What are we fighting for?

This Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at Franklin High School in Highland Park Councilman Gil Cedillo will hold a public meeting regarding the LADOT’s proposed road diet and bike lanes on North Figueroa Street. After the meeting, we have been told by Cedillo’s staff in personal communication, the councilman will render his verdict.

Such a strange “process” we’ve been through to get here! The bike lanes and road diet are already legally approved by the full LA City Council, they are already funded through a bicycle program set-aside in Measure R sales tax revenue, and they are already designed by the LADOT – how can Cedillo’s “approval” even matter at this late stage?

We’ll leave that one to the Larry Mantles, Warren Olneys, and Raphael Sonensheins of Los Angeles County to figure out.

In the meantime, what is it that we’re fighting for? What I mean is, what is the LADOT’s proposed road diet going to look like? Is it really that radical of a departure from what we have now on North Figueroa Street?

Take a look for yourself at these volunteer-created renderings of North Figueroa Street:

North Figueroa at Avenue 28 in Cypress Park as the LADOT plans it. Please note: the buffer for the bike lane disappears and a car lane re-appears heading South to allow more cars to access the 110 South and 5 South freeway entrances nearby.

A photoshopped image of the what the LADOT’s proposed buffered bike lanes would look like at Woodside and North Figueroa (running alongside Sycamore Grove Park) heading South towards Downtown LA.

A photoshopped image of what the LADOT’s proposed buffered bike lanes would look like just past Cypress Avenue and North Figueroa (across the street from Nightingale Middle School) heading North towards Highland Park.

Here is one more image, this one is a bonus. This is an image of what Figueroa For All would like to see. That is, not just a buffered bike lane but a protected cycle track (!) with pocket parks, more crosswalks, curb ramps, bus pull-in areas, and some programs in local schools to get more kids walking and biking. We realize you can make a rendering of all that! Anyway, here is something to think about:

North Figueroa at Avenue 28 as Figueroa For All would like to see it: a design for everyone! Safety first! Humans and the best of city life at the heart of the design.

Ouch

 

Gil Cedillo and the beleaguered LADOT Bicycle Program he just desimated.

Gil Cedillo and the beleaguered LADOT Bicycle Program Department he just threw under his City allocated Dodge Charger.

If you attended Thursday’s meeting, then you know how “Council District 1 Dysfunctional” it was. We demanded a safer North Figueroa and after badgering Councilmember Gil Cedillo’s office for nearly a year to take action on the already-approved North Figueroa Bike Lane project, he finally responds by hosting a meeting at Cypress Park’s Nightingale Middle School on Thursday, May 8th. Out of the 350+ attendees, the room was overwhelmingly in favor of the Figueroa Bike Lanes /Road Diet. Cedillo’s office split those chosen to give a one minute comment into groups of 19 In Favor, and 19 Against. Cedillo’s office furthered their “Neutral Opinion” on the project by enlisting anti-bike lane NELA authority figures to give their “Professional Opinions.”  In an event that was intended to bring the community together, many attendees described Cedillo’s Community Bike Lane / Road Diet Meeting as being “Rigged,” that they were, “Hoodwinked,” and “Bamboozled.”

After a decade-plus of LA City Planning, Los Angeles Department of Transportation, City Council, Neighborhood Councils, and Environmental Impact Report meetings, Gil Cedillo opened this meeting by saying the purpose of the night’s gathering was because the “2010 Bike Plan wasn’t sufficiently debated.” He then handed it off to LADOT Bike Program and LA City Planning to make their presentations on the great benefits of implementing the 2010 Bike Plan on Figueroa, and the lacking benefits of sharrows.

Following LADOT’s presentation, various senior city department employees were called on by Cedillo to give their “Professional Opinions” on how a road diet and bike lanes would affect their road use. (Note: NOT the OFFICIAL Policy from their given departments.) While his statement was hesitant and convoluted, NELAPD Captain Jeff Bert said, “Bike lanes would REDUCE response times.” On the other hand, Cypress Park-based, LAFD #44 Senior Captain, and Cedillo ally, Edmundo Elguea said that in his “Professional Opinion” the bike lanes would “Slow down their response time.” (Contrary to the official opinion of his department.) LADOT Parking Enforcement’s Sgt. Lucero Mesa said, “His bureau was not in favor of it.” (Bet that’s news to LADOT.) A senior officer from LACMTA’s bus operations gave the most neutral of statements, saying Metro would work with whatever was implemented. (It probably helps that he was a County employee and not a City employee.)

Cedillo’s Cheif of Staff, Arturo Chavez then moderated the public comment section by having 19 Supporters, followed by 19 Opponents speak for one minute on the project, no questions, just statements. It was chaos. It was as if a substitute teacher was dropped into a classroom of 350 hostile students hellbent on rebellion. It may not have been the “Consensus Building” event that Cedillo billed it as, but it was certainly entertaining. More details on what was said can be seen here: Fig4ALL flickr.

Following the event, KPFK’s Bike Talk interviewed Gil Cedillo, where he talked about this process being a “Robust debate,” that, “We need to come together and reconcile this.”

That this meeting, “Adds somewhat to where we were. …Important to have a more comprehensive audience. …Compels us more to a point of reconciliation of what I think are shared values.”

Cedillo also gave this gem on whether the Figueroa Bike Lane Project in his district is going to happen:

“My sense is that we have to bring EVERYBODY together and work toward consensus, and that takes time. I’ve worked on projects that have taken 16 years. I don’t know why it delayed, why it faltered… What I’m focusing on now is how we can bring these groups together.”

That’s our Cedillo, a man of action. And all this trouble for a paltry (by Los Angeles standards) 26,000 cars that use Figueroa daily.

The meeting shows that we have made progress. In what may be a first for any community bike lane hearing anywhere, none of the opposition speakers trotted-out the tired rant about bicyclist running stop signs and traffic lights. Another point of victory was the lack of outright anti-bike lane sentiment. Opponents spoke more about motor traffic and less about their hatred of bike lanes and cyclists in general. Many took the NIMBY route, saying they were in favor of bike lanes but just not here. What was especially encouraging were the new faces speaking on the opposition side who weren’t particularly against the project but expressed fear for themselves and their children’s safety. That is exactly what we are fighting for: Safety.

In response to this meeting, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition has called on supporters to engage with Cedillo by calling his City Hall office at (213) 473-7001 and his Highland Park office at (323) 550-1538. Cedillo stated that he is willing to meet with people on this, so let’s meet with him. Let’s “Take-The-Lane” of his Calendar and lobby our cause. Besides, the small staff in his Highland Park office at 5577 North Figueroa are lonely, the public hardly ever visit. Let’s stop in and give them a break from surfing the internet all day. As a bonus, the place is air conditioned, and has some great art from Avenue 50 Studio.

We need to more outreach like the Fig4ALL volunteers that walked Figueroa two weeks ago. Because, after nearly a year in office, Cedillo’s office is obviously not reaching-out to the Figueroa community. Ignorance and complacency is Cedillo’s best asset, while Education and direct action is ours. Because we ALL want to be safe using Figueroa regardless of whether we walk, bike, or drive, and this project is first and foremost designed to accomplish a safer Figueroa for ALL.

Links to more on the May 8th Meeting: 

KPFK Bike Talk

Streetsblog Los Angeles

Orange 20

The Eastsider LA

Biking In LA

The next Cedillo Figueroa Bike Lane Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 12th at 6PM. As of this post, Cedillo’s office is planning to use Monte Vista Elementary located at 5411 Monte Vista Street in Highland Park. Unless they’re planning for the meeting to take place out on the asphalt playground, there’s no way 350 people are going to be accommodated. Expect it to be moved.

Gil Cedillo’s Bike Lane Meeting 2014

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The most hardcore cyclist on Figueroa: Every weekday, this Cypress Park mother of two, shuttles her children up and down Figueroa via bicycle between The Riordan Childcare Center and Arroyo Seco Museum Magnet School.

 

THURSDAY, MAY 8TH, 2014 6-8PM,

The Honorable, Gilbert Cedillo, Los Angeles Councilmember for District 1 is hosting a Community Meeting on Bike Lanes for North Figueroa at Nightingale Middle School.

As we recall, just last year there were several of these North Figueroa Bike Lane meetings with presentations by Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Los Angeles City Planning, and the neighborhood councils along north Figueroa. But that was last year. (When the bike lanes and road diet were supposed to be installed.)  Since then, Mr. Cedillo was elected as Councilmember to Council District 1, where North Figueroa languishes. As soon as Mr. Cedillo took office in July, he put the brakes on this approved project for Figueroa. Months passed without the slightest hint of action on the North Figueroa project. It has taken phone calls, petitions, emails, protest rides, and arm tugging to get his attention on this matter. He may have hoped we would go away, but we haven’t. So this May 8th we get a Community Bike Lane Meeting.

This is progress, but it’s not. According to Mr. Cedillo’s invitation, the LADOT presentation reduces the road diet and bike lanes length and proposes new (not in the 2010 Bike Plan) compromises.

First and foremost, the new proposal takes the North Figueroa bike lanes from Ave 22 to Ave 52 instead of York Blvd as planned last year, creating a one mile gap between the rest of the Northeast Los Angeles bicycle lane network. Also being presented from Mr. Cedillo’s office are no road diet alternatives that places Bike Sharrows on SIDE STREETS  such as Sycamore Terrace, Avenue 50 and Monte Vista instead of Figueroa. Make no mistake, this “Alternative” is an attempt to marginalize cyclists and pedestrians as much as possible and maintain the dangerous road conditions on Figueroa.

What’s more, is that this is called a Bike Lane Meeting, when it really should be called a “Road Diet Meeting.” Because, that is the ultimately the most important issue. It just so happens that this road diet is being achieved by installing bike lanes. It is important to stress that it is not just about giving cyclists a dedicated space to ride on Figueroa, it is about making Figueroa SAFER for ALL road users. It is about bringing North Figueroa up to 21st Century standards, it about matching the successful road improvements seen in more affluent parts of our city, it is about protecting the public, saving lives, improving property values, and bringing prosperity to the businesses of North Figueroa.

For all intents and purposes, Thursday’s meeting looks like just another bureaucratic hoop to jump through, only to be ignored again. However, it may turn out in our favor, ending with a triumphant proclamation by Cedillo, deciding to move ahead with the 2010 Bike Plan much like Jose Huizar did last year at the Colorado Blvd Bike Lane meeting. At this point, we don’t know. But we do know that we will not be going away. We will continue to press for positive change and safety improvements on North Figueroa for All.

Bike Lane Community Meeting
Thursday, May 8th, 2014 6pm-8pm.
Nightingale Middle School Cafeteria
3311 North Figueroa Street, Cypress Park 90065
Indoor Bike Parking
Metro Bus Lines 81, 84.

RSVP with the District Office at (323)550-1538 or go to: http://goo.gl/zsaZF9

 

 

 

Contrasts In Climate

Father and daughter ride in the buffered bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock on Saturday, February 22, 2014.

Father and daughter ride in the buffered bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock on Saturday, February 22, 2014.

Northeast Los Angeles made great strides with the 2010 Los Angeles Bike Plan last year. Bike lanes were installed on Cypress Avenue, Eagle Rock Boulevard, and Colorado Boulevard. More and more, people are discovering the new bike lanes and coming out to ride the avenues of NELA.  But the contrasts between Councilman, José Huizar’s CD14 side of NELA and Councilman, Gilbert Cedillo’s CD1 side cannot be more stressed than in these two photos taken almost exactly one week apart. The first one shows a father and daughter riding up Eagle Rock’s Colorado Boulevard in the new buffered bike lane, while the second photo shows a father and son riding on the sidewalk along Figueroa in Highland Park during a rainstorm.  One family is embraced, while the other is marginalized.

As People For Bikes, and Minneapolis’ Bikeways for Everyone reminds us, Every person biking on a sidewalk is really just casting a vote for a protected bike lane. That, wherever there are lots of people riding on sidewalks, there is a need for bike infrastructure such as bike lanes and bikeways. So even though you come out against bike lanes on Figueroa, your actions speak louder than words.

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Father and son ride the sidewalks of Figueroa in Highland Park during a rainstorm on Saturday, March 1, 2014.

NELA CRITICAL MASS

NELA Critical Mass Flyer PDF

So it has come to this: After a long hiatus, the monthly NELA Critical Mass will be re-born this Friday, January 31 2014, in order to bring bike lanes and traffic-calming measures to North Figueroa Street in Northeast Los Angeles.  The world-wide Critical Mass bike ride has always been about celebrating the bicycle as a meaningful transportation alternative and demanding the space it rightfully deserves on the roadway. What better inspiration do we have, than demanding the promised bike lanes on Figueroa?

The ride will meet at 7PM outside the Gil Cedillo Council District 1 Field Office located at 5577 North Figueroa Street in Highland Park, and roll-out around 7:30PM. Bring your bike, bike lights and a positive attitude. See you there and every Last Friday of The Month until change has come to Figueroa.

NELA CRITICAL MASS FLYER

Lost In The Desert of CD1

Have you seen me? If so, ask where the Figueroa Bike Lanes are.

Have you seen me? If so, ask where the Figueroa Bike Lanes are.

Hey, look, the year is now 2014 and there are no bike lanes on North Figueroa. There are buffered bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, bike lanes on all of Eagle Rock Boulevard, bike lanes on York Boulevard, bike lanes on Avenue 66, Via Marisol, Cypress Avenue, Avenue 28, Avenue 19, Avenue 18, and Griffin Ave. There are bike lanes on the freeway cut-thru streets Huntington Drive and Mission Road.  In very busy downtown Los Angeles, there are buffered bike lanes on Spring Street, Main Street, Olive Street, Grand Avenue, and now the 2nd Street Tunnel. There are now bike lanes on 1st Street, 7th Street, 11th Street, Adams Boulevard, Jefferson Boulevard, Exposition Boulevard, Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard. Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake Boulevard, Griffith Park Boulevard, Rowena Avenue, Mayra Avenue, and now Virgil Avenue all have bike lanes. With over 167 miles of bike lanes installed since the 2010 Bike Plan, LADOT continues to fill its mission to complete the 2010 LADOT Bike Plan at great speed within the five-year plan to install 200 miles. Just this past week, LADOT announced their Priority Year 2 List of Planned Bikeways with 40 additional miles of bike lanes to be implemented in the City of Los Angeles for 2014. Noticeably absent is North Figueroa as well as 99.98% of Council District 1. (Less 1.1 miles on Hoover Street  between Venice Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard.)

The plans have been finalized, the funding has been earmarked, the resources are ready to go, and yet the striping truck housed just off Figueroa on Avenue 19, is being sent to other parts of the city because our current Council Member, Gil Cedillo lacks the leadership to get the job done. While Cedillo’s office motto is “Making The First District #1.” CD1 is getting left behind the rest of the city in regards to contemporary road design.

The real mystery is as to why? Some have suggested, that it may be part of some petty grudge to diminish the accomplishments of Cedillo’s predecessor, Ed Reyes, who championed complete streets during his tenure. When talking with his staff, although this was a big issue locally in 2013, they act as though they have never heard about it. Perhaps it is as simple as Cedillo avoiding the controversy all together. Maybe he is hoping that we who dare to walk and bike around Figueroa will simply go-away or maybe even be run-over and killed. Who knows? He has said nothing regarding this situation.

But we are not going away. In fact, we are growing in numbers and our fight has just begun.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
–Mahatma Gandhi

Like Pete Seeger’s Teaspoon Brigade we will collectively take the sand of our desert and keep pouring it upon the scales of justice until they tip into our favor. Let us remind Cedillo that he serves all of us. That being a leader, means making the right choices, even when they are controversial. That every study ever done, shows that when road diets are applied to streets, the streets become SAFER for all users. That every day Figueroa is allowed to exist as-is, it is another day for potential tragedy. We have the road engineering know-how and resources to make Figueroa a better street for all. Let us work toward making this a reality.

Please call Gil Cedillo’s office at:

(213) 473-7001   City Hall
(323) 550-1538  Highland Park Field Office
(323) 341-5671   Glassell Park Field Office

Please email Gil Cedillo at:

Please email his staff at:
Arturo.Chavez@lacity.org        Arturo Chavez, Chief of Staff
Gerald.Gubatan@lacity.org     Gelrald Cubatan, Senior Planning Deputy
Fredy.Ceja@lacity.org              Fredy Ceja, Communications Deputy
Sergio.Infanzon@lacity.org     Sergio Infanzon, Planning Deputy
Conrado.Terrazas@lacity.org  Conrado Terrazas, District Director
Melinda.Alatorre@lacity.org    Melinda Alatorre, Highland Park Field Deputy

Please send him a letter:
Council Member Gilbert Cedillo
200 North Spring Street, Room 470
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Council Member Gilbert Cedillo
Highland Park Field Office
5577 North Figueroa
Highland Park, CA 90042

LACBC has a great example letter on the petition page for the Ride Figueroa campaign.

Hopefully with your help dear reader, we can nudge our Council Member into consciousness. Until then, it looks like 2014 will be a long year of dodging cars on Figueroa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Holidays From Fig4All

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The weather was warm on the first day of December. By One O’Clock in the afternoon it was a bright and sunny 81° on North Figueroa. The street was unusually quiet, the normal rumble of motor traffic had been replaced by the sound of drums, marching bands, trumpets, announcers, kazoos, circuit-bent electronic toys, amplified holiday music, cheering and bike bells, all curtesy of the 69th Annual Northeast Los Angeles Parade.

Santa road a Nihola bike, Aktive from MOM Ridaz gave rides to Mount Washington moms in Flying Pigeon LA’s pedicab, Charlie did bicycle parkour, the Eastside Bike Club road their four-person party bike, families donned “FIG4ALL” suffragist-style sashes, kids and adults alike did a non-stop “Holiday Circle of Death” down Figueroa. It was a fun way to end a victorious and frustrating year for safer streets in Northeast Los Angeles.

Cypress Avenue, Monterey Road, Via Marisol, Eagle Rock Boulevard, and Colorado Boulevard all had bike lanes installed over the past year. In downtown LA, on some of the heaviest-traveled streets in the city, road diets were initiated. This year saw the largest implementation of the 2010 LA Bike Plan yet. Meanwhile, North Figueroa continues to languish behind, with only a promise of bike lanes and road dieting to hold on to. To add insult to the actual injuries suffered by pedestrians and cyclists by drivers on Figueroa, word from our new City Council Member Gil Cedillo’s office is that even more bike lane meeting like the ones we had this year will be held again next year. The question at this point is wether we politely wait for leadership from Garcetti, Huizar and Cedillo, or do we get more militant and re-initiate the monthly NELA Critical Mass rides and start doing London-style Die-Ins?

So Happy Holidays and keep walking, running, riding, and rolling into the New Year. It has to get better. If it does, next year we will bring figs.

Build It And We Will Ride

RideColorado

What do you do when a city gives you a bike lane? You ride it, obviously!

Join Los Angeles City Council Member Jose Huizar, Take Back the Boulevard, Los Angeles Department of Transportation Bike Program, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, Safe Moves, and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition to celebrate the sparkling new Colorado Blvd Bike Lanes this Saturday, October 26th from 9:30am to 1:30pm at Eagle Rock City Hall on the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Maywood Avenue.

There will be a Kid’s Bike Rodeo, a 5 MILE Bike Lane Ride, a Family Ride AND a Free Raffle!

Ride Colorado

Eagle Rock City Hall

2035 Colorado Blvd

Eagle Rock, CA 90041

Saturday, October 26, 2013

9:30AM – 1PM

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

arroyorideflyer

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.