Manhattan Beach commissioners approve bike plan, will present to council

A map of the proposed bike plan in Manhattan Beach, according to the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan.

Manhattan Beach commissioners approved the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan, a conceptual proposal identifying how to bring a connected bike network to seven cities in the area. The plan would bring 30 miles of bike lanes to Manhattan Beach if approved by the city council on November 15. The council’s decision will determine the city’s eligibility for grants to fund the project.

The ultimate goal is to create consistency within bike plans throughout seven South Bay cities: Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Gardena, Lawndale, Redondo Beach and Torrance. The plan, drafted by the South Bay Bicycle Coalition and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, will be presented to commissions and councils of these cities. In total, the proposal advocates increasing the bike network from 73.2 miles to 213.8 miles.

Marissa Christiansen, South Bay initiative director of the county coalition, said that bike friendliness could cause job creation and an increase in property values and business revenues, citing research done in San Francisco, Toronto and Baltimore.

Commissioners from the planning, parks and recreation and parking and public improvements departments expressed concern and praise over the plan, while residents and members of the South Bay Bike Coalition also voiced their opinions in a meeting last week.

While the commissioners were unanimously for the plan conceptually, some were concerned over details noted in the document, like which streets should turn bike-friendly. They agreed that these details can be changed going forward, if council approves the plan and as traffic engineers get involved in its implementation.

Commissioner Martha Andreani supported the plan but felt the implementation could be problematic. “I would be very concerned about narrowing any of our streets, having been an automobile driver, bicyclist and a pedestrian,” she said.

Commissioner Sandra Seville-Jones worried about slowing traffic. “To what extent are we trading the convenience of (having) a bike path with the ability for people to commute at a sensible rate?” she asked.

Others didn’t mind slowing traffic to accommodate bikers and pedestrians. “I can’t think of anything better that’s slowing down traffic,” said Commissioner Chris Conaway.

Conaway actually felt that the plan wasn’t ambitious enough. He would have liked to see more class one and class two bike routes, instead of class three routes. Class one and two paths are lanes exclusively for bicyclists, whereas class three routes are shared lanes for cars and bikes. “I’m disappointed we couldn’t find ways we could close streets and make them bike-only,” he said.

Meeting attendees spoke in favor of creating a bike-friendly community.

Resident Bob Caplan said he’s concerned about colliding with cars when riding his bike. “I’m really worried about taking my kids on a family bike ride,” he said.

Joe Galliani, a resident who blogs under the title “Creative Greenius,” noted that bike paths will not only make the city safer, but also more eco-friendly. He said the bike makeover could encourage residents to ride their bikes for short coffee or post office trips – trips that are “the most damaging in terms of air pollution and green house gas emissions,” he said. During his comment, Galliani took off his South Bay Bike Coalition t-shirt to reveal a Vitality City t-shirt underneath, showing his passion for local public health projects.

City staff will present the proposal to the council on November 15.

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