A cyclist makes his way down Ocean Park Boulevard. (File photo)

CITYWIDE — Biking is on the rise across the nation but especially in Santa Monica.

A report released by City Hall earlier this month – an update on the progress of Santa Monica’s Bike Action Plan – shows significant improvements for Santa Monica bikers over the past decade.

Between 2000 and 2012, cycling is up 61 percent across the nation and 85 percent in bicycle-friendly cities, according to a report from The League of American Bicycling released earlier this year. In Santa Monica, however, biking is up 356 percent.

Between 2011 and last year, the number of bike-riders counted at intersections during peak commute periods jumped 51 percent, according to a report from city officials.

One of the main goals of the Bike Action Plan, which was adopted three years ago, is to get people in the city to make 14 to 35 percent of all trips in bicycles by 2030.

Those goals are still a ways off but the numbers are inching up.

Five percent of Santa Monica employees bike to work, up from 3.4 percent when the plan started. About 23 percent of residents say they ride at least a few days a week, up 2 percent from the start of the plan.

The city’s become more bike-friendly too. There are 45 new miles of bike lanes in Santa Monica.

Extension of the Main Street bicycle corridor into Downtown by way of Second Street is supposed to be done later this month. The Colorado Esplanade, meant to connect the terminus station of the incoming Expo Light Rail with the rest of Downtown, will feature the city’s first two-way protected cycle track. Construction is expected to begin early next year.

Despite a delay to pedestrian oriented street improvements around Santa Monica High School, 4,000 students in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School district biked, walked, or skated to school for “Bike It! Walk It! Week” earlier last month. The numbers set a record, district officials said, and 12,000 car trips were avoided.

Despite increased usage, crashes are down. There were six fewer bike crashes reported last year than at the start of the plan. The crash rate, which is involves counting the number of bike crashes in intersections during rush hour, was down 50 percent from the baseline year.

The only category that’s taken a tumble since the Bike Action Plan was enacted is the use of bike valet service. Use of bike valets is down 8 percent since the start of the plan. More funding for City Hall-sponsored bike valets might be needed, city officials said.

Meanwhile, the number of bike parking spaces in the city is up 210 percent.

The Planning Commission, which reviewed the study earlier this month, had suggestions for improvements but was laudatory of the progress made by city planners.

City Council approved a contract for a 500-bike bikeshare system earlier this month.


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