The ongoing battle surrounding the proposed Westwood bike lanes was highlighted in an LA Times article published this week.
Supporters argue that bike lanes will improve the safety of cyclists, especially in an area where 3,100 students, faculty and staff bike to UCLA every day. Up to 800 of these cyclists use Westwood Boulevard, according to UCLA Transportation officials.
Proponents also argue that bike lanes play a part in California’s goal to fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
One option in the proposal would create 6-foot-wide bike lanes on each side, reducing the width of traffic lanes to 10 and 11 feet—a common width for traffic lanes on streets throughout the city and county. Westwood’s lanes are currently 11-feet wide and 18-feet wide.
Those fighting to remove the proposal from LA’s long-term mobility plan—which is now going through the approval process—say installing bike lanes and narrowing traffic lanes will impede traffic and reduce safety. They cite the mobility plan’s environmental impact report, which states that bike lanes would have “potentially significant” adverse impacts on traffic congestion and emergency response times citywide.
The report, however, assumes that installing bike lanes requires the elimination of some traffic lanes.
Westwood transportation consultant Ryan Snyder says not only can bike lanes be installed without removing traffic lanes, but parking spaces and room for emergency vehicles can also remain intact.
As part of Mobility Plan 2035, 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.
Advocates of the bike lanes include environmentalists, students, transportation experts, public health professionals and the LA County Bicycle Coalition. Opponents are neighborhood associations and business owners.
LA City Councilman Paul Koretz, whose district includes Westwood and UCLA, is also concerned bike lanes may increase safety risks for cyclists and hinder traffic and emergency vehicles.
Between 2002 and 2013, 52 bicycle accidents occurred on Westwood Boulevard, 35 of which were blamed on motorists, according to the California Highway Patrol. Studies have shown that bike lanes can reduce the number of accidents by at least 50%.
Want to start biking to UCLA?
The UCLA Bike Shop shares its favorite bike routes to and from campus, including back-road alternative to major arteries. Use this guide to help you get started on a safe and sustainable commute.