January 8, 2014 #Fig4All Progress: Open Dialogue with Cedillo’s Office Yields Hope for N. Figueroa
For over half a decade, community leaders in Northeast LA have advocated for a North Figueroa that is safe for all who use it. While the proposed bike lanes have received the most attention, this #Fig4All vision has always been about safety for all travelers--people driving, taking transit, biking and, most importantly, walking. After years of outreach, stakeholder education, meetings, rides and rallies, we are delighted to report that Councilman Gil Cedillo is seriously considering project options that are true to this inclusive vision for North Figueroa. Focusing on the historic core of Highland Park from Avenue 55 to Avenue 60, Cedillo’s staff worked with LADOT to produce a series of options that include essential safety elements, such as a road diet, better sidewalks and crosswalks, transit enhancements, and physically protected or buffered bike lanes. These options will be presented for community review in the coming weeks. We call on Northeast LA advocates to participate in this process with positivity and respect to foster community dialogue about the importance of making Figueroa safe for all.
How did we get here?
Councilman Cedillo took office in July 2013, inheriting the Figueroa bike lane project from his supportive predecessor. Bike lane supporters thought we were in the home stretch of a long campaign, while the councilman sought to look at all projects in his district with fresh eyes. Frustration with the new approach boiled over last spring at multiple public meetings and in July Cedillo halted the project.
However, Figueroa’s abysmal safety record--nearly one fatality per year for the past decade, almost all of which are pedestrians--has proved impossible to ignore. All of the attention brought by the bike lane campaign only increased awareness of just how badly Figueroa needs to change. Once the dust settled from Cedillo’s July decision, Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative became a catalyst for more open-minded discussion of the specific safety issues and possible out-of-the-box solutions. City and council office staff developed a range of options that focused on increasing pedestrian safety primarily by reducing the distance to cross the street. Lo and behold, the best way to increase pedestrian safety is a road diet that adds bike infrastructure.
As tumultuous as this process has been, LACBC is sincerely appreciative of Councilman Cedillo and his staff for focusing on the goal--safety for all--and being open to the best solutions. We are counting on a positive community dialogue to ensure that the best options for North Figueroa are well-received by all stakeholders along the corridor. Although only five blocks, this project opens the door to safety improvements along the whole Figueroa corridor that are consistent with local advocates’ longstanding vision of a Figueroa that respects all travelers. We look forward to working with Councilman Cedillo to build consensus around the need for these critical safety improvements in the First District.
If you would like to get more involved in the campaign and discuss strategies, we urge your participation at our next Northeast LA Bike Ambassador meeting on Wednesday February 4th at 6 pm. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org expressing interest and he will let you know when a venue is secured, OR sign up as a Bike Ambassador using the link above.