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LADOT: A Mile of New Reseda Boulevard Bike Lanes in September

8_21_09_reseda.jpgAerial shot of Reseda Blvd. via Wikipedia

At last night's meeting of the Northridge East Neighborhood
Council (NENC,) the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT)
announced their plans to install nearly a mile of new bike lanes on
Reseda Boulevard in September 2009. The announcement was made by
LADOT's Principal Transportation Engineer for Valley Traffic
Operations, Alan Willis. The new bikeway will extend from Devonshire
Street to San Fernando Mission Road.

The NENC's agenda included possible action regarding the LADOT's
plans for Reseda Boulevard. Comments from the public and from
the council were unanimously against LADOT's plan for peak hour lanes.
Neighbors cited the need for parking, and desire to make Northridge
more of a university town where "visitors and residents want to slow
down and stay in the area rather than speed up and get out!"

About a dozen cyclists were in attendance, including California
State University Northridge (CSUN) staff and faculty, and folks from
the L.A. City Bicycle Advisory Committee, the L.A. County Bicycle
Coalition, the Valley Bikery, Midnight Ridazz, and others. The NENC
board was very receptive and had already formed their "NE/W Vision"
committee to resolve these sorts of traffic and livability issues.

Then LADOT's Alan Willis took the stand; LADOT Bikeways' Paul
Meskin and West Valley District's Ken Firoozmand were also in
attendance, though commented little during the meeting. Willis declared
that "this [Reseda Boulevard peak hour lanes] is not happening." He
continued that he had "good news today" and the LADOT will "do our
darndest to make the bike lanes work" for the nearly 1-mile stretch of
Reseda Blvd from Devonshire to San Fernando Valley Mission, which is
being resurfaced in September. The cheapest and best time to add bike
lanes is when the street "goes dark" during resurfacing.

Willis stated that the mile planned for September is the "most
challenging" stretch of Reseda Blvd. He stated that LADOT already has a
draft bike lane striping plan for that new mile, but that there are
"design issues" due to some constrained stretches where adding the bike
lanes will result in some "loss of parking." Willis continued that
LADOT is coming up with "a safe balance" that will ultimately need the
blessing of decision-makers, which, for this mile, means L.A. City
Councilmember Grieg Smith.

This "good news" was met with some skepticism. While Willis
sounded upbeat and genuine in declaring that the new lanes would be
striped in September, he consistently used language with some wiggle
room, conveying just a hint of doubt. It wasn't quite
a promise; more like we're trying really hard. Even when that mile
is done, the 4-mile gap from Devonshire Street to Vanowen Street will
remain. Willis, even when directly questioned on extending the bikeway
below Devonshire, didn't respond with even a rough time frame. LADOT
Bikeways Paul Meshkin later suggested that the entire gap could
be closed within "about a year." 

When bike-commuter and CSUN math professor Al Sethuraman asked how
to raise the priority of the Reseda bike lanes, Willis responded that
this had already been "handled on the internet" with "trash talking
about DOT." Bike lane supporters and other livability advocates can
take Willis' remark as a compliment. He's seems to be saying that L.A.
Streetsblog and many others have been effective at using the internet
to foster greater communication, transparency, clarity, and
participation. A truer compliment will be bike lane stripes on the
ground next month.

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