Viewpoints: In defense of new Northeast L.A. bike lanes

Cyclists riding to shop at Galcos, whose owner has voiced opposition to replacing traffic lanes for bike lanes. Photo courtesy Josef Bray-Ali/Flick

Josef Bray-Ali, a cycling advocate and owner of the Flying Pigeon L.A. bike shop in Highland Park, submitted this open letter to Councilman Ed Reyes

Councilman Reyes,
I am writing to you after reading a report in the Highland Park-Mt. Washington Patch regarding the recent Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council (HHPNC) meeting held on May 2, 2013 and a vote the council took to recommend a ludicrous alternative to the planned bike lanes on North Figueroa Street.
Supporters of the bike lanes packed the room at a previous HHPNC meeting held on April 4, 2013 as they have at several previous public meetings and hearings on this issue. Tom Topping, editor and publisher of The Boulevard Sentinel, spreading a number of falsehoods regarding the bike lanes, ginned up a large group of senior citizens to pack the May 2 HHPNC meeting to loudly proclaim that they did not like bike lanes.
You have been a strong supporter of bikes as a means of transportation in this city. Your record and your achievements in this field makes you the most bike-friendly elected official in the City of Los Angeles.
 I hope the Tom Topping’s misinformed and angry anti-bike lane militia will not scare you off of these projects – which have passed through the EIR process, been approved by the City Council, have been funded and are slated to be installed soon.
 If you want to ensure that the community is heard from, please provide us with a process to give our input (which has technically already occurred back in February at the River Center EIR meeting on the lanes, but I digress). Topping blind siding you at a business mixer, and the pro-lane community being caught unaware that the HHPNC and Cypress Park neighborhood councils were voting on bike lanes should not put you off the project. We have brought out an overwhelming number of bike lane supporters when given a proper forum and at least a week’s worth of time to prepare and contact our neighbors and friends. The people we’ve brought out to speak are not just angry retirees with free evenings – we have brought out kids from local schools, parents, working families, local school teachers, local pubic officials, business owners, and our own population of pro-bicycle retirees.
We have brought out people who represent the demographic bulge in this community – the people who are between 15 and 34 who have the most to gain and the most to lose depending on whether or not these lanes go in. It isn’t worth emailing you a laundry list of health, safety, and economic development benefits to do these lanes – you have taught this community as much about these benefits as it could ever communicate back to you.
These lanes are the right choice to make, and they will restore the vibrancy that was torn out of our local streets when the street cars were removed and the right of way was converted into an automobile pipeline. Commercial vacancies, the loss of Ivers Department store and other retail anchors, and many squandered opportunities to reconnect this community with its business district have finally brought us to this moment. Please, stand up to Tom Topping’s last ditch effort of the old-guard status quo population in CD1. Support the lanes for the future of this area. It is the right and the righteous thing to do.

Josef Bray-Ali

Viewpoints is where Eastsider readers can express their opinions or start a conversation on neighborhood  issues  problems & ideas.  Click here to find out how to share your news & views.

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