Better Bike was in the house for last Thursday’s Traffic & Parking Commission meeting. Joining us were members Ron Durgin (of Sustainable Streets) and Aviv Kleinman, the latter a promising, motivated new member clearly interested in bringing change to Beverly Hills transportation.
Ron spoke about the need to get bike facilities and education on the front burner; he should know, he’s a professional in both areas. Aviv is a recent graduate of Beverly Hills High School with an interest in robotics and politics. (No jokes please!) He lamented the lack of safe travel for students who would bike to school. That is a new focus area for Better Bike, which is trying to bring Beverly Hills United’s attention to Safe Routes to School principles as part of their facility master plan process.
Bike advocates received a chilly if polite reception, however, even though we congratulated the Commission on the one-year anniversary of their Ad-Hoc Bike Plan Update Committee. Maybe it was because we circulated an open letter to Commissioners, reminding them that in the past year there has been no substantive improvement in conditions or safety for cyclists? Or because we highlighted the only two signs of progress – a map of Golden Triangle bike rack locations and a decal applied to each – as unsatisfactory, not least because the map is inaccurate and the decals insignificant? At the meeting we provided our own, new and improved map (below).
We noted to Commissioners that we’ve developed our own improved map for the bike community. In an earlier meeting, we even offered to make and post a bike rack map – free to the city – so that their $100,000/yr transportation planner could get on to more substantive bike-friendly projects. (We weren’t taken up on that offer, but map inaccuracies begged our own improved version.)
With only a brisk, “Thank you for coming” on offer from the Commission Chair, Mr. Levine, where does this leave bike advocates? It suggests that the Traffic & Transportation Commission may have been the suggested venue for raising our concerns, but not the most productive venue.
It might be that the political arena is where we need to focus next. With an election coming up year after next for three BH City Council members, we may need a better understanding of the political lay of the land so that bike advocates and alternative transportation supporters can be better prepared the next time candidates ask voters to go to the polls. It only takes a hundred or two hundred votes to swing an election in BH, folks.
Then there’s that other opportunity: BH United.We addressed this earlier. Talk about worth the effort: with City Hall moving at a snail’s pace, BH Unified’s pot of Measure E money (totaling $334,000,000!) means that safe transit for kids on bikes might be realizable well before the Traffic & Transportation Commission even thinks about getting around to embarking on a city bike plan update. Better Bike attends their Facilities Advisory Committee meetings and otherwise tries to keep the issue on the front burner. And we do have tacit supporters over there on Lasky Drive. (Stay tuned!)