Northeast L.A. bike lane battle spreads to business community

Photos of 14 merchants were included in a “Save The Boulevard Auto Lanes” poster presented to Councilman Ed Reyes

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  monica.valencia@lacity.org.

Related Links:

  • Supporters, skeptics of bike lanes heard at public forum. Patch
  • Councilman favors lane change on Colorado Boulevard.  The Eastsider
  • New Northeast L.A. bike lanes will leave motorists seeing red. The Eastsider


  1. I’ve also spotted the “Save Our Auto Lanes” signs in Eagle Rock (Casa Bianca and Tritch Hardware come to mind). I just don’t get it. It seems so clear to me that making our streets more like neighborhood boulevards and less like mini-freeways could only help, not hurt, local businesses. I don’t even ride a bike.

    • I was told that the owner of Tritch Hardware is concerned because he thinks increased traffic on Colorado will drive people to take the 134 instead, and that people who take the 134 will not shop in his store. I guess he’s not thinking about the fact that the people who use Colorado as a freeway are also not stopping to shop in his store, and that the unpleasant and unsafe nature of Colorado as it currently stands keeps the locals away.

      • Indeed. I ride a bike, and live on Eagle Rock Blvd. I try to avoid taking Colorado because it never feels safe.

      • Uh, have you ever tried to carry a 4 x 8 foot sheet of plywood on a fixie? It’s a little awkward.

        • Josef Bray-Ali

          Bill, you bring up a point that is often mentioned regarding bikes as transportation. First, let’s be clear about what we’re arguing about here. We’re not arguing that cars are, or should, go away. We’re arguing about whether or not bike lanes should be installed at the cost of an auto lane on N. Figueroa (one lane in the Southbound direction).

          So, let’s deal with the point you bring up about bikes. Trying to carry a large piece of plywood on a fixie is as impractical as trying to do the same with a sports car.

          There are a lot of things one can do with the right kind of bike, just like there are a lot of things you can do with the right kind of car or truck.

          It isn’t a safe option these days to do anything on foot or on a bike in this area – and we’d like to make those two options more attractive. The cost is going to be some nearly imperceptible added delay at peak hours for motorists on Figueroa.

          Is that peak hour added delay worth it? I think it is. There isn’t a whole lot in the “con” side of this bike lane issue, and the “pro” side has a lot more going for it.

          Let’s not conflate this into a “bikes uber alles” and a “cars are the only way, truth, and light” argument – because that isn’t winnable by either side and it isn’t what these bike lanes are about.

          • Its not safe to do anything on foot or on a bike in this area? Really? I ride my bike for pleasure, and the sidewalk on Colorado, ER Blvd, and Fig work just fine for me, not to mention the side streets I ride on. Also, not only is it safe on foot, I push my twin babies in their stroller in this area. If/when the bike lanes go in, I will never let my children anywhere near them. Not only is it dangerous, it would be parental neglect. And while taking away a traffic lane for the benefit of bikers who insist on riding in the streets much slower than the flow of traffic, it is not worth the cost of public funds and the adverse impact on drivers for the benefit of such a tiny sliver of the population. Even with an increase in riders due to new bike lanes, most people have absolutely no desire to choose a bike over a car. Most people see bikes as a leisure activity or a sunday afternoon, not a legit means of transportation, especially in sprawling LA. And as population grows, transpo money is better spent on buses and light rail. But I look forward to the day years down the road when LA’s citizens who are silent today are so enraged by the bike lanes, that they force the city to remove them and add back car lanes.

      • I was at a meeting where I heard that the Tritch guys were concerned that bike lanes would result in swarms of pelotons on Colorado and more bike riders on the sidewalk. This kind of crazy just makes me want to shop there more. And it convinces me that there is no legitimate opposition to bike lanes, just unfocused fear of change and jealousy that the future of Eagle Rock might be better than the crummy past.

      • Eaglerocker, feel free to stop by and have a chat anytime. Our 70+ years of service to the people of crummy old Eagle Rock speaks for itself. God forbid we have an opinion on what is best for the town that we have loved for five generations now, soon to working on six.

      • @Eaglerocker,
        The Tritch family will be glad to compare our record of service to the community of Eagle Rock to yours any day of the week. Jack and Merritt, my dad and uncle have a combined 160+ years in Eagle Rock, each serving in the Lions Club, or Kiwannas for multiple decades now, the Chamber of Commerce, and more years of service through St. Dominics and countless other groups that have come and gone over the years. They physiclay helped build this town, worked on the streets, the buildings, the schools, with their own hands. They have assisted more small business owners just like themselves, plumbers, electrictions, painters, handymen, and have always considered it to be a PRIVELAGE.

        Even into his 80’s now the first thing my uncle Merritt does every morning is to wash down the sidewalk and pick up any liiter in front of the store. Every day for about the past 50 years. How many of your ‘new’ Eagle Rock businesses will even bother? The contribubions they have made to this community would take pages and pages and pages, but that probably wouldn’t interest you. Have you ever heard of the Lions Club Eye Mobile? It is a program that in the last 50 years or so has provided eye exams to millions upon millions of people worldwilde, forcusing mostly on glaucoma, and has serves people in over 40 countries. Jack Tritch built the very first Eye Mobile, along with Pat Jackson, as memebers of the Eagle Rock Lions Club. A legacy that will live on long for more generations to come.

        Jack and Merritt Tritch are EAGLEROCKERS, you are a little internet keyboard warrior punk who isnt fit to shine their shoes. God forbid they have an opinion about the streest that they helped build. I am proud to call myself an Eagle Rocker, and I do it as the proud son of another Eagle Rocker, and I will sign my name to it to. Tim Tritch

  2. It’s probably worth mentioning that the business mixer in Highland Park was put on by the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council whom also polled attendees (local business owners) on bike lanes and other neighborhood issues as they pertain to businesses.

    • It’s also worth mentioning that Tom Topping and the Boulevard Sentinel are not reliable sources of anything approaching facts, balanced analysis, or good journalism.

      • Please refer to the LA bikeway guide, 2011 edition. Can you tell me why LAMC 12.221A16, “Off-street Parking AND Shower Requirements.” is there?
        Did LADOT know BEFORE 2011 publication that this municipal code ordinance would not become an ordinance UNTIL 3/15/2013?

        Sec. 6. Subdivision 16 of Subsection A of Section 12.21 of the Los Angeles
        Municipal Code is amended to read as follows:

        16. Bicycle Parking and Shower Facilities. Parking spaces for
        bicycles and facilities for employee showers and lockers shall be provided for
        new development and additions that increase the floor area of a building as

        • Josef Bray-ALi

          Maureen, instead of leaving an long tail of “…” at the end of your message why don’t you just make your point?

          The bike parking ordinance was done by a young intern in the planning department named Rye Berg. Rye did his masters thesis on the issue. Around the same time as he was working on that thesis, I published an op-ed piece in the LA Business Journal about how bike parking in lieu of car parking was a great way to allow less risky and expensive small lot development along Los Angeles’ historic business corridors.

          The idea is a good one, and it with a little bit of letter writing and talking to council offices it was passed as part of the bike plan.

          Nobody has used it in LA’s development community – but hopefully they will and we’ll get away from subsidized car parking being mandatory for all projects in LA

    • if we are going to share the roads that my taxes pay for then tax the bicycle riders to pay for the changes. Excise tax on tubes and tires. State and federal taxes on tire repair kits. Write tickets for blowing stop signs, crossing the limit line, not signaling. These fines should be the same that a motorist has to pay.

      The should actually take away the parking lane and turn into a bike lane. It would actually be safer for bicyclists.

      • Here here!!! Want equal rights, pay equal taxes. $20 tax to fill your tires, $18 to road maintenance. $500 tax to wear those funny tight pants, $499 fine for visual abuse of drivers…

      • HighlandParkian

        To Johnny & MF44SRQ – Exactly what I was thinking!!! We pay road taxes incorporated in our fuel cost, DMV registration, etc. Find a way to tax the bikers, its only fair!!!!! OR, diminish our unfair vehicle taxes 🙂 And how about putting the bike lane on a parallel street to the main street being targeted for a bike lane?? In the case of York Blvd. Lonely ‘ol Meridian or Lincoln could have been used, as to not bugger up our main blvd going through town. Call me Back Street Betty, I detest York Blvd now!!! Stop and Go almost all the time, the whole way down the street. I am born and bred in Highland Park, its nice to see a positive change here, but there should have been a little more insight into the impact it has had on our main drag.

        • Your gas tax doesn’t cover even half the costs of the road repair, let alone improvements. Most of the money comes from the general tax fund that everyone pays for. Bikes don’t damage the roads, cars and trucks do, therefore the taxes that cyclists pay to the general fund which pays for the majority of the road repair are subsidizing your road use as a car driver. Your car use is destroying the roadway,so of course you should pay more for that. Next time you see a cyclist you should hand them 5 bucks and thank them for not contributing to the degradation of our roadways and for not polluting our environment, it is the least you can do.

  3. David Huntsman

    “Save the Boulevard Auto Lanes” is an important statement to remember, because it reveals how little the merchants following Mr. Topping understand of the rights and responsibilities of road users. There are no “auto lanes”. Intentionally or not, Mr. Topping is promoting a false dichotomy. And hatred.

    • While it is true that there is no official ‘auto lane’ designation since a standard vehicle lane accomodates all vehicles, there are essentially two types of lanes in question. The first is the standard lane that accomodates autos (trucks and motorcycles included) and bikes. The other is the bike lane that is only wide enough to accomodate bikes. The dichotomy is not false. The significant distinction between the two types of lanes is whether autos are accomodated or not.

    • Actually, David, you are the one playing word games — and this has been a major hallmark of the bicycle crowd all along.

      If even 1/100th of the number of bicyclists who show up at the meetings and, as Josef Bray-Ali so obnoxiously and egotistically said, “out spoke and out classed” everyone else were to actually use the bicycle lanes, there would be a lot less opposition. However, the bicycle lanes have already proven themselves to be a 100% failure — as it is rare to see anyone bicycling in the bicycle lanes anywhere in town. The lanes have been in for many years now, and more all the time, and none are getting at countable amount of use, and some are getting absolutely no use — despite false assertions to the contrary by this aggressive bicycle lobby.

      The bicycle lobby keeps making all kinds of false claims, and plays all kinds of word games, but anyone with eyes can see that there just are not droves of bicyclists using the lanes they so aggressively demanded. Yet, traffic is being hampered nonetheless.

      • Have you actually counted? Every single bike lane is getting some use. And every lane that has been counted more than once has had higher use at later counts than at earlier counts.

      • I live on Eagle Rock Blvd. and the bike lane gets a LOT of use. I don’t own a car, so I ride my bike a lot and I can tell you, I am not the only one using it. Should we also get rid of sidewalks because “they don’t get a lot of use”?

      • Josef Bray-ALi

        Nic, your hyperbole only reflects your ignorance and does not shed light on the issue. It also does not further your cause (whatever that might be). Bike lane projects in LA have measurable improved: cycling rates, cycling rates for women; they have reduced the number of people riding on the sidewalk and wrong way in the street. Is there room for improvement? Yup. Will it get there by further ignoring the issue? Nope.


  4. Sort of laughable that the Flying Pigeon guy (great place, by the way) would talk about “hate” when any Angeleno knows the angriest people in this city are the self-righteous bike rider contingent with their utter disregard for rules or limits.

    Respect begets respect. I do hope these visits to local businesses are done in good spirit and not in the spirit of intimidation. Experience suggests it’ll be the latter, unfortunately.

    • I can only speak for myself, but you are way off. I’m probably 75/25 bike/car trips. There are assholes on both sides. I see tons and tons of car drives that have utter disregard for rules or limits daily. Running lights, stop signs, breaking speed limits, driving the wrong way down the street, driving without lights. I see 3/4 of these things daily from drivers. I also get people passing within a few inches of me, at least once a week. People turning in front of within feet, at least once a week. Pulling out into the bike lane to merge into traffic without even looking that direction almost daily. In fact, when i kindly(did not yell or cuss) told someone that would look in both directions she just gave me the finger. This was moments after she never once looked left and pulled out right in front of me.

      So yes, you can find similar things that bicyclists do too, but thats the point. Humans are humans and no matter what they drive a lot have a utter disregard for rule and limits. One group is in control of 2500+lbs going 40mph+, the other 20mph and 200lbs.

  5. As both a cyclist and auto user, I see both sides of the issue. To me, the Colorado bike lanes are a no-brainer for the following reasons:
    a) There are three lanes each way, and the road can easily support converting some auto-lanes to bike lanes.
    b) People who need to buy-pass the business district and get somewhere fast can easily head up to the 134.
    c) There’s not a good E/W alternative route for cycling.
    d) Cyclists riding in the far right auto-lane when cars are going 35-55 mph is extremely dangerous, so having a bike lane will greatly improve safety.

    Figueroa is tougher. We have a bad city design to deal with here, because there are not other effective N/S routes to get places.. for bikes OR cars.

    For those worried about traffic.. I would bet traffic will slow down on Figueroa with bike lanes. However, traffic will continue to get worse anyway, with all the approved (and yet to be approved) high density housing going in in Highland Park.

    • Josef Bray-Ali

      Regarding traffic on Figueroa, the amount of peak hour (i.e. worst time of day) delay at most intersections is less than a traffic signal’s worth. The worst places are going to be at York and at Avenue 26 – where cars driver might have to wait through an extra signal before being able to clear. In total, the estimated average delay to car drivers driving the entire length of N. Figueroa will be about 3 minutes and 36 seconds.

      North Figueroa is a street built around a two parallel street car tracks running its length. When the street car tracks were torn out the road was widened and turned over to high speed auto travel. Since that time, we’ve lost Iver’s department store and any other retail anchors. The street allows motorists to average 13 to 21 mph in average travel speeds – but cars get up to 45 mph in some stretches!

      What these lanes will do is get those drivers moving at their average speeds instead of hitting the gas and then slamming on the brakes over and over again. It will lower the stakes for people crossing the streets and it will allow the majority of local shoppers (who come in on foot, by transit, and some on bike) to do what they are already doing but in greater numbers.

      High speed car travel through our community has turned what should be productive land uses, and what should be pleasant recreational areas, into uncomfortable and inhospitable places to live, walk, and do business.

      Bike lanes, and the road diet they will bring, will correct the errors of mid-20th century transportation planners.

      • I think the average speed argument is a GREAT one!
        It is very often that I match the average car speed on my daily cycle commute. I clip along at a steady pace, and they floor it, zoom ahead, then get caught at a light or stop sign.. and I catch them again. Rinse and repeat.

        Do we have some hard data on average speeds on Fig in both directions? If so, that would be a great piece of data to alleviate concerns.

        • Josef Bray-Ali

          A non-scientific survey of Google Maps driving directions times will give you an average trip time of 13 to 21 mph for the length of N. Figueroa depending on what time of day you ask it. Doing the drive in my own car and timing it produces a similar result.

          The LADOT’s traffic count data (which I downloaded off their web-site) shows that at the most congested intersections on Figueroa the street is only getting 14,000 average car trips in each direction. That is a number that a one-lane street can handle, but there will be slowing.

          Just observing car speed on Figueroa it is pretty obvious how the street is working. People spend a lot of time waiting at lights and inbetween them they get up to 35 mph+ – even though their trip won’t be affected one way or another by those inbetween speeds.

          Marino Pascal drove his truck up and down York with a tracking app on his phone and found that he got up to 40mph+ on the street, but still only averaged 20 mph along the length between Figueroa and Eagle Rock.

          The perception of traffic is what we’re dealing with on Figueroa. That isn’t going to change much – but the experience for people who are not driving will. The noise and danger of a car going 35 vs. 20 mph is actually substantial.

  6. Hyperbole much…

    Colorado will still have two lanes each way for cars. All this lane reconfiguration will do is slow the people who drive 40-45mph down to a more reasonable speed (or convince them to take the freeway if they’re just passing through.) If anything, calmer traffic speeds will boost business by attracting more pedestrians. Just look at all the other streets with small businesses on this side of town that have been given road diets/bike lanes (Silver Lake, York, Spring, Main, 7th, etc.)

    And aren’t the right lanes on North Figueroa wide enough to fit vanilla bike lanes without sacrificing any car capacity? Am I missing something about the design?

  7. As someone who generally uses his car (but recreationally rides), I think the animosity toward lane reconfiguration is mostly a product of a conservative wariness of change. Not all change is good and some newcomers to the area haven’t been totally sensitive to old timers’ life patterns or concerns when pushing for certain changes.

    But this one seems like change for the better. Slows car traffic a bit (improves safety & might actually improve a shop’s chance for visibility) but not so much that it strangles a main artery. If it gets even a few extra riders, that’s a net public health gain. Finally, as others have noted elsewhere, Colorado through both Pasadena and Glendale is only two car lanes wide. Both of those business districts, incidentally, are more vibrant than ER’s Colorado corridor. I think you could make a good argument that those who only travel on the fastest route available aren’t your most likely drop-in shoppers.

  8. Tom Topping is an idiot…a friggin’ idiot!

    • This is true. In addition, Tom likes to use his paper to bolster his sense of importance by rabble-rousing. Eagle Rock would be better off without the Sentinel.

    • I hear that over 80% of the people who cared to weigh-in on the issue supported bike lanes on Colorado. I also hear that the supporters were young yuppie types that shop a lot. I hear old people don’t shop as much and don’t pay much tax since they have lived in the same home since 1960. I hear Eagle Rock is changing and that bike lanes are only one part of a wide reaching plan to make it more yuppie-hipster friendly since they are the ones buying things and paying taxes.

  9. The article should mention that of the “500 people who have signed petitions,” at least half are bike lane supporters mocking Topping (with names like “Tip Tipping” and “Betsy Skankychain”), as well as back-and-forths between Bray-Ali and the same 3 Topping fan-boys (and girl). These are not hard-copy petitions, but were held on a site called Change.org, that allows multiple “votes” from the same email address. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the balance of the votes were from Topping himself.)

  10. Colorado, yes. Figueroa, no way. Maybe they can shave some inches off of each lane in order to accommodate bike lanes, but Figueroa really cannot sacrifice any lanes.

  11. Colorado, yes. Figueroa, no. A very reasonable compromise. For the time being and while the progress of both is noted that’s the responsible choice.

    • procopio – Really? I would think the reverse as it looks as though the lanes on Fig can be painted without impacting existing lanes, whereas Colorado’s plan needs a reworking to happen.

  12. Bike lanes aren’t any safer, if anything they give you a false sense of safety. I have rode my bicycle down York four times this past month and had near misses on each trip. I’ve had to dodge opening car doors, cars backing out of drive ways and cars cutting me off to turn right onto side streets. Prior to the York bike lanes I don’t recall ever having any close calls. There are better things to spend taxpayer money on.

    • I have to disagree. It is amazing what some painted stripes CAN do. Heck, they prevent millions of head-on collisions between on-coming cars every day. That with just one or two little yellow stripes.

      I ride down Cordova in Pasadena several days a week. Half of Cordova has two lanes each way (no bike lanes) and the other half got the road diet (one lane each way, center turn, and bike lanes). I don’t have stats on which is actually safer, but as a biker.. I feel INFINITELY more safe on the stretch with bike lanes. On the section without bike lanes, I have people tailgate and honk (even though there’s a free lane to go around), people passing me without fully changing lanes (i’m in the middle of the lane and they still squeeze by). Perhaps when motorists finally learn that cyclists CAN use the entire lane under certain conditions (most of which apply on many of our local roads).. then regular lanes will feel as safe as bike lanes. Until then.. I’m seeking out roads with bike lanes for safety.

    • HLP Ryder – Generally, Villareigosa’s approach has been to paint lane lines as streets are being resurfaced/repaired, which seems pretty economically-minded.

      Lanes on existing streets are much cheaper than grade-separated paths.

      Basically, the city is currently trying to build multi-modal infrastructure as affordably as possible.

    • Christian Moreno

      Should we remove painted crosswalks because they give us “a false sense of safety” also?
      And from what I understand, the money’s already been earmarked by/for the DOT so it can’t be spent on anything else anyway.

  13. I am for bike lanes on Colorado. As for Figueroa, it does not make sense to remove lanes. Not only that, but the pavement is falling apart – is the City even planning on repairing it any time soon.

    I was on the Change.org page and Josef Bray-Ali’s conduct was appalling, especially as he proudly stated he is a business owner (a bike store, conflict of interest much?). The vitriol and sarcastic mocking of others ensured that I would never spend a dime in his store and would encourage others to avoid it as well. What an angry person.

    • Josef Bray-Ali


      I am unclear on something in this discussion. When I have an opinion on a local issue my opponents say that I am only in it for myself, that it is self interest that motivates my advocacy work. When John Nese, or the crazy guy who made those horrible anti-bike signs gets up and says “Bike riders are no good for my business!” – nobody says to them “you are only in this for yourself, your opinion counts for less because you’re talking about your livelihood”.

      As is typical of people opposed to these lanes, instead of arguing on the actual merits of the issue (an argument which you will lose as there is large body of research that shows the positive effects of a road diet) you focus on whether or not Josef Bray-Ali is “nice” or “mean”.

      Who is showing up at meetings and trash talking people with a broad brush? Who is bringing signs with other people crossed out? Who is printing outright lies in their local paper? Who has told a packed room that “you are just a vocal minority”? When it comes to vitriol, when it comes to spite, the anti-bike lane crowd win the contest, hands down.

      Kids at Nightengale Middle School wrote letters to the mayor a year ago documenting how unsafe the streets are in their community – and the city responded to their needs. Kids at Burbank have the same needs, and the same desire to get to school safely.

      The status quo on our streets is dangerous by design. These lanes are an attempt to fix that – and one supported by a lot of good research and data. Don’t be such a bitter pill. Ad hominem attacks against the character of your opponents is the weakest form of rhetoric and it only leads to violence – which is where i think most of these old anti-laners wish this would go. Stop with the hate.

      • Unless somebody was posting under your name, you revelled in name-calling, saying that people who opposed the lanes were fat and lazy. You being nice or mean has absolutely nothing to do with my opinions on the project. It was merely commentary that your attitude will not win any converts or customers for that matter. Maybe you’ve chilled out but you claiming that ‘violence’ will be the outcome is disturbing and telling.

        As far as the merits of the projects go, my opinion is just as informed and valuable as yours. But I really don’t need to have a discussion with you on the internet about it.

        • Josef Bray-Ali

          Kyle – yes, that is exactly it. The rhetoric used by those opposed to these lanes has been one step shy of outright violence. The name calling and ad hominem has been theirs from the start. Topping’s article about a meeting in February of this year really kicked this off – he sat through a meeting with 50+ people in favor of lanes from all walks of life, from all over this neighborhood, of all sorts of backgrounds, and instead of telling the truth about who these folks were he printed an article that said they were “hostile”, “outsiders”, etc.

          The rhetoric at these meetings, that the meetings themselves are “farces” that are concocted by large development interests or evil villains (such as myself), or that we’re talking about “Lance Armstrong wannabes”, that we’re a bunch of “self righteous” and “smug” car haters – this has been the bed rock of the anti-bike lane arguments.

          Anyone in support of bike lanes is “an extremist”, “an outsider”, “bike nazis”.

          I understand making a case against a public policy, but we’re arguing about something about as important as street trees. These lanes will have about as much impact on traffic as an extra traffic signal would. What this argument is really about for the anti-lane crowd has been about their status quo and how anyone not in line with that (a) isn’t a real resident of the area and (b) isn’t worth listening to.

          That is a messed up way to approach the issue and it is no surprise that it’s all these folks have on their side. The public policy debate in favor of slowed down car speeds in walk-up retail areas lands pretty solidly in favor of bike lanes. Topping has known from the beginning this was all about scaring local politicians and pro-lane people into backing off the issue. He, and those with him, have used negative imagery and words to make this an us vs. them issue.

          It is ugly. It drives people to personal attacks and it is the language of bullies and violence.

        • Setting aside the issue of name-calling, the most important difference between Josef and other bike-lane advocates vs. anti-bike activists like Tom Topping is that only the anti-bikers have chosen to lie – consistently and often – to support their claims. The anti-bikers’ campaign is largely one of disinformation and distraction, designed to take advantage of low-information residents and old people who fear change — and have had their fears stoked by hysterical stories of how fire trucks and ambulances will be banned from the bike lanes; that children will be run over in droves; and that (fictitious) polls show that their elected representatives are denying the will of the people to further a secret agenda. It’s too bad, because there is one thing that the anti- and pro-bike side agree on: that there is a chance that the speeding traffic on Colorado Blvd might slow down as a result of bike lanes. The value of a calmer Colorado is a legitimate and good discussion to have; too bad one side has to lie, cheat, and intimidate to support their point.

          • 100% on target. I have mostly stopped contributing to bike lane threads because the “anti” side of the issue seems be a platform for self-aggrandizement and attention-seeking. It’s neighborhood politics at its worst.

  14. The streets can be a rough place for cyclists. The motorcyclists comments are especially telling about attitudes towards bikers. http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/05/02/nbc-4-interviews-psycopath-concerning-famous-dead-mans-curve-crash/#more-83167

  15. I am a lifelong NELA resident, representative of the demographic here (Hispanic, young; justification: http://projects.latimes.com/mapping-la/neighborhoods/region/northeast-la/) and BIKE-DEPENDENT. I have been using my bike to commute to school and work for the past 8 years (high school at Lincoln HS, college at Pasadena CC and USC, jobs at LAC+USC Hospital and Downtown).

    It’s not fair that there is no space to accommodate me on the road, to the detriment of my personal safety, because of the convenience of those who use my neighborhood as a de facto freeway in their commute to and from Downtown.

    In 2007 I was hit on the intersection of Figueroa and Pasadena Ave by an elderly driver making a left turn. He never saw me, never slowed down, and hit me going 30-35 MPH. With oncoming traffic moving so fast and given the vast size of the intersection, it’s necessary to go this fast when clearing the intersection during a left turn. Needless to say, I’m lucky to be alive. With bicycle infrastructure in place, drivers are more aware of the presence of bicyclists; and with the road diet, drivers are slowed to a speed that is reasonable for a street surrounded by residential neighborhoods and flanked by 11 schools.

    Three minutes-worth of convenience do not trump anyone’s personal safety/life.

    Congestion is a REGIONAL issue that will never be mitigated unless there is a CITYWIDE/REGIONAL multimodal network that gives people viable transportation alternatives. This segment is a part of the City’s effort to bring that comprehensive regional network into fruition. It’s a strawman fallacy to criticize bike lane additions independent of this context.

  16. I really appreciate the response from the bike community. I love their non-violent approach of education and community building. That was so cool of them to organize the ride to show how desirable their patronage can be 🙂

  17. I hear that biking is good for you and encourages a sense of community and harmony. I hear cars are not so good at this. Maybe all the people that afraid of bikes will be the ones that benefit the most and we can all be happy together.

  18. You bike people are weird.

  19. Cypress park girl

    I agree with this change only if the bikers get tax just like the other who drive Cars! While we are at it might as well make the bikers get a licence and insurance! Tax the bikers for this change!

    • Josef Bray-Ali

      Really?! Did this old canard have to be let out of the cage again?

      Bike riders and people who never set foot in cars regularly foot the bill for our auto-oriented lifestyle. Whether you drive or not, sales tax, income tax, and property tax feed into the General Fund for Los Angeles – and that is where money comes from that pays for road maintenance. So, bike riders and others who use transit are paying extra so that you don’t have to pay as much in order to drive freely above the speed limit inbetween red lights.

      The County of LA and the State of California have found that bikes and walking are two of the easiest and cheapest ways to help combat the obesity, diabetes, and other diseased of a sedentary lifestyle that plague our community. Taxing a beneficial activity – one that carries more rick for people if they don’t do it … that is just bad policy.

      If you have an issue with cyclists as a group perhaps you can some day find the words to express your animosity instead of pulling up these silly, and well refuted, arguments against bike lanes.

  20. Cypress park girl

    @Josef Bray-Ali: HA!!!!!! We are talking about bike lanes not about the benefits of cycling. Blah Blah Blah it keeps people healthy!!! I am saying that if the bikers want to add the lines then they should pay for it! I own a home and I already pay outrageous property taxes and pay my share. What do bikers pay for? Do they pay dmv tags for cycling in the streets?? The cyclist around this neighborhood are worst than the drivers! News flash bikers, a CAR is bigger than your bike!! Also, how about having the bickers put signal lights?

    • Cypress park girl – News flash, the majority of the people in this city pay the same taxes you do. Don’t assume that someone on a bike doesn’t own property or a car.

    • LOL… You seem to think those of us who ride bikes don’t also own and drive cars, don’t own homes and pay no taxes. In fact, I’ve got two DMV vehicle registration renewal notices sitting right next to me here on my desk that I’ll be paying tomorrow. Cypress park girl and the rest of the fools who’ve posted comments here who think we cyclists don’t pay taxes need to get a clue and life.

  21. I think more parklets is the answer. Bringing more recreational activities to heavily traveled roadways solves everything.

  22. Here is one thing I dont understand. The bike lane advocates say the road is for all vehicles, and they are correct. But the Bike Lane is for bikes only. Cars will get a ticket for driving in the bike lane. How can you justify taking two lanes on Colorado Bl. for the exclusive use of bicycles when, as all you bike supporters say, the roads are for everyone? Autos may only enter the bike lane to park, pull away from the curb or to make a turn. How is it fair that bikes get exclusive use of lanes meant for ALL vehicles, inclucing cars?

    • Tim – Your campaign of misinformation and distraction will not work here, just as it hasn’t worked on Patch. “Bike lane advocates” aren’t the only ones who say the road is for all vehicles – the LADOT and Metro do, too. In fact, it’s the DOT that is “taking” your precious lanes away on Colorado, not the bicycle commuters, families, or shoppers and diners who will use them. You claim bike lanes are “for bikes only” and “the exclusive use of bicycles,” but then in the next sentence you admit that cars may enter lanes to park, pull away from the curb, and make a turn. Sounds like the bike lanes are shared lanes after all. So you’ve solved your own conundrum. Congratulations!

    • Really, Tim, you’re going to make the case that bike lanes are “unfair” ? Firstly EVERYONE benefits from safety improvements bike lanes will bring. Not just bicyclists– EVERYONE! Secondly, how is it fair that the status quo discourages people from walking and cycling, modes of travel that are actually good for one’s health and the environment? Bicyclists share with motorists out of necessity because the status quo has excluded bicycling from transportation planning. Creating bike lanes removes the necessity to share the lane with dangerous drivers. Want an exclusive car path? Take the freeway! The point is that public streets shouldn’t exclude any mode of transportation from their design– streets are not for the exclusive use of any single mode (thus there are pedestrians, bicyclists, bus riders, drivers, all sharing the same right of way) Does that make sense?

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