There has been a lot on the LACBC blog and other cycling advocates’ blogs lately regarding the City of LA’s bike plan, which dictates where bike lanes and what programs will exist in the next 10 years. It was recently was approved by the Planning Commission, as of December 16th. Many have lauded it as finally addressing many of Angeleno cyclists’ needs, which have wholeheartedly and repeatedly been ignored over the years.
Yet, what does the plan mean for low-income cyclists who face multiple issues of economic, legal, and environmental (in)justice, on top of being second class commuters?
You can read the actual text of the City’s proposed changes, as approved by the Planning Commission here.
Text from the plan regarding income prioritization
City of Lights will be providing a brief analysis below of the changes we advocated for during the Public Comment period that will bring more of a focus and major improvements to low-income cyclists’ neighborhoods throughout the City.
Bike Lanes and Infrastructure:
Along with planning policies and bicycle networks for the entire City, City Planning also included an appendix of a Five Year Implementation Strategy. This will dictate which streets will be getting bike lanes in the next five years. When we first spoke with Planning, there wasn’t a way to target low-income neighborhoods in the plan. After Ciudad de Luces did some research with other bike/ped/social justice professionals around the country, it was clear that no one (beyond the Pedestrian Plan of Seattle) had ever tried to bring attention to or focus to low-income communities of color in their bicycle or pedestrian planning. As a result, we developed a synthesized criteria of ideas that we and other advocates came up with for Planning to use (included below for those who want to research or use the criteria for their plans).
LACBC City of Lights’ Submitted Factors for Prioritization
These supplement the non-equity based criteria Planning already uses for determining where a bikeway will go.
Bicycle Network Projects can be prioritized using the following factors (in order of importance):
• Areas/neighborhoods of high poverty
(Can be determined by the following: where Census tracts indicate high levels of poverty or neighborhoods that are comprised by a majority people of color and non-English speaking residents; residents of public and assisted housing developments and recipients of tenant- based assistance; residents of targeted revitalization areas, and TAZ data by stratifying the household income variable, as well as Automobile ownership, Diabetes rates, Obesity rates)
• Number of transit dependent residents/high population densities in the surrounding area/Proximity to Metro Rail stations, Orange Line stations and Metrolink stations
• Connection to major employment centers or industrial worksites
These were integrated into the Five Year Implementation Plan that, as part of the Bike Plan, passed a week ago!!! GOOOOAAALLLLL!
Yet, it was not enough to merely have criteria for low-income neighborhoods, it was important to have some sort of weighting system or accountability to make sure these neighborhoods would be the first to receive much needed bike lanes and facilities. Planning then created a twenty point system using various criteria, emphasizing the low-income/transit-dependent criteria. It will also incorporate SWITRS data (crash data the CHP collects) as a prioritizing criteria, which is important as low-income neighborhoods are often the most deadliest. As you can see, the areas that have higher percentages of low-income households will score more points, and thus more bikeways:
% of low-income residents per Neighborhood: Score:
0‐20% 2 points
21‐40% 4 points
41‐60% 5 points
61‐80% 6 points
81‐100% 10 points
They are also two provisions that, while positive for all cyclists, are going to benefit low-income cyclists even more.
One is the “Violator Training Program for Bicyclists”. As many low-income cyclists receive tickets for sidewalk riding and other violations that are sometimes exacerbated by being targets of police harassment, they often are forced to pay disproportionately high fines they cannot afford to pay. Through this new program that will be developed, they could receive “bicycle safety training…in lieu of paying a fine or other pecuniary penalties”.
Also, the creation of a Hot Zones Map. City Planning will be creating and compiling a GIS- based map of crash data from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS, referenced earlier in this post) that reflects the number and types of all collisions (auto, bicyclist, pedestrian) that are occurring throughout the City with support from LAPD and LAUSD. This map will target many arterial streets (i.e., Vermont Ave., Van Nuys Blvd.) that many low-income cyclists use to get to work and school zones, where their families walk and bike to school.
Lastly, another score for low-income cyclists is the creation of the “Bicycle Infrastructure and Incident Reporting Program”. Currently, there is no recourse for cyclists, already marginalized sometimes by legal status, to challenge or report drivers who harass them, only if they’re hit, and serious bodily injury occurs. LAPD will now be developing a program to allow bicyclists and other concerned citizens to report infrastructure obstacles or failures or to report aggressive behavior by motorists or motorist harassment. Ciudad de Luces will make such information available on our blog when this comes into fruition, in Spanish, of course.
LACBC, Ciudad de Luces, and LADOT will be collaborating on conducting a new Annual Survey with bicyclists annually about the Bicycle Plan to get feedback on how to improve certain “high-risk, problem areas” or address other key issues. Ciudad de Luces will work hard to reach the low-income and/or non-English speaking cyclists that would normally not be part of the process or lack computers to access the online version, as we did during the bike plan outreach meetings.
The Share the Road Campaign, which creates PSA’s and other materials to increase cyclist safety will be expanded. Advertisements, including those for bus shelters, will be placed on major corridors and translated in multiple languages, with an emphasis on Spanish language materials.