By NATHAN SOLIS
Let us add another chapter to the Figueroa bike lane saga. Frustrated bicycle advocates protested outside Councilman Gil Cedillo’s downtown condominium complex on Sunday morning. The protest bike ride, dubbed ¡CHALE CON CEDILLO!, and “die-in” was in response to what the bicycle advocates call a lack of dialog from Cedillo, whose First Council District includes Highland Park, Cypress Park and several other neighborhoods. The die-in was meant to symbolize the heightened risk of injury and collisions cyclists face without a bike lane.
Surprised neighbors greeted the riders and watched as they milled about outside the condominium complex. Cedillo did not make an appearance, but his spokesman, Louis Reyes, said the council office has been “inclusive in the process” about the future of Figueroa. “It’s the tyranny of the minority at this point,” Reyes said of Sunday’s demonstrators. “We have listened to them and will continue to listen to them.”
Last month, Cedillo introduced his plan to the City Council for diagonal street parking on Figueroa, a move that would eliminate room for bicycle lanes, according to cycling advocates. Cedillo’s office refutes that contention, saying Figueroa bike lanes remain a possibility. Cedillo, meanwhile, has described the bike advocates who have challenged him as “bullies” who are a vocal minority.
“We’re tired of the lip service. We’re not bullies, we’re his constituents,” said Eastside Bicycle Club founder Carlos Morales who participated in Sunday’s ride and protest outside Cedillo’s residence.
Approved in 2010, the Los Angeles Bicycle Plan allocated funds for 5.3 miles of bicycle lanes along Figueroa Street in Northeast L.A. But after Cedillo took office, he halted any alterations to the street and held several town hall meetings on the topic of road safety that bicycle advocates felt were a waste of time.
“Cedillo is a Sacramento politician who now has to face his constituents,” said Morales who mentioned that the councilman showed strong support for bicycle lanes when campaigning for office.
But bicycle lanes for Figueroa are still on the table, according to Reyes. “The councilmember is diligently working to increase street safety for all residents, not just one segment,” he said.
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.