The 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“.
Alexis 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.”