Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Action Alert: Making A Push At Wednesday Night Planning Commission Meeting

View Agensys Bike Access Issues in a larger map. Based on Barbara  Fillet's diagrams I also plotted out the area onto a google map to help illustrate why connectivity matters here, and how problematic existing alternative routes are going around the block to connect from Stewart, which is already classified a bike route

Planning Commission Meeting
Wednesday, September 1st, 7PM
Santa Monica City Council Chambers, SM Civic Center on Main Street

Things are moving fast and time is ticking on the bike access through proposed Agensys redevelopment of city land issue. The planning commission meeting this week is one of our last chances to voice community support for bike access through the property. So those of us who have been following the issue, primarily folks involved with Santa Monica Spoke, concluded our best shot to see bike access a reality is make as much noise as possible this Wednesday. This project is a fairly simple and perfect opportunity to create safer and more pleasant bike access through that neighborhood of Santa Monica, but really this is more than just about this particular property, it's about sending a message to the planning commission, to developers, to the council, that cycling concerns matter, and should in the future be addressed in planning matters from the outset.

Agensys seems to be dead set against bicycling for some reason. While earlier I heard liability concern was one of the reasons, I also just heard from a reliable source, that the city offered to take on full liability for a cycling path, and even reduce the rent proportional to the land use for the bike path, and the answer was still no. So the opposition to cycling access would seem to have little to do with money.

One of my concerns is that if the path through the property goes ahead as pedestrian only, with signs for cyclists to dismount, some cyclists just trying to find a safe route will try and ride through anyways. This would create more safety issues than if cycling was incorporated into the design, and it would make cyclists looking to avoid major high traffic intersections into rule breakers, and reinforce the notions many hold cyclists. It would dramatically improve connectivity to the Cross Roads school, and I imagine some kids would want to use the path to ride to school.

Unless there is some serious enforcement it is simply human nature that any path of travel free of car traffic, people will want to use, to walk to bike, to skate, what ever it may be. So we should start acknowledging this fact and design accordingly. Pedestrians walk all over bike paths, cyclists often ride on pedestrian corridors. We need to start acknowledging that everyone wants ways to get around that aren't driving, but the alternatives are often diverse. Any place with a bike path should have a pedestrian walkway, and pedestrian paths should have a bicycle path as well. Or if segregation of traffic into separate facilitates is impractical, you can do as some beach towns have done and designate pedestrian priorities zones where cyclists have access but must ride at slower speeds.

Bill Bauer In The SMDP referred To Barbara Fillet (pictured here with husband Kent Strumpell), a long time SM resident and advocate to designate Michigan a bike route, as a "hard core" cyclist. She was characterized as self interested and only wanted the path for her and her "friends". Barbara loves to ride her Brompton folding bike which she can easily take on the bus, and likes to protect her ears from wind with custom helmet mounted ear muffs. She sees safe routes to schools as essential to city development. Hardly my idea of a "hard core" cyclist.
I think perhaps some of this whole thing comes from some misplaced fear of the "hard core" riders. Any of the roadie types, the actual hard core riders, trying to train and go fast, will often avoid any kind of more constrained area or where reducing speeds is required. I do a lot of intensity training my self, and I often even avoid the designated bike only paths at the beach to do so. Opting for the street routes instead, because I know I can maintain higher average speeds off the path, and not have to worry about people walking or anything else that often slows things down or presents unpredictable risks that in theory shouldn't be there because the path is "bike only". 

Here is a look at some of the public that would benefit from greater bike connectivity in the area. Since nay-sayers like Bill Bauer have likely never stepped foot to pedal for a bike ride in Santa Monica, maybe these photos can offer proof a public exists in Santa Monica that actually wants to feel safe riding a bike in this town. A look at the sprawling mass of bikes at the bike valet off of the bike path for the Twilight Dance Series is another favorite image of mine to show how many people in SM are willing to ride when you provide the facilities for it.

If you want to see bike access a reality for that block, especially if you are a Santa Monica resident, I highly encourage you to show up with a 2 minute or less little speech about it, or even just be in attendance if your too nervous to speak. I know it can be a bit boring at times these public meetings, but if we can start reliably getting attendance at these things, this is a powerful way that we can change the political landscape. Some of the more ambitious bike projects proposed for Santa Monicas original 1995 bicycle master plan were shot down because opposition was mobilized and cyclists simply weren't at the time. We have to flip that around, and I see enough bikes on the streets of Santa Monica these days, that if we wanted to, and came together, we could become a real political force.

Planning Commission Meeting
Wednesday, September 1st, 7PM
Santa Monica City Council Chambers, SM Civic Center on Main Street

Letters of support for bike access, and disappoint that it wasn't included in initial planning would also be beneficial:

Contact Info:
Santa Monica Planning Commission:  
jaypjohnson@earthlink.net, HKoning@KEArch.com, gwynne@pugh-scarpa.com, TedSMPlan@gmail.com, GNewbold@gmail.com, Jim_Ries@hotmail.com, parryj@gte.net,
Planner in charge of project: brad.misner@smgov.net

Santa Monica City Council:  Council@smgov.net

City Manager Rod Gould:  Rod.Gould@smgov.net

Planning Director Eileen Fogarty:  eileen.fogarty@smgov.net

Contact Info For Agensys's parent company can be found here


Asuka Hisa said...

Thanks for this information, Gary! I'll be there!

Evan said...

Typo in Eileen Fogarty's email address.