Saturday, October 22, 2016

Is there a bus or bike lane coming your way? [updated]


If motorists find traffic on major streets like Sunset Boulevard, Cesar Chavez Avenue and Colorado Boulevard slow going, they won’t see much relief under the Los Angeles Mobility Plan. In fact,  the plan, which will help guide transportation and development through 2035, might worsen congestion for cars and trucks, according to city-commissioned environmental reports cited by the L.A. Times.  However, the same plan would likely benefit bus riders, cyclists and pedestrians.

The plan, now before the City Council,  has identified certain streets to include bus-only lanes, protected bike lanes and more pedestrian safety features and amenities. But the streets won’t get any wider to accommodate the bus and protected lanes, so something will have to give. In many cases, that might mean less lanes for motor vehicles.

Sunset Boulevard through Echo Park and Silver Lake, for example, would have to make room for a protected bike lane as well as bus-only lane during peak travel hours, under the plan.  Colorado Boulevard through Eagle Rock and Whittier Boulevard in Boyle Heights would include an all-day, exclusive bus lane.

In some cases, however, bike and bus traffic might be able to travel in the same lane, said city planner Claire Bowin.  Also, it’s up to Metro, which operates and funds bus service, to determine whether the designated streets might have enough ridership to support increased service and warrant a bus-only lane.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the plan today.

* Update: A majority of the City Council voted in favor of the plan, reports the L.A. Times.  First District Councilman Gil Cedillo, whose district includes all or part of Cypress Park, Highland Park and Lincoln Heights, was one of two votes against the plan.


Enhanced Traffic Networks from L.A. Mobility Plan

transit enhanced network

From L.A. Mobility Plan 2035

Metro has designated the streets in the map above as part of a Transit Enhanced Network that “prioritize travel for transit riders:

  • Moderate enhancements (yellow):   Include bus stop enhancements and increased service, with transit vehicles continuing to operate in mixed traffic.
  • Moderate Plus Transit (light orange):  Includes an exclusive bus lane during the peak travel period only
  • Comprehensive Transit:  Include transit vehicles operating in an all-day exclusive bus lane.
Bicycle Enhanced Network | LA Mobility Plan

Bicycle Enhanced Network | LA Mobility Plan

L.A. Mobility Plan

L.A. Mobility Plan

Protected Bicycle Lanes (dark blue) would, according to the Mobility Plan, “offer an increased degree of separation between bicyclists and the adjacent travel lanes (e.g., an on-street parking buffer between the vehicular travel lanes and the cycle track). In addition, the installation of protected bicycle lanes would likely include signalization enhancements for bicycles along with turning-movement restrictions for motor vehicles.”

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  1. “However, the same plan would likely benefit bus riders, cyclists and pedestrians.” Your classifications give the impression that these are distinct groups. But a person who rides a bus can also be a person who drives a car. If I ride buses AND drive, will it hurt me or help me? Thus, it’s too simple to say that this mobility plan will hurt drivers and help bus riders, cyclists, and pedestrians. And it polarizes the issue and gets people yelling nonsense in comments. People use these modes of travel; but they are not defined by them. Some publications – often the ones that refrain from using the phrase, “car accident” – have taken steps to avoid creating false dichotomies by pinning one mode against the other.

    In the words of Jonathan Maus from bikeportland.org: “In my opinion, putting a label on someone simply for how they move around only makes it easier for them to be marginalized, stereotyped, criticized, dismissed, and so on.”

    • Thanks for this comment. I read this blog a lot, and appreciate its coverage of news that is important to NELA but doesn’t make it to the LA Times. But the writer has teed up this story as a driver-vs-pedestrian fight, inviting a food fight in the comments. It is disappointing — and eerily similar to what I remember of Pete Wilson politics — pitting one group against another.

      At various times of the day, I’m a driver, a pedestrian, and a cyclist. And if better options develop, I’m happy to change transportation modes. So this way to pose the problem is unhelpful.

      Two other observations: If you travel around, you notice many major cities embracing trains, buses, walking, and cycling. Some people who have a “traditional” LA lifestyle should be observant as they travel, to notice other systems that work better than ours. The rest of the world is not standing still.

      Also: there is not enough emphasis on expert analysis of traffic. I’ve attended the small expo sessions where the impact of bike lanes is discussed, and LADOT presents traffic numbers, estimates of delays, etc. I’m sure similar analysis went in to this plan. Too many people are focused on their very intuitive understanding of traffic, which pretty much reduces to “more lanes good”. The problem is more complex, because all those lanes still have to cross one another at intersections, and feed into smaller roads, etc., and there is the additional problem of wide roads attracting unnecessary car traffic, and finding parking for all those cars.

      • Let’s stop with the semantics and self-righteousness. This discussion IS entirely about cars vs bicycles. The fact that you like to wear different hats as both a driver and bus/bicycle rider is irrelevant. The issue is simple: reduce traffic lanes to satisfy a vocal minority or maintain the traffic lines as they are currently. Traffic congestion is already hideous, so why not make a bad situation worse, eh? Why not make the rest of the city like DTLA; we’ll convert all streets throughout the city to single one-way lanes. Who cares if automobile drivers have to suffer even more than they already do. What’s next, converting traffic lanes on the 134 to bicycle lanes? While you fret over labels, the rest of us will be stuck in traffic, missing our daughter’s soccer match, or a doctor’s appointment, or a flight. Please stop with the anti-automobile chauvinism. Leave the traffic lanes as they are.

        • Sorry, the issue is not that simple, and your scary scenarios are ridiculous.

          • This coming from someone whose biggest problem is what transportation label should be applied to him/her?? Gimme a break. Talk about first world problems. Too bad you can’t look in the mirror and see the ridiculousness of your pretentiousness. The quality of people’s lives is at stake here, and you’re worried about dichotomies and labels? Until you get a website of your own that’s as informative and helpful to NELA as the Eastsider, please refrain from chastising the writer of this helpful and accurate article.

          • You’re presuming way too much about me. And you seem to be the grandmaster of pitting one group against another, so I won’t even try to explain why I think that’s a mistake. Carry on with your broad presumptions – anything to make the issue as black and white as possible. I’m so glad I’ll never have to pick up my daughter at school or drive to work, because I live in a magical bicycle land where all cars are evil and my biggest problem is the language people use! And lucky for all of us, language has nothing to do with how issues are framed or how people think.

            This article also failed to mention that last week Cedillo submitted an amendment to the Plan, which included the removal of all proposed bike lanes in his district, as well as the removal of some existing ones. I love this website – but this article is parroting a pretty bad LA Times article, and failing to add pertinent, east side info.

        • Here’s why putting the question as “drivers vs. bus riders” is wrong: in the long term, if bus options prove to be better for some trips, people will choose to ride the bus rather than drive for that trip. Same for other modes of transportation (bike, pedestrian).

          The implication: I have no identity as a “driver” or a “bus rider”. I want to get from here to there using the best option. A transportation plan is about creating choices and thereby making the system more efficient for some trips. I can walk to the dry cleaner and some local restaurants. I can bike to the grocery store. I can Uber to LAX. All of these have advantages compared to driving.

          It will not happen overnight, in fact, some people will never reconsider their decisions. That’s OK, because my bike ride to the grocery store allows someone else to use the parking space I would have taken up.

          About our supposedly bad congestion: Ha. I suggest you visit London, Boston, or New York City and note what they are doing about congestion. LA, in general, has not even come close to the level of intervention you see elsewhere. You simply cannot build enough roads for car-only transportation. Look at what has happened to the Westside, or to Venice.

  2. I would absolutely ride my bike to work if there was a protected bike line!!!! I hope the city truly IS looking toward the future and planning for a more bike-friendly city. I own a car and drive to work or take the goldline, but would love to ride my bike if we had dedicated, safe bike lanes like Berlin has!!!

  3. GOOD — we need more transportation options. As someone who lives in ER and walks on Colorado Blvd multiple times a week, I am all for more ways to get around. And anything we can do to slow down the traffic speeds on Colorado, is a good thing. People still drive way too fast — and if you want to drive that fast, you should be on the 134 instead.

    And please don’t listen to anyone that tells you traffic on Colorado has gotten worse due to the bike lanes, they are mistaken. I drive on Colorado all times of the day, and occasionally you do have to (gasp) wait at a light, but it’s rare you need to wait for two lights to get past any given intersection. Any grousing about traffic on Colorado is delusional.

    • As a fellow Eagle Rocker, I agree with every word you said.

    • How fast is too fast? 35 mph? Why not just have LAPD actually enforce existing traffic laws?

      • If you design streets for safe and convenient community circulation (rather than just max speeds for motorists), you don’t need to waste tax revenue on traffic stings and speed traps. I think we can all agree the LAPD have bigger fish to fry.

        • Yes, they do. But traffic stops catch all sorts of folks: outstanding warrants, child support, parole. etc. Giuliani style.

  4. this article should just be titled “Do you live in Cedillo’s district or do you not?”

  5. Culturally Unwelcoming

    making Sunset one lane through Echo Park and Silver Lake would be a clusterfuck of epic proportions.

    • Yeah, lots of professionals will be biking silver lake/los feliz to downtown. Madness.

      • I don’t think you’d need to lose any mixed traffic lanes to fit protected bike lanes… I’m guessing the city could simply swap the parking spots with the bike lanes, and calm traffic flow to a more rational urban speed (~25mph)?

        It’d definitely be a boon to small businesses and local residents, if motorists weren’t driving into buildings and running over people every few months. And it’d be much easier to parallel park, if d-bags were discouraged from weaving in and out of traffic at highway speeds, like they do today.

        I imagine reducing auto capacity to one lane would only happen if Metro decided to paint rush hour bus-only lanes (like the Dodgers use during game days.) But I doubt that will happen… anyway, people just ignore them a lot of the time, and they rarely work that well because motorists still need to get into and out of them at every intersection.

        Sunset/SMB just needs a cut-and-cover subway line… it’s in Metro’s long range plan, but probably won’t be happening in our lifetimes (too many projects ahead of it in the queue; too many idiots in Washigton who think we can fix urban congestion with more freeways.)

        • What freeways are being constructed in urban areas? The bike advocates don’t do themselves any favors by trundling out aged tropes about freeways and car accidents. Metrolink has had several dramatic accidents, why is nobody calling for the removal of the tracks? As long as humans operate vehicles (including bikes), there will be accidents. A Vision Zero goal is unattainable for bike accidents.

          For Sunset and Figueroa, there is no way to install bike lanes without losing either parking, or through lanes. Reducing two main thoroughfares to 1 lane in each direction is absolute madness. But that is what happens when politicians capitulate to the vocal minority.

          • At the national level, conservatives are trying to strip all funding for mass transit, full stop. And even most D.C. liberals want to squander ungodly amounts of money on new highways in urban areas, instead of much needed rail projects that will generate far greater ROI for the taxpayer.

            Here In LA… we are making big investments in rail. But we’re still wasting a lot of money on urban freeway expansion. The 405 widening, 5 widening, 710 tunnel boondoggle, misc. on/offramp projects.

            That’s 10’s of billions of our tax dollars being spent on local/urban freeways, with very minimal (and short lived) improvement in travel times (rush hour congestion on the 405 is actually worse after they added a lane!)

          • Also, Sunset already has bike lanes… so I don’t see why they couldn’t just swap the lane/parking configuration to create a buffer on both sides of the street (without sacrificing the 4 mixed/auto lanes that currently exist.) Am I missing something?

            North Figueroa is another ball of wax… and I believe a road diet would actually be needed in a few stretches to create bike lanes. Then again, that street doesn’t see anywhere near the traffic congestion that Sunset does. I think the traffic study they did when the bike lanes were being proposed there couple years back said the delay would be minimal. But Cedillo put the kibosh on that, so I don’t think you’ll have to worry about it changing anytime soon.

        • Culturally Unwelcoming

          ask any of the business owners along the 2 miles of Sunset through Silver Lake and Echo Park if they think removing the parking in front of their storefronts would be a “boon.”


            Yeah, nope.

          • Why would you need to remove parking on Sunset to add buffered bike lanes? There’s already bike lanes and parking… just swap the lane with the parking spots, and calm traffic flow to a more urban flow (i.e. 20-25 instead 35-45.) Done and done.

          • Culturally Unwelcoming

            Is that legal–to have parking in between two vehicle lanes?

          • @Culturally Unwelcoming I think maybe I’m not explaining it well enough. Check out the new bike lanes on Reseda (near CSUN.) This is what I mean: http://bit.ly/1Tubu7X

          • Reseda before: http://bit.ly/1IGVHzE

            And after: http://bit.ly/1Enjgta

            It’s a similar street layout, so I figure the DOT should be able to just swap the bike lanes with the parking, and keep two lanes each way for cars.

          • Culturally Unwelcoming

            those look great, though you’d have to carve 3-4 feet out of traffic lanes for the buffer strip, and I don’t think you could do that on both sides of Sunset without killing a lane or widening the street in many places. but I honestly don’t see an overpowering need for them, either; Sunset though SL/EP is not an especially difficult or dangerous ride as it is.

            at any rate, the bike lane, if it can be accommodated without killing a traffic lane, is a minor issue. it’s the idea of turning Sunset into a two-lane street during rush hour that is madness.

  6. This is frying-pan-to-the-face insanity. We have allowed our roads (the majority of which are dedicated to automobiles — the reason these said roads were created in the first place) to decay into shameful, dangerous disrepair. For the sake of safety (as cars swerve to avoid cater-sized potholes), traffic congestion (as drivers slow to navigate blocks-long stretches of divots and Olympic-sized gullies), and pollution created by stagnant traffic, repairs need to be made now. If we drivers weren’t so busy clamping down on our mouthpieces to avoid shattering our teeth and bending our tire rims on crater-sized potholes strategically located every thirty feet, some might wonder if there is an ulterior motive in motion and question what, exactly, is happening. Instead, we wake up daily to freshly painted bicycle lanes. Misplaced priorities favoring a minority group.

    • Catering exclusively to the automobile is what created this mess and you and others want to keep the status quo and hope things get better. you and juicy jay are bigger cry babies than the so called minority bicyclists, who unlike you don’t have infrastructure door to door throughout the city… but that still isn’t good enough for you. Look in the mirror next time you want to refer to entitled cry baby special interest groups who participate in activities (like driving) that are highly subsidized by the rest of society. Don’t like it, find another way to get around. No one’s holding a gun to your head and making you drive, are they? It’s so simple, after all.

  7. Los Angeles is too hot and too big for bicycle commuting. It just doesn’t work. Amsterdam is a great city but it is flat and small and the weather rarely reaches 80 degrees. It is a great idea – it looks good on paper – but thats it. There are already bike lanes on Sunset and they are barely used.

    I heard all of this shrill rhetoric when I lived in San Francisco. They closed down many lanes for theoretical bicyclists – and it causes only gridlock during rush hour. You never see a single bike. Serious working people who don’t have time to ride a bike; who don’t have time to comment or even read articles like this are the ones who suffer.

    Commuting downtown by bike from the Franklin Hills where I live is great going there but coming back it is all up hill. You would have to be 20 years old and in top shape. Is that what the city planners expect us to be? Is that why they use the annoying euphemism ‘Road Diet’? Fixing something that is not broken is neurotic behavior.

    • “Los Angeles is too hot and too big for bicycle commuting. It just doesn’t work.” – for you. This is fine… don’t do it. But that doesn’t mean we should preclude our society from giving people the option to make a choice that frankly is better for them AND FOR YOU. Get over it.

      • Wow. Didn’t mean to make you mad! Truth hurts. No one is limiting you or me commuting by bike – there are already bike lanes on Sunset – but for good or bad this place was made for cars. Perhaps you should advocate for greater urban density. I love biking here but going to work like this is untenable.

        • Sunset was built around walking and a streetcar line… the bones are still there, we just need to stop thinking of our main streets as cut-through surface highways. It’s a big, crowded, diverse city. People of all walks and social status need to be able to get around safely and conveniently with or without a car (like any other big city.) And the Sunset lanes don’t connect to Downtown or Hollywood… filling in these gaps in our transportation network is just low hanging fruit.

        • I have biked to work, NELA to Westside, everyday for 3 years. Maybe it is because I am from the east coast, but LA is much preferable climate-wise for biking. In fact, its like perfect. If you cant bike here, you can’t bike anywhere … ok, Amsterdam maybe. The issue for me is that I am putting my life in crazy auto drivers’ hands everyday (gimme NY cabbies any day over LA drivers) … that is why the ‘vocal minority’ are fighting for some safe zones. But, I get it. Traffic congestion is terrible and will indeed get worse if you lose a lane in each direction on Sunset, for example. It is complicated. But, this framing of the issue as ‘bike lanes being put in because of the squeaky (bike) wheel of the bike lobby is not the full picture of the rationale. This sort of action is also the result of city planning looking to a possible future that is better than the current car hell. Now, maybe that is not possible because too many think like you do that this is not a bikable city. But, based on my own experience, I just think it is super-bikable. I get home across town a good 20 minutes faster than I would in my car, and this dry heat is hardly an impediment. The sweat dries in 5 minutes and I am good as new.

    • I sold my car 10 years ago and commute by bike 12 miles each way from Hollywood to my Fortune 500 CORPORATE marketing job in Santa Monica. It’s not only doable it’s changed my life and my families life for the better.

      Oh yeah, I’m in my mid 40s.

      You folks have lots of excuses for sloth and outright hostility to any notion of making our streets safer for people who aren’t driving in cars. You have no data and rely on convenience-based emotional arguments straight out of the 50s. For example, the difference between 35 mph and 45 mph is literally life and death (google crash survivability rates). But you guys don’t care about the slaughter going on our streets, you just care about going as FAST YOU CAN. GET OUTTA MY WAY!!!!

      This is a worldwide cultural paradigm shift. It is unstoppable. Younger people want options and actually give a damn about the planet unlike our own hypocritical boomers and Gen Xers who still base their self-worth on their possessions.

      The last 50 years have been an outright disaster for everything except personal convenience and sloth. Obesity, pollution, social inequity (not everyone can afford cars), traffic violence are the byproducts of the social engineering that has gone unchecked since the rail lines were ripped up and freeways built by a population too ignorant to know the damage they were doing.

      I mean, people used to think smoking in hospitals was ok. You all remember that right?

      Los Angeles is wonderful for active transportation with a great climate and fairly flat terrain. The amount of whining and excuses put forth here is the reason America is becoming a nation of weaklings and unable to compete with a much tougher world full of people who know what actual hardship means.

      The staus quo has not worked for close to 30 years now. Traffic is projected to exponentially increase because the population is only going to keep exploding and most people moving here drive cars.

      You can cry about illegal aliens, etc but things are only going to get worse and your answer is to uphold the status quo or foolishly try to increase capacity – which never works. You have no answers, no data, no idea what you’re talking about (roads are paid for by motorists! classic ignorance).

      I would feel sorry for you but your anger and callous disregard for public safety make it extremely hard. In 10 years you guys are really going to hate living in LA when millions more cars have been added and your stubborn adherence to 1955 nostalgia is coming back to bite you in your collective butts as you sit in endless traffic jams, every day, wishing you had not designed your entire lives around single occupancy cars.

      Children throwing tantrums when they are asked to share.

      • Great Post! Exactly! No data crybabies sums it up. Also concern trolls. Sure cars idling produces pollution. You know what also produces pollution, cars when they are not idling, and even more pollution when they are speeding and stopping and starting!

    • Plenty of people ride bikes in San Francisco… check out the Market street bike counter: http://bit.ly/1oMP8Dl

      Also, not everyone in LA lives in the hills. Population density is much higher in the flats, where riding a bike is more practical. And not all trips are to/from work (most are under 2 miles.)

      This plan is just about giving people more options to move around the city. You can still drive if that’s what you prefer. Others will make their own choices. It’s about leveling the playing field a bit, by making our streets safe and pleasant for walking and cycling, as well as cars and busses (instead of just traffic sewers that only benefit rush hour commuters, at the expense of community mobility, public safety and property values.)

      Look at the streets where the city has implemented traffic calming (bike lanes, road diets, etc.) Traffic might be a little worse at rush hour, sure. But small business is booming with more foot traffic, fewer accidents and local investment. That’s what a high-functioning city looks like. Streets are for facilitating movement of people, local commerce, and social interaction. If all you want to do is travel from point A to B at high speeds, take the freeway.

  8. So far none of you haters has come up with 1 idea to make it easier to move around this city. If traffic is already terrible how are you going to make it better? We have been adding road capacity for cars for the past 75+ years and guess what happens when you limit choice and add capacity? You end up with more traffic! Adding lanes to congested roads just makes for more traffic at peak hour and dangerous freeway conditions at all other times. Believe it or not Los Angeles is a dense, big, city, 2nd largest in the USA(crazy can’t believe it). LA can no longer be a dense car centric city, it is unsustainable.

    LA city has 6,000 miles of road and lets say for argument sake 500 miles of bike lanes(not true at all the real number is way less). That is 8.3% of the total road miles, a tiny tiny tiny number. Also there are still vehicle traffic lanes where they are bike lanes, no street in LA is for the exclusive use of bikes. So I don’t see why people are so upset about this, unless it is just a small vocal group of folks who fear their absolute power will shrink a tiny bit.

  9. People need to commute long distances to work and back home. It is NOT a choice. It is mandatory in order to work and have money for food and bills. It is NOT a choice. Many communities have no supermarkets or decent ones, no doctors and no other services. Many people need to commute outside their communities to get to supermarkets and other services. That is what government should work on. Bring work and services closer to people and they would not need to drive. The mobility plan is the wrong way to look at things.

    The mobility plan will slow down traffic. People will not stop driving where they need to go. Traffic will just get much worse. There are way more cars than bicycles. That will NOT change. The mobility plan will NOT work.

    • Susan, no doubt that, especially in Los Angeles, many people need to commute long distances to get to work or to get the most basic of needs. This is a structural problem. And you are right, that will not change.

      But the attempts to create bike feasibility, and to bolster alternate forms of transportation in general – while the issue of bike lanes clogging arteries such as Sunset is problematic, no doubt – these attempts are designed, believe it or not, to help you and all those who have these serious socal commutes. You know how you get on the freeway in the morning and don’t move? Can you imagine how much better it would be if, say 10-15% of the cars on that freeway weren’t there? Thats the whole point. Of course people will need to drive. This is Los Angeles. But, the city is changing, the density is changing, the axis is changing. Alternative forms of transport are certainly possible and will help not only the people who use them (OMG so happy to be out of traffic nightmare), but people who don’t (wow, traffic is moving easier these days).

      It takes a little vision and getting past the myopic fear of Sunset (e.g.) being one lane (and I agree with the Car Folk, I don’t think this would be a good idea), but promoting alternate forms of transport, even if it takes a while to root, is good for the goose and the gander.

    • Take a step back and re-read what you wrote.

      “Many people need to commute outside their communities to get to supermarkets and other services.”

      EXACTLY why we need to offer more options for people to commute effectively. If you take the time to read the mobility plan, it’s not all about bicycles — it’s about adding many ways for people to quickly and effectively get from point a-to-b, with a range of options.

      Today, a car is the only option for most routes. The plan aims to change that, to HELP communities and people get to work, get to the supermarket or wherever need / want to go.

      If you really care about what you wrote, please consider this change as the positive force it is trying to be.

      Not all change is bad, embrace the future.

    • The infill density you allude to (more jobs and amenities within walking distance of housing) is certainly something LA needs to work on. And we are, just not fast enough.

      But you also need to make it safe and convenient for people to access these places without a car, or it’s all for naught. That means not only mass transit (which we’re building) but also designing complete streets that facilitate walking, cycling, transit AND driving. Our current streets only really work well for people who drive at high speeds (and even that, not so much.)

      These are parallel issues that must be addressed if we don’t want this city to grind to a halt. I think most Angelenos are competent enough to walk and chew game at the same time, don’t you?

    • Again with the assertions with no data. The 2012 California Household Travel Survey indicates that the most urban areas LA County as 44% active transportation mode share, with an average of 30%. In addition in LA County 84% of trips are less than 3 miles, a very easy biking distance. So while some people will always need to commute (and no one is suggested getting rid of roads), most trips could be taken by a bike.

  10. I live and work in Eagle Rock. You are lucky to see 10 bicycles a week using the bike lanes, and that is not a joke. They have been there a few years not and they are virtually empty every single day, at any time of day. They have not come within 500 miles of living up to the hysterical bike supporter hype. We are a bedroom community. Mom is not going to ride her bike to the grocery store. The promise, or should I say outright lies, about all this new bussiness pedaling into our town from our neighboing cities has proven to be the lie that bike lane supporters shoved down our throats. It has become a total joke here in Eagle Rock, as it has in other parts of the city. Traffic calming, road diets, what a crock, do you people who use these terms actually believe this garbage, do you really think people are ever going to take to their bikes in droves. You are living in a fantasy world, hope to see you riding your unicorn in the bike lane, dont worry, there will be no bikes to get in your way.

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