Local Campaign Builds for Santa Monica Boulevard Bicycle Lanes

Beverly Hills resident Danielle Salomon is a bicycle lane proponent. She (and daughter Nina) spoke at the Blue-Ribbon Committee meeting #3 and she followed up with an appearance at the March 4th City Council meeting to urge councilmembers to incorporate class II (on street) lanes on tomorrow’s Santa Monica Boulevard. But sentiment from a majority on the dais ran against lanes (read our recap). So Danielle and husband Gene reached out to their neighbors in advance of next Tuesday’s Council meeting, where the project will come back for Council action. Consider reaching out to your neighbors. Follow their template (at bottom) or roll your own.


Neighbors,

Please excuse this semi-mass e-mail, but I am writing to encourage you to make your voice heard on an issue in Beverly Hills important to me and my family and, perhaps, to you and yours.

The City of Beverly Hills is planning to reconstruct North Santa Monica Boulevard in 2015 to rebuild the deteriorating roadway and upgrade the century-old drainage system. The City Council formed a committee of 15 residents to develop recommendations for enhancements to the boulevard. After months of investigation and meetings with project consultants, city officials, and the public, the committee recommended expanding Santa Monica Boulevard by 3-6 feet and striping the pavement for bike lanes in each direction. The expansion will not increase the number of lanes for vehicular traffic.

Last week, the committee presented its recommendations to City Council. Despite the committee’s recommendations and overwhelming public support, three of the five council members responded that they do not support adding bike lanes because they feel it is unsafe to ride a bike on Santa Monica Boulevard and they do not want to encourage more bicyclists to use the street (despite evidence presented to them that shows the contrary). In addition, they do not want to expand the boulevard and lose 3-6 feet (3 feet on the eastern blocks and 6 feet on the western blocks) of Beverly Gardens.

I understand the reluctance to eliminate green space in our city and we’d love to have more. But maintaining the current width of Santa Monica Boulevard is a poor option because of the reasons cited by the committee, which include the following:

  • The stretch through Beverly Hills along Santa Monica Boulevard is a critical segment of a regional backbone bicycle network connecting Beverly Hills to the cities of West Hollywood and Los Angeles (and on to Santa Monica).
  • When the Three Feet for Safety Act goes into effect in September, vehicles will be required to leave three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist. The current width of the lanes on Santa Monica Blvd. does not allow enough room for bicyclists and vehicles to share the road at a safe passing distance. If the boulevard is not expanded, motorists will have to move into the left lane to pass a bicyclist, which would impede traffic. And when Santa Monica Boulevard is re-paved, more bicyclists will be using the street because the edges of the street will be in much better condition than they are now.
  • Expanding the boulevard is less costly than not expanding it. The side of Beverly Gardens will need to be torn up during the project in order to fix the drainage system. Paving it for bike lanes instead of re-building it saves taxpayers’ money.
  • The project consultants reviewed five studies related to bike lanes and concluded that bike lanes increase safety for all road users.
  • Members of the public who support adding bike lanes outnumbered opponents by 3 to 1 in spoken remarks and 9 to 1 in written comments to the committee.
  • Encouraging people to bicycle enhances quality of life by easing car congestion, reducing air pollution, and promoting a healthier lifestyle.
  • Representatives from the cities of West Hollywood and Los Angeles, as well as UCLA, expressed their support for adding bike lanes.

In addition, adding the bike lanes would actually move car traffic further away from houses in the 500 block.

The council members opposed to the committee’s recommendations are Willie Brien, Julian Gold and Nancy Krasne. At least one of them needs to be converted to get the recommendations adopted. The issue is scheduled to be addressed again at the City Council meeting on April 1 at 7:00 pm.

We have a once in a generation opportunity to improve transportation, safety and quality of life, but we need your help to do it. If you support this opportunity, I urge you to write SMBLVD@beverlyhills.org and MayorandCityCouncil@beverlyhills.org before April 1. Please make your voice heard. The more people who take action now, the better our odds of getting the City Council to approve the addition of bike lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard.

To make it easier, I have appended a sample email below that you can customize as you’d like. If you have any questions on this issue or would like to discuss in further detail, please feel free to reach out to either of us at your convenience.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Danielle and Gene Salomon

Dear Council Members:

I [live/work/commute through] Beverly Hills and I support the expansion of Santa Monica Boulevard to include bicycle lanes. Bicycle lanes are safer for bicyclists and motorists, and a bicycle lane on Santa Monica Boulevard would connect with existing bikeways on either side of the city. Encouraging people to bicycle enhances our quality of life by easing car congestion, reducing air pollution, and promoting a healthier lifestyle.

Not expanding Santa Monica Boulevard would impede traffic flow when the Three Feet for Safety Act goes into effect. The current width of the lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard does not provide enough room for motorists to pass bicyclists at a safe passing distance. Cars will have to move into the left lane, which will slow traffic. Adding bicycle lanes along Santa Monica Boulevard would also save taxpayers’ money.

A bike lane on Carmelita is not a good alternative because of the 4-way stops on every block and because it runs contrary to our city’s bike plan. The bike plan states, “a route should have as few interruptions or stops as possible, since stop-and-go cycling is an inefficient use of the bicyclists’ energy and tends to discourage use of a bikeway” (Bicycle Master Plan, p. 725).

The Santa Monica Boulevard Reconstruction Project will impact transportation for decades to come. We have a once in a generation opportunity to improve transportation, safety and quality of life in Beverly Hills and I encourage you to approve the recommendations of the Santa Monica Boulevard Blue Ribbon Committee adding bicycle lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Your Address]


We totally support this effort because we value multimodal mobility on the Westside. Needless to add, bicycle lanes are a state-approved traffic control device and not a “giveaway to the cyclists” as some critics claim. If we really value choice in modes of mobility, then we’ll make this corridor safe to bike. And we need only three of five Council votes to include bicycle lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard in order to make it safer for everybody. Contact our councilmembers by email at mayorandcitycouncil@beverlyhills.org or call 285-1013. Thanks Danielle and Gene!