Bike Advisory Committee: Stop Wasting Time and Money Stalling on Bike Projects

Gil Cedillo campaigned in the Flying Pigeon bike shop and used a picture with the owner in his campaign billboards. Now, Josef Bray-Ali is campaigning hard for Cedillo to fulfill a campaign promise to see bike lanes on North Figueroa Boulevard as the city's Bicycle Advisory Committee calls new studies a waste of time and money. Image: Flying Pigeon
Gil Cedillo campaigned in the Flying Pigeon bike shop and used a picture with the owner in his campaign billboards. Now, Josef Bray-Ali is campaigning hard for Cedillo to fulfill a campaign promise to see bike lanes on North Figueroa Street as the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee calls new studies a waste of time and money. Image: Flying Pigeon

In March of 2011, then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed into law the city’s Bicycle Plan, a list of some 1,600 miles of bicycle lanes, routes, friendly streets and paths scheduled for the next 30 years. In some ways, implementation is going exceedingly well. The pace at which new bicycle lanes are being added exceeds even that of New York City. In other ways, the plan seems stalled as many of the projects that make up the “Backbone Bicycling Network” connecting neighborhoods, are being delayed or canceled as nervous City Councilmembers put up roadblocks to bicycle progress.

And bicyclists aren’t going to stand for it much longer.

On Tuesday night, the city’s official Bicycle Advisory Committee, a body of advocates appointed by individual City Councilmembers and the Mayor’s Office, passed two resolutions (text not available) basically telling the city it’s wasting time and resources by studying and stopping bicycle projects that are already studied and funded.

“In some cases, the City has identified key corridors for bicycle infrastructure and pursued funding for improvements on those corridors, such as the $20 million Proposition 1C grant for the My Figueroa project or Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds,” writes Jeff Jacobberger, a lawyer who chairs the Bicycle Advisory Committee.

“Often, those funds must be spent on that specific street, and cannot be transferred to other projects. When funded projects do not go forward, the money spent on planning and design has been wasted. Moreover, the City’s poor track record of seeing projects through to completion means that it has a harder time competing for future funds.”

The two motions single out proposed bicycle lanes on North Figueroa Street and on Westwood Boulevard, but they could easily apply to projects on Lankershim Boulevard or South Figueroa.

Passing the Bike Plan was easy. Supporting implementation of the projects is proving harder.

Thus, when Councilmember Paul Koretz killed a study of the Westwood Boulevard bike lanes that would provide an important connection to UCLA and a future Expo Line station, it wasn’t just bad policy; it was a waste of money. In its motions, the BAC points out that these proposed bike lanes had already been funded.

In Northeast Los Angeles, Councilmember Gil Cedillo hasn’t come out against bike lanes on North Figueroa, but he is requesting another round of public outreach. This outreach would duplicate efforts completed by LADOT while his predecessor, Ed Reyes, was in office. The popular proposed bike lanes (they even have their own #fig4all hashtag) are opposed by a very vocal minority in the community and a small tabloid newspaper. Cedillo promised support for these bicycle lanes in a candidates forum broadcast on Streetsblog TV last year.

In this case, the city isn’t just wasting money; it’s wasting important manpower.

“The people that work for the city are actually the scarce resource,” argues Herbie Huff**, who was appointed to the BAC by Councilmember Eric Garcetti and re-appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“We can win funds for asphalt. We can win funds for paint. We can win funds for signs. But what the federal government isn’t going to fund is people, and that’s what we’re wasting when we don’t build the projects that are planned and funded.”

In the case of North Figueroa, precious city staff and overtime hours will be spent on the next round of community outreach — to say nothing of the time spent by advocates for and against the lane repeating past efforts. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Ride Figueroa campaign and even Northeast L.A. Critical Mass (which starts in front of Cedillo’s field office) will spend hundreds of hours working to bring out crowds to these public meetings.

But while City Councilmembers push for more meetings, or outright kill projects, based on immediate political concerns; they are also damaging the backbone of the city’s future bicycle network. North Figueroa, South Figueroa, Westwood, Lankershim Blvd. These are all streets that are an important part of the city’s bicycle plans, and delay or cancellation of projects approved in the bike plan, studied by LADOT and funded through state or local sources undermines that plan and public safety.

“It is important to create a complete network of bikeways that provides safe, convenient access to important destinations or across major barriers. Most BAC members were appointed by individual councilmembers, and we acknowledge the important role that councilmembers have in overseeing proposed projects in their districts,” finishes Jacobberger.

“However, deference to councilmembers should not be absolute.  All Angelenos should be able to bike safely to places like UCLA, the Hollywood Bowl, Exposition Park and LA Live; all councilmembers have an interest in ensuring that their constituents can safely bike to the places that their tax dollars support.”

 ** – Fun fact. Huff replaced Joe Linton on the BAC when he moved to Jersey City last year.

  • Rick H.

    Who did Cedillo and Price appoint to the BAC?

  • Jonathan Weiss

    The BAC representative from Cedillo’s office (CD1) is Jennifer Gill. The BAC representative from Price’s office (CD9) is Ron Skarin.

  • rickrise

    Koretz’s fear of even STUDYING the issue shows that something fishy is going on. If we’re not allowed even to explore the facts of the matter, then it is likely that a backroom deal has tried to re-engineer reality for someone’s private profit. After all, everywhere they’ve been put in, bike lanes and road diets have resulted in more business activity, healthier neighborhoods, and fewer deaths and injuries among not just cyclists and pedestrians, but motorists as well–yes, motorist injuries go down! And GPS data from NYC’s taxi fleets shows that motor traffic throughput is either unaffected or actually improves slightly.

    Anyone interested in a reality-based look at the effects of bikeways such as Koretz suppressed and Cedillo is slamming need only explore the trove of studies I collected for the Bicycle Advisory Committee; they reside here: http://tinyurl.com/knfeeyl

  • MaxUtil

    Councilman Cedillo needs to hear that support for N Figueroa is still strong and widespread.

    Sign the petition to move forward with the street improvements here: http://www.change.org/petitions/we-support-bike-lanes-on-figueroa-between-colorado-san-fernando

    And if you can, email and call his office to let them you know you want this to happen. Contact info here: http://fig4all.org/2014/01/29/lost-in-the-desert-of-cd1/

    Opponents of these projects are not going to give up. Pols need to know that there is strong support, that you will back them if they move forward (and that you’ll remember if they don’t). Be polite, but firm, and let them know what you think.

  • ubrayj02

    Cedillo’s office is lying to people about “required community hearings”. This is a response from his office sent to one of the people who’ve contacted him this past month. I don’t get responded to despite going to his office, calling repeatedly, emailing, etc.

    Thank you for your interest in the status of the City’s Bike Plan Implementation for North Figueroa.

    • Per LADOT, 44.1 bike lanes are in various stages of installation or design

    for FY 2013/2014 throughout the City.

    • To date, LADOT has completed design of Phase 1 of the proposed bike

    lanes on North Figueroa from Avenue 22 to Avenue 52.

    • The next step of the City’s Bike Plan implementation process is to conduct

    outreach to inform the community along the proposed route and to listen,

    learn, and respond to the issues and concerns.

    • The North Figueroa segments of the City’s Bike Plan will be in 3 phases.

    • Phase 2 is from Avenue 52 to York Boulevard and Phase 3 is from York to

    Colorado, design is 80% complete and these sections are on hold pending

    resurfacing confirmation from BSS

    • CD1 will be working with LADOT to coordinate and conduct the required

    community outreach to ensure that our residents and businesses have an

    opportunity to learn about the Figueroa Bike Lanes, physical layout, obtain

    community input and suggestions on the potential benefits and issues of

    concern.

    Conrado Terrazas

    District Director

    Office of Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo, District 1

    Mobile 213-200-6161

    “Required community outreach”?! That was completed almost two years ago Conrado. There are no more legal requirements for anything to be done about these bike lanes.

  • whothewhat

    Correction: Herbie Huff is a she :)

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