As gas prices rise, cities eye bike plan

Cyclists could have an easier time navigating through the region as local agencies look to strengthen their networks of bike lanes and the ties between them.

The Greater Los Angeles area has lagged behind other parts of the country in providing safe routes for residents wanting to get around without cars, advocates say, but that soon could change.

Los Angeles County officials are hosting a final set of outreach meetings on an ambitious plan for building more bike lanes and other infrastructure throughout sprawling unincorporated areas, including several proposed additions in the Montrose and La Crescenta.

The project would dovetail with a massive plan approved by the L.A. City Council this month to quadruple the mileage of bikeways in the city.

Other cities, like Long Beach and Pasadena, already have aggressive bicycle plans in place

“There is a big movement toward making all of L.A. County more bike-friendly,” said Colin Bogart, of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. “Southern California is catching up with Northern California and also catching up with a lot of other cities that have been investing for a lot longer.”

There already are more than 20 miles of bike lanes and routes in Burbank, but the City Council in 2009 adopted an updated plan that city officials said would accommodate more than 10,000 additional cyclists who don’t ride in certain areas because bike paths end abruptly.

“You’ll be riding down a bike lane and all of a sudden it will drop off,” said Cory Wilkerson, Burbank’s assistant transportation planner.

He and other transportation officials said the new bike plans are focused on creating an integrated network of bikeways throughout the Los Angeles region.

“On the one hand, the plans are important because the plans specifically talk about where the infrastructure is going to go, where the bike lanes are going to go,” Bogart said. “But another important component of that is to also make sure there is connection to the neighboring jurisdiction.”

For example, take Foothill Boulevard, Bogart said, which has long lacked markings for bicyclists. County officials recently installed bike lanes in the La Crescenta portion, while Glendale and La Canada officials will soon stripe their segments.

In Glendale, city officials have recently begun the process of updating the city’s long outdated Bicycle Master Plan to help create new infrastructure in a city that has for decades lacked an adequate amount of safe bike routes.

“I’m really proud of the city for moving forward with this initiative,” said Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who has pushed for the city to catch up with neighboring cities. “It’s happening all over the world, and we need to be a part of that as a modern, progressive city.”

Glendale recently partnered with Burbank to submit a $1-million grant proposal to the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority to transform a 5.3-mile stretch of Kenneth Road into a bike boulevard, complete with designated bicycle lanes and traffic calming measures.

“A lot of us are funding these projects through grants,” Wilkerson said. “And one of the things a lot of the folks at [the California Department of Transportation] and Metro are looking for is that we are working together.”

With gas prices continuing to rise, officials say the plans are a step in the right direction as they encourage people to get out of their cars.

“We need to have a system that encourages people to use their bikes,” said Glendale City Councilman Frank Quintero, “whether it’s for a short trip for a specific purpose, or a longer trip in terms of a commute.”

FYI

Los Angeles County officials are hosting community workshops on the proposed bicycle master plan. The three closest meetings are:

William S. Hart Park, 24151 Newhall Avenue, Newhall, Cal. 91321

6:30 - 8 p.m., April 4,

Altadena Library, 600 E. Mariposa Street, Altadena, Cal. 91001

6:30 - 8 p.m. April 5

East LA Library, 4837 E. Third Street, Los Angeles, Cal. 90022

6 - 7:30 p.m. April 6
 
 

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