On Wednesday, three members of the Beverly Hills Traffic and Parking Commission will convene a meeting with local cyclists to talk about making our streets more safe and welcoming to those who bicycle here.
Called the "Bike Plan Update Committee," this ad-hoc body, ostensibly formed to bring our city’s woeful 1970s-era bike plan into the present day, has been discussing pro-bike improvements for nearly two years.
But I bet you’ve never heard of it. That’s because an ad-hoc committee isn’t required by law to meet in public or even to post an agenda. For more than a year, this committee met behind closed doors. Then for the past six months, three commissioners have met with a small group of cyclists. But the commission hasn't exactly reached out to the broader public on this transportation safety issue. Not surprisingly, progress has been slow.
Consider attending tomorrow’s 5 p.m. meeting at the Public Works building on Foothill Road. There you’ll hear from those who bicycle about why cycling is less-than-safe here. And if you’re able to attend, you can ask the commissioners yourself:
- Why Beverly Hills policymakers have not authorized a single bike lane to separate bikes from cars on congested streets?
- Why Public Works hasn’t installed a single bike rack in any business district in many years despite requests?
- Why transportation officials post no sign or webpage to advise motorists and cyclists how to safely share the road?
Every other city has made these improvements. If Santa Monica, Culver City, Burbank, Glendale and Los Angeles can adopt bike plans, develop implementation plans, install racks and publish bike maps, so can Beverly Hills. If West Hollywood can form a bicycle task force to recommend improvements, so can Beverly Hills. There’s no need to keep the process closed.
As we’re approaching the two-year mark for this Committee, ask the commissioners why they haven’t recommended any measures or made any progress on that old bike plan. Though that’s the ostensible purpose of the committee, it has not come up in our meetings at all.
Taking no action for safer streets is not only a snub to those who choose to ride, it’s a missed economic opportunity as well. We see small, vacant storefronts throughout the city and oftentimes a lack of parking is blamed for the demise of these businesses. Why not roll out the welcome mat to those of us who travel by bicycle? But the story of this committee is that this lowest of low-hanging fruit is not picked.
Tomorrow, let’s put safe cycling on the agenda. Attend the Bike Plan Update Committee meeting: 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18 at the Public Works building, 345 Foothill Rd.