Santa Monica has been focusing on improving conditions for bicyclists by investing in bicycling programs and facilities. Those efforts have resulted recently in the City being recognized by the League of American Bicyclists with bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) recognition.
On May 29, a ceremony was held on the steps of City Hall to honor Santa Monica’s designation with an award presentation. Ellen Gelbard, the City’s Assistant Director of Planning and Community Development told the gathered crowd the judges were “impressed with Santa Monica’s [bicycle] encouragement initiatives” particularly the City’s Bicycle Valet program. This service offers free bike parking at community events year round so it improves the convenience of biking and reduces traffic congestion. In 2008, over 20,000 bikes were parked.
Gelbard emphasized that the City is anxious to make further advancements and has incorporated “many bicycle-focused plans in the City’s Land Use and Circulation Element Strategy Framework.”
Council member Richard Bloom stated at the presentation “We can’t be people friendly unless we’re bike friendly.” Our roads “need to be able to accommodate every type of alternative transit. We can’t rest on our laurels. We’re going to continue on from here.”
The award is a four-year recognition which includes continuing evaluation by the League of the City’s progress in bike education, engineering, enforcement, encouragement and evaluation. Council member Kevin McKeown discussed the possibility of further City recognition by the League when he stated, “Thanks for the acknowledgement…we’ve got silver and gold to go.”
Gelbard also mentioned that the City had to go through a very rigorous application process in order to be recognized. Local cyclists, national experts, and the American Bicyclists League staff do the application evaluations. Only 108 of 274 communities that have applied have been recognized. Santa Monica is the first city in western Los Angeles County to be honored.
Credit for the recognition was also given by Gelbard to the local community for their support and advocacy. She pointed out that the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education approved a Walk or Bike to School Resolution on April 2 which supports bike and walk to school days, safe routes to schools, and related initiatives at all District schools. She also mentioned that Santa Monica High School Students started a club to reduce carbon footprints by encouraging students to bike to school. She credited the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition for providing a regional voice.
As part of their work on safe routes to schools, students parents, and staff from Santa Monica High School recently met with City representatives to discuss improvements for potential funding through a state Safe Routes to School grant.Bicycle advocates took part in a Car-Free Friday ride through Santa Monica prior to the ceremony.