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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Protesters demanding a safer Figueroa march on council member’s office

Figueroa Street

Protesters on Figueroa Street head to Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo’s office. | Nathan Solis

By Nathan Solis

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.

freeway

Bob Inman protesting along Figueroa Street

inside cd1

Protester Susan Wong, left, addressing a Council District 1 representative.

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.

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24 comments

  1. Nathan, it’s about making the road safer for ALL road users. Not just safer for bicyclists, but pedestrians and drivers too. It just so happens that the traffic-calming road diet that will make Figueroa safer, will also make it possible to install buffered bike lanes as part of the 2010 LA Bike Plan. The decision was made to do this a long time ago, Cedillo is just punishing Highland Park for not supporting him in last year’s election. The bigger story is about how one man can hold-up city-wide initiatives based on his own grudges against particular constituents.

    The question is: How many people have to die before Cedillo will listen to LADOT’s recommendations??

  2. Bicycle safety begins with cyclists stopping at stop signs.

    • Hear, hear!

      And also wearing helmets.

    • Bicyclist safety also begins by reducing the tens of thousands of annual injuries and deaths caused by needless auto speeding, illegal cell phone use and DUIs.

      • Bar hopping bicyclists drive under the influence, illegally use cellphones whist driving, and wear head or earphones shutting out sound they should be hearing. Watch them. pay attention to what they are doing.. It’s no secret that, in spite of being more vulnerable, they are less safety conscious than automobile drivers. Ever had a drunk bicyclist cut in front of you on Sunset, then give you the finger and/or curse you out?

        • “It’s no secret that, in spite of being more vulnerable, they are less safety conscious than automobile drivers.”

          Statistics, please.

          In any case, yeah… we don’t have 100% safety consciousness among bicyclists, just as we don’t have it for drivers. That’s how collisions happen. That’s why we need bike lanes.

      • Yeah, and tell that to the guy on the bike who was looking down at his phone, busy pushing buttons, riding with no hands, blew a stop sign and who probably would have been history if I hadn’t slammed on my brakes..

        • I had a cement truck driver blow thru a red and would have taken me out had I been quick on the gas when my light turned green.

          Distracted/poor driving is dangerous no matter what the mode of travel. I would say, given the choice, I’d rather get slammed by a cyclist than a cement truck.

    • The issue at hand isn’t traffic enforcement, or your misperception of equipment needs, it’s about road design. This is a design issue. Do we keep a failed road design, or do we act on recommendations from trained experts?

  3. stuart rapeport

    Education is key, If bike lanes are more than a painted stripe, motorists, pedestrians, bike riders need to know what they mean. When is it ok to turn right across the bike path,? Can a bike rider turn left from a bike path? What is a shared lane mean? Are bicyclists required to follow the same rules as drivers? Can skateboarders ride in the lane? Can bicyclists ride on the sidewalk? Plopping down paint is meaningless if there aren’t any rules, and are the rules laws or just good ideas?

    • No, education is NOT key. Everything you’ve written about has been exhaustively written about online for years now:

      Bikes in the street rules:
      https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21202.htm

      Sidewalk riding:
      http://ladotbikeblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/la-county-sidewalk-riding-part1/

      Cars driving in bike lane:
      https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21717.htm
      https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21209.htm

      But this is a distraction – making our streets safer, improving human health and well being, serving the repair of a shattered social fabric; these are the issues that should move a council office to act. Instead, we are left with Cedillo’s whims to serve his reelection in 2017. We get “bikes vs. cars” rhetoric – which totally obfuscates the issue because these road diets slow down top car speeds but often result in faster average drive times. This is about a road design paradigm that doesn’t even serve the interests of car drivers – we still only average 8 to 13 mph on Figueroa at peak hours, despite people going 45 between lights. You could go 1000mph between lights and still not improve your average drive times much. Making our streets into mini-freeways is destructive and stupid, and it is dangerous as well. These bike lanes will have no real impact on car travel times, but will make the street safer.

      Bike lanes like those planned cost about $50,000 per mile to do – contrast that with the $250,000+ needed to add traffic signals to just one intersection or the cost of one of those stupid flashing crosswalk signs above the road. This is improved safety on the cheap and with real measurable benefits – and that is why cities across the country are installing them (and dealing with the same barrage of stupid comments opposed to them).

      Cedillo has proven to be a cynical and vindictive councilman. He is also making a bad bet on his political future – we are getting organized and we WILL be voting in the next election. If that is all he cares about that is what we are going to focus on, and to hell with all the other work we could be doing to make our community better.

      • “You could go 1000mph between lights and still not improve your average drive times much. ”

        This.

        On days that I don’t bike to work, I drive down a Pasadena street that has a 35mph speed limit and a bunch of stoplights (virtually every block). Average speed is maybe 15-20mph, but yet, there are still those d-bags who floor it to well above 35mph, only to brake hard at the next light. Light after light, I come sauntering up next to them. For all their effort, they don’t get anywhere any faster. Making the road such that driving the average speed is a natural occurrence due to road design will make things safer/ calmer without really making total trip time slower.

        • Very true… people in LA have an irrational desire to hit max speed on any given street, and the typical 35mph limit throughout the city (sometimes event 45!) just encourages this irrational behavior. We’d be better off lowering the speed limits all over LA to 30 or even 25mph, like most big cities have already done. There’s simply no reason why anyone needs to be driving much faster than that through densely populated urban neighborhoods.

      • A Prayer for CD1

        He has made no friends in Echo Park either. Unresponsive to neighborhood concerns even after thousands have signed petitions: dodger issues, huge development projects approved without mitigation measures, historic resources scoffed and belittled.
        Cedillo never shows up, he just sends his staff– who are completely bankrupt of ideas or power to actually propose any solution. He is clearly a dictator whose staff are directed to do nothing more than placate. By contrast, other CMs have staff that work in collaboration with their boss and can actually suggest useful strategies to solve local issues.

        Cedillo=Dysfunction by design.

        Please, Lord Jesus, let there emerge a Saint from this territory that will deliver us from Evil and shape a path for a future free from vindictive maneuvering and back-room deals.

        Amen.

    • Again, the issue here is design. Is Figueroa currently designed to best serve all its users or do we maintain a Figueroa that encourages speeding at the cost of safety? A well-designed book encourages readers to read it, so does a well-designed Figueroa encourage people to drive slower, as well as walk and bike more.

    • I pray for my own safety that you don’t have a drivers licence because someone who “passed” the DMV “tests” and still has all these questions should not be driving.

  4. The community does NOT want the removal of car lanes! Councilmember Cedillo is listening to what the community wants. Greater Cypress Park neighborhood council voted for no removal of car lanes. No Road diet.

    • The Cypress Park NC voted in favor of bike lanes at their last meeting. The council didn’t like the plan that would make Figueroa have one southbound car lane heading down to Avenue 28 (where the LADOT road diet ends), but they did support bike lanes, so nyah!

  5. “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.”

    Actually this is not accurate. You should add that this is a new, unnecessary round of outreach. These changes already went through the political process, and were included in the adopted 2010 LA City Bike Plan.

  6. Its very sensitive issue, I’m for whats best for the whole community not just a select few. If they remove a traffic lane on fig. whats going be done about all the increase traffic on Monte Vista and all the other side smaller streets. I rather see bike riders on my street instead of more cars. Look at Meridian and Ave 50, traffic has increased dramaticly.
    January 2014. 3 people where hit on Meridian & Ave 57. . Accidents just don’t happen on main streets. my brothers park car was hit 2 times in the past year, never happen 10 years previous I rather keep the traffic on the big streets and away from the side streets that most kids play on.
    I find it interesting that know one talks about the bad affects the removal of traffic lanes has created on small side streets in Highland Park and Eagle Rock.
    Too bad the community can’t come together for more important issues

    • @Gil – Let’s get the facts straight to the accident on Meridian. The accident on Meridian & Avenue 57 had to do with an elderly person who probably should have had his license revoked. He pressed the accelerator instead of the brake! In regards to the bike lanes, I’ve maintained neutrality because I am personally sympathetic to both sides. Before the York Bike Lanes it would take me five minutes to get to work, now it takes me eight minutes. So….How do I feel toward the bike lanes? I’m cool with them! As a fequent driver on Meridian, I do not see more auto traffic! What I do see…is more drivers slowly driving through stop signs! Another infraction I see…is ignorant drivers double parking, making drivers go around the illegally parked vehicle. I believe it’s called Basic Driver 101 Etiquette that is needed and the occasional LAPD crackdown would put a stop to such behavior! Give them a hefty ticket and they will not do it again!

      As for CEDILLO and his entire STAFF – Yes, let’s get rid of him on the next election!!! CD 1/Highland Park needs a councilman who cares to help make the beautiful arroyos/community a better place for young and old to enjoy LA’s original first suburb.

      • Greater Cypress Park neighborhood council did vote for bike lanes but no removal of car lanes. That is true. Most people are for bike lanes and that’s great. But they are also for no removal of car lanes. So, the NC voted for both the bike lane and no removal of car lanes so everyone won!

        I don’t know why the bicyclist were fighting so hard when really they got what they wanted too.

        Bike lanes, YES. Removal of car lanes, NO! No road diet!

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