The Los Angeles City Council, mindful of millions of dollars in recent lawsuit payouts stemming from bicycle accidents, voted Tuesday to create a plan to inspect all bike paths and lanes and devise ways to pay for any needed repairs.
The city in 2017 paid out more than $19 million in lawsuits to settle cases involving cyclists injured or killed on city streets -- four times higher than any other year over the last decade, according to the Los Angeles Times, which also reported that 19 percent of the city's bike lanes and routes are on streets graded by the city to be a D or F.
Former Bureau of Street Services employees testified during depositions that the city abandoned the practice of regularly inspecting all of its streets roughly five years ago, although the BSS did say it began inspecting all the city's major streets four times a year as of October 2016.
Large payouts in 2017 included $7.5 million for bicyclist William Yao, who was left a quadriplegic following a crash blamed on a substandard street. Yao's attorney said he obtained copies of reports that showed the city had received complaints about the condition of the bike lane where the accident occurred, and that an inspector had been sent out to the site, but nothing was done.
The City Council, on an 11-0 vote, directed the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, in coordination with the bureaus of Street Services and Engineering, to inspect the present condition of every lane mile of Class I and Class II bike paths and lanes within the city and produce a timeline and cost estimate for bringing any deficient pavement up to appropriate safety standards. The chief legislative analyst and city administrative officer will be tasked with reviewing the report and preparing budgetary instructions necessary to effect repairs on any deficient infrastructure.
The vote also instructs LADOT, before new on-street bicycle infrastructure is installed, to obtain a certification from the Bureau of Street Services that the pavement is in a state of good repair, and that both departments report back with a comprehensive plan to ensure that the pavement on the bicycle network is maintained at that standard.