The Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council decided Thursday at its monthly board meeting not to officially support the Department of Transportation's plan to install bike lanes along N. Figueroa Street, and voted instead to support an alternative bike route that would run on less-trafficked streets roughly parallel to Figueroa.
The HHPNC voted, 4-4, with two abstentions, against a motion to approve and submit a letter that it had drafted supporting the proposed bike lanes. It was the first time ever that the HHPNC has effectively opposed the DOT plan, as outlined and heard in several community meetings and public hearings, the most recent of which occurred at Occidental College in March.
The HHPNC's decision came toward the end of a prolonged board meeting held at the Highland Park Senior Citizen Center and attended by a packed audience of about 100 people. Scores of them—or at least 62 who signed an informal list being circulated at the event—were opponents of the DOT's plan to create bike lanes by removing auto traffic lanes on Figueroa.
Immediately after the failed motion to support the DOT's plan, however, the neighborhood council voted, 6-3, in support of an alternative bike route that the HHPNC formulated amid community concerns that auto traffic lanes ought not to be shut down on a street as busy as Figueroa. The HHPNC will now submit the alternative route to the DOT for its consideration.
Before the two sets of votes on bike lanes, Council District 1 Field Deputy Daniel Andalon told the gathering that Councilman Ed Reyes has asked the DOT to put on hold its plans to install bike lanes on Figueroa as part of the first year of the five-year implementation of the City of Los Angeles 2010 Bicycle Plan.
Andalon told Highland Park-Mt. Washington Patch that Reyes' communication to the DOT about a week and a half ago was verbal and that it was based on what appeared to be growing opposition from the community, via telephone calls and e-mail, to the proposed bike lanes. The CD 1 office would be studying the community feedback closely before making any further decisions on the issue of bilk lanes, Andalon said.
On a related note, a Council District 14 representative told the neighborhood council meeting that Councilman Josè Huizar has asked the DOT not to proceed with its bike lanes plan on Figueroa until the department finishes installing bike lanes along the Eagle Rock stretch of Colorado Boulevard.
Huizar's suggestion to the DOT is based on the fact that the two streets are very different—a large part of Colorado has three lanes in either direction, while Figueroa has two—the CD 1 rep said. Huizar is also not satisfied with the level of community outreach by the DOT on the issue of bike lanes, the rep said. A February public hearing called at the L.A. River Center, for example, was held at a considerable distance from both Highland Park and Eagle Rock.
Tom Topping, publisher and editor of the monthly Boulevard Sentinel newspaper, told the neighborhood council meeting that he has collected more than 290 mailed-in responses from community members on the issue of bike lanes so far. Only six of the responses favor installing bike lanes at the expense of auto traffic lanes, Topping said.