Beverly Hills Pilot Bike Route Program
Bike planning has come late to Beverly Hills. We have no pavement markings to guide cyclists, nor any share-the-road signage to indicate that streets are to be shared by all road users. This ‘pilot’ program is our city’s first effort to bring bike-friendly improvements to city streets.
But the ‘pilot’ process been anticlimactic. After numerous meetings with cycling advocates, our Traffic & Parking Commission chose to recommend only three routes for improvements. When City Council City Council took it up in late 2012, Council approved only two: Burton Way and Crescent Drive. And on those two routes, only limited segments will see any improvement at all. Few segments will see separate bicycle lanes.
Why such a truncated pilot program? Our Bicycle Master Plan* from 1977 (really!) suggests that a bicycle network connect schools and parks with destinations outside the city. In no uncertain terms it acknowledged that cycling should be a foundation of our city’s circulation system.
Regrettably, neither the commission nor City Council reviewed that long-forgotten plan. Ironically it remains in effect as an appendix to the Open Space element in our General Plan). It should really be part of the Circulation element, shouldn’t it? But then neither city body seriously referenced our city’s increasing incidence of serious bike-involved injury collisions either. Is this any way to plan?
About the Pilot
The four key components of the ‘pilot’ include selecting candidate bike ‘routes’ for improvement; identifying appropriate treatments; implementing the program; and finally evaluating the program’s effect within twelve months. (Related programs under consideration include signage, bicycle parking, and cycling education. More on that below.)
Route selection. In early 2010, the Traffic & Parking Commission formed an ad-hoc Bike Plan Update committee to revise that old Bicycle Master Plan. The committee of three met with cycling advocates from mid-2011 to March of 2012 to solicit suggestions for candidate routes and to field suggestions for bike-friendly improvements.
In November of 2011, Transportation officials presented to advocates a feasibility study of possible routes, narrowing to four the candidate routes: the east/west corridors of Carmelita and Charleville and the north/south corridors of Beverly and Crescent Drive. The committee, working with Transportation staff, then added a fifth route – Burton Way. The Commission then scheduled a public hearing for full commission review.
In the public meeting the full commission voted to recommend only on three routes to City Council (leaving the busiest routes, Charleville and Beverly, off the table). Subsequently, City Council approved the ‘pilot’ program but narrowed the three candidate routes down to two finalists: Crescent Drive and Burton Way. And both are abbreviated segments. Crescent extends no farther south than Wilshire, and Burton improvements would stretch only from the library to the LA City line (of course).
For more background on the process, please refer to our Better Bike recaps of meetings with cycling advocates. Few of our many ideas made it into the final proposal.
- June 8, 2011 meeting #1
- August 29, 2011 meeting (#2)
- November 16, 2011 meeting #3
- January 18, 2012 meeting #4 (pilot only – the rack program and Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction are recapped in separate pieces)
- March 21, 2012 meeting #5
Identifying appropriate treatments. With feasibility study in hand but limited by client constraints like no impact on parking, consultant Fehr & Peers could offer relatively few treatment options: bicycle lanes were considered only for the wide segments north of Santa Monica while less-wide streets were considered suitable only for sharrows (shared-lane markings). So Crescent is suggested to receive a mix of on-street (class II) bicycle lane and sharrows. Burton will receive class II lanes because it is wide. No innovations that we see in other cities (like road diets, bike boxes, bicycle boulevards, bike signals) were considered at this time.
Implementing the program. According to the Transportation division timeline brief to Council, implementation is scheduled to be completed by late June.
Evaluating the ‘pilot’ program. A ‘pilot’ program by definition is one from which we hope to learn, and the evaluation would teach us what works and what doesn’t. Moreover, pilot programs may be temporary; indeed to our program the City Council stipulated a 12-month review. But this ‘pilot’ is so conservative with facilities that we’re not likely to learn much after 12 months. Today we can look to other cities for success stories because most have already rolled these improvements on a permanent basis. So why not just implement what we know to work already and not call it a ‘pilot’?
Other measures not part of the Pilot program. Beyond the ‘pilot’ our city can do much more to make cycling safe and convenient in Beverly Hills. For example, bicycle racks might help alleviate our car parking problem. The city has discussed installing racks as far back as three years ago, but only in March did City Council finalize a rack design.
City Council chose a very nice branded design that costs 2x as much as the rack that Santa Monica installs, however, which means that only one-half the number of the racks could be installed at our fixed budget. Indeed Transportation proposes to install only 11 racks citywide. Citywide!
A proposed effort to put racks in city-owned parking garages is under consideration while a long-discussed program to provide racks upon the request of businesses is in development, but we’ve heard no concrete plans. Transportation officials have also talked about share-the-road signs to remind road users that cyclists enjoy a (legitimate right to the road). And they have tipped their hat to cycling education too. But these are not part of the ‘pilot’ and so are not scheduled for implementation. They may never come to fruition.
How You Can Help
Members of the cycling community should encourage our new, post-installation City Council to accelerate our bike-friendly planning and programming. Drop them an email or pick up the phone (310-285-1013). Let our City Manager know that you care about cycling by sending an email to Jeff Kolin (or just call him at 310-285-1012). We want to think that our new Council will bring a fresh set of ears to the problem.
*FYI: In January of 2010, City Council re-adopted the existing (1977) Bike Master Plan as part of the city’s required General Plan update. While every other element of our city’s guiding document was updated in a lengthy process, this plan was simply tucked into an appendix without any formal review. The Bicycle Master Plan of course references data that is nearly four decades out of date and includes maps that are not legible. Is that any way to plan?