As part of a local tradition of pre-celebrating the 4th of July, LADOT collaborated with the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD) Steering Committee, C.I.C.L.E., the Bike Oven, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and Metro to host the Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour, a community bike ride through the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District to Councilmember José Huizar’s 6th Annual 4th of July Fireworks Show. The ride is the second hosted by the NELA BFBD, a partnership between the City, community members, and local businesses to bolster the use of bicycles for short trips around the neighborhood, especially to dine and shop at local businesses.
The NELA BFBD was established last year as the City’s first pilot Bicycle Friendly Business District. The project is an encouragement tool for traffic demand management: in Los Angeles County, 47% of trips taken by car are under 3 miles, a distance easily traversed by bicycle. These short car trips create local traffic congestion, parking shortages, noise pollution, air pollution, health problems caused by sedentary lifestyles, and unnecessarily contribute to all of the safety issues associated with operating heavy machinery like motor vehicles… all impacts that could be mitigated by walking and biking to local destinations!
Many studies have observed that people who walk an bike to local businesses tend to stay longer in a neighborhood, frequent businesses more regularly, and spend more dollars per trip than people who drive. When people have an opportunity to abandon their worry about parking tickets, traffic, and car maintenance, they can take a moment to take in the neighborhood. Travelling by bicycle or walking, people are going at a much slower speed, giving them time to observe new shops, changes in the neighborhood, and most importantly to interact with their neighbors. Through these elements of human interaction, communities come together and grow together.
The NELA district was selected as a test case for its variety of features – varied bicycle facilities, different scale corridors, diverse and varied demographics, public health needs, and commercial corridors with various levels of business vitality. In its first year, the pilot has been a huge success, gaining momentum with studies, local business participation, and community involvement. The pilot has given LADOT an opportunity to develop right-sized coalitions balanced with community groups, local advocacy organizations, City Councilmember support, and business. With collaborative partnerships, BFBDs align existing cultural and political capital around commercial corridors to improve neighborhoods in dynamic ways. In the spirit of Great Streets, we see how the concentration of facilities and amenities that support people walking and biking can really make an impact in revolutionizing local travel behavior, tourism, and economic vitality.
The ride’s first stop, a Street Innovation Tour led by Mark Vallianatos of the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, visited Highland Park’s York Boulevard to look at the characteristics of the street that make the neighborhood a nice place to visit. Riders observed building scales, bike lanes resulting from the 2008 road diet, a bicycle corral and repair station, and the street’s recently expanded open space including a People St Parklet and the brand new York Park at Avenue 50.
The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour then proceeded to the Eagle Rock Recreation Center, where riders played the Bike Program’s Spin the Wheel Trivia Game, tasted a variety of local snacks, and got front and center seating for the Fireworks show. Councilmember Huizar remarked that “The NELA BFBD is all about… enliven[ing] the public realm,” and like the fireworks show, works to “encourage safe and family friendly public gatherings where people [can] also support local organizations and businesses.”
With over 3,000 attendees in a residential neighborhood, the 4th of July Fireworks Show is a notorious parking challenge… it’s a good thing everyone on our ride came by bicycle! The fireworks were definitely Spintacular and we are happy to have had a collaborative hand in this fantastic event!
To top off our great Bicycle Friendly Business week, Metro released its preliminary funding recommendations for the most recent cycle of Call for Projects, and recommended funding for the Bicycle Friendly Business District program expansion! The proposal seeks to establish 10 Bicycle Friendly Business Districts across Los Angeles including Downtown LA, Little Tokyo, the Figueroa Corridor, North Hollywood, East Hollywood/Los Feliz, Koreatown, MacArthur Park, Boyle Heights, and Leimert Park. Based on the Northeast LA pilot, BFBDs coordinate with local business districts to offer transportation demand management incentives and an array of amenities that encourage people to take their short trips by bicycle. Businesses anticipating BFBDs can get a head start by opting in to the citywide Bicycle Friendly Business Program. Stay tuned for more news about this exciting program expansion!