10/31 Better Bike Meeting Wrap-Up

Better Bike BB shieldThanks to Rick Risemberg, Brent Bigler, Mihai Peteu, and group stalwart Kevin Burton, our October 31st meeting proved to be a valuable wrap-up of opportunities for more effective bike planning, as well as suggested Better Bike Beverly Hills strategies going forward. Here are the highlights.

Rick Risenberg (of Bicycle Fixation) informed us that data does support what we knew intuitively: cyclists are good for local businesses. He pointed us to his work that advances the notion that better, sustainable local communities are possible if we reorganize how we live around human powered transportation. We’ll have some of that material posted shortly.

Brent followed up on his recent cycling trip to Amsterdam with a counterintuitive take on bike lanes. Rather than facilitate speedy travel (as we generally think about them here in the Southland), lanes in northern European cities tend to slow down the bike traffic. With cycling viewed as a popular form of transit, and with more cyclists on every urban bikeway, cycling becomes a civic endeavor rather than merely a means to an end – or conduit to a destination.

That resonates with our past meeting discussions about how to connect Santa Monica Boulevard with the business district, building on Rick’s observation about how cyclists do support local commerce. If we think about on (or off) boulevard lanes less as a bike freeway and more as everyday bike infrastructure, we might reconsider the pleasures and purposes of two-wheeled transit.

To that end, we continued a discussion started in an earlier meeting about an off-boulevard bike lane on Little Santa Monica boulevard. Taking off from the Century City lanes, an eastbound bike lane could be a key element in a neighborhood network – a route that brings cyclists past the many small businesses on that street while introducing alternative transportation to the central business district. Boulevard lanes and neighborhood network routes need not be mutually exclusive, we agreed; both have a role to play in getting cyclists around safely while integrating bike transport infrastructure into the mobility system of greater Beverly Hills.

We also discussed the possibility of affiliating regionally with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. We want to keep our advocacy focused on (and within) Beverly Hills, we agreed, but there may well be a productive partnership should Better Bike want to tap the fiscal support of the LACBC’s organization while bringing potential LACBC members on board locally as Better Bike members too. LACBC’s work on the Los Angeles 4th street bike corridor might hold promise too for Beverly Hills if we want to suggest Burton Way, for example, as a bike boulevard.

Mihai Peteu reminded us that the LA Bike map is an important tool for logging road hazards and collisions. Every cyclists should be aware of it because it gives some indication of particularly dangerous trouble spots exist: the corridors and intersections where cyclists are injured. Work is continuing to improve the online tool, Mihai said. Have a look for yourself!

Wrapping up the meeting we discussed efforts in surrounding cities to form task forces (West Hollywood and Culver City), regional organizations that are moving the sustainability ball forward (SCAG & METRO) and missed opportunities to advance policies conducive to cyclists’ safety here on the Westside (Beverly Hills, of course).

With so much promise for more supportive alternative transportation policies in the air, we have to keep on top of things here in Beverly Hills. Our upcoming SM Blvd. ride is Sunday, November 14th at 2pm. That week the Westside Council of Governments meets in Beverly Hills on November 18th (we need to be represented there), while behind the scenes Metro continues a newly-aggressive pro-bike agenda, led by City of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Looking ahead to Spring of 2011, Beverly Hills municipal elections gives us an opportunity to follow the lead of Gary Kavanagh (Gary Rides Bikes) and SM Spoke in asking candidates directly whether they support cyclists and bike planning. See Gary’s blog for more about that effort and to read the City Council endorsements. Consider what we should be asking our own City Council candidates!