October’s meeting of Bicycle Advisory Committee met on Tuesday evening to discuss the 2010 LA Bike Plan, bicyclist/police issues, bicycle theft, LA Critical Mass, the Safe Moves program, CicLAvia, the campaign for hit & run legislation, and bicyclist rest stops on the PCH. Follow us below the fold for all the particulars.
Before the meeting began, Glenn Bailey (chair of the BAC) pointed out that City Planning had provided over-sized maps of the 2010 LA Bike Plan for the audience to mark with their suggestions. He also noted that the Bureau of Street Services (BSS) would be in attendance at the next BAC meeting to discuss, in light of recent controversies, their procedure for resurfacing streets. The anti-harassment ordinance will go before the Transportation Committee on October 27th.
Though the BAC’s meetings are scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM, the meeting was called to order for non-action items at 7:17. We say “non-action items” because the BAC was still without quorum when the meeting was called to order. Without quorum, they weren’t able to discuss “action items” requiring a vote from the committee.
BAC Quorum Struggles
As a 19-member body (one representative appointed from each council district and 4 representatives appointed by the mayor), the BAC needs at least 10 members in attendance to begin their meetings. At 7:15, that number stood at 7. By 7:25, it had climbed to 9. It was only after 7:30 that the BAC had reached their magic number of 10 to proceed.
The BAC shouldn’t receive too much scolding for poor attendance; the audience for the meeting barely outpaced them. While the last BAC meeting in August drew a hefty 25-30 attendees, this month’s meeting drew a paltry 11. Even more telling, 3 of the 11 audience members were there to give presentations before the BAC.
You (Yes, You) Should Care About This
LADOT Bike Blog has made our views on the BAC clear in the past. This body is supposed to be the official representative body for all Los Angeles bicyclists and they have direct communication with both City politicians and with City Departments on issues effecting bicyclists. Los Angeles will never become the amazing center of bicycling that it should be until the bicycling community makes their voices heard on the issues that matter to them. Don’t let others speak for you; if you ride on the streets of Los Angeles, you have a stake in what’s being discussed at these meetings. You aren’t allowed to complain when you don’t show up.
Updates from Sergeant Krumer
The indefatigable Sergeant Krumer was first in front of the BAC to give an update for LAPD positions and policies on a number of bicycle issues. LADOT Bike Blog must say that we are always thoroughly impressed by Sergeant Krumer. He is always energetic, friendly, reasonable, and knowledgeable. We doubt that the Los Angeles bicycle community could have a better liaison with LAPD.
LADP and the 2010 Bike Plan
Seeing as how they are written into some the policies, LAPD was asked to give comment on the 2010 draft LA Bike Plan. Here are the bullet points:
- While LAPD is willing to help facilitate community bike rides, they do not believe it should be their responsibility to organize them. Organization should be left to the community involved.
- Rather than use LAPD to conduct surveys of off-road bicyclists, the department of Recreation & Parks should take on the responsibility because all off-road cycling takes place on land under Rec & Park jurisdiction.
- LAPD will not allocate a specific number of officers to patrol bike paths. Officers will be deployed, but the department would like the flexibility to deploy officers where they are most effective.
LAPD and Group Rides
Sergeant Krumer wanted to make clear that LAPD is still adjusting their approach and is very open the comments and suggestions of the bicycle community. LAPD is still committed to riding with large group rides like Critical Mass and helping everyone be safe and follow the law. He acknowledged that corking of red lights is still a contentious issue – LAPD will occasionally cork an intersection during a group ride, but still maintains it is illegal for civilians to do so – and the department is looking for a pragmatic solution that will offer the most safety and certainty to riders. The number and type of officers (squad cars, motorcycles, bikes) deployed during these rides is another factor still in flux and the department is experimenting to find what works best.
Commitment to LACM
Sergeant Krumer also wanted to emphasize that LAPD is committed to making the rides a success. One bad Critical Mass ride will not cause LAPD to give up on their involvement. LAPD is taking a long view towards the event and understands there may be bumps along the way.
The best way for riders to improve Critical Mass in the future is to self-police. If you see someone doing something they shouldn’t, let them know. The vast majority of LACM riders are there to have a good time, and you should take every opportunity to help keep it that way.
LAPD does not plan on enforcing helmet laws for minors at the rides yet, but they will in the future. Their view is that they would rather the kids get to ride than turn them off to bicycling. After a few months of notices and educational outreach, LAPD will eventually begin enforcing helmet laws. Hopefully, wearing a helmet will become the social norm for LACM and for bike riding in LA generally.
LAPD’s online bicycle education module has been completed by about 90% of the force. One example of information in the course is the legal position of bicyclists. Although the CVC calls for bicyclists to “ride as far the the right as practicable”, that is only for 2 lanes streets wide enough to share between car and bicycle. For streets that have more than 2 lanes (more than one lane in each direction):
- Bicyclists may ride 2-abreast or anywhere in the lane if they are moving the same speed as traffic or if there are no cars on the road.
- Bicyclists are not required to ride in the bike lane if they are moving the same speed as traffic or if there are no cars on the road.
- If a travel lane is too narrow to share, bicyclists may ride in any position in the lane because “riding as far the right as practicable” would still necessitate a driver moving to the left lane to pass the bicyclist.
The E-learning module, once completed by all LAPD officers, will be posted to the LAPD website, the Mayor’s website, and the LADOT website for anyone to look over. LAPD understands that many drivers don’t know laws governing bicyclists either, and is happy to provide this educational tool.
LAPD is working with their traffic investigation unit (who investigate crashes) on crashes involving bicyclists. Previously, investigators were disposed to put bicyclists at fault for crashes in crosswalks. While LAPD is working to change this, Sergeant Krumer wanted to emphasize that a bicyclist darting out into traffic in a crosswalk is still at fault.
LAPD is considering a sting project for bicycle theft rings. The current plan is to fit a bicycle with GPS tracking technology and follow the bike after it has been stolen in an attempt to undercover the growing bicycle theft rings in Los Angeles. Sergeant Krumer also wanted to make it clear that LAPD is looking for innovative ideas from the bicycle community on places like Midnight Ridazz.
Pat Hines, one of the founders of the Safe Moves program (featured on LADOT Bike Blog), gave the BAC a quick overview of what her program does. Notably:
- Safe Moves visits every grade school in LAUSD approximately every 18 months.
- They provided 5,000 helmets to school children last year.
- They provide 100 free bikes a year to kids that improve their school attendance the most.
- They provide bikes to teens in tandem with an after-school jobs project in order to help get them to work.
- Promoting bicycling and health is of the utmost importance in a school district where 42% of gradeschoolers are obese.
Bikes and Animal Safety
Next up was a presentation by Phyllis Daugherty on a campaign to make riding a bike with a dog on leash illegal. The offense would be a citation with a fine attached to it. Phyllis portrayed riding bikes with dogs on leash as a safety issue: a dog on leash could run in front of the bicycle wheel, causing a crash. She also made a claim that many people who run pitbulls while on their bike are training them for dog fighting. LADOT Bike Blog doesn’t presume to know the veracity of this claim. The issue was referred to one of the BAC subcommittees.
A few upcoming meetings for Metro were noted. The Bicycle Roundtable is meeting again on November 5th, from 2PM-4PM. Additionally, two subcommittees of the Bicycle Roundtable will be meeting on October 13th at 6PM.
While most people at the meeting seemed generally pleased with the, albeit slow, progress Metro is making in regards to bicycles(bikes on light rail, 3-bike racks on buses, bike ramps at Metro station stairs, etc.), Faramarz Nabavi of the Transit Coalition urged that Metro work harder to accommodate bicycles on buses and not just confine them to the racks on the front of buses.
The BAC fully endorsed CicLAvia and was eager to participate. They also excused the absence of BAC member Joe Linton, as he is also deeply involved in making CicLAvia a success. Questions were raised about the source of funds on the City side of the event (Ed. Note: as highlighted in our earlier interview of two CicLAvia organizers, the City is looking to the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships to gather sponsors and funding after the event).
2010 Draft LA Bike Plan
As a few housekeeping items leading up to the action items for the Bike Plan, Glenn Bailey pointed out that public comment ends on October 8th and that the BAC needed to make sure that the BAC’s role was clearly defined in the new bike plan. The Bike Plan will go before the Planning Commission in November and hopefully on to City Council in December. Motions were put forward to craft the BAC’s final recommendations for the bike plan.
- Require all LADOT transportation projects to go through bicycle design review, regardless of whether the street is on the bike plan or not. Motion: Passed.
- Bike Plan should be changed to call for a minimum of 50 miles of comlpeted bike lanes per year in the 5 year expenditure plan. Motion: Passed. The current 5 year expenditure plan calls for 40 miles of projects (bike lanes, bike paths, bicycle friendly streets, pilot projects, etc.) to be budgeted every year, but not necessarily completed in that year. The BAC discussed raising the recommendation as high as 100 miles of bike lanes per year, discussed what kinds of requests were reasonable, and discussed whether to prioritize gap closure over areas that currently have no bike lanes.
- Clarify Section 3.2.1 of the Bike Plan to mandate a BAC member be present at meetings for the Bikeways Implementation Team & Project Status Update Meetings. Motion: Passed
- Ask for Mayor to appropriate enough staff and funding for LADOT Bikeways necessary to implement the 1633 miles of the 2010 Bike Plan in the bike plan in 5 years rather than 25 years. Motion: Passed. BAC member Ayla Stern introduced this motion with the justification that Mayor Villaraigosa had called for the same timeline in an LA Times article following his Bike Summit. To date, LADOT Bike Blog has been unable to find such a quote.
Life Before License
Bicycle advocate Alex Thompson sought the endorsement of the BAC for his “Life Before License” campaign to create a mandatory loss of license for drivers convicted of hit-and-run. The genesis of the Life Before License campaign came from Celine Mahdavi failing to have her license revoked following her conviction for severely injuring professional cyclist Louis “Birdman” Deliz in a hit-and-run incident.
The campaign would call for a tiered revocation of a drivers license in all hit-and-run crashes, not just those involving bicycles. The campaign was pitched as a preventative measure: rather than prescribing mandatory jail time for these dangerous drivers, they simply loose the privilege of driving for a specific amount of time in order to make the roads safer for all. Loss of license would begin after any jail time associated with the conviction was fully served. The campaign makes 4 proposals:
- hit-and-run resulting only in property damage: loss of license for 1 year.
- hit-and-run resulting in minor injury: loss of license for 2 years.
- hit-and run resulting in a serious injury: loss of license for 5 years.
- hit-and-run resulting in fatality: loss of license for 10 years.
While supportive of the campaign’s goals, both the BAC and audience members had reservations with endorsing the section mandating minimums for loss of license. Some BAC members wondered whether the time limits adequately matched the severity of the crash results. Faramarz Nabavi of the Transit Coalition pointed out that some hit-and-run property damage happens without the driver knowing it took place (scratching a bumper, clipping a side view mirror, etc.), and thought it would be unfair to revoke a drivers license for something they didn’t know they had done.
- Support the Life Before License Campaign, but without endorsing specific mandatory limits. BAC member Jonathan Weiss put forward this proposal, preferring to require loss of license for hit-and-run but leaving the amount of time lost up to each judge. Motion: Failed (5 votes out of 10)
- Support Life Before License Campaign, without caveats. Motion: Passed (6 votes out of 10)
Rest Stop on PCH
A section of Caltrans-controlled land on the northbound side of PCH has been identified as a possible rest stop for bicyclists. The BAC endorsed the possibility of building a rest stop in this location.
End of Meeting
At this point, 3 1/2 hours after the start of the BAC meeting, both audience and committee members were beginning to slip out the door. As not all of the agenda items had yet been addressed, one BAC member recommended that BAC meetings be held monthly in order to give each item the amount of attention it deserved. LADOT Bike Blog highly endorses BAC meetings being held each month, and will continue to provide BAC coverage for all Los Angeles bicyclists be the meetings bi-monthly, monthly, or even every week.
The next BAC meeting is scheduled to meet Tuesday, December 7th at 6501 Fountain Ave at 7:00 PM.