The Bureau of Engineering has come out in favor of adding bike lanes but removing one of two existing sidewalks across the Glendale-Hyperion bridge as part of a $50 million renovation of the historic L.A. River span.
The long-awaited recommendation would also retain four existing lanes for motor vehicles despite efforts by cycling and pedestrian activists to eliminate one traffic lane. Losing a traffic lane would have preserved sidewalks on both sides of the bridge that connects Atwater Village with Los Feliz and Silver Lake.
The recommendation was immediately criticized by biking and pedestrian activists who had pushed for preserving the two existing sidewalks and creating more room for cyclists on the bridge that spans the L.A. River and 5 Freeway.
The bureau, in a recommendation that was first made public by Streetsblog LA, said that the “daily low count of pedestrians” across the bridge did not warrant keeping sidewalks on both sides of the span while reducing one lane of traffic at this time. Instead, the bureau recommended:
* Eliminating the five-foot wide sidewalk on the east side of the bridge because it cannot be “safely” accessed on either end.
* Widen the sidewalk on the west side of the bridge to six feet
* Add raised bike lanes to the east and west sides of the bridge
* Adding a pedestrian crosswalk
The Bureau of Engineering’s recommendations are scheduled to be reviewed by the Board of Public Works on Friday.
The city engineers had been weighing several options after a lengthy and contentious public review that pitted cycling and pedestrian activists with many Atwater Village business owners and residents who opposed eliminating a traffic lane.
Word that the recommendation had been made spread this morning during a press conference held by councilman Tom LaBonge and Mitch O’Farrell to promote a long-stand proposal to build a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists next to the Glendale-Hyperion span. The pedestrian-bike bridge would be built on top of the concrete columns that once supported a Red Car trestle across the river.
But, as Streetsblog noted, the focus of the press conference shifted to the bureau’s recommendation, with O’Farrell declining to say if he would support it*. Deborah Murphy, a Silver Lake resident who is executive director of L.A. Walks and serves on the city’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee, was quoted by Streetsblog as saying:
Everybody walks, but not everybody drives. Yet the city wants to build a bridge that only allows you to walk on one side of the bridge.”
Murphy’s group is asking its supporters to show up to Friday’s Board of Public Works meeting to push for the proposal that includes two sidewalks but reduces the number of traffic lanes.
O’Farrell’s office recommended Murphy for a $25,000 contract last year to conduct a pedestrian safety plan for Hollywood.
Update @ 7:36 p.m.: O’Farrell’s spokesman, Tony Aranaga said that the councilman “is going to fight for protected bike lanes and a pedestrian activated signalized cross walk.” However, he did not say how he stands on eliminating one sidewalk.