SILVER LAKE — It’s been more than two years since Councilman Tom LaBonge rode his bike down Rowena Avenue to celebrate the opening of new bike lanes. The lanes for cyclists were added after a nearly mile-long section of Rowena was put a on a “road diet” that left the street with only two traffic lanes instead of four. But the reduction of lanes for cars and trucks has only made congestion worse, and conditions have not improved, according to some residents. Last week, Public Works Commissioner Matt Szabo called the Rowena road diet “a bit of a disaster.”
Szabo made the remarks during a meeting in which the commissioners rejected putting the Glendale-Hyperion bridge on a road diet as requested by bike and pedestrian activists. Szabo said eliminating one lane of traffic on the bridge, which is about two blocks north of Rowena, would only create more traffic jams on nearby streets.
“The Rowena road diet is possibly not the best choice that we could have made,” said Szabo. “I can’t in good conscience vote for anything that would compound that situation. Traffic is already backed up.”
The road diet left Rowena with one traffic lane in each direction between Hyperion Avenue and Glendale Boulevard. LaBonge and others said the reduction in lanes would slow down speeding vehicles and create a safer and more pleasant environment for pedestrians and cyclists.
However, since Labonge’s initial bike ride down Rowena, some residents complain that the bike lanes are frequently empty, in part because they don’t connect to other bike lanes. Meanwhile, cars and trucks stuck in traffic have spilled over into side streets.
“Everyone on my street, Waverly Drive, hates it because we have at least 600-1,000 more cars daily on our street, sometimes speeding, sometimes blowing the stop signs,” said Jerome Courshon in an email. “Yes, we need bike lanes around the City. But removing lanes from those streets that serve as major arteries from one part of the City to another is not the solution.”
The Eastsider has contacted LaBonge’s office for a response.
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