Colorado, Figueroa, Lankershim, Westwood…Checking in on the Bike Wars

As LADOT and City Planning continue outreach over proposals for bike lanes and road diets in the city’s bike plan, opposition has sprung up from entrenched community activists and business owners and at least one stoner. As LADOT wraps up this round of outreach, Streetsblog checks in on the status of the bicycle projects along three of Los Angeles’ iconic corridors: Lankershim, Colorado, and Westwood.

Colorado Boulevard

Despite some vocal backlash, especially at community meetings and in Patch’s comments section, it appears that the proposed bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard for three miles from Avenue 64 and Glendale City Limits will move forward. The Bike Plan proposes removing the third lane on Colorado Boulevard as well as on Eagle Rock Boulevard, and replacing them with buffered bike lanes, similar to the ones on Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles.

Last night, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council voiced its support for the bike lanes with a 12-1 vote (h/t Walk Eagle Rock on Twitter), and Councilman Jose Huizar is already on the record in support of the project.

That being said, there is another Neighborhood Council vote on the bike lane at the Highland Park Neighborhood Council meeting tomorrow. If the opposition to the lanes is going to gain some ground, it’s going to be at the Neighborhood Council level, no matter how many silly editorials run in the Boulevard Sentinel.

LADOT looks at the Lankershim bike lanes as one way to provide access to the NBC Universal lot. Image: ##http://ladotbikeblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/universal-area.jpg##LADOT Bike Blog##

Lankershim Boulevard

The city is proposing to make room for two new bike lanes on 2.4 miles of Lankershim Boulevard by removing one of the northbound lanes between Chandler Boulevard and Cahuenga Boulevard. The plan has the backing of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and its local bike ambassador program, Ride Lankershim. The North Hollywood Arts District also actively encourages support for the lanes.

However, there is powerful pushback against the proposal. The two local City Council Members, Paul Krekorian and Tom LaBonge, have expressed some concerns (Krekorian) or outright opposition (LaBonge) to the lanes. Krekorian is holding his own series of “opportunities for public feedback” and talked a the Mid-Town North Hollywood Neighborhood Council from supporting the lanes in February so more feedback could be solicited. LaBonge announced to the Daily News his outright opposition because the plan for a road diet was “unsafe.”

LaBonge’s opposition is particularly disappointing to bicycle advocates after his support for bike lanes on 7th Street and on Rowena Boulevard in Silver Lake. The Councilman argues that the best place for the lanes is one block away on Vineland Boulevard.

Given how city departments rarely buck the wishes of local Council Members, the Lankershim lanes could be on life support for at least the next two years when LaBonge is term-limited out of office unless his opposition is mollified or LADOT/City Planning gives up and moves its plans to Vineland.

The future of South Figueroa at 11th Street? Doesn't seem so far fetched now. Click on the image for a high-res version.

South Figueroa Boulevard

MyFigueroa!, the popular South Figueroa project proposing the city’s first separated bike lanes, will have its first public meetings in two years next week on April 9.  The plan would add three miles of bike lanes, most of those lanes physically separated from the rest of traffic, on Figueroa between 7th Street and MLK Boulevard.

Project backers received some bad news last week when LADOT announced that the MyFigueroa project would continue to go through the EIR process, in contrast with an earlier announcement. The EIR process could add months to the project timeline, but city officials claim the project should still complete production before funding expires at the end of 2014. The reason MyFigueroa! will undergo a full environmental review and not other bike lane projects? The separated bike lanes are “different” than traditional or buffered bike lanes.

At this point, there hasn’t been much in the way of public opposition to the project. Two years ago, sceptics for the project included the local business improvement district, which is controlled by car dealerships. Whether or not these groups speak up next week and as the project moves forward, remains to be seen.

Westwood Boulevard

The proposed floating bike lane for Westwood between National and Santa Monica Boulevards. Image by LACBC via ##http://ranchoparkonline.com/profiles/blogs/westside-neighborhood-council-discusses-bike-lanes-for-westwood##Rancho Park Online##

We’ve already covered Westside community groups opposition to bike lanes and a road diet on Westwood Boulevard, and suffered the wrath of John and Ken for our impertinence. However, it was KCET that broke the news that local Council Member Paul Koretz is also on the record opposing bike lanes on Westwood.

Koretz’s letter states that another westside North-South arterial, Sepulveda Boulevard, would be a better place to experiment with a road diet/bike lane proposal. The Sepulveda Boulevard project is actually longer than the one on Westwood (2.1 miles vs 1.6 miles). The Sepulveda project also connects to bike lanes that exist between National Boulevard and Venice Boulevard. Lastly, the lanes would provide access to the future Expo Line station, even providing a connection from the much maligned, and much used, Venice Boulevard bike lanes.

In short, the Sepulveda bike lane project is a good project.

But just having bike lanes on an adjacent street doesn’t mean abandoning the lanes on Westwood is a good idea. The Westwood lanes would connect to existing lanes and provide an important, and safe, way for cyclists to access UCLA. However, at least for now, the Westwood Lanes are a non-starter with the Council Member, and might be on hold for the short- and mid-term.

If the city doesn’t push forward with the Westwood plan, it would also negate a lot of good work done by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. The LACBC designed “floating” bike lanes for Westwood that would have allowed the street to maintain peak hour capacity in peak hour directions and still add safe and attractive bike lanes.

9 thoughts on Colorado, Figueroa, Lankershim, Westwood…Checking in on the Bike Wars

  1. There are not any safe ways to come into UCLA from the East. Sunset and Wilshire are both very dangerous with high speeds. Therefore, many people go to the south via Santa Monica (or I come in on Pico) and Westwood is the arterial which best assists cyclists come into campus. I find it frustrating that the council office is supporting a street which does not directly lead into the main attraction (UCLA) which has 50,000 people entering every day.

  2. The arguments for and against bike lanes have started to matter less and less to me as the months of 2013 drag on into Spring and soon Summer – when some of these projects are slated to be installed.

    What really matters then? What really matters is that people in support of bike lanes start showing up in large numbers at community meetings, that people who support bike lanes are helped with their voter registration, that people who support bike lanes write real letters to their council offices.

    That is it. The facts are easy to glean from public health, economic development, traffic safety, and other studies. The opposition to these lanes isn’t fighting us based on some relevant factual matters – the opposition is using slander, lies, anecdotal evidence, and plain old “more of us than you” tactics to scare the crap out of politicians.

    The only way to fight that is to bring in an army of people voicing their support for bike lanes.

    We lost Tom LaBonge when Stephen Box rallied the bike community to help him run against LaBonge (not that LaBonge was a sure pro-bike vote anyway – but he was a lot more likely to go our way before that).

    I am so wrapped up in politics locally that I have nary a faint glimmer of understanding of the numbers of cyclists in other districts outside of NELA.

    Every public meeting held on bike lanes in this community has been overwhelmingly in favor of bike lanes – like not even close, hands down, slam dunk numbers of people in favor of lanes vs. those opposed.

    You don’t overturn the status quo with anything less, and even then it isn’t guaranteed.

    Do not think that your two minutes at the mic is going to make people in opposition to bike lanes switch sides. Instead of wasting your time at the mic, spend that two minutes getting 3 or 4 people who live in the community to come with you to a meeting and voice their support for lanes.

  3. It might be UCLA itself which needs to point out to the community that once the Westwood Station on the Expo Line opens, a large number of people travelling to the UCLA campus will be using Westwood to do so.

    At least until the Purple Line opens it’s station at Wilshire/Westwood.

    One option is to just open the station and look for the desire lines. Another would be to plan for what is going to happen.

  4. Thanks for this update. Besides the Colorado render (which I wish was what LADOT actually proposed), a few corrections to offer: 1) The Highland Park NC meeting will address North Figueroa, not Colorado, to my knowledge. 2) Street name suffixes: Rowena Avenue, Vineland Avenue, Figueroa Street (not Boulevard, as stated in this post).

  5. Gotta say I really, really don’t like the look of that rendering for South Figueroa. It looks suspiciously like one of those Manhattan deathtraps, in one of the more Manhattan-like parts of downtown (i.e., lots of pedestrians trying to catch cabs and buses right in the zone into which we are being funneled with nowhere to escape or evade).

  6. Any recommendations on what to do when the meetings you’d love to attend happen to be during a standard work day when I have to, I don’t know, work?

  7. I like bikes and facilities, but frankly it seems we’re missing a really big point here that the “no facilities bike advocates” like to make.

    I don’t need a bike lane to ride Westwood. I just take the whole lane.

    Perhaps if more of you rode your bike like you are entitled to the ENTIRE lane – which of course you are – car drivers would be clamoring to create a “separate but equal” lane in which to banish you.

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