Mayor holds bike summit
After hearing from more than 100 cyclists on the future of biking in Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pledged Monday to speed plans to boost bikeway miles in the city fourfold over the next five years.
Speaking at a bike summit, held a month after the mayor broke his elbow in a cycling accident in Venice, Villaraigosa said the number of bikeway miles in the city would grow by 200 a year until reaching 1,600 miles in 2015.
There are 372 designated bikeway miles today.
"This is an opportunity for us to say, 'We want to move ahead and accelerate this," Villaraigosa said during the town hall meeting at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority headquarters downtown.
"Between 1977 and 2010, the city built 372 bikeway miles. That's about eight to 12 miles a year. We obviously can do better."
At the meeting, bicycling enthusiasts applauded the mayor's announcement, touting the health benefits of bikes and how the increased use of bicycles will help fight climate change. They called on the city to fix more potholes and do a better job of enforcing ordinances that prohibit delivery trucks from blocking bike lanes.
"It's a little hairy – drivers don't expect you – but it's actually really good for your health ... and really cheap," said Joe Linton, co-founder of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.
Jessica Meaney, the California policy manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, said the city's roads are for everyone, including children, and "not just the incredibly brave."
"There are schools in Los Angeles that have over 85 percent of children walking and bicycling to school," Meaney said. "In fact, 12 percent of all trips here in Southern California are already being done with walking and bicycling, but we are investing less than one-half of a percent of our regional funds. We really need to change that."
Pacoima resident Lauren Ahkiam, 28, said many city residents are concerned about their safety while riding bicycles because so many residential neighborhoods and schools are so close to industrial areas.
"For Pacoima, not only do we need (the city Department of Transportation's) help, but also the Planning Department's help to update the zoning in that area to make it a safer place," Ahkiam said.
In addition to asking the MTA for additional funding, Villaraigosa said the city plans to use $19 million in Measure R funds to pay for the additional bikeway miles.
"I can guarantee you there will be resistance from business groups and homeowners along these streets," the mayor said. "But what we need to build is a constituency that says, 'Look, in a city as congested as this one ... we want to move people away from passenger automobiles and one way to do that is to increase the use of bikes."