A Safer and Greener North Figueroa St.

NFigueroaProposal(A greener future for North Figueroa St.? A planted median down the center, marked crosswalks with center refuge area, bike lanes and curbside parking on both sides of the street.)

Over two years ago, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) first shared conceptual plans for bike lanes on North Figueroa Street between Colorado Boulevard and York Boulevard. The plans proved disappointing as they did nothing to address the excessive speeding the street experiences and hardly did anything to improve conditions for people bicycling. Bike advocate Joe Linton (author of Down By the Los Angeles River) suggested the LADOT consider a reconfiguration commonly known as a “road diet.” This would make the street look more like York Boulevard does between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 54.

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Figueroa For All!

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(Screenshot from Figueroa For All’s website– the Cypress Park Neighborhood Council meeting for Tuesday has been cancelled.)

Readers of this blog are probably familiar with Take Back The Boulevard (TBTB) – Eagle Rock’s community initiative to revitalize Colorado Boulevard through transforming the street to create a more pedestrian friendly environment. However, readers may be unaware there is a similar grassroots movement afoot to do the same for North Figueroa Street– Figueroa For All (or fig4all as it is known on twitter).

Figueroa For All, as its recently launched website states, seeks to make North Figueroa a more livable street– this includes advocating for bike lanes on the street between Colorado Boulevard and San Fernando Road. Figueroa For All’s website will be the go-to place for anyone wishing to keep up with or support the initiative’s efforts.

Are you interested in helping Figueroa For All and bringing bike lanes to North Figueroa? Here are four things you can do:
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Show Your Support For Buffered Bike Lanes on Colorado Boulevard

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A cyclist rides by Eagle Rock City Hall, where the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council meeting will be held.

If you want to see a safer, more civilized Colorado Boulevard be sure to voice your support at tonight’s Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council meeting. The meeting will start at 7pm and be held at Eagle Rock City Hall, located at 2035 Colorado Boulevard. If you want to speak at the meeting, you must fill out a speaker card at the beginning of the meeting.
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Addressing Concerns With Implementing Bike Lanes on Colorado Boulevard

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(“Creating bike lanes by reducing the number of lanes available to motorists will hurt businesses,” one of the many arguments presented against bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard. See “Bike Lane Concern #4″ below to find out if bike lanes are really likely to hurt local business)

Bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard, as planned in the Los Angeles Bike Plan, are coming closer to being a reality– a meeting on March 27th hosted by council member Huizar’s office will be held to determine based on community input how to move forward, if at all, with bike lanes on Eagle Rock’s main street.

During on-going opportunities for community input throughout phases of the Bike Plan formation, the Bike Plan’s environmental impact review, and most recently at a public hearing regarding the results of the environmental impact review comments have been mostly positive. However, now concerns about the potential impact bike lanes may are popping up in growing numbers. There is nothing wrong with this, concerns are well warranted for any proposed changes in town and a change to Colorado Boulevard’s public right-of-way will affect daily travel for many.

To gain a clearer perspective of what the current circumstances are and what may possibly change as a result of bike lanes being implemented, it may be beneficial to have the recurring concerns and questions people have regarding bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard actually be addressed. That’s what this blog post will attempt to do– address concerns that have been raised in conversations about bike lanes in the community.
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New Bike Lanes in Garvanza

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San Pascual Avenue, recipient of one of Highland Park’s newest bike lane

Avenue 66 and San Pascual Avenue recently received bike lanes as part of the LA Bike Plan; the bike lanes were implemented by simply narrowing existing travel lanes, no parking or mixed-traffic travel lanes were removed. The Avenue 66 bike lanes run for about half a mile, between York Boulevard and Meridian Street. The San Pascual Avenue bike lanes run for about 0.7 miles, between York Boulevard and Comet Street.

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Looking South on the San Pascual Avenue, with new bike lane

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Flawed Views on Bicycling, Part 2

(This is part 2 of a response to John Nese’s article “Safety on York Boulevard”. See an introduction and Part 1 here)

Part 2

The article continues:

“I think bicyclists can be good for businesses like mine. In fact, I would love to see how creative cyclists can be with carrying their purchases. I know in some countries, it’s quite a feat to carry large packages, boxes, etc. atop a bike.

But my overall issue with bikes is about safety.”

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Flawed Views on Bicycling, Part 1

(Less than a day after Walk Eagle Rock published an article titled “Galco’s and Bike Lanes“, John Nese of Galco’s published – what appears to be a response – on his business’ website, an article titled “Safety on York Boulevard“. We at here at Walk Eagle Rock feel safety is paramount and we would like to address Nese’s article, which actually extends beyond safety and discusses Nese’s opinion on bicycling in Highland Park more broadly. The following is part 1 of 2 a response addressing claims made in Nese’s article)

Part 1

Nese opens his article stating:

“The new bike lanes on York Boulevard scare me. Not just as a business owner, but a resident of the area and a grandfather.

I see cars, as many as 1,200 an hour I’m told, rushing down the street and, with the introduction of these bike lanes, I am fearful that when they meet up with a two-wheeled biker, things won’t be pretty and with the bicyclist getting the short end of the stick.”

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Galco’s and Bike Lanes

Did you catch the most recent issue of the Boulevard Sentinel? On the front page there’s an article about the new bike lanes on York Boulevard titled, “New York Blvd. Lane Striping Annoys Business“.

The article suggests that the newly extended bike lanes on York Boulevard could have a negative impact on business. In the article John Nese, the owner of Galco’s (located at 5702 York Boulevard, in front of the new bike lane) and the sole person interviewed, states the following:

“The bike lanes are nice, but they’re not good for business. You’re not gonna see anyone buying cases of soda pop or anything else sizable when they’re on a bicycle.”

I was rather surprised to read that quote from John Nese for several reasons.

First off, how can one evaluate the effects of a bike lane within mere days of its installation?

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Embrace Occidental College

Eagle Rock is very proud to be home to the humble and increasingly well-known Occidental College, or Oxy as it is known among the college’s students and locals. The sign that welcomes people at our town’s eastern end, at the  intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Wiota Street, reads “Eagle Rock, Founded 1911. Home of Occidental College”. Every year when Occidental College starts the Fall semester a banner hangs at the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard that welcomes Oxy students back to Eagle Rock. These are literally signs of the affection and positive relationship fostered between the College and Eagle Rock.

There is no doubt that Occidental College has had a positive impact on our community, and that Eagle Rock has been good to Oxy. Though perhaps Eagle Rock can be more welcoming to Occidental College, particularly to its students, and equally benefit to the community at large through ways that embody the messages we put on our welcome sign and the banner that hangs over our town’s major intersection.

While Eagle Rock has always been home to a handful of Oxy students, about 60% of the school’s students are not from California, which demonstrates quite clearly many students are seeing Eagle Rock for the first time. Eagle Rock being the lovely and cool neighborhood that it is is definitely worth exploring, but is our community accessible and inviting to the many car-free college students who’ve never been here before? Our residential streets are typically relaxing and nice to walk along, but unfortunately the same cannot be said of our car-centric commercial corridors– which is a shame because that’s where our local businesses are! But things can change, for the better.

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