Not Your King Arthur’s Round Table….

Too many car lanes!
Too many car lanes!
Yesterday’s BPIT meeting (BPIT, aka Bike Plan Implementation Team, to which all are invited) was a bit calmer, and hence more productive, than the last couple. A bit less scripted droning from the Professional Rebel contingent, which left more time for pertinent questions related to the intricacies of…well…implementation of all those good things we fought for as the 2010 Bike Plan was a-making.

Note that the Professional Rebel contingent proved very useful during the making of the plan, when we needed confrontational political theatrics to force attention to our issues–the original drafts of the plan had indeed ignored many of these, such as the need for the Backbone Network as just one example.

But we won! So now it’s time to put down the guns and pick up the hammers so we can all build something together. And that is what we have been doing, working together with the city in an unprecedented way–indeed, in a way that I believe has been all too little explored in the US, and that may be unique to Los Angeles. How many other cities issue an open call to residents to join, and join actively, in actual infrastructure planning?

It’s just hard for us to get used to it. One can become addicted to waving fists from outside the barricades.

Now we’re literally sitting at a table with the people who will design and build our bicycle infrastructure. Right there in room 721 of the Planning Department of the City of Los Angeles.

And we’re actually reshaping some of the city’s streets.

Good news for those of us who live or ride through Pigeonlandia: thanks to active nagging from Pigeon Master Josef and a number of other folks, North Figueroa has been moved up in the priority list, and we viewed (and commented profusely on) preliminary drawings of restripings of that broad and vital street. The most favored plan was a road diet, replacing the current four travel lanes with two travel lanes, a center two-way left-turn channel, and (of course) bike lanes. This would alleviate bottlenecks caused by drivers changing lanes to get around mid-block left turners, yet would preserve the parking to which local merchants have such an emotional attachment. (The Pigeon Master offered to undertake a customer exit survey to determine how many of those merchant’s patrons really drive there, considering the high usage of bicycles and the Gold Line in the area–surveys in San Francisco and Toronto showed that in those cities it was a minority!)

We also heard about, and commented on, plans for 7th Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and Vermont Avenue, with Vermont generating a particularly involved discussion, which opened up the possibility of putting in shared bus/bike priority lanes along that intensively traveled corridor. (See a PDF of the official presentation here.)

The meeting kicked off with a presentation from Safe Routes to School, which dropped the devastating bombshell that LAUSD, though one of the largest developers in the city, is exempt from city regulations, including new ones that require the provision of bike parking! (That’s a state issue, though, so we’ll have to explore it separately.)

So, lines on maps got jiggled around a bit, minds on all sides of the table were wedged open to allow new concepts to take root, and treatments were nailed down that will appear as paint on pavement very soon.

All in all, not bad for two hours’ work on a hot, muggy day in Los Angeles….

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  1. Posted July 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Here’s some “scripted droning” from the “fist-waving addict” contingent to Josef Bray-Ali: You, Josef, were at that meeting… Did you see any fist waving? Any criticism that wasn’t wholly deserved? Do you really place the blame for the lack of bike facility implementation on your fellow cyclists?

    I personally don’t plan to refrain from criticism of the LADOT until they make bicycling and walking safe and comfortable in Los Angeles. The streets of L.A. are unsafe for everyone… Didn’t you, Josef, call this “‘turds in a shit pipe’ mentality of road use”?? I think that we all do need to be vocal when we get a whiff of that car-centric mentality. I don’t think that just because a not-entirely-fucked-up-plan was passed after years of struggle against poisonous versions promoted disrespectfully by city staff, that now it’s time to sit back “at the table” and what – watch the LADOT uncritically? I think it takes the same kind of pressure to ensure good implementation as it does to ensure good planning.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, Rick. I think that L.A.’s livability movements are strengthened by a diversity of opinions and approaches… and where you disagree with me, you should criticize me… but I’d suggest that you also consider including criticism on the folks who actually have the power to make our streets safer and better.

  2. Posted July 8, 2011 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Hey J. Pro–

    If you really think I don’t criticize LADOT and other city departments on dozens of counts, then you haven’t been reading my other posts here, at Orange 20, or on my own blog at Bicycle Fixation, or my articles in planning and cycling mags and the Business Journal. I have ragged on the City of LA over and over again for its lack of vision and its sluggishness in implementing the vision it does have–a vision imposed on it by us but largely accepted by them now. They’re even moving towards multi-modal LOS, which will be a breakthrough for cycling and transit projects.

    I’d list URLs but they would make this a far longer post than the original post.

    Do your homework before you rag on my fairly mild criticism of some practices that are in fact retarding implementation of this present bike plan, and of people who have specifically attacked some really advanced designs–such as the Figueroa cycletrack–in order (it seems to me) to keep their street-rebel cred.

    I talk to all sides; I do my research. I don’t base my opinions on cliches, whether from the suits or from the T-shirts. Certain elements in the city are in fact working hard to bring about OUR vision–and yet some of us insist on alienating them.

  3. Posted July 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    From this post I learn that “Professional Rebel”s drone from a script and hinder progress and therefore are bad, but “active nagging” from Josef and others is good.

    I’d like to read more what the difference is between the two camps, since I couldn’t be at these meetings. Seems like needless finger pointing.

  4. Posted July 13, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Josef “nags” constructively, suggesting changes in design or procedure that might actually get stuff on the ground. J-Pro and his cohorts, on the other hand, have spent much of the last two meetings telling LADOT and Planning what liars they are and repeating at great length how untrustworthy everyone (except them, of course) is.

    One of the lads recently went to the next item on his script and loudly droned, in the usual accusatory tone, a question that had been asked (much more nicely) by someone else not four minutes earlier, and had been answered. IOW not even listening!

    Constructive criticism is one thing; obstructionist accusations that alienate the people we have to work with to get things done is another.

    I “nag” the city too. But on specific points of design and implementation. I offer specific suggestions on changes to make to establish more open communications between “them” and “us,” as well as suggest procedures and design changes to evaluate for actual use on the ground. Since I don’t devote an inordinate amount of time to insulting the people in charge of the process, I have gotten information made public that previously was not, small changes in BPIT and design procedures accepted, and design alternatives at least looked at.

    The recent publication of the CEQA guidelines came from my suggestion and subsequent nagging. J-Pro just said why should we bother with CEQA? Now we all know what we have to work with or work against. J-Pro made up numbers for the ratio of EIS costs to affected bikeways costs, and understated the latter by a factor of ten! I dug up the actual figures, and also dug up the fact that the “expensive consultants” J-Pro derided were in fact the same consulting teams that helped San Francisco and Oakland implement extensive and highly-regarded onstreet bicycle facilities of various sorts, while having to fight off vicious NIMBYism. Not bad folks to have on your side!

    Josef and I both have nagged for months about the necessity to use Multi-Modal LOS analyses in studying prospective road diets, which would remove many if not most of them from CEQA review; thanks to that nagging, LADOT and Planning are accelerating their efforts to implement this, though that’s still going slowly.

    Josef downloaded, analyzed, and published traffic count data for North Figueroa that makes bike lanes and possibly a road diet a real possibility for that street. He also knows the Municipal Code, especially in regard to zoning and parking, possibly better than anyone else in the city, and has written cogent, well-supported critiques of the current system (which I helped get published in a large-circulation business paper). This groundwork supported the recent changes in LA’s parking regulations that now require a greater percentage of bike parking in new developments than we even dared hope for only a few years ago.

    On and on….

  5. Posted July 14, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate the kind words Rick. And Joe, of course I was not at the meeting so everything I heard was all second hand.

    I think that any criticism leveled at city staff needs to be less personal and, if it is, totally on point and factually correct. With that said, shouting and demanding have gotten a lot done in local government for bikes the past few years. The “play nice to get what you want” plan never really worked to achieve the gains we are seeing now after a couple of years of boisterous opposition to the status quo.

    I am really watching most of this stuff from the sidelines these days anyway, since I am wrapped up in the running of this bike shop into the ground.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] take on the meeting, Rick Risemberg (of BicycleFixation fame) has his notes from the meeting up at FlyingPigeonLA. Over 30 people jammed room 721 this […]

  2. […] bike lane projects, as well as the latest BPIT (Bike Plan Implementation Team) meeting; evidently, this one was a little less contentious and things actually got done. Will Campbell takes a time-lapse ride on the other side of the L.A. […]

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