New Day In Eagle Rock

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LADOT replaces Bike Route signs from 1983 with freshly printed Bike Lanes signs in Eagle Rock.

After twenty years of efforts to return Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock its original design as a more people-centric, instead of car-centric place, things are finally starting happen. After decades of Colorado being treated by drivers as a freeway, after countless car crashes, and scores of needless deaths, Colorado Blvd is at last receiving much-needed safety measures. This past week, LADOT started what is the equivalent of stomach bypass surgery to the slanted six lane drag strip that is (soon to be was) Colorado Blvd. The much needed road diet has begun.

Grinding out old multimodal lanes to make room for bike lanes on Colorado.

Grinding out old multimodal lanes to make room for new bike lanes on Colorado.

Championed by Los Angeles Council District 14 Councilmember Jose Huizar, the traffic-calming measures on Colorado Blvd have come about after much community input and design research. Part of the design is not just a road diet where the six multimodal lanes are reduced from six to four, but also the addition of a bike lane as part of the 2010 Los Angeles Bike Plan, two new crosswalks at key locations, a pedestrian beacon near Colombo’s on Hermosa Ave, “Your Speed” radar signs, added crosswalk islands, traffic signs, and 60 new bike racks.

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New bike racks outside Trade Joe’s, Eagle Rock.

 

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New “Your Speed Is” feedback radar sign.

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New crosswalk near completion at El Rio Avenue.

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Buffered gutter lane.

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New bike sign at the 134 Freeway offramp.

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There may be a learning curve for drivers not used to change.

 

Saturday, September 29th from 2PM to 5PM, Council District 14, along with Take Back The Boulevard are hosting a Launch Party that will feature long-term vision plans that build upon these efforts for improving Colorado Blvd at Center For the Arts, Eagle Rock. Be there!

Arroyo Seco Via

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Saturday, September 28th at 8AM, the Arroyo Seco Foundation is organizing a group bike ride and run that they are calling Arroyo Seco Via. The bike ride starts at Hahamongna Watershed Park, and the run starts at Garfield Park in South Pasadena, then progresses along the Arroyo Seco and LA River to the LA River Rally at Marsh Park in Elysian Valley. The run and ride are to promote a car-free dedicated route between the San Gabriel Valley and downtown Los Angeles along with the potentiality of a restored, enhanced Arroyo Seco and Los Angles River.

Registration is $40 pre-sale, $50 day-of. Helmets for cyclists required.

 

Streetsblog Fundraiser

Los Angeles Bike Map as created at The Hammer Museum's Bike Night 2013.

Los Angeles map of NELA as created at The Hammer Museum’s Bike Night 2013.

TONIGHT is the annual L.A. Streetsblog Fundraiser at Flying Pigeon LA.

There will be cake, there will be ice-cream, there will be beer, there will be dancing, there will be bikes! (It is a bike shop after-all.) Of special interest to Fig4All is a bike tour that will highlight the history of North Figueroa street as a branch of the Pacific Electric Railroad, Route 66, and its future as part of the City of Los Angeles Bicycle Network.

Friday, June 14 for a ride and after party at 6 pm.

$10 Donation.

Flying Pigeon LA
3404 N. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90065

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The Hart D. Fisher show. (Photo via FlyingPigeonLA)

The Hart D. Fisher show. (Photo via FlyingPigeonLA)

As expected, Tuesday evening’s Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council’s Sycamore Grove Local Issues Committee Special Meeting turned out to be a farce in every sense of the word. This special meeting was demanded by the very vocal bike lane Opposition. But as the old adage goes: “Give someone enough rope and they will hang themselves.”

The meeting was hosted by Sycamore Grove Chair, Sergio Vidal-Echeverria and Sycamore Grove representative, Joseph Riser. The two-hour event consisted of quick one minute general comments from local stakeholders (residents, business owners, students, shoppers, vested interests) who spoke in favor or against the LADOT Bike Plan for North Figueroa Street. The comments were vastly in favor of bike lanes on Figueroa for safety, traffic calming, traffic relief, commuting, health, recreation, pleasure, building community, and the children who live here.

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“A cyclist cut me off while driving my car, delaying me five seconds, and although I had a few beers, I was able to text my scorn about it…”

The second portion of the meeting was dedicated to giving Hart D. Fisher 15 minutes to rant against bike lanes. (Yes, the Sycamore Grove Local Issues Committee held this meeting at Fisher’s demand to show a 15 minutes video presentation against bike lanes.) The starved-for-fame, Fisher ironically did not get his entire 15 minutes of fame in this case. A good portion of his allotment was wasted by botching the video presentation. When he did get the video working it was just a re-hashing of the exact same tired and false claims that the opponents said during the comment period. (e.g., “The bike lanes will block emergency vehicles…” “The bike lanes will take away hundreds of parking spaces…”) Veteran ASNC member, Joe Riser mercifully cut Fisher short, explaining that he was misled to believe that this would be an alternative route presentation, not a editorialization of the Opposition’s viewpoint. The always volatile Fisher eventually had to be ejected from the room for violating California Penal Code § 403 (Disrupting a public meeting).

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The lonely 16 opposition voters. (Of particular interest: Lummis House director on the right didn’t vote against bike lanes this time, and poor anti-bike Jack Goldhammer seen in orange, does not seem to know what’s going on.)

After the Opposition’s fail-tastic portion died a quick and painful death, it was time for an actual real-life professional who is paid by us stakeholders to manage theses actual real-life city plans. David Somers from the City of Los Angeles Department of CITY PLANNING was kind enough to attend and answer a few questions. His portion was brief and without any LADOT staff in attendance, he could only speak about the bike plan from his department’s perspective. The most important take-away from Somers is that North Figueroa bike lanes could be installed by August. (That is a slight setback considering previous statements indicated a late June installation.)

At the end of the meeting, the Sycamore Grove Local Issues Committee took a show-of-hands poll that resulted in 41 In Favor of bike lanes on Figueroa, and 16 Against. This vote, the previous Montecito Heights vote, along with the letters, and online ASNC Bike Lane Survey will be presented to the full ASNC Board on June 24th.

The bike lane opposition is dwindling. Only 16 people voted against bike lanes, and this was supposed to be their meeting! At this point, there only seems to be three men dedicated to opposing safer streets and new bike lanes on Figueroa: Tom Topping, Publisher of the Blvd Sentinel, John Nese from Galco’s, and Hart D. Fisher from 911 N Avenue 57. Alternative Bike Plan map maker, Charles Fisher has not even attended the last two meetings. (Hope he is O.K.)

The North Figueroa bike lanes were approved with the city-wide 2010 Bike Plan that our elected City Council voted in favor of. Furthermore, the plan has been signed-off for installation this summer by LADOT General Manager, Jamie de la Vega and City Planning Director, Michael Logrande. These Neighborhood Council meetings are for all intents and purposes, just for the record and have very little bearing on the outcome. If anything, the Opposition has worked to undermine the validity of Neighborhood Empowerment by demanding endless hearings at the neighborhood council’s expense.

Come this August, with all likelihood, there will be buffered bike lanes on North Figueroa Street despite the fear-mongers efforts. It will be wonderful and look nothing like this.

Yay, Another Meeting

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So, remember last month on May 16th when proponents and opponents of the North Figueroa Street Bike Lanes gathered at the Montecito Heights Senior Citizens Center to hear, question, and give comment on the Bike Lane Presentation for the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council given by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the Department of City Planning? Well that was for the ASNC’s Montecito Heights Local Issues Committee, tonight is the meeting for the Sycamore Grove Local Issues Committee; where it will look almost identical to last month’s meeting, except with more emphasis on the Opposition’s “Alternative Bike Plan.”

Bike Lane non-friend, Ann Walnum and the Opposition's "Alternative Figueroa Bike Plan." as drawn on a map from the now defunct, Thomas Brothers Map Co.

Bike Lane non-friend, Ann Walnum and the Opposition’s “Alternative Figueroa Bike Plan.” as drawn on a map from the now defunct, Thomas Brothers Map Co.

This Alternative Bike Plan is probably the most amusing document seen in the Los Angeles bike lane debate. It was designed by Highland Parker, Charles J. Fisher who is a well-regarded historian, (and known for his twice-weekly walks to move the 18 cars he parks on Avenue 57.) Fisher created this Alternative Route that works to maintain the historic marginalization of bicyclists in Los Angeles.

First and foremost: Fisher, nor any of the other leading opponents to bike lanes are engineers or city planners. As to why this document would be considered by any neighborhood council is beyond logic. The map shows his zig-zag route that would take cyclists away from business districts (the opposition thinks people only ride bicycles for recreation, not for shopping or getting anywhere). At one point, his route would force cyclists to ride into oncoming traffic, at another a $350,000 traffic signal would have to be installed. (Remember, this Right-wing-leaning group of opponents are outraged that the cost of re-striping lanes is estimated at $50,000 a mile.) On the map they show schools, the majority of which are not accommodated by this route. Also on the map they identify “Problem Intersections,” the definition of which one can only assume is the one’s where they are forced to yield to other users of the roadway.

The 2010 Los Angeles Bike Plan was crafted by professionals and the public at planning and implementation forums. After hearings by the full City Council it was finally approved years ago. This was totally a public process. Yet, one man draws lines on a map without any expertise or supporting data and is expected to be taken seriously.

Be there tonight to mock this plan, or better yet, speak-out against those who would prefer to keep Figueroa Street an unsafe street where pedestrians and cyclists are at the mercy of drivers who insist on driving as fast as they can without regard to their fellow road user. Be there to remind the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council about Erick Borboa, a pedestrian who was killed by a speeding driver just outside the meeting place in Sycamore Grove Park, exactly six months ago this night.

30 year-old Figueroa Street pedestrian, Erick Borboa, killed on December 12, 2012 by this speeding truck.

30 year-old Figueroa Street pedestrian, Erick Borboa, killed on December 12, 2012 by this speeding truck.

ARROYO SECO NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL (ASNC) SYCAMORE GROVE LOCAL ISSUES COMMITTEE
SPECIAL MEETING
Ramona Hall Community Center
4580 N. Figueroa Street, L.A. 90065
Tuesday June 11, 2013 6-8:15PM
(Metro Gold Line, Southwest Museum Station; Metro Bus Line 81)

BOOM

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Today it was announced to stakeholders via email from David Somers of the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, that the installation of the bicycle lanes on Colorado Blvd and North Figueroa could begin in early Summer!

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The 50 page Department of City Planning Recommendation Report for Northeast Los Angeles, dated May 24, 2013 is a juicy tome of research and urban planning that focuses on our immediate community. The document covers the Environmental Impact Report, the OFFICIAL Public Hearing held at the LA River Center on February 13, 2013, the responses to each given concern, Traffic and Safety Assessments of the affected streets, Mitigation Measures, data tables, and traffic lane configurations. It is a very thorough document that manages to articulate and examine the plethora of concerns thrown at them by the opposition.

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LADOT Approval from General Manager, Jaime de la Vega.

Today, Los Angeles Department of Transportation General Manager, Jamie de la Vega approved the Los Angeles Department of City Planning’s recommendation. On June 14th, The Determination becomes final.

So what are we getting?

“8.1 miles of new bicycle lanes (including 5.1 miles of a combination of standard and buffered bicycle lanes along N. Figueroa Street from San Fernando Road to Colorado Boulevard and 3 miles of a combination of standard and buffered bicycle lanes along Colorado Boulevard from Glendale City limit (200’ east of Lincoln Avenue) to Avenue 64)”

When are we getting it? As early as next month. (Possibly before District 1 Councilmember, Ed Reyes leaves office on July 1???)

This is victory. This is victory for the women, men and children who want to ride their bikes around their communities of Northeast Los Angeles. This is victory for people of Greater Los Angeles who commute by bicycle and use Colorado Blvd and Figueroa Street nearly every day. A victory for the so-called “Outside Interests” who want to ride to our neighborhoods and see a movie at the Highland Theatre, or buy a coffee at Swork, or a soda pop at Galcos, or a taco at La Estrella. This is a victory for safer streets, where slower speeds will save lives and help prevent collisions between everyone who uses the road. This is a victory for the residents of Figueroa Street north of York Boulevard who will gain parking space, and driveway access with the removal of a southbound lane. This is a victory for Northeast Los Angeles, who all-too-often gets left behind when it comes to infrastructure and services. This time, in this instance, despite those who would have us maintain the status quo and instead implement sub-standard road designs, Northeast LA will be on par with the best neighborhoods of Los Angeles, on par with the cities of Santa Monica, Glendale, South Pasadena, Long Beach, and an ever-growing number of places that understand BIKES BELONG.

UPDATE 5.31.13: Despite all indications otherwise, according to Josef Bray-Ali, who was contacted by LADOT, the bike lanes are not a done deal and yesterday’s notification is merely a formality. Furthermore, public comment is still being accepted. So hold off sending those bouquets of roses to your favorite city officials, and attend the 289th public bike lane forum scheduled for 7PM, Monday at Center For The Arts, Eagle Rock. That said, yesterday’s news is still very good news, and every indication points to the bike lanes becoming a reality, and that reality will not be achieved until the paint hits the ground.

Bike Lanes Are No Problem For LAFD

Cyclists ride by Highland Park's Los Angeles Fire Department No. 12 on Figueroa.

Cyclists ride by Highland Park’s Los Angeles Fire Department No. 12 on Figueroa.

A popular complaint from the Bike Lane Opposition is that First Responders will be hampered by stripes in the roadway used to create bike lanes.  This claim has been championed by Highland Park resident and bike lane opponent, Hart D. Fisher who makes it a point to shout at the Neighborhood Council meetings that, “LAFD No. 12 is opposed to bike lanes on Figueroa Street.”  While such claims always seemed dubious, the Eagle Rock Patch  now confirms that in fact, “The Los Angeles Fire Department has ‘no concerns’ about the transformation of auto traffic lanes to bicycle passageways.”

According to the article, Tim Fremaux, from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, has been in contact with LAFD’s Captain Luke Milick, who oversees LAFD’s Hydrant and Access Unit. Captain Milick is responsible with making sure that fire apparatuses are not impaired with access on roadways due to construction or obstruction. (E.g., Prohibiting parking of cars on narrow Mount Washington roads during Red Flag Alerts.)  To quote directly from Patch:

“’Captain Milick has no concerns associated with re-striping of roadways to include bike lanes, regardless of whether these projects involve removing traffic lanes,’ Fremaux wrote in his e-mail.”

And why would they be concerned?  The well-trained personnel of the Los Angeles Fire Department know how to navigate across road stripes and around traffic.  If anything, the bike lanes will add more space for First Responders to navigate.  In emergencies, cyclists are especially capable of getting off the street and onto the sidewalk, while drivers can pull over into the bike lanes to free up space for emergency vehicles to use.  The important thing is that we all remember to Pull To The Right.

Cypress Park Neighborhood Council Meeting Postponed

Cypress Avenue and Avenue 28 in Cypress Park when it was just a bike route.

Cypress Avenue and Avenue 28 in Cypress Park when it was just a bike route.

The Greater Cypress Park Neighborhood Council is scheduled to meet and discuss Bike Lanes for North Figueroa on Tuesday, May 21, 7PM at the Cypress Park Recreation Center located at 2630 Pepper Avenue 90065. The public is invited to comment at the meeting. Supporters can also email the neighborhood council at Cypressparknc12@gmail.com.

UPDATE 5.20: This meeting has been postponed due to this thing called a GENERAL ELECTION that apparently was scheduled on this very date at this very location. Check back for updates as to when the next meeting of the Greater Cypress Park Neighborhood Council will take place.

ASNC Special Meeting Report

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Nate Baird from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation presents the department’s research and Bike Plan for North Figueroa.

The Special Meeting on Bike Lanes for North Figueroa Street was attended by over 60 people on Thursday, May 16th and lasted an hour and fifteen minutes. The bulk of the meeting consisted of a presentation from LADOT led by Nate Baird that described the history of bike planning in Los Angeles, the 2010 Bike Plan, and how it will effect North Figueroa Street. The presentation was followed by audience questions for LADOT, then followed by timed one minute general comments. Due to time constraints, not everyone was allowed to comment before the meeting’s adjournment, but were encouraged to submit their comments via comment cards and email to: bikes@asnc.us. At the end of the meeting ASNC President, Martha Benedict conducted a show-of-hands poll that resulted in 27 opposed to bike lanes on Figueroa, and 32 in favor. Tonight’s special meeting will be reported to the rest of the  neighborhood council during the Local Issues Committee Report, Item 15 on the agenda for Monday’s Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council Meeting at 7PM.

Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council Special Meeting

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A special Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council Joint Meeting of the Board of Representatives with the Montecito Heights, Mt. Washington and Monterey Hills Local Issues Committees is scheduled for Thursday, May 16th at 8PM in the Montecito Heights Senior Center, located at 4545 Homer Street, Los Angeles, CA 90031 (near the southern terminus of the Arroyo Seco Bike Path). This special meeting is being held to hear and discuss the implementation of the Los Angeles Bike Plan on North Figueroa in the communities subject to the ASNC’s oversight. Tim Fremaux from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation will be on hand to present and answer questions about the bike lane project for North Figueroa. A portion of the meeting will be allocated for public comment. The public is invited to attend.