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Planning Commissioners Review Bike Action Plan  

By Jason Islas
Special to the Lookout

April 8, 2011 -- The City Planning Commission got a look at the latest draft of Santa Monica's Bike Action Plan as presented by Deputy Director for Special Plans Lucy Dyke Wednesday night.

The plan is meant to be a flexible document designed to grow and change with needs of the City, an assortment of suggested priorities, Dyke said.

“What we've tried to do is create a project priority list that's based on previous input from the public, from cyclists and from the commission” focusing on the first five years, said Dyke.

As it stands now, the Bike Action Plan is a mosaic of projects and programs, including bike routes and parking, a “toolkit” for making biking safer in Santa Monica and suggested bicycle safety education programs for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

The plan includes a three-level system which would indicate the complexity and cost of various developments, Dyke said.

For example, a level one bike route along 17th Street might include a share row, which would just include putting up “Share The Road” signs and painted markers on the pavement indicating that bikes can also use the road; whereas, a level three bike route might mean the installation of a bike path, separate from the street itself, complete with bike signals at stop lights.

Developments like road markings and signage are part of the Bike Action Plan's “toolkit,” introduced by Michael Moule of Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates.

The toolkit includes familiar infrastructure like bike lanes and shared lane markings, but it also contains new developments such as “bike boulevards,” modeled on infrastructure in bicycle-friendly cities like Portland, Oregon.

According to the Bike Action Plan, Michigan Avenue is given high priority to be turned into a bike boulevard, which would mean transforming this east/west, low-traffic street by adding bike lanes, traffic calming measures and other features that would turn it into a very bike-friendly route.

Broadway and 17th streets are also both marked for bike-friendly improvements.

But the Bike Action Plan isn't only about building more lanes.

Several citizens at the meeting expressed concern about drivers' attitudes towards bicyclists, including Santa Monica resident, Dee Capelli, who said, “Too many drivers are hostile to cyclists,” a fact that city planners hope the education component of the Bike Master Plan will address.

Dr. Michael Kahn, a local bike activist with Santa Monica Spoke, thought that the Bike Action Plan needed stronger wording, suggesting that it be called a “manifesto” instead.

Members of the planning commission also had several comments for Dyke and her team.

Several commissioners discussed the idea of establishing a permanent bike commission to help assure that this plan will be put into action.

There was also mention of a bicycling census that would help “build the most crucial community network possible first,” said Commissioner Jennifer Kennedy.

Commissioner Ted Winterer wondered about what has been done to get the Santa Monica Police Department involved in the Bike Action Plan, to which Dyke responded that she and her team have been working very closely with the police department to get its input.

Chair Jim Ries added that he would like to see the zoning law updates included in the bike plan in order to require bike parking at new development projects.

Currently, Dyke hopes to have a complete draft of the Bike Action Plan done by May and presented to the City Council for approval in June.

Since the plan is not meant to be a rigid document, but more of a framework, Dyke said, “this is not a last chance; this is a first chance” for the community to guide the future of biking in Santa Monica.


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