Breaking News: Worst of SM Blvd. Gets a Touch-up

Santa Monica Boulevard pavement irregularitiesThough Beverly Hills Dept. of Public Works has been adamant over the past year about NOT fixing Santa Monica Boulevard until fully reconstructed (sometime in 2015), the corridor got some much-needed care when a crew came out today to lay down some new blacktop. Regular riders remember how the hazards compromise travel for them while offering motorists a nice ride (at right). Finally cyclists may enjoy this segment too. And it’s gratifying to see something finally happen here after hearing no, no, no to our pleas for help. Perhaps it comes just in time to prevent a car-bike collision, but not too soon for the pileup just last week on this spot after a westbound driver braked hard upon approaching a¬† cyclist.

Just In Time or a Week Too Late?

Now, maybe it’s just coincidence, but it seems like the resulting collision may have spurred todays impromptu semi-reconstruction. In that event, the hard-braking driver not only sought to frighted the cyclist but also, for good measure evidently, also leaned on the horn. That put the cyclist in a very dangerous situation. Yet while the cyclist did escape harm, the two motorists behind weren’t so lucky: after the crash at least one was left waiting for a tow. Of course the hard-braking driver had already taken off.

Chalk it up to that hostile leading driver or inattentive motorists behind, this insufferable roadway had claimed another score: two more vehicles seriously damaged because Public Works had chosen not to maintain it properly.

We’ve highlighted the dangers of this corridor in part because our city has taken little interest in cyclist safety. The Traffic & Parking Commission has not been particularly concerned; commissioners declined to recommend safety measures for our busiest streets in town. The reasoning? As one said, any improvement would “offer cyclists a false sense of security” and even open the city to liability. Moreover, their deliberations took scant note of existing collision data that illustrates the safety problem.

We like to remind city officials that they have a responsibility to ensure safe transit for cyclists in all cases – even where such safety measures are not taken. Indeed this collision could have been avoided if only Public Works had earlier addressed the horrendous irregularities and potholes that long forced westbound cyclists deep into the travel lane. (For the record, the law says ride to the right only when ‘practicable.’ Only an inexperienced or intimidated cyclist would ride to the right given these pavement irregularities. Hazards like this one are license for cyclists to ride well into the travel lane and control it.)

Next up: the eastbound stretch approaching the ‘pork chop’ triangle at Doheney. That too is a stretch of crappy pavement that drives cyclists deep into the lane. We won’t hold our breath for that stretch to be repaired.

Bike Route Pilot Late Meeting Notice is Par for the Course

Traffic & Parking Aug. 4th, 2011Were you seeking official notice for tomorrow’s Traffic & Parking Commission Bike Route Pilot meeting but couldn’t find it? You’re not alone: it simply wasn’t posted online. Not on the Bike Plan Committee’s documents page; nor on the Commission’s agenda page; and not even listed on the city’s web calendar. This meeting seems to have disappeared into a black hole like much of the public input given to Transportation to date. Continue reading

Traffic & Parking Commission Regular Meeting

Garage commemorative plaque

A city so proud of parking that we put a plaque on it!

Better Bike dropped in on the Traffic & Parking Commission last week for an update on how the city will promote the upcoming¬†Bike Routes Pilot meetings this month (meeting first next Wednesday and then on April 25th). While we couldn’t stay long enough for the bike update (often it’s pushed to the end of the meeting) we did learn a thing or two about bike collisions: four bicycle injury collisions have been reported in January, with four more following in February, according to Commission Chair Julie Steinberg. That’s too much for our comfort. Continue reading

Time for a Culture Change in Beverly Hills Transportation

David Guftavson

David Gustavson, Director of Public Works

Speaking with Beverly Hills officials, one would think that laying down a few bike racks is akin to a capital improvement project. Just this morning, Transportation (a division of Public Works) suggested that cyclists might have to wait until the next fiscal year (starting in July) for a single new bike rack. This makes absolutely no sense: racks are a couple of hundred dollars apiece. We know where they are needed. Cities already have guidelines for placement. And Beverly Hills has $30,000 in Metro Transportation Development Act Article 3 funds available for the asking to pay for them. Why are we getting the runaround from Public Works? Continue reading