The LA Bike Working Group was hard at work over the last few months working on what will be the Best Bicycle Plan. Not content with just spinning their wheels all over the city this group of cyclists decided to take steps in improving it as well. The Backbone Bikeway Network is the result of many public meetings, discussions and charrettes with a wide range of City staff, consultants, citizens, advocacy groups and bicycling experts. I attended nine out of the ten public meetings; coming back from those meetings I could recognize a few common notions people had about the LA Bike Plan:
1. There needs to be an easier way to get from one side of the city to the other using bike lanes.
2. There needs to be more road markings and signage to inform everyone.
3. Bicycle lanes and routes should connect to all places of commerce, education, recreation, etc.
Taking a hint from our past transportation history in Los Angeles, a “freeway” system similar to that used by cars should be implemented for bicycles to facilitate longer trips. While motorists are presented with an easy to use and efficient route for longer distances, cyclists have had to deal with a zig-zag, mish-mash of dead-end bike lanes, inadequate lane markings and poor signage. The LA Bike Working Group is not asking for multimillion dollar, specially elevated platform for riding — only improvement of road facilities and maintenance along specific bicycling arterials that are already commonly used.
The Backbone Bikeway Network was created by analyzing the current roadway situation and common bicycle routing solutions in conjunction with the proposed LA Bike Plan maps. There were many opinions on what streets should be classed as primary, secondary and tertiary. There was some debate about what streets were nearly ‘un-ride-able’ and were in most need of improvement. The goal was to find what streets could be used to facilitate the longest route of travel while also proving safe connections to popular destinations. Establishing these destinations as ‘hubs’, these were linked in a way to form a broader connective web across the many future neighborhood level networks of Los Angeles.
While the existing / proposed Bike Plan is myopic and presents development on a mile by mile basis, The Backbone gives cyclists a clear and recognizable route across the city. Gone will be the days of contemplating what string of streets to take while navigating nasty road and traffic conditions. One would simply be able to point to a sign and say “take the Backbone that direction” and enjoy their right to ride along a safe and well maintained bikeway. This is a big step in improving road safety that will increase ridership and eventually lead to health, environment and economic progress. A top level plan like this needs to be implemented along with a carefully planned and neighborhood approved plan — by focusing on the wide picture it will make it far easier to provide lower level bikeways that connect to The Backbone in a meaningful way.
The advantage of a powerful system such as this is that it provides transportation improvements for all level of road users. Sure, it will enhance the bicyclist’s experience; but, it will also mitigate the difficulty of sharing the road with motorists and pedestrians resulting in a safer road atmosphere for everyone. We all pay taxes. Why shouldn’t we all enjoy the benefit?
LA Times – “LA Activists Float Idea of Freeway System for Bikes”
I encourage you to offer your comments and criticism of this Bicycle Backbone Network.
To view the Central Backbone -click here-
Stay tuned for more information about this and other LA Bike Working Group tasks.
02.08.2010 – LABWG – release – Harbor Gateway map
02.05.2010 – LABWG – map revision – Reseda Bl corrected
02.04.2010 – LABWG – map revision – Cahuenga Bl corrected
02.02.2010 – Re: Draft Bike Plan, Feb 2010 BAC report
“Due to a lack of funding remaining in the Alta contract, the Final Draft is being revised by staff.”
– M. Mowery, Sr. Bicycle Coordinator, City of Los Angeles