When a bike lane and road diet were approved by LADOT for 5.1 miles of N. Figueroa Street, from San Fernando Road to Colorado Boulevard, safe streets advocates were thrilled. The plan promised better pedestrian crossings, buffered bike lanes and reduced traffic speed. But once Councilmember Gil Cedillo replaced Ed Reyes in last year’s election, the plans were knocked off track.
In less than a year, Cedillo re-opened the public process, stacked a meeting with representatives of city departments who weren’t representing their departments and is now phone-banking and sending out volunteers door-to-door against the project. The next meeting is Thursday of this week at 6:00 p.m. at Franklin High School. Despite Cedillo’s efforts, he has yet to fill a room with more people opposed to the project than for it.
But after Fire Department Captain Ed Elguea of Station 44 appeared in uniform at the last public meeting to state that the road diet would negatively impact LAFD emergency response times, enough was enough. City Bicycle Advisory Committee Chair Jeff Jacoberger demanded to know on what basis Elguea made this claim in a public records request. The response is embedded above. The LAFD has undertaken no study that would back Elguea’s claim.
In fact, the only study that’s ever been done on the impact the diet would have on response times was done as part of the environmental review of the project. The City’s CEQA analysis included an “Initial Study” prepared by City Planning states:
The implementation of the proposed projects would not impede emergency access. Bicyclists would follow the same protocol as vehicles in surrendering the right of way to emergency vehicles. The design of all bikeway facilities will be governed by the Technical Design Handbook and applicable federal, state and local guidelines.
The proposed projects would comply with all City of Los Angeles fire department requirements. Less than significant impacts to emergency access are anticipated.
(Initial Study, page 25 )
But while Cedillo and road diet opponents flounder in opinions, road diet supporters continue to rally and organize under the #Fig4All banner. Nearly two-dozen “Fig4All” sash wearers walked with Garcetti and Cedillo during a community event this weekend. Last Thursday, the Highland Park Neighborhood Council voted to support the road diet and to write a letter to the city stating its position.
Meanwhile, as the new public process roles on, headed by a Councilmember that seems determined to shape the debate rather than listen to it, advocates are left to wonder what happened to this guy, the candidate that gave a full backing to North Figueroa bicycle lanes: