By Jason Islas
Special to the Lookout News
February 18, 2011 — As part of the LUCE plan to revamp the city’s infrastructure, Santa Monica city officials have begun developing a new Bike Action Plan to reduce car traffic and to encourage commuters to ride bikes.
“We want it to be done and approved by the City Council by July 2011,” Lucy Dyke, deputy director for special projects told the crowd at Wednesday night’s bike and pedestrian safety meeting at the Ken Edwards center.
“The Bike Action Plan isn’t just a map,” Dyke said.
She said that if it were just a map, it would be too rigid. Dyke believes the Bike Action Plan should be able to evolve as the city develops.
And Cynthia Rose – a volunteer on the Steering committee of Santa Monica Spoke, a chapter of the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition – agrees.
Rose called for “cultural change” with regards to how bicyclists are seen.
“[The city] needs to demonstrate that cyclists, pedestrians, and public transportation are important to make the city work,” Rose told the Lookout Tuesday.
“That change starts with the city manager and goes down from there,” Rose said.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Dyke emphasized the importance of educating people about traffic laws and safety issues that affect bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists alike, an issue that she said will be addressed in the new plan.
Besides education, there is the question of infrastructure.
“Most people feel that there’s not a true network [of bike routes],” said Santa Monica Senior Transportation Manager Michelle Glickert told the Lookout Tuesday.
Bike Action Plan advisor Niall Huffman said bike pathways are a work in progress.
“The bikeway network in the LUCE approved by the City last year, forms the starting point for our recommendations on infrastructure,” Huffman, a senior associate with Jeremy Cogan Consulting, told the Lookout Wednesday.
The plan is also being developed with the Caltrans bicycle plan checklist in mind, he said.
But Huffman added that since the plan was still in drafting stage, he couldn’t discuss the specifics of where new bikeways will go.
One of Rose’s concerns was the issue of bike parking in Santa Monica. If bike traffic will increase, so will the demand for legitimate bike parking spaces, which she feels are already lacking.
There are “hundreds of bike racks in storage,” Rose said.
Glickert explained that these bike racks are currently being installed around the city, but because there is no specific bike rack installation crew, the process can be slow.
She said that new bike racks are going in on Pico, Main Street and Montana within a couple of weeks.
Currently, any business can request business can request a bike rack, though high traffic areas, such as Swingers and Bay Cities Deli, are still without bike parking.
Overall, the attitude toward the new plan is positive.
Glickert, herself a bike commuter, said “We’re set up for success.” But she qualified her statement, adding “We’ve still got a long way to go.”
City officials hope the Bike Action plan will be a step toward that long way.
Aside from reducing traffic congestion and making the streets safer for pedestrians and bikers, there are other benefits to making Santa Monica a more bike friendly city.
“We want people riding because that’s going to create health benefits.” Parks And Recreation Commission Vice-Chair Phillip Brock said at Wednesday’s meeting.
For more information, you can see the LUCE plans here and the Caltrans bicycle plan checklist here.