Action Deferred but Opportunity Awaits in Beverly Hills

City Council meeting July 26, 2012Beverly Hills City Council in study session today deferred action for the second time on the Bike Route Pilot program. Again the item was preempted by prior agendized items (notably Roxbury Park) that took much Council attention. To us that’s fine. We’d rather proceed judiciously than embark on a half-baked Pilot. The breather allows us an opportunity to recommend to City Council that we revisit the process and in the meantime proceed with cyclist-friendly improvements today. Read our letter to City Council or read on for our idea for Crescent Drive.

Nearby cities have garnered much attention lately for implementing on-street bike facilities, bike parking infrastructure, and programs for cycling skills education, each of which underline our region’s transformation from auto-dependence to true mixed-mode mobility. But Beverly Hills alone has an opportunity to steel the thunder because we’re well-positioned to affect mobility on the Westside; and of course we’re starting from nothing. Any improvement is a significant improvement.

What if we were to implement a cutting-edge demonstration project featuring the most innovative improvements on a key corridor? We could refocus attention on what we do for Westside mobility rather than what we’ve done to impede it. We can use the good press!

Crescent Drive looking Northwest
Crescent Drive: Wide, commercial businesses on only one side, and relatively low traffic counts make it a great bike route demonstration project!

After noting the shortcomings of the Bike Route Pilot program as presented to City Council, I suggested that Crescent Drive be that demonstration project:

Crescent Drive connects our northern neighborhoods to the Southeast through the Civic Center and Triangle.

This corridor is unique in that one side is entirely residential and the other relatively under-utilized retail (meaning fewer car trips). And it is sufficiently wide to accommodate buffered bike lanes if we reduce through traffic lanes. While reducing traffic lanes is always controversial, the buffered bicycle lane is the single most effective safety improvement that our city can make here for cyclists.

Low levels of traffic could trigger a traffic lane reduction. The corridor’s average daily traffic (ADT) count is sufficiently low that it has not been measured (according to the data that I have) and evidently it accommodates much less vehicular traffic than does adjacent Canon Drive.

What better place to try cyclist-friendly safety innovations than on Crescent? With City Council continuing the Pilot process recommendations discussion to the next study session (hopefully), we still have an opportunity to put forward a framework for a better plan – and a more effective program of improvements for keeping cyclists safe.