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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.