CYCLING IN LOS ANGELES REGION
From 2-5 May, the Dutch Cycing Embassy (DCE) visited the Los Angeles region for a Fact Finding Mission. During this mission, delegates of the DCE visited the cities Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks and Long Beach.
The mission is an evolution of a ThinkBike Workshop held in Los Angeles in 2011. The mission kicked off with a visit to CicLAvia in downtown Los Angeles. CycLAvia is a non-profit organization which is the country’s largest open street program. They catalyze vibrant public spaces, active transportation and good health through car-free streets. Executive Director Romel Pascual shared some insights on the Open Streets-events CicLAvia organizes. Mr. Romel Pascual elaborated on this open-streets program, which attracts 100.00-150.000 visitors per edition. One of the main goals is letting people feel the streets and experience that the streets are theirs. One of the beautiful aspects is that people of all backgrounds interact with each other and that cycling results in interactions between people of all diversities. The meeting stressed the importance of making people familiar with living on the streets again, without being in a car.
The mission also involved a visit to the City Hall of Long Beach. One of the city planners, Ms. Rachel Junken, gathered colleagues in order to discuss cycling together. The meeting started with a very informative interactive presentation by members of the City Hall on their newly released Bike Master Plan (February 2017). It turns out that safety is the main concern for potential cyclists in the area. Therefore, Long Beach aims at improving safety, as well as social inclusion through the bike in order to include the less fortunate areas and connect them to the network. Long Beach also organizes Open Streets-events such as the CicLAvia in order to let people experience living cities. The Bike sharing system they recently implemented was the most impressive one seen so far, with all kinds of options as a result of bike data. The city can track the bikes, the bikes can be parked anywhere, citizens receive money if they return bikes to their station, et cetera. After this, the DCE gave a presentation on cycling in the Netherlands and the Dutch view on cycling in the United States. The meeting was concluded by a cycling tour through Long Beach in order to experience the cycling conditions first hand with Tony and Paul.
At the City of Thousand Oaks, the cities Bicycle Coordinator Ms. Kathy Lowry organized a very interesting meeting with all kinds of stakeholders, such as policy makers, planners, the police department and activists. Thousand Oaks, a city which was built 50 years ago, did not provide for bicycles in the past. This changed in 2005 when the first Bicycle Master Plan was launched. This plan was renewed in 2010 with ambitious goals. Ms. Lowry kicked of the meeting with a presentation on cycling and the goals they’ve set. Achieving these goals won’t be easy, since the awareness for cycling as a mode of transport is at a minimum in Thousand Oaks. Therefore, people are opposing road diets and reducing parking spaces (by the way: parking is for free throughout the entire city). Recreational cycling (mountainbiking and road biking) however are quite popular, due to the hills and open spaces surrounding the city. After the presentation, Mirjam from the DCE held a presentation on cycling in the Netherlands and made the comparison towards the US. This led to an interesting discussion on how to improve cycling locally. After the discussion, a concept design of an intersection was discussed with the stakeholders, which led to an interesting exchange of perspective on how the Dutch would approach this intersection and how it is currently being approached. After the meeting Linda Coburn, a local electric bike shop owner provided two bikes and the beautiful city was explored by e-bike.
During the last day of the first part of the Fact Finding Mission, Jeff Jacobberger (the legislative deputy of Council Member Bob Blumenfield of District 3) put together a meeting with officials such as planners and the associate Director of Transportation of the City Diego de la Garza of Los Angeles hosted a Q&A and a brief moment for presenting. This meeting was together with students of Rotterdam Business School, who visited Los Angeles in order to promote cycling locally as part of a project. Los Angeles, as one of the car capitals of the world, is struggling to increase the numbers of cycling. This is partially related to the political structure where every council member has its own district with a huge mandate for all different disciplines. Therefore, a pro-cycling district can become an island in between car-oriented districts. The lack of a safe feeling is also the reason why many people don’t want to cycle. Recent research proved that many of the youngsters are willing to cycle but are they are not politically active. The older people usually are more car oriented and are political active. However, the city is planning to pay more attention to cycling and dedicate more budget to it.
All together we saw a lot of potential for cycling in the region. The amount of car traffic and traffic jams was overwhelming and can be the extra motivation for people to cycle. All ingredients are there: the weather is great, it’s flat, extra travel time due to traffic jams is huge, so cycling could definitely be a solution!
Cycling in LA
Meeting at LA City Hall
Cycling in Long Beach
Long Beach City Hall
Cycling in Thousand Oaks
Meeting at Thousand Oaks City Hall