While the Los Angeles Department of City Planning has released only the draft maps of the proposed update to the Los Angeles Bicycle Plan, some avid cyclists have argued that the maps are not detailed enough for addressing rider concerns.
The city first adopted the Bicycle Plan in 1996, which designated various arterial roadways as future bicycle lanes, identified public rights-of-way that are potential bike path projects and recommended policies for the implementation of cycling as a transportation mode in Los Angeles. After readopting the plan in 2002 and 2007, the city is looking to update the plan and is seeking public comment.
The planning department has currently only released the draft maps of proposed bicycle facilities in the Valley, Central/Westside, and South LA/Harbor areas, which were created with community input. The department plans to release the policy documents for the plan next month, which include more detailed proposals, said Michelle Mowery, senior bike coordinator for the Department of Transportation, which provides funding and expertise for the project.
Mowery noted that the department has received over 1,000 public comments on the draft maps, but she added that the process is just in the preliminary stages.
“It’s a good plan but it won’t solve every problem we have,” she said. “We have a long way to go but this is one of the interim steps that will get us a lot closer.”
The complete Bicycle Plan draft will contain elements such as enforcement, road and bikeway engineering, bicycle parking, bicycle-transit integration, and mainten- ance and evaluation.
The draft maps identify four types of bikeways in the various regions including — bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, bicycle routes and bicycle friendly streets. The maps also identify routes that are “proposed but currently infeasible,” lanes that are desirable but considered infeasible due to road widths and traffic conditions.
Some bicyclists spoke at a City Council Transportation Committee meeting Wednesday, June 17th, saying that while the plan is in the early stages, the maps of bikeways don’t seem to make much improvement.
“I feel the maps don’t go far enough, but they are a starting point,” said Westchester resident Kent Strumpell, a member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. “The Bicycle Coalition is working on our comments and we hope and expect the proposed bikeway network will be fleshed out more in the final proposal.”
Some local cyclists have taken issue that many primary streets that are desired for bicycle lanes have been identified as currently infeasible according to the maps. The plan needs to address ways to promote cycling as a safe transportation mode in the city, they say.
“We need to figure out how to make these streets accessible to bikers,” Del Rey cyclist Howard Hackett said. “I think we need to figure out a way to get people out there riding their bicycles and to make it safe and convenient for them.”
Strumpell also expressed concern that major travel routes that are desired for bike lanes are currently determined to be infeasible.
“What we really need is more bike lanes on more routes where the destinations are,” he said. “We need to think about how to get people to destinations on major roads.”
As the city works to develop the bike plan update, Jay Slater, vice president of the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee, said the plan should focus on how to allow bike riders to travel in all major directions safely.
“We need to give cyclists a means to cross the city with the least amount of interaction with cars so that we can hopefully have a safe way to travel,” Slater said.
Mowery explained that department representatives have considered certain arterial streets but they don’t provide travel opportunities for bicycles because at least five feet of space is required on either side of the street for bike lanes.
“There are a number of streets where we know we need connections but we can’t do it without removing a parking or travel lane,” she said.
The department has supported the plan for more bicycle friendly streets, which provide an extensive network of bikeways on local streets as an alternative to riding on corridors with a lot of vehicle traffic, she said. These pathways offer an opportunity for bikes and vehicles to share the road in an environment more conducive to bicycling.
City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, a member of the Transportation Committee, said he encourages cyclists to participate in the planning process as the city moves forward with the bike plan update.