Activists Circulate Monterey Park Bike Survey

By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, EGP Staff Writer

A local group began circulating an unofficial survey of bicycle infrastructure needs in Monterey Park over the Labor Day weekend. The survey asked people about their level of comfort while riding a bicycle through the city, the modes of transportation they currently use, and the reasons they use bikes.

The survey put out by BikeSGV is only available online and in English. The group’s president, Vincent Chang, says their survey will likely reach an internet savvy, English-speaking slice of the population, but they still need to figure out a way to reach more people. He said they need to get more volunteers on the streets, because “most of the people who ride bicycles in Monterey Park… probably speak Chinese or Vietnamese” or other languages.

Bike activism is usually associated with the city of Los Angeles and other parts of the county. Boyle Heights recently put in bike lanes, notable for their bright green paint job, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took a very public stance in support of better bicycle infrastructure after he himself was injured during a bicycle outing.

But such activism is also gaining visibility in Monterey Park and other San Gabriel Valley communities where groups like BikeSGV are focusing their efforts. The group organizes bike valet service at major community events such as the weekly farmer’s market and the annual Earth Day festival, and works closely with city officials on grant applications.

Chang, who is also a resident of Monterey Park, says the “need is clearly there” for improved bicycle infrastructure — bicyclists are a common sight in the city, but only a few streets have bike lanes. The city does have a bike plan, but it dates back to 1975.

Chang says they do not yet know when they will present the results of their survey to the city, but officials seem receptive to their efforts. The state is requiring cities like Monterey Park to adopt green building codes and climate action plans that may prompt officials to take bicyclists’ needs into consideration, he added.

Recent efforts to update the bike plan have stalled, with the city lacking the funds to do a full-scale, master bike plan, said Monterey Park Director of Public Works Elias Sakyali. In the meantime, they are exploring possible bike lanes near East Los Angeles College and Mark Keppel High School, and will be unveiling more bike racks on city buses next year. They are also looking for grants to do a master plan.

Earlier this year, BikeSGV got five cities, including Monterey Park, to sign on to an application for an environmental justice grant from Caltrans to fund a regional bike plan. Chang says they are still waiting for the results of that application.

Link to the Monterey Park Bike Survey: http://www.bikesgv.org/2/post/2012/09/monterey-park-bike-survey.htm

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September 6, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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