OPINION | Culver City backtracked on bike lanes. WeHo should understand why.

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West Hollywood isn’t the only small city in L.A. County with ambitious goals for mobility and the environment to go full speed ahead with bike lanes.

In 2021, Culver City reduced a lane of vehicular traffic in each direction on the 1.3-mile stretches of Culver Boulevard and Washington Boulevard between Duquesne Avenue and La Cienega to create a lane for cyclists and scooters and a lane for emergency vehicles and buses.

The “MOVE Culver City” project was lauded as a “model for forward-thinking urban design” by the L.A. Times and celebrated by the cycling community.

But many residents and businesses weren’t prepared for the consequences.

The reduction in lanes caused crippling congestion. While the city’s metrics claimed the changes added only two minutes to the commute, drivers routinely reported much longer delays. Meanwhile, bus and bike ridership did not see the dramatic increase planners had promised. The design and maintenance of the infrastructure, including street markings and bollards, was also sorely lacking, according to residents.

Washed Off PaintA change.org petition that collected nearly 2,000 signatures reveals the sentiments behind the backlash:

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“I love the idea of bike lanes but MOVE was poorly planned and has made traffic much worse. The bus lanes are completely empty and the traffic lights are completely out of sync. Please remove the bus lanes.” — Louis Cioffi

“What a shocking set back for Culver City. The lack of foresight in removing a lane of traffic from an area that was already jam packed during the most critical hours of the day (hours where residents, families, parents, teachers and students move in the afternoons and evenings) is beyond astonishing.”  — Susan Antani

“After nearly a year of being in place, the lanes are tremendously under-utilized and the experiment has not substantively reduced traffic (it’s increased it), has not increased bike or similar usage or transit use. It’s also made it terribly difficult for elderly and disabled pickup, drop off and access. It’s time to make changes to this trial and bring back 2 traffic lanes in each direction. “— Kevin Lachoff

“I honestly don’t see how this lane is making it safer for bike riders, considering the only vehicles I see in the lane are not buses but rather frustrated drivers of cars speeding through the lanes in an attempt to avoid the gridlock.” — Anna Lane

Even some avid cyclists weren’t satisfied with the project.

“As much as everybody is for bike lanes and improved pedestrian infrastructure, this particular project was so poorly designed and implemented that it had to be changed,” Ali Lex, a cyclist and Culver City resident, told the Westside Current. “The negative impacts on residents and businesses have been really bad.”

Culver City’s decision to backtrack has only deepened the enmity between cyclists, drivers and the many special-interest groups with stakes in the fight.

If West Hollywood is to follow in Culver City’s footsteps, our city leaders must understand what went wrong there. Were outreach efforts insufficient? Were the effects on traffic evaluated realistically? Were potential pitfalls ignored by blind optimism?

Culver City has provided WeHo with a cautionary tale that City Hall should read and re-read before any excavators start their engines. Because “forward-thinking urban design” starts with not fucking up like the guy before you did.

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[…] of “If they build bike lanes, people will come and use them,” that’s clearly not what happened in Culver City and other […]

WeHo Proud
WeHo Proud
9 months ago

I am a long time West Hollywood resident, however my business takes me to various locations in the L.A. area. Many of my meetings with clients do take me right in to Culver City and sometimes through it. I have first hand experience with the nightmare I encounter every time I am forced to use Culver or Washington. Traffic does not move at times for about five minutes, a big addition to the one lane system is that the lights are timed very badly and are very close together. Last Thursday was a nightmare, there were several lights that cycled… Read more »

Joshua88
Joshua88
10 months ago

As of last year, population in CC was 39,000+.

Good article, Mr Garcia. Good reporting!!!

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
10 months ago

Ugh

Last edited 10 months ago by Jim Nasium
Hare Brained Concepts
Hare Brained Concepts
10 months ago

West Hollywood’s Planning Department continues to operate in their own echo chamber of magical hare brained concepts. Did they communicate with Culver City, do they communicate with Beverly Hills who has what appears to be somewhat of an intelligent approach on Roxbury published in the BH Courier yesterday? Perhaps the planners are highly paid to keep all sensible information beyond the borders of WeHo because they always know best. After all they are continually supported by our brilliantly knowledgable council members Erickson, Shyne and Byers who claim to be experts on all global events.

Stephanie Harker
Stephanie Harker
10 months ago

I will put money on the fact that if the planners are naive enough to go through with bike lanes on Fountain and/or Santa Monica that it won’t last a month with out a barrage of complaints from EVERYONE. IT WILL NOT WORK. But I am afraid they will spend a gazillion dollars to put them in and it will cost a half a gazillion to take them out. Can we spell “N-I-G-H-T-M-A-R-E”, boys and girls?

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
10 months ago

There is zero accountability for any elected public servant’s reckless spending of the taxpayer dime. They are like drunken sailors on shore leave. Separately, there is a complete utopian naivete in the thought that one can re-engineer a major metropolis like Los Angeles without regard for how it impacts the entire region. The already gridlocked streets will become even more of a nightmare. They need to pull their heads out of their entrails and come live in the real world.

Hare Brained Concepts
Hare Brained Concepts
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

It is likely impossible for these elected public servants to do so as they have been indoctrinated by and inducted into the political system to which they have promised fealty.

Stephanie Harker
Stephanie Harker
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Here’s another thing: The argument for bike lanes is to help reduce emissions from fossil fuel burning cars. But now that we will all be driving guilt-free EVs, what will be the reason to give up the convenience of one’s automobile?

Shelby Blecker
Shelby Blecker
10 months ago

Stephanie, we must also consider what fuels are used to create electricity. What rare earth metals are dug up to create batteries and what’s the life span of an electric battery. Also, has anyone heard that NYCFD wants to have electric bikes banned due to their inherent fire risk? We have gone down a rabbit whole and our younger and more gullible neighbors are eating up this crap sandwich while also trying to force feed this to the rest of us who sit idly by with anxiety. Isn’t it time to call out who is doing this to us and… Read more »

Mike
Mike
10 months ago

Hi Stephanie. I’ve appreciated your thoughtful comments at historic preservation meetings in the past. Let me take a stab at answering your question. There are a few reasons, starting with the fact that EVs still cause pollution and environmental degradation. This usually includes the electricity they run on, most of which still comes from fossil fuels. But even if we make it to 100% renewables, rubber tires will still release tiny particulates that get into our local air and water – even more than exhaust – and EVs are actually worse in this respect because they’re heavier and cause more… Read more »

Hare Brained Concepts
Hare Brained Concepts
10 months ago

The very words and concepts of “foresight” and “anticipation” simply do not appear in the WeHo Word Salad vocabulary.

Hmmmm.
Hmmmm.
10 months ago

One of the chief proponents of the West Hollywood enhanced bike lanes program is also a director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project. Wonder how she might fit into this ill fated project.

Michael G Labarbera
Michael G Labarbera
10 months ago

Our city council will undoubtedly ignore the warning of the Culver City debacle and push through their vanity projects. They seem determined to only benefit the few rather than the many.

Manny
Manny
10 months ago

I’ve been in that area often. The re-configured streets were a multi-color confusing and dangerous environment for pedestrians, cars and every other “mobility” concoction you can think of. It was also a huge eyesore in an area that performed well before this hare-brain idea was implemented and adored by the LA Times. (NOTE: If the LA Times likes something, it’s usually a bad idea) To add insult, possibly only 12 bicycles and scooters a day were attracted to these entangled rigmarole of street lanes. Have lunch at any Culver Blvd restaurant for an hour and you’d still see pedestrians dodging… Read more »

john
john
10 months ago
Reply to  Manny

LA times pushed for Gascon…that says how far left they are.

Joshua88
Joshua88
10 months ago
Reply to  john

Gascón? Here? Gascón?

Last edited 10 months ago by Joshua88
Uron
Uron
10 months ago

In a major city like LA, anything built for a few instead of the majority will fail.

Stephanie Harker
Stephanie Harker
10 months ago
Reply to  Uron

Agreed.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
10 months ago
Reply to  Uron

Some on our city council fail to see a bigger picture beyond their naive utopian follies and personal political agenda. Such myopia manifests through selfish debacles that cost us all dearly.

Josh Kurpies
Josh Kurpies
10 months ago
Reply to  Uron

Bike lanes and sidewalks are built for everyone and all benefit. Everyone should have the option (preferably multiple) to move from point A to point B safely. Every person that opts to convert from personal car to bike, personal car to walking, personal car to bus, or personal car to scooter, is removing a car from the roadways for that trip, reducing traffic and in a small way improving the experience of the others who must or choose to drive. I hold the City responsible for giving me and my neighbors safe mobility options and applaud those who are finally… Read more »

Larry Block
Admin
10 months ago
Reply to  Josh Kurpies

doomsday is all the tenants who cannot park anymore, landlords selling their buildings and more displacement. there are plenty of bikers but plenty more car owners being encouraged to go green to electric vehicles, perhaps you might consider biking on a side street. i travel down san vicente everyday to pico and the bike lanes there are never used..

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
10 months ago
Reply to  Larry Block

I use San Vicente to commute to my office and I, too, note that those bike lanes are rarely used, except when I ride my bike to work. Build it and they will come? When?

JayTWest
JayTWest
10 months ago
Reply to  Larry Block

The bike lanes anywhere are never used. I travel from We Ho to Santa Monica every a.m. & very rarely (if ever) see a single bike all the way down & back. The Fountain Ave bike lane proposal is strictly Sepi Shyne’s baby. I hope & pray no one gets hurt or has their life & property ruined -or even killed- on this narrow, heavily traveled street of irrational drivers. But as for Sepi – well, she’s real exited about it. She can’t wait!

Astonishing!
Astonishing!
10 months ago
Reply to  Josh Kurpies

Spoken like a career bureaucrat accustomed to spending the public’s money with zero accountability. The cavalier comment that it can all be ripped out if it fails miserably is a symptom of the disease that is public sector arrogance.

JayTWest
JayTWest
10 months ago
Reply to  Astonishing!

Ditto.

WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
10 months ago

Not everyone in Culver City wants the bike lanes and bus lanes to go away. This guy, https://twitter.com/bubbathefish has tried to shame the City into keeping them, not realizing the impact these lanes have on middle and low income folks. Folks who commute to and through Culver City from underprivileged communities, which are many miles away. Not only that, he has hijacked Culver City Pride, adding the slogan “ban cars” to the event.

voter
voter
10 months ago

Thanks for the thoughtful points.

The West Hollywood City Council has the maturity level of a tadpole, so it’s unlikely they’ll get anything right.

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