I thought that this quote would sum up what we’re up against when it comes to making North Figueroa Street in North East Los Angeles more bike friendly:
Asking for bike lanes is radical enough, and they cost relatively little. “It’s not about money,” says [Michelle] Mowery [, bicycle program coordinator for the City of Los Angeles]. “It’s about ten feet, and that’s the bottom line.” We’re in a conference room that borders a sweeping plain of gray cubicles at the LADOT headquarters downtown. Mowery moves to the white board and sketches a streetscape to illustrate how lanes must be a minimum of ten feet wide. There’s often not enough room to accommodate the existing lanes, street parking, and a bike lane. To remove street parking, let alone a traffic lane, would be beyond Mowery’s reach. “At that point it’s a political decision,” she says, “because the business community is going to lose their mind and congestion is just going to pile up if we take a travel lane unless we can show it’s a street that has a very low volume of traffic.”
-“Bike Culture: Spokes People” by Matthew Segal, Los Angeles Magazine, January 2009
As I demonstrated in my last post on this topic, “The Fight to Make North Figueroa Bike Friendly” on November 30, 2009, N. Figueroa St. is actually about 6,000 to 8,000 car trips below its minimum level of planned use. The local business community, for the most part, would welcome slower car speeds – as this would directly benefit their sales. Local residents are interested in safer crossing points for pedestrians – and traffic calming, or lane removal on North Figueroa Street would achieve this as well.
Still, this street was rejected by the LADOT when considering it for bicycle projects included in the Draft Bike Plan! Politics indeed.
What will it take for the LADOT to place the “road diet” their consultant recommended back into the Bike Plan?