Our Campaign for Better Transportation Choices
Better Bike is all about making our streets safe and accessible. We believe that choosing to walk or ride a bicycle should not summon the fear of injury or death at the hands of a careless driver. Driving is a privilege not a right, after all, and we should all expect safe transit as a right whether we travel by bike, foot or even by car. If we simply choose not to drive, that has to be a safe choice too.
If only our streets were as safe for those who choose to ride as for those who drive. Doesn’t our General Plan speak about making streets safe for road users? You bet it does. But it’s a lot of talk without any action. There occur many injury collisions on our streets, and bike-involved injury collisions account for ten percent of the total collisions (on average). That’s a disproportionate share: cyclists make up far less than 1% of the road users. Nearly 300 of collisions on Beverly Hills streets every year are hits-and-run. Is this any way to plan for safe mobility?
We know from other cities that bicycle lanes and other marked facilities increase rider safety because they separate the traffic modes and/or raise driver awareness that riders share the road. So why no such improvements in Beverly Hills? After all we have a Bicycle Master Plan on the books. It calls for a bike route network and streets prioritized for safety. But it has never been implemented. And though it was authored by a citizens committee back in disco-era 1977, it is actually pretty good.
The First Step to Safer Streets is a A Real Bike Plan
Since 2010 Better Bike has called for the creation of a plan and implementation of programs and improvements that would make cycling safe. We’ve asked for dedicated bike lanes, intersection improvements, safety signage, and bike parking – all measures that we see in other cities that signals a bike-friendly environment – but to no avail. Why can’t we create streets that are safe for kids and adults biking to school, work, and shops?
Well we can. We need only look back to that 1970-era plan for guidance. From it we can begin to discuss what could be the citywide bike route network that we need. Here’s our first draft of what a comprehensive bicycle network should look like:
We believe that at a minimum a Beverly Hills bike route network should include:
- Routes that connect our five city schools and our key business districts;
- Pavement markings and signage that show motorists and cyclists alike how to safely traverse major intersections;
- Marked bike lanes on key corridors and shared-lane markings called “sharrows” on all secondary streets;
- Bicycle racks where people need them and bike rack ‘corrals’ at high bike traffic points;
- City-sponsored riding skills & road safety classes for all age groups and integrated into our Summer recreation program; and,
- Changes to transportation and development policies to discourage auto commuting and encourage mass transit with the bicycle providing the proverbial ‘last mile’ connection between work, home, and transit.
Where Are We Now?
Four years ago our Traffic & Parking Commission created an ad-hoc Bike Plan Update committee to bring our 1977-era Bicycle Master Plan into the modern era, but it has made no recommendations. Three years ago, staff began to talk about more bicycle racks, but the fewer-than-25 to be installed haven’t yet found a place on our our sidewalks. No sign advises riders and drivers to share the road. Not even a simple city webpage offers safe-riding tips. We haven’t come a long way baby.
By calling attention to the safety hazards of cycling in Beverly Hills, we hope to highlight the challenges of simply choosing to ride a bike here. In the face of intransigent city officials and a population unschooled in the joys and practical benefits of cycling, have you any suggestions to offer? Let us know.