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Eagle Rock Business Owners Representative of Bike Lane Debate

The hopes and concerns of business owners surrounding possible bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard are representative of the larger bike lane debate in Northeast Los Angeles

Ask business owners along Eagle Rock's Colorado Boulevard how they feel about the potential installation of bike lanes on their street, and you will hear a diversity of opinion. 

Patricia Neale Vuagniaux, owner of Swork Coffee, is a cyclist herself. She enjoys pedaling to the beach for exercise, and thinks the installation of bike lanes would be beneficial to the health and safety of Eagle Rock riders. 

However, when asked how the bike lanes proposed through the 2010 Los Angeles Master Bike Plan would affect her business, she's still unsure.

"As a biker, we don't tend to stop very often. We bike through," she said. "When I'm exercising, and biking very hard, the last thing I want to do is stop and load up on carbs."

A few doors down, at Dave's Chillin & Grillin, owner Dave Evans observes that it's the motorists who don't tend to stop very often.

Evans said he'd like to see both bike lanes and some more crosswalks on the boulevard, both of which might force drivers to slow down and smell the cheesesteak.

"The drivers just blow right by sometimes," he said.

Thus is the dichotomy that has played out in both Eagle Rock and nearby Highland Park over the proposed bike lanes on North Figueroa Street and Colorado Boulevard. 

A traffic study of the proposed bike lanes predicts that stop times at intersections along both streets would be increased by about three minutes as a result of the bike lanes. 

Whether or not that is a good thing for local business is all a matter of perspective. 

Charles Fisher, a local historian in Highland Park, said that while the bike lanes may be a boon for small, locally owned shops, they seem to be hurting larger stores where customers load up in bulk. 

"John Neese, owner of Galco's, has lost business. McDonald's is down too" Fisher said. 

Ruben Perez, co-owner of Organix on Colorado Boulevard, doesn't foresee bike lanes impacting his business very much.

"We've already got three car lanes, I don't see how only having two would be such a problem. It will probably slow down between 7:30 - 9 a.m. and then again when school gets out," he said. 

Perez is in a unique situation, though. As the owner of an all organic and vegan grocery store, he said he caters to a customer base that is more likely to hop on a bicycle and ride to his store. 

"We raffled off a mountain bike at our grand opening," Perez said. "I think riding is good for the environment and good for the health of the community." 

But what about the health of those businesses that are less likely to attract ycling inclined customers?

"I can understand the fight from businesses that depend on vehicles," he said. 

Timothy February 21, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Darren, why not have the bikes use parallel streets to major thoroughfares such as are available around York blvd.? Safer and slower traffic speeds. This is an area with big hills and quite steep inclines to many homes. Unless I am wanting a major cardio workout every time I leave the house, biking is not practical. I believe this is the situation for much of the population in this area.
Darren February 21, 2013 at 04:09 PM
If I'm out for a leisurely ride and it's convenient, I might indeed choose a side street over a major road. But, if cyclists destinations are on that road, they should be afforded the same conveniences in accessing those destinations as people traveling in cars. Your argument can be flipped -- why don't you take the 110 or the 134 to get to your destination? And the answer is obvious -- it's often not convenient (though we know that some use these thoroughfares to avoid freeways). I accept that and expect drivers to accept cyclists/pedestrians/riders of public transit desire to reach our destinations in manners that are direct and convenient, too, by sharing the road that we all pay for. I also appreciate that the terrain of the area can limit some people's ability to travel by bike, but giving people a choice doesn't limit your ability to continue driving. Not incidentally, it is the streets where the lanes are being proposed (York's a done deal, so can we stop arguing about that now?) that are less hilly, making them preferable to circuitous routes via side-streets where businesses and schools are not even located. Moreover, increased cycling in SF and Seattle suggest that even in hilly areas, people will use improved infrastructure if it's available. Finally, you might consider an electric-assist bike if the terrain is too much for you.
Timothy February 21, 2013 at 11:31 PM
HaHa, funny Darren. The terrain isn't too much, it's that I actually work in a place I cannot arrive coated in sweat to. It's well with reasonable limits to direct particular forms of traffic/vehicles, trucks for example, to certain streets and not others.
Peggy Drouet February 23, 2013 at 07:34 AM
I would probably do my shopping, etc., elsewhere than on Colorado Blvd. if many bikers use the bike lanes. It is difficult enough making a left-hand turn into the Trader Joe's parking lot already and I won't want to have to avoid or wait for bikers as well. The same goes for making a left-hand turn from the Bank of America parking lot. There is also a section of Colorado Blvd. just west of CVS where two lanes merge into one lane. The only way a bike lane can be put here is to not allow parking in front of businesses here.
Do Something February 26, 2013 at 04:55 PM
Well said Darren, well said.

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