Los Angeles weather is near perfect year-round for bicycling. The major bike trails are heavily used for recreation, but less so for daily errands or commuting. Until recently, the city well-known for its car-centric culture hadn’t made a big commitment to providing the infrastructure necessary to make bicycles a viable alternative mode of travel. That all changed in March of 2011 when the city adopted the 2010 Bicycle Plan and pledged to dedicate ten percent of its share of Measure R sales tax for transportation receipts to its implementation (about $6M in 2012-2013).
Created with the input of bicycle enthusiasts, the 2010 Bicycle Plan projects a network totaling 1,684 miles of bicycle lanes, paths, routes and bike-friendly streets, and calls for the addition of 40 miles of new lanes and paths every year. There were approximately 350 miles of bike facilities in place when the plan was adopted. Between August 2011 and July 2012, the city kept to the projected schedule, adding slightly more than 41 miles of bike facilities. It also amended building ordinances to require more bicycle parking for new construction and defined what constitutes acceptable bike parking locations.
Late in 2012, the first kiosks of what will eventually be the largest privately funded bicycle-sharing program in the U.S. were installed in L.A. by Bike Nation, which has made a 10-year commitment, promising 4,000 bikes to be distributed among 400 stations. The stations will be located downtown, in Hollywood, Venice Beach, and Westwood (where UCLA is located).
To encourage residents to take to two wheels—whether rented or owned—and to facilitate their rides, the city has already introduced a new bicycle services website featuring an interactive bikeway map that includes locations of bike parking facilities. Cyclists can report any problems, suggest additional sites for parking, download maps, link to facilities in neighboring areas, and check on bicycle services on buses and trains throughout L.A., Orange, and San Diego Counties.
Intent on building a system that will meet the needs of current riders and attract even more, the city recently hosted an information exchange with Dutch cycling experts. Innovative designs for incorporating cycling into streets, placement and design of short- and long-term bicycle parking, and features to ensure bike safety at rail crossings were explored. The city has also embarked on a 5-year implementation plan to improve directional signs for cyclists.