2017 Mayoral Candidate Report Card: Eric Garcetti

Primary Election day: Tuesday, March 7, 7am-8pm
Find your polling place:

Vision for Livable Communities: B
Prioritization of Safety: C
Commitment to Equity: C
Commitment to Collaboration: D
Overall Bike The Vote LA Grade: C

The first term of Mayor Eric Garcetti has been a surprising disappointment for livability advocates. Garcetti clearly understands the health, equity, quality of life, empowerment, and economic benefits to making city streets safer for all road users. But beyond splashy announcements and wonkish technical studies, there has been a frustrating lack of visible action to improve mobility options for those on foot and on bikes.

On one hand, advocates for safe streets have seen some exciting developments under Garcetti: a focus on collection of data, the appointment of livable streets leader Seleta Reynolds as head of LADOT, implementation of the City’s first parking-protected bike lanes, a scramble crosswalk at the center of Hollywood, adoption of a potentially transformative Mobility Plan, and adoption of a Vision Zero policy. And Mayor Garcetti played a crucial role in shaping and securing adoption of Measure M, the sweeping ballot measure passed last Fall that secures funding for a transformative vision of Los Angeles’ transportation system, including bike infrastructure to access new transit lines and completion of the L.A. River Bike Path through Downtown.

On the other hand, we’ve seen bike lane implementation drop to a snail’s pace, a lack of outreach to communities of color, and failure to implement the 2010 Bike Plan’s bike lane network. Additionally, the Mayor’s voice and political muscle have been frustratingly absent from prominent street safety discussions regarding the Hyperion Bridge, Central Avenue, North Figueroa Street, and Westwood Boulevard. Los Angeles famously localizes decision-making within the City Council, but the Mayor’s office retains a significant role with a high level of exposure and a fleet of commission appointments capable of shaping policy. The national branch of Streetsblog rightly questioned Garcetti’s pattern of inaction in 2015, asking, “Can LA Make Great Streets If the Mayor Won’t Stand Up for Good Design?” Garcetti’s record may be strong on generating plans and pilots, but we have yet to see that commitment matched in implementation.

In his response to Bike The Vote, Garcetti highlighted the 2.4 centerline miles of protected bike lanes enacted under his tenure while shifting the subject away from LADOT’s decision to stop pursuing annual implementation of 40 centerline miles (80 lane miles) of bike lanes. Garcetti also referenced the City’s long delayed and newly released Vision Zero Action Plan, which outlines a strategy for achieving the objectives laid out when the initiative was launched, but has been criticized by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, the L.A. Vision Zero Alliance, and Los Angeles Streetsblog as weak on infrastructure and heavy on enforcement that disproportionately affects people of color. The Action Plan is typical of what we’ve seen as Garcetti’s approach to safe streets: long on identification of problems but short on transformative action, committing to just 12 (lane?) miles of street reconfigurations per year over the next 8 years. This approach falls short of established best practices and is wholly inadequate to meet L.A.’s challenge of eliminating traffic fatalities by 2025, currently over 200 per year.

Like other major metropolitan mayors, Mayor Garcetti’s name is frequently floated as a future national political contender. So far on safe streets, he does not meet the standards set by mayors Michael Bloomberg of New York, Rahn Emanuel of Chicago, Michael Hancock of Denver, Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis, Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh, or Charlie Hales of Portland. If Garcetti earns a second term as Mayor, Los Angeles residents deserve a more impassioned and resourceful effort on active transportation to build a healthier, more sustainable, and more livable city.

(See below for Eric Garcetti’s response to Bike The Vote L.A.)

1. In 2015, Los Angeles approved Mobility Plan 2035, the first update to the Transportation Element of its General Plan since 1999. Mobility Plan 2035 puts “safety first” in transportation decisions, and provides a vision for a transportation system composed of safe and quality transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and automotive options. How would you like to see this Plan implemented, and how do you envision Los Angeles’ transportation system in 2022 at the end of the next Mayoral term?

I am working toward making sure Angelenos have access to a full range of transportation options so that they can get where they want to go, when they want to get there and how they want to get there. This includes walking, biking, bus, rail, car sharing, TNCs, autonomous vehicles and current personally-owned vehicles. I led the effort to pass Measure M, which provides a permanent funding stream for projects included in the Mobility Plan. Measure M also provides funding to create a continuous bike path along the full length of the L.A. River in the City. .

2. How can Los Angeles catch up to peer cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle in terms of quality of roadway infrastructure and bicycle-friendliness?

It’s important to note that those are not Los Angeles’ peer cities when it comes to providing infrastructure to a service area. Los Angeles has to provide infrastructure in an area that is 40% larger than New York City, 54% larger than Chicago, 83% larger than Seattle, and 91% larger than San Francisco. Among its peers, Los Angeles was the only city with a population over one million and an area larger than 450 square miles to appear on Bicycling Magazine’s “The 50 Best Bike Cities” (number 24).

During my first term, I led several important milestones for bicycling in Los Angeles. I implemented the city’s first protected bike lane, parking-protected bike lane, and first bike signals. I appointed Seleta Reynolds, a true visionary, to lead LADOT. I signed Executive Directive 10, launching Vision Zero Los Angeles and setting a goal to eliminate traffic fatalities in the City by 2025. I launched bikeshare Downtown, voted to expand bikeshare to Venice and the Port of LA, and created a brand new first-last mile program at Metro to expand bicycle infrastructure near transit. The City broke ground on the MyFigueroa project. We held eleven CicLAvias, including the first ones in the Valley and in South LA, and we awarded millions of dollars for open streets events across the region. The City worked to attract millions of dollars in federal, state, and local funding for new bicycle and safety projects. I opened new segments of the LA River Greenway, and started the process to bring a continuous bike path along the LA River. We also adopted the Mobility Plan 2035, which cements a multimodal approach to the future of transportation in Los Angeles.

We now are now well on the way to where we want to be, and with the boost provided by Measure M, we will get there.

3. On August 24, 2015, Mayor Garcetti signed Executive Directive 10, setting ‘Vision Zero’ as a policy for Los Angeles, with the goal of eliminating traffic-related deaths within 10 years. In order to meet this goal, LADOT identified a “High Injury Network” to prioritize safety improvements on L.A.’s most dangerous streets. However, after a year and a half, we have seen very little concrete action to reduce transportation-related deaths on City streets. What do you see as the critical hurdles for improving safety on Los Angeles streets, and how would you work to address these impediments in reducing speeding in order to save lives?

The City is launching its Vision Zero Action Plan this month, which provides a path for reaching L.A.’s Vision Zero goals. The tasks include filling bike network gaps, updating speed surveys to ensure speeding enforceability, improving street lighting and signal timing, as well as identifying Priority Corridors for where we will target our interventions to make the greatest impact.

In the last six months of 2016, the City increased completed speed surveys for 42 miles of roads on the High Injury Network and will add 200 more miles before the end of the year.  The city has also installed several new signals within the High Injury Network, and has identified 92 more intersections signal upgrades and installation.  LADOT has also started work on 35 projects along the High Injury Network that will reconfigure corridors to improve safety.   

4. In 2011 the City of Los Angeles adopted a Bicycle Master Plan identifying a network of bike lanes to make bicycle commuting a safe and comfortable commuting option. However, after most easy-to-install bike lanes were implemented, the City largely stopped pursuing reconfigurations of roads to accommodate bike lanes on streets where the number of travel lanes might be affected. Since Mayor Garcetti took office, implemented bike lane miles have plummeted from 251 in FY2013-14 and 120 in FY2014-15 to 38 in FY2014-15 and a mere 17 in FY2015-16. Do you see a network of bicycle infrastructure as an important component to making Los Angeles a bike-friendly city? If so, what will your administration do within the next Mayoral term to accelerate the development of a comprehensive network of bike lanes in Los Angeles?

A comprehensive bicycle infrastructure network is an important part of continuing to make L.A. friendlier for cyclists. During my second term, we will expand bikeshare, implement more protected bike lanes, increase the number of open streets events in the City, and make things safer for all street users through Vision Zero.

5. Much emphasis in transportation engineering has been placed in recent years on protected bike lanes and protected intersections. New York City began installing modern parking-protected bicycle lanes in 2007. Los Angeles has started to follow suit, installing short stretches of protected bike lanes in the 2nd Street Tunnel, on Reseda Blvd, on westbound Venice Blvd, on Los Angeles Street, and on southbound Van Nuys Blvd. But with many of these installations limited to ½-mile segments, separated by many miles across a large city, and no protected intersections implemented in Los Angeles; they hardly represent a viable backbone to support bicycle commuting for all ages and skill levels. How do you plan to implement the protected bike lane network envisioned in Mobility Plan 2035, seeing as so far only about 1.1 lane miles of the 300 planned lane miles have been been built in the year and a half since the Plan was adopted? When can Angelenos expect to rely on a system of protected bike lanes to get them around Los Angeles, as commuters now do in New York and Chicago?

We have designed 10 miles of protected bike lanes, and are already moving to implement several projects, including Downtown on Spring and Main and on Figueroa between USC and 7th Street.

6. A 2014 report by the L.A. Times noted a rise in hit & run crimes against people on bikes in Los Angeles. What action will your administration take – both at the local level and in working with State legislators – to reduce hit & run crimes?

Every hit-and-run is a preventable tragedy. Through Vision Zero (described above), we have worked at the local level to reduce the number of hit-and-run crimes. I was also proud to support AB 8 at the state level, which authorizes law enforcement agencies to issue a Yellow Alert if a person has been killed or has suffered serious bodily injury due to a hit-and-run.

7. Bike share systems have been implemented across Los Angeles, but as systems expand to different areas of Los Angeles and neighboring cities, experts foresee three major obstacles: stations that are discontinuous/too far apart, stations with unsafe walking conditions that limit access, and systems that are out of reach for low-income residents. What areas would you like to see bike share expanded to within Los Angeles, and what should the City be doing to make these systems more accessible, affordable, and useful to all Angelenos?

Bikeshare is an important new mobility option and a key element to improving first-last mile connections to transit lines. I would like to see bikeshare expand to neighborhoods across the City, including Venice, Hollywood, Westlake, the Vermont corridor, North Hollywood, and more.  I look forward to finding what Metro has learned from the Downtown Bikeshare pilot, and am open to potential improvement for the system, including the fare structure, station locations, and ways to improve station accessibility.