Maybe some folks have already read about the Cypress Park bike lane issues that have been reported elsewhere… but it’s been sticking in my craw this week, I think it bears some attention. It’s been really disheartening to me to read city responses to implementing approved bike lanes on Cypress Avenue and Avenue 28 in the city of Los Angeles community of Cypress Park.
Flying Pigeon’s Josef Bray-Ali and I spoke at a Nightingale Middle School bike day event. Following our talk, a 13-year-old NMS student, Jackson Huang, writes a letter to Councilmember Ed Reyes requesting that the city implement bike lanes approved for Cypress Avenue and Avenue 28.
I was disappointed with Councilmember Reyes’ non-committal mumbo-jumbo response letter. The letter doesn’t mention anything about any kind of time line for the bike lanes that the student requested. It’s telling that Reyes even mis-identifies the community that the lanes are located in. From Reyes’ response letter:
Thank you very much for your letter regarding bicycle lanes in Lincoln Heights. It is commendable that you took the time to write my office… (emphasis added)
Come, on Councilmember Reyes – Cypress Avenue is in Lincoln Heights? Cypress Avenue is in Cypress Park – next to Lincoln Heights, similar issues, but it’s Cypress Park, not Lincoln Heights. I worked for you, and I know that you know this. Unfortunately, it seems like you aren’t taking bike lane requests seriously enough to actually understand where they are located.
It gets worse. Earlier this week, I read this response by the Los Angeles Transportation Department (LADOT) spokesperson Bruce Gillman, printed this week in this L.A. Streetsblog article:
“While these projects don’t yet have a date for implementation, Cypress Ave. and Ave. 28 are both in the five year implementation plan as Bicycle Friendly Streets, which does not preclude us from implementing bike lanes if bike lanes make the most sense for these streets,” writes LADOT Spokesman Bruce Gillman. (emphasis added)
LADOT’s Bruce Gillman is wrong.
LADOT has a history of lying when it comes to devising ways to block implementation of bike projects: Reseda Blvd, bike plan mileage planned, bike lane mileage implemented, etc. Some folks may say it’s maybe not deliberate lying, it’s just inattention to detail or error or incompetence or who-knows-what… but L.A. bicyclists know it’s a pattern. When the DOT makes an assertion about why they can’t do bike stuff, don’t take their assertion at face value. And when a department repeatedly makes false statements, well that’s lying in my book.
Gillman states that these streets are designated as “Bicycle Friendly Streets” and not “bike lanes.” This is a distinction that is a bit esoteric… so I will explain it briefly. “Bicycle Friendly Streets” are L.A.’s terms for bike boulevards. Bicycle boulevards (also called Neighborhood Greenways) are quiet residential streets that have been traffic-calmed so that, even though cyclists and cars share the same lane, cycling and walking are the priority. Though they’re shown to be safe, effective, wonderful in other cities, they don’t exist yet in Los Angeles. Here’s an example of what one “Bicycle Friendly Street” looks like:
Bike lanes are different than “Bicycle Friendly Streets.” Bike lanes are the striped lanes in the street. Here’s what a bike lane looks like:
So… recapping for folks reading this far down: well-paid transportation professional Gillman says it’s not bike lanes. 13-year old middle school student says it’s bike lanes.
Here’s the line in the city’s Five Year Implementation Strategy document that Gillman refers to. Gillman states that this says “Bicycle Friendly Streets” not bike lanes. Any sighted person who actually looks at the document can see that it says bike lanes. From page 7 of 9 of the facility listing here:
What is really frustrating to me is that LADOT’s official spokesperson Bruce Gillman, under color of authority, is basically saying that this NMS student got his request wrong… when Gillman himself got it wrong. Gillman is abusing his official power as LADOT’s spokesperson to belittle a 13-year-old. That’s so screwed-up that it gets me inarticulate… I am having trouble restraining myself from writing about it without resorting to expletives.
So… what should bicyclists do?
Email Honorable Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Honorable Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: email@example.com
Email LADOT: firstname.lastname@example.org
Write about it online and tweet your post or your message to @villaraigosa @mobilitymaven @ladotbikeprog #bikela