City Disses Cycling, Promotes Sham ‘Heart Healthy’ Event

Beverly Hills Healthy CityWho in Beverly Hills City Hall thinks that marketing a local luxe hotel and medical practice will lead to better community health outcomes? Perhaps only a city that turns its back on cycling for fun, fitness, and recreation could embrace the ‘Love Your Body’ workshop promoted in this city press release. It’s part of a new initiative, ‘Beverly Hills Healthy City,’ which prompts us to get moving. Literally! The Mayor, Lili Bosse, leads a popular Monday morning walk. Now we’re all for active mobility, but we don’t think a workshop offering “inspirational personal wellness solutions” is the best means to healthy ends.

But then who are we to quibble about a ‘heart healthy’ workshop like ‘Love Your Body’? We have a health crisis on our hands! Our sedentary lifestyles kill us slowly, public health professionals tell us. Chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes prey on our vulnerable communities. It’s the calorie-rich diet, the over-consumption of entertainment, and the disinclination to actively perambulate, doctors say, that increases body fat while reducing our ability to efficiently metabolize food. Add in the stress of daily living and you’ve got many attenuated lives. They call it a public health crisis.

Per the city’s press release, the ‘Love Your Body’ workshop at the Spa Montage comes to the rescue!

Learn to live a heart healthy lifestyle with fitness and wellness tips from experts who in their own unique way will inspire Beverly Hills to get moving every day….The 20,000 square foot urban oasis is the largest spa in Los Angeles with 17 treatments rooms, a co-ed mineral pool area, a state- of-the-art fitness center and spacious men’s and women’s relaxation areas.

The workshop will feature “cold-pressed juices and healthy treats provided by Montage Beverly Hills” as well as advice from “experts who in their own unique way will inspire” us to burn off the calories. (Helpfully the city press release urges us at the August 13th event to “learn more about Spa Montage’s Fit and Refresh Package” while we work our mind…if not our body.)

But the target market for this ‘Love Your Body’ workshop is not some needy Southland or Central Valley community; nor is it the low-income apartment dwellers of Mid-City, Mar Vista or Culver City, hard-up against too much fast food. Those might be places where public health interventions might be needed, but that’s not the clientele bid by the city’s marketing campaign.

No, the ‘Love Your Body’ workshop targets one specific needy community, and it’s right here at home: the haute bourgeoisie. They tend to recede into the long blocks of the north side so they may not be on the radar. But nevertheless we have to acknowledge that they need help. They live in environments where hazards like plush sofas predominate; where large entertainment systems beg a sit-down; where large residential lots remote from town discourage active mobility. Yes, we have our own expanding waistlines and phlegmatic metabolism issues right here in Beverly Hills!

And while their sedentary lifestyle may seem counter-intuitive given the terrain (the haute precincts of Beverly Hills are hilly), they are burdened with additional life stresses. Like motoring on congested streets and then having to hunt for curbside parking (when your fellow bourgeois have snapped up all of the handicapped spots using bogus placards). Or being tempted nightly by the omnipresence of valet parking. Who would want to walk to a parking structure anyway?

Physical activity like cycling is a proven pathway to fitness. Yet while Beverly Hills embraces the notion of Healthy City, City Hall refuses to take any step to actually encourage active mobility by making our streets safe for those who choose to walk and bike. Transportation officials turn a blind eye and deaf ear to explicit calls to, say, add a bike lane to our major streets. We’ve been asking for continental crosswalks, too, but to no avail; we’ll stick with the faded non-thermoplastic stripes.

For city leaders, it’s simply easier to gin up a hashtag (#BHHealthyCity) and promote a luxe hotel via this bogus ‘complimentary healthy workshop’ (whatever that means) rather than create the conditions that are conducive to active recreation and active transportation.

This August 13th event won’t get us to better health outcomes, but it will dull the day’s sharp edge, one honed by too much time in too much traffic without much opportunity to move one’s body like nature intended.

The Wrong Signal to Send

It’s bad enough that drugstore chains like Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS long have turned their back on the community. As in literally turning their back on the public sphere by building impenetrable facades at the sidewalk but facing entrances toward a parking lot. Yet many communities have gotten wise to that kind of defacement and today demand sidewalk entrances and real windows. Regardless, the chains, often headquartered out of the cities and off the coasts, maintain a suburban-style mindset.

That mindset pushes back against public health efforts to get folks moving under their own power. For example, behold another misguided Rite Aid newspaper promotion that goes out of its way to encourage people to drive instead of walk a few blocks to the drug store:

Rite aid promomotion adNow Rite Aid is not a big-box retailer but a neighborhood drug store; people who shop there often leave with a single item or a few in a small bag. It’s the perfect bike errand! Yet this ad plays to our default behavior of reaching for the car keys, even though it might be more of a hassle to drive the few blocks to a Rite Aid.

At Rite Aid, we strive to deliver the products and services that you, our valued customer, need to lead a healthier, happier life.

Well, if we’re to get beyond our record levels of obesity and diabetes we’ll have to forgo our auto-dominated, sedentary lifestyles. But keeping us locked in the default mode is good for business. It probably moves the blood-sugar analyzers and blood pressure monitors. And they offer fatter margins than do prescription drugs. (That’s why the pharmacy is at the ass-end of the store, right?)

Rite Aid specialitiesWould encouraging walking or cycling to the store nibble at the bottom line? Perhaps. Maybe it is it simply another case of blinkered vision. Not recognizing the changing nature of urban mobility. Or maybe it is path dependency by another corporate chain no more in tune with the local population that, say, General Motors or Ford?

Will Recommended Bike Facilities Ever See Beverly Hills Pavement?

The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices is recommending several new bike facilities for adoption by the Federal Highways Administration. Those identified here are easily-implemented pavement markings that would better safeguard riders negotiating hazardous Beverly Hills intersections. Adoption by NCUTCD would lend support for in-state inclusion in our state’s Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which is required before local transportation agencies deploy a traffic control treatment. Let’s take a look at a few that were recently recommended.

Of the dozen or so new facilities recently recommended by National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices Bicycle Technical Committee, there are three that could help riders navigate Beverly Hills intersections not upgraded over the past half-century. By ‘upgrade’ we mean the incorporation of good practices we see rolled out in neighboring cities: durable thermoplastic, continental-style (aka ‘zebra’) crosswalks, and of course bicycle lanes that help position riders for safe transit though. Here in Beverly Hills our markings fade quickly because we won’t use thermoplastic (for reasons unknown) while we’ve just begun to use the new crosswalks. And our bike lanes are few.

Bicycle Lane Extensions

Bicycle Lane Extensions exampleMarked extensions to bicycle lanes running through intersections help riders get across intersections that can span 10 lanes or more and reduce uncertainty and ambiguity by providing a marked path. Per the NCUTC’s committee recommendation report, they “denote the expected path for bicyclists and advise motorists that bicyclists are likely to use the intended path.” Thus it’s a facility that serves both riders and drivers. Even better, the NUCTC recommendation suggest coloring them green!

Now we know what you’re thinking: What use is a lane extension when Beverly Hills has so few bike lanes, and those that we have only span a few blocks? We’ll suggest here putting this cart before the horse if only because we have several particularly hazardous intersections that would benefit from immediate help. And extension markings might be the thing. Consider the Wilshire-San Vicente intersection for example. What a mess it is!

Wilshire-San Vicente aerial view

The issue here is that San Vicente is very wide (it once accommodated streetcars) and is divided by a median. And Wilshire is a race course. Both make traversing this intersection a high-stress endeavor. But City of Los Angeles is already upgrading their side of San Vicente with bicycle lanes. Hopefully Beverly Hills lanes will come soon. Lane extensions are the next step.

What about the Wilshire-Santa Monica intersection? This perennial LOS-level F juncture needs all the help it can get. But unfortunately it’s in City of Beverly Hills which appears in no hurry to improve it. We’ve suggested the need for immediate improvements but hear from city transportation officials that it might not happen anytime soon – perhaps not until phase II of the Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction.

Wilshire-Santa Monica intersection

The Wilshire-Santa Monica intersection is a hazard to everybody’s health. Marked guidance for cyclists would be a good first step for safer transit.

Looking ahead, though, bicycle lane extensions might be just the ticket because today’s traffic flow clearly compromises the safety of riders. The only caveat: can extensions can be striped if there is no existing adjacent bike lane? Proposed lanes for Santa Monica Blvd have run into political headwinds.

The Bicycle Box

Oh the venerable bicycle box! Currently considered an ‘experimental’ design by our state’s MUTCD, the bike box serves a simple but useful purpose:

Similar to a recessed or advanced stop line, a bicycle box creates a reserved space in front of one or more travel lanes, but outside of pedestrian crosswalks, for bicyclists to wait for a green signal ahead of queuing motorists.

Bicycle box diagram

The bicycle box is shown at low-center in the diagram.

The virtue of the bicycle box is that improves the visibility of cyclists by putting them ahead of motor traffic. It also gives riders a head start on turns if there is no dedicated bicycle signal (which is most every intersection in the region).

Among the benefits (as cited by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) are that groups riding together clear an intersection more quickly and minimize impediments to traffic; that the box helps to prevent ‘right hook’ conflict with right-turning vehicles; and that it keeps riders from breathing exhaust while queued and contributes to the rider’s perception of safety. All good reasons for Catrans to officially adopt the Bicycle Box. Both City of Davis and Santa Monica have been granted permission from Caltrans to ‘experiment’ with it.

We hope that NCTUCD follows the NACTO’s Urban Design Bikeway Guide recommendation and adopts this traffic control device so that local agencies like Caltrans might include it in the local toolkit.

Two-Stage-Turn Queuing Box

Among the most diminutive of traffic control devices is the Two-Stage-Turn Queuing Box, “a waiting area for bicyclists to queue to turn left at an intersection by first proceeding to a position to queue at the [far] right side of the intersection,” according to the NCTUCD’s technical committee’s recommendation. More:

In locations where conventional left turns are prohibited or where bicyclists’ merging to a conventional left-turn would be inconvenient, a two-stage left turn can be utilized… The distance traveled for a two-stage left turn is longer…but a two-stage left turn may nonetheless save time if the merge to the conventional left-turn position is blocked by traffic congestion.

Many larger intersections appear suitable for this treatment because riders may feel uncomfortable crossing two or three lanes of fast and aggressive traffic to reach a left-turn lane. At intersections like Westwood Boulevard at Santa Monica, for example, the two-stage box might be what’s best. Behold this beauty!Santa Monica-Westwood Boulevard intersection

Two Stage Turn Queuing box diagramAt such locations, the two-stage turn queuing box would allow the rider to stay right in order to navigate a left turn through the intersection. By simply progressing to the far side and waiting for the green light (as depicted in the diagram at right), she crosses no passing traffic. So heading southbound to turn left (east), the rider takes her place in the queue box on Santa Monica (bottom left in the diagram) and waits for the eastbound green. No need to cross busy Westwood Boulevard traffic!

These three traffic control devices are no-brainers and we wait for inclusion in California’s MUTCD. But there are other ‘experimental’  treatments used in California and they await approval for statewide deployment. Among those of interest are City of Long Beach’s buffered bike lanes, green shared lane markings, and bike signals; and San Francisco MTA’s red-colored pavement for transit-only lanes. The Federal Highways Administration enumerates experimental control devices across the country with 16 currently active evaluations of all kinds underway here.

We hope that all of these facilities are simply the beginning of an effort to re-engineer our streets to make them safe for bicycling. Like the Vision Zero initiative argues, streets must be forgiving of human error; it’s  simply good enough to just move traffic. Looking ahead, we will see that we’ve lived through dark times when it comes to managing multimodal traffic. Caltrans and local transit agencies have for far too long done too little to keep riders safe.

What We Can Do Today About Santa Monica Boulevard

Santa Monica Boulevard pavementBeverly Hills City Council may have punted on Santa Monica Boulevard, but they can’t turn their back on street safety entirely. Consider what confronts road users every day on this corridor: pavement hazards and intersections seemingly engineered to fail riders. While councilmembers continue to discuss reconstruction cost, let’s talk safety. There’s much we can do to make this corridor better today: repair that blacktop and intersections like Santa Monica-Beverly Blvd and Santa Monica/Wilshire more safely accessible to riders.

When the city took control of our section of the corridor from Caltrans nearly a decade ago, we received a small pot of gold to make repairs. But those funds (and monies since added) have moldered while the boulevard deteriorated. Indeed it’s been years since the city talked RFP. Even after selecting a consultant, we’ve dithered on the reconstruction project – and also deferred any improvements.

Wrench in the street

Debris like busted pliers await crosstown riders.

In the meantime the safety of road users hangs in the balance. Riding Santa Monica on a bicycle is an exercise in fright. That’s why so many riders addressed City Council begging for a class II bicycle lane there. We must swerve to avoid storm drains, potholes, pavement heaves and all kinds of debris (yes, even broken slip-jaw pliers) as impatient motorists squeeze by us. That’s why hundreds of riders contacted the Blue Ribbon Committee and Council with written comments.

Yet city inaction has only allowed the boulevard to deteriorate. In fact, the last director of Public Works simply said the city would make no repairs prior to reconstruction. Better Bike has spoken many times with Aaron Kunz, Deputy Director for Transportation, about Santa Monica Boulevard hazards (most recently a week ago) but it’s clear no action is forthcoming.

How wrong that is! The city could undertake an interim repair program, and we could start today. We’ve got open contracts for ongoing street maintenance for example; and we’re in the midst of budget planning for next fiscal year, so we could sweeten the pot right now for major repairs.

But what will it take for the city to make that effort? Here is one indication: despite residents’ safety concerns up in hilly Trousdale, the city addressed traffic hazards there only after two police officers were killed in successive crashes. Then, after the fact, City Manager Jeff Kolin snapped into action by calling a hasty meeting of the (somnambulent) Traffic and Parking Commission. And Council embraced a ‘vision zero’ program where the objective is zero <em>construction-related</em>  deaths. (We can’t recall another example of a building construction death anyway.)

What we need, however, is a <em>zero collision death</em> policy to encourage our transportation officials to look at the state of our roads and to create mobility policies that will keep us safe. For example, the city notched a pedestrian death just a couple of months ago. Indeed this death, and the prospect of serious injuries, hardly encourages our policymakers take notice of road conditions <em>seemingly designed to harm.</em>

Santa Monica Boulevard is a good example. Last year, City Council heard a harrowing story from Paul Livingston, who was hit from behind near City Hall and the driver fled. He spent weeks in a coma and rehabilitated his shattered hip, but it was business as usual for the city. Even the police closed the case with a cursory investigation until riders crowded into Council chambers urging a real investigation. Finally the driver was identified and charged – a case that’s ongoing years later.

Yet this past March, three of five councilmembers dissed bike lanes as possibly unsafe, even as a score of riders showed up to urge them. City Council may yet deprive bicycle riders of class II lanes on Santa Monica, but we should still press them for whatever the city can do to make Santa Monica Boulevard safer today.

Let’s Start With Santa Monica Boulevard: Fix the Blacktop!

First we can fix the blacktop. Riders are reminded every day that Santa Monica Boulevard is simply not fit for purpose. Broken asphalt, potholes, and moguls hit us right in the bum, and even worse are the grates, cracks, and pavement grooves that threaten to dismount the rider.  We urge our transportation officials Susan Healey Keene, Aaron and transportation planner Martha Eros to take a look.

We walked the southern side of the street from Crescent Drive to Doheney. Here’s what we saw. (These images (and more) will be included in an upcoming safety advisory to City Hall.)

Santa Monica Boulevard hazards

Beverly Hills municipal code instructs riders to ride “as near the curb as possible” (section 5-5-8) but doesn’t take into account the busted blacktop we find there.

Santa Monica Boulevard hazards

Potholes (‘irregularities’ in the parlance) best measured with a yardstick will unsettle cargo and perhaps bust a spoke. Those in shadow await the rider with an unwelcome surprise.

Santa Monica Boulevard hazards

Deep grooves are just perfect for snagging a tire to topple a rider.

Santa Monica Boulevard hazards

Pavement heaves like this wouldn’t be tolerated anywhere else in our city, yet here they remain an obstacle for riders. Often they are obscured by shadow or camouflaged by debris (the city never sweeps this segment of Santa Monica Boulevard).

Santa Monica Boulevard hazards

Storm drains like this one not only reflect the outright dysfunction of the drainage system (a key reason for reconstructing the corridor) but show just how far the condition of the boulevard has deteriorated.

Santa Monica Boulevard hazards

This closeup reminds us how easily one of these storm drains can pinch a street tire and topple a rider. It is representative of unsafe grates all along the corridor.

That’s but a few of the hazards on just one-quarter of the Santa Monica Boulevard curb lane. If we can take an hour to take that walk as a freebie, surely our transportation officials, who together represent a half-million bucks in staff costs annually, can take it too.

Next Step: Remove the Fence that Corrals Riders to the Blacktop

The 50,000 drivers that traverse Santa Monica Boulevard on any given weekday might have wondered about the strip of land on the south side of the Boulevard. The city has been in talks forever to purchase it. But environmental contamination and unwilling sellers complicate that deal. So the land sits fallow, surrounded by a tall chain link fence.

While drivers may not even notice the fence, it is cause for concern among riders because it presses right up to the curb for long stretches between City Hall and Doheney. The tight space (especially west of Beverly Blvd) leaves little margin for rider error. In fact it’s so close to the curb that it could for example snag a cruiser bike handlebar, or catch overhanging cargo strapped to a rear bike rack. Or a rider could find herself pinned between the car of a careless driver and a fencepost.

The fence presses right up to the curb. For the fallen rider there is no escape. And overhanging trees cast a shadow over the edge of the roadway to reduce rider visibility.

The fence presses right up to the curb. For the fallen rider there is no escape. And overhanging trees cast a shadow over the edge of the roadway to reduce rider visibility.

Should a rider fall, this fence will also block any escape from fast-moving traffic in this shadow-covered part of the corridor. Today she is fenced-out from any refuge. Alternately, without a fence the rider could retreat into the grassy area beyond to be buffered from further injury. Because of this fence, too, an injured rider must make a long circuitous walk around these parcels to reach nearby households for help. There is simply no means of escape for the rider along this forlorn and dangerous stretch of blacktop.

Prune the Trees for Greater Visibility

Riders on this south-side stretch of eastern Santa Monica Boulevard would also benefit from greater visibility. The problem is that overhanging trees block the sun (as see in the shadows in images above). So drivers, accustomed to the bright sun, might simply not see a rider in the deep shadows. Worse, at speed the driver may not even see a fallen rider. And with so few eyes on this part of the corridor, and those fenced-in parcels, no pedestrian will come to the assistance of a fallen rider. There is no emergency phone. Given the prevailing spirit of community in Beverly Hills, how many drivers would stop to help a fallen rider?

Improve the Santa Monica-Beverly Boulevard Intersection

While the city dithers on reconstructing Santa Monica, other opportunities to bump-up the safety are overlooked too. For example, an intersection like Santa Monica at Beverly Boulevard needs repair (and rethinking). This T-juncture is heavily trafficked and bus lines ply it regularly. But pity the poor pedestrian or rider who must cross on faded crosswalks or navigate glass and other debris. She is an afterthought at an intersection that is wholly given over to motor traffic.

Santa Monica-Beverly Boulevard pedestrian island

No welcome for walkers! This intersection doesn’t say much for a city ranked 7th for walkability in California by WalkScore.

Santa Monica-Beverly Boulevard crosswalk

Markings on the north side are also faded because the city chooses not to use more durable thermoplastic.

Pity the rider especially. Approaching eastbound on Santa Monica, for example, she’s pinched in a narrow lane between motor traffic on the left and the curb fence on the right.

Santa Monica-Beverly Boulevard buses allow little room for riders

Keep too far to the right (like the BH municipal code requires) and you’re luncheon meat sandwiched between the traffic and the curb.

And if she “keeps to the right” (per the Beverly Hills municipal code requirement) she is inevitably trapped as motor traffic turns at speed onto Beverly Boulevard.

Santa Monica-Beverly Boulevard puts motor traffic before bike travelers.

The long right-turn lane (not a pocket) allows turning traffic to continue at speed. That makes a left merge into the #2 lane a hazard indeed.

Now, good cycling practice suggests a merge left into the #2 lane to continue east on Santa Monica. But the priority on motoring makes moving left, through the right turn lane, a clear hazard:  fast-moving traffic whizzes by facilitated by  the long right turn lane (it is not a turn pocket). Riders are failed by an intersection designed only for motor travelers. There is nothing here that would reduce the consequences of human error. Europeans by contrast accommodate that inevitable error by building safer facilities.

Reopen Civic Center Drive for Through Travel

There is another problem with this intersection too: in the effort to hasten motor traffic flow, engineers have cut off the only viable alternative to Santa Monica for two-wheeled travelers. The route that holds that potential is Civic Center Drive, which parallels Santa Monica south of the (now fenced) old railroad right-of-way. This aptly-named street links the Civic Center with Doheney and could deliver eastbound riders to West Hollywood safely…were it not interrupted by Beverly Boulevard!

Santa Monica-Beverly Boulevard aerial viewOn the west side side, Civic Center simply merges onto Beverly; to the east of Beverly it terminates in a lonely and useless cul-de-sac. But Beverly wasn’t always a barrier to through-travelers. Before officials engineered this intersection strictly for motor traffic, Civic Center drive continued straight through. So let’s revisit that option if only to give bike lane opponents an alternative they can point to for our safe travel.

We’ve heard much from city officials and neighborhood folks that riders should “find an alternative” to Santa Monica Boulevard. Overlooking for the moment that 50,000 drivers on an average every weekday choose this route because it’s the most direct crosstown connection, our transportation officials could help us find an alternative by opening Civic Center Drive to through travel.

Re-Engineer the Santa Monica Boulevard-Wilshire Intersection

The most egregious safety hazard in our opinion is the Santa Monica Boulevard-Wilshire Boulevard intersection. This is another #fail in a boulevard engineered for motor traffic only.

Santa Monica Boulevard turn lanes existingThe problem is the ambiguity associated with dual right-hand (westbound) turn lanes from Santa Monica onto Wilshire (at right). Of these dual turn lanes, the left one is an optional turn. Ordinarily, recommended practice suggests the rider merge left into that optional lane in order to proceed straight on Santa Monica. But on a corridor with the traffic volume of Santa Monica that alone is a challenge.

But this intersection introduces another hazard: that optional turn lane’s signal is an arrow which stays green for a turn well after the straight-ahead signal turns red. So the rider who does merge left yet fails to make the light can find herself stopped at the limit line while traffic in her own lane impatiently passes by at speed to turn. If she’s followed the recommended practice of merging left, this intersection puts her in danger.

But also consider the fate of riders who follow the Beverly Hills municipal code  to “keep right.” Should the westbound rider hug the curb as the dual turn lanes reach the intersection? No: he will find himself by the fountain waiting to cross Wilshire but with no means to safely cross it. Because on the left he’s trapped by those dual turn lanes, and the fast-moving traffic – always turning at speed on any green signal – offers no opportunity to continue on. But there no escape there because Wilshire provides no crosswalk to the Hilton side.

The situation is no hypothetical: we counted riders for LACBC’s bike count last year and saw rider after rider find himself in that turn-lane trap. Some turned west on Wilshire but then found no crosswalk. And there exists no left-turn on Wilshire until Whittier. Some others inevitably took a risk and scampered across Wilshire in the moment after the turn arrows went red. But that’s not only illegal it’s quite unsafe. Yet it can only be the expected behavior when an intersection fails riders like this one.

Were this intersection engineered for safe transit, no rider would not find himself in the turn-lane trap. No rider would be stuck at the limit line in an optional-turn lane waiting to get struck by turning traffic. And it demands action. Today. Should City Council phase in Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction over a period of years, we’re told, work on this intersection wouldn’t commence until phase II. And when would that be?

What the City Should Do for Santa Monica-Wilshire

Fortunately FHWA (the national DOT) has design guidance for this situation. One option is to simply leave it to riders to figure out how to navigate the twin turn lanes. Yes, that’s what FHWA puts forth as an option. But that’s a bad choice because rider safety education is scant and besides, Beverly Hills has lifted no finger to apprize riders of how to ride safely. That’s why vision zero gets it right: we’re better off designing our facilities to account for rider inexperience and even bad judgment (just like the Swedes do).

Santa Monica Boulevard shared-lane option diagramAnother option is to put a striped bicycle lane between the turn lanes (illustrated at right by the FWHA). This option at least properly guides riders to the intersection. But it would offer little protection as drivers in turn lanes continue to take advantage of the green turn signal, passing the rider at speed on both sides. Were the arrows signal and through-signals to turn red together, however, it’s another story (especially when paired with a bike box).

But the best option is to eliminate the dual lanes entirely to fit a bicycle lane to the left of a single turn lane (as shown by FHWA below). The advantages are twofold: a clearly-marked, dedicated lane would reduce ambiguity for riders unsure of how to pass through today’s intersection; and the elimination of the second (optional) turn lane reduces the opportunity for conflict. The intersection could then retain today’s signal timing.

Santa Monica Boulevard turn lanes best remedy diagramAn added benefit of eliminating the lane is that additional space is made available for the bicycle lane. (Alternately, with an incrementally wider boulevard, as under consideration, we could have our cake and eat it too: dual turn lanes and a dedicated bicycle lane at the intersection.)

Act Now!

What’s critical is that the city address these safety issues now. The issues enumerated here are all known and evident hazards. We need only to recognize them. So let’s include repair of the entire corridor’s blacktop, as well as the re-engineering of its intersections, during the first phase of reconstruction.

We want to see Beverly Hills do the right thing by making Santa Monica Boulevard accessible to all road users. That’s the promise of ‘complete streets’ after all: to make travel safe whether you walk, ride a bicycle or drive a car. That’s why evolving federal and state transportation policy embraces design principles already implemented by transportation engineers in Europe. Let’s put the safety of pedestrians and riders before the convenience of drivers. That’s what we should do if we’re ever to consider streets as a significant public space (rather than simply a conduit for motor traffic).

Safe, Multimodal Streets are Already in our Plans

It’s not just a matter of safety. Our own sustainable city plan says we need to encourage cycling. Our Bicycle Master Plan calls for a citywide network of bike routes. Even our General Plan’s circulation element envisions a multimodal mobility future for Beverly Hills. It’s just that our policymakers and city officials don’t evidently agree. They’re still wedded to an old way of thinking about the city as a small town.

Jeff Kolin, Beverly Hills City Manager and himself a rider, has been silent on the safety aspects of Santa Monica boulevard. He’s not spoken up to recommend any interim fixes, for example, and certainly noted to Council none of the issues we identify here. Ask him yourself why he’s so reticent. Find his number in our handy City Hall cheat sheet.

Sizing up the June 2014 Election Candidates for Supervisorial District 3

Heading to the polls on June 3rd to elect local leaders? If not, you should be! On the ballot are candidates for several key Los Angeles County races, including Board of Supervisors (districts 1 & 3) and Los Angeles County Sheriff. Here we want to take a brief look at the 3rd district Board of Supervisors candidates by focusing on their responses to Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s candidate questionnaire.

Why take an interest in local elections? The county oversees critical public services like education, health care and law enforcement, after all, and it plays a significant role in crafting transportation policies. Anybody interested in safe cycling needs to pay attention. Perhaps most importantly because this body, called the “least democratic system of representation” in the United States (each of the five Supervisors represents two million county constituents), plays a key role in setting Metro priorities.

(Moreover, the courts have recently lifted the veil on longtime malfeasance and perhaps criminal activities in the Sheriff’s office under Lee Baca. If our representatives on the Board aren’t asking the right questions, then we won’t be able to ensure that county law enforcement itself respects the law.)

The candidates’ responses to the questionnaire are particularly helpful to informed voters looking beyond feel-good websites, glossy campaign mailers, and those damned robocalls. In fact, none of those communications says much at at all about mobility problems or policy. Thankfully LACBC has done much of the work for us!

Concerned about bicycle facilities? Wondering how each candidate feels about dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School? We’ve digested their answers to the policy questions over at our 2014 campaign page in an at-a-glance matrix to make comparisons across the candidates easy. But we encourage you to review what candidates had to say in full. So visit LACBC’s Bike the Vote: Resources for June 3rd Los Angeles County elections page for the full Monty, or download our handy full-text matrix. On to the policy questions!

Policy Specific Responses

Q2: In 2012, the County of Los Angeles adopted a Bicycle Master Plan proposing 831 miles of new bikeways due to be completed by 2032. What would you do to ensure that implementation of the Bicycle Master Plan projects continues during your term? How many miles of new bicycle facilities will you commit to implementing each year in your district?

Candidates Kuehl, Duran and Shriver each committed to the identified benchmark, which is a relatively conservative position.Front-runners don’t need to go out on a limb. Melendez was a bit more vague about their commitment and pledging “as many new paths and restroom facilities as necessary.” Candidates Fay And Ulich upped the ante: Fay wants to see 100 miles per year implemented while Ulich wants to complete the plan’s target mileage by 2020 (or “as many miles as is possible every year”).

Q3: Do you support adopting the Model Design Manual for Living Streets produced by the County Department of Public Health but not yet adopted by Public Works?

Candidates Fay, Melendez, Ulich and Kuehl all pledged to support adoption by the county of the Model Design Manual for Living Streets. But Kuehl added a key caveat – one that may be a deal-breaker to road diet and bicycle lane proponents: “so long as it didn’t reduce the total number of lanes available to vehicles.” But there is a contradiction here: the manual adopts as a guiding philosophy the shifting of travel to other modes. The ‘living streets’ approach sees “mobility is a means, not an end.”

It emphasizes place over throughput, for example, with traffic calming one option to create inviting environments. It also encourages “healthy lifestyles” by prioritizing walking, bicycling, and transit in part through streets designed for all modes. By changing how we plan for mobility, we could prompt people “to drive less” the manual says. (From chapter 2 ‘Vision, Goals, Policies, and Benchmarks’ and chapter 3, ‘Street Networks and Classifications.’)

Candidates Duran and Shriver, however, did not substantively address the question about adoption of the Model Design Manual. (Perhaps they weren’t sufficiently familiar to comment.)

Q4: Would you support the implementation of protected bikeways, and can you suggest any areas in your district where such facilities should be built?

All of the candidates support protected bikeways (what’s not to like about the modifier ‘protected’?). But Kuehl again added, “so long as it doesn’t reduce the total number of lanes available to cars.” We would file that response under ‘motorists come first on public streets.’ And Melendez didn’t offer a blanket thumbs-up. Instead he focused his response on identifying specific areas like Griffith Park, Sepulveda and Cahuenga passes and segments of Pacific Coast Highway. (Credit where it’s due: he was the only respondent to actually suggest any.)

Of course the right answer is “Yes! Wherever we put a class II bicycle lane is an opportunity to make that lane a ‘protected’ or separate facility.”

Q5: Do you support allocating at least 3% of transit capital budgets to first & last mile improvements for each new line?

Funding is key, right? Nailing down a dedicated proportion of transit funding for bike-ped projects is crucial. How do the candidates respond? Here Duran, Melendez, Shriver and Ulich are unequivocal: all support 3% or more in dedicated funding. Fay and Kuehl hedge. “I support ensuring Metro does include alternate transportation facilities in their planning process,” said Fay, while Kuehl refrains from nailing down a number (“I would support allocating money to the First & Last Mile Strategic Plan.”)

Seems like Metro is already out front of candidate Melendez with their draft First Last Mile Strategic Plan Guidelines. And in that draft plan, Metro helpfully notes “numerous competing demands on public funds throughout the county.” All the more reason to dedicate a fixed percentage, right?

Q6: Do you support dedicated funding for a countywide Safe Routes to School program?

This is a giveaway. Five candidates are unequivocal: they support the goal and Metro’s countywide Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan (in progress). Shriver is a less committal as far as the plan goes. “I support a coordinated County effort to win more Safe Routes to School funding,” he says. Ulich gives the nod to the money (“I will absolutely dedicate funding to the Safe Routes to School program”) but leaves open her view on the plan.

Q7: Do you support dedicating at least 12% of any future sales tax measures for walking and biking?

This is where we separate the doers and talkers! The question notes that Metro allocates only 1% of funding bike-ped facilities and the three voter-approved sales tax measures dedicate exactly zero percent of the hike for bike-ped needs. Would the candidates do better? Better as in a 12% dedication?

Melendez and Ulich (notably not the front-runners) both are unequivocal supporters at the 12% level. Candidates Duran, Fay and Kuehl won’t go that far, however, and none would identify a percentage. (One senses that they’re backing out of the room at the question.) But Shriver does identify MoveLA’s 4% proposal as a feasible level of dedicated considering. As the question points out, 19% of all trips are made on foot or by bike but of those killed on county streets, double that proportion (39%) were people walking or biking.

Q8: Will you provide annual transit passes to all County employees and provide secure bicycle parking for both employees and visitors at County buildings?

The question gets at the inequity of policy and public- and private-sector practices that accord reduced-price parking or tax benefits to those who drive, while just recently eliminating a federal benefit for using alternate forms of transit. The pass seems like good policy and the parking a token giveaway for the less-than-one-percent who bike commute. How do they respond?

Five candidates are on board with both free or discounted transit passes for county employees AND give the nod to secure bike parking. Here Duran is the odd man out. “I do not know if I would support providing an annual transit passes unless we could adequately safeguard against fraudulent misuse of the passes.” Instead Duran suggests “creative solutions” and/or “additional incentives” to encourage other modes of transit to work at county facilities.

Responses: General Impressions

Here we summarize their responses to two more general questions (abbreviated here): Share a memory involving a bicycle that has had a lasting effect on you; and what else you would like to say to Los Angeles County’s millions of bicyclists?

Bobby Shriver

Bobby Shriver

Share a memory.

Bobby Shriver said in his response that he was recently thrilled to participate in his first CicLAvia. “I felt like I was seeing those neighborhoods for the first time through a new lens and it was invigorating,” he said. “Community is important and the road belongs to all of us.”

John Duran

John Duran

John Duran, a veteran of the annual Aids Life Cycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles, in his response replied (in part) “I am an avid cyclist in excellent shape and can bring my experiences on a bike to the county hall of administration.” (That would indeed be a change!).

Doug Fay

Doug Fay

Other candidates reached back to childhood, where many of us first cemented our love of the bike. Doug Fay in his response recalled his summer of ’79. “My adventurous friend Darell Slotton and I decided we were going to ride our 10 speed bicycles from Venice Beach up the Pacific Coast Highway to the Ventura County Line and back. Wearing t-shirts, shorts, and tennis shoes, we left early and made it home before dark.” (Don’t try it today without body armor, fellas.)

Sheila Kuehl

Sheila Kuehl

Sheila Kuehl recalled in her response a very different neighborhood milieu, though. “When I was about ten, my little sister and I were playing outside of our house near the Coliseum…Some neighborhood kids came up to us and took off with my little sister’s tricycle,” she said. “I couldn’t let them get away with that so I pedaled furiously after them, like a posse after a bandit, caught up and grabbed it back. I felt like a real big sister and thought of that Schwinn as a horse for a hero.”

Rudy Melendez reached back even further in his response. “My earliest memory riding a bike is of my dad jogging behind me having taking the training wheels off my bike I think he wanted to be sure I was going to be okay riding without them.”

Pam Conley Ulich

Pamela Conley Ulich

Likewise candidate Pamela Conley Ulich recalled in her response a similar experience. Only she was in the parent’s shoes. “I will never forget that day when we took off our daughter’s training wheels, 10 or so years ago at our local elementary school parking lot on an early Sunday morning,” the candidate said, and “she fell within seconds the first time she tried to bike…” Once her daughter got the hang of it, however, “she became both independent and in control of her destiny.”

Some riders may empathize with a childhood spill, but Candidate Rudy Melendez’s story of theft and injury recalls more recent painful memories for many, we bet. “I remember very clearly when my bmx bike was stolen and when my beach cruiser was stolen when my 1st fixie was stolen and when my 2nd fixie was stolen,” he said. “But the one memory that may have the most lasting effect is the time I was side swiped by a hit & run driver along the miracle mile on Wilshire….” (Amen.)

Every candidate can relate to riding a bike as a child, or experiencing the good feelings that attend to riding as an adult, and even the occasional trauma. But if elected, can these candidates channel their concerns into support for policies that encourage cycling? Will they take the necessary decisions to make it safer for riders countywide? Let’s turn to their responses to policy questions 2-8 on the LACBC questionnaire.

What would you say to Los Angeles County’s millions of bicyclists?

John Duran waxed poetic. “There is a natural high that occurs when my heart is beating in rhythm with my legs on the open road.” And Rudy Melendez offered practical advice. “If you don’t already own a bike consider getting one because I believe you will find that It will improve your health & lifestyle.”

Sheila Kuehl and two other candidates took the opportunity to stroke LACBC. “We have to drastically reduce our dependence on cars,” Kuehl said, “and it will take leadership, such as yours, to achieve our goals.” Doug Fay too acknowledged the organization. “If elected I will work with others including you, to make bicycle and pedestrian facility maintenance and enhancement a top priority.” Pam Conley Ulich agreed. “By partnering with you, we can create a bike friendly society, reduce our carbon footprint, and live a healthy lifestyle – a win, win, win.”

Bobby Shriver was the most specific in his closing remarks, however:

As County Supervisor, I will use my influence to encourage the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney and the DMV to take a proactive approach to cyclist safety. I will encourage the Sheriff to enforce the 3 foot passing rule and I will encourage the District Attorney to aggressively prosecute hit-and-runs on bicyclists. In addition, the DMV must be encouraged to better incorporate how the CA Vehicle Code pertains to bicyclists in its driver education curriculum.

Or, as Ulich said, “We just need the will to make it happen.” No matter who prevails, though, it will take a determined push from the dais of the Board of Supervisors to change the status quo and work towards that goal of ‘Vision Zero.‘ The LACBC’s candidate questionnaire is a great tool to ensure that you know which candidate best represents your interests.

SM Blvd Comes Back for Council Review

Santa Monica Boulevard gardens trim line

Wouldn’t you trade a few feet of ragged grass for boulevard bicycle lanes?

If you’ve been on your seat-edge waiting to find out what Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills will look like for the next half-century, you’ll wait a bit longer. Tomorrow City Council will defer a decision on the corridor’s conceptual design as it again hears about the project budget and why, low-balled by staff, it has doubled since the fall to $35m. How will the project might funded? How wide should the boulevard be? Wide enough to include bicycle lanes? We’ll know more on Tuesday.

While this ongoing saga won’t come to a close soon enough for riders who brave this key crosstown corridor, we need to focus on the project decisions that will shape Santa Monica Boulevard going forward. Should the corridor be expanded incrementally to afford class II bicycle lanes, now or in the future; and should the city reconstruct the corridor in one piece or break it up into two phases? At City Council’s Tuesday study session (2:30pm) we’ll likely get answers to these pressing questions even if we don’t see a final conceptual design for the corridor materialize until later.

Project Phasing

The staff report for Tuesday’s meeting presents a ‘recommended project funding plan’ that would have the city split the Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction project into two parts. The first phase would reconstruct the segment between Doheney and Wilshire boulevard on the project’s current timetable. (The timetable has slipped repeatedly over the years, though prompt council action now may yet produce a completed phase one by the end of 2015.)

The second phase would come later, however, and perhaps much later. One rationale for deferring phase two is that adjacent development projects (like the Hilton hotel) will include traffic mitigation measures; so maybe it’s better to address the western segment of the boulevard at one time when past and present ‘improvements’ can be incorporated.

Gateway site aerial view

Gateway parcels to the west of Wilshire Boulevard: a golden opportunity for active transportation found and lost.

A related rationale is that the adjacent Western Gateway area (south of the boulevard west of Wilshire) is still under discussion. That major set of projects will likely affect traffic and flow on Santa Monica boulevard. (Read more about the Western Gateway, pictured at right.)

An then there is the cost. At $35 million the project threatens to break the bank. For one thing, the city chose not to seek federal or state money for a key regional corridor reconstruction. Unfortunately that limits our options. And one option on the table it to break the reconstruction up to whittle down the upfront price today but later we would be adding to total project costs.

Punting on a full-corridor reconstruction presents a couple of challenges for multimodal mobility advocates, however. First, in downsizing today’s project, Council may well downsize our ambitions for tomorrow’s Santa Monica Boulevard. Should the city fail to consider how the corridor in its entirely will serve the city for decades, we will merely cement in place an auto-dominated roadway.

Consider that the default option: like the Santa Monica Boulevard Blue Ribbon Committee members who were concerned only about moving cars, there are members on our Council that feel today’s boulevard is simply good enough. But those of us who ride, or will ride, a bicycle will greatly lament that lack of forethought. Indeed we told both the committee and Council that should the corridor not incorporate bicycle lanes we’ll have missed a real opportunity to realize a future multimodal Santa Monica Boulevard. In our view, breaking up the project into phases might well lock-in a boulevard without lanes.

Second, even if we afford room for lanes on phase I (or even actually include them), phase II might not. Many things can go awry between now and whenever phase two is undertaken. A future Council might decide that multimodal mobility is an experiment that simply has failed, for example.

(And that’s not far-fetched Consider that Vice-Mayor Gold has made noises in this regard about the city’s Pilot Program, which has delivered only a few segments of class II lanes and sharrows in Beverly Hills, but evidently too much to stomach for unreconstructed, old-school auto-minded policymakers. Remember that Dr. Gold will be our next Mayor should he be reelected in March.)

And our councilmembers (or a future Council) might just allow Western Gateway developers to build right out to their property line, robbing the community of setbacks and, more important, undermining an opportunity to exact a land dedication necessary for the incorporation of class II bicycle lanes on Santa Monica.

Less tangibly, phasing the project could sap our councilmembers today of their political courage to make this key business triangle corridor multimodal. After all, why get out in front with a politically-sensitive proposal to incrementally-widen the boulevard for lanes if you’re playing small ball with a phased project? Already there exists support for a less-is-more approach to reconstruction: we’ve heard councilmembers ask about repaving the blacktop as-it-is. But that conservative approach won’t make for safe rider passage or deliver on our city’s plans for multimodal mobility.

Our third major objection to a phased project is that the first (eastern) phase would stop short of the Santa Monica/Wilshire intersection – a juncture unsafe for all road users but disproportionately hazardous to riders. Under the phasing plan it wouldn’t receive any improvements until the Hilton or adjacent project substantially nears completion, according to Aaron Kunz, Deputy Director for Transportation. But Hilton mitigation won’t get us to a multimodal future either. ‘Improvements’ (like an additional turn lane) are designed to increase vehicle throughput. That’s an unfortunate legacy of adhering to a Level-of-Service approach to building for capacity rather than managing transportation demand and it will not to get folks on bicycles. (Read more about what to do with this intersection.)

At this meeting we expect Council to direct staff and our consultant Psomas to proceed with Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction in two phases. Notably, the staff report doesn’t even mention the single-phase option anymore. Phase two (from Wilshire to Moreno) would then be deferred to some indeterminate future date. That leaves the width issue.

Boulevard Width & Bicycle Lanes

Two aspects of the project have proved politically-sticky: the width of the boulevard and the inclusion of bicycle lanes. While the prospect of bicycle lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard inexplicably engenders community opposition, the proposal to incrementally widen the boulevard (as recommended by the Santa Monica Boulevard Blue Ribbon Committee) sends NIMBYs into fits of apoplexy.

Today the boulevard ranges from 60-63 feet. Fittingly, one objective of the reconstruction is to rationalize the corridor at a consistent width. But how wide? The current staff report puts alternatives at 60, 63, 64 and 66 feet in width. Building to less than 64 feet would preclude bicycle lanes, according to Psomas. (Even at wider widths, though, the consultant has recommended not to stripe class II lanes. Splitting the difference, city transportation staff has long floated the idea of a single-direction bicycle lane (westbound) with an eastbound alignment never clearly specified. (Of course we can’t support that concept without more details.)

So whither Bicycle Lanes? That will depend on boulevard width. At this meeting we expect Council to revisit the bicycle lane issue only indirectly by deciding on a finished width for Santa Monica. Less than 64 feet could preclude class II lanes entirely – at least according to our consultants – while a width at or above 64′ could preserve that option.

When the issue was next heard by Council in April, any talk about boulevard width and bicycle lanes was swamped by skepticism on the dais about staff project management. (Recall that fuzzy figures offered by the Community Development Department greatly underestimated the cost.) That is, when it came time for Council to talk conceptual design, the cost issue had already derailed the discussion. With the cost discussion hopefully wrapping up at this meeting, perhaps we can get back to substantive decisions like width and eventually lanes.

Whether or not to expand the boulevard sufficiently to accommodate bicycle lanes is the key decision point at this meeting. We could see the multimodal mobility option all-but-tossed out by Council at this meeting. Or we could see width established at 64′ in order to keep the lanes option open. Bike lane supporters are encouraged to attend to remind City Council provides that we need a 64-foot minimum width in order to include bicycle lanes (or at least keep open the possibility).

Santa Monica Boulevard road conditionsWe also want to remind Council that the safety hazards built-in to the Santa Monica/Wilshire intersection must be addressed sooner, rather than later; and that regardless of project decisions at this meeting, the Santa Monica corridor needs some repair immediately to ensure safer transit for riders.

Read about the project on the city’s site or, better yet, consult Better Bike’s much more detailed SM blvd project page or project-related posts for more information.) Council didn’t vote on bicycle lanes or boulevad width.

We Have Done Our Part

We multimodal mobility advocates have already done our due diligence. We’ve attended four Santa Monica Boulevard Blue Ribbon Committee meetings. Committee members received more than two hundred comments and the vast majority came from lane supporters. (The committee subsequently recommended that Council include bicycle lanes.) Then the Council heard an earful from lane supporters at the March 4th meeting.  Yet there three of our five councilmembers swatted away our safety concerns. Only then-Mayor Mirisch was a strong supporter of lanes; today’s Mayor Bosse appeared to lean positive too. But two out of three ain’t enough.

What should we expect from this meeting? If history is any guide, councilmembers will punt on Santa Monica Boulevard by embracing phased construction. They probably won’t allow sufficient width for bicycle lanes. And they’ll likely leave that wrong to be righted by a future council a decade or more later. You see, Beverly Hills is, fundamentally, a backward-looking city; we prize a “small town feel” yet cling tenaciously to an outmoded, auto-dominant paradigm that is more fitting for a suburb than a city in an urban region of 15 million people.

We urge today’s Council to think ahead toward a multimodal mobility future – like our own plans say we should – rather than have to remedy a  a decade later. We’ll see you there on Tuesday at 2:30 pm in Council Chambers.

Time for Beverly Hills to Adopt a Complete Streets Policy!

bike chattanooga bike share map

One of Chattanooga’s steps forward: a bike share system!

Chattanooga, Tennessee beat Beverly Hills in the broadband arena a few years ago with citywide 1gigabit-per-second Internet. Back then nobody paid much attention: Chattanooga is hardly on the minds of many Angelenos. But our own city dithered on broadband, which left Time Warner with a broadband monopoly. Now Chattanooga leaps ahead with a real complete streets policy to make travel safer for all road users. Yet our our “world class” city can’t seem to entertain a discussion about street safety or plan effectively for multimodal mobility. What gives?

According to the National Complete Streets Coalition, streets “designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities” are termed ‘complete.’ In practice, the Coalition says,

Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations. – National Complete Streets Coalition

Safe streets and access for all road users regardless of mode of travel: what a radical prescription for mobility! The equity-in-access proposition is no stranger to transportation planners or the public alike; we’ve all heard of the Americans With Disabilities Act. It mandates nationwide disabled access to public and private facilities. But for the rest of us on public streets we’re left to fend for ourselves. And these streets are often dangerous by design.

ADA rampDespite its limited scope, the ADA reach is broad; it has required the only real improvements to the public right-of-way in Beverly Hills that we’ve seen in years: those ubiquitous studded sidewalk ramps (at right) that make crossing streets less hazardous for the visually-impaired.

The rest of us mostly get worn-out crosswalks, poorly-marked intersections and boulevards made for speed.

Complete streets features on Montana in Santa MonicaWe can do much more. Other cities install highly-visible zebra crosswalks using thermoplastic; they make their streets complete with bicycle lanes, signage and even flashing crossing signals (Santa Monica has incorporated all of these measures on Montana, at right).

Beverly Hills we are still marking crosswalks in the old ‘transverse’ style with ordinary paint. These crosswalks are not only less-visible to motorists; they fade with use too. Faded crosswalks? Can that really pass safety muster? It’s as if our transportation officials cared little for our safety. No wonder state collision figures show that we are one of the most dangerous little cities in California!

Our Problem: Zero Official Interest in Street Safety

Santa Monica Boulevard road conditionsWe at Better Bike simply haven’t been able to get our transportation folks to consider safety upgrades for bike facilities or crosswalks. But it’s not for lack of trying; we’ve repeatedly communicated our concerns to transportation officials. Yet key intersections and corridors (like Santa Monica at left) remain hazardous to walk or to bike.

Our streets can be made safer if the private-sector steps in, however. Curb extensions make crossing streets quicker and safer in the business triangle. State-of-the-art continental crosswalk markings (aka zebra crosswalks) better safeguard pedestrians from speeding or careless motorists there. And traffic control innovations like pedestrian scrambles (where all motor traffic is momentarily halted) heretofore unknown to Beverly Hills find favor there. In fact, outside of the privately-funded improvements for the business triangle, our neighborhoods see no complete streets TLC at all.

Curb extensions diagram via FHWA

Diagram courtesy FWHA’s best practices guide.

For contrast look at these two intersections. The one on the left is Beverly Boulevard at Santa Monica, which languishes from inattention. On the right, the privately bankrolled business triangle feels safer to walk.

Beverly and triangle intersections compared

Crosswalk across Beverly Boulevard (at SM) needs a bit of TLC compared to the triangle’s upgraded streetscape. Zebra stripes, painted curbs and a teaspoon of maintenance make all the difference for pedestrian safey.

Surely our transportation planner knows better than to leave our streets and crosswalks unimproved in this day and age. The information is out there, after all. We know that the zebra crosswalk, for example, is twice as visible to motorists at a distance, and thats both day and night according to an FHWA study. Where motorists zip through the intersection of Beverly and Santa Monica boulevards as if there were no crosswalk at all, the zebra might remind them that people do walk in Beverly Hills. Zebra crosswalks are that much more visible than are ordinary transverse-striped crosswalks when placed mid-block too.

West Hollywood has striped several crosswalks with rainbows (a thematic gesture) to raise awareness of crossing pedestrians. Santa Monica likewise is putting zebra crosswalks all over town (a nice complement to their new bike lanes, right). Los Angeles started with fifty zebra crosswalks two years ago and now the city is aiming for twenty thousand.  That’s because they do important safety work. At only $10k installed, after all, they’re a bargain compared to the damage arising from a single vehicle-pedestrian collision.

Our transportation officials Susan Healey Keene, Community Development Director, and Aaron Kunz, our Deputy Director for Transportation, need only visit nearby cities to see these innovations in place. And it won’t even take them out of their way: they live in Santa Monica and West Hollywood, respectively, so they’ve seen multimodal mobility planning up close. They just don’t do it here. As riders and pedestrians we can read about the virtues of multimodal mobility in our city’s plans; we just can’t experience at home.

These upgrades, by the way, are often funded by Measure R, the 2008 voter-approved transportation tax. That’s a pot of free money for safety. So why isn’t Beverly Hills using it to improve our streets?

One Solution: Adopt a Complete Streets Policy

What Beverly Hills lacks (in addition to a comprehensive mobility vision) is a policy that specifies how our streets can be made safe and accessible. Complete streets, recall, mandates that all means of public conveyance should not only be designed for safety but also to allow everyone to access them. So what does complete streets look like when implemented? Pretty much what we see in more advanced cities. Consider this intersection organized for equitable access and striped for safer transit:

Complete streets intersection

An example ‘complete streets’ intersection: bicycle lane, shaded crosswalks, and well-marked pavement.

It has the key elements that make this intersection safer to navigate. Note that the rider-on-a-bicycle is not considered a vehicle for planning purposes; instead the non-motorized road user is accommodated with a class II bicycle lane – a facility that acknowledges riders need protections that motorists in steel boxes don’t. Often that means a separate lane for non-motor travel.

Planning Commission Gateway field trip

Even our Planning Commissioners on a field visit to Wilshire & Santa Monica boulevards can’t make it all the way across on the white hand signal.

When it comes to adopting a complete streets policy, unfortunately, each state and city is on its own. California did its part with a 2008 complete streets law; but localities are a mixed-bunch today. And Beverly Hills itself has taken no step forward. How far behind the state-of-the-art are we? Consider the sorry state of two key intersections: Wilshire-Santa Monica and Beverly-Olympic. These are not only hazardous for riders to navigate; they’re not very safe for motorists or pedestrians too.

Chattanooga Steps Up

While Washington has yet to OK a national complete streets policy, cities like Chattanooga pick up the slack by adopting their own complete streets policy. There, City Council is set for a second reading of its complete streets ordinance intended to foster a “safe, reliable, efficient, integrated and connected multimodal transportation system that will promote access, mobility and health for all users, and will ensure that the safety and convenience of all users of the transportation system are accommodated.”

That’s a mouthful. But the thrust of the new policy is that appropriate steps to make streets safe need to be taken throughout the planning, programming, design, construction and operation phases of any road project. But the reach of the city’s law is even greater than that:

The Transportation Department, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Economic & Community Development, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency, and other relevant departments, agencies, or committees will review and modify current city standards, including but not limited to subdivision regulations, zoning codes and ordinances, to ensure that they effectively implement Complete Streets principles; and such groups shall incorporate Complete Streets principles into all future planning documents, manuals, design standards, checklists, decision – trees, rules, regulations, programs, neighborhood redevelopment projects, and other appropriate endeavors.

Moreover, the ordinance directs the city to “foster partnerships” with jurisdictions at every level to “develop facilities and accommodations that further the City’s Complete Streets policy.” It directs transportation officials to identify “current and potential future sources of funding” for complete street improvements. And this well-thought out legislation also mandates the development of performance measures and the publication of a “periodic report” to Council showing the city’s progress. Bravo!

Policy is key, of course, but standards matter too. The new Chattanooga ordinance takes the step that we’d like to see every transportation-planning jurisdiction embrace: the rejection of the outmoded AASHTO design manual in favor of the NAACTO guide when formalizing design and construction standards.

Broad Street, downtown Chattanooga. Ready for the complete streets treatment!

Broad Street, downtown Chattanooga after the complete streets treatment!

The new policy should greatly improve a major corridor like Broad Street downtown, which connects key destinations but today is little more than a motor vehicle thoroughfare. Add complete streets (visualized at right) and turn folks loose with the city’s bike share program, Bike Chattanooga, and you’ve got the recipe for a two-wheeled urban renaissance.

The city is banking on it. And that makes us proud; we knew Chattanooga back when it was something of a cultural backwater. No more a backwater: it’s all growed up! Now with 1 gigabit broadband, bike share, online ride-safe tips and soon a complete streets policy, this formerly-provincial city has upped its competitive game. Not bad for the 4th largest city in Tennessee! How long before the ‘Nooga becomes its own brand?

Time for a Mobility Coordinator in Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills has taken none of those steps. It’s time for us to up our game. Thankfully good models for safe streets policymaking are out there…if only our policymakers would embrace the effort. Here is what complete streets could look like for Beverly Drive, by the way:

This complete street allows for a bike lane. Reverse-angle parking increases cyclist safety too.

This complete street allows for a bike lane by removing a traffic lane and reverse-angling the street parking. That increases cyclist safety by eliminating the blind spot.

Even short of adopting a complete streets ordinance, our city can take a crucial step to make streets welcoming and safe to walkers and riders: we could create a position for a non-motor mobility coordinator (as Los Angeles has done). A generic ‘transportation planner’ position doesn’t cut it; we need a specialist, someone versed in complete streets principles, bike-friendly facilities and finding the funding for them. In the past we’ve simply looked to an intern to do that important work. That won’t cut it anymore for Beverly Hills, however; we’re one of the most dangerous little cities in California.

Santa Monica Blvd Lanes Off the Table?

On Tuesday, Beverly Hills City Council will receive a Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction update at its 2:30 pm study session. The Council will likely focus on project cost and the key question of whether to expand the boulevard. Unfortunately the surprise reveal of near-doubled project costs distracted attention from issues like road safety, so at present bicycle lanes appear to be off the table. Let’s briefly review the project and look at what’s up for Council consideration on April 1st.

You’ll remember that the state turned over Santa Monica Boulevard to the city about ten years ago along with a small pot of money for repairs. But this key Westside corridor was never repaired by Beverly Hills; today it is pockmarked with potholes and punctuated by hazardous storm grates. It needs major TLC, and this project will reconstruct it from the macadam down to the plumbing. That costs real money: the cost is now projected to approach $35 million (with a 25% cushion for cost overruns). That’s up from just $17 million a month ago.

A ‘Blue-Ribbon Committee’ was appointed and charged by City Council to advise on project options and mitigation. Options included a landscaped median, class II bicycle lanes, and features such as bus shelters. Our committee got an earful: fifty stakeholders appeared and 150 comments were submitted through our fourth (and final) meeting.  Overwhelmingly the public supported the inclusion of bicycle lanes. (Full disclosure: Better Bike was appointed, and represented multimodal mobility interests on the committee.)

The committee in fact recommended to council that the boulevard be expanded to facilitate the reconstruction and to stripe 5-foot bicycle lanes. (Read the committee recap.) The committee’s recommendation was then presented to Council on March 8th, where we saw a majority of the members of the public who spoke then also favor lanes. (Our own letter of support was somehow left out of the Council’s meeting packet, however – an omission not yet explained.)

While the meeting saw neighborhood NIMBYs turn out and threaten elected officials with ballot box pain, the overall message to Council from the public was to design tomorrow’s corridor to safely serve our city and region in our post-auto era. But a majority of the Council seemed either opposed to widening the blacktop, or else hostile to the prospect of bicycle lanes (or both). Only former Mayor John Mirisch spoke about multimodal mobility; current Mayor Lili Bosse largely reserved comment.

Yet the outcome of the March 8th meeting was uncertain: staff was softly reprimanded for how the project has been handled; and key decisions about the boulevard were deferred in light of the news of the ballooning costs.

At this Tuesday’s meeting (agenda) City Council will again have an opportunity to shape the project. But not on the menu, according to the staff report, is a bike lane option:

City Council action on the two major components of conceptual design, the width of the roadway and whether or not to include landscaped medians, is required in order for the Psomas team to proceed with project design and will be a determining factor in recommendations for construction mitigation, scheduling plan, and determining the level of environmental review for the project. – Staff Report

Both the median and the lanes options were recommended by the Blue-Ribbon Committee, but what’s become of the bicycle lanes? It’s not like City Council ever came to a definitive decision; the issue of bicycle lanes was simply left hanging amid all of the hand-wringing about escalating costs.

But the staff report’s dismissal of the lanes option is no surprise to us: bike advocates should expect to get sandbagged by Beverly Hills city officials. They don’t see fit to mention, much less endorse, complete streets, for one thing. Even our project consultant, Psomas, drank the cool-aid and recommended against striping lanes. And they certainly have exhibited no regard for rider safety.

Project Cost Dominates the Discussion

Looking back at the March 8th meeting, the news about escalating costs was a monkey wrench tossed in by staff just hours before Council convened. As a dozen bike advocates waited to address Council about lanes, we learned that anticipated costs had ballooned. That pushed action on project options off the table.

How do costs double from $17 million to $35 million? The new staff report helpfully details the rise:

The initial project budget estimate prepared by City staff in 2006 was $12.0 million. During the FY2013/14 Capital Improvement Program budget process, staff reviewed construction costs and updated the estimate to $16.2 million, noting the need for a comprehensive cost analysis early in the design process. As part of the City Council review of the FY 2012/13 year-end budget surplus discussed in December 2013, an additional $1.0 million was allocated recognizing continuing escalation of construction costs for a total revised budget of $17.2 million….

But a near-doubling?

The revised FY 2013/14 construction cost estimate…was developed without the testing of sub-surface conditions that have revealed significant degradation of the roadway and sub-surface, requiring significant excavation and reconstruction of the entire Boulevard.

Psomas has completed a comprehensive evaluation of the roadway condition and has developed project budget estimates for two scenarios ranging between $31 and $34 million.

Last fall, city staff was questioned by Blue-Ribbon committee members who were concerned about projected (and unanticipated) costs. Both Community Development Director Susan Healy Keene and consultant Psomas defended the $17 million estimate, but they also seemed a bit fuzzy when pressed on the details. Today it’s clear that they had good reason to hedge.

Moreover, the estimate “did not include or underestimated several necessary components of construction costs, including temporary traffic control, landscaping, and traffic signal modification,” according to the staff report. We’re no engineers, but shouldn’t such costs have been included in projections provided to the Blue-Ribbon Committee and Council?

As our city struggles to meet unfunded pension liabilities there isn’t much appetite for big-budget projects. Two recent public parking garage projects went way over budget and we now have to cover a $15 million parking fund deficit – money that will come right out of the general fund. We wonder: the $17 million projection strategically omit key costs to gain Council support?

“Recommended Change in Project Scope”

With costs doubling, transportation officials now retreat from recommending we rebuild the entire corridor. Instead the staff recommendation is that we treat this corridor as any ordinary roads project: rebuild only the eastern segment of Santa Monica Boulevard and defer reconstruction of the Moreno-to-Wilshire segment until some time later. The diminished project would “bring the overall project budget to a manageable magnitude” (as the staff report says).

In that plan, the “total preliminary cost” decreases by $5.2 million to $29 million. But we would only push that $5 million tab down the road (so to speak) to a time when costs will likely rise.

The upshot? Riders would live with a pothole-pocked corridor west of Wilshire for the foreseeable future. The particularly hazardous Wilshire-Santa Monica intersection would also forgo improvement…for several long years!

Possible Changes in Project Funding

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the “changed” scope of the project is that our city may tap new sources of funding to bankroll it. The staff report notes for example that deferring the Moreno-to-Wilshire segment would not only defer the expense but “provide the City additional time to accumulate funding sources (e.g., gas tax, Measure R) to contribute towards the projects.” (Note the plural.)

Most other jurisdictions would have brought state and federal money into a project of this size from the get-go. But City of Beverly Hills chose to go it alone in order to free ourselves of state and federal requirements concerning, say, multimodal transportation and contract terms. Why accept the strings if you don’t have to?

Now we appear to be rethinking the decision. And perhaps in line with the new thinking, the city in March asked the Federal Highway Administration about how we might accommodate bicycle lanes on the corridor. A March 19th letter to FHWA from Mayor John Mirisch (an bicycle lane supporter) asked:

The City Council is considering alternate configurations of the roadway, including bicycle lane options, and would like FHWA input on the following questions: 1. Do striped bicycle lanes improve safety? 2. Do striped bicycle lanes impede the flow of traffic? 3. Do striped bicycle lanes impact turns to/from side streets? 4. Are striped bicycle lanes preferable to wide curb lanes? 5. Are 11 foot vehicle travel lanes as safe as 12 foot lanes? 6. Do 11 foot vehicle travel lanes reduce the capacity of the roadway in comparison to 12 foot lanes? 7. Is there a minimum number of daily or peak period bicycle riders necessary to justify bicycle lanes? – Mayor John Mirisch

The Division Administrator from FHWA replied that the agency “applauds efforts to find ways to accommodate all road users.” Then the agency added pointedly:

We also recommend that you work with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and to help find the most appropriate solutions for Santa Monica Boulevard. As you probably know, Caltrans has embraced a statewide Complete Streets policy and they have revised their Highway Design Manual and other policy documents to better address the needs of all road users. – FHWA

Of course, our transportation planner (singular) and our consultants (plural) should have been heeding complete streets policy guidance from the get-go. After all, we reminded them of it when the request-for-proposal was first drafted. Then again, they could have consulted the comments from many riders who attended the Blue-Ribbon process – good ideas that never even saw the light of day. Heck, we’ll put in a plug for our own city’s plans, which recommend that we plan for multimodal mobility. Complete streets should be easy!

More Conceptual Design Options

Design principles and cost aren’t the only uncertainties. More design alternatives than ever are in play in the Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction process. In a sort-of rebuke of the efforts of the Blue-Ribbon Committee members, staff has now expanded the menu of alternatives to include choices that our committee was never shown. These include middle-range boulevard widths of 63 and 64 feet with even narrower median turn lanes than before.Because it is difficult to make sense of the alternatives as presented in the staff report, we’ve put them on a single annotated matrix for your convenience:

Boulevard profiles as presented in the staff report

Boulevard profiles as presented in the staff report (reorganized by Better Bike)

Note that ‘improved’ 63 and 64 foot profiles are new, and they use a 10-foot median/turning lane which liberates additional space at the curb for a sharable right lane. For example, the 63-foot profile gains a half-foot in the curb lane (15.5 feet) while the 64-foot profile gains (16-foot) curb lanes sufficiently wide to safely share, says our consultant.

They are more economical with the blacktop when compared to profiles provided to the Blue-Ribbon Committee in January:

Profiles from January

Profile alternatives as presented to the Blue-Ribbon committee in January

But none illustrates a bicycle lane. The other sticking point for riders: the FHWA recommends against a curb lane as wide as 16 feet because it could actually accommodate two passenger vehicles side-by-side – a sure invitation to an impatient Beverly Hills driver to hug the curb to pass slow traffic in order to turn right. And wouldn’t that put riders in danger. Besides, why make a lane 16 feet wide but not stripe a bicycle lane there?

The 64-foot middle-ground option may be the charm, however: to councilmembers who are reluctant to expand beyond today’s max of 63-feet it may be the palatable option. Indeed the focus of the Tuesday discussion may well turn on the merits of the 63-foot versus 64-foot profiles. Will they be willing to nibble even a foot of parkland in order to preserve the future opportunity to stripe bicycle lanes? Or is that even a foot too far to ensure rider safety? A letter from the Beverly Hills North Homeowners Association mailed to Beverly Hills households suggests that even a single foot is too much to ask for rider safety.

Next Step

The City Council meets on Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 pm in chambers to discuss the future of the corridor. Will Council give the go-ahead on a project with a reduced scope? Will they replicate the corridor we have today at a 60-foot width; standardize the boulevard at 63 feet; or go for the 64 foot width to preserve bicycle lanes? Will our city tap federal or state money for reconstruction? Will any staffer even speak up on behalf of complete streets? Tune in to Tuesday afternoon’s City Council study session to find out. We simply can’t know.

There is one question that we’d like answered: where do our public safety departments stand on bicycle lanes? In January, BHPD’s Sgt. Mader was inaccurately quoted in a project memo as advising against bicycle lanes. (The statement was recalled by at least one councilmember in the March 8th meeting.) But when asked, he conceded that his statement was only his perception and not the department’s position. And in any case, he said, it didn’t apply to project alternatives under discussion.

Beverly Gardens Park marked for trimming

Beverly Gardens Park marked for trimming by our consultants. See, a few feet ain’t that bad!

We welcome your attendance on Tuesday and especially your comments to Council (use our contacts cheat sheet). Our policymakers need to be reminded that officials have a responsibility to plan for the safety of all road users. Motorists’ sense of entitlement to the blacktop endangers the safety of both riders and walkers every day and their reliance on single-occupancy vehicle travel undermines our quality of life.

Finish the Ride: Turning Tragedy into Triumph

Finish the Ride group photo“Turning tragedy into triumph” may sound a bit corny. It’s the stuff of self-help: the philosophy that synthesizes spirituality and psychology ostensibly to motivate. But self-help is not about action; inaction fuels the prolific generation of books, seminars and slogans. That’s what makes Damian Kevitt’s Finish the Ride campaign actually uplifting. It’s not just talk; he’s turned his debilitating hit-and-run crash into a movement to highlight the problem.

We’d heard of the Finish the Ride campaign [flyer] well before we met the man. The story is indeed memorable: an everyday rider out on a local ride with his wife is struck, dragged onto the freeway, and subsequently left to die by a fleeting motorist. One year later he’s been fitted with a prosthetic leg; he’s completed physical therapy; and has organized is ready to climb back into the saddle to – what else – “finish the ride.”

There was no way that I was going to have that accident and not get back on my bicycle. – Damian Kevitt

We may have heard about the campaign, but we were unprepared to meet the man himself. On March 4th a few of us were waiting with bicycle helmets in hand to depart for City Hall. That day, Beverly Hills City Council would meet to consider adding bicycle lanes to Santa Monica Boulevard. He strode up to our table with a big smile and a stack of flyers. “I’m Damian Kevitt, with Finish the Ride.” We thought for a moment: where did we hear that name? Just as the bell rang we looked down to his calf and saw one very high-tech prosthesis. “Of course! Welcome to Beverly Hills!”

tricycle-copy

Damian Kevitt in rehab: getting back to basics!

In our book, you are royalty if you not only survive a near-fatal hit-and-run, but then go on to work tirelessly to put an end the epidemic. Indeed there seems no end to the road-borne carnage in Southern California (as Ted Rogers documents daily on BikingInLA).

Looking back, we should have at least bought him a cup of coffee! Because here’s a guy who came to our town on his mission to improve rider safety. In the next few hours, by contrast, Beverly Hills councilmembers would brush aside rider safety and opt not to include bicycle lanes on tomorrow’s Santa Monica corridor (despite overwhelming public support). Safe transit is simply not on the Beverly Hills City Council’s agenda.

The irony that sticks with us is that Damian’s one-man campaign would turn the tragedy of hit-and-run into triumph for all riders while our cowardly councimembers dismiss our safety from the comfort of plush chairs. When they hit the boulevard, of course, they are protected by big sedans. Why worry?

Beverly Hills City Council may have given us little to cheer, but we can celebrate Damian and the Challenged Athletes Foundation by joining his Sunday morning Griffith Park ride on April 27th. Co-sponsored by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, the event features three rides (6, 12 and 23-miles) for all skill levels. Download the flyer and come prepared to celebrate!

You can also do your part by making a donation or volunteering or even sponsoring the event. And of course spread the word! And keep up with Damian via Twitter or Facebook. We’ll see you there!Damian Kevitt triumphs!

BH Traffic Report for 2013: Little Progress on Road Safety

Traffic report thumbnail

When we learned that Office of Traffic Safety ranked Beverly Hills worst among small cities for bike and pedestrian safety, we wanted to deep-dive the data* to understand how our city could do more to make streets safe. After digging into collision and enforcement data we come to the conclusion that city officials aren’t even trying to improve our low standing. The 36 bike-involved collision injuries reported to police last year even exceeds our 5-year annual average.  Shouldn’t we be making progress in reducing the harm? The Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) findings that we’re among the most dangerous small cities in the state for walkers and pedestrians. That should be a wake-up call to civic leaders. But evidently it’s not; our … Continue reading

Beverly Hills: The Most Dangerous Little City in California

To read the Beverly Hills vision statement is to get a sense of the high regard in which civic leaders hold our city. “Beverly Hills offers the highest quality of life achievable,” we are assured. Our “world-class community” is known for “leading edge” thinking and “innovative” government. Those “alluring and distinctive hotels, retail stores, restaurants, and entertainment” make us exceptional. But Beverly Hills is exceptional in another way too: we’re the most dangerous little city in California. At least the most dangerous small city according to the state’s Office of Traffic Safety. Its collision rankings comparison tool draws on CHP Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) data. The tool was designed with a noble purpose in mind: The OTS Rankings … Continue reading

Transportation Equity on the Agenda

An Agenda for Equity brief cover

When multimodal mobility advocates call on City Hall to enforce traffic laws and to embrace complete streets (including bike lanes and other facilities), we’re pushing a transportation equity agenda. Researchers at USC have picked up on the grassroots fervor in a new policy brief titled, An Agenda for Equity: A Framework for Building a Just Transportation System in Los Angeles County (2014). The brief, published by the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE), sketches out an argument for making our most significant public space accessible to all users. In An Agenda for Equity, USC researchers Manuel Pastor, Vanessa Carter and Madeline Wander provide some political and demographic context for the cumulative negative effects of auto-centered transportation policies, but doesn’t … Continue reading

A Hovenring for Beverly Hills!

Hovenring illustration

The Netherlands has created what may be the most spectacular bike facility ever: the Hovenring. This lighted, suspended parallel interchange facility hovers atop a roadway interchange but does much more: by literally and figuratively elevating bike travel above car travel, the Hovenring completely inverts the American approach to transportation and makes rider safety paramount. Could the Hovenring be appropriate to move riders safely through the awful Santa Monica and Wilshire intersection in Beverly Hills? Northern Europe enjoys a well-deserved reputation for bike-friendly streets. Protected bicycle lanes and bike signals seem de rigeur in every major city in Denmark and the country is rolling out protected  inter-city bike highways. Are riders finally enjoying some parity when it comes to transportation infrastructure investment? Let … Continue reading

Another Metro/Caltrans I-405 #FAIL: SM Blvd

Gosh, could these agencies make it any more difficult for a rider to cross the 405? We’ve written about the gantlet that is eastbound & westbound Wilshire. And just highlighted the Sepulveda trench designed to bust a nut. Now this: faded or scraped former turn markings in the #2 lane that create uncertainty for westbound Santa Monica Boulevard riders and motorists alike. Aren’t our construction managers hip to the spirit of Deputy Directive DD-64-R1?People who choose to ride a bicycle for transportation, recreation or pleasure shouldn’t have to navigate hazardous intersections at the I-405. This $1+ billion mega expansion project are supposed to have safety features built into it to during the construction phase that make traversing an intersection like … Continue reading