The West Hollywood City Council unanimously approved plans for adding landscaping and improving lighting along La Brea Avenue at its Monday night meeting. However, those plans do not include adding bike lanes on the busy thoroughfare, a concern expressed by members of the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition.
Using a grant from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the city plans to add trees, medians with drought-resistant plantings and blue street lights to the five blocks of La Brea within the city limits (from Fountain Avenue to Romaine Avenue). This “streetscaping” would match the landscaping and lighting along Santa Monica Boulevard.
While the current redesign plans do not include bike lanes, they are supposed to accommodate their construction in the future. For now, the council members are waiting to make sure Los Angeles installs the bike lanes it has planned for its portion of La Brea, which bookends WeHo’s section of the street to the north and south.
WeHo bike advocates insist the city should match that plan and that it’d be unsafe to do anything else.
Matt Baume of the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition said La Brea is “too fast and too scary” for bicycle riders.
“The number of cyclists who can reach their destination on La Brea right now is effectively zero,” said Baume. “I ride on the sidewalk when I’m on La Brea. I don’t want to, but the street is just too terrifying.”
“Our life depends on someone seeing us,” said bicyclist Karen O’Keefe.
Councilmember John Duran, who took up biking two years ago when he started training for the annual AIDS LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, said he understands how dangerous riding on busy streets can be. However, adding bike lanes to the few blocks of La Brea within the West Hollywood city limits would be pointless unless the city of Los Angeles also includes them on the rest of La Brea, he said.
“Our efforts on La Brea need to be about getting Los Angeles to join us (in having bike lanes),” said Councilmember Abbe Land. Councilmember John Heilman said he is convinced bike lanes will be in La Brea’s future at some point.
In hindsight, Mayor Jeffrey Prang said the city should have looked at adding its own funds with the MTA grant so that bike lanes could be included.
Councilmember John D’Amico asked city staff to create signs telling pedestrians and bikers alike that it’s OK for bicycles to be on the sidewalk along La Brea and other busy streets that don’t have bike lanes.
After the meeting Baume said he understood that bike lanes were out of the scope of the project, but hopes the council will add them soon.
“I’m glad the project was approved so it can benefit pedestrians as soon as possible,” Baume told WEHOville. “And I’m glad that every single member of city council made statements in support of safer streets and better bike access.”
Below, see a video from Baume showing a cyclist’s point of view on WeHo roads with and without bike lanes.