The announcement of the Ocean Park Boulevard “Green Street” has Santa Monica bike enthusiasts looking toward the creation of a citywide bike network. Uniting disconnected bike lanes and increasing safety for cyclists are main priorities for street renovations that will mend the City’s current flawed system.
“If we could get even 10 percent of the auto traffic off the streets then our traffic problems will be solved,” City Councilmember Kevin McKeown said. “This is will be a transformed city and traffic jams will be naught.”
As both a bike enthusiast and policy setter, he said the City is working on “all sorts of levels” from the streets, to schools and even bike-friendly development projects. One example of the council’s commitment to increasing sustainability within the city is the local biotech firm Agensys. McKeown stipulated the firm must incorporate bike paths before getting his vote to build a larger location in the City. Every future development project in Santa Monica, he said will have some accommodation for bikes.
A master plan for a “bicycle network” will spell out of the City’s vision for efficient and clean transportation, which is detailed in the upcoming the Land Use and Circulation Element or LUCE. Any plans detailed in the LUCE will have to wait until various commissions and ultimately by the City Council approve the draft. The council will meet several times in June for final deliberations. Without a current master plan the City doesn’t qualify for federal or state funding for biking projects.
The City is developing a system that will rework bike paths and lanes to not only connect throughout Santa Monica, but to harmonize with Los Angeles City efforts as well. Current systems on high-trafficked streets, such as Lincoln Boulevard, abandon bike routes without warning. Although some motorists complain about taking more space away from cars, McKeown said the Ocean Park project does not reduce lane space for vehicles [See Council Greenlights Green Street, Santa Monica Mirror April 29 – May 5, 2010].
The Ocean Park project will redesign nine blocks from Lincoln Boulevard to Neilson Avenue with wider bike lanes, pedestrian crosswalks, and landscaped sidewalks to capture storm water runoff. This is the first project of the City’s effort for more Green Streets.
Councilmember Terry O’Day said the City has great potential for cyclists and the Ocean Park project will serve as a model for everything Santa Monica stands for.
“There is no reason we shouldn’t have the most bike active culture in the world,” O’Day said. “We can have it and there is no reason we shouldn’t.”
Michael Cahn from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition explained interconnectivity is a major element that is missing from the City’s flawed system. Cahn supports a drastic design to cut traffic that the City has yet to adopt, the “bike boulevard.” This design gives bicyclists preference on residential streets in order to reduce motor vehicle traffic, essentially make it easier for cyclists and harder for motorists.
“It is a different way of looking at how traffic is managed and kind of wake-up from the nightmare which we are living in where the whole city is built for easy use for car drivers,” Cahn said.