Planning Commission Discusses the Gateway

Planning Commission in action

On Feb. 9th the Planning Commission met to continue an overlay zone discussion that was continued from January’s meeting. The overlay zone, if enacted, would be a newly-formulated land use designation specifically tailored to the city’s western gateway, where Santa Monica Boulevard enters the city and where a proposed project for the Starbucks corner (at Wilshire) is currently under review. This is no academic discussion, however. How the Commission formulates this policy will have a lasting impact on the future transportation uses of the Santa Monica Boulevard corridor.

Open for Comment: Westside Cities COG Bike Gap Closure Plan

COG gap closure map overall

The Westside Cities Council of Governments (COG) is inviting comment on its program to close gaps in bicycle infrastructure on the Westside. Five priority routes have been identified by bike advocates and COG staff over three meetings in 2011, and now it’s time for you to have a say. Did we get this right? Is there a route that’s been overlooked? This is our opportunity to encourage Westside elected officials to view active transportation improvements like they do surface transportation and mass transit: worthy of public investment if we’re to get the Westside moving again.

Bike Plan Update Committee Meeting #4 (Bike Racks)

The Beverly Hills ad-hoc Bike Plan Update Committee met on January 18th to update the bike community on several projects of concern to cyclists, including the installation of new racks, the Bike Route Pilot, and the Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction project. The previous post addressed the Pilot, the next will address Santa Monica Boulevard, and here we will focus on racks. While we see some city-side progress from the presentations, we have a long way to go to meet demand with new racks. We also see the need for active-transportation expertise among Transportation staffers.

Bike Plan Update Committee Meeting #4 (Pilot Program)

Feasibility Study: Charleville Route

The Beverly Hills ad-hoc Bike Plan Update Committee met on January 18th to update the bike community on several projects of concern to cyclists: Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction and several efforts related to bike facilities. Here we will focus on the Bike Routes Pilot initiative to create bike facilities on Beverly Hills streets. While promising, we feel that the process to date has fallen short of community-side expectations, however. Communication is largely one-way and attendee feedback seems not to make it into materials.

High Cost of ‘Free’ Parking (Part I)

High Cost of Free Parking cover

Donald Shoup’s argument for rethinking the accommodation of automobiles in urban areas begins with a counter-intuitive claim: free parking is not at all free; in fact, it’s quite expensive. Whether or not we drive, he says, we do pay, but those costs are far steeper than a simple ledger would have you believe. From unrealized urban opportunities to misallocated resources that benefit primarily motorists, the true costs of parking are borne not by those who park but everybody including motorists who have to pick up the tab.

Bikeway to the Sea: A Promising Regional Route!

Bikeway to the Sea route map

Kevin Burton of the West Hollywood Bicycle Task Force (and co-organizer of the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition) has visions of a ‘Bikeway to the Sea.’ He sees Santa Monica Boulevard taking riders from Downtown to the ocean in safety without worrying about disappearing bike lanes and perilous passages under the 405. We need to join Kevin in reimagining the Santa Monica Boulevard corridor!

Reconsidering Level-of-Service (LOS)

Santa Monica & Wilshire

The Atlantic Media Group’s Atlantic Cities site features a look at the evolving relationship between urban sustainable transportation policies and the standards and practices put in place by local governments to assess and forecast vehicular traffic demand. There is a movement underway in popular and academic circles to revisit the use of multi-modal level of service indicators (or ‘LOS’ in transportation parlance) as an appropriate metric for evaluating projects and polices under California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Journalist Eric Jaffe’s piece looks at San Francisco’s initiative to  rethink the value of LOS in the changing context of urban mobility, where moving people rather than vehicles needs to be the focus of transportation policymaking.

Bike Plan Update Committee Meeting #3

Ad-Hoc Bike Plan Update Committee at work

The ad-hoc Bike Plan Update Committee met for the third time on November 16th with representatives from the Beverly Hills cycling community. This was the latest in a bi-monthly series to bring the city & bike community together. We last met in August to discuss the our need for bike-friendly facilities and programs, and to identify candidate bike corridors for a pilot program here in the city. Here is the recap from this third meeting, with comment to follow in subsequent posts.

Busy Intersection in Beverly Hills Fails Cyclists

Santa Monica & Wilshire

Here’s a guy doing everything right as he makes his way through the Wilshire & Santa Monica Boulevard intersection. He’s traveling like a vehicular cyclist should: in the traffic lane with the flow and not on the sidewalk. He’s waited patiently for the green light. And he’s wearing  his helmet. City of Beverly Hills Transportation and California DOT can’t ask anything more of him. But there’s a lot more he can ask of these agencies.

City Snubs Retailers Rack Request

Rick Risemberg of Bicycle Fixation & Orange 20 likes to grouse that Beverly Hills is the least welcoming of Westside cities to cyclists. Yeah, we’re inclined to agree. If you think you get the cold shoulder from the city, consider how it feels to get snubbed on a bike rack inquiry from a national sales tax-generating chain that wants to welcome cyclists. “They’re not warm and fuzzy,” said the regional manager. “Talking to this city is like a root canal.”

Bike Plan Update Committee Meeting #2

The Beverly Hills Bike Plan Update Committee met with bike and active transportation advocates for the second time this past Monday, Aug. 29th. The committee, which is an ad-hoc body under the Commission, need not meet regularly, nor in public, but Commissioners agreed to apprise us of their efforts to date. With about twelve cyclists joining Better Bike and the Commissioners, we all enjoyed a productive discussion about next steps for a bikeable Beverly Hills.

Better Bike Pacific Electric Ride

Last weekend’s ride along the abandoned Pacific Electric right-of-way through Beverly Hills was an exploratory romp along the rails (so to speak) to put into historical perspective  the role of railroads in the development of Beverly Hills. The transportation patterns we follow today do originate with the rails, which first came to this area in the 1890s. By 1900 we had a station here, and in 1932 we got a second, larger depot. But by WWII it was over for passenger rail in Beverly Hills. Nevertheless,these early rails did establish a pattern for transportation that continues to this day, and will likely determine tomorrow’s transportation patterns will too. We took a tour to see how it looks today.

LA MTA Backbone Route circa 1961

Doing a bit of web walking to prepare for our upcoming Sunday ride along the old Pacific Electric alignment here in Beverly Hills, I came across an intriguing proposal for a subway-to-the-sea circa 1961 – the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Backbone Route. The hard-working folks over at Metro’s superb Primary Resources blog give the whole backstory to this intriguing conceptual midwife to today’s Purple line (aka subway-not-quite-to-the-sea). The best part: it courses right though Beverly Hills along the same alignment as today’s subway proposal (albeit hewing to Santa Monica Boulevard through Century City). See the map. Back in the day, two light rail lines converged at Beverly Hills, each connecting Downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific communities of Santa … Continue reading

City of Beverly Hills Transparency? #FAIL!

Did you know that City of Beverly Hills blocks all search engines from indexing the city’s public website? We noticed recently that a search of the Beverly Hills website brings up no results. Try it yourself. In Google enter: [your search term] site:beverlyhills.org. (Leave off those square brackets but keep the ‘site’ command that restricts your search only to the city’s website.) We noticed the problem when looking for our city’s updated Sustainability Plan. The posted draft is from 2009, and it’s all that’s available. No luck on an adopted one. So, digging a bit further, we noticed that the city uses the ‘robots.txt’ file to block search engines from crawling any part of the city site.