Last week, I found out that the Santa Monica council was going to be voting on a road improvement on Cloverfield and 20th street between Pico and the 10 freeway. So I stood up during public comment and argued that this route intentionally did not include a bike lane, or anything for bikes. Luckily, they voted to wait while the planners could include something for bikes on it. I thought it was a win. But then I find this scathing editorial by a Bill Bauer:
LAST TUESDAY, TWO STREET beautification items were on City Councilıs agenda. Everybody seems to support a plan to ³green² Ocean Park Boulevard between Lincoln Boulevard and Neilson Way. For years, Ocean Park neighbors have been urging the city to beautify a largely unused, concrete section of OPB with landscaping, bike and pedestrian amenities without substantially altering existing traffic flow. Ater commenting, City Council gave the so-ahead to one of the OPB streetscaping proposals. Unfortunately, It was a different story with 20th Street and Cloverfield Boulevard in the Pico Nighborhood.In 1999,Pico res- idents asked for trees and landscaping on 20th Street and Cloverfield oulevard between Pico Boulevard and the I-10 Freeway. Peliminary landscape designs were pre-sented to neighbors about two years ago. Although there were concerns about loss of parking and curb bump-outs on Cloverfield (since rectified), neighbors liked the straightforward proposal for 20th. Later, during two design reviews, various City Council members suggested removing or shrinking traffic lanes,adding medians,traf- fic islands, bike lanes and curb bump-outs because ³landscaping didnıt go far enough.² Hmmmm. So, city staff and its outside design con- sultants created four proposals.One was just ³greenscaping²and three involved various physical changes to the street and its traffic flow.After public surveys and three commu- nity meetings, the proposals affecting traffic were rejected because neighbors feared addi- tional congestion and gridlock. Last week,City Council reviewed all four designs and staffıs recommendation to com- plete the landscapingand save street alter- ations until after the citywide traffic plan revision was finalized in a year or two. Nevertheless, Councilman Kevin McKeown disagreed, insisting on bicycle lanes (which would mandate removal of one or more traffic lanes on a busy four lane section of 20th that carries 19,000- plus vehicles a day) if any work were to commence. Mayor Ken Genser desired medians and pedestrian enhancements which would also contribute to increased congestion and gridlock.Surprisingly,even Councilman Bobby Shriver agreedon the need for bike lanes. During public comment, three bicycle lobbyists (one from Sherman Oaks and one from Los Angeles) addressed the dais on the need for bike lanes. The third cyclist advo- cate,who didnıt identify where she was from (raising the question, ³Why arenıt public speakers providing addresses like they are supposed to, Mr. Mayor?²), agreed with her friends. Forgetting who his constituency is, McKeown, a bicyclist himself, lauded the out oftowners.Iım thinking he didnıt even acknowledge the six dozen residents who answered surveys, attended meetings and sent letters or e-mails because they dis- agreed with him ‹ this after attending at least one of the public forums I attended and hearing concerns about additional traffic for himself. Obviously, itıs personal agenda, not resident wishes, that count with McKeown. Micro manager Genser stated ³communi- ty education was lacking²which was why neighbors werenıt ³seeing the light.² Yep, time to crank up the city propaganda machine and ³sell²non-believers on some- thing else they donıt want. ³This plan is insufficient,² Genser added, proving that heıs a big advocate of piecemeal planning and bad piecemeal planning at that. After 20 years on coun- cil, Genser knows it all. He even ques- tioned a fire department document that said traffic mitigation would affect timely emergency vehicle deployment ‹ as if he knows more about public safety than the experts. Genser pointed out with pride that Pico Boulevard has medians and theyıre not a problem.Pico Boulevard? The slalom course with narrow, undulating traffic lanes down- right hazardous to motorist and pedestrian alike? Please.Genser isnıt facing reality. Genser and McKeown refuse to accept that this is/was just street beautification, not street engineering. Together, theyıve turned a decade old request for trees from a molehill into a mountain and added hun- dreds ofthousands ofdollars (approaching $625,000) in extra outside design fees alone. Councilman Richard Bloom urged mov- ing forward stating the landscaping propos- al ³was a dramatic improvement.² Councilman Bob Holbrook fretted about reducing street capacity, now over 19,000 vehicles, daily. Mayor Pro-Tem Pam OıConnor wondered if 20th might not become the ideal ³complete street² that McKeown and Genser envision. Council voted to continue discussion after asking a reluctant staff to reconsider bicycle and pedestrian ³enhancements² thatıll surely cause gridlocked traffic to short-cut through adjacent residential neighborhoods. Bottom line: this will add a least another year and a couple million dol- lars to the projectıs present $6.7-million cost and force something neighbors donıt want down their throats. Common sense says plant trees now, and wait to make traffic alterations based on a unified city-wide transportation plan instead of piecemeal. With revisions due in about 60 days,Genser and McKeown will get their own way or delay the project forever. Public be damned. Want to bet that this silliness wonıt end at the freeway. You know that ³traffic calm- ing² and ³complete street² elements will extend up 20th to Wilshire and San Vicente boulevards next and eventually spread to a thoroughfare near you.
So we need to flood them with responses about how complete streets is necessary, etc. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I believe that complete streets are as important as beautification, if not more so. To argue that bikes aren't allowed on one of the few routes running north and south- and which leads to SM College no less, is disgraceful. When I asked how many council members actually bike- only McKeown rasied his hand- so he stuck his neck out for us. What I can't explain is that Santa Monicans do not want more bicycles... and hence more money- being spent in their neighborhoods. At the very beginning of the council meeting- Cirque Solei was trying to do anything 3 month stint at the beach and the businesses around it wree complainign that they would loose revenue because of a shortage of parking spaces. Ironic, I think.
Frankly, I think the section of 26th/Cloverfield between Pico and the 10 Fwy. is already stupidly busy with a huge amountof car traffic. I would never ride it on my bike, choosing any number of alternate routes instead.
There are far better bicycle choices for going north from Pico in that area, including Stewart, 20th, and 17th. I'd rather they keep 26th/Cloverfield wide open and multi-laned to optimize auto traffic. It is a major off- and on-ramp zone, and sees a huge amount of car traffic. It's not going to help anything to bottle-neck it. And that includes the tempers of drivers that share the roads with any cyclists in that area.
I see. They're talking about doing that work on both streets. IMO, I still say they should leave Cloverfield alone.
I am in agreement with you that rather than all the ridiculous islands and other "traffic calming" devices, they should use the space for marked bike lanes. Makes more sense to actually promote alternatives to car use as a means of reducing auto trafficm, than just make it more painful to drive.
It make you wonder if common sense is really as a rare commodity as it seems to be, these days...