Signs in favor of saving auto lanes have popped up in some store and restaurants windows across Eagle Rock and Highland Park as the city considers replacing traffic with bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard and Figueroa Street. On Saturday, some of those merchants may find their shops patronized by cyclists who are counting on flexing their buying power to show that “bikes are good for business.”
“We have out-numbered, out spoken, and out classed the anti-bike lane crowd at multiple public meetings – and now we want to out-shop them,” said Josef Bray-Ali, a cyclist and owner of the Flying Pigeon L.A. bike shop in Highland Park, in an email.
Bray-Ali said his bike ride to local business on Saturday, which is part of his regularly scheduled community rides, is designed to “combat anti-bike craziness” and thwart the “Save Our Auto Lanes” campaign organized by Tom Topping, publisher of the Boulevard Sentinel newspaper. Said Bray-Ali
The Boulevard Sentinel, has declared rhetorical war against bike lanes on Colorado and North Figueroa Street. In response, our shop is going to use our regularly scheduled free-of-charge bike rides to promote bike lanes and bring bicyclists to local businesses – especially the businesses that have sided with Boulevard Sentinel editor Tom Topping by placing anti-bike signs in their windows (Galco’s and Casa Bianca from our witness reports). We want to spread the love, not the animosity and hate (yes, actual, real hate that anti-lane people have brought to multiple community meetings).
During a Highland Park business mixer last month, Topping presented Councilman Ed Reyes a poster with photos of 14 merchants holding up the “Save Our Auto Lanes” signs. “They don’t mind the bike lanes,” said Topping of the merchant.s “They don’t want to lose the auto lanes on Figueroa Street … they want to keep the auto lanes.”
More than 500 people have signed petitions in person and online against removing traffic lanes, according to a posting on the Boulevard Sentinel website.
It looks like “Save Our Auto Lanes” campaign may have had an impact. Councilman Reyes, a supporter of bike lanes, said the city could have already gone ahead and installed the bike lanes but he decided against that. “We are going to slow down a little bit” to allow the public more time to comment, Reyes said. “If that’s what you guys want, that’s what you will get. But it’s not going to be pretty.”
Monica Valencia, Reyes’ spokeswoman, added that the councilman is “continuing his efforts to reach out to the community, especially businesses on Figueroa and nearby residents, to make sure their questions and concerns are addressed as we do our best to make our neighborhoods more bike- and business-friendly.” She encouraged those with questions or concerns to contact her at [email protected].