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L.A. City Council approves bicycle master plan

March 1, 2011 |  2:44 pm

The Los Angeles City Council approved a new blueprint Tuesday for the city's streets that shifts focus away from automobiles.

The bicycle master plan calls for an eventual network of 1,680 miles of interconnected bikeways, including more than 200 miles of new bicycle routes every five years. It also calls for a safety campaign to educate drivers about sharing the streets.

"It's a cultural shift toward different types of transportation," said Councilman Ed Reyes, one of the plan's major proponents. The challenge now, he and other lawmakers said, will be in implementing it.

The City Council agreed last year to put 10% of the city's share of money from Measure R, the 2008 sales tax to support transportation projects countywide, toward initiatives for cyclists and pedestrians.

City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said some of the Measure R money should be used to bring the bicycle plan to life. He stressed construction will not start until the council comes up with the required money and specific projects are approved.

"We are not changing any streets as of this moment," Rosendahl said. But, he continued, "what they have given us is a great map to work with."

The plan was designed by city planners and transportation experts with significant input from L.A.'s growing bicycle activist community.

In 2009, cyclists organized a campaign against the first draft of the plan, which they derided as a piecemeal network of bikeways that seemed chosen for the city's convenience, not cyclists'.

The revised plan includes many of their suggestions, including a call for a freeway-like system of upgraded streets known as the "backbone network."

Cycling advocates at the City Council meeting said they were pleased with the final draft, and it would help Los Angeles catch up with other cities.  

"I think it's a better bike plan than they've got in Chicago," said longtime activist Alex Thompson.

Several speakers favored an amendment that would protect a current ban on mountain biking on equestrian and hiking trails in city parks.

City Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose 4th Council District includes Griffith Park, introduced the motion, which was adopted. It requires any changes to the regulation of mountain bicycling on trails to first be analyzed by the Board of Recreation and Parks.  


Making L.A. better for bicyclists: What should the city do?

-- Kate Linthicum