Better Bike Beverly Hills members Ellen Lutwak and Mark Elliot visited the Transportation and Parking Commission on Thursday, November 4th to hear the first update of the first-ever Ad Hoc Bicycle Planning Committee. But it was a bit anti-climactic: there wasn’t much of an update. Still we had an opportunity to deliver our message: cyclists need to be involved from the ground floor on any bike planning efforts, let we wind up with another ineffective plan like the one we have in Beverly Hills today.
Of course, Better Bike Beverly Hills was formed to put cycling on the Commission’s agenda, and perhaps in that we’ve already succeeded. This new committee comprises three key Commission members; it will shape the process of evolving the bike master plan. But as an ad hoc committee it is not required to post agendas or minutes or even open its meetings to the public. As the Commission presents it, this ad hoc committee is a ‘working group’ tasked with the preliminary preparation to look more closely at evolving our substandard bike master plan.
Better Bike Beverly Hills appeared before the Commission to urge that it proceed with transparency in order that our community of dedicated cyclists can be involved early, when the Commission’s cycling agenda is shaped. What we don’t want is to come in late to the process to give our up-or-down three-minute public comment.
Some cycling stakeholders will be forgiven for their surprise. The formation of the committee was communicated to no cycling advocates and quietly introduced as an ‘update’ item on the most recent meeting agenda. Indeed a cyclist curious about how this important advisory Commission has addressed the issue in the past will be surprised to learn that it never has discussed bike issues with any substance. A check of agendas and minutes over the past year turned up not a single reference to bikes or cycling even as the city proceeded to update its General Plan with a ‘bike master plan’ appendix.
We need to be involved. As activist Stephen Box likes to say, “Cyclists are the transportation solution.” And don’t we need one in Beverly Hills and across the Westside generally? Yet cyclists and cycling have not been on the Commission’s radar to date.
We’ll change that. This week we will be sending off a letter to the Commissioners following up on our appearance and urging that the closed-door work of the ad hoc committee be brief so that cyclists can finally have a seat at the transportation planning table. We are the solution, and we will settle for nothing less.
[Update: See our follow-up letter to the Traffic and Transportation Commission and feed back to me any suggestions!]