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LA Bike Week: Is cycling in Los Angeles getting any safer?

warning, make sure your bike has 2 wheels

Br3nda/flicker Creative Commons

Today is the start of Metro's L.A. Bike Week, the annual event that promotes biking, ridesharing and other sustainable modes of transportation in the Los Angeles area.

The goal is to get more Angelenos out of their cars and onto their bikes, and for now it seems like efforts such as these are working. 

According to a report out today from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, more Angelenos are riding their bikes year after year. The report, called the Bike and Ped Count, shows that biking in L.A. increased 7.5% from 2011 to 2013. The 2009 report counted 14,000 bicyclists and 62,000 pedestrians, and in 2011 counted more than 15,000 bicyclists and 75,000 pedestrians.

RELATED: LA's 2,043 annual bike accidents on a single map

Despite these positive changes, the report also finds that riding in the city still isn't as safe as it could be. 

Los Angeles City Council Member Mike Bonin joins the show to talk about the state of biking in the city.

Interview Highlights:

The 2010 L.A. Bike Master Plan is supposed to turn Los Angeles into a more bikeable city. What's the status of that effort?

We're actually building out that bike system now. It's a multi-year project. The planning committee of the council last week just gave final approval to one of the centerpiece elements of that bike system, the MyFig project downtown on Figueroa. They will be making both a pedestrian- and a cyclist- friendly thoroughfare, including what they call a cycle track, which is a separated bicycle track, which is the safest and most convenient of all for cyclists. 

Separated how, is there a barrier between car and bikers?

They range from the easiest, which is sharrows — just an arrow-like marking on the street that tell cyclists where to go and warns drivers that are going to be there — to actual painted bike lanes like we have on Spring Street downtown. You can do it through barriers, through ornamental features, and those are really sort of the platinum standard of a bicycle network. As we do a network throughout the city, we will have protected lanes, we will have regular lanes, we'll have sharrows, it all depends on the type of the street and the type of need in the network.

How do you fix the problem of cars going 50 mph next to bikers?

Everybody in Los Angeles needs to realize that we all are sharing the road. I'm as guilty as anybody when I'm on a bike, I get frustrated with people on automobile. When I'm in an automobile, I get frustrated with people on bikes. We all need to get better and more tolerant and appreciate that the road belongs to everybody.

Bicycles are covered under the same section of the state vehicle code as cars. They have the same rights on the road as a car. Now, by the same token, they also have the same responsibilities, so if we're going to be warning drivers that cyclists have an opportunity to drive down the middle of the road, they also need to be stopping at stop signs and stop lights. 

But realistically it seems like it's really the cars that are going to keep speeding on, is it an educational piece?

That's why things called "road diet" have become more popular in cycling friendly cities. [That's] where you actually narrow the road to inhibit speeding and make things along with the protected bike lanes safer for cyclists. 

What is the main goal of LA Bike Week?

I think what Bike Week gives us an opportunity to do is celebrate that cycling is on the rise here in Los Angeles. Cycling has gone up just 8 percent over the past two years and continues to go up...We also, at the same time during this week, need to acknowledge that not all bike facilities are equal. The more we can make our amenities safe and convenient, the more likely people are to use them and then they become an integrated part of a multi-model transportation system in Los Angeles.

We have got to get out of the gridlock and the frustration we all face. We've got to move from being just about the single occupancy vehicle to various forms of transportation and bikes are a huge part of that.  

LINK

See a full list of Bike Week events here.


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