LADOT: A Mile of New Reseda Boulevard Bike Lanes in September

8_21_09_reseda.jpgAerial shot of Reseda Blvd. via Wikipedia

At last night’s meeting of the Northridge East Neighborhood
Council (NENC,) the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT)
announced their plans to install nearly a mile of new bike lanes on
Reseda Boulevard in September 2009. The announcement was made by
LADOT’s Principal Transportation Engineer for Valley Traffic
Operations, Alan Willis. The new bikeway will extend from Devonshire
Street to San Fernando Mission Road.

The NENC’s agenda included possible action regarding the LADOT’s
plans for Reseda Boulevard. Comments from the public and from
the council were unanimously against LADOT’s plan for peak hour lanes.
Neighbors cited the need for parking, and desire to make Northridge
more of a university town where "visitors and residents want to slow
down and stay in the area rather than speed up and get out!"

About a dozen cyclists were in attendance, including California
State University Northridge (CSUN) staff and faculty, and folks from
the L.A. City Bicycle Advisory Committee, the L.A. County Bicycle
Coalition, the Valley Bikery, Midnight Ridazz, and others. The NENC
board was very receptive and had already formed their "NE/W Vision"
committee to resolve these sorts of traffic and livability issues.

Then LADOT’s Alan Willis took the stand; LADOT Bikeways’ Paul
Meskin and West Valley District’s Ken Firoozmand were also in
attendance, though commented little during the meeting. Willis declared
that "this [Reseda Boulevard peak hour lanes] is not happening." He
continued that he had "good news today" and the LADOT will "do our
darndest to make the bike lanes work" for the nearly 1-mile stretch of
Reseda Blvd from Devonshire to San Fernando Valley Mission, which is
being resurfaced in September. The cheapest and best time to add bike
lanes is when the street "goes dark" during resurfacing.

Willis stated that the mile planned for September is the "most
challenging" stretch of Reseda Blvd. He stated that LADOT already has a
draft bike lane striping plan for that new mile, but that there are
"design issues" due to some constrained stretches where adding the bike
lanes will result in some "loss of parking." Willis continued that
LADOT is coming up with "a safe balance" that will ultimately need the
blessing of decision-makers, which, for this mile, means L.A. City
Councilmember Grieg Smith.

This "good news" was met with some skepticism. While Willis
sounded upbeat and genuine in declaring that the new lanes would be
striped in September, he consistently used language with some wiggle
room, conveying just a hint of doubt. It wasn’t quite
a promise; more like we’re trying really hard. Even when that mile
is done, the 4-mile gap from Devonshire Street to Vanowen Street will
remain. Willis, even when directly questioned on extending the bikeway
below Devonshire, didn’t respond with even a rough time frame. LADOT
Bikeways Paul Meshkin later suggested that the entire gap could
be closed within "about a year." 

When bike-commuter and CSUN math professor Al Sethuraman asked how
to raise the priority of the Reseda bike lanes, Willis responded that
this had already been "handled on the internet" with "trash talking
about DOT." Bike lane supporters and other livability advocates can
take Willis’ remark as a compliment. He’s seems to be saying that L.A.
Streetsblog and many others have been effective at using the internet
to foster greater communication, transparency, clarity, and
participation. A truer compliment will be bike lane stripes on the
ground next month.
  • Rhode Bloche

    Let’s see it happen. We need to push every step of the way.

  • Time for some more “trash talking” if that’s what it will take to make our streets safe. And how about less trash engineering!

  • Why do I feel like I’m reading an early NY Streetsblog article about Iris Wiesenhal’s NYDOT?

    Can our leaders be this spineless when it comes removing a few parking spots in exchange for a bike amenity? It feels like a mountain has to be moved every single time a tiny change is made to slow down cars to favor local neighborhood safety.

  • It really shouldn’t be this hard just to get a little paint on the ground, let alone an honest answer from LADOT. Every day, I read about other cities going out of their way to accommodate cyclists; just yesterday I read about how Santa Rosa put in a temporary bike boulevard to see if it will work, rather than just assuming it can’t be done (http://tiny.cc/cw2Sn).

    If LADOT ever decides to work with us, rather than against us, they’ll find cyclists could be the best friends they ever had.

  • This is really encouraging news. Thank you for reporting on this!

  • I’ve got agree with Ted. In the multiple years I’ve been following the LADOT, I’ve been waiting for any outreached hand that will allow bikes to take a bigger priority on the roads, and I’ve seen firsthand how poorly the department acts in regards to cycling issues.

    Obviously, this is not a staffing problem, but a leadership problem – as the department is quite large and has some dead weight but also some very bright people as well.

    The mayor’s office has their “Tiger Team” mentality which directly conflicts with the mayor’s “Green” baloney. He’s appointed an able manager to run the LADOT, but not a progressive leader (aka Gail Goldberg) with a vision for the City’s future and an ability to morph a department’s culture towards a better future for L.A.

  • Funny how things change in a week thanks to the input of a fairly small, but very vocal, group of people. It’s important to note your comment about using “language with wiggle room.” Unless the folks who have been keeping this issue in the spotlight, like Glenn Bailey and the LA Bicycle Coalition, don’t keep the light shining and the communication going, the Reseda bike path extension will continue to be pushed back.

  • angle

    I find it absolutely SHOCKING that the Principal Transportation Engineer for Valley Traffic Operations feels the need to characterize public criticism of LADOT actions or policies as “trash talk”.

    Taking into account that what the LADOT does affects all of us as residents of Los Angeles and is a publicly-funded agency, it is absurd for Mr. Willis, or anyone else at the LADOT to believe that they can operate as an isolated, secretive cabal, insulated from public debate or scrutiny.

  • Erik G.

    Help LADOT raise $100k for more of these projects: Fire Firoozmand!

  • Erik G.

    Adding bike lanes conflicts with the storage of two-ton pieces or private property on a public right-of-way… how again Mr. Willis?

    So the individual who is TRAVELING somewhere on the public Right-of-Way is not as important as another individual who may wish to PLACE IN STORAGE their $10,000-plus-valued possession on that public Right-of-Way…

    …for free or at a below-market rate?

    Mr. Willis, are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party? Cuz only Karl and Frederich would come up with that kind of logic!

  • @Erik G: I have to disagree with your comment about firing LADOT Valley District Engineer Ken Firoozmand. I was predisposed to be upset with Firoozmand, given the history on this issue… but, in brief interactions with him as the meeting was ending, he seemed very interested in how to balance all the modes on the planned new 1-mile stretch of bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard. I don’t necessarily completely trust him, yet, but I am looking forward to seeing what he and Paul Meshkin come up with.

  • @Joe: This isn’t the first incident such as this in the Valley, in fact Mr. Firoozmand, Mr. Tanjiri and Mr. willis have significant history moving vehicles at the expense of the humans. While you may be content to take a “wait and see” attitude, it would be of greater benefit to poll the local Neighborhood Councils and to use that position as the foundation of an ongoing relationship with the LADOT.

    Waiting to see what the LADOT “will come up with” is to ask for more of the same and will end up being the battle cry for mediocrity. Now is the time to move as a community to establish standards and to raise the bar for pedestrians, cyclists and mass transit passengers.

    This incident should be the DQ for those in the LADOT who play loose with language and hide behind “trash talk” defenses when the community is, once again, called out to defend the quality of life in their neighborhoods.

    C’mon LA! Let’s Go!!

  • FYI – I received this email today from LADOT Bikeways engineer Paul Meshkin. The stretch of Reseda Boulevard from Devonshire to Nordhoff he refers to is about 1.5miles long:

    Hi Joe,

    I read your Streesblog with interest this afternoon. I like to clarify that as we discussed last night after the meeting, the segment of the Reseda Bl bike lanes that we can install in “about a year” is from Devonshire Street to Nordhoff Street and not the entire segment. Thanks

    Paul

  • angle

    1.5 miles of bike lane in a year? At that rate, just imagine how many miles of bike lane could be installed by the year 2109!

    The mind reels!

  • @Stephen – You’re right. Re-reading my post it does sounds a bit passive – as you characterize it: “wait and see.” That’s not what I meant, and not what I would advise, so thanks for pointing that out. I think, as Stephen frequently says and does, it’s time to continue to keep the pressure on. Community activism got us this far, and will be needed to make sure that the LADOT follows through on its pledge to implement the next mile of lanes in September… and to ultimately finish these lanes and other bike facilities.

    I would especially encourage Valley residents, businesses, students, pedestrians, cyclists, etc. to continue to contact Councilmember Greig Smith to urge him to make it a priority to close that gap so that the Reseda Bike Lanes span the entire Valley.

    There’s a sample letter/email online here: http://lacbc.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/reseda-blvd-bike-lane-letter/

  • The first half of the pledged ~1 mile is striped (apparently done on Sunday 9/20) – so there are bike lanes from Chatsworth Street to just above San Fernando Mission Road. From Chatsworth to Devonshire is supposed to be striped on October 4th. Article with photos coming soon here at L.A. StreetsBlog.

  • As promised by Paul Meshkin the bike lanes from Nordhoff to Devonshire are being painted this very weekend on Reseda Blvd. A little later then desired, but sure beats having Reseda re-striped to accommodate three lanes of vehicle traffic. The entire Board at Northridge East Neighborhood Council (NENC) are extremely pleased to see cyclists given a bit more room around the campus of California State University Northridge. I’m sure all the Apartment Residents that utilize Reseda for parking are extremely happy as well not to loose their cherished spots. Now we need to rally for lanes on Lassen and Zelzah to allow cyclists safer means of getting into the University. Nordhoff is too busy of a thoroughfare to entertain a bike lane on the south side of Campus. Thanks LADOT for listening to what the Stakeholders asked for last year at the NENC General Board Meeting.
    Tbaker