About Better Bike
I am a Beverly Hills resident and longtime cyclist. I created Better Bike in 2010 to spark a conversation about street safety. After a couple of near-misses in one day underscored the peril of riding a bicycle in Beverly Hills, I began to wonder why there was not a single sign, sharrow, or bike lane in the city. There were just a few racks in the central business district.
So I looked to see what our General Plan said about safe cycling. I saw the usual platitudes about encouraging people to embrace healthier and less-polluting alternatives to the automobile. Attached to the Open Space Element was a Bicycle Master Plan, and it described a citywide network of bicycle routes that didn’t exist. The bicycle plan looked different than the rest of the plan though: it was dated ‘1977’ and looked every bit its age – like a bad Xerox.
This was a ‘shelfware’ plan at its worst! Despite a General Plan update the prior year, our new plan simply carried over a 30+ year old document without change because the original was evidently lost to history. Indeed the city upon request couldn’t provide a new printout of that citywide bike route network map.
“This is planning malpractice,” I thought. I’ve been to school for planning and no textbook or instructor would ever dare suggest to carry over a 30+ year old document into a contemporary plan. Because what’s the point? Planning is about the future.
Perusing that old plan was a fitting introduction to transportation planning in Beverly Hills. That is to say there was no planning; the transportation division’s primary duty was to repave the roads. There was no effective oversight of mobility because the Traffic and Parking Commission was more concerned with parking permits than street safety. Pleas to accommodate those who ride a bicycle for many years simply fell on deaf ears – and largely still do.
Persistence has paid off, however. People concerned about cycling safety packed city meetings and ultimately persuaded City Council to include a bicycle lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard. We made some noise about the high-and-rising frequency of crash injuries (and lately fatalities) and officials are now taking a second look at pro-forma police department crash injury numbers. We have pressed the city to embrace complete streets as a value and not just as a box to be checked to qualify for Metro grants.
By the end of 2018 we will know if the city is serious about complete streets and really concerned about street safety. In the meanwhile we’ll keep the focus on City Hall.