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Posts from the "NELA" Category

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Next Friday: Join Streetsblog for a #Fig4All Ride and Party Starting and Ending at the Flying Pigeon

A quick stop on the Arroyo Seco Bike Path at our 2011 Flying Pigeon Fundraiser.

Next Friday evening, Streetsblog rides back to the Flying Pigeon Bike Shop, 3404 North Figueroa Street, for a #fig4all ride and party.

Shop owner Josef Bray-Ali will lead us on a tour of where new bike lanes will go in Northeast Los Angeles. Afterwards, we’ll pary, with a cake and ice cream dance party at the bike shop. Bray-Ali promises a dance contest, bicycle dismount contest and raffle with prizes to winners. *

You’ll also have the chance to talk to the camera about how better bike facilities are needed and wanted in NELA. There’s even a chance Council Member Jose Huizar will be on hand to hear from us.

Join us at the Pigeon next Friday. Ride starts at 6:30. Party starts soon afterwards. We’re asking for a $10 donation, but all are welcome regardless of ability to pay.  RSVP on Facebook or to damien@streetsblog.org.

* Oh, and beer, there will be beer.

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Huizar: Bike Lanes on Colorado Will Go Forward. Fox 11 Is Shocked.

Los Angeles Local News, Weather, and Traffic

Good news out of Eagle Rock. Last night, a public meeting on a proposed bike lane for Colorado Boulevard drew out supporters and opposition, but in the end there were more cyclists in favor of the lanes than cranky people opposing them. Recognizing the riding tide, Councilman Jose Huizar announced that the lanes will be painted, to the boos of the bullying crowd.

The lanes will extend from the Glendale City Limit to Avenue 64 in Northeast Los Angeles. The new design will remove one lane of traffic for a buffered bike lane, matching the road design in Glendale. The road diet and new bike lanes will be joined by new, freshly painted and more visible, zebra (aka continental) crosswalks.

This was clearly bad news for the Fox 11 team, who had clearly already planned most of their story to be about a minority of bicycling advocates trying to ram their agenda past the protests of the decent god fearing residents of Eagle Rock. They actually used a reader survey on the Boulevard Sentinel, a paper that outright lies about supporters of the bicycle projects, as proof that Eagle Rock residents oppose bike lanes.

From the opening segment, where a reporter sadly laments that “It’s bikes versus cars, and in Eagle Rock it looks as though the bicycle will win” through the interview with known liar and Boulevard Sentinel publisher Tom Topping, the Fox 11 report is clearly incredulous that anyone would think adding bike lanes on a street that is underutilized by car traffic for the existing lanes (they don’t mention that part either, referring to Colorado Boulevard as “busy”) is a normal person. Read more…

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LADOT approves NELA bike lanes after lengthy contentious battle. But don’t declare victory just yet.

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.

Read more…

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Cyclists Go Positive Against Mis-Information Campaign in Northeast L.A.

The past few months has literally been a battle as the LADOT readies to begin implementing the 2010 Bike Plan by adding bike lanes to a Northeast neighborhood in LA.

After reading the Boulevard Sentinel’s (a local weekly paper) opinion on the negative impact bike lanes would have on this small community, I wanted to show what the positive impact would be. When I heard that Josef Bray-Ali, owner of  Flying Pigeon Bike Shop, was having a friendly bike ride to support local businesses and bring positive cycling awareness to the area, I decided to see it for myself. 

Passionate and energetic, Josef Bray-Ali is cycling a enthusiast, a father and fellow neighbor to not only the residents in the area but also the businesses. He and his brother opened Flying Pigeon in HIghland Park in 2008. In 2012 they moved the shop down the street to Cypress Park.  He describes Figueroa as an “old streetcar suburb arterial road” which used to have two street cars running up and down. 

Read more…

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Economic Review of York Boulevard Road Diet Shows Bike Lanes Don’t Cause Loss of Business

All images via York Boulevard: The Economics of a Road Diet. A poster presentation made at Pro Walk Pro Bike is available at Scribd.

A recent report by Cullen McCormick uses a road diet in Northeast Los Angeles as a case study to examine the economic impacts of reducing mixed-use travel lanes and increasing bicycle lanes. Despite the traditional opposition of local businesses when diets are proposed in front of their stores, McCormick’s case study finds there was little difference in the hyper local economies after a portion of York Boulevard underwent a road diet in 2006.

Click on the image to go to the full report.

McCormick chose a 2.2 mile stretch of York Boulevard between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Figueroa Street because of the on the ground conditions. “”The socio economics are the same between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Figueroa Street,” McCormick explains, “except part of it has a bike lane and road diet, and part of it doesn’t.”

In 2006, the City of Los Angeles put 1.1 miles of York Boulevard on a road diet. They narrowed the street from four mixed-use travel lanes to two mixed-use lanes, a turn lane, and two bicycle lanes between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 52, dividing in half the corridor McCormick would study in 2011 and 2012.

McCormick is aware of two competing ideologies when it comes to the issue of bikes, bike lanes and retail profit. On one hand, retailers around the world fear a change in the status quo and often fight against changes to the existing transportation infrastructure. On the other “bikes are good for business” has been a mantra for bike advocates, especially with the launch of the Bike Friendly Business District model in Long Beach that is catching on around the country.

“I wanted to come into it with as neutral a stance as possible,” McCormick explains.  ”I was curious to see what the data had to show.” Read more…

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City Council Poised to Approve Four More Parklets

Rendering of one of the Spring Street Parklets

(Note: Details on all three City Council hearings on the resolution authorizing four parklets to be built can be found at the end of this story.)

By Friday, the Los Angeles City Council could give the green light to four “pilot” parklets. Parklets are miniature open space projects where one or more parking spaces are converted into a small park right on the city streets. The four parks being considered include two parklets on Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles, the York Boulevard Street Porch in Northeast L.A. and the El Sereno Street Plaza. Streetsblog has previously discussed the Street Porch and Street Plaza here.

“I am thrilled that all four of these pilot parklets are in Council District 14,” said Councilmember José Huizar, who sponsored the resolution and represents the area where the parklets will be built. “From Downtown, to El Sereno, to Highland Park – community members have spoken and they want more pedestrian-friendly public spaces that support local businesses and neighborhoods. It’s a marked shift back to community planning of decades past, where now, like then, we are emphasizing local, sustainable communities where residents can shop, relax and spend time in their own neighborhoods. I look forward to seeing parklets launched Citywide.”

The four parklets would join the Sunset Triangle Plaza as examples of the city making use of its abundance of curb-side parking to create open space for all residents. While L.A. is considering a pilot program, parklets are already popular throughout California. Streetsblog actually held interviews for its Long Beach writer position in a parklet in our neighbor to the south and San Francisco has already installed 40 parklets throughout the city.

“These meetings are the result of many dedicated parties, within and outside of the City, working together over the last 2 years to bring parklets to fruition,” explains Madeline Brozen, the Program Manager for UCLA’s Complete Streets Initiative. “These first demonstration parklets allow for Los Angeles to join the growing list of cities who are using parklets to re-think the use of streets and enhance the public right of way.” Read more…

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Divide and Conquer on the 710 Big Dig

A packed house at a June public meeting on I-710 alternatives in Pasadena. Photo:Dan McGuire/Metro

Last week, Metro finished its most recent public meetings outlining twelve proposals to fill the so-called 4.5 mile “gap” on the I-710 between Alhambra and Pasadena at the I-210. The public response to the twelve alternatives presented was near-uniformly negative. Anger was particularly high at new proposals to connect the I-710 to the I-210 including, a tunnel connecting the 10 Freeway to the 134 Freeway, a surface route that would widen Avenue 64 and a highway route along Huntington Drive, Fair Oaks Avenue and Pasadena Avenue.

The newer proposals were viewed by many communities, including Alhambra, East Los Angeles, La Canada Flintridge and Pasadena as so ludicrous that it pushed the proposal to build a tunnel underneath several San Gabriel Valley Communities off the front pages.

Maybe that was the point. No media coverage of the Big Dig option. No media coverage of the flood of trucks that would dominate San Gabriel Valley Streets. Little mention of that any expansion of the I-710 or surrounding freeways is a giant subsidy to the port and shipping industries.

On August 29, a Metro Technical Advisory Committee will meet to pair down the list of twelve alternatives to just a “handful.” The smaller list could be presented to the full Metro Board of Directors next month or the month after. Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena) firmly believes that the fix is already in for a certain route, despite protests from Metro that it’s totally not. He tells the Daily News, “I think the folks in downtown L.A. are going to try to put on a show to justify a predetermined conclusion…Fundamentally, this is a flawed process.”

If the agency wishes people to believe that the short list of projects that will be studied in a full environmental impact report hasn’t been pre-determined, it would do well to not present the alternatives next month. Read more…

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Huizar, Living Streets, Unveil Parklet Designs for El Sereno Street, York Blvd.

Proposed York Boulevard Street Porch, Highland Park. Click on the image for a high resolution pdf of the image.

Move over Sunset Triangle Plaza, a pair of street reclamation projects on the Eastside are threatening to steal your thunder as the most progressive street reclamation project in Los Angeles. Living Streets L.A.and Councilman Jose Huizar unveiled new designs for a “street porch” on York Boulevard in Highland Park and a “street plaza” on Huntington Drive in El Sereno.  Both designs are completely unique as they arrived as a result of an extensive community process that started with a simple question, “How would you like to improve your street?”  Nearly a dozen sessions later, each community devised surprisingly similar plans. “Ryan [Living Streets' Ryan Lehman] and I were pleasantly surprised that when given the option to choose any street improvement, the project both people chose were in one case a street porch and another case a street plaza,” explains Steve Rassmussen Cancian, the architect for the project. Rasmussen Cancian prefers to avoid the term “parklets” which confuses people by leaving the impression that the city is planning something bigger, such as a soccer field, for the middle of the street.  He prefers the more descriptive “street porch” for the above pictured design for York Boulevard which is actually resembles an urban porch.  For El Sereno, pictured below, he prefers the term “street plaza.”

The El Sereno Street Plaza. Click on the image for a high resolution pdf of the image.

Read more…

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Middle School Students to Reyes: Build Those Bike Lanes! (Update: Read LADOT Comment Below…)

(Update: I’m leaving the text below unchanged so that peoples notes in the comments section makes sense.  Both LADOT and the Office of Councilman Reyes report that there has been contact between the Councilman and LADOT and that lanes will be built “next year.” – DN)

Two weeks ago, Streetsblog reported on efforts by middle school students at Nightingale Middle School in Cypress Park to encourage the city to build bike lanes on two streets connecting the community to the school.  While their efforts received something of a brush off from LADOT and Councilman Ed Reyes, the students are showing some tenacity.  B.I.K.A.S., a new advocacy website for bike advocates published more letters from students and the above video is starting to make the rounds with students and administrators making the case for safer bicycling.

In the video Jackson Huang, interviewed by another student who’s name I can’t make out, talks about his love of riding his bike and how it can be a dangerous experience.  Huang also addresses his comments directly to Councilman Reyes, whom LADOT claims could push the bike lane projects to a higher priority level.

“Ed Reyes, if we don’t get those bike lanes, people will get hurt and people will get more flats.  The United States is one of the most obese countries in the world.”

The video goes on to interview Mr. Summer, the Dean of Students, and Enrique Gonzalez, the principal.  Both are regular bike riders. Summer recounts a story of when he was hit by a bike while Gonzalez makes the case for a safer community.

The students aren’t asking for anything that requires a major lift from the city, just a mile of bike lanes to make their commutes safer.  The lanes would be on Cypress Avenue – from Pepper Avenue to Arroyo Seco Avenue (0.48 miles – immediately alongside NMS) and Avenue 28 – from Pepper Avenue to Figueroa Street (0.48 miles – one block from NMS).  Both lanes appear in the city’s bike plan and the city’s 5 year-implementation plan.

LADOT has said they would “love” to accelerate the projects but is waiting for leadership from the Councilman.

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Nightingale Middle School Students Ask for Safer Streets for Bikes

When students first approached Nancy Chou about creating a bike program at Nightengale Middle School, the school had a bike cage for one or two cyclists that was opened and closed once a day by school administrators. Today they have both the above pictured "Bike Zone" and an active advocacy scene. Photo: Josef Bray Ali/Flying Pigeon

Dream It.  Design It. Do It.

The 3 D’s are the ethos of the D3 Lab of Nightingale Middle School in Cypress Park in Northeast Los Angeles.  The program is designed to help students learn to create change in their community.  Recently, the students waded into the world of bike advocacy in a campaign to create safe passages to their school along just less than a mile of road around their school.  Advocacy for school students is usually confined to Bike to School Days and bringing in bike rodeos, but the D3′ers in Nightingale want to take their advocacy on the street.

Specifically two streets that surround Nightingale: Cypress Avenue – from Pepper Avenue to Arroyo Seco Avenue (0.48 miles – immediately alongside NMS) and Avenue 28 – from Pepper Avenue to Figueroa Street (0.48 miles – one block from NMS).  The good news, both streets appear in the city’s Bike Plan and the five year bike implementation plan.  The bad news, there’s no plan to finish the streets in the near-term and the kids at Nightingale won’t be there forever.

After students expressed interest in a bike program, Nancy Chou, who heads the D3 Lab program at Nightingale reached out to the local bicycle co-op, the Bike Oven and local bike shop the Flying Pigeon Bike Shop to come talk to students about bike safety and advocacy.   Bike Oven founder and Flying Pigeon owner Josef Bray-Ali responded, and he brought CicLAvia consultant (and Streetsblog Board Member) Joe Linton to a student workshop on bicycling.

“I was really surprised to see all the interest in this.  There were a lot of kids at the bike rally and they’re interested in bicycling and making things better for their friends, for their school,” Bray-Ali said of the meeting. Read more…