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.
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.
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.
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.
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.