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The Rats Are Already Nibbling … at LA’s Mobility Plan


ADDICTIVE NEGLECT-After the Kum-Ba-Ya giddiness fades, we’ll probably get back to fretting over the freshly-approved Mobility Plan 2035 and whether it will become a guiding document, a sort of Constitution of access—or another dust-gatherer whose only real purpose is to fill in sound bites during a procession of grinning politicians’ photo ops. 

Los Angeles has adopted great plans before, and nothing much has come of them; the very real advances in transit LA has seen have been designed and realized by Metro, which is a county agency. And no fewer than four council members tried to add amendments to the plan removing important bicycle facilities from streets in their districts, under the delusion that cramming more cars onto our roadways will somehow lessen congestion. (Just look at the 405 over the Sepulveda Pass, freshly widened and slower than ever, to see the folly of that sort of non-thinking.)

Paul Koretz wants Westwood Boulevard reserved for cars, though of course by law it is not, and bikes will be there regardless. Curren Price wants Central Avenue off the plan, though it serves a neighborhood with low car usage and plenty of folks on bikes and in buses. Rookie council member Ryu is carrying forward termed-out LaBonge’s opposition to a neighborhood greenway on Fourth Street, heavily traveled by middle-class bike commuters—thus proving himself another shortsighted apologist for car hobbyists only a few weeks after taking office. And The Cedillo, as far-reaching as he is short-sighted, wants basically all bicycle facilities out of his district, including nearly all of Seventh Street. These amendments are still in play, and all these little nibbles at the plan will add up mighty fast.

Meanwhile the few stretches of bicycle infrastructure we do have in the city are wasting away, possibly from malign neglect. I wrote on this blog a few weeks ago about bike lane markings vanishing on York Boulevard and other streets; apparently we can’t even be granted the courtesy of durable paint. But there are other issues, one of which has been annoying and endangering riders on the easternmost extension of those York Boulevard lanes, where they cross over the freeway and arroyo just west of South Pasadena.

That’s what you see in the photo up top: tree branches growing over the railing from the freeway below, and blocking the bike lane. Unless you’re on a recumbent, you will be swerving into the traffic lane to get around the foliage, which includes some pretty solid limbs. Because South Pasadena forced LA to keep an extra and unneeded lane on the bridge, drivers see all that asphalt and take it as a cue to speed, which they typically do. (When it comes to speed laws in LA, every driver is a criminal…except where the visual cues of a road diet slow them down without the need for cops and signs.)

I had been under the delusion that the city would soon fix this, as I saw a crew sweeping up leaves on the other side of the bridge two weeks ago. Evidently I was naive: they were clearing the car lanes of debris. The bike lanes? Fuggedaboutit!

This goes on all over town. A Westside friend of mine has led clandestine gardening ops to clear bike lanes and useful shoulders of obstructing shrubbery on Lincoln Boulevard. This is a sign that we’re on our own here.

This is how we treat these facilities once they’re built: once the paint is dry, they are forgotten. 

Will this be the fate of Mobility Plan 2035? I fear for LA’s future. The rats have already started nibbling away at the plan. Will there be anything left of it when the time comes actually to build a future? Are we serious about this, Los Angeles?


(Richard Risemberg is a writer. His current professional activities are centered on sustainable development and lifestyle. This column was posted first at Flying Pigeon) 






Vol 13 Issue 66

Pub: Aug 14, 2015

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