Whoda Thunkit? Beverly Hills and Bikes….

I donned a sweater against the chill last night and pedaled over to the 90210 for a meeting of the Beverly Hills Ad Hoc Bicycle Committee, which I’ve been attending lately. I and many, many others ride through Beverly Hills on the way to of from the Westside, and often enough stop in the glittery city for a bite to eat, or to buy a little something for the Significant Other.

I went with fairly low expectations, as BH has not been known for its willingness to accommodate bicycle travel, or even to acknowledge that cyclists exist (except, of course, for food delivery riders and the Century City couriers serving BH lawyers). Up till now, the sum total of bicycle-friendly infrastructure in the city has consisted of about 16 bike racks in the “Golden Triangle”–bike racks so stylized that riders don’t recongize them as such, and lock up to benches or parking meters right next to them.

New bike corral in Beverly Hills, at Civic Center
New bike corral in front of the Beverly Hills Public Library–a sign of change?       

But I was pleasantly surprised to note that the committee, at least, is in fact seriously considering the needs of cyclists, as well as the benefits of supporting the bicycle as transportation.

They had, since the last meeting over two months ago, hired transportation consultants Fehr & Peers, who have worked on other cities’ bike plans, and asked them to review not only the committee’s own favored routes (Carmelita and Crescent), but those suggested by certain citizen advocates you may know of (Beverly Drive and Charleville).

They also assigned an intern to map the location of all the bike racks in the city, and are preparing a rack request program for their website.

A good deal of discussion ensued after a presentation by F&P’s Sarah Brandenburg (whose husband is a bike commuter), and your correspondent here made sure that issues of transportation equity and the economic benefits of a healthy bicycle mode share got their air time.

The fate of the Santa Monica Boulevard bike lanes remains in the air. Also, the city is too often taking the approach that a bike lane to nowhere on an easy street is better than an effective bike lane in an area already heavily used by cyclists if the latter will require more design and persuasion–the “low hanging fruit” argument that Los Angeles also trots out at all-too-frequent WTF moments–but it seems that they are listening.

There was a reporter from the Beverly Hills Courier there, so we hope to see a story on the process next week (keep an eye on the Bicycle Fixation Twitter account for that). And of course we’ll be at the next meeting…and the next, and the next, along with growing numbers of both local and regional riders.

The committee noted that the crowd has now outgrown the original meeting room.

They seemed rather surprised at that, but we were not.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted November 18, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid we’ll have to disagree on this one! We at Better Bike feel like our optimism in the bike plan update process was misplaced. Here’s our recap of the recent meeting with city officials, with an editorial perspective soon to follow:
    http://betterbike.org/2011/11/ad-hoc-bike-plan-committee-recap/

    It’s worth noting that in the 18 months we’ve been talking with city city about facilities and programs, there’s been zero tangible progress: not a single rack installed; no proposed changes to the 1970s-era plan; and that rack map they talked about? I bet it won’t ever be posted.

  2. Posted November 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Excellent report, Mark!

    I’ll continue to temper my cynicism, though, having seen Los Angeles move rather rapidly from routine stonewalling to fairly rapid deployments of significant projects (even if far from enough of them) in response to community input.

    We’ve got to stay on them, though; go to meeting after meeting and get more and more people–especially cyclists who live, work, or shop in BH–to show up to those meetings.

    And consider yourself lucky that the meetings are at 5PM. LA’s meetings are at 2PM.

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