The Figueroa Bike Lane

I appreciate the Downtown News coverage of this issue and wish to explain our position more clearly.

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I ride my bike several times a week and am familiar with the problems cyclists face in an auto town.  As the Founding Chairman of the Figueroa Corridor Business Improvement District, several years ago I helped form and led the coalition of businesses and community groups that wrote the proposal that eventually was approved by the State and provided the Prop. 1C funding that is now being used for the Fig Street improvement project.  One aspect of that proposal was a north/south bike lane couplet for Fig and Flower so bicyclists and vehicles would be going in the same direction on Flower Street one-way and north on Figueroa.  We understood that research showed there was a safety advantage in enhancing same direction bike-car traffic in dense urban areas.

I have never directly opposed the project, which would have never been funded without my involvement.  But after the CRA was dissolved and the project was put in the hands of the bike department at DOT, the emphasis shifted from a street improvement plan to a bold new bike lane experiment.  I worked with DOT and others and offered ideas on how to deal with the narrowest, most difficult areas on the street, especially the 67 foot wide area where most of the dealerships are located.  I thought that launching LA’s first protected and dedicated bike lanes was best attempted on a street that is not a major thoroughfare.  If the experiment goes badly, it could jeopardize similar efforts in other parts of the city.  That’s why we originally favored the Fig-Flower couplet, which DOT rejected for reasons I don’t understand.

While very interested in the streetscape improvements for Figueroa, I also have to be responsible to about 700 employees and about 500 sales and service customers who visit our dealerships every day.  They have legitimate concerns about mobility (e.g. spending time at intersections) and access (being able to enter and exit).  The initial EIR projected very long waiting times, for example, at all the intersections on Figueroa, delays that may facilitate purposeful congestion and deter customers from coming to our stores.

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Rather than simply opposing the plan, I am asking that, since no one knows exactly how this plan will work, if we decide to go forward we should take a look after one year.  We would ask the city to measure its impact in terms of time spent at intersections, ingress and egress, sales and service business, sales tax collected by the City, accidents involving bikes and cars, and other metrics. I don’t think this should be viewed as opposition but rather a common sense measure that council members should support. If the bike lane works great, then we have no problem.  However, if there are issues we should take stock of them and make adjustments.

 

While this may not satisfy everyone, I hope it provides a context for you to understand our position.