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Council Committees Ask for Bicycle Ideas

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2008, at 05:12PM
Bicycle at Radio Hill Eric Richardson [Flickr]

How can the city of Los Angeles better plan for bicycles? That was the question in front of a joint council meeting today, as the city's Planning and Land Use Management committee joined with the Transportation Committee to discuss Councilman Ed Reyes' recent motion on bicycle improvements in his district and citywide.

While today's hearing was only to approve Reyes' motion asking Planning and DOT to report, there was healthy discussion of cycling issues both by councilmembers and the public. DOT Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery told of the city's Bicycle Master Plan process, which holds its first meeting on Saturday (details below). After hearing the size of Mowery's staff, Reyes expressed amazement at the tiny number of city workers dedicated to bicycles. "In a city of three million, we have ten people focused on bicycles," Reyes noted.

Reyes and Councilman Jack Weiss both expressed concerns that safety issues be addressed, with Reyes sharing how he was hit while bicycling as a child. Weiss said that he rides daily before sunrise, but doesn't feel it safe to ride L.A. streets during the day.

Paris Bikes Paris bike pickup location. Photo by Urban Bruin.

Several councilmembers brought up European examples of shared bicycle programs, asking DOT and Planning to look and see if something like that could be done here in Los Angeles. Bicycle boulevards were another popular concept, with several members mentioning the concept's implementation up in Berkeley.

I switched off my blogdowntown hat for a moment, stepping up to the mic to comment on the need to not get so caught in major street change ideas as to forget Downtown, where the built environment offers challenges when it comes to drastically altering the streetscape. I highlighted the issue of parking, pointing out that a lack of available racks can make cycling as transportation difficult even when the trip itself is doable.

The joint committees approved two actions on the issue. The first asks DOT to prepare a presentation on ways other cities have made streets bicycle friendly, to be presented to the full council. Such images could "open eyes on bicycles as a transportation mode," said Reyes. Secondly, the committees approved Reyes' original motion and asked DOT and Planning to report back within 90 days on ideas on planning options available to make cycling more accessible.

Bicycle Master Plan meetings start this Saturday at Exposition Park. The meeting is at 10am at the Swim Stadium (3980 S. Menlo Ave), but there's a ride to the meeting that'll be leaving the Santa Monica and Vermont Red Line station at 9am. More details here. Despite the round-aboutness of doing so, I'll be heading up there from Downtown to head down to Expo Park.

After the meeting the IAAL-MAF holds its second "Watts Happening" ride, leaving the Swim Stadium at 12:30pm and hitting the Central Ave Jazz Quarter before making it down to the Watts Towers. More details here.


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