An open letter to the LA Planning Commission about bike lanes on Westwood Blvd and Central Ave

Dear Commissioners,

It was a little over five years ago that this commission rejected the city’s first attempt to update it’s bike plan, demanding a more robust network that would protect the safety of people riding bikes and encourage more people to get on their bicycles instead of driving.

That led to the city council’s unanimous adoption of the 2010 bike plan. A well-designed network that established three levels of bikeways to encourage and protect riders of all types, from families and recreational riders to bike commuters on their way to school or work — many of whom have no other viable means of transportation.

One that was again approved by the Planning Commission, and later the full city council, as part of LA’s Mobility Plan 2035.

Now you are being asked to weaken that plan.

The Mobility Plan that was adopted by the city is the result of at least six years of public process, including dozens of public meetings and countless comments and emails. The streets which were selected for bikeways weren’t chosen on whim, but because the public demanded them and city planners and engineers concluded they were the best routes to enable bike riders to travel to and from key locations in the city.

Yet you are being asked to remove the bike lanes planned for Westwood Blvd and Central Ave without any public process whatsoever. Somehow, the desires of the relative few opposing bike lanes on these two streets are expected to outweigh the needs of all those who participated in developing these plans.

We’re told that the reason for removing these bike lanes from the plan is that the streets are too dangerous for bicycles. But you can’t improve safety by keeping them dangerous.

Numerous studies have shown that bike lanes both increase ridership, and improve safety for all road users — pedestrians and motorists, as well as people riding bicycles. Yet not one single study has been conducted to determine whether bike lanes on these streets would increase the danger to bicyclists or anyone else, as their opponents claim.

In other words, you’re being asked to remove these streets from the plan based on the suppositions and prejudices of a handful of people, with no factual basis to support them.

Studies also show that bike lanes are good for business, which would benefit the many commercial establishments along these corridors.

Westwood Blvd currently carries an average of 800 bike riders a day, a number that will only increase when the Expo Line extension opens in May, and the boulevard forms the first mile/last mile connection between the Westwood Expo Station, and the UCLA campus, VA and job centers along the Wilshire Corridor.

Meanwhile, Central Ave already carries approximately 60 bike riders per hour at peak times, despite a reputation as one of the city’s most dangerous streets. A bike lane there can only improve safety by giving people on bicycles a safe place to ride, while slowing traffic and reducing risk to pedestrians.

While alternate routes may eventually be identified that would be more enjoyable to recreational riders, they would not meet the demands of those who need to get to work or school.

Removing these streets from the Mobility Plan would continue to expose these people to needless risk, and continue the degradation of what should be two of the city’s finest and most livable streets.

I strongly urge you to support the recommendations of your staff, and the desires of the people of Los Angeles who participated in this process, and keep both Westwood Boulevard and Central Avenue in the Mobility Plan 2035.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers

BikinginLA.com

4 comments

  1. Eric says:

    Great job! Hopefully all of your points will be strongly considered.

  2. Jay Williams says:

    Very well-written Ted. Your experience as a copywriter (I think?) really shines through in this.

  3. Allen says:

    California law states that all roads (except for certain freeways) must allow for bicyclists. By stating that bicycling is too dangerous on those streets, and refusing to safely accommodate bicyclists could expose the city to significant liability for acknowledging a known hazard and then removing planned efforts to mitigate that hazard.

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