About Us

About Better Bike

Better Bike was formed in 2010 after a couple of near-misses highlighted the perils of riding a bicycle in Beverly Hills. Back then there was not a single sign, sharrow, or bike lane in the city. And no wonder: the recent General Plan included the usual platitudes about encouraging people to embrace alternative modes of mobility but the Bicycle Master Plan, which was included in the Open Space element — not the Circulation element — was a xeroxed reproduction of a 1977 bike plan which described a citywide network of bicycle routes that didn’t exist. This was nothing less than mobility malpractice.

We should have sued the city then to force an update to the Circulation element to substantially include plans, programs and policies to make traveling the city by bicycle more safe. We didn’t.

Instead we waited years for the city’s most significant commitment to safe mobility to date: the Santa Monica Boulevard high-visibility bicycle lanes. That was a big with with our community friends and supporters. The Council vote was unanimous but only because we succeeded in securing the necessary third vote.  The other two councilmembers (no fans of bike safety) grudgingly came along.

The darkest days for safe mobility in Beverly Hills were beginning to pass. Just then a solid pro-bike candidate, Bob Wunderlich, was elected to City Council in 2017. He was a real supporter of alt-mobility and having that voice speaking up for safe mobility at the Council dais helped us with a couple of modest wins.

The key outcome was a solid Complete Streets Plan. It says the right things. Symbolically speaking it replaced the ridiculous xeroxed 1977 Bicycle Master Plan. More tangibly it is a blueprint for infrastructure that a Council majority has grudgingly supported.

Take for example the bicycle lane on Burton Way. Or the bicycle lane adjacent to Roxbury Park on the east side. Each facility connects our city to City of Los Angeles infrastructure. The city is now striping partial bicycle lanes on Doheny which is an important north-south corridor. None of them is perfect but it is a start.

Behind the scenes another significant step forward came on the administrative side: transportation planning responsibilities were shifted from the Community Development Department (never a happy home for mobility!) to the Public Works Department. By that time the administrative deadwood was cleared out: the former Director of Public Works had retired and the very unhelpful Deputy Director for Transportation Aaron Kunz was forcibly retired. It was another new day for mobility.

Today we may not have a City Council that understands the value of safe multimodal mobility but we at least have transportation administrators and a transportation planner that does understand — and they are doing what they can to move the ball. Around town we see new ‘full lane’ and ‘three feet’ signs and marked bike routes and, in the case of Doheny, a new dedicated place to ride.

These wins are a product of steady, unceasing attention and criticism of the city’s wayward mobility path as well as occasional enlightened thinking on City Council. Putting the focus on the city’s disregard for mobility safety would not have been possible without all of the folks who jammed Council meetings asking for better.

Looking ahead, change would not be possible without some transportation staffers that at least understand the issue and are willing to step up with new ideas in a city hall that is chronically risk-averse and too often without new ideas.

Challenges remain. We have three elected Councilmembers who previously served on the city’s Traffic and Parking Commission and each is proving to be more of a hindrance than a help as we work to move Beverly Hills into a twenty-first century mobility present.

Thanks to Councilmember Wunderlich we secured a commitment for bicycle lanes on Merv Griffin Way that connects Elevado to Santa Monica Boulevard despite strong — and senseless — opposition from the backers of the forthcoming One Beverly Hills project adjacent to the Hilton. But we will believe it when we see it!

Heck, at least we’re rolling!