North Figueroa St is a dangerous place to be even in a car, let alone on a bicycle. The road connects the 110 Freeway to Mount Washington and Highland Park, and is a major commuter thoroughfare. The people that drive it most are frequently in a rush to get to work, or anxious to get home, and as a result, it's packed full of rushed and distracted drivers whose last thought is the safety of the cyclists they share the road with.
The 2010 bike plan
The 2010 City of Los Angeles Bike Plan, in an effort to make North Figueroa Blvd safer for pedestrians and cyclists, called for the calming of traffic by slimming the street down and adding bikes lanes. The so-called "road diet" went through an EIR process which determined it would have "no significant impact" on travel time, and as of 2013, LADOT was ready to implement the plan. Sadly, Councilmember Gil Cedillo stood in the way.
Cedillo claimed he had concerns that calming traffic on the road would lengthen response time for emergency vehicles. When asked about where his concerns came from, however, he indicated that he got the information from police officers. There was never any information to back up these claims, and LADOT studies indicate, in fact, that this is not true.
Many believe the real reason Cedillo halted the plan was his own fear of backlash from car drivers. Regardless, Cedillo put his own priorities before the safety concerns of the community, and now we're paying the price.
On August 20th, just weeks after Cedillo made the decision not to implement the road-diet, an 84 year old man was killed on North Figueroa while crossing the street. If we don't do something about this street, this surely won't be the last time it happens.
We need safer streets, and the only thing standing in the way is Gil Cedillo's recent decision. He believes that bike lanes aren't necessary until cyclists are already on the road. But that's not how it works. The bike lanes come first. Let's tell Cedillo we want our bike lanes!
RIP William Matelyan