Bikeable Los Angeles?!

4 Mar

If any city (besides D.C.) is associated with cars and congestion, it’s Los Angeles.  It might surprise you to learn, then, that L.A. is doing a lot to become a bike-friendly city. It adopted a bicycle master plan in 2010, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been working to ensure that city and state agencies work together to make it happen.

I was surprised to discover that L.A. adopted a bikeway plan in 1977 (!) that proposed 600 miles of bikeways. Another plan proposing a somewhat larger network was adopted in 1996. Let’s just say that not a lot happened with those plans. The latest plan proposes a network totaling roughly 1,700 miles incorporating three networks: the Backbone Network to connect “employment hubs, transit stations, educational centers, and entertainment venues, while the Neighborhood Network focuses on “local streets with low traffic volumes and slower speeds where bicyclists of all experience levels can feel comfortable.” The Green Network includes paths and other accommodations to connect green spaces and river channels.

Within the L.A. area, the community of Long Beach has been especially ambitious in increasing its bike-friendliness. In addition to installing protected bike lanes on major streets, it has developed the innovative idea of establishing bike-friendly business districts. This will serve as a further test of what has already been shown in cities like Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis, Minnesota: making a street more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, even when it involves removing some street parking for cars, actually increases businesses.

Are there areas in Richmond that could become a bike-friendly business district? At the very least, L.A. and Long Beach confirm that even the most car-focused cities can and do become significantly more bike-friendly.

See the L.A. Times article on the city’s bike plan here.  Articles on Long Beach are here and here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: