At the unveiling of Los Angeles’ first ever in front of Café de Leche in Highland Park last month, Amir Sedadi, General Manager of the Department of Transportation, announced his goal to make L.A. the largest bicycle friendly city in the county.
On Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m., as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the Los Angeles Master Bicycle Plan into law, the city took a major step toward achieving that goal.
The plan, which was unanimously approved by the L.A. city council on Tuesday, lays out an ambitious goal of implementing numerous new bicycle friendly policies, increasing the number of bicycle parking facilities and, most importantly, installing 1,302 miles of new bicycle ways.
Those 1,302 new miles of bicycle ways would be divided among a three different types of networks: backbone bikeways, neighborhood bikeways and green bikeways.
The 707 mile backbone bikeway network would run along major roadways where painted lanes could be installed. The 834 mile neighborhood network would comprise bicycle friendly streets where traffic calming measures and signage would be put in place to make it safer for cyclists and motorists to share the road. Through the 139 mile green network, the plan seeks to improve access to bicycle and shared access paths as well as to the city’s green, open spaces and river channels.
“What this plan is, is a guiding document for the next set of years that gives us the parameters and guidelines for what can be done to really improve bicycle infrastructure in Los Angeles,” said Jennifer Klausner, executive director of the Los Angeles Bicycle Coaltion.
According to Josef Bray-Ali, owner of the Flying Pigeon bicycle shop in Highland Park, the master plan was greatly influenced by community members in Los Angeles who were dissatisfied with city’s existing bicycle plan, which was passed in 1996.
Bray-Ali said he was also disappointed with an initial draft of the current plan, first released to the public in 2008, which he said relied on minimal input from local cyclists and was not nearly as ambitious as needed to be to create the kind of massive bicycle network that could truly connect all of Los Angeles.
Since then, Bray-Ali said that cycling advocates, those from Northeast Los Angeles in particular, have had a major voice in helping to expand the master plan, and have helped to ensure that ensure that infrastructure improvements for the communities of Highland Park and Eagle Rock would be included.
To the delight of local businessman and bicyclist Matt Schodorf, who owns and Schodorf’s Luncheonette on York Boulevard, the master plan calls for the completion of “The Loop,” a set of connected bike lanes which would run along York Boulevard, N. Figueroa Sreet, Eagle Rock Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard.
“Connecting those four corners will be great,” Schodorf said. “I just love the idea of bicyclists having access to those roads without feeling like they are going to be run over by a car.”
The plan also calls for the installation of a “Multi Mobility Hub” on N. Figueroa Street, a location where cyclists can park their bikes and make use of shower and restroom facilities.
With the plan in place, the next step is implementation. According to Los Angeles Department of Transportation Senior Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery, a combination of Measure R Transportation and Los Angeles Transportation Development Act funds have been set aside to begin the work and a bicycle plan implementation team has also been put in place in order to help establish priorities and determine was parts of the plan need to be put into place first.
Bray-Ali, who's banking on “The Loop” connecting his bicycle shop to commercial corridors along York, Eagle Rock and Colorado boulevards, said local cycling enthusiasts need to be just as vocal now that the plan is approved as they were while it was being developed.
“I think we stand to gain substantially if we come together as a community and let the department of transportation know what our priorities are,” he said.
Schodorf, who was the first and loudest voice to request the bike corral in front of Café de Leche, said he plans to continue advocating for improve bicycle ways in Los Angeles.
“I guess I’ve been one of the squeaky wheels,” he said. “Before I die I would love to see bike lanes running all across Los Angeles. I want to be able to ride my bike from Highland Park to Santa Monica. The best thing would be to start it locally and watch it expand.”