Will Los Angeles start looking like bike-friendly Portland soon? Well, that depends on how you define “soon,” but the sunny Southern California city took a big step (wheelie?) forward when the L.A. City Council approved the bike master plan and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed it into law on March 1.
This is big news for the still car-dependent city. “The bicycle master plan calls for an eventual network of 1,680 miles of interconnected bikeways, including more than 200 miles of new bicycle routes every five years,” reports LA Times. That’s a big change from years past. “Since 1977, the city has built just 377 miles of bike lanes,” according to Grist.
The plan has been in the works for years — and as you may have expected, the process of crafting the plan hasn’t been without controversy. In fact, a draft version of the plan was rejected by the city council in 2009, when cyclists came out against it for failing to meet cyclists’ needs. Since then, the city, nonprofit groups and bike activists have all worked together to revamp the plan — what Streetsblog LA describes as a “love fest” at the city council meeting when the revised plan was finally approved.
That said, the battle for a better bicycle infrastructure isn’t over for Angelenos. “Funding sources and negotiations with the L.A. Department of Transportation still have to be determined before the plan can be put into action,” writes Rosie Spinks at The Green Life. And once that funding comes through, “lying in wait are hordes of NIMBYs, shady contractors, and, undoubtedly, selfish bureaucrats clambering to get funds directed to their districts,” according to Matthew Fleisher at SoCal Focus. Damien Newton at Streetsblog LA agrees: “Different projects will require outreach efforts and political pressure to go from paper to city streets.”
But for now, L.A. cyclists are celebrating. A celebratory rally at L.A. City Hall brought out a huge crowd on Tuesday; Streetsblog LA has the happy photos. Curious what went down at the city council meeting when the plan was approved? Flying Pigeon has the video.