When the Bike Plan sailed through the Los Angeles City Council a couple of months ago, it seemed like we’d all be coasting down brand new bike lanes in no time. After all, bike facilities have a nice chunk of money behind them (money set aside for bike and pedestrian projects that is not tied to the General Fund). Cities like Long Beach have shown us how to quickly and inexpensively move to make city streets more friendly to bike riders, pedestrians, and local businesses.
With political momentum, money, and the good example of our neighbors what could go wrong?
This is LA, baby, the land of stalled plans and an intransigent pro-car bureaucracy.
Joe Linton, LA Creek Freak and CicLAvia organizer, dramatized the matter in a recent post thusly:
Yesterday’s meeting was particularly frustrating because the city is proposing to spend 500 thousand dollars to spend “12-18 months*” to decide whether it will implement 100-200 thousand dollars worth of bike lane projects. The main issue is whether the city has to spend huge amounts of money studying environmental impacts before proceeding with implementing approved bike lanes. Here are a few excerpts from the meeting… I’ve definitely reworded them, putting them in my own words.
City Staff: We asked consultants who get paid to do expensive studies, and they said the city should pay to do expensive studies.
Public: Did you talk to cities, like Long Beach or Burbank, that have been successful in bike project implementation?
City Staff: No. The consultants said we should pay and delay, so that’s what we’re doin’.
What are we to do? This isn’t about money, it isn’t about environmental law. This is pure politics – how many people can we get on the phone at the mayor’s office; how many letters and email to the mayor; facebook wall posts to Antonio Villaraigosa; how many tweets to @villaraigosa nad @mobilitymaven can we get?
Can we get LAist and GOOD magazine to cover the story? Can we get other more local blogs to cover the reaction to the news of the City stalling on plans to implement the Bike Plan?
We need to push back on this unnecessary, and expensive, “plan and delay” strategy. Otherwise this Bike Plan will join the rest on the shelves at City Hall, “studied” to death by overpaid contractors and city staff while the situation on the streets is unchanged.