Beverly Hills City Council just created a ‘blue ribbon’ residents committee to coordinate public input about conceptual designs and alternatives for the first phase of the Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction project. Expected to break ground in early 2015, the project will reconfigure this key corridor. Many design questions remain, however – not least whether bicycle lanes will one day find their place here to complete the regional ‘backbone’ bicycle network that cyclists care about.
Beverly Hills City Council took a major step forward on Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction today when councilmembers agreed to create an appointed blue-ribbon committee to manage public outreach this fall. This move broadens stakeholder participation beyond the limited opportunities afforded by commission oversight and instead puts oversight of the process in stakeholders’ hands. In other developments, the Council recognized that cyclists have a place on this key corridor and said safety was paramount. Let’s recap!
The Beverly Hills Courier ran a cover article last week titled, ‘Mirisch Says City Manager Kolin “Usurped” Authority.’ Attention-grabbing headlines are a staple in the tabloid’s toolbox precisely because they beg a look. And indeed the Courier has been known to swing a provocative headline now and then. But ‘usurps’ is a serious charge, and it merits attention because the City Manager already exercises control. Does he exercise too much control? Let’s look more closely at the City Manager and the Courier’s claim.
Have you wondered why Beverly Hills has taken none of the steps toward safer for cyclists that other cities have? One can point to a few factors that get in the way: an outdated 1977-era Bicycle Master Plan; our Traffic and Parking Commission which doesn’t recognize road safety as a mandate; and a City Council that historically has shown little interest in cycling. All are true but not sufficient: probably the biggest obstacle has been our Public Works department where managers and staff seem not to grasp the importance of multimodal mobility to our city’s future. But now that it’s time to name a new PW director, we can help to change that. How difficult can it be?
It’s been a long time coming, hasn’t it? Cyclists have been anticipating the city’s first-ever bicycle lanes for several years and finally they have arrived. With Class II bicycle lanes now installed on Crescent Drive (north of Santa Monica) and Burton Drive (east of City Hall to Robertson), finally we have a designated space on the blacktop. The city’s ‘Pilot’ program also installed shared-lane markings (aka ‘sharrows‘) on Crescent between Santa Monica Blvd. & Wilshire to indicate that motorists must share the road with those who ride. Where do these steps leave Beverly Hills relative to other cities, and what next steps can be taken to make riding safe?