Outrage

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.

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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.

LugoVigil15Sep25

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?

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¡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

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.

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
213-978-0600
https://www.facebook.com/eric
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
https://www.facebook.com/HCIDLA

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

20140502-132013.jpg

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