The Los Angeles City Planning Commission voted to keep a Westwood Boulevard bike lane in the Mobility Plan 2035 at a public hearing Feb. 11.
At the meeting, the city’s planning department advised the commission against changing plans for the bicycle network because officials determined Westwood Boulevard is an important north-south corridor for cyclists.
The hearing addressed amendments to the plan, including one that would remove the proposed bike lane on Westwood Boulevard. LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz, who represents Westwood and surrounding neighborhoods, submitted the amendment in August, after some residents said they were concerned the plan would worsen congestion and delay emergency vehicles.
City Planning Associate My La said at the public hearing it would be premature to alter the planned network because it can be changed during the implementation process over the next 20 years, during which the city will consult community members.
“Taking Westwood (Boulevard) off the bicycle enhanced network will not stop the large number of bicyclists using these streets,” La said. “It will, however, continue to leave people who bike at risk of collision with no future plan to solve it.”
During the meeting’s public comment session, some Westwood residents and UCLA community members expressed opposition against the bike lane, while others said they supported it.
The Westwood residents who opposed the lane said they were not against bike lanes, but said they think Westwood Boulevard is too dangerous for one because too many cars and buses use the street daily. They added they thought the street was not wide enough to accommodate the lane without removing a vehicle lane, which could worsen traffic.
Other residents and UCLA community members said they supported the planned bike lane because they think the street is wide enough, and the proposed bike lane would improve safety and promote cycling.
In an environmental impact report released February 2015, the city concluded a bike lane on Westwood Boulevard would affect air quality and emergency response times, but the benefits outweighed the drawbacks.
Nurit Katz, UCLA’s chief sustainability officer, said at the meeting UCLA officials would like the city to conduct an engineering study of Westwood Boulevard. The university would support the bike lane if a study found it could exist without removing a travel lane, she added.
At the meeting, Koretz said he would prefer city planners study Gayley Avenue and residential streets, and propose bike lanes on an alternate route.
“We should encourage people to take a safer, less bus-trafficked route,” he said at the meeting.
He added the city developed the transportation policy for Westwood Boulevard without consulting him or the community.
Over the past three years, Koretz and his staffers have sent emails to constituents that made him appear amenable to a bike lane on Westwood Boulevard, with more time and research. However, Koretz has delayed engineering studies on the street and publicly stated unyielding opposition to the lane.
The LA City Council will discuss and vote on amendments to the plan by the end of the year.
Compiled by Catherine Liberty Feliciano, Bruin senior staff.