The next speaker is a frequent traveler though the city but not a resident. “Two to five times a week I ride to destinations in Beverly Hills,” she said, enumerating three concerns:
1) Going up Santa Monica [today] I take the bike lanes. I’m not going up Carmelita. 2) If I’m heading [north] on Doheney, I won’t go west [to pick up Crescent] I’ll just ride north up Doheney. That’s a missed opportunity. And 3) There are no places to park my bike. If we are to encourage cycling, I hope that there will be places to park.
The next speaker, another non-resident, noted his role at a large transportation agency to say, “Connectivity is important to a vehicular cyclist.” He said that the City of Los Angeles is looking to connect Downtown with the ocean, and an organization called the Adventure Cycling Association is looking to re-create a route linking Chicago with the ocean (old Route 66). He noted 20 extra feet of right-of-way beyond Santa Monica Boulevard and asked whether an off-street (Class I) bike path might be advisable, and asked, “How can we work with government to connect this route into the [larger] system?”
Yours truly remarked that the city’s 1977-era Beverly Hills Bicycle Master Plan was actually ambitious compared to these Pilot candidate routes. We find the proposed Pilot improvements somewhat lacking too:
The Bicycle Master Plan anticipated a 22-mile system ‘unimpeded by stop signs’ and with ‘as few interruptions or stops as possible.’ It proposed a comprehensive bike network unlike the four routes we’re looking at today. And one of the criteria used in this feasibility study is no change to parking or traffic flow. But the earlier plan recommended for areas south of Santa Monica Boulevard ‘on-street paths [that] would necessitate removal of parking on both sides of the street’ – with an exception for the business triangle where it was not feasible. North of Santa Monica, the 1977 plan called for bike lanes, which, it said, ‘will probably improve safety and it will not lessen the number of travel lanes nor affect parking.’ Substantively, the route identified for South Reeves – where I live – is impractical on the southern  block given the narrow width and parking on both sides. Today opposing traffic must squeeze through; there’s no room for a cyclist. And on [adjacent] Beverly, we have an opportunity to think differently by, for example, reversing the direction of the pull-in parking so that we back in, for better visibility. By taking a less-imaginative approach than the 1977 plan, and by relying on sharrows on much of the Pilot routes, I have to agree with an earlier speaker: What are we hoping to learn from this Pilot?
The 1977 plan (which was re-adopted in 2010 and is our operative bike plan) was willing to take bold steps to “connect the major commercial, recreational, educational and employment facilities in the City by the shortest safest possible routes.” The comprehensive, 22-mile bikeway system envisioned in the plan, moreover, would be built around bike lanes – the kind of facility hardly even considered in this Pilot program. Safe passage for cyclists of all ages and abilities was the priority; plan drafters viewed the “preferential lane for bicyclists” as key if the new system were to “serve as alternative transportation to parks, schools, shopping areas.” Most importantly, plan drafters anticipated that cycling would play an important role in the future of transportation in Beverly Hills.
That’s what we should be shooting for here, but that philosophy – a vision that guides cities all around us today – is simply not on offer in the Pilot program.
What do you think? Take the opportunity to email written comments about the Pilot and the five proposed bike routes to Transportation (attention: Martha Eros) or to Better Bike where we will relay them to the city.