HIGHLAND PARK — Wearing Dia De Los Muertos style-face paint and masks, a group of bicycle safety and pedestrian advocates, parents and children marched on Figueroa Street on Tuesday afternoon to honor the pedestrians killed on the street and put more pressure on Councilman Gil Cedillo to support a bicycle safety plan.
The protesters headed to Cedillo’s field office at the corner of Figueroa Street and Avenue 56, where council staff listened to members of the group as children with poster boards scrambled about the lobby. After the demands were heard, the group moved outside and Cedillo’s staffers closed the doors.
Though Cedillo and the city’s Department of Transportation have held two public forums this year on the bicycle plan, which includes removing a traffic lane on Figueroa to make more room for bikes, no official decision has been made on the issue.
“This guy does not want to work with us,” said Cypress Park bike shop owner Josef Bray-Ali of the councilman. “Cedillo’s stance has been lacking. He could have said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and we would have been that much further ahead at this point, but nothing has been said.”
The proposed bike lanes and “road diet” would restripe Figueroa to create bicycle lanes from Avenue 26 to Avenue 52. The bike lanes would also remove a single vehicle lane, which many opponents say would create more vehicle traffic.
Recently Figueroa was designated by Mayor Eric Garcetti as part of the Great Street Initiative, which seeks to promote businesses and coordinate street projects for various neighborhoods. “A great neighborhood needs a great street as its backbone, and, as city leaders, we need the backbone to make the bold changes necessary to build great streets,” said Garcetti.
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Avenue Meander.