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"Spoke" Speaks For A Bike Friendlier Santa Monica  

ByJason Islas
Special to The Lookout

March 23, 2011-- With tremendous changes for the streets of Santa Monica around the corner – including the Expo Line and a host of related developments – there are many voices clamoring for a say on what those changes should look like.

One of those voices is Santa Monica Spoke, a local bike advocacy group.

“We want to engage the community so that we can represent cyclists to the city,” Cynthia Rose, a volunteer member of Spoke's steering committee and unofficial public outreach representative told the Lookout earlier this month.

Spoke started in 2009 as one of the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition's (LACBC) regional chapters – an experiment by the LACBC designed to reach out to local communities within the sprawling borders of Los Angeles County.

On its website, Spoke says it's goal is to make “cycling safe pleasant, popular, widespread, and normal.”

Rose said that Spoke's goals are very much the same as the City's: “We want Santa Monica...to be more sustainable and to be more pedestrian friendly.”

Barbara Filet, a volunteer for Spoke's steering committee pointed out that the Santa Monica's Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) “really calls for a bike friendly city.” As a result, Spoke is working closely with City staff to accomplish that.

One project Spoke is pushing for is the installation of a bike boulevard along Michigan Avenue, for which the City Council will be seeking Cal Trans funding.

But Spoke isn't focused only on building more bike lanes.

“Education is key,” Filet told the Lookout Tuesday. SM Spoke works with the City and several other groups to organize “Bike It! Walk It!” days, meant to teach students how to safely walk, ride their bikes or take the bus to school.

On the last “Bike It! Walk It!” day, one third of the student population participated, Filet said.

Spoke also participates in the Safe Routes To School initiative, meant to help students find ways to ride their bikes to school without having to deal with heavy traffic streets like Lincoln or Pico boulevards.

In January, when the City Council discussed Santa Monica's projected five-year budget, members of SM Spoke, including Dr. Michael Cahn, spoke out in order to make sure the City understood that people wanted some of that money to fund bike lanes and parking throughout Santa Monica.

“We're very hopeful to help make the city more bike friendly than it already is,” said Filet. She emphasized that Santa Monica is a bike friendly city, but that more work can be done so that more people can feel comfortable while riding on the streets of Santa Monica.

For more information about Spoke or how to get involved, visit their site at www.smspoke.org.

 


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