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Bike Lanes on Skid Row

Last summer, the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN) approached LACBC to partner to get bike lanes installed in Skid Row on 5th and 6th Streets between Main and Central, as well as add bike signage and a bike repair station. While both corridors fall on the Vision Zero High Injury Network (HIN), neither appear on the bike network of the City’s Mobility Plan 2035. At the same time, Skid Row has a high concentration of people that walk and bike as their primary mode of transportation. It is also home to very low-income people of color, many of whom are houseless, disabled, and vulnerable to multiple health issues. Traffic safety is one of many public health crises that impact Skid Row.

Since last fall, LACAN and LACBC have been working together to urge the City to bring bike lanes and other bike and pedestrian safety features to Skid Row. We have met multiple times with Councilmember Huizar’s office to ask that he add 5th and 6th Streets to the Mobility Plan, and to discuss potential funding options and implementation timelines. We also supported and participated in LACAN’s recent Ride for Justice demonstration in Downtown. Unfortunately, while the council office has been responsive, movement has been frustratingly slow.

Meanwhile, beyond Skid Row, recent events have further demonstrated the painful truth that traffic deaths and severe injuries are a major and immediate problem in our City — especially in our most historically disinvested communities. In the past few weeks, four fatal traffic crashes (three of them hit-and-runs) took place in South LA, an area highlighted by the Vision Zero High Injury Network and social equity indicators. The deaths included a man crossing the street in his wheelchair, a man walking, and two men riding bikes, one of whom was only 22 years old.

Tragedies like these have strengthened our resolve to work closely with community organizations and partners such as LACAN to focus our energy on bringing safety improvements to communities with the highest need. And while we support work being done in other neighborhoods to promote traffic safety, we think communities like Skid Row deserve at least the same amount of attention, commitment, and leadership from their Councilmembers as other more well-resourced communities.

Skid Row deserves bike lanes and safety improvements just as much as the Arts District — and definitely with more urgency. Tonight at 6 pm LACBC will join LACAN at a community meeting being hosted by Jose Huizar and the Bureau of Engineering to discuss the $14.85 million of Active Transportation Project funds coming to the Arts District to build sidewalks, intersection enhancements, additional bike lanes and street lighting. The meeting will be held at the Art Share building at 801 E. 4th St. We want to know why residents of the Arts District get favorable treatment when it comes to street safety investments, but it has taken six months and counting to simply get a motion to add 5th and 6th Street to the Mobility Plan.

photos courtesy Linus Shentu

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