WeHo Council Candidates Answer Questions on Bicycle Safety, Sharing, Access

June-Election-Candidates

The West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition, a bicycle advocacy organization, asked candidates in the June 2 special election for the West Hollywood City Council to respond to its questions about bicycle sharing and safety and bicycle lanes. The questions and responses are as follows:

LARRY BLOCK

1. Have you been involved in any efforts to promote cycling or improve safety for bicyclists?

I’m not a cyclist, – unfortunately with one eye that has a contact I never feel safe or have balance. My efforts have been focused on pedestrian safety, crosswalks and that includes bicycle safety. Every month I watch the accident reports and count the vehicle/pedestrian, vehicle/bicycle, and bicycle/pedestrian stats. I’d like to have a zero accident goal and will do all I can to reach that goal.

COLE ETTMAN

I am an avid cyclist and have been involved in sponsoring many friends on the AIDS/LIFECYCLE bike ride from LA to San Francisco. As a Public Facilities commissioner I helped to ensure the placement of additional bike racks on our streets and at city buildings. I will fight to make bikers feel safe while commuting in our city.

JOHN HEILMAN

Yes. I was on the City Council when we redesigned Santa Monica Boulevard. I was the Council member who pushed to include bike lanes on the street. More recently, I was part of the Council majority that approved “sharrows” on Fountain and supported the addition of a bike lane on San Vicente. I have also been leading the effort to bring a regional bike share program to West Hollywood.

HEIDI SHINK

As a member of the Planning Commission and an avid bike enthusiast, I regularly attended every Bicycle Task Force meeting. That is why the promotion of bicycling within WeHo is of great personal interest to me; I view the advancement of a bicycling culture within our city to be one of the most important ways in which West Hollywood can stay on the cutting edge both environmentally and culturally. Add to that the positive impact that more bicyclists have on traffic, and I know it is in our city’s best interest to promote biking as much as possible.

2. Do you support bringing a bike share program to West Hollywood? If so, do you think it’s important that bike share include regional connectivity – meaning that a person can make one-way trips to other parts of L.A. County and leave the bike at a station in the other location?

LARRY BLOCK

As a good friend of Owen Ward I’ve heard and supported his programs for a bike share program with regional connectivity. It can be done, it will be done. Thanks for working so hard to get us there.

COLE ETTMAN

Absolutely, and I wholeheartedly support regional bike share as well. We need to look at successful bike share programs across the country and expedite the process here in the greater Los Angeles area.

JOHN HEILMAN

I support bringing a bike share program to West Hollywood and I believe it is important for it to be part of a regional program. As the city’s representative to the Westside Cities Council of Governments (COG), I have been a consistent advocate for a regional bike share program. Cities in the COG have partnered closely with the City of Santa Monica to develop a request for proposals for a bike share program. We also worked closely with Santa Monica in reviewing the submitted proposals. Santa Monica has now chosen a provider, and West Hollywood is looking at all of the requirements for the provider to operate in West Hollywood. We hope to launch a regional bike share program by the end of the year.

HEIDI SHINK

Yes! A bike-sharing program is essential to West Hollywood’s future. If we are serious about increasing the use of alternative means of transportation, then we have to make it easier for our residents to access them. Bike-sharing throughout the county will go a long way towards making the entirety of Los Angeles County more eco-friendly while simultaneously taking riders out of cars. In addition to bike-sharing, I would also favor a city-wide public education program around how cars and bikes interact on the roads. As a person who is dedicated to getting to this issue, I feel that the safety of bicyclists has to be our top priority, and the best way to ensure the safety of bicyclists is to make drivers more cognizant that they share the road with us.

3. In 2011, the City Council unanimously adopted the Bicycle Task Force Report and Recommendations, which include installing bike lanes on Fairfax, La Brea, Santa Monica (between La Brea and Vista/Gardner), Holloway, Sweetzer, Robertson, Vista, and Fountain. Do you support implementing these recommendations? If so, which would be your highest priority?

LARRY BLOCK

Yes, I support regional connectivity, do not have the report to review. I think Fountain and Holloway would be the most important east west streets, and La Brea the most important priority for north south. Because I don’t have on the bike experience of these routes its quite frankly hard to give you an uneducated opinion. I revert to your recommendations and will try to build upon your expertise.

COLE ETTMAN

Yes. I strongly support bike lines on every major thoroughfare and, where safe, through our neighborhoods. The Council recently passed a measure to install on Fairfax, and I want to fast track the entire stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard. I believe that we must make it convenient for bicyclists to get to the nearest rail station so they can leave their cars at home. The city must provide adequate signage to let motorists know that bikers are present and have the same rights as cars on the road.

JOHN HEILMAN

I support the recommendations of the Bicycle Task Force. The easiest recommendations to implement are the ones that involve education, signage and city programming. I support increasing our educational efforts, sponsoring an on-going first-time rider program, expanding our signage to alert motorists to the possible presence of bicyclists. The more difficult recommendations are the ones which involve physical changes to roadways. Some bicycle lanes and “sharrows” can be implemented without physical changes to the roadways, and we should move forward with those as funding is available. Improvements that require physical changes to our roadways should be incorporated into our road maintenance plan. We should also regularly convene a group of stakeholders to update the recommendations of the Bicycle Task Force. The city is continuing to update our Bicycle and Mobility Plan as part of the implementation of our General Plan. I am confident that a series of specific recommendations will come from that work by our city staff.

HEIDI SHINK

Yes, I do support the recommendations, and I would prioritize increased signage to aid the safety of rides, additional sharrows and safety education. While many of the other recommendations made by the Task Force are well worth implementing, the priorities I listed are items that a willing Council could implement quickly and at minimal cost to the city. As someone who fully supports the work of the Task Force, I think it would be in our best interest to show our city just what a difference these small improvements can make in the relationship between motorists and bicyclists.

4. What else would you like to see West Hollywood do to promote cycling and improve safety for cyclists?

LARRY BLOCK

Personally I like the idea of a WeHo loop, Doheny to Sunset, down Crescent heights to Fountain, to La Brea and up and down Santa Monica, a WeHo loop.. and create a time, Sunday mornings between 5-9am, that people could run the loop.. is that crazy?

What I would like to promote is bicycle safety. Improve it to a zero accident threshold. Improve the relationship between the bicyclist and the vehicle. Promote responsibility. Provide clear painted lanes and boundaries. Ensure safe precautions are taken. Light up the streets in most all areas. Invest in our bike share program and build awareness.

COLE ETTMAN

I firmly believe that anyone living, working, playing or visiting our city should be able to do so without a car. As traffic and gridlock worsens the more people we can get out of their cars, the better. I want to encourage this by providing subsidies for bike purchases for West Hollywood residents.

JOHN HEILMAN

Maintaining our roads in good condition is an important part of promoting safety for cyclists. We need to provide education for motorists as well as cyclists. There will always be some drivers and some cyclists who are not mindful of the safety of others on the road. We need to promote the concept of “complete streets” where cyclists, motorists and pedestrians are able to safely navigate but where everyone is conscious of the presence of others.

HEIDI SHINK

Aside from a bike-sharing program, we need to start promoting bicycling (and bike safety) to our West Hollywood youth. I believe that children who grow up biking will maintain the habit into adulthood, making them healthier and more ecologically conscious. And again, I would stress the need for more public education of the interaction between bicyclists and cars. Whatever we can do to make drivers more aware of bicyclists will go a long way towards making our roads safer for everyone.

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Steve Martin
Steve Martin
7 years ago

The comments were more enlightening and insightful than the candidate statements. Thanks

Randy
Randy
7 years ago

@fine7760, and also not on sidewalks?

Sorry, but I don’t think any council members are going to ban bikes from all streets and sidewalks, or do away with bike lanes, because you think they give people a false sense of security.

Randy
Randy
7 years ago

So, @fine7760, your “solution” here is to never allow bikes on major streets?

fine7760
7 years ago
Reply to  Randy

Ban them no, if one is the least bit intelligent they would not ride on major streets. It’s just not safe currently with bike lane configured as they are now.

fine7760
7 years ago
Reply to  Randy

Sidewalks, not unless a specific lane is provided.

fine7760
7 years ago

Mark, I don’t know if your a bike rider or a motorist or both. I was on the streets eight plus hours per day for over 30 years working for the RTD/MTA. I investigated accidents almost everyday. And I encountered good and bad bike riders everyday. Yes, bike riders have a right to be in a traffic lane. Rights don’t insure safety. Bike lanes don’t insure safety and as I pointed out it’s not the vehicles moving in traffic but those parked and the drivers opening their doors into the path of bike riders in that so called safe bike… Read more »

Steve Lamson
Steve Lamson
7 years ago

Larry, do your research before you accommodate an idea:

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20150426/TRANSPORTATION/150429891/citi-bike-turnaround-so-much-promise-so-many-problems

The Citi Bike program is plagued with problems.

Mark
Mark
7 years ago

Being “pro-choice” would be a more believable description if you weren’t here primarily arguing against cyclists’ choices. Your first comment is explicitly complaining about taking any car space and letting it be used for cyclists. So apparently “cars” are really the only “choice” you’re actually “pro.” Maybe you haven’t noticed, but not everybody who travels through WeHo on their way to work drives. See those giant vehicles shaped like really really looong vans? Those are buses, and all those people packed into them as they pass by every 15 to 20 minutes are people opting to use — or forced… Read more »

Mark
Mark
7 years ago

Painted lines don’t protect, especially against drivers whose sense of entitlement makes them drive dangerously in bike lanes, swerve into bike lanes, and otherwise show little regard for bikers’ safety. But bike lanes are BETTER THAN NOTHING — do you think we should stop having roads, since little painted lines in the middle of a street aren’t going to protect you from head-on collisions or rear-endings by cars behind you or other obstacles on the road? The fact is that bike lanes are better than having bikes ride in regular traffic lanes, or on sidewalks, and ultimately the ideal would… Read more »

Alison
Alison
7 years ago

Boy, you criticize biker’s behavior and and all the bikers come out swinging. It is true. I have never seen a biker stop at a stop sign in my neighborhood. Not one. I’ve seen them blow through red lights on Santa Monica Blvd. also. When bikers start following the law, I will support them. Not before.

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
7 years ago

Insight: Re: “Most residents support having more street parking – not less.” If they’re given the choice of bike lanes or street parking — especially where the street parking would be close to a parking garage, I suspect many support bike lanes. Street parking also increases traffic — people driving around looking for spots make up ~30% of traffic, and parallel parking stops traffic while one backs into a spot. In LA, which is typically not as progressive as WeHo, support for bikes/bike lanes was key to Jose Huizar defeating Gloria Molina (as was her opposition to bike lanes). Re:… Read more »

fine7760
7 years ago

All these comments make little sense. Number one, a nice painted line in the street which denotes a Bike Lane is nothing but a painted line. It insures no safety, it’s a complete joke. The comment about riding against traffic creates more hazards than it solves. And lastly to the long anti car comment. Gas taxes paid for the streets construction and maintanece. Drivers of car’s and trucks have rights too. Bike Lanes need to be relegated to small residential streets where there is little interaction between motorists and bike riders. And it’s not a attempt to make Bike Riders… Read more »

Insight
7 years ago

Complaining about driver’s blowing through stop signs or crosswalks wont be fixed here. Neither will complaining about cyclists blowing through stop signs or riding on sidewalks. Report your concerns at the next Public Safety meeting: _ (From the city website) It is the function of the Public Safety Commission to evaluate and recommend suggestions involving public safety issues, to assist the City Manager’s office and the City Council in strengthening community response to emergencies, and to evaluate and make recommendations regarding neighborhood livability issues. The Public Safety Commission meets the 2nd Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room at… Read more »

Randy
Randy
7 years ago

@Zachary, thanks for the clarification, but you originally said “For years cyclist constantly use sidewalks on Santa Monica Blvd from Doheny all the way to LaBrea with disregard to pedestrians and signage stating NO BICYCLES ON SIDEWALKS!”

My point is that there are places east of Kings Rd where its not safe to ride on SMB, and its not illegal to do so. We all need to find a way to live together. In no way am I advocating riding on the sidewalk where there is a bike lane. Rather, we need more bike lanes!

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