Beverly Hills Left Behind

Why does it seem like Beverly Hills is left behind as nearly every other surrounding city has undertaken a serious bike planning effort? Surrounding cities are getting on board too. Culver City and Santa Monica have adopted good mobility plans that recognize the safety concerns of cyclists. West Hollywood has just formed a bicycle task force to guide officials there as that progressive city moves forward on their own bike planning efforts. Glendale has partnered with the LACBC on grant-funded bike planning.

Los Angeles, the city that cycling activists love to hate, has actually put together a decent bike plan. Authored and revised repeatedly over nearly two years (with ample input from the cycling advocacy community), the new bike plan is a tome to behold. This week, on February 9th, the a joint meeting of the Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee and Transportation committee was presented with city’s new bike plan and sent it on to City Council for adoption.

And while Los Angeles may not yet rival New York or San Francisco for innovative planning, give officials credit for being dragged kicking and screaming by the advocacy community into planning for a non-motorized transportation future. Or at least a shared-road future.

Beverly Hills has been more recalcitrant. Our city stands practically alone in doing nothing to support cyclists. We’ve constructed exactly zero miles of bike lanes. We’ve provided few bike racks nor mandated that big employers provide them for employees that wish to cycle to work.

Beverly Hills has no bicycle safety education program and posts no signs to advise motorists that roads must be shared no matter how narrow. Cyclists don’t feel the city’s love!

Why not? The Southern California Association of Governments recognizes that cycling is a key means to meet statewide targets concerning greenhouse gas reductions. Metro, the regional transit agency, is investing heavily in bike infrastructure (including bus bike carriers and even bikestations at rail stops) because it knows that cycling and mass transit are complimentary.

Our bicycle plan adopted only a year ago is a mere five pages long and has no implementation strategy behind it (there is nothing to implement). Our plan references an outdated data and includes maps from the 1970s. No wonder we’re known as an impediment to mobility planning: we’re the Westside’s transportation problem, not the solution!

It’s time for local action. But the Transportation Commission’s newly-appointed ad-hoc bike committee isn’t going to cut it. The committee has met only two times in four months and both were closed to the public.

Only a credible bike planning effort, one that doesn’t merely check-off the required boxes but actually anticipates a post-automotive future, will show regional planning agencies that we deserve a piece of the funding pie for improvements. We could take our case to grant-makers for walk-to-school grants.

Why let surrounding cities have all the fun? The longer we wait to plan for bike transportation and pedestrian and cyclist safety, the father behind a newly-invigorated region we will fall.