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Gil Cedillo

Cedillo Insults Bikes as L.A. Gears Up for Metro 2015 Call for Projects

Via the Metro Call for Projects process, yesterday Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo revealed his plans for diagonal parking on North Figueroa Street. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Via the Metro Call for Projects process, yesterday Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo revealed his plans for diagonal parking on North Figueroa Street. Cedillo is pictured above at an October 2014 press event.  Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Via the Metro Call for Projects process, yesterday Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo revealed his plans for diagonal parking on North Figueroa Street. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Metro Call for Projects (the Call) competitively grants transportation funding to L.A. County cities to build various transportation projects. Metro's next Call for Projects will take place in 2015, with cities applying in late January, and awardees announced by mid-2015. The Call takes place every other year.

In the recent past, Metro's Call was the biggest source of funding for L.A. County bicycle and pedestrian projects, though the Call categories go far beyond just active transportation. Due to changes in federal transportation funding, a lot of the walk and bike monies have been shifted into the statewide Active Transportation Program. Nonetheless, the Call continues to shape the way local transportation capital is spent, and still includes some bike and pedestrian funding. This will be the first Call since the Metro Board of Directors adopted the agency's Complete Streets Policy, which asserts that the agency will prioritize projects that support a breadth of modes.

Metro's 2015 Call will include the following funding categories:

    • Regional Surface Transportation Improvements (RSTI; mostly road-widening)
    • Goods Movement Improvements
    • Signal Synchronization and Bus Speed Improvements
    • Transportation Demand Management
    • Transit Capital
    • Bicycle Improvements
    • Pedestrian Improvements

When the Call approaches, the city of L.A. embarks on an internal ranking process. Various city departments-- primarily Transportation (LADOT), but also Public Works bureaus, and sometimes the port, airports, and others--submit projects internally. The Mayor and City Council have a hand in making sure departments include projects that they support and prioritize. The city then scores and ranks the projects internally, selecting a final list of recommended projects.

That entire selection process remains behind closed doors until the final city project list is brought to the City Council for approval. The first step in this approval took place yesterday, when LADOT presented its recommendations to the City Council Transportation Committee. LADOT recommendations include an explanatory cover letter [PDF] and a project list spreadsheet [PDF].

There are millions of stories in these LADOT documents, not all of which will fit in today's article. For now, SBLA will just highlight some of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Some of what looks good includes:

    • Expansion of Express Park to Exposition Park and Venice
    • New DASH shuttles
    • Colorado Boulevard complete streets improvements
    • Pedestrian improvements on Sherman Way, Santa Monica Blvd, and connecting to the Hollywood/Vine Metro station
    • Protected bike lanes on Chandler Boulevard from Vineland Avenue (just east of Metro's North Hollywood station) to Coldwater Canyon Avenue
    • West San Fernando Valley bike path connection between the L.A. River and Orange Line bikeways
    • Adding bike parking at city parks and libraries
    • Traffic-calmed mid-city bicycle boulevards on two corridors: Rosewood Avenue and Alta Vista Boulevard/Cochran Avenue
    • Additional bicycle-friendly business programs

On the bad side, there are:

    • Projects to widen portions of Western Avenue and Los Feliz Boulevard
    • Project to increase turn radii on Alameda Street

And then there's one real stinker: Councilmember Cedillo is pushing diagonal parking at the expense of bike lanes on North Figueroa Boulevard. As a candidate Cedillo claimed that he supported bike lanes for North Fig; then he flip-flopped, killing the project. Though the potential diagonal parking is dressed up in fancy language, extolling pedestrian safety and great streets, it is clear that diagonal parking will take up so much space that approved bike lanes will become infeasible.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition's Eric Bruins described Cedillo's ploy this way:

In suspending the North Figueroa bike lanes, Cedillo pledged to consider the street holistically through the Great Streets process rather than moving forward with one project for any one mode. Instead, what we see in this scope, released 24 hours before adoption by a council committee, is an "anything but bikes" project. Neither approach in fact yields the complete street that Highland Park constituents have asked for again and again at every public meeting.

But it's not time to weep or to celebrate, just yet. There are plenty of steps before any of these projects become on-the-ground reality.

The city's Transportation Committee approved LADOT's list of projects yesterday, which sends the proposal to the full Los Angeles City Council for a vote. According to the city legislative website (CFI 14-1680) the item is scheduled for a vote next Tuesday December 16. The agenda isn't out yet, but this meeting should take place at 10 a.m.

If the full Council approves the list, as expected, then LADOT prepares grant applications and submits them to Metro. Metro selects a limited number of applications to receive funding. Even projects that Metro approves still go through various design and environmental review processes. Interested members of the public can and should weigh in at all these decision points.

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