Beverly Hills doesn’t have much to stand on when it comes to cyclist safety, so it’s heartening at least that a Bike Route Pilot program is underway to bring, for the first time, cycling-friendly improvements to some of our city streets. With the first public outreach meeting under our belt and two more upcoming on April 25th and May 9th, here we recap where we are and the next steps to safer bike routes.
The city’s first-ever bike facilities planning workshop just wrapped up, part of the Bike Route Pilot program to bring safer bike travel to city streets. This meeting is the first step; subsequently the Traffic & Parking Commission will formulate recommendations on or after the third meeting on May 9, with City Council action thereafter. The city mailed out 3,000 flyers (below) and Better Bike did some legwork too. Nevertheless, turnout was rather light. Hot-button issues draw the crowds (and the attention) but bike planning meetings? Not so much.
The meeting began with planner Martha Eros presenting an update on the Pilot, including the city’s bike rack effort. The latter includes new racks for commercial districts, new racks to replace the few substandard ‘wave’ type racks already installed, and (prospectively) a rack-on-request program so businesses can ask the city for a needed nearby bike rack. As presented, it’s clear that the city has come a long way in recognizing the value of bike parking. (And we appreciate it!) We look forward to these racks and this program in late summer and autumn.
The four routes identified for possible improvements (basic map) include Charleville Blvd., the most direct connection between La Cienega and Century City; Beverly Drive, the city’s commercial spine; and Crescent Drive and Carmelita Avenue. The latter seem to be the city’s preferred routes: they are less-traveled than the others, but they are also, we feel, a complement rather than a substitute. Should the city move forward on all four, we’ll see the kernel of a citywide bike network emerge, a prospect envisioned by our Beverly Hills Bicycle Master Plan from 1977.
The Pilot Program Feasibility Study
Our old bike plan hasn’t been a foundation of this effort; instead, the city commissioned a Pilot Program feasibility study from Fehr & Peers. On hand to present that study (PPT) was civil engineer Sarah Brandenberg. Emphasizing that “no decisions have been made yet,” Sarah enumerated the key parameter: the study assumed the existing right-of-way with no change to parking or vehicular flow. “We’re not removing anything,” she said. “This is what we could do for bicyclists.”
Moving through the four corridors (plus Burton Way, a late addition) she identified the possible improvements: bike lanes; share-the-road lane markings; and traffic circles. For most of the route segments, bike lanes are off the table; there simply isn’t room, she said. For sharrow-applied routes, like Carmelita and Charleville, the many stop signs that exist there could be replaced by innovative intersection treatments like roundabouts. “Nothing is envisioned [like that] now,” she added. “Maybe down the road.”