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Plan to Put Bike Lanes on Figueroa Divides Community - Los Angeles Downtown News - For Everything Downtown L.A.!: News

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Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013 5:00 am

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - The Figueroa Streetscape Project may not be on the radar for everyone in Downtown, but for cycling advocates and stakeholders on the stretch of Figueroa Street that runs from the Financial District to Exposition Park, no issue is more important.

The project, which recently saw the completion of an environmental impact report, is on the front burner, as key funding depends on starting construction by January. That is partly why a public discussion Thursday morning on the issue generated a passionate response.

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During the session at the Financial District offices of the firm HMC Architects, Ninth District City Councilman Curren Price called the project, also known as MyFigueroa, “promising,” and said he does not want to see it delayed. However, he also said he believes more questions need to be answered.

Price recently filed a motion that asks the city departments of Planning and Transportation to provide an in-depth analysis to the City Council on how to mitigate the traffic congestion caused by the removal of auto lanes on South Figueroa Street.  

The EIR for the plan to remake a three-mile section of Figueroa Street into a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly corridor addresses a host of concerns from critics who fear that the result will be gridlock. The project area, which runs from Seventh Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, with a spur down 11th Street, would include north and southbound bike lanes. Two segments of the northbound corridor would get “cycle tracks,” or lanes separated from traffic by a new curb. 

At the Thursday session organized by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Price said there are legitimate concerns that must be addressed regarding the $20 million project, which is funded by Prop 1C bond money. Dollars must be spent by the end of 2014. 

“It’s a promising project. Let’s not rush through it. Let’s make it a good deal for everybody,” he said, adding, “Major stakeholders have lingering concerns.”

One of those stakeholders is Darryl Holter, the CEO of the Shammas Group, a longtime area player who owns eight car dealerships on the Figueroa Corridor. Holter, who did not attend the morning event but has long been monitoring the process, fears that a race to make the spending deadline could cause potentially critical fallout if all traffic mitigation outcomes are not properly assessed. He opined that a street less busy and vital than Figueroa would be a better choice for a project with this scale and scope.

“We’re doing something that has never been done in Los Angeles before, and we’re doing it on a very trafficked street,” he said. “[This project] is about mobility and access. Will the 600 service customers who come into our dealerships every day find it easy to get to us with fewer traffic lanes? I don’t know. It’s dicey.” 

During the morning meeting, Price reiterated the importance of economic development for the Ninth District, and repeatedly tossed out the term “cultural tourism,” meaning the need to find a way to bring people to different parts of the city with lures such as international cuisine and art. 

Shanon Muir of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition agreed with the assessment, and said a great way to drive more people to small businesses is on two wheels and on foot via bike and pedestrian lanes. She believes the lanes would draw more interest in the area, which could then attract more businesses. With a neon green bike pendant pinned to her lapel, Muir said to Price, “I could do some outreach.”

Transportation reform advocate Deborah Murphy, executive director of Los Angeles Walks, said she saw a lot of synergy between Price’s goal of economic development and the MyFigueroa project. But the ticking clock for funding is worrisome, she said. 

“We have an opportunity to be an example for all the rest of L.A.,” she said regarding transit-oriented developments. “This would put the Ninth [District] in the forefront and set the tone for the future of Los Angeles.” 

The plan also calls for widening sidewalks, planting additional trees and installing better street lighting. Construction would have to start by January to meet the funding deadline. 

The project is subject to the approval of city Department of Transportation General Manager Jaime De La Vega. It can be appealed to the City Council.

donna@downtownnews.com

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2013

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11 comments:

  • Scut Farcus posted at 4:55 pm on Tue, Sep 10, 2013.

    scutfarcus Posts: 2

    Calm down Shez, if you were really a native (which I doubt, based on your bizarre attitude), then you'd support bringing downtown LA back to life. Bikes, walking and transit are the keys to this.

     
  • Scut Farcus posted at 4:53 pm on Tue, Sep 10, 2013.

    scutfarcus Posts: 2

    Good grief... is this comment a joke? You know nothing about LA. Los Angeles was a streetcar town before the car largely destroyed it. Go move to Houston if you want to live in a car town.

     
  • John S posted at 9:05 am on Tue, Sep 10, 2013.

    john_s Posts: 2

    I don't get how being a native is relevant. Is your opinion is more valuable because your family has been here longer?

     
  • John S posted at 9:03 am on Tue, Sep 10, 2013.

    john_s Posts: 2

    Not for long, and no quantity of capital letters is going to change it.

     
  • Shez Zahm posted at 10:33 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    Shez Posts: 3

    ENOUGH with this bicycle agenda in LA, a car town; PERIOD!!!!

    How many cyclists must die because of some terrible crappy driver in THIS CITY?!?!?
    LA IS A CAR TOWN!

    BTW, I am a native of LA, my family's roots go back to the 1800's. Can you say that?!?!

     
  • Shez Zahm posted at 10:32 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    Shez Posts: 3

    ENOUGH with this bicycle agenda in LA, a car town; PERIOD!!!!

    How many cyclists must die because of some terrible crappy driver in THIS CITY?!?!?
    LA IS A CAR TOWN!

    BTW, I am a native of LA, my family's roots go back to the 1800's. Can you say that?!?!

     
  • Shez Zahm posted at 10:30 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    Shez Posts: 3

    [censored][thumbdown][angry]
    ENOUGH WITH THE TRANSIT RESIDENCE MASQUERADING AS ANGELENOS TRYING TO FORCE THEIR BICYCLES UPON THIS TOWN!!! My town, my father's town, my father's father town, my father's father's town...etc Yes, my roots go far in the City of Angles. I am a native of LA.

    Again; I say, ENOUGH with this bicycle agenda in LA, a car town; PERIOD!!!!

    How many cyclists must die because of some terrible sheety driver in THIS CITY?!?!?
    LA IS A CAR TOWN!

    -yes, I also own three (3) bicycles and have been riding for 30+ years and I have been hit by one car in those years.

     
  • Alison Kendall posted at 2:19 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    Alison Kendall Posts: 1

    The My Figueroa project will make Figueroa much safer and more attractive for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. It would be tragic if the funding is lost due to opposition from a few when so many will benefit from this visionary design. Among the many who will benefit are thousands of cyclists, pedestrians and transit users who travel to and from the USC campus each day. Today there are high rates of collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists in this area; this project will improve safety and create an attractive street which will benefit all local businesses and residents.

     
  • Richard Risemberg posted at 1:05 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    rickrise Posts: 5

    Inf act, road diets and bike lanes usually improve automobile throughput, as recent studies released by NYDOT using GPS data from taxi fleets how. They also make roads safer for all users, including motorists, and by slowing down motor traffic, they make businesses on the corridors so graced more visible to drivers as well as, of course, to cyclists and walkers. This has played out in city after city for years. LA will be not different. Unless we chicken out because of "gut reactions" that fly in the face of plain well-known actualities.

    When San Francisco chose not to rebuild the Embarcadero Freeway after the '89 earthquake, the result was not congestion--motor traffic went down, but human traffic in cars and trams, on bikes, and on foot went up, and the Embarcadero is now the cultural heart of the city and a big moneymaker for the local economy, which had been crushed by excessive car infrastructure.

    Over 60% of LA's land area is given away to private cars for driving and storage. Let's take a little sliver of that and give it over to people, community, and commerce--starting with MyFigueroa!

     
  • Brian R posted at 1:04 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    BrianMojo Posts: 19

    "Will the 600 service customers who come into our dealerships every day find it easy to get to us with fewer traffic lanes? I don’t know. It’s dicey"

    What a bunch of FUD. That's like saying "will this street configuration eat YOUR children? Maybe! Who knows!" They're reducing traffic lanes, not closing a street or something. I don't know anyone who says "Oh, I'm not going to go get that service from the dealer, sometimes there are cars on that street."

     
  • Robert posted at 11:50 am on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    pershing squared Posts: 69

    The irony of having a car dealership complain about bike lanes is not lost on this downtown resident. We need bikes lanes in all parts of downtown and particularly Fig to begin to connect it all together. I'd ride much more if it were safer to do so..