Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Santa Monica Bike Plan Up For Discussion At Planning Commission Again Tomorrow Night, This Time With Guest Speaker Charlie Gandy, Mobility Coordinator Of Long Beach

Keynote Speaker, Charles Gandy
(Charlie Gandy giving one of the key note talks at last years L.A. Street Summit)

At the last planning commission meeting I attended, commissioner Jim Ries floated the idea of having Charlie Gandy come to speak before the commission, and give some insight on what's been going on in Long Beach. It was recently announced that this is in fact coming to fruition, and Gandy will be talking during tomorrow night's Santa Monica Planning Commission meeting at City Hall, which starts at 7pm.

Gandy, a long time advocate for cycling and pedestrian issues, both in and out of government, is now the mobility coordinator for Long Beach, and has been charged with the goal of making Long Beach top the list of bicycling friendly cities in America. A goal which has moved forward with sharrows on a prominent street, new bike lanes, new bikes racks and a bike corral, and a true bicycle boulevard, a first for Southern California. Though the path to bicycle friendliness in Long Beach has not been without hicups, like the draconian misconduct of the Long Beach Police Department.

Gandy is an inspirational speaker, and passionate about what he does.  I look forward to hearing him speak again, and hope it leaves a lasting impression on city leaders in Santa Monica. I encourage folks to come out to support a strong bike plan, and hear what Gandy has to offer. Aspects of the implementation of LUCE, another important topic on livable streets issues, will also be an agenda item tomorrow.


Dominic Dougherty said...

Gary, I live 3 houses off of the 'bike boulevard'... and it is useless. It goes from one barely-cycled street, travels 1.5 miles, and ends at another barely-cycled street. There are several elementary and pre-schools along the route, but those kids are not cycling to school (and if they are, they're on the sidewalk).

Bike-boulevards (at least the ones I've ridden on in SLO, Davis and PDX) tend to be streets that were previously used as motorist cuts-through, are parallel to arterials, serve retail, etc. Vista is not one of those streets. It does not travel from one end of town to the other, nor are there any 'stops' along the way. No retail, grocery or other errands that a cyclist might use.

However, 2nd St. goes entirely from Alamitos Ave. (essentially downtown), has a bike lane through Bixby Heights, opens up nice and wide through Belmont Heights, and dumps right down on to the famous green lane in Belmont Shore, continues in a bike lane through Naples and the LB Marketplace and continues to the city of Westminster.

2nd St. is the street that cyclists use. I know... I see them everyday.

The only reason I can fathom that Vista became a street with roundabouts is because the former pro cyclist Tony Cruz has landed a nice self-serving position as the 'Bicycle Ambassador' and he happens to LIVE ON VISTA.

I doubt it is a coincidence that property adjacent to bicycle facilities increases an average of 11% nationwide.

Gary said...

Bicycle Boulevards are politically loaded, and while I am less familiar with Long Beach roads, I'm sure there was consideration to start where the idea would be less controversial and have more support. Santa Monica's 1995 plan originally had bike boulevards, but were cut after a freak out by some loud community resistance.

While I don't doubt there may be more useful routes for most cyclists, personally I think there is a significant value in getting a real bike boulevard built. It becomes a proof of concept, that will hopefully become popular and build the support to try the idea elsewhere. Places like SLO Davis and Portland are ahead of us, but I think the Long Beach bike boulevard being built at all is a milestone for Southern California, since we had no such routes anywhere until Long Beach.

I would also not downplay the connectivity to schools, since the treatments involved in a bike boulevard are important for traffic calming, and should make things safer for kids whether they walk or bike to school. Biking and walking to the school is growing some in Santa Monica after some effort to promote it, but is constrained by limited safe routes and parental fears of traffic.