It was the 1970s and the nation’s bicycle renaissance was in full-flower. City of Beverly Hills met the moment by creating a Bicycle Master Plan in 1977. The plan envisioned a citywide system of bike routes “to serve as alternative transportation to parks, schools, and shopping areas.” It was a good plan that said all he right things. It would have encouraged adults and children to make short trips by bike — and it would have made those trips more safe.
But the 1977 Bicycle Master Plan has gathered dust on a city hall shelf for four decades. In the meanwhile, at great expense our city has built expensive parking structures (parking given away for free) and expanded sidewalks. Yet officials have done little to make streets safe to navigate on a bicycle or personal mobility device like a scooter. We closely regulate valet parking but don’t give half-a-thought to street safety.
Today who ride a bicycle in Beverly Hills find our streets are still incomplete. There are few designated places to safely ride a bicycle separated from vehicular traffic.
Beverly Hills took a step forward by developing a mobility plan that meets the spirit of the 1977 plan and makes our streets ‘complete’ by proposing to engineer them for safety. Well that’s the promise at least!
The Complete Streets Plan?
‘Complete streets’ plan is our roadmap for making our streets safe and welcoming to all road users regardless of mode. “Through implementation of the Complete Streets Plan, the City aims to transform Beverly Hills from an auto-dominated community to one that embraces all modes of travel, reduces vehicle trips on our streets, and can be truly considered a world class bicycling city,” says the Complete Streets Plan adopted in 2021.
This policy statement describes the city’s mobility goals and prioritizes the programs and projects to get us there. Someday.
The key elements of the Complete Streets Plan that are worthy of our support include:
- A citywide bikeway network to connect schools, parks, business districts and neighborhoods (in the spirit of the 1977 Bicycle Master Plan);
- Street design guidelines that prioritize safety as promulgated by the progressive National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO);
- Mode-shift incentives to move travelers from single-occupancy automobiles to other modes (along with metrics and benchmarks to measure progress);
- Traffic calming treatments on residential streets and improved intersections that will reduce conflict between travel modes; and,
- Bus-priority lanes on Wilshire Boulevard.
There is much, much more to like. But the key element is the proposed holistic bikeway network that designates priority bikeways along certain east-west and north-south corridors. Read the updated Action Plan for all of the implementation details.
The important take-away is that the complete streets planning process represents our commitment to 21st century mobility in a city firmly mired in 20th-century auto dependence! Find the draft Complete Streets Plan and the draft Action Plan over at the city’s complete streets pop-up website.
More About Complete Streets
Making streets ‘complete’ is simply handle for designing and constructing roadways to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and even those who choose to travel by car. The principle is safe and equitable facilities for every traveler regardless of choice of mode of travel. The objective is a balanced, multimodal network for safe and efficient travel.
The California Complete Streets Act in 2008 established an ambitious goal achievable through modest means:
In order to fulfill the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make the most efficient use of urban land and transportation infrastructure, and improve public health by encouraging physical activity, transportation planners must find innovative ways to reduce vehicle miles traveled and to shift from short trips in the automobile to biking, walking and use of public transit. — AB 1358 California Complete Streets Act
The legislation provided state agencies and localities like Beverly Hills with the necessary guidance to make streets safe and accommodating regardless of mode choice. Our challenge is to continue to overcome the resistance of our transportation officials and to encourage our elected councilmembers to take the steps necessary to shift trips from the automobile to other modes.