Since his election in 2013, CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo has lead the fight against bike lanes in his Northeast LA district, first by halting an already approved road diet on North Figueroa, then by demanding that bikeways planned for his district be removed from the new Mobility Plan.
A casualty of that opposition has been safety for everyone, as North Figueroa remains one of the most dangerous streets in Los Angeles.
Today Fig4All’s Felicia Garcia examines his continued opposition to the safety improvements promised in the Mobility Plan.
For over 50 days, a memorial for Yolanda Lugo-Espinoza has stood on N. Figueroa, and donation boxes to help the family cover funeral expenses have adorned the counter of local businesses along the street. However, this tragic fatality seems to be absent from Councilmember Cedillo’s memory, as he continued his opposition Tuesday to a plan that aims to eliminate traffic deaths citywide. N. Figueroa Street was intended to undergo a reconfiguration shortly after Cedillo took office in 2013 that would have resulted in crosswalk improvements and buffered bike lanes but that city-approved and funded safety plan has been single-handedly stalled by District 1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo.
In a joint Transportation and Planning & Land-Use Management Committee meeting Tuesday to re-examine proposed amendments to the Mobility Plan 2035, Councilmember Cedillo again demonstrated his lack of empathy with the community and those affected by dangerous streets. He is one of 2 council members who has consistently opposed the Mobility Plan. The primary goal of the Plan is to put safety first by eliminating traffic fatalities while encouraging Angelenos to consider alternative means of transportation through adding dedicated bus and bike lanes to the city’s roadways over the next 20 years.
At the initial Mobility Plan 2035 meeting in August, Councilmember Cedillo (whose district includes the Glassell Park, Highland Park and Cypress Park neighborhoods of Northeast LA) attempted to make significant changes to specifics in the Plan. Most notably he requested that the streets in his district meant to be part of the citywide network of protected bike lanes be removed from the Mobility Plan. The Councilman has said his reluctance towards the Plan and his motive for excluding streets in his district is that he must act as “representative for the entirety of …[his] district, not simply 1%”. He refers to anyone who walks, bikes or uses public transportation as the 1%, but in doing so dismisses a large population of his constituents. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the MacArthur Park neighborhood of his district boasts one of the highest percentages of commuters who travel by means other than car – a noteworthy 49.2%. For other parts of Cedillo’s district such as Westlake and Chinatown, those commuting without car make up 48.8% and 25%, respectively.
Many of the residents in Cedillo’s district cannot afford the luxury of owning a car, while others simply choose not to drive. Cedillo attempted to give more insight behind his reasoning at the Mobility Plan meeting stating: “A recent poll in the L.A. Times found that traffic is the No. 1 concern of the people, not public safety, not the high cost of living, not cleanliness of the city.” The poll he refers to was an online survey taken by 1,500 LA County residents. Considering the 2013 Census estimates LA County is home to over 10 million people, this survey focused on a tiny portion (around 0.015%) of the population, with the majority (98%) of the surveys conducted in English and exclusively serving those with internet access. Besides the fact that this survey in no way represents the needs of his constituents, he continues to cite it. He also overlooks one of the main purposes of the Mobility Plan, which is to find new ways to deal with the inevitable traffic that comes with a growing population of Angelenos. In insisting that traffic flow is more important than safety, he expresses his disregard for human life while a candle for hit-and-run victim Ms. Lugo-Espinoza still flickers at a memorial less than 2 blocks away from his Highland Park Field Office.
The Council Tuesday concluded the Mobility Plan 2035 meeting with intent to place changes to the Plan up for vote again next week with a full Council. Neighboring Northeast LA Councilmember Huizar is in strong support of the Plan, citing the 43% reduction in traffic collisions on Colorado Boulevard after safety improvements were introduced in 2013 as an example of how the rest of the city could progress. The majority of the City Council supports the Mobility Plan and commend it for its vision and years of exhaustive outreach unmatched in the City’s history. Meanwhile, Councilmember Cedillo remains insistent that he would not like the Plan to move forward until there can be greater “community input,” leaving his constituents at risk and danger as he stalls implementation of critical roadway safety improvements.
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