SILVER LAKE – More than two years have passed since a nearly mile-long section of Rowena Avenue was put on a “road diet” that reduced the number of lanes for motor vehicles while making room for bike lanes. But the road diet remains a controversial issue, leading the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council to schedule a town hall next Monday devoted to traffic and safety conditions on Rowena.
Advocates of the Rowena Road diet say it has helped make the street safer by slowing traffic and reducing collisions. But critics say it has only worsened traffic congestion, with drivers now traveling through narrow side streets. Earlier this year Public Works Commissioner Matt Szabo called the Rowena road diet “a bit of a disaster.”
An L.A. Times story said that road diets might be imposed on other city streets under the recently adopted Mobility Plan 2035, which calls for adding hundreds of miles of bus and bike lanes as part of an effort to increase safety and encourage alteranatives to the automobile. On Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed against the plan, claiming it would only worsen congestion and air pollution.
It’s not clear what the outcome of the Rowena Avenue Road Diet Town Hall will be. The neighborhood council lacks the authority to reverse or modify the road diet, which was created at the direction of former Councilman Tom LaBonge. But cycling and pedestrian advocates see the meeting as the most recent evidence of what some have called as a “bikelash” against bike lanes, road diets and other measures to slow traffic and improve safety.
Bike advocate Rick Risemberg, in a posting on the Flying PigeonLA blog, is urging supporters of the Rowena Road Diet to attend the Silver Lake meeting to defend the concept:
The backlash bozos will be there in force, hoping to reassert their right to speed, crush, and kill. You need to be there to reassert your right to live well and long, without your days being dominated by elitist drivers who value their bombast and impatience over your survival. Be there…or surrender your streets to the killers.
The Rowena Avenue Road Diet Town Hall will be held on Monday, Sept. 14 from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at Ivanhoe Elementary School, 2828 Herkimer
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