Tag Archive for Glenn Bailey

Today’s post, in which I beat a dead horse

Let’s take a quick look back at last week’s LADOT controversy, before I move on to other subjects.

As you may recall, last Monday I broke the news that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation was secretly planning to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Blvd, which would have necessitated the removal of two miles of existing bike lanes, as well as the cancellation of another long-planned — and long delayed — 3-mile extension.

This came to light courtesy of Glenn Bailey, chairman of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. He had learned of the plans in an official LADOT status report to the BAC, which indicated that the planned extension conflicted with “peak hour usage in the near future.” Bailey then confirmed those plans in a conversation with Ken Firoozmand, Transportation Engineer for the West Valley division of LADOT.

The response was overwhelming, as the story quickly spread through the Internet. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition issued an action alert from urging cyclists to attend a meeting of the Northridge West Neighborhood Council, which was planning to vote on a resolution in support of the plan after learning about it from Bailey; the large, highly motivated turnout resulted in a unanimous vote against the peak hour lanes.

And that’s when the inevitable backlash began.

Representatives from LADOT contacted both Streetsblog and LAist, insisting that the agency had no plans to install peak hour lanes on Reseda and that “…It was all based on rumor, nothing that we had propagated.”

Obviously, they were mistaken. Or lying. I chose to give them the benefit of the doubt; others didn’t.

Joe Linton, BAC member and founder of the LACBC, responded by providing the original document revealing the existence of the peak lane plan, and expressed concern for the LADOT staffer who was only doing his job in providing that information to the BAC.

Meanwhile, Glenn Bailey circulated an open letter providing full details of how he became aware of the plan and confirmed its existence with Firoozmand. He also pointed out the Notice of Street Work for a one-mile section of Reseda where the proposed bike lanes would go, which local residents were concerned would provide an opportunity to install the peak hour lanes; Glenn has requested that this section be restriped for the long-promised bike lanes, instead.

A commenter on Streetsblog noted that the bridge over the viaduct near Victory Boulevard was widened with the express purpose of turning the Reseda into a major north-south thoroughfare. In my initial conversation with Bailey, he’d quoted Firoozmand as saying “We wouldn’t have widened the bridge if we weren’t planning to include peak hour lanes. The only reason I didn’t include that in the initial story only because I had failed to write down which bridge he was referring to.

Yet incredibly, when LADOT was confronted with proof of the plan, they stuck by their initial denials. Damien at Streetblog offered this official response from LADOT:

The information provided yesterday is accurate and still stands: the Department has no current plans to remove any portion of the bike lane or to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Boulevard.

Note the key word “current.”

All they had to do was acknowledge their error, and admit that a plan had been considered but was no longer under consideration — whether or not that had anything to do with the massive response in opposition to the plan.

Instead, they chose to engage in a cover-up — not exactly the kind of open, honest government we have a right to expect as citizen of a democratic society. And in the process, they continued to smear both Glenn Bailey and me as the unnamed sources of those unfounded “rumors.”

Unfortunately, as of this writing, a few local websites still haven’t corrected the stories based on LADOT’s false denials, despite the overwhelming proof to the contrary.

And a full week later, none of the council members I contacted before publishing the initial story — Rosendahl, Kortetz, Zine and Smith — has bothered to respond in any way.

Meanwhile, Joe Linton has written an open letter to Rita Robinson, General Manager of the LADOT, as well as Mayor Villaraigosa, Council President Garcetti, and Council Members Rosendahl, Smith, and Zine. It reads in part:

It doesn’t surprise me that LADOT would favor a peak lane plan that would increase capacity for cars, indeed this is LADOT’s job and what LADOT has historically successfully focused on. What surprises me is that LADOT staff lied. Governmental agencies depend on the trust of the public to make our city work. When LADOT staff deny something that LADOT staff have already put in writing, this duplicity damages the public trust and makes it difficult for all of us to work together in the future.

I urge you to work with your staff to be honest, clear and transparent and to rebuild the public trust that their actions have strained. I also urge you to immediately implement the long-delayed bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard.

Meanwhile, the LACBC has sent out another Action Alert calling attention to the LADOT’s false denials, and urging everyone to contact the appropriate officials:

Some of you may have been getting letters assuring you that the bike lane was never going to be removed and that this was all a rumor.  Due to the overwhelming response to this threat, it seems that DOT has retracted their plan and is now claiming that there is currently no plan to install a peak hour lane.

We want to make sure that there will never be a plan to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Blvd.

Let’s install the already approved bike lanes on Reseda Blvd!

Due to your emails and the extreme circumstances of this issue, Mayoral staff requested a meeting with LACBC. They suggested that if there is community consensus, a bike lane could be completed this year.

Here’s what you can do:

Please write to Councilmembers Smith and Zine and let them know that you would like to see the already approved extension of the Bike Lane of Reseda Blvd from Vanowen to Rinaldi installed by the end of 2009.

Please send in and email your letters to:

Honorable Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis Zine
200 North Spring Street, Suite 450
Los Angeles, CA 90012
councilmember.zine@lacity.org
Honorable Los Angeles City Councilmember Greig Smith
200 North Spring Street, Suite 405
Los Angeles, CA 90012
councilmember.smith@lacity.orgJonathan Brand, Planning Deputy for Dennis Zine
jonathan.brand@lacity.org

Phyllis Winger, Chief Planning Deputy for Greig Smith
phyllis.winger@lacity.org

Honorable Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
mayor@lacity.org

It’s your government. And it’s up to you to decide whether to accept secret plans and cover-ups. Or whether you’re going to do something about it.

LADOT: We didn’t do it, nobody saw us do it, you can’t prove anything*

We could declare victory. But the opposition now claims they were never playing.

In fact, they have no idea what we were even talking about.

No, really.

I first heard about the West Valley DOT’s plans to install Peak Hour Lanes on Reseda Boulevard when I was sitting in on the meeting of the Bike Advisory Committee last week. Committee Chairman Glenn Bailey mentioned it in passing, saying he’d like it added to the agenda for the next meeting.

He said it had come to light when bike planners had tried to coordinate with their West Valley counterparts about installing another three miles of bike lanes on Reseda, and were told not to bother because it wasn’t going to happen. The decision had been made to go with the peak hour lanes instead.

In speaking with Glenn later, he related a conversation with a district engineer who confirmed the plans.

Yet a spokeswoman for the LADOT now tells Damien Newton that there were never any plans to install peak hour lanes or to remove the existing bike lane.

Fair enough.

Maybe a few rogue engineers had been acting on their own without getting approval from their superiors. Maybe it was only under consideration and they were just making preparations in case such a plan was approved.

Or maybe they were surprised by the overwhelming opposition from the cycling community, and are now in full backpedal mode, sounding like Sgt. Schultz as they deny any knowledge of any such plan.

As Stephen Box sagely points out, the fact that the old bike plan called for a bike lane the full length of Reseda, while the new bike plan calls that “currently infeasible,” indicates that someone, somewhere made a decision to do something else with the boulevard.

But that’s the advantage of secret plans.

They’re easy to deny if anyone finds out.

*Also known as the Bart Simpson approach to public relations

……….

Bike Date uncovers the latest high-tech bike prototype, complete with biodegradable wheels. Metblogs notes the opening of Bikrowave 3.0. Stephen Colbert offers his tips for cyclists. A blogger questions the quality of police investigations of cycling accidents — scroll down for some fascinating insights from a retired cop. Following the recent attempted shooting of a cyclist, an Asheville writer calls for a peace treaty between cyclists and drivers. Four years after a near fatal collision on the same spot, a New York cyclist marks the opening of a new protected approach to the Manhattan Bridge. A new Missouri law allows bikes and motorcycles to run red lights if they fail to change. A Minneapolis-area driver attacks a cyclist with an ax following an on-road dispute. The author of the new Colorado Bike Safety bill explains how it should benefit cyclists and drivers. Finally, a Louisiana cyclist is stopped for riding with a three-foot alligator on his shoulders.

Incomplete Streets: A line in the sand — and on the street

The line is drawn.

At first, I didn’t notice a lot of excitement following yesterday’s post about the West Valley DOT’s secret plan to remove two miles of existing bike lanes from Reseda Blvd, along with another three miles of planned lanes.

Then Damien at Streetsblog picked up the story.

The next thing I knew, it was featured on the website of KPFK and a topic of discussion on the Ridazz forum and on Los Angeles Fixed Gear, as well as countless Facebook and Twitter pages. LAist gave it a brief mention, as did the Examiner.

And the LACBC sent out an action alert late in the day — thought they failed to give BAC Chairman Glenn Bailey credit for his legwork in bringing this to light:

EMERGENCY ACTION NEEDED:

STOP THE REMOVAL OF RESEDA BIKE LANES!

TAKE ACTION TODAY!!

Unbelievably, LADOT’s West Valley office has proposed to REMOVE the existing bike lanes on Reseda Blvd. between Ventura Blvd. and Vanowen to make room for peak hour traffic lanes.  The City’s current Bicycle Master Plan actually calls for extending these lanes three miles farther north, which would also be killed by plans to run the peak hour lanes there as well.

There is a motion in favor of the Peak Hour Lane proposal before the Northridge West Neighborhood Council Tuesday night at 7pm, in the auditorium of Beckford Avenue Elementary School, at 19130 Tulsa Street in Northridge.

What you can do:

1) Attend this meeting and oppose this outrageous plan!

Where: 19130 Tulsa Street in Northridge

Auditorium of Beckford Avenue Elementary School

When: Tuesday 7 pm

2) Contact the local Council Member, Dennis Zine, to let him know how you feel!

Jonathan Brand, Planning Deputy for Dennis Zine

jonathan.brand@lacity.org

213-473-7003

200 N. Spring Street, Rm 450

Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 473-7003 Tele

(213) 485-8988 Fax

3) Contact LA Mayor Deputy Borja Leon Borja.Leon@lacity.org and Deputy Mayor Transportation Jaime de la Vega jaime.delavega@lacity.org

Key points:

• Rather than removing the bike lanes on Reseda, they need to be extended north three miles as called for in the current Bicycle Master Plan

• The current Bicycle Master Plan also stipulates that before any bike lanes are removed, there must be a public hearing before the Transportation Commission. -Insist that this procedure be followed.

• Peak hour lanes have also been installed recently on Balboa, De Soto, Tampa and Topanga Cyn Blvd., key arterials in an area that serves cyclists poorly.

• Are the peak hour lanes were actually needed?

This is a significant move backwards on bicycling issues in Los Angeles.  With the LA Bicycle Plan soon to be released, we need to take positive steps forward.

According to Glenn, the result was a great last minute turnout at the Northridge West Neighborhood Council meeting last night — with over 60 “bicyclists, homeowners, residents and stakeholders” — which he was told was their largest crowd ever.

And as a result, they voted unanimously to oppose the plan.

Unfortunately this is only the beginning. A line has been drawn, but it’s going to be a long, hard fight.

So don’t stop just because we’ve won the first battle. Call or write your councilmember, as well as councilmembers Zine and Smith, who represent the districts affected, along with the deputy mayors listed in the LACBC alert.

As Glenn put it,

This effort has just begun, and it won’t be easy.  Fighting City Hall never is.  But that will make our ultimate victory that much more significant.

…………

Evidently I inadvertently broke the news about the new Transportation Committee officers. Oops. A cyclist collided with a deer on Angeles Crest Highway over the weekend; L.A.’s Cycling Examiner says be prepared to offer first aid in an emergency. Green LA Girl calls our attention to this weekend’s Bike Day LA. Stephen Box calls on LADOT to slow down its mad rush to approve higher speed limits that risk everyone’s safety. Bike Date looks at Idaho Stops and bike lanes that disappear at intersections. Someone is attacking Wilmington, DE cyclists and joggers with blow darts. The Philadelphia Enquirer says it’s time for détente between cyclists and drivers. A Boston writer uses the cycling death of her own daughter to call for fairer treatment for bicyclists. Following a typical anti-cyclist rant, a Baltimore writer says we all have to share the road. Finally, after a conflict between Critical Mass riders and a driver in the bike Mecca of Ogden, Utah, the mayor plans to ride with cyclists. Yeah, like that could ever happen here.

Incomplete Streets: DOT’s secret plan to take away your bike lanes

Prepare to get mad.Parking-Sign

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.

That’s right.

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).

And contact your councilmember — as well as councilmembers Greig Smith and Dennis Zine, who represent to affected area — to demand a halt to this misguided, short-sighted plan.

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.

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