The city of Los Angeles is hosting a series of meetings to kick off its process of studying then (hopefully) implementing 40+ miles of somewhat more difficult bike lane projects. There’s a webinar today, Tuesday, 3-4pm (details/rsvp here), and the final in-person meeting tomorrow: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 from 6-8pm at the L.A. River Center, 570 W. Avenue 26, Cypress Park – Los Angeles, 90065. (fb event here.) Bikas attended the first of the four meetings last week, and we’ll be there tomorrow… and then head over to the Ovarian Psycos fundraiser in Boyle Heights.
The meetings have been announced and covered somewhat (at LADOT website, good explanation at L.A. Streetsblog, Flying Pigeon, Patch and elsewhere) – but the process is a bit convoluted and jargony. After the jump, Bikas give our take on tomorrow’s meeting – and why it’s important to attend.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE MEETING:
Last week’s meeting was (and tomorrow’s meeting will be) pretty dry… it’s city staff and their consultant announcing that they’re going to study bike lanes on a bunch of streets (map above, list below.) The studies that the city is doing is called an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) under a law called CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act.) The one-sentence broad-brush explanation: if the city is doing bike projects that are expected to slow cars down, then they need extensive studies to protect them from lawsuits.
At the July 10th meeting, city staff basically announce that they’re going to study a bunch of bike lanes, and that these projects are all difficult. If the projects didn’t need to remove a car travel lane, or 0n-street parking, then they wouldn’t be on the list below.
WHY SHOW UP TO THE MEETING?
So… here’s why it’s important for the public to show up tomorrow: When the city removes car lanes or parking, city staff and elected officials expect to receive complaints from the “driving public.” Sometimes lane removal projects (for example 7th Street) and parking removal projects (for example Reseda Blvd) go smoothly and there’s no backlash… sometimes not (for example Wilbur Avenue.)
All the projects on the list (below) will need to take away something (car lane, car parking) for significant stretches… so we, the “cycling public” need to serve as a counter-pressure to that anticipated backlash. The hope is that everyone can get behind these projects – everyone wants safer streets, cleaner air, good transportation choices!
We don’t need to get 100% unanimous approval from everyone who drives… but we do need to show that there are bicyclists (and others) paying attention – who support the city’s steps toward safer streets. We need visible support for these projects to give the city (staff and electeds) the backbone to do the right thing.
The city staff sound worried about getting criticism from drivers… so we need them to see, at tomorrow’s meeting, that there are a lot of cyclists who “have their back” by supporting these worthwhile projects.
WHAT’S THE SCHEDULE?
Last week, city staff went over the anticipated process and a rough timeline, which is roughly as follows: (some of this is what they said, some it is my interpretation… it always takes a bit longer than anticipated)
- July 2012 – initial “notice of preparation” announcements, scoping meetings
- ~October 2012 – publish draft EIR “notice of availability” with 45 day review period during which people can read the document over and make formal comments
- early 2013 – city publishes final EIR, including responses to comments
- early 2013 – L.A. City Council certifies EIR, city issues “notice of determination”
- mid 2013 (perhaps ~April 2013 at the very earliest if things proceed unexpectedly smoothly) city Department of Transportation begins implementing these projects
If bicyclists can watchdog, and can rally support for these projects, that helps keep the overall process moving on schedule.
WHERE WILL THE BIKE LANES BE?
Here’s the listing of streets that the city will be studying and hopefully implementing: (from this city document in a sort of regional-connection order that I was tempted to alphabetize, but just left as is)
- Venice Blvd. – from San Vicente Blvd. to Main St. 3.9miles
- Lankershim Blvd. – from Cahuenga Blvd. to Chandler Blvd. 2.4miles
- Cahuenga Blvd. West – from Lankershim Blvd. to Pilgrimage Bridge 2.3miles
- Cahuenga Blvd. East – from Pilgrimage Bridge to Odin St 0.3miles
- Caesar [sic] E Chavez Ave. – from Figueroa St. to Mission Rd. 1.3miles
- Mission Rd. – from Cesar E. Chavez Ave. to Soto St. 2.4miles
- 7th St. – from Figueroa St. to Soto St. 2.9miles
- Vermont Ave. – from Venice Blvd. to Wilshire Blvd. 1.2miles
- Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. – from Marlton Ave. to Figueroa St. 3.2miles
- N. Figueroa St. – from San Fernando Rd. to Colorado Blvd. 5.1miles
- S. Figueroa St. – from 7th St to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 3.0miles
- Westwood Blvd. – from Santa Monica Blvd. to National Blvd. 1.6miles
- Bundy Dr. – from San Vicente Blvd. to Stanwood Dr. 3.2miles
- Centinela Ave. – from Stanwood Dr. to Culver City limit at Washington Pl. 1.3miles
- Sepulveda Blvd. – from National Blvd. to City/County limit (N/O Ohio Ave.) 2.1miles
- Ave. of the Stars – from Pico Blvd. to Santa Monica Blvd. 1.0miles
- Colorado Blvd. – from Glendale City limit (200’ e/o Lincoln Ave.) to Ave 64 3.0miles
- Woodley Ave. – from Stagg Street to Chase St. 0.8miles
- Devonshire St. – from Haskell Ave. to Sepulveda Blvd. 0.4miles
- 2nd St. – from Beverly Blvd./Glendale Blvd. to Broadway St. 1.0miles
- Grand Ave. – from Washington Blvd. to 30th St. 0.7miles
- Virgil Ave. – from Santa Monica Blvd. to Melrose Ave 0.5miles
Total 43.3 miles of new on-street bike lanes
I don’t have time today to touch on all of these (stay RSSed for future posts), but I think that there’s a lot of really good projects here: Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock, North Figueroa through NELA, Venice Blvd (see Bikas Campaign), Vermont, Virgil, Westwood, 2nd Street downtown, and more. They’re streets where cyclists ride today, where space is needed… and most of the projects look like they will be road diets, which I think is probably one of the best, most cost-effective ways the city can move toward safer, more bikable streets.
In addition, the EIR will study the MyFigueroa project – includes protected bike lanes from Downtown to Exposition Park-USC and a lot of other excellent stuff.
There’s a lot more to explain on all this – which I hope to write more about soon – but please plan to attend tomorrow. The way this initial batch of projects goes will set a precedent for future bike projects throughout L.A. and the region. Voice your support so the city can move forward confidently.