Great News for LA Cyclists
Los Angeles’ best-known bicyclist – if not its most adept – ordered department heads on Friday to immediately launch an effort to build a 1,680-mile bikeway system and make the city more bike-friendly.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued the directive while participating in the Clinton Global Initiative America in Chicago, saying the plan would allow Angelenos to eventually have a bike path within a mile of their homes.
“The Bicycle Plan will help improve the quality of life for every Angeleno, by providing another clean transportation option for their daily commute, improving the quality of the air and make it more accessible to lead a healthy, active lifestyle,” Villaraigosa said.
The mayor became the city’s unofficial poster child for bicycle safety last July, after he took a tumble and broke his elbow when a taxi pulled in front of his bicycle while he was riding along Venice Boulevard.
The planned bikeway system would include a 707-mile “backbone” network, including bike lanes providing access to employment centers, transit stations and retail/entertainment hubs; an 834-mile network of local streets with low traffic volumes; and a 139-mile “green network” using bike paths to provide better access to parks and river channels.
Villaraigosa’s order mandates the construction of 40 miles of bikeways each year – a fourfold increase from the previous construction average, according to the mayor’s office. Funding for the construction will come through the Measure R transportation-dedicated sales tax, federal grants and other sources.
Councilman Bill Rosendahl praised the directive, which requires city agencies to include bicycle-friendly features in their programs and expand public education and training campaigns.
“We have been working more than five years to get this plan in place and it’s important that the mayor is telling department heads that they need to consider bicycles in their planning,” Rosendahl said. “The city car culture has to change.”
Glenn Bailey, an Encino bicycle advocate and vice chair of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, said he also appreciated the order.
“This is what we have been working on for years,” Bailey said. “The mayor’s directive will help put all departments on the same agenda.”