Monday, September 27, 2010

LA Bicycle Plan West Side Public Hearing This Wednesday

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The ongoing saga of the City of Los Angeles Bicycle Plan continues this week with another round of public hearings/open house. For those of us to the West, the closest meeting is this Wednesday at the Felicia Mahood Senior Center [map] from 5-8pm. I encourage anyone who can make it out to come, check out what's being presented, and voice your thoughts.What you support, don't like, or want to see more of in the plan. I think it is important that we demand as much as we possibly can out of this thing, and set the bar high.When's the last time you saw a government plan exceed expectations when it came to results, especially for bicycling? So if we ask for a little, than we will get even less.

In addition to the public meetings, there is also a webinar public internet hearing, also on Wednesday. Oddly scheduled during what seems like a long lunch break, from 11:30 am to 1:30pm.

A flier with all the details can be found here. The official website, which also includes the full draft document of the plan can be found here.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

What plans are there for encouraging people to bike to work or school? Whenever people hear that I bike to work, they express surprise that I would do something so...what?...risky, uncomfortable, physically demanding, etc. But what they don't understand is that biking just makes more SENSE! It's faster than driving in traffic, it's cheaper, it's much healthier, it's "greener", and it's fun! But people are stuck believing that they have no choice but to drive their car. They fail to see other possibilities, including the possibility of biking. I think that if we really want better bike infrastructure, we need to get more people biking on a regular basis. How do you do that?

Gary said...

That's a complicated question, with a number of different interconnected answers.

One thing is make biking safer, and feel safer. I think a lot of people are afraid of tangling in the traffic mess of L.A. without the metal cage for protection. I think better infrastructure design is an important component, but also that education is important, for both cyclists and drivers. Hopefully the bike plan will build out a lot more safer routes.

About encouragement, things like the recent Santa Monica Bike It days, where students are encouraged to bike to school, with a lot of student involvement, can make a bike difference. The last Bike It Day at SAMOHI, which was supported with a special temporary bike lane near the school, had a 50% student ridership count. At work economic incentives like Parking Cash-Out, where employers give employees the cash value of the parking they ordinarily give for "free" (there is no such thing as free parking, the costs come out of somewhere, either your paycheck, your food costs, or your taxes), can be a real boon to cycling, and I have seen a lot more people at my work take it up once that policy was in place.

Then there also a lot of economic incentives built into encouraging driving. People tend to think because they spend a lot of money on their cars and associated fees, that they aren't heavily subsidized, but they are, a lot. If the costs of driving for more direct and less hidden through lots of general fund tax spending, I think a lot more people would click, hey driving is not economical.

There is also a cultural component in that we in America, LA especially have identified with cars not just as a tool but a status symbol. Changing the cultural fixation on driving at the expense of other modes of travel is not easy.

It also gets on a bigger level when you consider our housing development patterns, the further homes are spread away from jobs, and the more expensive the housing is near job centers, the less appealing bike commuting will be to many people who cannot afford to live close to their work. Housing policy is not something I have delved into on my blog much, but it does have an impact on bicycling.

Hope that at least partially answers your question.

Anonymous said...

Those are all good answers, but I think that there are a lot of people out there who would like to bike to work or school but feel held back by fear or a lack of knowledge.

The reality is that most people will not simply dust off their bikes and start riding 5 days a week. They don't know what route to take (since a bike route is often different from a driving route). They don't know what equipment to get (a rear wheel rack, panniers, lights, visibility jacket or vest, emergency kit to change a flat, etc.). They are worried about arriving to work sweaty. They are unsure if they are fit enough to bike, say, 3 or 4 miles each way. And, of course, they are scared that by biking in traffic they risk getting hurt or killed.

All of these are valid concerns, but they are all easily surmountable! The problem is that most people cannot do it alone - they need a helping hand.

Just think: do we expect people to buy their first car on their own, to learn how to drive it on their own, to fill up gas on their own, to learn how to get it maintained on their own, deal with insurance on their own, etc. NO! We show our kids how to drive around the block. We send them to driver ed. We explain how to pump gas, check the oil, get maintenance. We buy them AAA membership. We explain how insurance works. We remind them of the rules of the road, how to be safe, etc. No one in our society is expected to do this all on their own, yet if someone wants to bike, they must largely rely on themselves. Sure, they can go to bike shops and ask, they can go online, they can try to flag down bicyclists and ask questions. But that presumes an unusual amount of initiative and motivation.

The fact is, unless we make it easier to dust off the bike in the garage and start riding 5 days per week, progress will continue at a snail's pace.

Yes, there's a lot of pro-bike stuff in Santa Monica and LA. Lots of orgs (though I have doubts as to whether they are actually active, and whether there is a ridiculous amount of overlap and redundancy...but that's a different topic). There are lots of bike stores, yes. There are people like you who write eloquently and knowledgeably about bike issues. But if we try to put ourselves in the mind of an average Angelino with a bike in the attic who wouldn't mind biking to work now and then to stay fit, pay for less gas, and do good by the environment...you'll realize how much of a challenge that actually is. And why the bike stays in the attic. It's not necessarily because of poor infrastructure - though that surely contributes - I think it has more to do with how ineffective the bike community actually is in supporting people who would like to start riding. The best analogy I would use is that of a bureaucracy: a person who wants to bike has to have the unusual resolve to obtain information, know-how and self-confidence from dozens of different, disparate, sometimes conflicting sources. And they feel alone in the process.

I don't doubt intentions; I doubt the strategy.

Anonymous said...

Those are all good answers, but I think that there are a lot of people out there who would like to bike to work or school but feel held back by fear or a lack of knowledge.

The reality is that most people will not simply dust off their bikes and start riding 5 days a week. They don't know what route to take (since a bike route is often different from a driving route). They don't know what equipment to get (a rear wheel rack, panniers, lights, visibility jacket or vest, emergency kit to change a flat, etc.). They are worried about arriving to work sweaty. They are unsure if they are fit enough to bike, say, 3 or 4 miles each way. And, of course, they are scared that by biking in traffic they risk getting hurt or killed.

All of these are valid concerns, but as any bike commuter knows, they are in fact easily overcome! The problem is that most people cannot do it alone - they need a helping hand.

Just think: do we expect people to buy their first car on their own, to learn how to drive it on their own, to fill up gas on their own, to learn how to get it maintained on their own, deal with insurance on their own, etc. No. We show our kids how to drive around the block. We send them to driver ed. We explain how to pump gas, check the oil, get maintenance. We buy them AAA membership. We explain how insurance works. We remind them of the rules of the road, how to be safe, etc. No one in our society is expected to do this all on their own, yet if someone wants to bike, they must largely rely on themselves. Sure, they can go to bike shops, go online, flag down bicyclists and ask questions. But that presumes an unusual amount of initiative.

The fact is, unless we make it easier to dust off the bike in the garage and start riding to work, progress will continue at a snail's pace.

Yes, there's a lot of pro-bike stuff in Santa Monica and LA. Lots of orgs. Lots of bike stores. There are people like you who write eloquently and knowledgeably about bike issues. But if we try to put ourselves in the mind of an average Angelino with a bike in the attic who wouldn't mind biking to work now and then to stay fit, pay for less gas, and do good by the environment...you'll realize how much of a challenge that actually is. And why the bike stays in the attic. It's not necessarily because of poor infrastructure - though that surely contributes - I think it has more to do with how ineffective the bike community actually is in supporting people who would like to start riding. The best analogy I would use is that of a bureaucracy: a person who wants to bike has to have the unusual resolve to obtain information, know-how and self-confidence from dozens of different, disparate, sometimes conflicting sources. And they feel alone in the process.

I don't doubt intentions; I doubt the strategy.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the double post - Google was telling me my comment was too long to post, but apparently posted it anyways....

Gary said...

A lot more could be done certainly, but I think there are a lot of people trying to do what you're suggesting, but it's just not enough for the scale of the Los Angeles region. Bike co-ops like the Bicycle Kitchen, Bike Oven and Bikerowave are become hubs for teaching people not only how to maintain their bikes, but getting around effectively and tips from the more experienced. CICLE does a lot of more family friendly community based rides, and hosts classes. West Hollywood and Long Beach are hosting free LAB road cycling classes. Hopefully we will have that soon in Santa Monica.

My wife went through the certification to be an instructor, and after co-teaching a few classes hosted her first clinic for women interested in bike commuting at REI. The group that started up in Santa Monica, Spoke, that I am involved with, is looking to possibly host some of our own classes, as we now just recently got two people certified to teach, including my wife.

We're trying to get bike education curriculum back into schools in Santa Monica, and really it needs to be brought back across the country. We used to teach bike and traffic safety in schools, and somewhere down the line parents all started chauffeuring their kids to school and some schools even removed their bike parking for fear that encouraging biking was a "liability concern".

I think a lot of people are trying, we just need a lot more of it to make a noticeable dent in a city region as big and vast as Los Angeles.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm grateful that there is the Bikerowave, CICLE events, sustainable streets bike safety courses, etc. But what I'm describing is an ineffective interface between the resources that the bike community has to offer, and average people who are interested in biking to work but don't know exactly how to go about doing that.

Maybe it's as easy as making a new website - one that provides LA-based info on how to start riding to work or school. Pull together all the various resources and make them easily accessible to people. People are not going to try something new and potentially scary unless they feel confident that they know enough, that other people are doing exactly what they want to do, and that there are resources to support them.