Monthly Archives: December 2010

Support Santa Monica Spoke and LACBC

Fundraiser and Merriment at the Library Ale House December 28th, 11:30am – 11:00pm

Library Ale House will donate 15% of the days sales to benefit LACBC! Raffle Prizes include a Dahon folding bike!

Special FREE Raffle for bike valet volunteers and those who arrive on 2 wheels to support LACBC & Santa Monica Spoke!

We need volunteers to help run the Bike Valet.
To volunteer Click here

See event page on Facebook

Summary Bicycle Action Plan Meeting

Part I
Good turn out for Bicycle Action Plan Meeting

The turn out for the city hosted open house style meeting was good with about 90 people in attendance not including city staff etc..  Before the event even began they were off getting more chairs for attendees, a good sign. We’ve been to several of these open house style meetings and this one appeared to be well planned and organized.  In true City of Santa Monica fashion there was free bike valet and even a raffle at the end for those who had arrived on two wheels. Nice touch.   In attendance were Transportation Management Office’s Principal Engineer Sam Morrissey, Transportation Management Manager, Lucy Dyke and Transportation Planning Associate Michelle Glickert the meeting was well attended by city staff.  Approximately 20 members of city staff, City Councilman Kevin McKewown, 3 Parks and Rec Commissio

ners, 3 members of Natural Resources Defense Council, SMMUSD facilities manager and staff, and 8 uniformed officers of SMPD including Neighborhood Resource Officer Michael Boyd who represented SMPD at one of the recent Parks and Rec. meetings regarding cycling issues, namely crash statistics and the crack down/ citations for sidewalk riding in Santa Monica, Also in attendance as a private citizen was Transportation Management Specialist and Santa Monica’s Bike Valet Coordinator, Luis Morris along with about 90 cyclist and community members.  Of the approximately 90 people who attended 35 came by bike, not too bad.  There was a sign in sheet as you came in (which I presume will put us on some list to be kept informed of progress), organic coffee, a vegetable platter, cheese and crackers and assorted munchies, this I have not seen at other meeting I’ve attended.  Altogether a welcoming start I would say.  As in other open house style meetings there were tables (stations) around the room where after the “presentation” we would be directed to give our input.   The evening opened with an introduction by transportation consultant Jeff Tumlin, from the firm Nelson-Nygaard that is woking with the city to create this Bike Action Plan.  Now where as I found much of what he had to say encouraging, others where way less impressed and or underwhelmed.  Some, like Alex Thompson where completely unimpressed as he describes in his take  on the evening in his post “Lowered expectation in Santa Monica”.  Alex makes many valid points, even though I went away with a more positive take on the evening.  The consensus of the evening here at Spoke has a broad range of views ranging from encouraged to completely unimpressed, with a near 50-50 split leaning toward on the positive overall.

To get a pretty accurate, although somewhat dry accounting of the evening you can read the article in the Santa Monica Mirror.  It gives a good and accurate run down description of how the evening was structured. As I mentioned we have been to several of these open house style meetings.  I have been witness at meetings being completely derailed by someone off on a tangent of one thing or another, loosely or completely unrelated to the issues at hand or ranting on and on about one thing or another that could have been said in one or two sentence.   So I, for one was pleased at the collaborative structure used; given that we only had 90 minutes to get as much input as possible.  We could have been there for easily twice as long and not gotten the amount of input that was gathered in the format used.  Unlike other open house meetings where the format was to break into groups, discuss the topic (unless derailed by someone with an agenda) and then reconvene and have one of the people from each group give a short (they are NEVER short) synopsis of what each group discussed, decided or recommended.  This takes a long time, at least at the meetings I have been to, and where that may work when you have more time I believe with the short time allotted the format at this meeting worked well.  OK so the difference was that after the presentation we broke and for the next 40 minutes or so went around to the different stations on our own and gave input, at each station.  There were complaints that the stations where mostly about infrastructure, yes they were but this was to gather input so that’s what we need to tell them, right?  In addition to the stations there was a paper survey that could be filled out, and is now available on line for any one to give their input.  (more on the survey later)  After we reconvened, a staff member from the each station gave a synopsis or tally of the info collected.  Efficient, and productive use of time in my opinion.  One thing that is said to have fallen short in the introduction was the dwelling on what “might not be able to be done”, “what you want may not be possible” etc etc etc.  Nothing we haven’t heard a million times before but shouldn’t have to hear at a meeting for “Bike ACTION Plan”, some sighted a lack of enthusiasm, I can’t say I felt that way.  I can honestly say I left hopeful, hopeful that we are finally heading on the right track.

Now what I did find to be a sharp slap in the face was when I read the comments in that article in the Santa Monica Mirror The first of which describes even the idea of a Bike Action Plan “ludicrous” and “a moronic plan” but what really hit me hard was the statement “Reality is we are a society of cars not bikes”.  Yep! that’s what the writer thinks!  REALLY?  What happened to PEOPLE!   That is what we need to emphasize in all this.  It’s about people and the quality of life we must demand.  As Alex said in his article it’s not about us and them or taking away from cars.  It’s about balancing inequities to get back what we’ve lost by allocating more space for personal automobiles than for people. It’s about  encouragement, education, community space, and yes, enforcement.  We must insist that our city rethinking the value and purpose of city street by allocating more to people, pedestrians and bikes.  Ensuring that all streets are designed as “Complete Streets” means better traffic flow, and a win win for everyone.

Santa Monica Spoke’s Kent Strumpell said “It is easy to get caught up in a state of struggle and not recognize the progress that has been made”.  We now have the framework outlined in the LUCE which lists so many of the things we lobbied for regarding bikes and a city which has opted to name this a “Bike Action Plan” along with a city manager who seems to be becoming more supportive.  I do believe this is an opportunity the bike community in Santa Monica has long been waiting for and we need to be vocal with our input.  The accelerated timeline to adopt this plan is definitely a concern, we must insist on a thorough process and not allow this to be just “pushed through”.  A lesson learned as Alex Thompson pointed out was when LADOT used  swift drafting and adoption as the justification when trying to push through an inadequate bike plan in Los Angeles.,  Through good diligence LA has just passed a worthy bike plan, one that the community can be proud of.

Santa Monica Spoke will give the city a collaborative document outlining a list of Recommendations for the Bicycle Action Plan, a draft of which can be found here was given to staff at the meeting December 13th.  You may provide input on this by emailing your comments to Contact@SMSpoke.org

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Letter to SM Police Chief Jackman

Stuck between statistically unsafe and illegal riding on the sidewalk, and cars on the roadways with aggressive and dangerous behavior put cyclists between a rock and a hard place.  Something cyclists deal with on a daily basis.  On Monday Barbara Filet had her latest encounter with a vehicle that passed her at an unsafe distance going a high rate of speed, she wrote to the Chief of Police.

December 16, 2010
Dear Chief Jackman,

On December 15, 2010, around 12:15 pm, I was cycling north on Fifth Street between California and Washington. Traffic was light and I was making sure I was riding outside of the door zone of parked cars. The driver of a vehicle behind me proceeded to overtake me in an aggressive manner, passing me with only inches to spare at high speed. I felt threatened by a deadly weapon. Shortly afterwards, he pulled into a driveway and parked his car in the carport in the 1000 block of Fifth Street.

I decided to confront him about this aggressive act. When the middle-aged, balding, heavy-set man got out of his vehicle, I told him, angrily, that he had frightened me by driving so close and that I would have liked him to pass at least three feet away from me. He was not receptive to what I said and told me that I had no right to ride “in the middle of the street” and should instead ride on the sidewalk, where I belonged. I told him it was illegal for me to ride on the sidewalk. He was unwilling to consider he might be wrong. He demanded to see my driver’s license. I told him I would show him my license if he showed me his, but he was not willing to identify himself.

I went to my destination, a birthday party, half a block away. The host accompanied me back to the address on Fifth Street, to note down the car license to make a police complaint. The car is a white Dodge Grand Caravan, license number is 4ZDG299. When we were noting down his license, he came out of the building to get back into his car and saw us. We took his photograph, which angered him. The driver continued to assert that cyclists need to ride their bikes on the sidewalk, and we were not able to convince him otherwise.

I don’t want this driver assaulting other cyclists with his deadly weapon, and I would not be surprised if it is a pattern for him to be aggressive in this manner. Is there some way that you could warn him to cease this behavior and inform him that bicyclists belong in the street, and not on the sidewalk? Is there some way to keep this letter on file to see if he repeats this behavior? I will also leave a copy of this letter on his car.

This case shows that many members of the public still need to be educated about where bikes belong and how they need to share the road. Could you write an article for the next Seascape Magazine, to inform the community about how Santa Monica is dedicating itself, through the LUCE, to become a bicycle-friendly city.  And please include information about these laws:

CA VC 21200.  (a) Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs.

SM MC 3.12.540 Bicycle riding or coasting restricted. (a)  It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle or to coast in any vehicle upon any public sidewalk, except as provided for in Section 3.12.550.

Thanks again for your help in education this driver and the driving public on how to share the road with bicyclists. If you need assistance with this task, or if you feel the need for input from the cycling public, please do not hesitate to contact me or the local bicycle advocacy group called Santa Monca Spoke, of which I am a member.

Barbara Filet

That brought up another recent incident where a Santa Monica cyclist had a similar encounter.

The attached pic is of a car driven by an elderly man, who had road rage while I was riding with a friend on Yale near Wilshire. He turned on Wilshire and his destination was only a half block away. Needless to say he got an earful from me. We need to educate the clueless in SM and many are long past school age.

And also a recent post by Gary Kavanagh where he describes driver motivations and an incident he had.

Sometimes a driver feels they must take things further, and use their car as a threatening weapon, presumably to “teach me a lesson”. Tuesday on Colorado Ave., an SUV driver with a Jack Skeleton Nightmare Before Christmas icon attached to his trailer hitch, honked, honked, honked again, then buzzed me, passing with less than a foot clearance at high speed, even though there was a completely open lane he could have used to pass safely and easily. (click for complete post)

Are these aggressive drivers the only problem, of course not.  When we’re out on the road we also see cyclists that are not following the law.  Making it unsafe for all involved.  Just like aggressive motorists, it is a problem that needs to be addressed.  But just as we don’t paint all motorists with the broad brush of aggression we demand that same distinction between those cyclists that do follow the law and cyclists that don’t.  It seems painfully evident that a huge hole in the system is EDUCATION.  Any Bicycle Action Plan proposed by the city must address how we can educate not only our school age children and young adults but the general population of cyclists and motorists that can’t seem to acknowledge the rules of the road or quite simply don’t know what they are.

I would say that Santa Monica needs to step up and demonstrate its commitment to Complete Streets and make it safer for everyone, cyclist, pedestrians and motorists.  A broad advertising campaign, and a visible commitment to cycling coupled with education would go far to achieving these goals.

CA VC 21200. (a) Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs.

SM MC 3.12.540 Bicycle riding or coasting restricted. (a)  It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle or to coast in any vehicle upon any public sidewalk, except as provided for in Section 3.12.550.

City Meetings – Bike Parking and SuperBlock development project

City Council scheduled to move forward on Bicycle Parking Facilities

At tonights meeting , City Council is due to move forward on the plan for the Grant-Funded Bicycle Parking Facilities in Parking Structures 7 & 8 at just under $1.4 million dollars.
See tonights agenda here.  Staff report here.
Here is an excerpt of the staff report concerning this project:

Background

The City’s Downtown Urban Design Plan adopted in 1997 emphasizes balancing the streets to accommodate mixed modes of traffic, making streets bicycle-friendly, and providing bicycle parking throughout downtown with activated storefronts to enliven the pedestrian experience.  The City’s Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) adopted this year identifies an increase in bicycling as necessary for the City to reach its goals of reducing auto trips, meeting its greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments, and promoting active living.  Facilities listed in the LUCE to support increased bicycling include secure bike parking and bicycle-transit centers with additional amenities such as showers and repair services.

Is this really the beginning of what we’ve been asking for?  It’s certainly a start.  I have to wonder what happened to the initially proposed plan that included Parking Structure #2. That would ultimately seem to have been better because it afforded facilities at both ends of the of the Promenade.  We can add that to our wish list.

Tomorrow night, Major Santa Monica Development,
SuperBlock at the old PaperMate Site

Wednesday night, City officials will hold a public meeting at Virginia Avenue Park at 7pm to discuss the Bergamot Transit Village Center Project. Officials are set to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the mixed-use village comprised of creative arts, residential and retail uses on the site of the old PaperMate Plant .  The Development Agreement from a special meeting of the Cities Planning Commission back in January can be found here in section 5-A.

See the article in the todays LookOut News, which describes in more detail the sheer magnitude of this project and how it will likely impact this already congested area.

I paraphrase what Allison Kendall, of Kendall Planning + Design recently had this to say about this the proposed project.

This PaperMate site is enormous, and nearly as critical to bicycle and pedestrian access to the Expo station as the Agensys site.  …..Currently, the fact that the current development doesn’t include a sidewalk on Olympic and forces a strange geometry on the 26th and Olympic intersection means lots of high speed car traffic and danger for both pedestrians and cyclists, especially those coming South down 26th to Bergamot station , ….

Inserting 1 million square feet of mixed use development onto an area which already has some of the worst congestion in the city will call for some amazingly effective disincentives to driving and amenities for other modes.  A full scale BikeStation and bike sharing/rental facility, plus showers, widened and improved bike lanes in all directions, major subdivisions of the “superblock” and onsite eating and retail might be among the amenities.

There is also an obvious need to provide frequent future transit service along 26th and probably Stewart as well to serve the Expo station and the transit village.  Amenities for transit riders and provision of free monthly Metro or BBB passes to all employees and residents provided by employers or building owners should be a requirement—this was very effective in Santa Clara County with the “EcoPass”.

It’s also been noted that it’s not just the sheer volume of parking but the fact that parking costs are “bundled” into housing unit costs rather than paid for as an amenity by car owners.  This drives up the cost of the units for all tenants regardless of whether they have a car or not and does nothing to promote the car free lifestyle the city has stated they want to support.

Come out to hear first hand what the city has planned with this SuperBlock project and how they propose handling the congestion it will surely bring to the surrounding area.  Will the city make good on all the talk about committing to active living and bicycle infrastructure?

Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Virginia Avenue Park.

Bicycle Action Plan,
Some key talking points

30 Sec. Sound Bites and Talking Points

  • Each time a driver makes a trip by cycle instead of by automobile, not only the cyclist but society as a whole reaps the benefits.”
    ~Marcia D. Lowe, The Bicycle: Vehicle for a Small Planet
  • The continued allocation of public space to cars instead of people exponentially takes us further and further from our sustainability goals of a liveable city where quality of life comes first.  ( ie parking structures, more and wider roadways mean fewer places for people)  We need to adopt a “Complete Streets” approach to street design that addresses the needs of all road users, not just cars.
  • If the City of Santa Monica is going fulfill it’s goals for increasing multimodal transportation, SMPD must support that process by addressing the high rate of bike and pedestrian collisions with motor vehicles and developing a fact-based strategy for improvement (ie, target improvements at problem areas, etc).
  • To increase bicycle ridership the city must  create a safe, well connected bikeway network throughout the city and step up the relatively inexpensive process of adding secure bicycle parking thought the city, and furthermore aggressively explore innovative bike parking alternatives such as bike corrals.
  • A comprehensive Bicycle Action Plan must actively promote cycling in Santa Monica as an effective way improve traffic flow, air quality and to free up limited assets such as parking while reducing dependance on non renewable resources.
  • Law enforcement should assist in the promotion of bicycling as a essential means of transportation though a sensitive enforcement of current laws.  Address the high rate of bike and pedestrian collisions with motor vehicles and develop a fact-based strategy to improve this (ie, target improvements at problem areas, etc).  Develop diverse encouragement programs to get more people cycling and assure that SMPD policies and operations support the city’s goals for cycling.
  • We must facilitate and promote bicycle education programs for adults and children.  Santa Monica needs a safe cycling environment composed of an interconnected network of bike routes, with a reliable and transparent way to measure progress toward this goal.  Implement a track plan to measurement progress of bicycle usage, safety improvements, and bike parking utilization, etc.

Please add your ideas in comments or email them to Contact@SMSpoke.org

Cyclists Gaining Momentum

Cyclists gaining momentum for planning push

Article in todays Daily Press (SMDP) regarding the December 13th meeting as the first of several public meetings that will be held to discuss Santa Monica’s new Bicycle Action Plan.  The article also highlights what official believe are a series of recent moves that demonstrate their commitment to working with cyclist.
So far what we’ve seen has been mostly all talk…. but talk is good if it actually goes somewhere.

Also mentioned in the article is the new position we have long been pushing for:

As of Wednesday, City Hall for the first time has a staff member who will serve as the point person for the city’s bicycle planning efforts in Transportation Planning Manager Lucy Dyke

Read more on December 13th meeting, it is important to give your input, hope to see you there.

Click to read the full article “Cyclist gain momentum for planning push” SMDP

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