South L.A. Neighborhood Bike Ambassadors Confer with Planners on Bike and Mobility Plans

Members of the South L.A. Neighborhood Bike Ambassadors discuss the infrastructure improvements they would like to see in their community. (photo: sahra)

Last night, between 15 and 20 members of the South L.A. Neighborhood Bike Ambassador (NBA) group gathered in the (amazing!) Civil Rights Museum at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee to talk with Jane Choi (Dept. of City Planning’s LA/2B), David Somers (Dept. of City Planning’s Bicycle Planner), and Nate Baird (Dept. of Transportation’s Project Coordinator for Bicycle Outreach and Planning) about infrastructure needs in the community.

Participants (myself included) benefited from hearing about the process behind the development and implementation of the Bike and Mobility Plans and the role we could play in promoting our interests. Then, we spent the next hour poring over and marking up the plans.

“It would be great if we could get a bike lane on Imperial,” Nicolas Ruiz of Los Ryderz suggested shyly as we stood looking at the map of the draft Bike Plan.

Sensing he had more insights to offer, I pulled him up to the head of the table where the LA/2B maps of the area were laid out. Together, Nico, Javier Partida (the leader of Los Ryderz), and Stalin Medina (owner of the Watts Cyclery) talked to Choi about unsafe pedestrian crossings at 103rd and Success Sts. and how cars often speed along the narrow corridor of Wilmington Ave. between the Rosa Parks station and 103rd. That kind of input is invaluable, particularly in the case of Wilmington Ave. Although pedestrians and cyclists are often hit (or narrowly missed, as in my case) along that corridor, few of the incidents are reported to the authorities, making it hard for planners to know the area needs some sort of intervention.

I moved over to where the East Side Riders were discussing the bike lanes they wanted to see prioritized in the area. We were all excited to learn that funding had been won to implement the lanes along Central Ave. But, given the boom in riding in the area and the tendency of riders to prefer main streets over side streets, the club felt there was a real need to get some of the lanes slated for implementation prioritized sooner rather than later. They also requested Normandie Ave. — not currently part of the plan — be considered for a lane. Similarly, NBA members from the West Adams area pushed for prioritization of the striping of a lane along Jefferson and for the rest of Adams to be marked with Sharrows.

Considering it was only the third meeting of the NBA group, we were making some great steps forward. We had gone from wondering about whether we should hold events and how to do outreach to communicating directly with planners. And, not only were the planners genuinely interested in hearing from the community, but they asked about the possibility of getting a riding tour of the neighborhoods so they could see areas of concern firsthand.

So, while it was really chilly riding home after the meeting, I think we all felt a little warmer at knowing we were making positive steps forward on behalf of the community. Although, that may have been wishful thinking on my part. It was pretty darn cold.


***I’d like to extend a huge thanks to the planners for taking time on their day off to engage us on the Bike and Mobility Plans and to the NBA members who braved the cold night to offer feedback on behalf of the community. The LACBC-sponsored South L.A. Neighborhood Bike Ambassadors meet on the second Wednesday of each month. For more information about our group or the one in your area, check the LACBC’s NBA page.


  • David

    Hi Sahra and others,

    Thanks for writing about the meeting.

    I did not attend the 3rd meeting because I could not find the place. I drove like 10 times around the place, but there was no lighting or sign. How sad! I emailed everyone, but I think everyone was focused on the meeting. By the time someone responded to my email, I was on my way home. Bummer! However, I am glad other people went.

    From talking with Alek, I think the meetings are the second Monday not Wednesday. Unless that changed at the meeting on Tuesday.

    My view for the south region is to add something on Broadway, Figueroa, Vermont or extend Main to downtown. I read part of the Bike Plan for Los Angeles and they say that congested streets are not ideal for bike lanes, but Vermonth is on the plan. Vermont is super congested and they have narrow roads after you Washington going north to Los Feliz.
    This plan was for the future though. Figueroa would also be good because it could connect to the Figueroa Corridor from the south all the way to then north. Bike lanes around USC would probably get enough support. Where we need support and lanes is south of MLK on Figueroa is they wanted to do something. On Broadway, the bus ridership to Downtown LA is ridiculuos going north and coming south. I take this bus and scores of people ride their bikes along Broadway. It would be perfect to connect the south to Downtown LA. Main would also be good because it is suppose to be less congested. They already started a bike lane from Imperial or Century going north along Main.

    I know the plan is to have a bike lane on Central, but I was under the impression this was not until next year or in a couple of years. Correct me if I am wrong. I also think that the lane was pushed all the way to the border of the adjacent unicorporated areas and Huntington Park.

    I also talked with several candidates running for the 9th district. I personally told them about the lack of bike lanes in the 9th district which consists of good large portion of South LA. Based on my chats with these candidates, they were on board, but one doubted there were enough cyclists, which I told him was not true. He did mention the Watts Towers rides though.

    I just wanted to share my views.  I hope I can make it to the 4th one.



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