Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Dream Of A Michigan Ave. Bike Boulevard Could Move A Step Closer To Reality

Bike Lane Begin On 17th And Michigan Ave

At this upcoming Tuesday's Santa Monica City Council meeting, the council will vote on a staff recommendation to seek grant funding for what is being called the Michigan Ave. Bike Boulevard. This is the kind of game changing transformation so desperately needed to improve conditions for existing cyclists, and perhaps more importantly, make bicycling accessible to so many people afraid to do so now. We often show up to meetings to complain about things, but this something we can enthusiastically support.

For those unfamiliar with bike boulevards, they are streets, usually low traffic volume neighborhood streets which use a variety of traffic calming measures to bring car traffic down to reasonable speeds, to encourage bicycling and discourage cut through car traffic. They often use roundabouts and other intersection treatments more friendly to the flow of cycling, while keeping speeds low at those intersections, as well as reducing the worst kinds of crash risk. [Portland BTA overview of bike boulevard]

Santa Monica appears to be following in the footsteps of Long Beach in designing a route around a major school connection, making the project potentially eligible for safe routes to school funding in addition to other grant source funding being sought. However if what is on the proposed map is fully realized, this project is much more than a way for kids to get to school safely. It would connect to the Bergamot Station Metro stop and the Expo Line Bike Path to the east, and in to the West, in tandem with other project proposals, it would create new connection to the beach bike path and the pier.

As a resident of the Pico Neighborhood who has lived at 2 different apartments right off of Michigan Ave., I cannot say enough how enthusiastically I hope this project happens. Let's make it happen.

If you can come out to say a few words of support, it would be good to hear other voices than the usual suspects. The last time Santa Monica tried to get a bicycle boulevard route, homeowners, against their own interest and property values, shot it down with a vengeance. That was a different time, but we may still encounter some resistance, so it's important to show community support for this when ever and where ever we can. You never know when some nimbys will come out of the wood work to argue their 30 second shortcut to avoid Pico Blvd on the way to the freeway will be slowed by 5 seconds by a Michigan roundabout and that concern somehow trumps the safety of kids trying to ride a bike to school.

It will be item 3-F on the council agenda, with the public session beginning at 6:30pm on Tuesday the 22nd. The full staff report can be seen here, and the pdf of the proposal map can be found here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Word To The Wise For Those Coming To Santa Monica To Watch The Marathon

Walk if you can, or ride a bike, driving will suck, really suck. Bike valet will be available on Broadway Ave. near Ocean Ave., and by City Hall. A map of closures at finish and other info, like where bike parking is can be found here. If you want to ride a bike across L.A. without cars, and can't wait for the next CicLAvia, you might be interested in the Wolfpack Marathon Crash Race super early tomorrow morning (3am registration, 4am roll out), details here

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Morning Rant

I know I haven't been updating much at this blog lately, but while adrenaline is still pumping, I wanted to get out a short rant. I will always advocate for cyclists on the street, but as a cyclist who rides the streets everyday, amidst the aggro office worker drivers, I think it is rather absurd for Santa Monica to force cyclists to ride in the street by law. I'm a 20 something in great shape and can take all the shit drivers throw at me, figuratively and literally (my wife and I have both had objects thrown at us for riding bikes before), but there is no way the majority of regular folks are going to tolerate riding a bike amongst the aggressive and violent nature of our street environments.

As long as SUV drivers can honk, scream, yell, rev their engines, throw a tissy fit, and then proceed to threaten my life with dangerous swerving maneuvers as they deliberately cut me off, then speed off going 45 in a 30 zone before I can get a license plate (as happened to me this morning, and my giving chase sprinting at a racing pace of 25-30mph could not even come close to catching him), than our streets are not environments where cyclists are welcome, even if we have a right to be there. Our road culture is a failure of personal responsibility, a failure of engineering, and a failure of law enforcement. A bit fat F.

Unless real action is taken to make our streets safe, not fluffy platitudes from glacial local and state governments, I don't think it is a matter of if, but when, we have another Dr. Christopher Thompson, a driver who through deliberate action, attempts to kill a cyclist with their car. It could very well happen here in Santa Monica, and when it does, it will not just be the fault of the assailant, it will be the fault of us all, for allowing our streets to come to this.