We asked all 12 City Council candidates the same question:
What are your thoughts on Fountain Ave. bike lanes? Do you support the removal of parking lanes to carve out bike lanes?
These are the unedited responses we received:
The proposed changes for Fountain Avenue come from years of study and listening to community calls for improvements. With the number of traffic collisions, injuries, property destructions, and deaths in this area, these upgrades are a high priority for public safety.
I am supportive of Option #1 which will widen sidewalks, add trees, and create a protective barrier between the bike lane and vehicular traffic. As someone who has dared to ride a bicycle along this stretch, I have felt like I am taking my own life into my hands and risking the safety of those in vehicles as well. This is untenable. Despite incredible year-round weather, LA is the “Worst Bike City in America”, with more cyclist deaths than any other city. We need to create space for everyone to move through our community safely and efficiently.
A survey found 1 in 4 Angelenos would quit their job because of the commute – a serious commitment to not suffering in traffic. We know hours spent in traffic take time from families and it’s often service workers unable to afford to live in the areas they work who suffer the most. First responder times are challenged by traffic congestion too. Mental and physical health are impacted by congested streets which influence air and noise pollution. Given demands on cities to meaningfully address climate change, our traffic crisis should be squarely in focus.
More than 50% of commuters travel 3 miles or less and even more travel around 5 miles. Of course, not all of these commuters would opt for a bicycle – but many would. Bike-commuting has more than doubled in the last two decades despite failures to build proper infrastructure and e-bikes outpaced the sale of electric cars with consumers opting for the more cost and energy-efficient option. CicLAvia has beckoned people from all walks into the streets to reclaim the freedom – and joy – of moving through the region any other way than in a vehicle. This movement must be supported.
Around the world, Cities are pushing advanced policies to transform the commuting experience and address climate change, including issuing grants for bicycles, creating safe storage facilities, and building hundreds of miles of protected bike lanes.
For the critical reasons of equity, mental/physical health, and safety, it’s time West Hollywood joins the ranks of world-class cities around the globe and paves the way forward with improvements to Fountain.
John Duran ignited the public debate of Fountain Ave. bike lanes in this extended opinion piece.
I live right off of Fountain, and I’ve spoken to my neighbors, and we absolutely cannot remove parking spots from Fountain Avenue. Parking is already so tough in our neighborhood, and removing those spots would only make it worse. I understand that we want to be a greener city. I want us to be more environmentally friendly as well. But there aren’t enough alternative transportation options available to justify removing parking spots in the city, especially on Fountain Avenue. Residents who work in offices that require them to dress up in work clothing don’t have the ability to take a bike to work, even if their office is nearby.
Additionally, Both the west and east ends of Fountain pose some significant challenges. On the west side, Fountain stops at La Cienega, and your choices are to either go up an incredibly steep hill, or down an incredibly steep hill. Not to mention that it is a very fast, busy intersection. The risk of vehicular/bicycle accidents will skyrocket, and a collision at that intersection on La Cienega could be deadly.
On the east side, once Fountain gets to La Brea, the street dramatically narrows, and is already only one lane of traffic in each direction. The ability to have a bicycle lane plus one lane of traffic each way would require removing all of the parking on both sides of the street. On top of that, it’s outside of the jurisdiction of West Hollywood, and we can’t install, or force the City of LA to continue the bike lanes.
I think if we are going to create more bike lanes for the city, we should consider looking at extending the bike lanes down Santa Monica Blvd. Currently, they run from Beverly Hills through West Hollywood until Flores St, by the Gelson’s. It’s much more practical to extend the already-existing bike lanes. It would allow for a much longer distance to travel by bicycle, and there’s a much higher likelihood that the path could continue to go even further east, beyond West Hollywood and into LA.
Fountain Avenue is a disaster and has been for a very long time. It’s nearly impossible to turn left without a light, the sidewalks are too narrow, and drivers are reckless. I don’t bike, but I’ve heard so many cyclists stress how unsafe they feel traveling down the road.
There is no question this road needs to be fixed. Additionally, improved pedestrian and cyclist access are essential to making West Hollywood a greener city. The challenge is that 64 percent of cars on Fountain (according to City data) are commuters passing through West Hollywood. If we reduce the number of lanes, these commuters will resort to driving down another West Hollywood street to get where they’re going. Moving traffic around does not reduce it – it simply creates more congestion elsewhere.
I am happy that the City has invited the community to be a part of the discussion and agree with the WEHOville commenters who have suggested we try temporary measures to evaluate the effects on traffic congestion. While I’m not convinced the proposed reconfigurations are the answer to our concerns, there are residents that support this idea, so let’s hear them out or keep innovating other ways to make Fountain safer and make WeHo greener.
Reserving one lane of Fountain in each direction for people on bicycles could serve the dual purpose of also reducing the current high traffic speeds along Fountain and making the street safer for the neighborhood. Fountain is a residential street, not a highway, but speeds through the area are often estimated to be as high as 60 miles per hour. My first home in West Hollywood was on Fountain by Ogden and I am very intimate with the situation on Fountain. The current layout encourages commuters from all over Los Angeles to abandon nearby Sunset and Santa Monica , and reroute through the Fountain neighborhood where they can increase their speed, resulting in more traffic accidents and threatening the safety of Fountain residents. Additional bike Infrastructure is badly needed and slower streets are safer streets.
I have serious concerns about the proposal. I live at the intersection of Fountain and La Cienega. Reducing parking on Fountain will be a significant challenge for residents on Fountain, some of whom do not have on-site parking. In addition, this proposal will likely lead to further traffic congestion at rush hour. During the evening rush hour, parking is not permitted on the south side of Fountain. This enables two lanes of traffic to head east bound. If that parking lane is replaced with a bike lane, it is difficult to see how east bound traffic will be able to move. While I support the creation of bike lanes, we should be looking at doing this on streets which will not create dangers for cyclists and which will not cause significant adverse impacts on residents.
While I’m very supportive of protected bikeways and exploring avenues to make traffic safer for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers – what matters is where we are going to put them.
Fountain Avenue is a major thoroughfare for drivers across the city carrying about 37,000 vehicles per day. Protected bike lanes would institute a road diet, shaving the number of lanes available for cars on the street. This proposal would not only lead to slower vehicular traffic on Fountain and more gridlock – but it would also divert traffic to our residential streets and make other already congested thoroughfares even worse.
Bike lanes would also eliminate crucial parking spaces for local residents in a high density area where parking is already difficult.
These are major issues that should continue to be discussed and examined before moving forward with this project.
While proponents of the Fountain Avenue project may have good intentions, the reality is that traffic and cars aren’t going anywhere yet and it’s premature and even unsafe to enact policies that pretend they don’t exist.
One of the main complaints about West Hollywood city government and the City Council is that they don’t do enough outreach to listen to residents and stakeholder input before implementing major decisions. Prior to any major undertaking, especially involving transportation, the City Council should highlight the need for real community input, neighborhood discussions, traffic studies and environmental impact reports.
The Council has made abrupt decisions in the past and enacted feel-good policies without absorbing or analyzing feedback from the community they are there to represent. We need leaders focused on solving problems, not creating more of them.
The Brown Act prevents West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister from commenting on matters currently before City Council outside of their official meetings.