Bicycle plan approved in efforts to make Los Angeles "green"

10:08, March 02, 2011      

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The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a bicycle plan as part of a campaign to turn Los Angeles into a "green" city.

Initiated by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the plan calls for creating 1,680 miles (2,688 km) of interconnected bikeways throughout the city, with at least 200 miles (320 km) of bikeways to be completed every five years until the network is complete.

Currently, the city has about 378 miles (6,048 km) of bikeways in a patchwork of segments.

The plan took months for the city's transportation and planning staff to develop the plan in collaboration with the city's bicycling community, city officials said.

"This is the first viable plan that will show that we can become a bike-friendly city," Councilman Bill Rosendahl said.

A portion of the funding for the Bicycle Plan will come from Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in 2008 to fund transportation projects.

Rosendahl estimated that Measure R will bring in approximately 1.75 million dollars a year for bicycle improvements. Another two million a year could come from the state, through the Transportation Development Act.

Another potential source of money is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Call for Projects, which could provide three million to five million on the low end, and 15 million to 20 million on the high end, Rosendahl said.

The city expects the plan to close the gaps and enhance the route by adding bike stations and other amenities, and by providing connections to buses and trains.

Other components of the plan include the development of public service announcements and educational campaigns to teach drivers how to share the road with bicyclists; improving the Los Angeles Police Department's enforcement of laws governing safe driving and cycling; and enhancing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's efforts to integrate cycling in the region's rail and bus network.

"We've always given the automobile the priority, and the bicycles were secondary, but now we're changing and we're having a cultural shift," Councilman Ed Reyes said. "We're even looking at certain corridors where we can eliminate a lane for a car, and add a lane for a bicycle."

"It's estimated that the population of the city will double in the next 10-15 years, and we don't have any more room for bigger cars," Reyes said.

"Our gas consumption is very expensive. Then there's the impact of global warming and how it affects our children. There's asthma due to pollution, obesity due to lack of exercise."

To promote cycling, Mayor Villaraigosa held a "Bike Summit" in downtown Los Angeles last year, with a pledge to make Los Angeles streets safer for bicyclists by adding more bike lanes.

"Even though (Los Angeles) is the car capital of the United States of America, we've got to share the road with cyclists, with pedestrians, and we're going to have to change some of the laws," Villaraigosa said earlier.

The mayor is expected to sign the plan this week.

Source: Xinhua

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