MERYL ELLINGSON, Santa Monica, CA
Year’s end is always a time of celebration and reflection. 2016 was a turbulent year, but for the local cycling community, it marked the one-year anniversary of the Breeze Bikeshare in Santa Monica and the 5-year anniversaries of both the Santa Monica Bike Center and the implementation of the Bike Action Plan.
Six years ago today, the first Bike Action Plan (BAP) workshop was held at various stations in Santa Monica. The BAP was born out of the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) which solidified the City’s commitment to creating and maintaining highly functional, livable neighborhoods. As a response to the community’s concern over auto congestion and urban mobility, the City put in place its ambitious No Net New Vehicle Trips goal. The LUCE and the BAP have together been admired as exemplary cases of consensus-based planning, with various engaged stakeholders, including the public, coming together to decide how resources are used and to what ends. (Check out a quick read from 2011 here)
Santa Monica has made huge strides since December 13, 2010. The community earned a Silver Level Bike Friendly Community designation in May 2013 and is striving for Gold. New bike lanes, Breeze Bikeshare, commuter facilities at the Santa Monica Bike Center and its proximity to the newly opened Expo line have all been factors in “encourag[ing] residents, employees, and visitors to make bicycling their transportation of choice,” which is the overarching mission of the Bike Action Plan. Cynthia Rose of Santa Monica Spoke, the local chapter of the LACBC that has done heavy legwork since 2009 to push the plan through, affirms, “We have seen a blossoming and growing bike culture that includes both daily riders, families on bikes, bikeshare and multimodal lifestyles — from suits to spandex it is all happening in Santa Monica!” She also notes attendance at family events such as Kidical Mass and Safe Rides to School and a high percentage of female cyclists as marked victories of the past several years.
Still, the goals of the BAP and LUCE are long-term and continuous, and it’s important that the momentum of the past 6 years is built upon. In the spirit of looking ahead at what’s to come, Jason Kligier, Bike Program Coordinator for the City of Santa Monica, says, “In the coming year we are going to continue building on our momentum by adding green paint to many of our bike lanes, installing over 1,000 bike racks, planning another edition of COAST [Santa Monica’s open streets event], working on regional bike share integration, and advancing multiple projects in the pipeline with community outreach and design work.” Indeed, as 2016 comes to a close, we can celebrate not only what has been accomplished, but also the fact that these accomplishments expand the capacity to build on progress in 2017 and beyond.