Monthly Archives: August 2010

1800 Stewart St./ Agensys

It’s now or never for a bike path at 1800 Stewart St./ Agensys

Santa Monica’s Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) was selected by the California Chapter of the American Planning Association as the winner of this year’s “Outstanding Comprehensive Planning Award, Small Jurisdiction,”  the profession’s highest statewide honor. LUCE heavily promotes bicycling, walking and connectivity.

LUCE Chapter 3.5-10, Active Living and Health states:
“In response to an alarming national trend toward obesity and disease, the City is committed to promoting active lifestyles for the health and well being of the community.”  Policy 16.1: “The City shall promote land use patterns and transportation decisions that enable all residents to walk and bicycle to meet their daily needs, including: Expand the bicycle network and ensure that residents can safely bike to stores, schools, parks, and places of employment.”

Requiring a Michigan-Stewart bike path in the 1800 Stewart Street (Agensys) development agreement represents the first test of our LUCE commitment to active transportation. Once this development sits astride that bike route, it is a plug that will stay in place for the length of the lease: 50 years or more.

Map #1: location of proposed bike path

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Why is a bike path between Michigan and Stewart Street so important?

  • The Michigan-Stewart bike path will enhance bicycle connectivity to the Bergamot rail station and village.  A transit hub and public gathering place of this significance demands multiple convenient bicycle connections to the surrounding community.
  • It will help reduce traffic and parking demand in the Bergamot station area and help reduce pollution caused by short trips to the station, helping us meet our Sustainable City Plan goals.
  • This path will be a key link for completing a cross-town bike facility where there is a gaping hole in the east-west bike network between Broadway and Pearl in the under-served Pico Neighborhood.  Except for Michigan, this corridor now offers cyclists only traffic-clogged arterials: Pico, Olympic, Colorado and Cloverfield.  When connected to Stewart St. by this path, the Michigan bike route will provide a low-stress, convenient and safe route west to Samohi, Civic Center and Ocean Park beaches and to eastern Santa Monica and Los Angeles from the west.

Map #2: current bike facilities

  • LUCE plans call for an expansion of the bike network and identify a Michigan Ave. bike route.

Map #3 LUCE Bikeway Network plan

Map #4, route of a complete Michigan Ave. bikeway

  • It will help reduce traffic and parking demand in the Bergamot station area and help reduce pollution caused by short trips to the station, helping us meet our Sustainable City Plan goals.

2 . Why should the city prioritize a bike link between Michigan and Stewart St. when Michigan is not yet an officially designated bike facility?

  • Our city’s Bicycle Master Plan hasn’t been updated for more than 15 years. In the meantime, Michigan Ave. from Lincoln to 20th has functioned as a well-used bike route and is identified in the LUCE as part of its proposed Bikeway Network (see Map 3, above).  Michigan now serves as the major safe bike route to Samohi, used by numerous students every school day. It also serves workers and recreational riders all week long.  With this high level of usage, it is simply due to a lack of bicycle planning that it is not already designated as an official bike route.

  • Santa Monica has applied to the League of American Bicyclists to be designated a bicycle-friendly city, winning only a Bronze status for good valet bike parking. To reach a Silver rating or higher, it must create more bike routes.  The city has committed to doing so in the LUCE and should start by integrating the Michigan-Stewart bike path into the southern edge of the Agensys parcel.

3.  Why is a bike path needed at the southern edge of the 1800 Stewart Street Agensys parcel when there are other options?

  • Santa Monica is trying to make cycling a preferred travel choice, not an inconvenient option that takes you out of your way.  Without this direct link, cyclists from east Santa Monica headed to the Samohi/Civic Center/beaches vicinity via Michigan will have to take circuitous detours and cross major roads and/or the rail line.  The various route options that have been proposed are illustrated and discussed below.
  • The LUCE calls for breaking up large barriers to circulation. The Bergamot Art Complex, the City Yards, Stewart Park and the Agensys parcel create a 38-acre superblock barrier, the largest impermeable collection of parcels in Santa Monica after the airport, separating neighborhoods. The Expo bike path does not penetrate this superblock as the Michigan-Stewart bike path would do.
    LUCE Chapter 4.0-38, Goal T9.9 requires bike access be created through large developments:  “Large property developments (defined as greater than one square block of 300’x300′) should provide through access for bicyclists and pedestrians.”
  • To create a finer circulation grid in the Bergamot transit Village, the Industrial Lands workshop participants also identified as desirable a path at the southern boundary of the Agensys parcel.
    LUCE Chapter 2.3-36 Investment Focus Areas specifies: “In the development of the Bergamot Transit Village, it is critical that bicycle access, connectivity and amenities are emphasized. In doing so, bicycling can become a primary mode of transportation for trips within the village, the City and the surrounding community.”

Map #5: desired Bergamot Village paths from Industrial Lands workshop

  • LUCE Chapter 4.0-41 calls for a bike connection to rail stations and between Stewart Park and Bergamot Station, which this bike path provides:
    “As funding becomes available, complete major gaps in the bikeway network, including:
    •Connections to future rail stations and activity centers.
    •Connections between Stewart Park and Bergamot Station.”

  • West of Bergamot Station, the future Expo Bikeway heads in a different direction: towards Downtown Santa Monica and will end at 17th Street and Colorado. It is not a direct bike route to prime destinations farther west or south of the freeway such as Samohi, the Civic Center and Ocean Park beaches.  Michigan is the safest, most direct bike route to that part of the city.

Map #6: Bike path route/detour alternatives

4.  What other bike routes/detours have been proposed?

  • Option 1. A bike path directly from Stewart St. to Michigan (our preferred option).
    Cyclists would enter the bike path directly from Stewart St. and proceed to the Bergamot Station Art Complex parking lot and Michigan Avenue.  A separated bike path corridor could be created in the parking lot, perhaps using some space from a lightly used storage area on City Yards property to get cyclists to Michigan.  From there, cyclists would cross Cloverfield with traffic to proceed west.
  • Option 2. Detour via Expo Bikeway to 20th St. (after 2015)
    Cyclists will first cross the LRT tracks from Stewart before getting on the future Expo Bikeway (coming in five years at the earliest) then cross major boulevards including 26th St., Cloverfield and Olympic and take 20th St. south, crossing Olympic again to get to Michigan.
  • Option 3. Detour via Expo Bikeway and through Bergamot Station and Art Complex (after 2015)
    Cyclists attempting to access Michigan from the Expo Bikeway by going through Bergamot station would encounter conflicts with pedestrians in the station area and Bergamot Art Complex as well as motor vehicles in the Bergamot parking lot.  Also requires two crossings of the light rail tracks.

Map #7, Additional bike path route options

  • Option 4. Detour via Expo Bikeway to 26th St. (after 2015)
    This detour requires cyclists on Stewart St. to cross the Expo tracks to reach the Expo Bikeway, then to cross the LRT tracks again at 26th St.. From there this route requires navigating 26th St., which is one-way, against traffic flow somehow (on the sidewalk?  a special contra-flow bike lane?).  The diagram then shows the route proceeding against traffic flow on the east side of Cloverfield, presumably on the sidewalk?  Finally, cyclists would cross Cloverfield to get to Michigan.
  • Option 5. Detour through Stewart Park to Delaware
    This is a long detour to the south side of Stewart park, emerging near the freeway onto the isolated dead-end of Delaware St. next to the freeway, then proceeding past the dump/recycle center, truly one of the armpits of the city.  This is not a suitable route on which to be sending school-bound children, and it does not take cyclist to the rail station.
  • Option 6. Detour though the center of the Agensys project on the pedestrian walkway.
    This detour represents numerous problems including conflicts with traffic in parking lots and pedestrians and makes this an impractical route for cyclists.  It is not practical for cyclists to walk their bikes through the 600-foot length of the proposed walkway.  And, to be functional for transportation purposes, a bicycle-pedestrian path must be open 24-7, as are roads and sidewalks. The pedestrian walkway will, for security reasons, likely be closed in the evening.

5.  How can Michigan serve as a continuous bike route when it is cut in two by the freeway at 20th St?

  • A potential connection exists to bridge this gap by using a strip of Caltrans property between Michigan and 20th St. This link is also shown on the LUCE Bikeway Network map.  Until that is built, one can make a detour around Crossroads school.

Map #8: Caltrans property to be used to connect Michigan over the freeway

6.  What about liability issues posed by the proposed southern boundary bike path, including those caused by conflicts with motor vehicles?

  • The bike path we propose is located at the southern edge of the parcel, presumably separated from the rest of the parcel by a fence of some kind.  There should be no conflicts with vehicles on the other side of the fence.

7.  How can we address liability issues created by having a public access bike path on leased property?

  • Indemnify the lease holder from this liability.  Or, separate the portion of the property that will be used for the bike path from the lease deal.

8.  Agensys’ project needs large floor plates with their operations located in close proximity, not separated on different floors.  How can this be accommodated?

  • Configure buildings and floor plates as currently planned (and described in the EIR), but move the buildings on the southern boundary, as a whole, north to create space for the bike path at the southern edge of the property.  Reduce the width of the generous pedestrian walkway a commensurate amount.  Revise plans for including the old warehouse framework in the walkway as needed (the old warehouse would seem to be an asset of minimal value when compared to the permanent benefits of the bike path).

9.  What options exist for creating the preferred bike path alignment?

  • Use property from the city yards for the bike path.  However, planners have determined that an alternate routing through the City Yards isn’t an option now.  It is not known when this part of the city yards will be redeveloped.  When it is, perhaps the city yards can donate space to create a truly wonderful paseo.
  • The 1800 Stewart Street parcel is proposed to be redeveloped now, so a development agreement is the best opportunity for making this connection. With a 50 year lease under consideration, it is NOW OR NEVER to create this vital link, one way or another.

Barbara Filet and Kent Strumpell
Santa Monica Spoke


Agensys project in the News:

Santa Monica Daily Press   smdp August 23,2010


Today’s Fun – After Party 7-9 open to all — FREEEE

Cause for Creativity: Tour da Arts, vol. 2
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Pedal on over to SMMoA for the second annual Cause for Creativity: Tour da Arts and Urban Expeditions event!! Festivities include: bike checks, spoke card workshop, live performances, and a closing party.

This Saturday Bikeside Speaks @ Cynergy Bike Shop, Followed By Bike-In Screening Of Disposible Film Festival And An After Party

Re-posted from Gary Rides Bikes:

Bikeside Speaks returns with it’s 7 minute talks followed by Q&A, format, this time in Santa Monica. Bikeside is a local activist group actively involved in political campaigning and lobby for cycling issues in the Los Angeles area. I missed Bikeside Speaks the first time around, but this time I will be there, and as one of the speakers. I’ve titled my talk “Redefining Freedom of Mobility Beyond The Motoring Age” and it will incorporate key ideas from some of my recent reading, as well as personal experiences. I want to touch briefly on some historical context of transportation in the United States and Los Angeles, and how driving became synonymous with freedom, an important part of the American ethos, even while restraining freedom for formerly accepted uses of the street. I believe to change our road culture to once again respect pedestrians, cyclists and public transit, we must advance the ways in which these modes can represent freedom, and challenge assumptions that hold the automobile as the dominant symbol of freedom of mobility.

The talk also includes 53rd District Democratic Candidate Betsy Butler,  Mike Bower (AKA “Cool Ass Mike”) of 1000 Bikes – a non-profit project to put bikes in the hands of foster kids and their families, and livable streets activist Stephen Box, who is now a candidate for City Council District 4 in LA.

Update, More Speakers:

  • Terry O’Day, cyclist & Santa Monica City Councilman up for re-election, will talk about Santa Monica’s ongoing bike progress.
  • Cory Wilkerson, Burbank City Planner, will explain how he crafted an award winning bike plan on a shoe string budget.
  • Felicia Williams of CICLE will talk about CICLE’s amazing Urban Expeditions ride, and talk you into attending Sunday’s festivities at the Santa Monica Museum of Art.
  • Alex Thompson will wrap things up with discussing Bikeside’s Life Before License campaign and screening the short video documentary of the Blood In Protest at the Beverly Hills Court House.

In addition to the talk, there will be a screening of the Disposable Film Festival and a Specialized bike raffle, with all proceeds going to Bikeside. I heard a couple of food trucks will be in attendance as well. Should be a fun night, hope you can make it out.

Cynergy Bike Shop
2300 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404 (map)

  • 6:30pm – 8:30pm Bikeside Speaks! (RSVP on Facebook, Tweet-vite)
  • 8:30pm – 11pm “bike-in” screening by the Disposable Film Festival (RSVP on Facebook)
  • After party at the Hotel Erwin on Venice Beach (map)