While Los Angeles proper, and many of the surrounding communities have made great strides with their respective bicycle master plans, Los Angeles County and the unincorporated areas were left behind. In fact, it was only last month that Los Angeles County officials updated the plan for the first time since 1975.
“It is very important to note that this is just the unincorporated areas, not the cities,” Alexis Lantz, planning and policy director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, told BikeRadar. “This includes the Santa Monica Mountains and anything that isn’t currently part of a city, but there are places that people might think of as being part of a city that are still unincorporated.”
Those areas, including the highly populated East Los Angeles, will now be part of the new plan that will maintain and update existing corridors. The plan, however, also carries provisions to add another 832 miles of new bikeways to the county. “The updated Plan combines the vision of local communities and the County for the development of opportunities to increase cycling as a viable transit option for residents,” said Los Angeles County supervisor Don Knabe in a statement. “While Los Angeles is known as a car culture, voters have told us time and again that they want options; be it public transit or bicycles as a way to alleviate traffic congestion, improve air quality and enhance the health and quality-of-life in our communities.”
Lantz was careful to mention that voters also improved US$1 billion to widen the 405 freeway by one lane, so comparatively the additional 832 miles of bike lanes and bike paths are a steal at $330 million, which will be spent over the next 20 years.
This investment includes the lanes and paths, as well as new facilities, signage, and traffic calming measures, as well as safety and educational programs. “This will greatly improve cycling in Los Angeles County,” Lantz added. “It will connect the unincorporated communities with libraries and schools, as well as providing a bike line to the Gold Lane transit stops, so people can more easily commute to work.”
In LA cyclists, and bikes, come in all shapes and sizes
Additionally, this new bicycle master plan will also provide a missing link for those existing city plans, connecting adjacent incorporated areas into a great regional network for bicyclists. “We’re excited about connecting the communities together,” said Lantz. “A year and a half ago there were less than a dozen communities that had master plans that were current, and now there are 20 communities with plans. This is a real opportunity to encourage more people to use bicycles not only for commuting, but to have a more active lifestyle. And with fuel prices raising, bikes are an affordable way to get around.”