Two weeks ago, the California Bicycle Coalition — the state’s leading bicycle advocacy organization — announced that it had made a rare endorsement in a local race, backing Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor’s reelection bid to the City Council.
CalBike officials said that the organization decided to back O’Connor because her two-decade-long record promoting regional sustainability and active transportation was “exceptional.” And, with this election set to be a hotly-contested one, CalBike decided to take the unusual step of throwing its support behind a candidate for local office.
But there are quite a number of people in this race and some of them also have solid records promoting biking in the city, if not the region. So we decided to let the candidates speak for themselves. We asked each of the 14 candidates to tell us, in 250 words or less, what their records are on promoting biking. Below are the candidates’ statements, unedited, and in the order we received them.
I favor significantly enhancing and encouraging the use of bicycles in Santa Monica. That means, first and foremost, bicycle safety. To the extent bicycle riders feel safe, they will use their bicycles more. That means separating bicycles and cars as much as possible. I favor bike lanes that are physically separated by barriers that protect bike riders from cars. Portland is an example of a city that has very successfully enhanced the bike rider’s experience. Santa Monica should be a leader in the shift to bicycle riding combined with public transportation. The car era is coming to an end.
For sixteen years I’ve been the bicycle advocate on the City Council. I pushed for the Bicycle Action Plan, and followed through on implementations like our downtown bike centers, green bike lanes on our streets, safety markings at intersections, the Safe Routes to School programs, and the Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway. I brokered the compromise that let MANGo move forward, reconciling neighborhood concerns and setting an even higher target for vehicular traffic reduction.
I’ve ridden for 38 years in Santa Monica, and there have been times when I rode daily as basic local transportation. I now sometimes ride with my wife Genise, a less experienced rider who makes me aware of how challenging some of our local streets can be.
We’ve learned to demand and design complete streets. I’ve studied how successful cities integrate bicycles with cars (and often light rail or trams as well). Sometimes this means separation, such as we will create on the new Colorado Esplanade. In other cases painted bike lanes or even just sharrows can make it abundantly clear that bicycles have a place on the road, even in areas of demanding traffic maneuvers. At intersections, we need to make our traffic signals consistently able to be triggered by waiting bicyclists, not just cars.
I have worked with City engineers on the California Incline reconstruction to include safe ways for bicycles to access the spiral-ramped cycle/pedestrian bridge across PCH. I will also insist that the new Pier bridge not only accommodate cyclists, but encourage them.
I need to get a bike! I used to ride all the time. I don’t know what happened. I’ve never had a car or a drivers license. I do ride the Big Blue Bus and walk all over town. Does anyone know where I can get an inexpensive bike? I need the exercise and those stationary bikes are ok but somehow no matter how hard I try they still stay in just one place. They don’t get me anywhere. There were so many times I thought gee I wish I had a bike right now. Santa Monica is doing much to ensure a bike friendly City keeps progressing and evolving. I support those efforts. Attention bike riders: Please do not ride on the sidewalk!!!! Attention automobile drivers: Please understand that bikes have the same road rights as you!!!! I’m glad the Expo Light Rail permits bikes on their trains. I’m glad there are concerted efforts to educate everyone on bike safety and obeying the road rules. Now it’s time to finally get a bike.
I have been a bike commuter for 20 years, ever since I moved my office to downtown Santa Monica in 1994. Having my bike at my office everyday also means that I use it to get to meetings and do errands all over Santa Monica, and it’s truly the best way to get around our lovely city, which is so well suited for cycling. The increase in the number of cyclists since I started commuting by bike has been wonderful. Before, it was rare that there was another cyclist at any intersection where I had to stop for a light, now it seems that there always seems to be a little ‘critical mass’ each time I am waiting for the light to change.
With our bike plans, Santa Monica has picked many of the low hanging fruit to encourage cycling, what with bike lanes now on so many boulevards, and sharrows to indicate where cyclists should travel even when there isn’t room for a bike lane. Further expansion of the bike network will be more challenging, involving more sophisticated designs and investment, but we have made a good start with the MANGO and plans for the Expo bikeway, which will greatly encourage more “long-range” commuting into Los Angeles.
We need to continue these efforts as well as continue education of both motorists and cyclists about the proper rules of the road, so that everyone, cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists, can travel safely and efficiently.
“The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind.”
Constant traffic congestion, lack of parking, and increasing demand for alternative transit from Santa Monica’s community members create a strong case for the bicycle. Migrating specific demographics that are willing to utilize bicycles for daily transportation could open up more driving/parking space on the roads for those who do not view non- automobile use as a valid option.
Investing in alternative transit is investing in the future. The Expo Corridor Bike Path is a great step forward for Santa Monica, but we need to stay focused on expanding local projects (such as MANGo and Colorado Esplanade) that cater to the needs of bicyclists, bus riders, and pedestrians. In order to unlock the traffic problem, it must become easier and safer to use bicycle routes for daily commutes. Installing bike lockers, establishing bike lanes on thoroughfares, and allowing for easy access to public transit must be done through collaboration with our residents, bicyclists, and alternative transit organizations. As we begin to implement new techniques through The Protected Bikeways Act of 2014, we should utilize advisory committees consisting of community members to thoroughly examine projects and ensure that separate bikeways do not increase strain our existing infrastructure. Santa Monica Spoke has done wonderful work in this area and I look forward to additional community groups from varied perspectives working together in the development of new projects.”
Bicycling is the fastest growing transportation mode in Santa Monica and the region. We need to build on this momentum so that people of all ages can bike safely. We especially need to build safer bike facilities that inspire more women and girls to bike.
Santa Monica’s new Green Cross backbone routes were established this year with highly visible green markings and buffer areas. In early 2015 green lanes along Wilshire will be completed. But we need to do more such as building protected bike lanes like the one that will be part of the soon to be constructed Colorado Esplanade and the 17th Street bike lane from Expo Station to Pico
The Bike Center in downtown provides a number of mobility services and the Bike Campus at the west end of Ocean Park Boulevard offers bike education and practice areas. Ongoing programs such as Bike It/Walk It Day and Kidical Mass encourage active and healthy families through cycling education should be expanded. Our goal should be to reach as many children as possible, making cycling safety courses readily available to middle school students.
All this is related to implementing our Bicycle Action Plan. To this we need to add Vision Zero, the goal of eliminating all bike and pedestrian collision deaths, and to couple that with a complete streets policy to institutionalize and coordinate planning for bicycling, public transit and pedestrian safety in every project.
I am an avid bicyclist who loves riding any chance I get. I love to bike in Santa Monica, or when I’m out of town or in another country. I believe that Santa Monica’s weather and terrain make it very attractive for biking for pleasure, to commute for work, or to bike to meet daily needs locally. One of the main problems I find with Santa Monica’s bicycle system however, is lack of connectivity and consistency, but it has been improving. I am in favor of persistent action and attention to our bikeways and facilities, and to education, in order to keep projects on schedule, and to make bicycling more attractive to different types of cyclists, such as those who are interested in using our bikeways but also have concerns about safety. Programs designed to educate and increase awareness to everyone about biking in our community must go hand in hand with the infrastructure improvements that the city makes over time. Safe streets, bike lanes and roadways are top priorities of mine. Santa Monica’s recently approved Bicycle Action Plan lays out a phased plan and vision to improve our bicycling environment. As the city implements the plan, I would remain focused on ensuring that the different types of facilities that are produced throughout town to accommodate different types of cyclists ultimately provide smooth transitions and connectivity between each segment and our whole community.
The fiction that we live in a sustainable city completely unraveled after the 2012 election. In every campaign I’ve been in, candidates always promise to resolve parking and traffic chaos. Ha! Development in Santa Monica has perilously accelerated traffic chaos. Angry motorists are forcing cyclists onto sidewalks, putting pedestrians at risk. Our city council’s development policy has fomented a war between anyone using the street and sidewalks. Whether you travel by foot, inline skates, skate board, bicycle, bus or car, road rage is escalating.
Only drastic solutions will make the streets safe for cyclists and have an impact on traffic chaos; free electric gypsy jitneys, rapid mass transportation, bike lanes with barriers, etc.
I would really like to know who is responsible for putting planter medians throughout the city. The same persons responsible for the new bus stops? The planter medians on Ocean Park Blvd. make the bike path there extremely dangerous during peak rush hours! Planter medians have been narrowed Neilson Way and Barnard Way, making those streets notoriously dangerous for cyclists. There’s been one altercation between a motorist and cyclist that ended badly.
Another danger to cyclists are the hordes of pedestrians walking with impunity on the bike path right next to the pedestrian path.
With the new law allowing cyclists to block the lanes, motorists will have more head on collisions when passing. and the road rage against cyclists will escalate. Isn’t there a better way to share the road without creating chaos and destruction?
A consistent advocate for bicycling since I became a Recreation & Parks Commissioner in 2003. In fact, the first issue I agenized at the Commission after my appointment was beach bike safety. Councilmember McKeown attended and testified about the numerous bike accidents on the beach bike path. I demanded better directional signage and that safety measures be added to the LA County operated path. I am pleased to say that our signage has improved at the beach and accidents are decreasing.
I formed a bicycle and pedestrian committee on the Commission and worked tirelessly to add citywide Bike Sharing in Santa Monica. I am pleased that we will have 35 bikeshare stations on our streets in 2015. I pushed hard for the creation and adoption of a Bicycle Action Plan. It was supported by the City Council. I have advocated for increased Bike parking and more consistent bicycle lanes.
I want mandatory elementary school bike education. We must allow elementary students to ride on sidewalks in the residential zones while traveling to school. I have been vocal in seeking increased safe, on campus, bicycle parking.
For adults, I want separated bicycle tracks in our city, worked for adoption of MANGO and want a comparable north/south route connection. I also supported the creation of our education course at Santa Monica Beach. I believe that bicycle tickets should be downgraded in Santa Monica to a non motor vehicle municipal code violation. Bike education in lieu of fines for ticketed bicycle offenders.
The candidates who haven’t responded are Sue Himmelrich, Terence Later, Whitney Scott Bain, Richard McKinnon, and Mike Feinstein.