We heard from homeowners, city officials and various members of the UCLA community. Grad student Daniella Ward handed over a giant stack of postcards from fellow students who support bike lanes to City Councilmember Paul Koretz, the bike lane proposal’s staunchest critic. UCLA’s Dave Karwaski and Nurit Katz delivered heartfelt speeches calling for the safety of our commuters—staff and students alike.
“[Westwood Boulevard] is statistically the second highest street in the city for crashes involving bicyclists,” Karwaski said.
On the flip side, one anti-bike-laner sauntered up to the podium like Rocky Balboa, fists up in the air, face tucked behind Terminator sunglasses. He began berating city councilmembers, calling them “puppets” who “underscore what the people want.” Another woman brought a poster board half her size to highlight all the “negative impacts” of the “half-baked plan,” including her belief that bike lanes “harm habitats and wildlife.”
Koretz opened his monologue by reminiscing about his time as a wee lad bicycling along the coast of California. He loves bicyclists. He just doesn’t think they should have bike lanes on the most traveled route to UCLA. He points out that he’s an “avid realist.” He just thinks the perceptions of some Westwood residents should outweigh actual traffic studies.
So what’s the big takeaway? The Mobility Plan was approved as is.
The caveat? Amendments—such as the one trolling around that would eliminate the Westwood Boulevard bike lane provision—are still on the table, and will be decided on a later date.
Is this the best case scenario for those who champion the safety of our commuters over the paranoia of a small group of people? No. The best case scenario would have been getting the Mobility Plan approved, point blank. But this is a close second.
Here are some snippets from the meeting:
- “This document puts a premium on safety, a premium on social equity by giving a way for people who can’t afford a car to get around.” —Mike Bonin, City Councilmember, @mikebonin
- “We recognize that people walk and bike on every street no matter what lines on a map we draw. We must make it safe.” —Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager, @seletajewel
- “Protected bike lanes are an essential part of the plan. Please don’t bend to the whim of one councilmember.” —homeowner
- “There are no good policy arguments against the plan. It doesn’t take anything away from anyone. For those who want to live a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, it ought to be available.” —LA County Department of Public Health representative, @lapublichealth
- “There is a need for safer streets for all modes and all ages.” —Claire Bowin, Senior City Planner
- “This is about smart investments and making streets better for everyone, not just for people who drive, but people who walk, people who bike and people who take transit.” —Ken Bernstein, Principal City Planner