Anatomy of a Complete Streets Controversy: Los Angeles Edition
Advocates for complete streets and a more multi-modal lifestyle in Los Angeles have achieved tremendous successes in the last decade. But ongoing controversies about bike lanes shows there's still a long way to go.
Drew Reed begins a recent article for Citymetric by noting that Los Angeles residents have grown more supportive of alternative modes of transportation, citing the ambitious rail build-out enabled by the half-cent sales tax approved by Measure R as an example. Yet, when it comes to bike lanes, a less auto-centric vision for transportation has been harder to implement, with about 200 miles built out of a plan that calls for 1,684 miles of bike infrastructure.
Reed cites the example a proposed, now defunct, bike lane in Northeast Los Angeles as an example of the dysfunction that still surrounds complete streets planning in Los Angeles. "The planned bike lane for Figueroa in Northeast Los Angeles has become a case study in exactly how much can go wrong with a seemingly good plan. In documents released in 2010, the area was listed as a priority." That after Councilmember Gil Cedillo pulled the plug on the lane, claiming that the bike lane would impede the ability of emergency vehicles to navigate the street.
Reed compares that example with that of the MyFigueroa project, which would add a protected bike lane, among other complete streets improvements, on a stretch of Figueroa Street located south of Downtown Los Angeles. That project recently passed sizable hurdles in the form of wealthy, landowning businesses located along route of the proposed complete streets project.