Two Steps Forward and One Step Back for Protected Bikeways in LAJanuary 28, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | 3 Comments
Tags: My Figueroa
Last last year, LACBC announced a new campaign to bring next generation bikeways to the City of Los Angeles. Over 1,400 of you lent your support to this effort. (It’s not too late to sign on!) We were thrilled to announce two weeks ago that the City of Los Angeles applied to join the Green Lane Project, the first win of our campaign. Since then, we’ve turned our attention to My Figueroa, which promises to be the City’s first true protected bikeway (a.k.a. cycletrack), distinguished by a curb to separate bicyclists from traffic and dedicated bike signals at intersections.
Streetsblog previewed today’s hearing at City Council’s PLUM Committee to consider the appeal of the project by Shammas Auto Group, and a motion by 9th District Councilmember Curren Price to study alternatives to the proposed project. This afternoon, PLUM deferred to the local councilmember by continuing the item for 30 days to address the motion and instructed city staff report back to the committee.
Where does this leave us?
Councilmember Price is trying to thread a difficult needle. He has gone on record supporting cycletracks as an essential component of the project, recognizing that this project is not about serving existing bicyclists, but people who want to ride and don’t feel safe. And yet his proposal to delay the project and exhaustively study alternatives may be fatal, compromising a multimillion dollar investment in South Los Angeles.
Major institutions along the corridor, including the California Science Center, USC and Shammas, believe that decoupling the cycletracks and routing southbound bicyclists onto Flower will reduce perceived impacts to Figueroa. But early on in project development, Flower was eliminated as an option for many good reasons:
- Running a cycletrack on Flower would leave only one through lane on that street, likely impacting traffic even more than the proposed project.
- Flower is a less direct route between USC and downtown, requiring the people that are most sensitive to extra distance to go out of their way to reach their destinations.
- Flower runs along the backside of the car dealerships and other unwelcoming uses with few “eyes on the street.” This project is intended to make people of all ages and abilities feel comfortable riding all hours of the day.
- Almost all the destinations in the Figueroa Corridor are on Figueroa itself. This project is designed to increase vibrancy in front of these attractions. Moving half of the bicycle traffic to Flower works counter to this objective.
The institutions have not provided any evidence supporting their claim that Flower is a superior alternative.
Normally, LACBC is open to considering alternative routes. But in this case, there is literally no money available to revisit Flower as an option without dipping into funds that are better spent on other projects. My Figueroa has maxed out on their design budget, leaving only construction dollars. Furthermore, LADOT is about ready to send the current project out to bid for construction. It is shovel-ready. But any changes will require going back to square one on environmental review and design. That will set the project back well over a year at a minimum and send it way over budget. Any alternative that does include Flower will expand the scope of construction, further driving up the cost of the project for likely zero benefit.
This project has been developed with robust community input, context sensitivity and compromise, when warranted. Like protected bikeways all across the country, it will be a boon to business along the corridor. It is a project worthy of being Mayor Eric Garcetti’s first “Great Street.” Los Angeles is on the cusp of reinventing itself in the public realm. This is no time for delay.
Councilmember Price, let this investment in South LA’s future begin.
If you are a regular visitor to any of the institutions along the Figueroa Corridor, please let them know that you support making Figueroa walkable and bikeable without delay:
- California Science Center
- University of Southern California
- California African American Museum
- Natural History Museum
Special thanks to our partners T.R.U.S.T. South L.A., Community Health Councils, Los Angeles Walks and the USC Bicycle Coalition.