Draft Bike Plan Looks to Move Forward. Problems Still Remain.

It's time to say it.  Bike route signs are next to useless, and can cause more problems than they solve as this route in West Hollywood shows.
It's time to say it. Bike route signs are next to useless, and can cause more problems than they solve as this route in West Hollywood shows.

(This is the first of a two-part series on the Bike Plan before it’s heard by the Planning Commission.  Part II, by Joe Linton, is coming tomorrow. – DN)

This Thursday morning, at 8:30 A.M., the Los Angeles City Planning Commission will hold a hearing on the 2010 Draft Bike Plan and vote on whether to move the plan to the full City Council.  If they approve the plan, the plan could clear the Transportation and Planning and Land Use (PLUM) Committees by early December, and the full Council by the end of the year.

In other words, if there’s any chance to improve the Draft Bike Plan, the time to mobilize is now.  City Council Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl has vowed that the Plan will not leave his committee unless it is “fixed,” meaning that the bike community is happy with the plan.  While Streetsblog applauds the Councilman’s pledge, do we really want to wait for the last second to have politicians fix a planning document during a public meeting?  Or do we want get involved to make sure that their job is easy when the plan comes to City Council committees?

The answer is obvious.  We want the problems fixed before the plan gets to the City Council.

And there are still some serious problems with the Draft Bike Plan.  True, the most recent draft of the plan is a huge improvement from earlier drafts.  However, earlier drafts were so bad that pretty much anything would have been an improvement.  Whether the current draft is better than the Plan of Unfulfilled Promise (aka the 1996 Bike Plan) isn’t even clear.  What is clear is that the Draft Bike Plan, even if fully implemented, isn’t going to make Los Angeles a world class city for bicycling.

At Bikeside, Alex Thompson takes a look at the current draft of the plan and finds it extremely lacking.  Thompson lists nine major problems with the plan, and it’s hard to take issue with anything he writes.  You can read Thompson’s full article by clicking here, or read more Streetsblog after the jump.One of my main problems with the plan, and one shared by Thompson, is that a lot of the plan exists on paper.  At the LADOT Bike Blog, they opine that:

A bike plan that cannot be implemented is worth less than the paper it’s printed on.  At the end of the day, the new plan gives the LADOT Bike Program a broader toolkit and a stronger mandate to implement bicycle infrastructure throughout the city.

While that might be true, the Draft Bike Plan reads more like a wish list than a full plan.  The plan promises 1,600 miles of new bikeways.  Thompson explains the problem with that number:

Sure, the draft has hundreds of miles of bike lanes “designated”.  But when you get down in the details you find out 511 of those miles fall in the “further study” category – a category that has previously gone by the name “potential” and “infeasible”.  Only 56 miles of bike lane are left.

Another issue with that number of “1,600”?  It includes “Bike Routes.”  Since arriving in Los Angeles, I’ve been amazed that anyone would consider “Bike Routes” a safe place to bike on city streets.  Just slapping a little green sign on a poll and acting as though it makes a street bike-friendly is wildly ineffective.  I’m hardly alone in that view.  As a matter of fact, it’s shared by LADOT Senior Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery.

The problem with bike lane and bike route designation is just one example of the issues that remain with the improved Draft Bike Plan.  If you have issues of your own, the best way to influence the final document at this point would be to make a showing at the Planning Commission this Thursday.

After all, if it gets past them, it’s in the hands of the politicians.  And for every ally cyclists have on the Council, there’s another member of the City Council that will want to rubber stamp the plan and move on to something else.

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