Figueroa Bike Lanes, Is a Compromise Possible?

Why can’t there be a reasonable debate about bike lanes?  I ask myself this every time I look at the Highland Park/Mt. Washington Patch.  If you’re like me and check out the Patch on your Ipad whilst sipping a Rishi tea at Highland Park Cafe  you have probably seen a number of articles about the proposed Figueroa bike lanes.  You also have probably seen the argumentative, fear inducing comments that many of the bike lane advocates have been writing in the comment sections.

As I gaze out the window of the cafe I take note of the bike lanes on York…I see not one biker.   We Hipster Gringos in the know know, York, even with bike lanes, is a nightmare to ride on — congested, tight and just plain sucks.

But if I were to note this in the comment section of the Patch I might get a reply back from bicycle lane advocate Josef Bray-Ali, owner of the Flying Pigeon bike shop.  He may retort back with sarcasm and snark or better yet may post some links to fear inducing automobile accidents. (oh yes he did)  Or I may get called an “obamatard” by some guy or gal who posts in all caps under the alias HULK.

Not to say the anti bike lane set behaves any better.  In a heated exchange with Josef Bray-Ali, Patch reader Marta J fires back,

It’s extremely hard to find any comment sincere by someone who is looking to benefit out of these bike lanes. Someone looking to increase profit to his bike shop by generating traffic and pushing more of his overpriced bikes. It’s more obvious when he’s the brains for this whole bike lane idea. He tries to throw “Safety” into his arguments and fear into your minds by showing pictures of car accidents. Very shay I’d say.

Meeeooow! I do like that ‘shay I’d say’ thang though!

None of this helps the overall biker cause people!   LA drivers hate us bikers enough as it is.  Snide comments make them hate us more!  I for one don’t want anymore drivers hating bikers, I’ve had too many run-ins on my bike with agro car maniacs.

I and many of my friends are bikers, we’re hipsters after all, we love our Peugeot frames and leather saddles;  we totally bike A-lot.  We love the River Bike Path! BUT rarely do we bike on Figueroa.  We much prefer the fast and breezy Marmion Way which is already designated a BIKE ROUTE!

Marmion Way Bike Route

Marmion Way Bike Route

Why are bike lane advocates so dead set on Figueroa having bike lanes? Especially when there are faster and safer alternatives like the very  Bike Route on Marmion Way?   Why not put the bike lanes on Marmion Way?  Well dear Gringos I asked this very question in the comment section of the Patch.

The answer I got back from ‘Max Utility’, a blogger and self described bicycle enthusiast and transportation activist and one of the more level headed commenters, was that

Marmion Way has almost no destinations on it and a limited number of connection points to Figueroa.

Hmmm.   Let’s see, 3 metro stops, a museum with grounds for walking, El Fuente Restaurant, Good Girl Dinette,  a School, Art Studios, Churches, a Buddhist Temple, a Synagogue, more than a couple barber shops, beauty salons, ice cream parlor, dry cleaners, convenience stores, Tropicana Market and Deli aren’t destinations enough?   I guess Ave 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61 don’t count as some of these limited number of connection points to Figueroa?  (Yikes I think that Snark may be contagious)

Thanks for not calling me a name or insulting me Max but  if safety and convenience were a concern as lane advocates claim then Marmion Way would be the Way To Go.

Figueroa Bike Lane advocates have help from The Patch itself for promoting their cause.  In one article the Patch described  the bike lanes on York as being “celebrated”, not sure who is celebrating them.   One thing  almost all the commenters, pro bike lane and anti bike lane alike, agree on is that the bike lane situation on York is a complete mess.

Figueroa bike lane advocates have various studies they cite.  They have meetings open to the public.  They are often heard saying that if the community is so concerned they should show up to these public events.  However most of the community did not know of their February 13th meeting.   That is until the Patch.com posted it on their site 4 hours before the meeting was to start.  To make things worse the Patch wrote that the meeting was on Thursday when it was on Wednesday.

As one commenter named Gil posted,

TO BAD THIS WAS not posted earlier. When was this hearing planned???  Most people I talk to knew nothing about it .   I talk to everybody who lives on my block, Off Ave 50 nobody new anything about this hearing. Just called people at my other property on Meridian nothing .Typical, most homeowners,residents and business owners kept in the DARK as usual… Today is Wednesday 2/13/2013 not thursday.  Off i go to this hearing after working 10 hours.

The Patch  never offered a retraction they just changed the errors the day after without comment or apology.    Evidence of this dubious error can be seen on Patch.com; the article is stated as being written on the 14th a day after the meeting, obviously this is when the changes occurred.    UPDATE! actually that evidence just changed Gringos,  I just checked back to Patch.com and in the past 20 minutes that I’ve been typing this it seems David Fonseca has yet again changed the date of the article this time to February 11th…very fishy dude.  What gives? I sent him a tweet Gringos, I’ll let you know what he says.

Nonetheless in a neighborhood that is 75% hispanic, a meeting held on Ash Wednesday is not going to get many attendees from the community.

As for those scientific surveys and studies advocates base their points on.  Even those claim that relatively few bikers are on Figueroa to begin with.   One of the studies was conducted by counting bikers as they rode by the intersection of Fig and Pasadena/Marmion Way in 2011.  The study counted an average of 94 people in the 4 hour am and pm rush hour periods.   That is less than 25 bikers per hour during that period, the numbers are less at other times.  Honestly as someone who bikes nearly everyday this seems high, but I haven’t counted.

Is it worth cutting out two lanes on Figueroa for 25 bikers?  This is something that needs to be discussed for sure.

Let me end by saying I bike all over the damn place, maybe I was even counted.  I’m a hipster, I’m pro bike.  I don’t care what the survey says Richard Dawson, with losing two lanes Figueroa is going to be a traffic nightmare come rush hour.   As biker and college student ROH commented,

I do believe that we must fight for the greater good of our community and not the selective few.

Amen sister or brother!  We are a community, yes gentrification is happening but let’s not push out our neighbors or piss them off by not allowing them to voice their concerns.   Let’s look at all options on the table before spending money where it may need not be spent.  Let’s work together to make our ‘hood live up to that whole hottest neighborhood of 2013 business!

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About Highland Park Gringo

I'm a Gringo, a hipster, a bon vivant, strolling the streets of Highland Park. Bring me your vinyl, your hoodies, your cheap wine and let's have a ball.
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2 Responses to Figueroa Bike Lanes, Is a Compromise Possible?

  1. Marino says:

    Marmion Way north of Ave 50 is not wide enough for a bike lane unless street parking is eliminated. Also adding a bike lane and slowing down Figueroa is for the greater benefit of all the community. It turns it from a freeway alternative #2 to a local destination. What we are trying to do is bring diversity of jobs, entertainment and housing in Highland Park so you don’t even have to leave to get whatever you need. That translates to less car trips so it makes it easier for those of us who need to drive too.

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