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|Santa Monica Adopts New Bike Action Plan|
By Jason Islas
November 24, 2011 -- Over a year of planning and numerous community meetings culminated in enthusiastic and unanimous support from the Santa Monica City Council for the Bike Plan Tuesday.
The council voted to adopt the 300-page document, including revisions made by the Planning Commission that include building a cycle track around Santa Monica Airport, expediting a plan for a bike share system and building a more complete network of separated bike lanes in the center of the city.
“This plan reflects what Santa Monicans want this place to be,” said Lucy Dyke, deputy director of special projects.
Santa Monica can be a place where cyclists, pedestrians and cars can share the road instead of competing for it, she said.
Mayor Richard Bloom echoed Dyke's sentiments. “This process and the ultimate product is a real testament to the community,” he said.
“It is exciting and gratifying that a document as comprehensive and controversial is getting such rave reviews,” said Council member Kevin McKeown.
He credited the community and staff with being able to hit a “sweet spot” with a plan that everyone could get behind.
The council was particularly interested in creating a more comprehensive route of separated bikeways in the center of the city for those who are not comfortable riding in the streets.
“Those are the kind of infrastructure improvements that will get people who are not used to being on a bicycle” to ride, said Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis, adding that encouraging new riders is one of the main goals of the plan.
The council was also adamant that the bike share program be given higher priority, which was one of the Planning Commission's recommendations.
Council member Terry O'Day said he would like to see a program ready to go by the time the Expo line – and the accompanying bike way – is completed, which is currently scheduled for 2015.
Santa Monicans may have already seen some changes around town, but they can expect to see even more as the plan is ready to start rolling almost immediately.
The latest version of the Bike Plan includes a list of programs – and a map of improvements – that will be made over the next two years with $2.5 million that has already been set aside by the council for bike projects.
Santa Monica will see 14 miles of bike lanes, 17 miles of sharerows, new green buffered bike lanes on Ocean Park Boulevard, Main and Second Streets, and Broadway Avenue as well as improvements – bike boxes or signal detection for bikes – at about 30 intersections all within the next two years, City officials said.
Not all of the money will go to improve the infrastructure. Dyke said that education programs – for drivers and bicyclists alike – will be made free to the public.
Some of that money will also go to further planning on larger projects, like the Michigan Avenue Greenway and the bike share program, so that they can better compete for other grants.
Though many changes are already underway, like the recent opening of the largest bike center in the country last week, approval of the bike plan is just the beginning of what will be at least 20 years of bike infrastructure development.
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