Wednesday afternoon saw the penultimate stage completed in the years-long journey to get a new bike plan adopted for the City of Los Angeles. In a special joint session, both the PLUM (Planning and Land Use Management) and Transportation Committees met to discuss the draft LA Bike Plan. As the two committees with input on the bike plan, they are the last step before the plan faces the full City Council for adoption into the City’s general plan. The crowd on hand was much smaller than those who turned out for the Bike Plan at the City Planning Commission, but there was still ample representation from the LACBC, Bikeside and the BAC.
While there was a small measure of conflict among speakers and committee members (mostly centered around equestrian/mountain biking conflicts), the plan itself easily sailed through committee. Below the fold, we’ll cover the highlights of the hearing. If you want blow-by-blow coverage, you can always check out the twitter feed of LADOT Bike Blog’s author Christopher Kidd (@BikeBlogChris). You can also check out the twitter hashtag #LABikePlan to see what the collective bike community had to say during the hearing.
There were three items heard before the joint committee. The first was an action item (requiring a vote) and the last two were “receive and file” items (which don’t require a vote).
Item #1: The Draft LA Bike Plan
Staff gave a short powerpoint report on the LA Bike Plan. They listed the reasons why a bike plan was necessary, the amount of infrastructure called for in the plan, the 3 bike networks, and the programs & policies contained to see the bike plan through. Staff also profusely complimented the bike community for their cooperation in making the bike plan better and bringing it to this point.
LADOT General Manager Amir Sedadi in his comments praised the bike plan for having a “strong vision” crafted by stakeholders. He reaffirmed Los Angeles’ need to make streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians by slowing down traffic. He also committed to a program to educate LADOT engineers on creating Complete Streets. LADOT Bike Program Senior Coordinator Michelle Mowery called the plan “the very best plan we could have expected”, though warned committee members of the need for political support because the City will have to make tough choices on streets to make the bike plan a reality. City Planner Claire Bowen acknowledged that there were a few contentious issues in the plan, but that City staff was very pleased with the compromises they had created.
People giving public comment generally fell into two camps: those who supported the bike plan, and equestrians who wanted all language pertaining to mountain bikes removed from the plan. Member of the BAC, including Chair Jay Slater, Vice Chair Glenn Bailey, Kent Strumpell, and Jeff Jacobergger all spoke in support of the bike plan and stressed the need for the bike plan to focus more on the role of the BAC and the Neighborhood Councils. The LACBC spoke in support of the plan and expressed enthusiasm for getting right to implementation. Alex Thompson of Bikeside called the La Bike Plan “the kind of plan other cities should be envious of”. A few speakers also pleaded for the Council Members to include an extension of the bike path along the beach in Playa Vista to the Bike Plan.
A large contingent of equestrians also spoke forcefully in their opposition to the sections of the bike plan dealing with mountain bikes. Currently, mountain biking is not allowed in City parks (with the exception of Mandeville Canyon). The current draft of the LA Bike Plan doesn’t seek to reverse this, but only calls for a study to be done about the condition of trails in the City and the feasibility of bringing bikes into City parks. In fact, the language is less robust than the 1996 LA Bike Plan, which proposed a few “pilot” trails to experiment on the impact mountain biking would have. Despite all of this, the equestrian community was adamant that any reference to mountain bikes should be removed from the plan.
Committee members discussed both the proposal to add a bike path to Playa Vista and the mountain bike/equestrian conflict. A few council members were inclined towards the safety and needs of equestrians and hikers while other council members were more inclined towards keeping the study in order to come back to the issue at a later date but armed with real data. Chair Rosendahl was particularly vociferous about the need for a study. He asserted that it wouldn’t be a “toe under the tent” for mountain bikers, but would instead offer an objective look at what was really going on in the City’s parks.
Action on Item #1
Council Member LaBonge introduced an amendment to study mountain biking, but only in the context of separated-use trails. After that amendment failed, LaBonge brokered an agreement between members of the public and got passed an amendment directing City Planning to draft language resolving the mountain bike/equestrian conflict. Outside of this amendment, the item passed with a unanimous vote.
Item #2: 5 Year Implementation Strategy
Next up was a presentation by staff on the 5 Year Implementation Strategy, which will help the City stay on track to pursue building 200 miles of bike infrastructure over 5 years. The item was a “receive and file” item which didn’t require a vote, so it was more to educate the members of the committees than anything else.
A few people commenting repeated their opposition to mountain bikes, but most speakers kept to the issue of the 5 year implementation strategy. Members of the LACBC expressed their support for the 5 year strategy and asked for council leadership to help implementation. One woman related how moving to an apartment near a bike lane converted her into a commuting bicyclist. BAC member Jeff Jacobergger gave a compelling and emotional plea for the council to push implementation. Alex Thompson gave his support for the 5 year strategy and called for a beefing up of education and enforcement efforts to accompany building new bike infrastructure.
Item 3: BPIT Reports
The next item mainly had to do with establishing a reporting schedule on the progress of the 5 Year Implementation Strategy. Reports will be drafted quarterly and annually through the Bike Plan Implementation Team (BPIT). Ed. Note: Here’s a link to our post about the BPIT earlier today. The public was a little exhausted by the time this item came up, and very little was said beyond their general support of the reporting scheme.
Next Up: City Council
The next step for the LA Bike Plan is to go before the full City Council for a vote and potential adoption to the City’s general plan. When the LA Bike Plan is agendized to the City Council’s calendar, LADOT Bike Blog will let you know.