About Our Safe Streets Campaign

Congestion on Santa Monica Boulevard

Our Campaign for Better Transportation Choices

Better Bike is all about making our streets safe and accessible for travelers. Since 2010 we have pressed City of Beverly Hills to leave behind twentieth-century thinking and join our city neighbors to support safe, multimodal mobility. After all, that’s exactly what our own city plans say we should do! But follow the advice in our Sustainable City Plan and we risk injury. Indeed for walkers and riders, Beverly Hills is among the most dangerous small cities in California, according to the Office of Traffic Safety. And the trend is toward more injuries and fatalities.

The First Step to Safer Streets: A Real Plan

We look forward to complete streets one day and the planning process is currently underway. City Council has engaged a consultant, Iteris, to move us through the process this year. Public workshops will commence in late February with the process scheduled to conclude with a final complete streets plan in September. We will be watching every step of the way.

Since 2010 Better Bike has called for facilities that would make walking and cycling safe: on-street bike lanes, intersection improvements, better signage for safety, and bike parking. These are measures we’ve seen embraced by other cities but only haltingly implemented in Beverly Hills (when implemented at all). “We’re not Santa Monica,” we’ve heard councilmembers say many times. “We’re not West Hollywood.”

Indeed! We are far from being a city of complete streets. A deputy director for transportation recently conceded to City Council, “We’ve got some work to do.”

We can start with a designated citywide bicycle route network. It could look something like this the one envisioned in our 1977 Bicycle Master Plan, still on the books but never updated. Or it could look like something that riders ourselves would suggest:

Bike routes Beverly Hills proposed map

A citywide bicycle route network could include:

  • Class II bike lanes on key corridors;
  • Intersections designed for rider safety; and,
  • Signage throughout the city alerting drivers that we can lawfully use the entire lane.

Getting There from Here

A first step toward a city of safer streets came in 2016 when councilmember Lili Bosse persuaded a bare majority of the City Council to support complete streets by making it an A-level priority.

A second step came when City Council agreed in 2017 to include bicycle lanes on the reconstructed North Santa Monica Boulevard. Our current City Council doubled-down on that promise in February of 2018 by directing the Class II bicycle lane would not only be reflective but colored green from end-to-end.

Now as we look ahead to the complete streets plan process we seem to have City Council support for a robust process in contrast to past window-dressing efforts that produced ‘shelfware’ plans. Those did nothing to make streets safe for users. (Ironically the best mobility plan we have on the books is forty years old: the Bicycle Master Plan from 1977.)

Better Bike hopes to suggest the path forward. Sign up for our occasional email newsletter to be kept informed about the process and let us know what changes you feel we need in Beverly Hills.

Recent Posts

Lend Your Voice to the Beverly Hills Complete Streets Plan

Several years ago Metro added a condition to the transportation grants the deep-pocketed agency makes to localities: money is contingent on a Metro-approved complete streets mobility plan in place at the local level. Our 1977 Bicycle Master Plan won’t cut it, so City of Beverly Hills city stepped away from a decade of talk about a plan update and instead chose to focus on a brand-new complete streets plan. That planning process is under way now. Mobility advocates please lend your voice!

We need you to participate in the Beverly Hills complete streets planning process by both taking the city’s online complete streets survey (tell our complete streets consultants about your mobility preferences!) and attending one of the city’s complete streets public events. The first workshop was held in mid-March (read my recap) and the next scheduled event is Earth Day on Sunday, April 15th at the Farmers Market. Check the city’s complete streets website for more upcoming events.

Some Backstory on the Complete Streets Plan

So Beverly Hills has embarked on a complete streets plan process. Why now? The city kept an outdated bike plan on the books for four decades and made no other multimodal concessions aside from a few bike lane segments. Then the city heard that regional transportation agency Metro requires localities to have an approved complete streets plan if a local agency wants to tap Metro grant money. The city will receive not one but two Purple Line metro stations, so the city saw the light: adopt a complete streets plan or do without Metro’s pot of grant-funding gold.

Metro may be best known here for sparking the heated debate about a tunnel under Beverly Hills High School, but there can be no debate that Metro is the good guy when it comes to multimodal mobility in Beverly Hills: the agency forced the city’s hand where we bike types failed.

Multimodal advocates have dogged City Hall for years about safe streetsĀ  (and specifically the lack of safe facilities for those who ride a bike) but we were out in the cold. At least until found strong support among three councilmembers: Lili Bosse, John Mirisch, and Bob Wunderlich (now in office just a year). Bosse, in fact, was committed to multimodal back in 2016 when she forged (bare) Council consensus to make it a Council ‘A’ priority. The following year she garnered City Council support for a complete streets plan (her first official action as Mayor). And notably those three councilmembers supported a bright green high-viz bicycle lane for Santa Monica Boulevard too!

In the end Council support was unanimous, and last year the city selected Iteris engineering as lead consultant on the complete streets plan. It was backed by Nelson Nygaard and Alta Planning as subcontractors. Theirs wasn’t the most imaginative proposal, but the team is experienced and Alta has some bike plan bona fides. If this plan fails it is because we-the-people didn’t step up to make it our priority. Indeed the plan and the implementation program will be less the measure of our consultants than a reflection of our city’s commitment to the principle of complete streets: the ‘complete’ street is one that is safe and accessible for every road user regardless of age, ability or travel mode.

Santa Monica Boulevard hazards

Storm drains like this one reflected the disrepair of Santa Monica boulevard as well as the city’s disregard for cyclist safety on that corridor.

Will the final plan be a leading-edge example of multimodal planning? Time will tell, but don’t sit this one out. We’ve come this far, over too long a time, against too much city-side opposition, to simply leave it up to staff and consultants to shape a draft plan for Council consideration this fall.

Interesting side story.

Caltrans, the state transportation agency, handed to City of Beverly Hills control over North Santa Monica Boulevard back in 2005. The boulevard was a shambles, so Caltrans forked over about $5M for repairs. Beverly Hills sat on that project for nearly ten years as bicycle riders endured clearly unsafe conditions. When it came time for a top-to-bottom reconstruction the city eschewed any outside money for the estimated $13 million job. Why? The city wanted no conditions attached to that money; the city didn’t want Caltrans or the Federal DOT requiring bicycle lanes or other complete streets design features.

Well when the city did finally reconstruct Santa Monica Boulevard (wrapping up this June) it will have a bicycle lane; and it will have high-visibility crosswalks. Because the city belatedly acknowledged that such features on a corridor like Santa Monica are required for bike and pedestrian safety.. They needed only glance at crash data to understand. Thing is the city was left holding the bag when the cost projections for Santa Monica reconstruction soared to $24 million and we could tap not a dime of outside money for it.

City Hall made no such mistake when it comes to Metro’s Measure E pot of grant-money gold. Transportation officials here may continue to view mobility exclusively through the windshield (they never did recommend bicycle lanes for Santa Monica Boulevard even though we got the lanes anyway) but they know a pot of grant money when they see one. With two Metro stations coming to the city we needed a complete streets plan post-haste.

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