Beverly Hills Approves Bike Lanes for Santa Monica Blvd

Bike lanes are coming to Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Image via Better Bike
Bike lanes are coming to Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Image via Better Bike

Last night the Beverly Hills City Council unanimously approved adding bike lanes to Santa Monica Boulevard. The new lanes are expected to be completed in mid-2018.

Better Bike‘s Mark Elliot describes the approval as ushering in a new era of connectivity: “We in Beverly Hills have conclusively put to rest the fictions that have long-driven our transportation planning: That we could remain an isolated suburb in the center of a sprawling urban region with serious mobility and quality-of-life challenges; and that we could cling tight to a 20th-century car culture even as we enter the second decade of the 21st century.”

The push for these bike lanes has taken many years, including several dashed hopes. The vote itself indicates new leadership on the council, led by pro-bicycling voices Mayor Lili Bosse and councilmember Robert Wunderlich, along with councilmember John Mirisch, who has a longer record of support for completing Beverly Hills streets. The approval is testament to the perseverance of a handful of bicycling advocates, including Mark Eliot, Kory Klem, Eric Bruins, Rich Hirschinger, Danielle Salomon, Sharon and Lou Ignarro, Barbara Linder, and Tish and Greg Laemmle.

Hirschinger described public testimony at last night’s council meeting as “39 were in favor, 3 opposed” with the opposition including two former mayors of Beverly Hills, one of whom stated that all the cyclists in favor of bike lanes were “professional cyclists.”

From Elliot’s account at Better Bike:

The incredulity expressed by councilmembers regarding our opponents’ flimsy arguments against bicycle lanes suggested two things as the evening progressed:

1. Complete streets is a concept whose time has finally come in Beverly Hills. We’re embarking on a complete streets plan process now, and the embrace of safe, multimodal mobility makes all the difference between ginning up a pro-forma, check-the-box complete streets plan; and a real policy statement and implementation framework that would actually make our streets safe for all road users. It’s the difference between cynicism and optimism.

2. The gathering momentum of tonight’s discussion suggested that the mobility NIMBY zombie, the skulking black cloud that has loomed over every discussion of new modes of mobility here in Beverly Hills, is finally banished. It seemed even that the opposition forces couldn’t muster the enthusiasm (let alone the numbers) of years past.

In addition to approving the bike lanes, the council approved upgrading them to be more visible. Again from Elliot:

In what amounts to a total victory, we not only gained five votes for lanes; we also have support from three councilmembers for high-visibility lanes. On that point, the only discussion concerned just how conspicuous we could make them. Councilmember Mirisch suggested a very specific shade of blue to pop out; even better, he said, let’s make any colored treatment self-illuminating.

Beverly Hills Santa Monica Boulevard bike lanes will be added as part of the currently under-construction project to improve Santa Monica Boulevard between Wilshire Boulevard and Doheny Drive. Though the new Beverly Hills lanes will largely close a significant gap between bike lanes in West Hollywood and Century City, adjacent cities will need to extend their bike facilities before Santa Monica Boulevard will be a contiguous bikeway across the Westside.

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