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|Santa Monica Planning Commission Approves Bike Action Plan|
By Jason Islas
November 11, 2011 -- The Santa Monica Planning Commission unanimously approved the latest version of the Bike Action Plan at a special meeting Wednesday night after prioritizing the development of a bike share program and safe routes to school.
The Commission also asked staff to look into the possibility of building a cycle track around Santa Monica Airport as part of the 20-year plan.
“We are starting to shift away from transportation policies based on cars,” Lucy Dyke, deputy director of special projects told the commission. The purpose of the plan, she said, is to “create a system of bike ways, programs and supporting facilities so that bicycling is convenient and comfortable for everyone.”
As it nears adoption by the City Council, Commissioner Richard McKinnon wanted to know what would be done in the next 13 months to meet those goals.
Some of the changes have already begun to take place, staff said.
Already, there are 2,500 bike racks ready to be installed around the city, Dyke said. Based on last year's numbers, she expects that 800 of those could be installed over the next year.
In addition, 14 miles of share rows and 17 miles of bike lane will be added, she said.
The new bike center at Second Street and Colorado Avenue, which Dyke called “the first of a complete system” that will serve all of Santa Monica's major destinatios, will open on November.
Commissioner Ted Winterer wanted to know what was being done to make it easier to bike to the schools.
He noted that he's recently been riding with his kids to SMASH only to find that all the bike parking spaces are full, a problem Winterer said needed to be addressed.
“You need to provide the leadership and the support to schools,” Commissioner Richard McKinnon said. He pointed out that if all the parents drove their kids too and from school, it would total 40,000 car trips.
Chair Jim Ries agreed that reaching out to schools should be a priority, adding that acclimating the younger generation to riding before they start driving would go a long way to encouraging more biking in Santa Monica.
Some residents felt that there were major gaps in the bike plan.
Michael Brodsky, a local resident who spoke at the meeting said he thought 95 percent of the plan was great but that it was missing a complete system of dedicated bike paths that would keep cyclists out of the street completely.
“Bike lanes are great but they aren't the solution for people who don't feel comfortable riding in the street,” Brodsky said.
The Commission agreed that the dedicated bike paths could be improved.
They also responded to Gina Goodhill, from Global Green, who said that the 2016 target date to get a bike sharing program in Santa Monica is much too late.
She wanted the plan to be revised so that a pilot program could be in place as early as 2012.
Ries agreed that a bike sharing program should be a priority, adding that staff could work out some funding in some of the upcoming development agreements for future hotels in Santa Monica.
In addition, the Commission asked for an annual report on the progress of the plan, as well as making Ciclovia events, where many bicyclists get together to ride on streets that have been temporarily closed to traffic, a priority.
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