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.

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Happy Holidays From Fig4All

20131202-113017.jpg

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.

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

Yay, Another Meeting

asnc meeting

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)

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.