This past Tuesday, the Planning Subcommittee for the Los Angeles BAC (Bicycle Advisory Committee) met with LADOT Bicycle Program staff to discuss a range of bicycle related planning issues. As the first line in detailed technical advice for Bikeways engineers, the BAC Planning Subcommittee helps LADOT engineers to troubleshoot infrastructure design and drum up public support for new bike lane and bike path projects. Their meetings, as always, are open to the public – held at the Caltrans building every month and noticed on the LADOT Bike Program website beforehand.
This month, the BAC Planning Subcommittee discussed environmental review for the LA Bike Plan, progress on the Expo Line bike path, possible roadblocks for bikeways along the Crenshaw Line, bringing bike infrastructure to Westwood Boulevard, and bicycle issues surrounding the NBC/Universal project.
BPIT, BAC & Environmental Review
As covered earlier this week in our notes from the BPIT meeting, there was quite a furor amongst the bike community over the approval process delineated for a first package of prioritized bike lane projects. The BAC Planning Subcommittee, after rehashing the events of the BPIT meeting, began to craft their own response to implementation of the bike plan.
In addition to supporting more comprehensive traffic guidelines for bicycle projects, the BAC subcommittee will also seek an audience with the City Attorney’s office to gain further clarification on the legal niceties of the approval process. The subcommittee members were also quick to note that an approval process only clears projects for design; ongoing political will and public support will be necessary to get these projects on the pavement. BAC Chair Jay Slater reasserted his commitment to get BAC members working closely with their respective council offices to keep upcoming bicycle projects in the forefront.
Other members of the BAC floated the idea of a state legislative exemption for the LA Bike Plan from environmental review. The idea will be discussed further at the next meeting of the full BAC in June.
Expo Line Bike Path & Crenshaw Line
Next up was the Expo Line Bike Path. Bikeways engineers responded that there has been no progress since the last meeting on bikeways for Phase II of the Expo Line, but that they expected the process to begin in July. Part of the issue constraining work on the bikeway is that the charter for the Expo Construction Authority doesn’t give them authority to build a bikeway. The Metro Board is expected to amend the Expo Construction Authority charter soon to include responsibility for building the bikeway as part of Phase II.
It was also learned that the Expo Construction Authority will soon create their own Bicycle Advisory Committee to oversee implementation of bikeways. The BAC will entertain a motion at their next full meeting asking Metro to make a BAC a required part of any new light rail construction project.
The BAC Planning Subcommittee also voiced concern over bikeways for the upcoming Crenshaw Line. So far, Metro is only committed to on-street bicycle facilities on Crenshaw Boulevard where the light rail is at-grade. In sections where the light rail is above or below grade, the current plans have no bicycle infrastructure. This could create disconnected sections of bike lanes along Crenshaw where the train is at-grade. The BAC is looking into ways to ensure continuous bike lanes along Crenshaw Boulevard when construction begins on the light rail.
Westwood Boulevard Improvements
Next, the BAC Planning Subcommittee discussed possible bicycle improvements to Westwood Boulevard. Council Member Paul Kortez is very supportive of making Westwood more bicycle friendly from Santa Monica Boulevard to the forthcoming Expo Line station, but concrete details have yet to be worked out. The BAC will look into the street configurations called for in the Expo Line EIR, as they might preclude the implementation of bicycle infrastructure once they are built around the station. The BAC is fully committed to engaging the community and educating them about the improvements that could be made to Westwood Boulevard for all users.
In addition to the bike lane projects on Lankershim, Barham, and Cahuenga around the NBC/Universal project, the BAC Planning Subcommittee also addressed the contentious issue of extending the LA River Bike Path through the project area. Currently, NBC/Universal and their contracted developer are very unsupportive of the bike path being situated along the LA River, instead favoring a detour of bicycle infrastructure through their property.
The BAC Planning Subcommittee discussed various ways to compel NBC/Universal to include or study a bike path extension as part of their EIR process. They also lauded Council Member Tom LaBonge for his vociferous support of extending the LA River Bike Path through this area.