Prepare to get mad.
Because this is a city that lacks even a minimally sufficient level of biking infrastructure. A city where the new bike plan fails to include a number of routes proposed in the previous plan that no one ever got around to building. And where the vast majority of potential routes that cyclists might actually use are considered “currently infeasible.”
Yet the Department of Transportation is preparing to remove an already existing bike lane in the San Fernando Valley.
West Valley traffic planners intend to erase the thin line of paint that carves out just a tiny fraction of Reseda Boulevard for bicyclists, just to feed an ever increasing need for motorized vehicle capacity. Regardless of what effect that might have on the safety of cyclists. Or the livability, and sustainability, of our city.
Or maybe they just didn’t get the memo that there are other road users on the streets of L.A.
And now it’s up to us to stop them.
Not surprising, they’ve done their best to keep local residents and business people in the dark — along with the area Chambers of Commerce and all three of the Neighborhood Councils in the effected area.
Then again, the people who live and work in the affected area shouldn’t feel alone. The Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee, and even the DOT’s own bicycle planning department, were kept out of the loop, as well.
Evidently, as far as the West Valley DOT was concerned, it was on a need to know basis. And anyone who might possibly object didn’t need to know — even though public hearings are required before removing an existing bike lane.
According to BAC Chairperson Glenn Bailey, it only came to light when bike planning engineers tried to coordinate with the West Valley traffic engineers about long-standing plans to add another three miles of bike lanes, and eventually extend the current bike lane the full length of Reseda Blvd.
Instead, they were told not to waste their time. The WVDOT had already overridden those plans in order to create Peak Hour Lanes along Reseda Boulevard — meaning that all on-street parking will be banned during peak hours.
As a result, the three miles of planned bike lanes, which would have run next to the parking lane, were no longer under consideration. And a full two miles of the existing bike lanes on both sides of the road between Van Owen and Ventura Boulevard would have to be removed.
Similar Peak Hour Lanes have recently been installed along Balboa, Tampa and De Soto, as well as Topanga Canyon Blvd — a state highway where CalTrans had been willing to put in a bike lane, but was overridden by the DOT’s inexplicable lust for maximum motorized throughput at the expense of any form of alternative transportation. Even though research shows half of all car trips could be walked or biked.
Evidently, four north/south Peak Hour routes within just a few miles aren’t enough, even though evidence has repeatedly shown increasing capacity usually results in short term gains, at best.
Of course, when Glenn tried to get more information, his emails were ignored — despite that fact that he chairs a supposedly important civic committee and was appointed by the mayor himself.
Then when he finally reached the West Valley District Engineer by phone to ask about the cancelation of the planned extension, he was told “I’m not going to put in a bike lane for one or two bicyclists.”
This despite the fact that neither the city, nor anyone else, has yet conducted an accurate survey of existing ridership along the route, or potential ridership if the route is completed. And the fact that a completed bike lane would serve Cal State Northridge, as well as other area schools, and countless commuters who might feel more comfortable riding to work if they had a dedicated lane to ride in.
Instead, area residents will be forced to contend with high speed, curb-to-curb traffic, which will only serve to discourage cyclists and pedestrians, while putting both groups at greater risk.
Not to mention the inconvenience faced by people who live along Reseda, who will no longer be able to park in front of their homes and apartments. Then there’s the impact an unexpected loss of street parking will have on local businesses already struggling to survive in an adverse economy.
It’s only a bike lane.
But removing it would establish a dangerous precedent, putting every bike lane in the city at risk. And rendering the proposed Bike Plan meaningless, because even existing routes could be eliminated at any time, for any reason.
Mad enough yet?
It’s draw a line in the sand. And fight back.
There is a motion in favor of the Peak Hour Lane proposal before the Northridge West Neighborhood Council Tuesday night at 7p, in the auditorium of Beckford Avenue Elementary School, at 19130 Tulsa Street in Northridge.
If you live or ride in the Valley, I encourage you to join Glenn at this meeting to oppose the motion and fight for your bike lanes. Or if you can’t make it, email your comments to Glenn at glennbaileysfv @ yahoo . com (remove spaces).
Because it may just be a bike lane. But it — and what it represents — couldn’t be more important.
I emailed councilmembers Smith and Zine to ask for their comments, along with Transportation Committee Chairperson Bill Rosendahl, and my own councilperson, Paul Koretz, Vice Chairperson of the Transportation Committee. So far, I haven’t received a response from any of them; if it turns out someone actually cares enough to get back to me about this, I’ll let you know.
Like me, Will Campbell comes down squarely in the helmet-wearing camp. Flying Pigeon announces this month’s non-Dim Sum ride. Enci and Stephen are looking for volunteers for what could just be the coolest bike ride in L.A. Allstate says L.A. and Glendale drivers are among the worst in the nation. Well, duh. L.A. Creek Freak examines construction on the L.A. River Bikeway. Detroit shock jocks say they’d love to lob something at your head. Lance Armstrong urges Colorado’s governor to revive the great bike stage races of the ‘70s and ‘80s. A newspaper in Rochester, MN argues that bike-friendly streets need bike-friendly drivers, while New Mexico cyclists argue for safer streets. A bikeway named after America’s first black cycling champion is treated with as much respect as he was. In other words, not much. With a little luck, you can buy former Talking Head David Byrne’s folding bike on E-Bay. Spanish riders get the world’s longest bicycle commuter tunnel. Finally, if you’ve ever felt like your bike could fly, an English cyclist proves you may just be right.