The West Is Green

Looks like they’re at it again in Santa Monica….

Though I admire the city and try to report on all the tasty bike goodies they’re spreading around, the cynicism imbued in me by decades of life in LA still colors my view of things—such as the ongoing construction project on Ocean Park reaching east from Main in the Bay City. I’ve ridden both along and across it numerous times, but it wasn’t till I was walking around after parking the Bottecchia on Main that I actually read the sign…and damn near fell out of my shoes.

All the clutter, dirt, and equipment are there not to add more car lanes, but to change Ocean Park into a “Complete Green Street” from Nielsen to Lincoln—one that prioritizes bicycle and foot traffic.

Here’s a pair of images, one a photo I took a few days ago, the other the city’s own rendering of what the revived, reclaimed Ocean Park will look like:

You can see more on a City of Santa Monica webpage explaining the project, delightfully titled Be Excited! Be Prepared!

Note that besides the obvious stuff, such as the broad, green-painted bike lanes, the median with its landscaping, and the inviting sidewalk, there are less-visible but equally important features, including a bioswale that captures and cleans rainwater and returns it to the earth to recharge our local aquifers, and lower “pedestrian-scaled” lampposts to keep things cozy.

The Chinese used to sing, “The East Is Red,” but here in Los Angeles County it looks like “The West Is Green,” while the great center is still a dull asphalt gray.

There’s no excuse for it. Los Angeles has the resources to do this sort of thing—and in fact numerous economic analyses have shown that building bikeways creates more jobs during construction and fires up local businesses after people starting using them, while building for cars takes more and more land out of service and never pays back its costs.

What LA’s administration lacks is a bit of courage and a whole lot of imagination.

But elections are coming up soon…keep an eye on the news; the LACBC’s new Civics Committee is planning to out all the candidates’ positions on cycling and livability so that you can vote for someone who will help make LA a prosperous, healthy, and lively city that is truly worth living in.

Maybe we can even surpass our tiny neighbor to the west…if we only try.

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One Comment

  1. Posted June 27, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Persistent advocates’ criticism over the years seems to have nudged LA DOT & Planning staff out of the complacent inertia that long plagued bike planning in that city. (Or it could have been Mayoral direction or the ERIP departures that culled the more mature staff.)

    But I’m afraid it’s a bit too soft of a nudge to actually knock much imagination into them. That is, it wasn’t a frying pan to the skull. But Santa Monica seems to have tasted of the spring of imagination. I just can’t imagine seeing a Colorado Blvd. type rendering from DTLA.

    Here in Beverly Hills we have multiple impediments that get in the way, including lack of direction from electeds; an utter incomprehension of alternative modes of mobility by staff; and a palpable gun-shyness (aversion to risk, squared) throughout the bureaucracy that probably reflects persistent small-bore City Hall politics.
    A couple of years I thought the main problem was lack of direction. Now I believe that the electeds are every bit as corralled by careless career employees as are those of us who would bid for change.

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