Our Campaign for Better Transportation Choices
Better Bike is all about making our streets safe and accessible for all travelers. Since 2010 we have pressed City of Beverly Hills to leave behind our outdated transportation thinking to join our Westside city neighbors in supporting multimodal mobility. We can start by making travel by bike a safe and practical alternative to traveling by car. After all, that’s exactly what our plans say we need to do!
Today, traveling by bike or on foot means risking injury. Riders and walkers are the most vulnerable road users, of course, and over the past decade in Beverly Hills the number of road users injured in crashes has increased 50%. (See our handy chart.) That means our choice to walk or ride a bicycle, as urged by our Sustainable City Plan, carries a greater risk of injury than ever.
Our roads must be made safe for all road users. We look forward to a complete streets plan one day that will make that obligation explicit to city officials.
The First Step to Safer Streets: A Real Plan
Multimodal mobility is the best solution to problems like increased congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed our General Plan’s Circulation Element talks about making streets safe for all road users. But that’s just talk if no policy supports it and no program implemented to make it real to road users. We know from experience that bicycle lanes not only make cyclists safer, they make cyclists feel safe too.
Since 2010 Better Bike has called for the creation of a bike plan and the implementation of programs to 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 – and all pretty much dismissed out-of-hand for Beverly Hills. “We’re not Santa Monica,” we’ve heard our councilmembers say many times. “We’re not West Hollywood.”
We don’t have to be any other city to keep our residents safe regardless of their mode of travel. And it’s not rocket science. At a minimum Beverly Hills should designate a citywide bicycle network. It could look something like this:
Our streets should incorporate these measures to make the safe for cycling:
- Class II bike lanes on key corridors;
- Signage throughout the city alerting road users to the presence of riders; and,
- Intersections designed for cyclist safety, which may include bike boxes, dedicated signals, and appropriate pavement markings.
Getting From Here to There
Eight 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. That committee never met nor made any recommendations to City Council. A more heartening sign came in 2016 when City Council agreed to make a priority of safer streets, including an update of the 1977 Bicycle Master Plan. Our City Council is more bike-friendly than ever today.
Now Beverly Hills is undertaking a complete streets planning process. That is both a necessity (the state’s Complete Streets Act, signed into law in September of 2008, requires local complete streets plans) and a prudent move (Metro grant funding is contingent on a certified complete streets plan).
These are all reasons for optimism after a very long delay in embracing what other cities already have: safe streets to encourage safe mobility regardless of mode choice. By calling attention to the opportunities for safe cycling in Beverly Hills, and calling out our city’s poor progress on street safety, Better Bike hopes to suggest a path forward. Have you any suggestions to offer? Let us know.