Beverly Hills Takes Up Bicycle Question with an Impact on WeHo

beverly hills, santa monica boulevard, bicycle
A rendering of a separate bike lane plan proposed for Santa Monica Boulevard.

The Beverly Hills City Council is considering a renovation of Santa Monica Boulevard that will have an impact on whether residents of West Hollywood and areas to the east will be able to easily and safely bike to the beach.

According to a city staff report, the boulevard, which was ceded to Beverly Hills by the State of California in 2004, requires major repairs to its drainage system and pavement. The project is estimated to cost $27 to $29 million. Beverly Hills hopes to begin work on the 1.8 mile boulevard this Spring. It expects the reconstruction project to take 14 months. In West Hollywood Santa Monica Boulevard is populated with stores and restaurants and bars and has wide sidewalks to encourage pedestrian traffic. In Beverly Hills the boulevard lies just north of the city’s central business district and south of a residential neighborhood and lacks sidewalks or other pedestrian amenities.

One issue the Council will consider is whether to make bicycle travel easier and safer. The staff report notes that state law requires a driver to give three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist, and a bicyclist typically rides about 2 feet from the edge of the road. When one considers the width of a bike’s handle bars, the report says a passing vehicle must be at least six feet from the curb. Given that traffic lanes from Doheny Drive to Canon Drive are 15 feet wide, drivers generally won’t have to merge left into another lane to pass a bicyclist. But from Canon Drive to Wilshire Boulevard on the west, the eastbound curb lane is only 12 feet wide. That means large cars and trucks and buses will have to merge left to safely pass a cyclist.

A number of people have petitioned the Beverly Hills Council to consider creating separate bike lanes, with some suggested that they be physically separated from traffic, as is the case on major avenues in New York City. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is urging its supporters to attend the council meeting to show their support for bike lanes. The Council will meet at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Beverly Hills City Hall, which is at 455 N. Rexford Dr.

West Hollywood’s City Council has been considering a bicycle sharing program that would allow riders to rent bicycles stationed in public places. One option under consider is allying with an effort already underway in Santa Monica, which means residents of both cities could rent bikes in either place and drop them off in the other.

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