LA Planning Commission Approves Bike Plan

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.

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One Response to “LA Planning Commission Approves Bike Plan”

  1. Steve Clark says:

    There’s also an article on the LA.StreetsBlog site about the commision meeting:

    http://la.streetsblog.org/2010/12/17/planning-commission-leadership-strengthens-bike-plan/

    In addition to CORBA’s article, they noted that “Voices in opposition to mountain biking significantly outnumbered supporters. The anti-mountain bicycling contingent also took the serious step of hiring a lawyer to challenge the plan’s environmental review.”

    It sounds like there’s still a lot of work ahead of us and it would really help if more mountain bikers would get involved. After all, mountain bikers outnumber equestrians by about 100 times – why can they always get more people to turn up at a meeting than us? We know that mountain bikers aren’t lazy.

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