More than 100 million Americans spend at least some time cycling around. But it's rare for people to use bicycles as their main form of transportation in cities like L.A., where many riders don’t want to risk tangling with bigger, faster cars.
"As bike advocates, we see more and more people every year who want to ride bikes," said Tamika Butler, executive director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. "On Bike to Work Day, we see people stop and honk at us and cheer, and we say, 'Why aren’t you biking?' They say, 'I don’t feel safe.' We have to create an environment where folks know we care about them."
The annual budget the L.A. City Council is voting on today calls for $3 million to fund its ambitious Vision Zero plan, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities 20% by the end of this year. To achieve that goal, L.A. Department of Transportation chief Seleta Reynolds says the city would need $80 million to help redesign streets with things like protected bike lanes and road diets that slow traffic down and make streets safer.
July 1, Measure M's half-cent sales tax increase takes effect in L.A. County to help fund transportation projects. Over the next 40 years, two percent, or an expected $2.4 billion, will go toward active transportation infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians. While many of the specific bicycle projects Measure M would pay for haven't yet been identified, Metro plans to break ground in 2023 on closing the gaps in the L.A. River bicycle path, including a 12-mile stretch from Canoga Park to Glendale, another stretch in the San Fernando Valley and from downtown to the cities of Vernon and Maywood. That work is expected to be completed in 2025.
Metro is currently funding a number of projects to support cycling. On Friday, it will open a new bike hub at its Vine Street station in Hollywood. Bike hubs are places for riders to securely park their bicycles, and also get services like repairs and buy bike parts. Metro has one bike hub in El Monte already and plans to open another in Culver City next year. Metro's bike share program will expand to Pasadena this summer and to Venice and the Port of Los Angeles by the end of the year.