Update: City Planner Claire Bowen sends word that the determination sent out yesterday was merely a procedural matter, and should not be read as a final decision in the matter. The city is still accepting input and no decision has been made.
So much for that.
The announcement, when it broke yesterday, came without warning, potentially declaring an end to one of the most contentious battles on the streets of L.A.
Since late last year, both supporters and opponents of planned bike lanes in Northeast L.A. have phoned, written and emailed their elected leaders, lobbied local businesses and attended a seemingly endless stream of often angry meetings on the subject.
Yet both sides were surprised when LADOT General Manager Jaime de la Vega unexpectedly made an official determination that the lanes would be built.
The decision includes plans to install 5.1 miles of bike lanes, combining both standard and buffered bike lanes, on North Figueroa Street from San Fernando Road to Colorado Blvd in accordance to the 2010 Bicycle Plan. However, due to construction associated with replacing the Riverside Drive Bridge over the Los Angeles River, the initial section will end at Avenue 22, rather than San Fernando; whether or not the second phase will be completed likely will depend on additional outreach efforts in Council District 14.
In addition, the plan call for a three-mile combination of buffered and standard bike lanes on Colorado Blvd between the Glendale and Pasadena city limits. Again, however, a portion will be delayed pending repair sections of the concrete roadway east of Figueroa.
Imagine that — actually fixing a street before installing bike lanes.
Opposition to the plans to remove traffic lanes on North Figueroa and Colorado Blvd has been small but determined, apparently lead by Boulevard Sentinel publisher Tom Topping and Galcos owner John Nese, who claims to support bike lanes in theory, but not at the expense of traffic lanes.
And not always accurately.
The Sentinel claimed to have collected 565 votes in opposition to the lane removal on its website, with only three votes in support. However, the survey was criticized as a classic push poll, in which the question is formed in such as way as to lead to the desired response. And even that number paled in comparison to the more than 1400 signatures gathered by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition in favor of the bike lanes.
The opposition criticized those signatures, and many of the people who came to meetings to speak in favor of the bike lanes, as coming from outsiders who did not live or work in the area, suggesting they should not have a voice in the matter. Even though no one would suggest that the many drivers who pass through NELA on their way to and from other areas should have no say in the matter.