Solving Cities

Los Angeles adopts ambitious bike plan

Los Angeles adopts ambitious bike plan

Posting in Cities

It's a city known for its flashing lights, just not on bikes. But a new city plan could make L.A. a bicycle haven.

Los Angeles isn't exactly known as a bicycle haven, but that could all change.

Yesterday, the city's mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the 2010 Bicycle Plan that would add 1,680 miles of interconnected bikeways, including a 600 mile freeway-like "backbone" network that would cross the city -- a big improvement to the city's current 378 miles of bike lanes.

Biking has become more popular in L.A., with a 50 percent increase in bicycle commuters in the past eight years. The question is, will the implementation of the plan keep up with the popularity? The plan would add more than 200 miles of bike lanes every five years, meaning the ultimate goal wouldn't be reached for some 35 years, at least

L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl told KCET not to expect anything to happen in the immediate future. KCET reports:

Few routes have been formally agreed upon and perhaps the only Backbone-type route that's shovel ready is the Expo Bike Lane -- which is currently stalled in the face of a lawsuit by the Cheviot Hills Homeowner Association.

But Rosendahl says there's no reason to believe the plan will stall:

Knowing you have planning and transit on the same wavelength sends a message that L.A. is ready. We can lead the whole world in this regard.

If we can lay things out in year one, we can really step things up by year 3 and 4. We have some real concrete opportunity with money to do things the right way.

But even though construction won't get started tomorrow, bicycle advocates see this plan as a big win for non-car transportation. L.A. bike shop owner, Josef Bray-Ali told GOOD:

Bike lanes offer the city an opportunity to reduce the dominion of cars in the city by removing car lanes, slowing cars down in residential and commercial districts, and by focusing bike planning efforts on the city's most dangerous intersections.

By slowing and reducing car volumes on our streets, we'll make the street safer for all user groups and make walking, using the bus or train, and bicycling much more appealing to people—and not on some recreational trail in a riverbed, but right outside their doors, on the way to school or work.

Photo: soundof78/Flickr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure