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The Green Life: Competing Plans for L.A.'s Cycling Future

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February 09, 2010

Competing Plans for L.A.'s Cycling Future

Bike Lane Los Angeles is working on a bike plan -- a step in the green direction for a city known for its bumper-to-bumper traffic and severe air pollution. The Los Angeles Bicycle Plan comprises a complex network of bike paths, lanes, and routes that together will make up the Citywide Bikeways System.

But, according to the bike-advocating Westside Bikeside blog, the city’s proposed bicycle plan is a convoluted mess that’s too detailed and small-scale for such a huge metropolitan area. Instead, the bloggers maintain, the city needs a system of arteries along heavily traveled thoroughfares to take cyclists across town.

That’s where L.A.’s grassroots Bike Working Group (BWG) comes in. The group is critical of the city’s bike plan, but instead of just complaining, they took it upon themselves to create an alternative one, called the Backbone Bikeway Network, designed in conjunction with many Angeleno cyclists to allow them more access to major streets thus allowing them to get across town faster.

The specifics of the major-thoroughfare bikeways are similar to those in the city’s bike plan: extended bike lanes, repaving projects, and shared bike/car lanes called “sharrows.” What sets the Backbone Bikeway Network apart, however, is its simple grid concentrated on heavy-traffic roads (such as Wilshire and Venice Boulevards) instead of a confusing maze spread across the sprawling city. The city, though, has yet to lend any support to the Backbone project.

--Sophie Matson


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