Santa Monica Boulevard, from La Brea west to Kings Road, could lose most of its street parking in a new plan that would see the creation of bicycle lanes in place of those parking spaces.
That’s what a subcommittee of the city’s Bicycle Task Force proposed this week. Charged with figuring out ways to make West Hollywood more bicycle friendly, the 20-member task force created in January announced some of its ideas at its monthly meeting last week.
Each of the task force’s three subcommittees presented initial reports to the task force as a whole. The top priorities of the Infrastructure subcommittee are creating bike lanes along Fountain Avenue, San Vicente Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard.
Of those three streets, their plan for Santa Monica Boulevard, the city’s “Main Street” as the report calls it, is likely to be the most controversial with residents.
Saying that parking is sufficient in the area between La Brea and Vista/Gardner streets, the subcommittee suggests removing street parking on Santa Monica Boulevard in that stretch and installing bike lanes.
Thanks to Plummer Park, the subcommittee says, the Gateway Center (site of the Target store), the proposed Casden mixed-use development at Movietown Plaza (site of Trader Joe's) and the proposed Monarch development on La Brea (site of Carl’s Jr.), there will be enough off-street parking in the area that eliminating street parking would have “minimal impact on businesses.”
For the portion of Santa Monica Blvd. between Vista/Gardner and Fairfax Avenue, street parking would remain, but bike visibility would be improved by adding green striping and creating “sharrows," lanes cars and bikes share equally.
The report recognizes parking is limited in that stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard and therefore is not recommending elimination of street parking.
The segment of the boulevard between Fairfax and Kings Road would see street parking removed and bike lanes created. Between the and the Kings Road parking deck, the subcommittee says there should be enough off-street parking available in that area to justify removal of the street parking.
Santa Monica Boulevard between Kings Road and Almont Drive already has bike lanes. And for the short segment between Almont and Doheny (the city’s western border with Beverly Hills), the committee is recommending narrowing the extra-wide median (currently being used for ) and creating bike lanes. The street parking in that segment would remain.
For Fountain Avenue, the subcommittee proposes reducing the four lanes of traffic to three – one lane in each direction with a dedicated center left-turn lane.
Parking along Fountain would remain, but would be moved three feet away from the curb to create a “protected bicycle lane” beside the curb.
The subcommittee is recommending installing a partial curb barrier between the parking zone and the bike lane to protect bikers.
The report notes that bike lanes on the Weho portion of Fountain would then connect with planned bike lanes in the Los Angeles portion of Fountain.
San Vicente would also have bike lanes installed. The report recommends increasing visibility by adding signage and stripped lanes for bikes.
The subcommittee is also recommending creating bike lanes on Fairfax and Vista/Gardner. These would connect with bike lanes that the city of Los Angeles is proposing for those streets.
Creating a bicycle sharing program is also among the recommendations. Bike sharing, which has proved successful in Washington, D.C., London and Paris, would allow people to rent generic bikes for a nominal fee.
These bikes would be picked up and dropped off at anytime at locations throughout the city. Bike sharing removes the cost of purchase, burden of maintenance and threat of theft from the individual, thus making bike riding more attractive to residents, the subcommittee says.
Installation of many more bike racks around town is also viewed as a necessary portion of the infrastructure, which would make West Hollywood more bike friendly.
The Safety and Education subcommittee proposes creating events where certain roads in the city are shut down for a day to encourage biking. Committee members also want to lead by example by having city council members seen riding bikes.
To help educate people, the committee would include bike-safety information when residents pick up parking permits for their cars.
Creation of a bicycle cooperative to offer safety classes, bike maintance classes, etc. was also suggested. To fund the bike co-op, the committee proposed passing the costs to developers, who would also need to install bike racks at their buildings.
An Implementation and Funding subcommittee report has suggested creation of a Bicycle/Pedestrian Mobility Coordinator position in city hall. This person would oversee all bike-related operations and activities in the city.
Measure R, the 2008 voter-approved initiative which raised the Los Angeles County sales tax by a half cent to fund transportation projects, has funding available for bike/pedestrian projects according to that subcommittee.
The Bicycle Task Force is scheduled to present its final report to the West Hollywood City Council in November.