LADOT: We Were Never Considering Removing Bike Lanes on Reseda Blvd.

Yesterday I got an e-mail from Carolyn Jackson at the Los Angeles Department of Transportation which basically said that the LADOT has no plans to remove bike lanes or change the street parking patterns to increase peak hour travel on Reseda Boulevard.  Realizing that she was facing a skeptical audience of one, Jackson even included an email from the LADOT to the Northridge West Neighborhood Council to prove her point.

First of all, I have checked with both our Meter Planning group and our Geometric Design section; and there are no plans to install either parking meters or peak hour lanes on Reseda Boulevard at this time.  Secondly, the reduction in DOT staff hours due to furloughs and DOT's severely reduced overtime budget do not make it possible to send someone to your meetings to talk about something that we do not plan to do.  Please accept this written summary of the situation on Reseda Boulevard in lieu of our attendance at your meetings.

Northridge West Neighborhood Council Chair Dennis DeYoung explains that after the Council received a flurry of calls because the LADOT posted a sign announcing the removal a stop sign; the Council decided to be more proactive in making statements about their transportation vision before potential projects are sprung on them.

DeYoung had heard discussion of a proposal to remove bike lanes and parking on Reseda Boulevard and had sponsored a motion supporting that concept.  In response, cyclists mobilized through blogs and Internet mailing lists and turned out sixty speakers to speak of the need for the current bike lane and push for an extension for the lane to cover all of Reseda Boulevard.  Even a skeptic such as DeYoung, who's office faces Reseda Boulevard, was converted to a believer in alternative transportation.  A motion opposing the the concept of removing bike lanes and parking in favor or peak hour car travel lanes.

As for next steps, the LADOT continues to insist that it has no plans to remove either the bike lanes or the parking; but also couldn't commit to a timeline for completion of the bike lanes to cover the entire length of Rededa Boulevard.  Jackson stated that LADOT is currently working with the local Councilmen to set the timeline.

So, what happened?  How did bloggers and activists, myself included, get the story so wrong?  There are a couple of options.

The first is that the traffic engineers in the West Valley DOT offices were evaluating removing the lanes on their own and pulled the plug after the plan was leaked and opposition rose.  The main source for the original story at Biking In L.A., Glenn Bailey, is Chair of the city's official Bike Advisory Committee and not someone known for hyperbole and over-reaction.  However, his position does give him some insider access to DOT staff.  In which case, the cyclists that pedaled to the Neighborhood Council meeting on Monday may have headed off a disaster.

A second option is that DeYoung, Bailey and everyone else misread the signs, so to speak, and the LADOT was never intending to change the road design.  If that's the case, then those attending Tuesday's meeting can still take credit for educating a Neighborhood Council to the value of complete streets and bike lanes.

Either way, the take home message is that, at least for now, the LADOT has no plans to do anything to the Reseda Boulevard bike lanes.  The Neighborhood Council still has the issue on the agenda for next month, so check back here or at Biking In L.A. for more updates.