Posts Tagged ‘LA Bike Plan’

LA Bike Plan Passes Unanimously

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Today the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed the Los Angeles Bike Plan. It is no longer a draft document.

Everyone’s goal at the March 1, 2011 Council session was to do whatever necessary to get the plan passed today. Councilman LaBonge needed to give his equestrian constituents something they could live with so that the plan could move forward. The result was an amendment (underlined) to policy 3.3.5:

Continue the existing off-road bicycle trail and analyze and explore opportunities for additional off-road bicycle facilities and continue to abide by LAMC section 63.44 B16. Any proposal to consider the use of mountain bikes on City park trails must first be thoroughly reviewed and analyzed by the Board of Recreation & Parks and its staff.

This simply puts in writing what will have to happen anyway before any changes to bike access to City Parks could be made. It was enough to placate the equestrian community, and did not really change anything. It was enough of a deal to get the Plan passed.

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Mountain Bike Component of LA Bike Plan In Jeopardy!

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Anyone interested in riding their bicycle off-pavement in any Los Angeles City Park needs to be at the Los Angeles City Council Meeting this Tuesday March 1.

According to sources close to the City Council, the mountain bike feasibility study is about to get stripped out of the bike plan. City Council member Tom LaBonge wants to introduce last minute motion to send the Bicycle Plan back to the Transportation Committee for “revision” (read removal?) before passing the plan by full council.

If you can’t attend the meeting then we encourage you to call La Bonge’s office at (213) 485-3337 or email at councilmember.labonge@lacity.org to share your opinion on LA Bike Plan.

Also make sure to let your city Councilperson know too. This is your city! This is your community! Get involved or lose opportunities to ride dirt in LA. Click here to find your City Councilperson.

Here are few talking points:

1.  Mountain bicyclists have participated in good faith in the entire planning process.
2   The draft plan requires the city to “analyze and explore  opportunities for additional off-road bicycle facilities.”
3.  It requires the city to look at the experience and practices of other cities and of neighboring open space land managers.
4.  It requires an inventory of city dirt roads and trails.
5.  It calls on the city to “evaluate and address multiple user groups’ needs in the City’s limited public park land.”
6.  Mountain biking is a safe, sustainable, health promoting activity.
7.  Among the three purposes of the bike plan are:  Increase the number and type of bicyclists in the city and Make the City of Los Angeles a Bike Friendly community.  The studies of mountain biking on trails are totally appropriate with those goals.
8.  To pull this language now is unwarranted.
9.  The plan has been vetted.  The time to pass it as drafted is NOW.

 

 

LA Planning Commission Approves Bike Plan

Friday, December 17th, 2010

The City of Los Angeles Planning Commission passed the proposed bike plan yesterday December 15, 2010.  It now goes to the Mayor for 30 days, then to the Transportation Committee of City Council, then to the full Council.  Mark Langton and Steve Messer of CORBA, and Jim Hasenauer of IMBA attended.  Langton and Hasenauer spoke before the Commission.

Of particular interest to mountain bikers is section 3.3 of the plan which focuses on ongoing studies of off-pavement cycling in City parks. Langton and Hasenauer spoke in favor of the section and urged the Commission to keep it intact. Several people affiliated with equestrian or hiking groups spoke in opposition of section 3.3 of the plan. They cited similar, if not the same arguments as in the past—that it is a transportation not a recreation plan; bikes are a threat to public safety; bikes travel too fast; there are many injuries; bikes have adverse environmental impacts; allowing bikes will lead to motorized vehicles on the trails; etc.

Hasenauer commented that the plan didn’t go far enough and that planning staff should have treated mountain bike advocates with the same engagement they gave road advocates.  He asked to also restore the pilot program language of the 1996 plan.  Langton said that the recreation vs. transportation dualism is a false dichotomy and talked about The Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency’s (COSCA) 20-plus years of shared use success. Several members of the LACBC also took time to argue in favor of section 3.3 (click here to see their report).

After the public hearing, staff responded that the plan does not advocate for opening trails to bikes: It advocates for study, inventory, an identification of standards so that a decision about off-pavement cycling in parks would be comprehensive and well-informed; that studies around the country indicate that some trails are feasible for bikes; and that illegal riding was a function of not having any legal places to ride.  Staff concluded that ultimately 3.3 is a “step in the right direction.”

Barbara Romero and Diego Cardoso of the Planning Commission supported keeping section 3.3 in the plan.  Romero asked why the pilot programs were removed and was told “at the request of City Parks.”  Cardoso said the city has a diverse population, including families who ride bikes.  He said that not everyone can afford horses, and for many people “a bicycle is an affordable horse.”

Michael Woo of Planning Commission said he was initially worried about section 3.3, but after hearing staff’s recommendations is now more comfortable with it.

The Plan including section 3.3 passed unanimously.

The Mayor’s office will now have 30 days to review the plan before it is passed to the transportation committee, and ultimately the full City Council.

Off-pavement advocates’ next steps are to ensure that section 3.3 stays in the plan. When the plan is passed, it will be imperative that the Department of Recreation and Parks includes the study process in their work plan.

LA Bike Plan to go before Planning Commission

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

The 2010 Bicycle Plan staff report and related documents for the City Planning Commission (CPC) meeting are now available on the LA Bike Plan project website (http://www.labikeplan.org).

The Staff Report which accompanies the plan states specifically that the anti-mountain bike lobby were  more vocal in their opposition, and nothing in the plan changes the status quo regarding mountain biking being off limits in Los Angeles City parks. The only change to the plan in Chapter 3, section 3.3 (Bicycling in City Parks) is the removal of the word “Unfortunately.”  That pretty much sums it up. It isn’t even considered unfortunate that kids, adults, families, disadvantaged youths, and those seeking alternatives to riding bicycles on the street within the City of Los Angeles, all lose out in this Plan.

Here is the pertinent excerpt from the staff recommendation letter to the planning commission:

4. Mountain Bikes/Off Road

The appropriateness of including policies about mountain or off-road bicycling within the Bicycle Plan, which is a chapter of the Transportation Element, has been long disputed by some constituents. The concerns stem back to the adoption of the existing Bicycle Plan in 1996 which included specific policies to study the feasibility of developing mountain bicycle trails elsewhere within the City park system.

Despite mediated meetings with stakeholders (mountain bicyclists, hikers, and equestrians) during the development of this Plan, to discuss options and potential solutions, no consensus was reached. Mountain bicyclists continue to advocate for increased access to off-road park facilities, and hikers, environmentalists, and the equestrian community continue to articulate concerns about risk of accidents on shared use facilities and the potential for environmental damage to ecosystems.

In testimony and written materials submitted at the public hearings, several persons expressed concern about the impact of allowing bicycles on equestrian trails. Additionally, some commenters took exception to the “tone” of the text and the policies relating to off-road bicycling and multi-use trails. The language and policies as originally written gave some members of the public the impression that mountain bicycling would be allowed in City parks and that the Plan was undermining the Department of Recreation and Parks’ authority over bicycles in City parks.

Although the organizations and members of the public who have spoken and written against allowing bicycle on trails have been more vocal in their oppositions, a fair number of comments supported expanding the use of mountain bicycles on trails.

Proposed Changes:

The Department has reviewed the text relating to mountain bicycling and has made adjustments to clarify the intent of Objective 3.3 (see Appendix A). The City will continue to gather data on the issue and will not look to repeal the Department of Recreation and Parks’ authority over bicycles within City parks. Furthermore, none of the policies or programs within Objective 3.3 call for the expansion of bicycle mountain access beyond where it permitted today (Mandeville Canyon Park). Additionally, the policies contained in the 1996 Bicycle Plan explicitly state that the City will embark on allowing access in certain City parks have not been carried over into this Plan.

CORBA, in our official comments on the current revision of the plan, presented arguments refuting almost every aspect of this portion of the recommendation letter. The one thing that remains irrefutable is that the anti-mountain biking lobby were more vocal in their opposition. Nearly one thousand supporters of off-road cycling wrote to the City after the initial draft of the Plan was released in 2009. Clearly this wasn’t enough, though it represents but a small minority of off-road cycling enthusiasts in the City of Los Angeles.

The City Planning Commission Meeting on the 2010 Bicycle Plan (Case No. CPC-2009-871-GPA and ENV-2009-2650-MND) will take place on Thursday, November 4, 2010, after 8:30 AM at City Hall, Room 1010, 200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. The CPC agenda will be available after Thursday, October 28 on the Department of City Planning website (http://cityplanning.lacity.org).

The Planning Commission will be making their recommendations regarding the plan to the various planning committees in late November. Sometime in December the City Council is scheduled vote to adopt or reject the plan.

It continues to be in our best interest as off-road cyclists to remain engaged and to attend any and all public meetings and hearings. This is, after all,  just a planning document. The City’s past record with following their plans has been abysmal, and though nothing was gained for us in this plan, nothing has really been taken away. We didn’t have  trail access in City Parks before it. We need to remain engaged with the City Council, the Mayor’s office and the Department of Recreation and Parks as the decisions that affect us, irrespective of the plan, come from them. Encouragingly, the Mayor himself has expressed his support of allowing bicycles on City Park trails.

Other aspects of the Plan for on-street cycling have been well-received by the bicycling community. Again, the City’s ability to execute is what counts. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.

CORBA at the So Cal High School MTB League Leader’s Summit

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

“The greatest recent innovation in mountain biking isn’t twenty-nine inch wheels, ten speed rear shifting, adjustable travel or carbon fiber. It’s high school mountain bike racing. This is shaping the future of our sport,”  said CORBA board member Steve Messer at the recent High School Mountain Bike League Leader’s Summit. The Summit is required training for all High School Mountain Bike League coaches.

Messer spoke to the new coaches about the importance of advocacy for mountain bike access. His presentation followed a talk by Matt Gunnell, director of the So Cal league, on how coaches need to train their teams to be good representatives of the mountain bike community. Part of being a good representative is giving back to the trails in the form of at least one day of trail work for each team, each season, he said. The League strongly encourages this, and many did not know their league insurance covers their team for trailwork during the season.

Banner Moffat, coach of the Glendale team and trail crew leader for the Friends of El Prieto then talked about the basics of trail maintenance. “Anyone can make a difference to a trail with time, commitment, and just a few basic tools. It isn’t rocket science.” Moffat said. He distributed handouts explaining some of the basics of trail maintenance including tools, brush clearing, drainage and rock armoring.

At least one high school team, St. Francis, will be participating in CORBA’s upcoming El Prieto trailwork day on November 7th. We expect team members from other teams as well.

“As high school coaches your voices carry a lot of weight with community leaders and land managers,” noted Messer.  “They’ll realize that X-games derived images of mountain biking don’t represent the reality of who is using trails on mountain bikes.”

Along with league director Matt Gunnell, Messer encouraged all the team managers and coaches to join their local advocacy groups, get up to date on any issues pertaining to the trails on which they ride, race and train. Most importantly, they need to let their voices be heard when it comes to public comments on proposed actions that may affect their trails.

Of special note is the fact that as the So Cal League enters it’s third year with several new teams confirmed and more in the works, not a single team is based out of any L.A.U.S.D. school, the largest school district in California. This is perhaps a reflection of the City of Los Angeles’ prohibition of off-road cycling in City parks. Almost all of L.A.’s neighboring cities have teams in the League.

The League carries a memorandum of understanding with IMBA, each supporting the other’s efforts. CORBA is also a supporter of the So Cal High School Mountain Bike League, and we look forward to working with the league as they help shape a new generation of not just mountain bikers, but upstanding representatives of the sport and stewards of the lands and trails on which they ride.

KLOS – Spotlight on the Community

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Cynthia Fox, Steve Messer & Mark Langton at KLOSCORBA’s Mark Langton and Steve Messer recently spent some quality time with radio DJ Cynthia Fox.  They will be appearing this coming Sunday on the KLOS program Spotlight on the Community.

In the half-hour segment Langton and Messer will be talking about the Fat Tire Fest as well as CORBA’s advocacy and outreach programs. Cynthia’s enthusiastic support for any activity that gets kids into the open air getting exercise made it easy for them to talk about the importance of having bike-friendly parks and public land. They’ll touch on High School Mountain Bike racing, CORBA’s trail care crew, Youth Adventures, the L.A. Bike Plan, and much more. Fox, like many Angelenos, was surprised to learn that bicycles are not welcome on L.A. City Park trails and unimproved access roads.

Aside from her regular 10-3 Monday through Friday KLOS slot, The “Fox” as Cynthia is known to her fans, hosts this outstanding show every Sunday morning. Spotlight on the Community gives non-profit organizations an opportunity to reach out to the public through mainstream media. CORBA is grateful to have been invited to talk about our programs and the mountain biking issues we all care about so much.

The show will air on Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 6:00 a.m.  You can listen by tuning in to KLOS (95.5 on the FM dial) as you prepare for the Fat Tire Fest!  After it airs, the program can be downloaded as a podcast from KLOS on-demand.

2010 LA Bike Plan Comments

Friday, October 8th, 2010

The following is CORBA’s official response to the off-road cycling components of the most recent draft of the L.A. Bike Plan.

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Jordann Turner
Los Angeles Department of City Planning
200 N. Spring Street, Rm 721
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Re: Draft L.A. Bike Plan,

Dear Mr. Turner,

Thanks for the opportunity to comment on the current draft of the L.A. Bike Plan. We’d like to address specific aspects of the plan, namely, the components related to off-road cycling.

We find it ironic that the summary outline of the plan (Chapter 4, Page 61) states under Objectives: “Environment: Bicycles in City Parks 3.3 – Provide a safe and comfortable experience for all users.” Clearly, this plan does not meet this objective as “all users” must include mountain bikers. There is nothing in this draft plan that provides any expanded access for off-road cyclists to any City of Los Angeles property. This plan only serves to divert off-road cyclists outside the City of Los Angeles, and to do further “study.”

Instead, the plan once again acknowledges the “growing need” for off-road cycling facilities identified in the 1996 plan. It also (page 55/56) gives a history of the attempt to find “consensus” among park users regarding mountain bike access. It does not however, give the complete picture of that process. It states no consensus was reached, but does not mention that no consensus was possible. For example, a representative of the Sierra Club who was part of that process made it clear that he was staunchly opposed to any bicycle access to City parks, in direct contradiction to the Sierra Club’s stated policy that “mountain bikes are legitimate trail users.” Should not those invited to represent a particular organization represent the organization’s stated public policies rather than their own personal views? Since the representatives from the non-mountain biking user groups at those hearings appear to have been hand-picked for their stated opposition to bicycles in parks, no consensus was possible.

The fact that no consensus was possible or was reached in those mediation hearings is presented in this plan as a finding that “the use of bicycles on city trails was not found feasible.” This is a misinterpretation of the outcome of those proceedings. The outcome was only that no consensus was reached among those at the hearings. No consensus was possible when those invited into the process entered the hearings with the intent of preventing bicycles from gaining access to city parks, not with the intent of finding any consensus.

We believe the specific recommendations for 8 new trails to be opened to mountain bikers must be carried over from the 1996 plan. Since the process of finding a “consensus” was tainted from the start, a better policy would be to implement the 8 new trails as a pilot project, and study the outcome.

Policy 3.3.2,B states “Pursue opportunities for mountain bicycle access that may exist on land within and adjacent to the City of Los Angeles, under the jurisdiction of other agencies such as the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Los Angeles County, State of California, etc.” This is a complete avoidance of the issue of off-road access for cyclists in Los Angeles. The communities surrounding the City Parks of Los Angeles are being denied bicycle access to those nearby parks for their children, for lower income families that do not drive or own vehicles. Middle to upper income off-road cyclists will seek higher-quality trail experiences in surrounding areas. Local youth, families, and those who would like to simply ride a bicycle from home to a park and enjoy the park’s facilities by bicycle, are left behind and completely ignored in this plan.

Policies 3.3.2 D, and E, are given five years to develop a database of existing trails and unimproved access roads. We support this process, however the five-year timeline is unacceptable. This should be completed in one year or less. CORBA has in the past assisted other land managers in developing trail databases using GPS technology and bicycles, at no cost to those agencies. However, since we cannot access the trails by bicycle we cannot help with this data-gathering service.

Policies 3.3.3 A and B “examine other jurisdictions…” should not take five years to complete. The data is already out there from other jurisdictions and studies. Strategies exist and appear to be working in cities around the country and the world. Numerous national, state, and county public lands are multi-use friendly, yet the reported incidence of conflicts is minimal. Five years to gather data that already exists is unacceptable. We find it puzzling that this plan acknowledges the successful implementation of multi-use policies that include hikers, equestrians and bicyclists in surrounding areas, yet expresses the need to study whether such multi-use principles are “feasible.”

Policy 3.3.3,C states “Conduct user counts and employ other methods to evaluate demand for off-road facilities by user groups.” Conducting user counts on the one section of trails at Mandeville Canyon would not give a true representation of the demand for multi-use trails within the City. These trails are far removed from population centers of Los Angeles. There is no public transport access to this area. Those who have the ability to travel will seek better quality trail experiences outside the city. Those who wish to participate in off-road cycling who do not or cannot drive will not be able to. So any count of users at the one location where off-road cycling is allowed will not give a true representation. Instead a better metric would be the number of off-road capable bicycles owned in the City of Los Angeles. When this number is compared to the number of users who own horses or who participate in hiking or trail-running, we’re confident that the numbers will speak for themselves. In fact, the 1996 plan acknowledged the “growing need” for off-road bicycle facilities. The Outdoor Recreation Association reported that mountain bike use grew by 18% from 2007 to 2008. Clearly the need exists, and it should not take five years to determine a known fact.

Policies 3.3.3 D and E “Obtain information on levels of use by hikers and equestrians before and after the introduction of off-road bicycle access” and “Conduct a spillover analysis to determine the extent to which mountain bicycle use spills over onto mountain trails where bicycling is prohibited” respectively, assumes that the introduction of off-road bicycle access will take place. Yet the introduction of mountain bicycle use is not specified or directed anywhere in this plan. This policy doesn’t specify that this data will be gathered from other jurisdictions, in which case the five year timeline is unacceptable, as the data already exist.

Nothing in this plan provides off-road bicycle access to parks for the bicycle-riding communities who live near LA City parks. While we understand that the serious mountain biking enthusiasts have access to surrounding areas, those of lesser means do not, and their needs are not addressed in this plan.

We would also like to see non-trail off-road alternatives be considered and recommended within the plan. Bike Parks, and specifically, dirt Mountain Bike Parks, can provide a safe, healthy center of activity and exercise for youth and adults alike, while avoiding any potential trail user conflicts. They can be constructed at minimum cost and maintained with a supervised volunteer workforce that helps generate a sense of ownership and community. Precedents exist in the form of skateboard parks in Los Angeles and bike parks in other cities.

While we agree that a trail database and inventory is sorely needed to manage the City’s parks, we would like to see this process expedited from the five years offered in this plan to one year or less. There are many City-owned parks, such as those in the northern San Fernando Valley, where there is no Management Plan in place. For those parks that do not have a management or master plan that specifically prohibits off-road cycling, we would like to see those opened to off-road cycling immediately.

To facilitate this, the plan needs to direct the City to lift the ban on off-road bicycles on trails in City parks. Section 86.04 of the Municipal Code prohibits bicycles on any trails. Section 63.44.16 prohibits bicycles, except on “paths roads or drives designed and provided for such purposes.” Further, MC Section 12.04.05 (Open Space Zone) specifically allows for bicycle trails within open space zones. These seemingly contradictory codes are subject to interpretation. They are currently interpreted as a city-wide ban on bicycles in parks. Having a city-wide ban on bicycles on park trails fails to take into consideration the differing demographics and needs of nearby residents of each individual park or open space. It sends an exclusionary message, disenfranchising the large and growing population of off-road cyclists. This ban effectively reduces opportunities for safe, healthy exercise, especially for non-driving children and adults. It even criminalizes a small child with training wheels learning to ride a bicycle in a park.

CORBA operates a Youth Adventures program, serving at-risk youth from the City of Los Angeles. We give them a truly rounded experience that includes nature interpretation, exercise, camaraderie and introduces them to a sport they can potentially enjoy for the rest of their lives. We are unable to serve as many youth as we’d like as we are not able to use facilities within the City of Los Angeles, where most of these youth are located. Expanded access would allow us to better serve the youth of Los Angeles, would encourage more outdoor exercise among these youth, and would help this generation avoid problems of obesity. Off-road cycling is fun, a good form of exercise and promotes health. It should be encouraged, not discouraged. Opening parks to bicycles would allow and encourage healthy exercise and appreciation of nature among the youth of Los Angeles.

Today’s BMX-riding teen could be tomorrow’s bicycle commuter; a teen who has a place to ride a bike has a place to exercise. Studies by the Outdoor Recreation Association reveal that making exercise fun is the biggest motivating factor we can offer our children. The unstructured play element of off-road cycling entices kids to explore our natural areas. The bike handling skills learned off-road lead to more competent and confident cyclists. Nothing in the current plan provides expanded bicycle access for youth who are unable to drive outside the city.

We have a vision of safe and friendly parks with shared-use trails and facilities that include cyclists. This plan does not share that vision, even though one of its stated objectives is to “Provide a safe and comfortable [City park] experience for all users.” A plan that fails to meet its own stated objectives cannot be considered complete or truly bicycle-friendly.

Sincerely,

Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association