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Are You Bike-Friendly? CD4’s Carolyn Ramsay Responds

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 is the runoff election for Council District 4 in the City of Los Angeles. Prior to the primary election in March, LACBC invited all candidates to share their perspectives on bicycling and transportation with our members and supporters. While LACBC does not endorse candidates, we encourage you to consider these responses before casting your vote on May 19th.

Below are responses from Council District 4 candidate Carolyn Ramsay.

All candidate responses are available here: /vote

1. Please share a memory involving a bicycle that has had a lasting effect on you (whether or not you were the one on the bicycle).

My bicycle was my primary mode of transportation until I was 22. The summer I was 10, my mother gave me permission to ride my bike to a friend’s house about two miles away. This seemed like a hundred miles at the time. It was a hot, boring, tiring, monotonous ride through the concrete alleys. One house had honeysuckle spilling over the backyard fence. I had heard that you could get a drop of honey out of a honeysuckle flower and stopped to try it. I’ll never forget the sweet fragrance of the flowers, as I mangled a bunch of them to get the nectar out. Then, I pulled on the stamens and tasted the bottom. Wow. It was spectacular. I never would have had that moment of discovery if I weren’t on my bike.

2. Approximately 200 people are killed in traffic in the City of Los Angeles every year, about half of whom were walking or biking. In September, the Department of Transportation released a new strategic plan Great Streets for Los Angeles, including the ambitious goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities in the city by 2025 (“Vision Zero”). Many of the projects designed to improve safety will also slow vehicle speeds or reduce capacity, sometimes on major streets. Do you support Vision Zero? How would you evaluate a project that increases delay for drivers in order to make a street safer for walking and biking?

I support “Vision Zero” and believe that it must be implemented strategically and thoughtfully. Projects must be prioritized based on their location and supported by accident data. The city has a relatively strong data set of the most dangerous intersections, and those projects should be prioritized. The data shows that many of those locations are in lower income areas of the city or more dense areas that inherently favor alternative transportation. I would evaluate the possible solutions based on the predominant mode of travel in the area for the residents of that area—both now and what we as a city are planning for in the future—and support projects that offered meaningful improvement over the status quo.

3. The Department of City Planning is in the process of updating the City’s Mobility Plan for the first time in decades. Among many exciting components, the plan calls for a citywide network of protected bike lanes–designed for people ages 8 to 80–called the “Bicycle Enhanced Network” or BEN. Many of these BEN projects will require reallocating either a traffic lane or parking lane in order to construct the bicycle facility. Do you believe making Los Angeles a city where everyone feels comfortable riding a bike on the street is worthwhile? How would you approach the tradeoffs inherent to such a project?

Yes, I support the goals of the BEN. I firmly believe that Los Angeles has the potential to be a world-class bicycle city—we have the climate, topography, and street network to do it. I also believe that we’ll only be able to get people to get out of their cars if bicycling is safe and low-stress. Riding less than two feet from cars and trucks going forty-five miles an hour is neither safe nor low-stress. We must develop an interconnected set of protected bike-centered, low-traffic streets and bike lanes that are separated from vehicles in meaningful way and connect to form a useful grid across the city. The benefits of these projects are immense: a healthier and happier city, a less car-dependent city, increased local business patronage, and more eyes on our streets and neighborhoods to help reduce crime, just to name a few.

I think we should embrace the Vehicle Enhanced Network portion of the Mobility Plan. Angelenos appreciate certainty and clarity—being able to point to a north-south corridor from the 101 freeway in Hollywood to the Wilshire area that will be prioritized for cars through signal timing, parking restrictions, and variable lane configuration will help give us the breathing room we need to dedicate separate north-south corridors for bicycle infrastructure.

4. In 2011, the City Council unanimously adopted the Bicycle Plan proposing a comprehensive 1,600-mile bikeway network across the City. What steps would you take to ensure implementation of Bicycle Plan projects in your district? Are there any specific projects in the Plan you would prioritize? To what extent would you feel obligated to implement a plan adopted by your predecessor?

I would first work to shift LADOT focus to protected bike lane projects. I would push the City to focus on specific protected bike lane projects that could be paired with street infrastructure and streetscape design upgrades. I would push for collaboration across city departments to develop a cohesive vision and plan for each, hand-in-hand with the community, private sector, and leading non-profits. No additional major projects should be started until those initial two have reached the construction bidding process.

We continue to live in an era of limited resources, and I believe we will be more effective if we are more narrowly focused and project oriented. Collaboration between city departments to design these initial protected bike lane projects is key. A strategic communications plan must be part of the project process. City grant writers should be involved from the beginning to craft projects with the best chance of securing federal, state, and philanthropic funds. City engineers from each department that has a stake in the project should be brought together under one project coordinator. The project evolution must be thoroughly documented and open, and the goal should be a template that can be easily replicated and applied to future projects to take advantage of lessons learned.

5. (CD4 only) Bike lanes are currently proposed for all of the following streets prioritized by the Bicycle Plan. All of these projects involve a “road diet” to make the street safer for walking, biking and driving. Which of these projects are you prepared to support at this time? Please feel free to share any thoughts about specific projects.

  1. 6th Street (Fairfax to La Brea)

  2. San Vicente Blvd (Wilshire to Venice)

  3. Hyperion Ave Viaduct (Rowena to Glenfeliz)

  4. Hollywood Blvd (La Brea to Sunset)

  5. Hillhurst Ave (Los Feliz to Sunset)

  6. Lankershim Blvd (Hatteras to Cahuenga)

  7. Cahuenga Blvd (Lankershim to Odin)

1. I am very familiar with each of these projects. This familiarity is what informs my proposal to narrow our focus to just a few specific projects citywide and elevate the projects to more than simply restriping the street and taking out a lane of travel. Infrastructure improvements that benefit multiple constituencies—bicycles, pedestrians, business owners, residents—will have the greatest chance of success.

2. My strategy would be to push for the structural changes within the city bureaucracy to allow for a new approach to be developed that prioritizes a small number of projects and dedicates the necessary resources to make them a reality.

6. Studies have shown that people on bicycles spend more per month in local business districts than those arriving by other modes. What steps would you take to ensure that local businesses in your district are able to benefit from better bicycle access?

I will work to connect protected bike lanes to our business districts and support public bike parking stations.

I will support traffic-calming measures like landscaped medians in and around CD4 business districts to slow traffic and make them more bikable and walkable.

7. The LA Times recently wrote a feature story documenting that hit-and-run collisions are on the rise for bicyclists, according to state records. The majority of seriously injured or fatal hit-and-run victims are people walking and bicycling. What steps would you take to reduce the rate of hit-and-run and ensure perpetrators are prosecuted?

Separating cars and bicycles and creating separate spaces for each to travel is key to reducing the injury rate. In terms of prosecution I support Assemblymember Mike Gatto’s efforts to increase penalties for hit and runs and I’ll push the L.A.P.D. to make pedestrian and bicycle safety—and accident investigation—a higher priority.

8. An additional countywide transportation sales tax is currently being formulated by Metro. None of the existing three half-cent measures (Propositions A & C and Measure R) currently dedicate significant funding for walking and biking, despite these modes making up 19% of all trips and 39% of all roadway fatalities in the county. Would you support allocating at least 10% of any future transportation tax measure to walking, biking and safe routes to school?


9. LACBC’s Neighborhood Bike Ambassadors work with local businesses, neighborhood councils, homeowner associations and other stakeholders on bicycle issues. Will you commit to meeting with the local bike ambassadors in your district on a regular and ongoing basis? Would you be willing to lead a regularly scheduled bike ride with your constituents?


10. Would you presently feel safe riding a bike in Los Angeles, and if not, what would it take to make you feel comfortable on our city streets?

I ride my bike as often as possible. I have commuted to City Hall on the 7th Street bike lane, but don’t feel very safe. More importantly, I don’t believe the average rider feels safe riding in L.A. Please see my answers above for some of the solutions I’d look forward to working with the members of LACBC on achieving.

11. Is there anything else you’d like to share with L.A.’s bicycling community?

Thanks for reading and I look forward to riding with you. If you have further questions please feel free to give me a call anytime 323-645-0515.

12. (Question added April 2, 2015.) The Department of Recreation and Parks has reopened Mt. Hollywood Drive to automobiles to expand available parking within Griffith Park. During its two-decade closure, this area became popular among bicyclists and hikers seeking a safe and quiet place to recreate. Do you support opening Mt. Hollywood Drive to motor vehicles? Why or why not?

I support responsible public shuttles, such as DASH buses, on Mt Hollywood Drive that are limited and held accountable to preserving the safety and beauty of Griffith Park. I do not support individual auto traffic.

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