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Pedestrians and Bicyclists mingle on the bike path along Santa Monica Beach.
Photo by Parimal Rohit
Pedestrians and Bicyclists mingle on the bike path along Santa Monica Beach.

News, City Council, Planning Commission, Transportation, Santa Monica, Biking

Big Bike Plans for Santa Monica

Posted Aug. 12, 2011, 2:08 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

Santa Monica is en route to challenge nearby Long Beach, Calif., as one of the most bike-friendly cities in Southern California, in light of a Bike Action Plan that is working its way up to city council for eventual adoption.

One of those stops along the way to potential council adoption took place on Aug. 10, when the Bike Action Plan, developed in the context of the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), was taken up by the Santa Monica Planning Commission during its special meeting in Council Chambers.

A working document of sorts, the Bike Action Plan includes several ambitious benchmarks and goals as part of its grand design. Through it all, as it navigates a tedious process of being presented at official City meetings and community workshops, the Bike Action Plan aims to build a world-class bicycling community within Santa Monica, with elements arriving as early as five years from now. (Some elements may take as long as 20 years to develop).

Ultimately, the Bike Action Plan, through joint execution with the LUCE, will help integrate bicycling into the City’s core infrastructure and, ideally, reduce the number of car trips made within Santa Monica. Indeed, City officials have contended that the Bike Action Plan is a significant component of the LUCE’s vision of having “no new net trips” despite new development and a growing population.

“The draft Bike Action Plan provides a foundation with the goal of increasing bicycling to 10 (to) 25 percent of all trips by 2030 as envisioned by LUCE,” wrote a group of City planners, including Lucy Dyke, Michelle Glickert, and Francie Stefan, in a staff report presented to planning commissioners on Aug. 10.

Through it all, the plan calls for more than 50 miles of new bikeway lane mileage by 2030, increasing the amount of roadway available for bike use from 37 miles in 2010 to 88.7 miles. By 2015, the plan hopes to have 69 miles of bikeway lane mileage in place and operational.

The plan, which also calls for an additional 2,500 new public bicycle parking spaces, aims to “coordinate implementation of bicycle programs and the LUCE bicycle network, and encourage residents, employees, and visitors to make bicycling their transportation of choice,” the three staff members added in their staff report.

Within the next five years, the Bike Action Plan has several key initiatives and benchmarks it hopes to achieve, including proposed improvements on five percent of the LUCE bicycle network and various programs to promote increased bike use, including events, awareness, information, education, encouragement, enforcement, supporting facilities, the development of a “bicycle wayfinding system,” and bicycle parking improvements.

According to the plan, the five-year implementation plan also includes the “installation of shared lane markings and buffered bike lanes on streets with adequate space for striping without realigning a street’s centerline, moving curbs, or removing parking or travel lanes” and will also feature “bikeway development that will involve more change to curbs, parking, or roadway configuration.”

The City also intends to use the plan to obtain grant funding from the state. According to City staff, the current draft of the plan should meet State Bicycle Transportation Account requirements, making Santa Monica eligible to apply for state funding.

According to the plan, bicycle-themed programs and facilities in Santa Monica are already covered by about $5.2 million in existing grants. However, the plan estimates about $5.8 million would be required to realize the five-year build-out of the planned bikeway network; the 20-year build-out would cost an additional $23.6 million.

Earlier this month, a drafted copy of the Bike Action Plan was made available for the public to review. Besides the planning commission, other public agencies that will have an opportunity to review the plan throughout the remainder of summer and into autumn include the task force on the environment, the Recreation and Parks Commission, the commission for the senior community and, ultimately, the city council.

The planning commission seemed pleased with the plan overall. The agency’s chair Jim Reis suggested commissioners review the plan in more detail in the next month or so to determine what tweaks, if any, should be made before making a recommendation to the council.

Yet, Recreation and Parks Commissioner Richard McKinnon said that while the Bike Action Plan is a welcome document and a worthy roadmap for Santa Monica, he also expressed some concern about the plan’s vision.

“The thing that is lacking in this document is some sense of where we want to be in five years, or 10, or 15,” McKinnon said. “The ‘No New Net Trips’ goal is illusory unless biking comes a long way. What the plan doesn’t tell us is, are we aiming for Portland’s 16 percent of everyone cycling, or will we be Irvine, where there are hundreds of miles of bike paths but no one using them.”

Post a comment


Aug. 12, 2011, 12:48:41 pm

Bobby Danelski said...

In conjunction with this, I would like to see education around the laws around street cycling. Cyclists tend to think that they are exempt from the laws which they need to follow laws set in place for motor vehicles. Stop at red lights; no riding through a cross-walk or on a sidewalk; ride with the direction of moving vehicles, etc.

Aug. 12, 2011, 5:42:09 pm

Gene Parmesan said...

My main concern when I approach an intersection on my bike is getting through with the minimum of potential conflict. If that means I have to go through a stop sign or a red light to accomplish this, then that's what I'll do. Sometimes by stopping at every stop sign and every red light, a cyclist invites trouble instead of avoiding it. The most important factor is driver and rider awareness.

Aug. 12, 2011, 5:50:44 pm

Niall Huffman said...

Bobby: It's true that many people who ride bikes are unfamiliar with or take a cavalier attitude toward local and state traffic laws. In particular, Santa Monica could stand to develop much stronger social norms around obeying the normal rules of right-of-way at stop signs, riding with traffic and staying off the sidewalk, particularly in busy pedestrian areas. The plan recognizes this, and includes a number of programs designed to foster safe, courteous and lawful riding habits among Santa Monica cyclists. I invite you to download the chapter of the plan dealing with those programs and take a look for yourself: Pay attention to "Education" starting on page 3-9 and "Enforcement" starting on page 3-13. A particularly important proposal is to allow "ticket deferments" in which cyclists can get certain types of tickets dismissed if they participate in a bicycle safety course. I take issue with your casual lumping of cyclists into a group ("Cyclists tend to think..."), as if everyone who rides a bike is somehow in a distinctly different class of people from the rest of society. We're not. In fact, I, like the vast majority of other people who bike, own and drive a car as well. And just like with driving, the range of behavior among people who bike ranges from careful and law-abiding, to relatively innocuous rule-bending that can sometimes get you in trouble (most people), to aggressive and reckless (thankfully not all that common). What we should really be concerned about is the tendency of PEOPLE IN GENERAL to bend or break the rules of the road when it's convenient for them. Ever seen a motorist roll a stop sign? or fail to come to a complete stop when making a right on red? or break the speed limit? or fail to yield to a pedestrian crossing at an uncontrolled intersection? This (sometimes innocuous, but often dangerous) behavior happens on a daily basis, and yet we never hear about the need to rein in scofflaw motorists when a plan to add a left-turn arrows or an extra lane is announced, as if the driving public somehow doesn't deserve improved infrastructure unless every last one of us behaves like an angel. I'll do my best to be a safe and courteous bicyclist, and I applaud efforts to get others to be the same, but I get annoyed when I get pigeonholed as part of a group of entitled scofflaws, rather than treated as a legitimate user of the streets who happens to use a bike some of the time.

Aug. 13, 2011, 8:42:24 am

Judi E said...

I am concerned with what exists presently - bicyclists feel free to be EVERYWHERE, and with no regard for normal traffic laws -- like they are sooooo self-righteous for not using gas that they don't have to obey them. It's called a sideWALK for a reason, and when there's a bicycle lane directly next to it, it makes me want to throw down some marbles, seriously. Also, they need to stay out of the interior park paths -- where there are people with babies, children and dogs. Bike lanes, bike paths and streets, people!! There are plenty of them, and it sounds like there will be even more.

Aug. 14, 2011, 8:32:31 pm

Dean H said...

i Myself sometimes ride on the sidewalk but only because of the dangers on the street. i will find myself a few cars away from the signal out infront of the santa monica public library when all of a sudden i am surrounded by cars. one car honks and nudges close to me to the point where i am boxed into a parking spot. then i notice another person laying on his horn trying to get into the parking spot.i find that the only option is to get onto the sidewalk. many people yell at me for just being a victim of simple impatience. so if a person is on a sidewalk, i feel like no one should complain unless they are causing immediate threat. i know that if where i am riding is too crowded, i will just sit on the bike and push off the ground towards my destination. im on my bike, on the sidewalk, and i am riding it but im barely going 2 miles an hour. hardly a reason for an old lady to hit me with her purse (yes it has happened)

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