Ride the Westside on Santa Monica Boulevard and you’ll know that something’s missing when you pass through Beverly Hills. Somehow the dedicated on-street bicycle lanes that deliver riders to our city from east and west disappear completely at our city’s gateways. With this corridor undergoing a down-to-the-gravel reconstruction by 2015, what potential will it hold for bicycle lanes in order to fix this missing link?
It’s been a long time coming, hasn’t it? Cyclists have been anticipating the city’s first-ever bicycle lanes for several years and finally they have arrived. With Class II bicycle lanes now installed on Crescent Drive (north of Santa Monica) and Burton Drive (east of City Hall to Robertson), finally we have a designated space on the blacktop. The city’s ‘Pilot’ program also installed shared-lane markings (aka ‘sharrows‘) on Crescent between Santa Monica Blvd. & Wilshire to indicate that motorists must share the road with those who ride. Where do these steps leave Beverly Hills relative to other cities, and what next steps can be taken to make riding safe?
Ride a mile in Beverly Hills and you’ll know that civility on the blacktop is in short supply. Look beyond April’s attempted murder on a cyclist, for example, and you’ll see everyday interactions between road users that degrade our quality-of-life and put the lie to the civic ideal. Without armor, though, the cyclist is particularly vulnerable to road rage and motorists who don’t take due care. Now from our Human Relations Commission comes a proposal to extend its ’embrace civility’ initiative to the streets. Sure we need to show our better selves on our most significant and extensive public spaces. But will a promoted initiative do anything at all to make streets safer?
Thirty-five years after Beverly Hills adopted a Bicycle Master Plan [pdf], and three years after an ad-hoc committee was formed to update it, we’re still stuck with the same 1977-era plan (illegible maps and all). We’ve called it bad faith bike planning. This Thursday at 9:30am the Traffic and Parking Commission will talk about that long-awaited update.
Remember the attempted murder & hit-and-run on a cyclist in Beverly Hills back on April 3rd? You’d think a crime like that would garner significant media attention seeing as it was captured by CCTV video. That it would generate concern among commissioners on the Traffic and Parking Commission. That the body receiving a standing monthly police report on collisions and citations would bother to ask. Today we tuned into the live commission broadcast to learn that commissioners wouldn’t be wrestling with this threat to public safety because they had other pressing business. Like the assault never happened.
As if to prove the skeptics right, bicycle racks won’t be hitting Beverly Hills sidewalks soon. According to the T&P Commission workplan, installation of the proposed 11 racks citywide will wait until the next fiscal year. Eleven racks? That suggests zero interest in making our business districts bike-friendly. Cyclists: take your money elsewhere!
Wrapping up Sunshine Week, we are already looking ahead to 2014 with the hope that our municipalities will take a more proactive approach to making the people’s information public. Transparency is key: as pro-bike advocates, we know that data is crucial in making an argument for more sensible transportation policy. Here in Beverly Hills, we’d like to know more about bike-involved collisions, and how traffic enforcement policy affects cyclists. We don’t have that data today. Sunshine Week is an opportunity to remind officials what needs fixing, and we have some ideas. And we be you do too.
Transportation staff presented a report to the Traffic & Parking Commission this week that outlined progress (or lack thereof) on several cycling-related initiatives here in Beverly Hills. If you’ve tuned in earlier, you’ll know that the city has been talking for the past three years about a new bike plan. They’ve been planning a ‘pilot’ bike route for the past two years. And have been working on a limited bike rack installation program for the past 18 months. While there’s still no tangible progress to report, we did hear from staff about timelines. Let’s review, starting start with the big opportunity: bicycle lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Beverly Hills Traffic & Parking Commission received their usual monthly update from the Police department last week. According to last year’s data, injury collisions in Beverly Hills have held steady throughout 2012 with monthly fluctuation. But steady nonetheless. Police enforcement shows a decline throughout the year in three of four citation categories, however, and they seem to take a curious dip at the height of the summer in June (reference the light grey behind the trendlines). They also dip during the holiday season. While a decrease in collisions suggest less traffic on December roads, and possibly fewer violators, what could explain the sudden rise in citations so early in the year?
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” That tireless slogan is often uttered by policy pushers when they want to elevate political expedience above effectiveness. It’s the heads-up to recalibrate and ratchet down constituent expectations. Of course we can’t expect perfection; but too often we don’t even get the ‘good.’ For the past six months we’ve waited for Beverly Hills to refresh the city website. It’s been in the pipeline but it simply never materialized. Until now.
The Beverly Hills Traffic & Parking Commission met this week to further consider a long-continued bicycle rack agenda item. In brief, the city is entertaining a bike parking program that could include city-initiated bicycle rack installations and a bicycle rack-on-request program. It can’t come too soon: local businesses owners have asked for them; cyclists beg for them; and every city but ours is already installing them. For the past year, though, Public Works has only talked and it has been years since any bicycle rack in our city has hit a sidewalk. We’re curious to know the progress that’s been made and eager to learn when we might see a new bicycle rack touch ground.
Though Beverly Hills Dept. of Public Works has been adamant over the past year about NOT fixing Santa Monica Boulevard until fully reconstructed (sometime in 2015), the corridor got some much-needed care when a crew came out today to lay down some new blacktop. Regular riders remember how the hazards compromise travel for them while offering motorists a nice ride (at right). Finally cyclists may enjoy this segment too. And it’s gratifying to see something finally happen here after hearing no, no, no to our pleas for help. Perhaps it comes just in time to prevent a car-bike collision, but not too soon for the pileup just last week on this spot after a westbound driver braked hard upon approaching … Continue reading
Bike Blogger Ted Rogers has made it his personal mission to document bicycle-involved fatalities in Southern California. His Biking In LA blog is a running tally of the deaths: 44 cycling fatalities in Southern California to date this year and 15 in just five weeks alone. “That’s an utterly unacceptable average of three deaths every week,” he says, and we agree. Collisions have been on our mind since our Traffic & Parking Commission waved away cyclists’ safety concerns back in May without spending much time talking about them.
If you’ve been waiting for Beverly Hills to install bike racks, we’ve got good news and bad. The good news is that the city may move ahead on three initiatives: racks for city properties, installations in commercial districts, and a rack-on-request program. This week the Traffic & Parking Commission discussed the particulars. The bad news is that the Commission continued the discussion until September, which means we’re approaching three years since the Commission formed a bike committee to implement just this kind of improvement but with scant progress to show.
The Beverly Hills Traffic & Parking Commission on Thursday morning will review a staff proposal for new bicycle racks and a rack-on-request program. This is the latest step in moving ahead on the installation of new bike racks since about twenty racks were installed in the business triangle many years ago as part of a beautification effort. Outside of the triangle, though, the city has not installed a single rack. With bike racks finally back on the city agenda, we look at what’s proposed.