“Bike the Vote” Endorses Challenger Jesse Creed in Bid to Unseat Paul Koretz
In 2013, I described the election in the Los Angeles City Council District 5 as “quiet.” Paul Koretz was a reliable vote for bicycle friendly policies, albeit a little slow to implement change in his district. His only challenger was little-known and underfunded.
What a difference four years make.
Earlier today, Bike the Vote, a volunteer-run politically active group of concerned bicyclists, endorsed challenger Jesse Creed over the incumbent Koretz.
“I’m honored to have the endorsement of Bike the Vote LA, an all-volunteer political action committee, in my race for Council District 5,” writes Creed. “With a groundswell of grassroots support, my campaign is about the courage to stand up for what’s right, the courage to infuse City Hall with bold, ethical leadership, the courage to tackle the city’s toughest local issues like safe streets — and not just hold office and score quick political points. I’m glad Bike the Vote has the courage to stand with me in my campaign.”
Many bicyclists have expressed disappointment and anger at Koretz over the last several years. Most visibly, Koretz who not only killed an LADOT proposal to put bicycle lanes on Westwood Boulevard surrounding the Expo Line Station, but even squashed a study by the Department that would have examined the safety impacts of different plans.
“An openness to prioritize safety was a key factor in our reviewing team’s decision to endorse Jesse Creed for City Council,” writes Michael MacDonald, one of the volunteers with Bike the Vote. “Too frequently we’ve seen proposals to improve the safety of Los Angeles streets scuttled, whether for concerns over impacts to travel times for single-occupant vehicles, or simply for fear of change. Westwood Boulevard has been a prototypical example of this: a street on LA’s High Injury Network that remains unsafe because of a failure to put safety first. The approach to resolving Westwood Boulevard is one area where we see a difference in candidates…”
Koretz didn’t shy away from is decisions on Westwood Boulevard in his statement to Bike the Vote. If anything he doubled down on his belief that bicycling on Westwood Boulevard is dangerous, and the way to make it safer is to remove the bicyclists.
“I agree that Westwood Boulevard is a dangerous street for people walking and bicycling in Westwood Village,” Koretz wrote. “It is a corridor on LADOT’s High Injury Network. That is why I want to discourage cyclists from using this street. As the Councilmember representing Westwood Village, I consider any other approach to be totally irresponsible.”
Creed’s statement, written without knowledge of what Koretz had written seems almost as though it were a response to what the incumbent wrote on Westwood.
“Councilmember Koretz’s flip-flopping on this issue is a complete failure of leadership,” Creed wrote. “It is not ok to say that a street on the High Injury Network is too dangerous to be improved, which is essentially Koretz’s position. The City’s job is to make it not dangerous.”
Improving Westwood Boulevard has become a key plank in Creed’s campaign. Last week, the candidate held a press conference where he promised to finish the abandoned LADOT study and implement the Department’s recommendations after the study is completed. You can read Streetsblog’s coverage of the press event, here.
But the endorsement was about more than rejecting Koretz’s vision, or lack thereof, for Westwood Boulevard. While Koretz ticks off a list of achievements in increasing mobility and safety both in his district and throughout the city as a member of the City Council Transportation Committee, Bike the Vote notes in its endorsement of Creed that the Councilmember didn’t go far enough while recognizing that the Council office has not been completely hostile to safe streets.
“Unfortunately, under incumbent Councilmember Paul Koretz, residents have seen a string of missed opportunities to create safer streets, from a sidewalk never added near an Expo Line stop to a gap in the Expo bike path that remains unfilled,” wrote Bike the Vote in its endorsement.
“One welcome exception to this trend has been the road diet and bike lanes along Motor Avenue in Palms, which have helped to revitalize an emerging community hub. And Koretz’ role in overseeing the construction of the Expo Line itself, now a rousing success, should be acknowledged – even if he seeks to distance himself from the failure to grade-separate the crossing at Overland Avenue.”
Also filling out the survey is Mark Herd, a community activist from the Westwood/Sawtelle area. Herd’s answers showed a willingness to work with advocates for safe streets, but didn’t show the same breadth of knowledge on the issues as Creed.
“I would like to see more funding to make access safer and stations more abundant,” Herd wrote.
“I’d like to see L.A. as the greenest, cleanest and easiest city to get around in. Building out quality bicycle infrastructure is important as we strive to make L.A. the cleanest city in the nation.”