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Should bicycles have their own freeways? In Los Angeles, maybe

Should bicycles have their own freeways? In Los Angeles, maybe

Posting in Cities

While Los Angeles city officials draft a plan to renovate the city's lacking bicycle lanes to better address riders, one group has suggested an alternative that allows bikes their own network of long-distance, freeway-like routes.

While Los Angeles city officials draft a plan to renovate the city's lacking bicycle lanes to better address riders, one group has suggested an alternative that allows bikes their own network of long-distance, freeway-like routes.

The L.A. Bike Working Group believes the city's plan does not include a legible, consistent network of bike lanes, and have suggested what they call the Backbone Bikeway Network, a series of long-distance routes allowing cyclists safe passage between Los Angeles' many neighborhoods along heavily-traveled roads such as Wilshire, Venice, Whittier and Sepulveda boulevards.

Bike activist Alex Thompson had strong words for the city's plan in a recent editorial in CityWatch:

All around the country cities are dusting off “shovel ready” projects to apply for stimulus funds.  The question becomes then, is this project the face that LA would like to put forward?  While Long Beach makes incredible strides with a few million dollars, should the City of LA spend exorbitant sums to connect two patches of beach?  Do we want to be the city with the “Bike Path To Nowhere?”

Thompson criticized the plan's $30 million price tag, and dismissed officials' plan to erect an expensive "elevated structure through the beach corridor" that provides "a breathtaking view of the ocean" -- instead of a simple, safe passage that bicyclists need to avoid being subject to a hit-and-run accident.

And what about arriving to a specific destination? Just like a highway, cyclists just exit and resort to local neighborhood passageways for the remainder of the trip.

The group cites an $8,000-per-mile price tag for their plan, rather than the city's $28,000 per mile target.

The question: are there enough cyclists in car-happy Los Angeles to make this proposal a reality?

[via LA Times]

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure