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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