The Year 2017


LACBC’s Planning and Policy Director, Eric Bruins shares news of his meeting as 90042 resident and new LACBC Executive Director, Tamika Butler listens.

On Wednesday, February 6th, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition held a Northeast LA Bike Ambassador meeting at the Audubon Center in Debs Park to share details of their meeting with District 1 Council Member Gil Cedillo‘s office regarding North Figueroa. At Council District 1’s request, LACBC’s Planning and Policy Director, Eric Bruins met with Gil Cedillo’s staff the first week of January just before we held a die-in outside his alleged residence. This follows the December City Council Meeting where Figueroa For All supporters went en masse to denounce his plans to prevent bike lane installation with diagonal parking. This is where Gil Cedillo responded by calling us “Bullies” for challenging him.

Bruins spoke very kindly about Team Cedillo, and how from their perspective, they came into office with the impression that they had a “clean slate,” unburdened with the already approved plans in their newly acquired district. He also mentioned that from their perspective, they are “mystified” as to why Figueroa road safety advocates are so upset.

According to Bruins, Team Cedillo is planning to apply for a May 2015 State of California Grant that could provide funding in late 2017 for Complete Streets features on North Figueroa between Avenue 55 and 60. (This section of Figueroa has already been selected to be part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Intuitive.) Of the three options offered, two of them include a road diet with bicycle accommodations.

Team Cedillo asks advocates to give a good faith effort with images stolen from North Figueroa advocates.

Team Cedillo Phase 1 plan for five blocks of North Figueroa with help from LADOT and uncredited photographers.

This latest development from Gil Cedillo’s office is proposed as a pedestrian project only. (They really really dislike bikes.)  Apparently, the data on pedestrian deaths is finally getting through to them. (Maybe more cyclists have to be struck and killed on Figueroa before they start considering bikes too?) This Livable Streets awakening has inspired Team Cedillo to create a plan with help from LADOT for curb extensions on Figueroa that would reduce the crossing distances for pedestrians. By reducing the crossing distances to accommodate pedestrians, it could also create room for non-motor vehicles users such as people using bicycles in a bike lane. This approach would actually leap-frog one of the original reasons for the Figueroa buffered bike lanes in the first place: To make the road narrower so people using their feet have less area to cross in front of people using their cars. The main fiduciary difference is that the original Figueroa buffered bike lanes could accomplish the same goal with transportation funds already paid for by Measure R.  Instead, Team Cedillo is betting on a long-shot California State grant to do similar at a much higher price for just five blocks of North Figueroa.

Five whole blocks of Complete Streets infrastructure that ignore the 33 other blocks of Figueroa in CD1.

Five whole blocks of Complete Streets infrastructure that ignore the 36 other blocks of Figueroa in CD1 where most driver verses pedestrian / cyclist collisions occur.

According to Bruins, Team Cedillo plans to do a weekend pop-up demonstration event for four blocks of Figueroa over an upcoming weekend as soon as March. What’s worrisome is that unlike the Great Streets initiative in other City of Los Angeles neighborhoods where the Mayor’s office has taken the lead, this particular project on Figueroa is being led by Cedillo’s office. If any of their previous efforts are an indication, the Great Streets initiative in Team Cedillo’s hands means that Highland Park’s Figueroa won’t likely get one.  But the kicker of the evening came with Bruins’ news that Team Cedillo would like us to do outreach to Figueroa businesses and try and sell them on this street plan they are putting forth. (Again, this theme of absolute consensus that Cedillo keeps using as an excuse.) No surprise, the room with mostly veterans of this Figueroa battle, were not receptive to Eric Bruins proposal to do outreach for the CD1 office.

It seems odd to many observers and activists that LACBC would be willing to work with Cedillo’s office considering their incompetency thus far, and how this project does little to help fulfill the 2010 LA Bike Plan that so many generations of LACBC members and staff worked for so many years to achieve. Is chasing incrementalism worth our trouble when all it takes is for ONE PERSON to sign a work-order that lets LADOT do their job? Maybe we are wrong, but has Team Cedillo done anything up to this point that shows they are worthy of our trust? We are understandably tired of being played.

The question at this point is: Do we kowtow and put our energies into helping Team Cedillo’s attempt to get this doubtful State of California grant that could fund five blocks sometime after Late 2017? Or do we put our energies into replacing Cedillo with someone who will allow LADOT to complete the approved and already-funded pedestrian-friendly Road Diet and Figueroa Bike Lanes when he comes up for re-election in 2017?


R.I.P. Yolanda

R.I.P. Yolanda

At 9:45pm on Friday, September 18th, pedestrian Yolanda Lugo, 51 was struck by a driver as she was walking in the crosswalk located at Figueroa and South Avenue 55 in Highland Park. The driver failed to yield, and fled the scene. After two days in intensive care, Yolanda Lugo lost her life on Sunday, September 20th.

According to the news media and witnesses, as drivers yielded in the other lanes, the driver of a white Mitsubishi Lancer traveling north in the number two northbound lane passed the car yielding in the number one northbound lane just as Yolanda Lugo stepped into his path. Her body was thrown 50 feet up Figueroa, landing near the parking lot of the Auto Zone parts store. The driver kept going; speeding away north on Figueroa until eventually stopping briefly in Garvanza near York Boulevard and Avenue 66 to remove his license plates before disappearing into the night. Police have since located the vehicle involved, and know the identity of the driver who remains at-large. Thanks to CD 15 council member, Joe Buscaino, as of April, the City of Los Angeles has a standing reward for all Hit and Runs, including $50,000 for the capture of Lugo’s killer. (This new law came in-part because constituents previously had to ask their council members to offer a city reward every time someone was killed in a hit and run collision. You may recall in September 2014, the Highland Park community had to practically beg Gil Cedillo for weeks before he would ask city council to support a city reward for the hit-and-run that killed 57-year-old, Gloria Ortiz on Avenue 50.)


Blood stains and the location where Yolanda's phone landed on Figueroa the morning after.

Bloodstains and the location where Yolanda’s phone landed on Figueroa.


Memorial to Yolanda Lugo at the crash site.

Memorial to Yolanda Lugo at the crash site, three days after her death.

By Monday after Lugo’s passing, a couple of prayer candles and some flowers could be seen at the crash site. Word started to get out about her death and her family, with the support of the Highland Park community, began planning a demonstration and vigil for Lugo at the deadly Figueroa crosswalk on Friday, exactly one week after she was fatally struck.


On Friday, September 25th,  Fig For All joined the family and friends of Yolanda Lugo at Figueroa and Avenue 55 to vigil, demonstrate, and help raise funds to defray the cost of her medical bills and funeral.


Friends and family of Yolanda Lugo shut down Figueroa Street in protest. (Photo via facebook.)



The night of the vigil and demonstration, a week after Lugo was struck and with the perpetrator on the run, Gil Cedillo had yet to acknowledge the event.  His Communications Deputy, Fredy Ceja only hinted at the road safety issue with a stop sign blurb in the unusually late publishing of the Cedillo Weekly. Two stop signs in all of Council District 1 were installed recently, both in Highland Park. One installed on Avenue 50 at Lincoln (thanks in large part to Team Huizar’s urging), and another at Marmion Way where it ends at Joy Street. (Yes, they took the opportunity to pat themselves on the back for getting a stop sign installed where a street ends.) It would not be until the next week before Cedillo would comment on the tragedy.


After calling on his office for eleven days, Cedillo finally made a public statement on this latest tragedy and uses the opportunity to scold safety advocates. While he was politically grandstanding, pacifying seniors, doing photo ops, making speeches, having to dinner with police, having dinner with business people, receiving rewards, and wishing his unqualified Planning Deputy a happy birthday, police and community members were lighting-up media outlets and the internet in an effort to get out the story about the hit-and-run and the vehicle involved. While Cedillo was accepting campaign contributions, the community was busy raising funds to defray Yolanda Lugo’s medical and funeral costs.  In the time it took for Cedillo to get around to mentioning the hit and run one block from his Highland Park field office, the suspect could have walked from Figueroa to Bahía de los Ángeles, Mexico. If Cedillo really cared he would have been reaching-out to the victims, the police, and the community if not the day after, at least by the Monday after. But no, it took him eleven days, and only after community and media attempts at reaching him.

When he does respond to this latest tragedy, he once again lashes-out at his critics for as he puts it, “Trying to turn this situation into a political opportunity.” Coincidentally, The Onion put out a story this week that works just as well for Cedillo’s scolding of safety advocates, “Man Can’t Believe Obama Would Use Tragedy To Push Anti-Tragedy Agenda.”  Yes, Cedillo. We are as you say, “Trying to turn this situation into a political opportunity.”  Yes, we will use this tragedy to push our anti-tragedy agenda. We want you to do the right thing, we want you to stop this ridiculous brinkmanship and allow LADOT to install safety enhancements.

Just three weeks before Lugo was fatally struck on Figueroa, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed his Executive Directive making Vision Zero city policy. North Figueroa, the Deadliest Street in Northeast L.A., is well on its way to becoming the test-case for the city’s goal of reducing traffic deaths to zero by 2025. That aspect is explored in this story by Meghan McCarty at KPCC. At the same time as Los Angeles is trying to achieve Vision Zero, the State of California is trying to bring an end to its rampant hit-and-run epidemic.  On October 2nd, both Eastern Group Publications, and La Opinión cover the Lugo tragedy with an emphasis on Assemblyman Mike Gatto‘s new law to create a Hit and Run Yellow Alert system for California.

Meanwhile, still backpedaling driving in reverse, Team Cedillo miraculously “Secures” funding left over from the Reyes administration to install crosswalk signals on Figueroa.

Highland Park Field Deputy, Malinda Alatorre's tired picture of a beg button from back in May highlights the "Safety Updates" in the latest Cedillo Weekly. It is amazing how quickly they "Find Money" to do safety improvements every time someone gets killed by motorists around here.

Highland Park CD1 Field Deputy, Malinda Alatorre’s tired picture of a beg button from back in May highlights the “Safety Updates” in the Cedillo Weekly e-Newsletter.  Amazing how quickly they “Find funding” to do safety improvements AFTER someone gets killed by motorists around here.

Remember, when they say, “In the pipeline” that means don’t expect anything to be done anytime soon. (At least not before the 2017 re-election campaign.)  If you recall the, “No-I-Will-Not-Make-Figueroa-Safer-Because-Safety” letter from last July, he promised alternative roadway safety enhancements. None of which have been implemented.

cedillo letter

Reconfiguration, beacons, ramps, blah, blah, blah… Words are cheap aren’t they?


No story in the Boulevard Sentinel, just Cedillo's letter.

Boulevard Sentinel proves again to be just a mouthpiece for Cedillo. No story, just his letter.

For years, Northeast Los Angeles has suffered from a pathetic lack of reliable news coverage. If there is fire, flood or blood in Northeast L.A., we might get coverage.  (As of this post, TV news outlets that first reported the Hit and Run have not updated their stories from nearly a month ago.)  The one local “Newspaper” we have isn’t even a newspaper, it’s a propaganda rag.  Now-retired publisher, Tom Topping started the monthly publication over 18 years ago in an effort to save automotive businesses on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock.  New publisher, Colorado Boulevard hardware store owner, Tim Tritch seems to be keeping that same propaganda spirit.  Instead of reporting the Hit and Run story and vigil, he just reprinted Gil Cedillo’s letter word for word. What’s worse is, Tim Tritch seems to like Cedillo even more than Tom Topping did.  Even the local Arts newspaper, does a better job at reporting local news.

See, this is news. Local news. But in an arts paper, because that is how desperate we are for news coverage.


On Tuesday, October 6th, the family of Yolanda Lugo once again attempted to meet with the Cedillo staff at his Highland Park field office located on Figueroa, one block from the deadly crosswalk. Team Cedillo was gracious enough to meet them outside on the sidewalk.  While District Director, Conrado Terrazas seem to take the family’s concerns more seriously, repeating the crossing lights promise, Chief of Staff, and Cedillo’s BFF, Arturo Chavez seemed to consider a family that just lost their sister / their aunt / their mother coming to ask for help A BIG JOKE.

Going to Cedillo’s office, asking for help, and getting the run-around has become de rigueur for Highland Park residents and businesses. Their staff consists of interns, political supporters, and family friends of Cedillo. The hiring process isn’t so much what you know, but who you know, as in, “Do you know Gil?”  Qualifying professional degrees and certification seems to be a rarity with them. This has led to a level of mind-numbing ineptitude that is outstanding even by Los Angeles standards. Their administration of CD1 after two years is one of reactionary responses. Never proactive, always trying to shift the blame and make up for their mistakes.

There is some truth to a guy on twitter noting, “If it was a white girl who got ran over the entire nation would be on the hunt, no love no justice for Latinos in Highland Park.”

A similar situation happened on Rowena Avenue in the more affluent neighborhood of Silver Lake in 2012. 24-year-old Ashley Sandau, was killed by a driver while using the crosswalk on what was then, a four-lane Rowena. The driver did the honorable thing and did not try to flee, so no manhunt was needed. Sandau’s death lead to CD4 council member, Tom LaBonge to order a road diet on Rowena that reduced the road from four multi-use travel lanes to two multi-use travel lanes, one turning lane, and made room to include two bicycle lanes. Pedestrians on Rowena Avenue no longer have to cross in front of four lanes of motor traffic and hope that every driver in every lane sees them. As much as impatient drivers complain, the road diet has made the road safer, and more pleasant for those who live, walk, and bike there.

The problem is we live in Council District 1. We don’t deserve nice things. We don’t deserve the services, the infrastructure, the public safety, or responsiveness that other Los Angeles City Council Districts get. Our Council District 1 council member, Gil Cedillo is a career politician who has thrived on the poverty and desperation of his constituents that kept him in office. That has been his playbook since 1998.  Team Cedillo thinks that they can outrun the criticism, that they can say, “We are working on it.” And the public will forget, stop asking and be distracted TV give-a-ways, or another one of his Latin Jazz festivals.

Yolanda Lugo was struck in the crosswalk exactly where a north-bound buffered bike lane was supposed to be installed last year. It is very likely, she would have been in the buffered or bike lane area outside the travel lane where the hit-and-run driver was driving.  Figueroa is a wrong-sized and unnecessarily-wide roadway that divides the walking and transit-oriented neighborhoods it passes through.  Figueroa needs to be narrowed just as the Department of Transportation has planned. Crossing distances for pedestrians need to be reduced. Visibility for all road users needs be increased. Until Figueroa is fixed, more people will continue to be injured and killed. The question is what number of deaths is Cedillo willing to accept?

¡Chale Con Cedillo! Protest Makes House Call

Chale Con Cedillo protestors hold a die-in in front of Cedillo's alleged residence in honor of constituents slain in traffic.

Chale Con Cedillo protestors hold a die-in in front of Cedillo’s alleged residence in honor of constituents slain in traffic. Image: Miguel Ramos

Lying on the cool asphalt in front of Canvas LA apartments, whistles and bike bells blasting at full volume all around me, looking up at the clear blue sky and screaming, “Chale con Cedillo!”, I couldn’t help but laugh. How had our lives taken this unexpected turn?

This past Sunday morning, on January 4, 2015, members of the community including some involved with Eastside Bike Club, Figueroa For All, NELA Alliance, and the Bike Oven gathered at the doors of the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop to ride to Councilman Gil Cedillo’s doorstep to say, “¡Chale Con Cedillo!”

The Eastside Bike Club always brings the jams and the fun! Image: Kevin Lynn

The Eastside Bike Club always brings the jams and the fun! Image: Kevin Lynn

The word “chale” is a slang term that is roughly equivalent to the English phrases “hell no” or “get out of here with that nonsense”. In the mid-1960’s Chicano activists organized a boycott of Coors beer; the phrase “Chale con Coors!” was used to rally support for the boycott.

In a recent city council meeting (see the YouTube video above), Councilman Cedillo called a group of constituents members of “the 1%” and “bullies” for speaking out against Cedillo’s proposal to install diagonal parking on 4 blocks of North Figueroa Street in downtown Highland Park. Cedillo’s co-opting the language of Occupy to portray his constituents as the spiteful global economic elite was outrageous. Calling the parents, business owners, residents, and NGO’s who’ve reached out to him “bullies” had a lot of normally level headed folks steaming with anger and frustration. Get rid of this diagonal parking plan? No, get rid of Cedillo! Chale con Cedillo! Organizing for Sundays protest began in earnest later that day.

After leaving the Flying Pigeon bike shop on Sunday morning, the ride made its way down to a quiet City Hall. Our ranks grew to a little over 40 people while the banner reading “WE ARE NOT BULLIES WE ARE YOUR CONSTITUENTS” was unfurled facing Grand Park.

Chale Con Cedillo protestors unfurl their banner on the steps of City Hall. Image: Miguel Ramos

Chale Con Cedillo protestors unfurl their banner on the steps of City Hall. Image: Miguel Ramos

People from many different backgrounds from within and around Cedillo's district gather on the steps of City Hall to say, "Chale con Cedillo!". Image: Miguel Ramos

People from many different backgrounds from within and around Cedillo’s district gather on the steps of City Hall to say, “Chale con Cedillo!”. Image: Miguel Ramos

Josef Bray-Ali from Figueroa For All and Carlos Morales of Eastside Bike Club give short speeches at the Chale Con Cedillo ride. Image: Miguel Ramos

Josef Bray-Ali from Figueroa For All and Carlos Morales of Eastside Bike Club give short speeches at the Chale Con Cedillo ride. Image: Miguel Ramos

Representatives from the NELA MOM RIDAZ braved the cold morning air to register their complaints with Gil Cedillo. Image: Miguel Ramos

Representatives from the NELA MOM RIDAZ braved the cold morning air to register their complaints with Gil Cedillo. Image: Miguel Ramos

Some speeches were made and photos were taken before the ride trundled through the 2nd Street tunnel; a bike pulling our PA system blasted Springsteen’s “Born to Run” as the ride howled like a pack of coyotes, looking for strength in our numbers as we emerged onto S. Figueroa. A quick right onto Beaudry and we were in front of the Canvas LA apartments, alleged home of one Gilbert Cedillo.

Chale Con Cedillo protest riders make their way from the frosty steps of City Hall to Gil Cedillo's apartment on Beaudry. Image: Miguel Ramos

Chale Con Cedillo protest riders make their way from the frosty steps of City Hall to Gil Cedillo’s apartment on Beaudry. Image: Miguel Ramos

Disregarding advice from insiders that the councilman merely paid the rent and collected mail at this address while living outside the district in a condo in Pasadena, we parked our bikes against the curb and raised hell. Our die-in was just about over when an LAPD cruiser pulled up and asked us just what, exactly, we were up to?

A few minutes later we were going our separate ways: a diner, back home, the train, more riding. I made my way into Chinatown and bought $40 in take-out dim sum (that is A LOT of food!) and caught up with those choosing to have some brunch after our excursion. It was all smiles, as is typical at bike rides, parties, and protests in Los Angeles – why let the creeps get you down?

Keep smiling in 2015 and don’t forget: Chale con Cedillo!

Two chilly "bullies" on the Chale Con Cedillo protest ride. Image Miguel Ramos

Two chilly “bullies” on the Chale Con Cedillo protest ride. Image Kevin Lynn

Let Us Commiserate Our First Year Of Just Trying To Make Figueroa Safe For All


Join your fellow bullies* at The Greyhound Bar & Grill on Tuesday, December 30th, from 6pm-9pm, as we say goodbye to a year of community activism and celebrate our dedicated resolve to create a North Figueroa that is safer and more hospitable to all users in the coming year. Wear your sashes!

The Greyhound Bar & Grill
5570 N Figueroa St
Highland Park, CA 90042
(Corner of Avenue 56 and North Figueroa across from Gil Cedillo’s CD1 Field Office.)

Metered Parking in rear; Metro Gold Line, Lines 81, 83, 256; LADOT Highland Park/Eagle Rock DASH bus, adjacent. LADOT bike rack equipped, (Sorry, no bike lanes).

Happy Hour 4-7pm, 90042 Residents get 20% off with I.D., All Ages welcomed before 9pm.


*Bullies as defined by Gil Cedillo, are people who oppose his plan to add more car traffic to Highland Park’s Figueroa.


Eat, Drink, and Talk – Potluck on Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Figueroa For All is having a potluck at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop (located at 3404 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065) on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 6 p.m.

A couple of growlers from Eagle Rock Brewery and a little something from everyone to eat and we’ll have a lovely evening talking about the upcoming street safety meetings scheduled by Gil Cedillo (our local anti-bike councilman). You can read more about those scheduled street safety meetings in a post published just this morning on the Flying Pigeon LA shop blog.

Figueroa For All’s “Eat, Drink, and Talk about Cedillo’s Street Safety Meetings”
Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 6 p.m. at Flying Pigeon LA bike shop (located at 3404 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065). It’s a potluck and Flying Pigeon LA said they are going to fill a couple of growlers up at Eagle Rock Brewery before the meeting. Good times to be had.

There is a Facebook Event for this potluck.

From NELA to South Pasadena: Closing the Bike Gaps

“Close The Gap!”, they announce at the 710 freeway extension rallies. It is taken as gospel, by some, that connecting the 710 and the 210 freeways will create a magic nexus of “growth”, property value increases, and quality of life improvements – despite decades of evidence that urban freeways do exactly the opposite.

Just a short gap in lane striping keeps LA disconnected from South Pasadena.

This 528 foot gap between LA’s bike lanes and South Pasadena’s keeps our communities cut off to cyclists.

Let’s talk about another gap: a gap between bike lanes in North East Los Angeles and South Pasadena. Three South Pasadena Public Works Commissioners (Steven Ray Garcia, Alexander Main, and Mathew M. Pendo) voted on November 13, 2013 to keep freshly installed bike lanes on Los Angeles’ York Boulevard from connecting to bike lanes on South Pasadena’s Pasadena Avenue … by a measly 528 feet! The cost to close this gap, at the time the vote was taken, was in the range of $4,000 – about what it costs for two hours of a lobbyist’s time on the 710 freeway closure. This decision also cost both Los Angeles and South Pasadena by continuing to stifle business foot traffic that would inevitably flow across a bridge connected with bike lanes – as shoppers, commuters, and day-trippers borne on bicycles would finally have a direct route between Highland Park and downtown South Pasadena.

But hold on! We’re not finished yet with the gaps. Councilman Michael A. Cacciotti of South Pasadena has been working for years to connect the Arroyo Seco Bike Path (a short bike trail located in the Arroyo Seco’s riverbed) to a dirt foot path following the Arroyo Seco River up into Pasadena. To make this recreational bike riders dream happen the councilman required land, money, and the City of Los Angeles’ permission. He’s got the land to connect to Pasadena – from the driving range that leased their property alongside the Arroyo in South Pasadena. He’s got the money – from Assemblymember Chris Holden of the 41st district (who has gotten $410,000 of the $1 million South Pasadena has amassed).

What Councilman Cacciotti is missing is, funny enough, permission from the City of Los Angeles to run his bike trail across 528 feet of paved land under the York Boulevard bridge.

I don’t care for the 710 gap closure – I think it’s bad business for the cities in the area that would have to deal with the pollution and decreased property values from yet another urban freeway.

The South Pasadena to Highland Park Bike Gaps, however, are something many of us would like to see connected!

How do we get the bike lanes on the York Bridge connected to the bike lanes on Pasadena Avenue, just 528 feet away? How do we get the City of Los Angeles to allow the City of South Pasadena to connect a bike trail from Pasadena to the Arroyo Seco bike trail?

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, November 5, 2014, at 1424 Mission Street, South Pasadena, CA at 7:30 p.m., we can make public comments to the full South Pasadena City Council about closing the Bike Gaps. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

One more time:
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
7:30 p.m.
1424 Mission Street
South Pasadena, CA

Facebook Event for this get-together.

If you’d like to submit an email on the topic, here is a special link that will CC: everyone that ought to know about closing the Bike Gaps!

Cynical Cedillo puts politics over people

Cyclists ride past the crosswalk at Avenue 51 and N. Figueroa Street in April of 2014.

Councilman Gil Cedillo is working to divert $200,000 from the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department to install a traffic signal at the dangerous intersection of Avenue 51 and North Figueroa Street. The cost to make this one intersection safer is about the same as installing a bike lane and road diet along the entire length of the street – a project already designed and funded with transportation dollars (not housing dollars!). The added motorist delay from a traffic signal is worse than installing a road diet along the entire length of Figueroa. This is what the word “stupid” is meant to describe: spending more to get less. This is politics over prudence, and I’d encourage you to reach out to the mayor’s office and the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department about this plan – to demand that no traffic signal be installed until the road diet and bike lanes go in with it.

Email the Mayor and HCID here!

It appears that cost is never an issue with Gil Cedillo. Motorist delay isn’t a big deal to him either – this traffic signal will easily add more delay on North Figueroa Street than a road diet would. What appears to be an issue with councilman Cedillo is grooming his public persona and making sure that bike riders in his district know they don’t matter.

That is not an acceptable method of local governance. Cedillo needs to stop playing games with our lives and making enemies out of neighbors. This traffic signal is a big expense that wouldn’t be needed if a proper road diet were installed and principals of placemaking were being used instead of highway-style engineering.

Email the Mayor and HCID here!

Big Market, Big Problems

One of former city councilman Mike Hernandez’s proudest achievements was bringing in a “Craftsman-style” Food 4 Less supermarket and a drive-thru McDonalds to the empty lot on North Figueroa Street in Highland Park between Avenue 50 and 51.

With the supermarket in place, however, another big problem popped up: people wanted to cross the street at Avenue 51 to get to the market. On auto-dominated North Figueroa, with cars rushing between red lights at Avenue 52 and Avenue 50, the increased pedestrian presence along with lots of cars making turns into and out of the Food 4 Less parking lot added up to a growing list of casualties at Avenue 51. Instead of calming traffic, or doing some placemaking, the City spent over $150,000 on a flashing crosswalk sign at Avenue 51.

The LADOT pioneered the use of this expensive piece of street furniture. The flashing overhead crosswalk lights, you see, killed many birds with one fell swoop: it shut down any debate about pedestrian access (“Hey, look, it is a flashing light!”) while doing nothing to slow down car drivers. The expense of the light set the bar for pedestrian safety rather high, but Avenue 51 handily leapt over that bar with a long list of injured people, damaged property, and even a few fatalities.

Politics Stopping #fig4all

Avenue 51 has continued to rack up a list of casualties and car crashes. The rest of North Figueroa hasn’t done much better, taking a life every year (at least) and tallying loads more crashes and injuries. Figueroa For All and other community stakeholders and groups had our plans for a safer street stopped dead by Councilman Gil Cedillo when he scared the LADOT into stopping a road diet and bike lane project running the length of North Figueroa Street.

The LADOT’s plan included bike lanes and a road diet – infrastructure that would have cost about $250,000 to implement. Analysis by the LADOT showed that the road diet would have added about 41 seconds of peak hour delay at the intersection of York and Figueroa. $250,000 in dedicated transportation dollars and 41 seconds of delay and the street would have been measurably safer along its entire length, from Colorado Boulevard to the north down to Avenue 26 in the south. A similar road diet along York Boulevard resulted in a 25%+ drop in reported collisions according to an LADOT analysis.

Gil Cedillo, in response to criticism about killing the road diet plan for no discernible reason, has realized that street safety is good local politics. Now in his 2nd year in local office, he has changed tactics and has followed the pattern of several council offices before him: waiting for neighbors to die and installing piecemeal signs and signals after the fact to gain maximum exposure.

The problem with this approach is that it is expensive and it doesn’t solve larger problems along a street. It is a stupid way of managing local transportation planning issues. It is politics over prudence.

Please, reach out to the mayor’s office and the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Departmentto demand that the bike lane and road diet on North Figueroa be implemented in addition to, or instead of, this traffic signal.

Email the Mayor and HCID here!

You can get in touch with mayor Eric Garcetti’s office here:

Mayor Eric Garcetti
200 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Twitter: @ericgarcetti

You can get in touch with the LA Housing and Community Investment Department’s Planning and Procurement Unit here:

Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department
Planning and Procurement Unit
1200 W. 7th Street, 6th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Main Line: (213) 744-9078

Whose law is it anyway?

November 4, 2009 LA Bike Plan Meeting – 1st Edit from Arthur Schlenger on Vimeo.

The people of North East Los Angeles have lined up in public comment queues for half a decade now to speak out in favor, or opposition, to bike lanes on North Figueroa Street. Most of us in favor of the bike lanes imagined that, if we could only share the lessons learned in other parts of Los Angeles (and the world) about the improved safety, human health, happiness, and business prospects that can come with a proper connected urban bike lane project that surely we would fare well in City Hall.

During the last term of Councilman Ed Reyes that seemed to have worked. Since the 2013 election of Gil Cedillo, our techniques to incite change have not worked. Is there a way to get the North Figueroa Street road diet going again?

The bike lane on North Figueroa Street was included in the 2010 Bike Plan. The project passed through the gates of a full Environmental Impact Report and emerged with a city council vote adopting the report. Money was moved from Measure R sales tax dollars into a special bike project fund for North Figueroa.

There is a cancer at the heart of Los Angeles’ bike plan, like there is a cancer at the heart of every plan that passes through the city council in Los Angeles.

The cancer I am talking about reminds me of the old improv comedy show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” which always began with the phrase: “The show where everything’s made up, and the points don’t matter.”

The cancer in LA’s bike plan is this: it isn’t law. If an individual city councilmember, e.g. Gil Cedillo, doesn’t like a part of the plan that the full council approved, or doesn’t like the way a department is implementing a plan the full council approved, that individual councilmember can order all work on that portion of the plan to be stopped.

This flies in the face of the City of Los Angeles’ Charter, Section 242. Conduct of Business (b) which states:

"The Council, by ordinance or resolution, shall establish a sufficient number of committees to enable it to carry out its duties. The duty of the Council and its committees is to become fully informed of the business of the City so as to oversee all the functions of the City government, and to report to the Council any information or recommendations necessary to enable the Council to properly legislate. Committees shall have the power of investigation, but shall have no administrative control over the various functions of the City government. The administration of the City government shall be vested in the officials designated in the Charter to perform those functions[.]"

The full council has the power to pass ordinances "[u]pon any subject of municipal control, or to carry into effect any of the powers of the City." (Los Angeles Administrative Code, Section 2.14.)

How can one individual councilmember stop parts of a plan approved by the full city council? What are the powers of an individual councilmember in Los Angeles? As far as I can tell the full council is vested with all sorts of fancy powers and rights. Individual councilmembers, however, have no real power … and yet the road diet on North Figueroa Street appears to be cancelled.

The game is made up and the rules don’t matter.

Gil Cedillo has no statutory power to stop the LADOT from installing a road diet on North Figueroa Street. The LADOT doesn’t legally need to stop work at Cedillo’s request – so why have they stopped working on the North Figueroa Street road diet?

In Los Angeles, if a department messes with one council office they risk messing with the whole council. This city sprawled so far beyond its ability to maintain itself two generations ago that getting a sidewalk paved, water main fixed, trees trimmed, or street swept requires some sort of influence peddling at election time by those smart enough to get connected with a local councilman’s office. Elected in off-year, low-turnout, elections; councilmen face no serious electoral challenges (barring scandal) if they dole out the limited number of favors they can afford to their election year supporters.

In order to trade in favors in a chronically unmaintainable mess of a city, councilmembers allow each other to wave full council action in front of departments working on small enough projects contained mostly within their districts.

“Do what I want or we’re going to go after you in the budget next year.”

“Build that portion of your project in my district and the council is going to make your job, specifically, illegal within Los Angeles city limits.”

It never needs to gets to this level these days. The system is so formalized that city departments send their envoys to lie and cajole council offices, bribe them with give-aways to the recipients of the councilmembers choice, and come away with the informal approval of any project a city department wants to build. When things break down, like they have with the road diet on North Figueroa Street and Councilman Gil Cedillo, the department backs down and waits either for a groundswell of support (Ahem! Cough! Figueroa For All. Cough!) or simply lets the project die.

Notice how none of the legal and pseudo-legal hurdles most of us local politics junkies talk about matter here? We’re not even talking about legal powers of the council offices anymore – we’re talking about a game-theory of local governance in Los Angeles.

It is a game – except, unlike “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, our lives are at stake, our health and happiness is on the line. Unlike the improv TV show, the points do matter in local politics. Either we get a safer street or we keep a stupidly designed status quo stroad.

How do we win this game?

Gil Cedillo raised $2.1 million in his bid to become a city councilman. He spent, combined with so-called independent expenditures, about $200 per vote in the general election that saw him squeak by his opponent with a margin of less than 800 votes. There are nearly 82,000 registered voters in Council District 1 out of about 250,000 residents. Cedillo was elected by 10,152 voters. His opponent lost with 9,389 votes and only spent half the amount of money Cedillo did.

We can’t afford to buy ads on the size and scale Cedillo can. We can’t afford to use campaign cash and city council money, robocall machines, and staff time to advertise our point of view the way Cedillo has.

What we can do is come together, as we have for years now, and agitate for change within our community. Our bike rides, our parties, our parade entries, walking tours, secret stair climbs, protest marches, petition gathering surveys, tabling of large public events, attending community meetings, voting in Neighborhood Council election – it all adds up.

Combined with the efforts of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Figueroa For All has directly touched the lives thousands of real people in NELA. These are people who have participated in an event or signed a petition for the North Figueroa Street road diet (probably both!). We have done it with no campaign funds, no independent expenditures. Despite or $0 budget, the number of people signing the petition in favor of a Figueroa For All grows by the day. For example, on a normal business day I get 5 to 10 signatures on the petition I leave out on the counter of the Flying Pigeon LA shop.

Every cell phone number and email address is potentially another real person in the community who will walk, bike, and vote with us on street safety measures and candidates. It costs us $0 and our movement grows itself.

Councilman Cedillo stalked by Reverend Fig4All at a Latin Jazz Festival on August 23, 2014. The Rev.’s sign reads “REPENT CEDILLO”. Photo by Martha Benedict.

Cedillo, like most candidates who’ve won election in Council District 1 in recent history, ignored the most significant public safety issue facing his district: unsafe streets for walking and bicycling. He has nobody on his staff of 20+ who has passed even an introductory course in urban planning, civil engineering, or design. He is flying blind, pulling counter-arguments out of thin air.

He is scared. He picked a political fight with a group of people who, in fighting for a road diet don’t get burned out – we actually get stronger, feel better, and enjoy our lives more when we come together to celebrate our dreams for a safer, more humane, community.

Whose law is it anyway? It is the law of the American political jungle. Don’t let Cedillo’s spite and apprehension with the 21st century slow us down! Get together! Have fun!

We’re planning a big pedestrian and bicycling festival in November and December. Keep your eyes peeled for a 30-day, crowd-sourced, free, livable streets festival called Si Se Mueve. If you want to get involved in the Figueroa For All campaign leave a comment below and we’ll add you to our email list, join our Facebook group, or sign the LACBC’s petition for a North Figueroa Street road diet.

LADOT compromises on North Figueroa Street bike lanes

Rendering of LADOT proposed N. Figueroa bike lane looking north towards Avenue 26 near the intersection of N. Figueroa Street and  Avenue 22. By Nathan Lucero.

It is easy to come away from a discussion about bike lanes on North Figueroa Street thinking that this is a “bikes vs. cars” issue. Heck, our local councilman, Gil Cedillo, had his entire office working on that tired narrative the past 3 months (prior to ignoring the issue after being elected in May of 2013).

When you look closer at the facts, this narrative breaks down completely.

The way the LADOT has designed the North Figueroa Street bike lanes will not have a noticeable impact on peak hour car travel times, and will have no impact whatsoever during off-peak hours.

Why is that?

Rendering of LADOT proposed N. Figueroa bike lane looking south towards Avenue 22 and the 5 Freeway from just past the Avenue 26 intersection with N. Figueroa Street. By: Nathan Lucero

The most car-congested intersection of North Figueroa is where it meets Avenue 26. It is common to see a clump of 40 to 60 cars waiting at Avenue 26 to enter either the 5 South or the 110 South in the morning on weekdays.

The LADOT’s planned bike lanes will keep all the existing car lanes on North Figueroa from Avenue 28 down to the intersection with the 110 South – which means that there will be no added car delay in this portion of North Figueroa when bike lanes are installed.

Is this what Figueroa For All wants? Not really. We would prefer a cycle track and much better intersection design running the length of North Figueroa.

Here is an example of what Figueroa For All would like to see:

You can read more about cycle tracks and protected intersections by clicking here.

Now that the LADOT has compromised on its original vision of a buffered bike lane running the length of North Figueroa Street, will those opposed to the lanes accept this compromise? Will Councilman Cedillo call off his staff on their crusade to scare people away from safer streets?

Figueroa For All members outside a community meeting called by Councilman Cedillo on June 12, 2014.

For the sake of quality of life and safety on North Figueroa let’s hope the LADOT’s compromise design and these renderings get a bike lane installed soon.

What will the LADOT’s bike lane plans do to traffic at Avenue 26?

About 60 single occupant cars (and two empty buses) jam the southbound side of North Figueroa at Avenue 26 and N. Figueroa St. during morning rush hour on December 17, 2013.

What will the LADOT’s bike lane plans do to rush hour traffic at Avenue 26?


That is right, you read it correctly: nothing.

How can this be?

It is pretty simple really: the LADOT is going to keep two lanes of car traffic in each direction at Avenue 26.

Click this image to see a larger version.

In the LADOT’s original bike lane plans, North Figueroa was going to lose one car lane on the north side of the street. The traffic modelling the LADOT did showed that, with this configuration, at rush hour car drivers would have to wait an additional 95 seconds (1.5 minutes). Ruh roh.

This southbound stretch of North Figueroa Street will lose 7 parking spaces in order to install a bike lane. This will allow cars to flow at current rates alongside the bike lane.

How did the LADOT deal with this projected delay? They re-designed the project from Avenue 28 to Avenue 26 and kept car lanes in both directions in their new designs. Instead of taking away a single car lane, the LADOT’s new plans remove 7 parking spaces adjacent the Yum Yum Donuts/Big Saver shopping center. This new configuration would mean that bike lanes would have no impact on traffic at Avenue 26 – no added delay (!) at the expense of 7 parking spaces.

Want to see the LADOT’s original delay projections for the bike lane project on North Figueroa? You can read the city’s original traffic delay report here (see Figure 3-11).