Opinion: WeHo’s Bike/Ped Mobility Plan Should Be More Ambitious

west hollywood bicycle coalition

At tonight’s meeting, the City Council will consider a draft Pedestrian and Bicycle Mobility Plan. As someone whose primary modes of transit are my feet and my bike, I am grateful for the city’s commitment to making West Hollywood a safer, more comfortable place to get around in an environmentally friendly way. I appreciate city staff and consultants’ four years of work to collect input and develop the plan.

One of the most common themes from the many pop-ups, community meetings and online input was that we need more bike lanes in our city: Perhaps the most significant gap is that there are no east-west bike lanes between Kings Road and La Brea.

I wasn’t surprised to see that a mere 35% of those surveyed considered our city is a friendly place to bike — and none thought it was super-friendly. (In contrast, 86% consider it friendly or super-friendly for pedestrians.)

The bike/ped mobility plan proposes some welcome improvements, including neighborhood greenways on Willoughby and Almont, which involves traffic calming and making the streets easier to bike, and several short bike lanes. But if the city is going to move that 35% number significantly, more is needed — particularly an east-west arterial that carves out a safe space for bikes.

The West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition — which I am a member of — is urging the city to make a number of improvements to the plan, and then to adopt it. Those include:

A Near-Term Fountain Avenue Study: In the near future, the bicycle coalition, along with the Transportation Commission, would like to see a traffic study and community input about the possibility of improving Fountain Avenue. New “sharrows” — signage and pavement markings highlighting the need to share the road with bikes — have made Fountain a more comfortable place to bike. However, they are no substitute for bike lanes, and even some of our members still do not feel safe biking on the street. Some have been honked aggressively for simply biking on the sharrows. The experience for pedestrians is also unpleasant — wheelchairs and even some walkers cannot fit on the substandard sidewalks. Meanwhile, the rate of auto collisions is the highest in our city for the miles traveled. It’s a complicated street of varying widths, but there are so many problems that it needs serious and prompt consideration.

Santa Monica Boulevard Improvements: Santa Monica is our city’s Main Street, and it is — and will remain — the most bicycled street in the city given its many destinations and WeHoPedals locations. However, many riders feel unsafe on the busy street that doesn’t carve out a space for them east of Kings Road. Meanwhile some pedestrians are uncomfortable sharing the narrow sidewalk on the eastside with bikes.

Even in the existing bike lanes, there are dangers — cars often cut through them to park without looking, stand in them, or open their doors without checking for bikes. We urge green paint to make the existing bike lanes more visible, and additional segments of bike lanes wherever it is feasible. Making bike lanes protected — or physically separated from cars — would be safest.

Incentivizing Active Transportation: The biggest complaints in our region tend to be traffic and parking. Yet, surprisingly little is done to incentivize reducing car ownership. My apartment includes a parking space that I am not allowed to rent out separately despite living in a car-free household, as was the case at every other apartment where I inquired. My apartment complex in Silver Spring, Md., had a much better approach, allowing each tenant to pay a separate fee if he or she wanted parking. De-coupling the costs of housing and parking creates an incentive not to own a car. It also allows for the most efficient use of limited parking space and would allow many low-income people and seniors who are no longer able to drive to save money.

Implementation: Our city approved ambitious bike or bike/ped plans in 2003 and 2011. But progress on them was very limited. None of the 2003 bike lanes were implemented, and only two of the five priority projects from the 2011 plan were implemented — one of which was only partially implemented. We urge the city to make this a living document with a goal of bringing it to fruition, and to have city staff make an annual report on progress.

Here in Southern California, we have a perfect climate for biking. Yet most people will continue to sit in the traffic they hate for even one-mile trips unless and until they feel safe biking on our roads. While the Bike/Ped Mobility Plan and our recommended changes will hardly make us Amsterdam, they would move us closer to our city’s ideals. Every trip that’s made by biking or walking means less fossil fuels burned and more of a sense of community.

The West Hollywood City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica. Free parking is available in the five story structure behind the chambers with a ticket validated in the lobby.


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fine7760
Guest

Robert, I think you must be riding against traffic which is illegal and unsafe.

Robert
Guest
Robert

Biking is more similar to being a pedestrian than it is to being a car. The risk of a car hitting a cyclist is far different from a cyclist hitting a pedestrian. WeHo has to come up with a better way of mixing bikes into the mix. I think the bike lane between traffic and parked cars isn’t enough. There is danger from car doors to the left and moving cars from the right.

mts
Guest
mts

Mark Hughes thanks for fighting the good fight….to all the people saying “bikers should stop” I have a feeling it is because it is inconveniencing your drive. If bikers don’t stop at stop signs they are only risking their own lives. Cars as they exist are not the future. If we want to be a “progressive” city it is time to a stand against the transportation of the past.

Roy Oldenkamp
Guest
Roy Oldenkamp

I’m a bicyclist. I wouldn’t take my bike on the 405. Fountain is the 405 of Weho. My only concern is not for the inconvenience to drivers but to the safety of cyclists. As council decided today, bike lanes on Fountain are not a good idea. Taking away fifty parking spots on Fountain that increase it to four lanes 24/7 doesn’t help the parking problem, but Fountain has always been problematic. I say, bike on a more friendly route. It’s not a “biker’s rights” issue as much as a safety issue. Hence, no bikes on the 405. There is already… Read more »

GuyA
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GuyA

Fountain is NOT a street for bike lanes, period! Fully support doing everything possible to expand lanes on SMB. If I need to bike east of La Cienega I usually take a side street like Romaine or Willoughby– something more residential with more stop signs. Discussing reducing lanes on Fountain just makes you sound head-in-the-clouds idiotic.

Randy
Guest
Randy

Mark Hughes, thank you. You are correct. Almost every time an article is posted on this site about cyclists, the same people come out to bash them for being nuisances, not following traffic laws, injuring people, etc.. I’m sure it happens from time to time, but not anywhere close to the level of people being injured by automobiles (including cyclists themselves). And I agree with most of your observations. Regarding sidewalks, it is not against the law for cyclists to be on them, unless there is an explicit sign posted (Flores to Doheny, or so, on SMB). The simple reality… Read more »

Mick Mars
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Mick Mars

As a senior with joint problems I use an electric bike. For those like me or those who are exhausted from a rat race lifestyle the electric bike, (peddling is optional) is perfect. I have no parking problems & don’t pay car payments, car insurance, car repairs or gasoline. I would like to see more promotion of electric bicycles. I think more seniors & others would let go of their cars if they didn’t have to peddle, especially uphill. On another point, Fountain Ave. needs RADAR & deputies giving tickets. SPEEDERS ARE GOING UP TO 50 MPH 24/7! Fountain Ave.… Read more »

Mark Hughes
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Mark Hughes

If you’re crying about bicyclists supposedly being “rude” and ignoring the “rules,” you’re pretty glaringly ignoring the actual data and facts in LA and WeHo, not to mention nationwide. Cars are the cause, as of course informed folks already know. If you’re looking at cars plowing into pedestrians and cyclists, and your knee-jerk reaction is to blame the people who didn’t get out of the way of the car, then you need to sit down and seriously rethink your attitude. LA saw yet another year of increased traffic fatalities in 2016, after a huge leap in traffic fatalities in 2015… Read more »

fine7760
Guest

Did I read your post incorrectly or are you defending those bike riders who ride on the sidewalk where it is prohibited? All to many times I have been confronted by bike riders on the sidewalk complaining I did not get out of their way quick enough. If they hit me I probably won’t die but I could be seriously injured at my age. Bike riders should be in a PROTECTED and SEPARATE bike lane from vehicular traffic. Not between some white lines, not on the sidewalk. This isn’t Amsterdam, this isn’t some third world country. This is Los Angeles,… Read more »

Ben McCormick
Guest
Ben McCormick

Many . . . had you checked traffic both ways and waited until it was relatively clear to cross the bike lane, and were you doing it with the signal, or did you just blindly step out in front of this woman who was riding her bike in a bike lane, however recklessly, as I did several times crossing Van Baerlestraat? Amsterdam, muy bueno!

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

Ben, Amsterdam is very different from West Hollywood and Los Angeles. To try to make a comparison is absurd. LA is a car city, they made it that way on purpose, as is West Hollywood. Bike riders should be more diligent and follow the rules of the road.

Mark Hughes
Guest
Mark Hughes

fine7760 — So you’re literally saying you think your personal “common sense” trumps “scientific study and evidence.” That’s obviously a fairly common attitude these days in some circles, but it’s still not legitimate or rational thought. You can deny it all you want, but the reality is that bike lanes increase safety and reduce injuries and fatalities, period. You’re answer is to say “no!” to options that demonstrably offer safety, under the pretense you’re somehow advocating for safety. You can advocate for MORE and ADDITIONAL progress without arguing against THIS progress. It makes me frankly doubt your sincerity about your… Read more »

fine7760
Guest

Mark Hughes, as a former traffic accident investigator I can attest to the fact riding ones bike or driving ones auto to close to parked cars is a hazard that results in accidents. Those white lines that you have embraced not only offer a FALSE SENSE of SECURITY to yourself and others who subscribe to this nonsense but place you in a possible kill zone if the driver of an auto opens their door into your path. I do not know the level of observation you engage in each day but I have seen all to many drivers of motor… Read more »

fine7760
Guest

Mark Hughes, while you cite a study common sense indicates a white line does not insure safety. I’m not against bke lanes, I’m against bike lanes that DO NOT provide a safety barrier. Using the example I provided about Honolulu, little if no traffic lanes would be lost since bikes would be able to travel in both direstions in a single bike lane converted from a parking lane on one side of the street. I suggest you advacate for REAL SAFETY not additional white lines which offer little