Alhambra residents push for a bike plan

Bikes in front of City Hall | Photo by Albert LuThe normally empty bicycle racks in front of City Hall were suddenly put to good use Thursday night. A cluster of  excited bicycle riders had just swooped down First Street and had gathered together for the July 13th  Transportation Commission meeting. The advocates, myself included, were happy to have the opportunity to present their views to the  Transportation Commission on why Alhambra should have a bike plan.  Local residents, members of the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition, East and West San Gabriel Bike Coalitions and Alhambra Beyond Cars made oral presentations to encourage the commissioners to pass on their comments to their council representatives.

The small room was filled with supporters such as Vincent Chang , West San Gabriel Bike Coalition president, who explained to the commissioners that although Alhambra has great developments and good stores, somehow the city is not complete.  “The reason it is not complete is that we want to get some healthy exercise and get around Alhambra with something other than a car. Riding around Alhambra on a bike is taking your life in your own hands.” Vincent had an answer to the question of  “What can we do about this situation?” Los Angeles and other San Gabriel Valley cities such as Temple City, Rosemead, South Pasadena and Pasadena have developed or are developing bike plans to make it safer for their residents to ride their bikes.  Alhambra does not have a bike plan and after meeting with Mayor Yamauchi, he suggested to us that we make our views before this commission as a first step to having the council considering the adoption of a Master Bike Plan“.

Vincent Chang, West San Gabriel Bike Coalition, addresses CommissionersAlexis Lantz, Planning and Policy Director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, spoke next on how a bicycle plan for Alhambra would provide “the city with a vision, for a more active, sustainable and livable Alhambra, create programs and policies that support bicycling and safety and a long term plan to promote regional connectivity.” Not only that, if the city takes the first step, it can receive more money for the plan. "The exciting part is that by having a bicycle master plan," she explained, "the city is laying the foundation for applying for and receiving regional, state and federal grants.”

Temple City was mentioned often as a model for developing a master bike plan. In 2006, Temple City began a plan for the development of a section of Rosemead Blvd into a pedestrian friendly area and had a small  bike element included in the plan. After hearing many residents express a desire for a bike friendly and safe environment at a public outreach meeting in March of  2010, the city decided to expand the original bike plan and hire Alta Planning and Design to draw up a Master Bike Plan. Using Los Angeles County transportation funds to pay for the work of Alta, the Master Bike Plan was completed in 2 months. With the completion of the Master Plan comes access to apply for over $500,000 in grants for the implementation of over 26 miles of bikeways in the city.

Project Director for the Rosemead Blvd. Development, Sho Jarrahi , said it was the pressure from the community outreach input that “pushed the envelope” and provided a turning point in the vision and scope of the bicycle plan for Temple City.  Council members Vincent Yu and Carl Blum, sitting on the Rosemead Blvd. committee, responded to the needs of the community and reported to the council on the public desires to see a larger vision for the bicycle element.

Kristi Twilley, Project Manager, has noticed that Temple City has received a lot of good comments from bike coalitions throughout Los Angles for their bike plan. “If we can serve as that spark in the community to get other communities on-board with  a more pedestrian friendly environment, we are very happy with that,” she told me.

The Alhambra bicycle plan advocates were hopeful and look forward to meeting with City Manager Julio Fuentes to discuss the next step in the process. Hopefully the Alhambra City Council will address and respond to the comments from the community and move forward to adopt a Master Bike Plan for Alhambra.

A local resident summarized the feelings of the advocates that night as she expressed her hopes for the future: “I have a 3-year-old and I really, really wish when he is of school age that he can get to his school on his bike and grow up in a community where he feels safe enough and I can feel that I trust the community enough that he can grow up in a space that values physical activity, safety, sustainability and the environment.”

9 thoughts on “Alhambra residents push for a bike plan”

  1. Michael Lawrence

    Tommy I really hope that you and your wife could feel safe to ride your bike in Alhambra in the not too distant future. A master bike plan involves so much more than just bike lanes. There are public education elements that do increase drivers awareness of cyclists and also helps cyclists become more aware of proper behavior when sharing the road. If there are routes that are designated for biking, then the riders will not feel the need to ride on the sidewalks. The number of cyclist are growing everyday and that is a fact. The city must move along with the times and prepare for that in a responsible manner. Unfortunately there are bad drivers everywhere and we must always drive with that in mind.

  2. Stephen Williams

    Would it be possible to include perhaps a tad more enforcement in this plan to help protect pedestrians and keep cyclists off the sidewalks?  That would help us walkers quite a bit.  Thanks for listening.

    1. Riding on the sidewalk is against the law in many cities including Alhambra. However, many cyclists who ride (specially senior citizens and inexperienced riders) would rather risk an infraction rather than the very real possibility of physical injury or death (see recent article on tragic death of 17 y.o. pedestrian). Increasing enforcement is not the answer.

      If pedestrians like Mr. Williams truly wish to keep sidewalks clear of cyclists, they should be contacting Alhambra elected officials and staff to encourage them to support BIKE LANES and better bike access throughout the city.

      1. Vincent… the LAW is very clear… they are SIDE “WALKS” not side “play dodge with bikes” It has never been legal to ride bikes on sidewalks… Period. How about better educating the drivers in Alhambra… they are the problem and some of the worst in the nation. (My auto ins. co. charges me $200.00 more per year because of all the bad drivers in Alhambra and the amount of claims… and I have never had an accident.) I ride bikes myself and would NEVER ride a bike in Alhambra. My wife stopped riding in Alhambra because she was run off the road twice in a few minutes. (and she does not use the sidewalks!!

        Bad drivers are the problem not bike lanes. The lanes would be great but the drivers need to be addressed first!!

      2. Tommy: We DO need to educate drivers. One of the ways we can do that is for the city to put in place a comprehensive bike plan that delineates the rights of cyclists with respect to their use of the road. Bike lanes are one way, but markings like “sharrows” (a marking with a cycling figure with chevrons above pointing in the direction of travel) go towards that goal. Despite the law that cyclists have the right to share the road and had that right for a long time, the city of Alhambra never had a bike route, never mind a bike plan. Once the city has a bike plan and implements it, driver education will follow.

        LADOT recently came out with a report on the effects of “sharrows” on drivers and their attitudes when encountering a cyclist on roads that feature sharrows. See: http://ladotbikeblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/ladot_slm_final_report_….

        WSGVBC was founded for folks like you and your wife who would ride more only if they can feel safer. There are many of us out there.

      3. Vincent… I’m well aware of the benefits of bike lanes, I lived in Venice Beach for several years… but they won’t make a damn bit of difference here in Alhambra… drivers here just don’t care about anything but their own personal agenda… the word “etiquette” isn’t in their vocabulary 🙂 I know for one, bike lane or not, I will not be riding the streets in Alhambra, way too dangerous for me!! Once again, the REAL problem is not addressed and ignored… not enforcing the laws and educating drivers so it would be safe to ride a bike in Alhambra… how many people will have to be injured or killed before the City Counsel opens their eyes?? I wish all the bike riders luck with this but you’re naive if you thing a bike lane will make it safer!!

      4. Tommy’s observations are, at least in my anecdotal experience, correct. My wife refuses to ride her bicycle in Alhambra–we peddle a short distance to South Pasadena/San Marino residential areas to ride there. I just stick to side streets in Alhambra, and even then, I see many examples of “etiquette” and can add examples of my own.

        This lack of etiquette isn’t just limited to cars vs. bikes. Over the last several months on Alhambra Rd alone, I’ve seen motorists blow past stop signs, passing other motorists on the wrong side of the street, and generally speeding. Cyclists do this too (except for speeding)–honestly, how many of you have seen them actually come to a full stop at stop signs? Give turn signals? How many cyclists are actually aware that they are supposed to stop and give signals?

        No amount of “sharrows” or bicycle lanes will help until all of us become better educated as drivers and cyclists and learn to share.

        BTW, I can also attest to Alhambra residents having to pay higher auto insurance premium. Mine went up, even after factoring discounts and umbrella policies, after we moved to Alhambra.

  3. The reality is…this is what it's going to take to make our community more sustainable.  Bottom line, not just Alhambra but every city and community should have safe bike routes.  Get with it Alhambra, it's time!  Plus think about all the benefits.  Less congestion on the streets, people living more active lifestyles, less polution and the list goes on  and on and on and on….and on…

  4. Yes!  This is a total no brainer.  Making it easier for folks to bike for short trips around town is good for their health and pocketbook, regional air quality, and congestion!  It'd be great to see Alhambra join some of the other cities mentioned in promoting bike use, not to mention continue some of the plans they have.  The CIty of LA is planning on putting Bike Lanes all the way up Huntington Dr. to Alhambra, and South Pasadena is also considering doing so on their section of Huntington.  Unless Alhambra does so as well, there will be a big gap in our part of town! 

     

     

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