So what’s the plan, exactly?
Westwood Transportation Consultant Ryan Snyder laid out several options in his “Remove Nothing Plan.” Under his proposal, 6-foot-wide bike lanes would be created on each side by reducing the width of traffic lanes to 10 and 11 feet, a common width for streets throughout the city and county. The reduced lane size also meets local and national roadway design standards. Lanes on Westwood Boulevard are currently 11-feet wide and 18-feet wide.
Parking spaces would not be affected.
The bike lanes would run south of UCLA from Le Conte Avenue through Westwood Village. It would then go across heavily-trafficked Wilshire Boulevard to Wellworth Avenue and continue from Santa Monica Boulevard to just past the Expo Light Rail Line at Exposition Boulevard.
How will this work?
Opponents who cite the city’s environmental impact report—which states that bike lanes would have “potentially significant” adverse impacts on congestion and emergency vehicle response times—do so erroneously, since the report assumes that installing bike lanes requires the elimination of traffic lanes.
But it doesn’t, and narrowing traffic lanes to install bike lanes is a practice that’s been done in neighborhoods throughout the city. In fact, most of LA’s bike lanes were implemented without impacting traffic.
Numerous studies show that narrower lanes are perfectly capable of moving high volumes of traffic. Furthermore, wider lanes are less safe because cars tend to drive faster.
Will it hinder emergency vehicles?
You’ve heard the claim again and again: installing bike lanes means slower response times for emergency vehicles.
But according to Herbie Huff, a research associate at the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, it wouldn’t affect emergency vehicles because motorists would still be able to pull over and use the bike lanes to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
City Councilman Mike Bonin, an adamant supporter of the Mobility Plan, said he doesn’t think the worst-case scenarios aggrandized by critics will actually come true. Instead, he highlighted the fact that the Mobility Plan’s various projects will increase walking by 38%, transit use by 56% and bicycling by 170%.
The LA City Council approved Mobility Plan 2035 last week. Several amendments, including the Westwood bike lane proposal, will be decided on in a joint meeting of the Planning/Land Use and Transportation committees in September.
All photos courtesy of Ryan Snyder.