    Also, I feel like I don’t have a lot to offer. For some reason, it is taking FOREVER to slap some paint on the ground, and I don’t have any suggestions as to how to light a fire under these guys. Politics aside, laying down some bike infrastructure just isn’t that difficult.

    What needs to happen now, is paint on the ground. Implement a basic network of class-2 bike routes, around 2-4 miles apart, on streets that make the most sense. Make them the best that you can, but don’t worry if they’re not perfect; we can improve them later. (Use paint, not thermoplastic, if you’re unsure.) Make them wide enough and outside the door zone; remove parking or a travel lane if you have to. (If political will for removing parking is lacking, point out that “It’s only ONE LANE in every FOUR MILES!!!”) Remove most stop signs. Add rudimentary signage, including useful directions like, “Best route to Hollywood –>”.

    A continuous bike network that is 20% of what’s in the Bike Plan would be about 80% as useful as a fully implemented one. So go after the low-hanging fruit, and do it quickly.

  • Park Czar

    Fun seeing everybody outside of my usual comfort zones (Scoops & Parks).

  • I’m with Josef. What’s the point in attending a farce of a meeting? No one is listening, they might be hearing, but they’re not processing or engaging. It’s a waste of times. Let’s settle the dispute in the political arena, screw these meetings.

    It’s pathetic that the bike plan meetings draw fewer attendants than any other bike event in recent memory.

  • minibikebar

    The difference between you bicyclists and me is you are an angry young bicyclists were I’m positive young man willing to see the good in things. Lighten up, change is happening in LA.
    Direct you energy toward positive exposure for bicyclist in Los Angeles or we will continue to be run over by the car culture. Just because I’m a bicyclist doesn’t mean I had a frontal lobotomy… I can think on my own and have different ideas on my own. I don’t need anyone to tell me how to think or what to do!

    Being a bicyclist gives me self-control, an invitation out of the herd and norms of group conformity to a greater mission and gift activation. We all have different tasks in the course of responding to the bicyclist agenda, each of has to leave parts of self behind…to shed some of the old in order to become something new; there is the tearing-away of the old self-focused for this new creation which resides in the new bike plan.

    It seems that in order to follow the bicyclist agenda, self-discipline is required so the selfish desire can surface, be named, than harnessed, tamed and focused toward the ultimate goal and prize of union with the city, advocates, mayor, city council, media, car culture and local businesses. This means that we cannot use and abuse others or ourselves.
    And we must be constantly vigilant to what is within and outside of us that tempts us away from the bike agenda toward idolatry. Bicyclist should be on-call 27-7 to service the needs of the bicycle facilities as they arise. Don’t cling to those things that pull us away form this advancement of the bicycle infrastructure in Los Angeles, each day is new and renewed. Stay focused on the new bike plan and working together to make it happen.

    GREAT time at Los Angeles first CicLAvia on Sunday now it’s back to Haiti for 6 weeks. I love riding my bike!

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