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Santa Monica's Bike Action Plan Advances Past First Round with City Council  

By Jason Islas
Lookout Staff

August 25, 2011 – The City Council greeted the Draft Bike Action Plan with enthusiasm and support during a study session Tuesday night.

With a full dais presiding, councilmembers gave their unanimous blessing for the plan – which outlines the future of biking in Santa Monica for the next 20 years – to continue through the city review process and eventually, for it to return to the council for final approval and adoption.

“Our job tonight is to make sure the word ‘action’ in Santa Monica Bike Action Plan is recognized,” Councilmember Kevin McKeown said.

“We have here not just a tool-kit but an expression of community buy in that we haven’t had before,” said McKeown.

He was referring to the nearly 300-page document that, over the past year, city officials, independent consultants and members of the community have discussed, debated and eventually solidified.

The draft plan, which contains a five-year and a 20-year plan for the future of biking in Santa Monica, outlines a wide variety of bike programs, infrastructure and community events meant to promote biking and bike safety.

The document also contains statistics on biking in Santa Monica today and broad goals for the future, along with some markers by which planners can measure the success of the developments.

“The pretty clear,” said McKeown, who wore a green bicycle pin on his lapel. “We have to make our city be more walkable and more bicycle-able.”

Council Member Terry O’Day thought, however, that the plan could be more focused.

“I’d like to see if we can get this draft plan to be quite a bit thinner,” O’Day said.

“It’s very helpful to have all this detail in here, but it’s also helpful from an accountability perspective down the road, when people can read something a little bit quicker and know exactly what we’re measuring right away,” he said.

Despite how comprehensive the plan is, some felt that there could be even more.

Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis was also enthusiastic for the plan but said she thought more emphasis could be placed on education for motorists about how to share the road with bikers.

Davis added that she wanted to see more emphasis placed on events that encourage cycling, like Cyclovia in Los Angeles.

“It’s how do we get the people who are afraid” to get out and ride, she said.

Safety education should be emphasized, agreed Councilmember Bobby Shriver.

Bicyclists should keep in mind that even if they have the protection of the law, a bike will always lose an encounter with a car, said Shriver.

Since the draft plan was before the council for a study session, the council couldn’t pass it. But McKeown said that he was happy with the plan in its current form and was ready to do so as soon as possible.

The council may get their chance before Thanksgiving.

If all goes according to schedule, the draft plan will go before the Planning Commission on November 5th and will be back before the Council for approval by November 22nd, Community and Strategic Planning Manager Francie Stefan told the council.

“We can no longer depend on building our community on the premise that more vehicles are the way for people to have the freedom to get around,” said McKeown.

With the bike plan on the verge of being approved, Santa Monica is poised to start leaving that dependence behind.


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