Friday, February 28

LA councilman calls for removing planned Westwood Boulevard bike lane

The Los Angeles councilman representing Westwood and surrounding neighborhoods suggested the removal of a planned protected bike lane on Westwood Boulevard between Le Conte and Wellworth avenues.

L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz said he wants to remove the lane from the Mobility Plan 2035 because of safety and traffic concerns. The Los Angeles City Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan May 28.

The mobility plan is intended to be a citywide transportation guide, but the city’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, Transportation Committee and the L.A. City Council must approve it before commuters can expect to see changes.

In an email statement, Koretz said he thinks bike lanes along this section of Westwood Boulevard could compromise traffic safety by eliminating turn lanes and parking spots, which could create delays in emergency vehicle response times.

“For the sake of the quality of life of that part of Westwood Village, and the safety of those who travel to and through it, that section should be removed from the plan,” Koretz said in the statement.

David Karwaski, a senior associate director for UCLA Transportation, said UCLA officials want the city to conduct an engineering study of bike lanes’ viability in Westwood before determining whether Westwood Boulevard is too dangerous for bike lanes.

When Karl Spires bikes down Westwood Boulevard, he said he is either forced to integrate into regular traffic or navigate through the narrow space in existing unprotected bike lanes.

Spires, a first-year neuroscience student, added he thinks protected bike lanes would make streets safer and more accommodating for bicyclists.

Los Angeles streets average 1.2 collisions involving a biker or pedestrian per mile annually, Karwaski said. The section of Westwood Boulevard in question averages 10 collisions per mile annually in comparison, he added.

Karwaski said he thinks adding bike lanes would lead to a decrease in traffic over time as biking becomes a more viable option.

Koretz said he is working to establishing safer and less disruptive bike routes for the 3,100 bicyclists who commute to UCLA every day.

The Planning and Land Use Management Committee and Transportation Committee will meet to vote on the mobility plan later this month.

Catherine Liberty Feliciano was a news reporter and a staff representative on the Daily Bruin Editorial Board. She wrote stories about Westwood, research and student life. She dabbled in video journalism and frequently wrote #ThrowbackThursday blogs. Feliciano was an assistant Opinion editor in the 2015-2016 school year.

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  • Just Jerstin

    It seems Councilman Paul Koretz has never biked on Westwood blvd., otherwise he would understand that everyday thousands of cyclist put themselves at risk by squeezing through traffic and dodging parked cars with open doors. Every time I take that route, I cross my fingers and hope that today is not the day that a car door slams open in front of me or a car/bus hits me. How would a protected bike lane negatively impact the safety of anyone?

    The street parking on Westwood blvd. should be removed to make the roads safer for all commuters. We have plenty of vertical space in Westwood, why not focus on developing multilevel affordable parking structures? This worked well for Santa Monica in the 3rd Street Promenade area.

    BTW Councilman Koretz is on Twitter at @PaulKoretzCD5

  • Guest of a Guest

    Councilman Koretz’s website touts him as having a “national reputation as an environmental leader,” yet his changing stance on the bike lane issue for Westwood is only ensuring a legacy of cars as the dominant mode of transportation. He seems to bow and bend when the businesses and homeowners cry about the issue. First they site parking as the issue and now they’re using the guise of “safety” as if they really are doing you a favor. I have yet to hear of any compromise or alternative like adding parking garages or him just stepping up and being an environmental leader by telling everyone to suck it up and getting the protected lanes- if they really care about safety- on the roads. Bike lanes must not look that great of an opportunity for his website, press releases, or photo ops.

  • MIsterbee6

    Koretz must really hate cyclists. He has resorted to simply lying in order to remove bike lanes.. The current plans would not remove any lanes of traffic or parking spaces. How long are we going to let him get away with lying to us?

  • Will Wright

    Councilmember Paul Koretz – we encourage you to support the protected bike lane along Westwood Boulevard and to respect the expertise of the Department of City Planning and LADOT professionals that have developed the recommendation in the Mobility Plan 2035. As you surely realize, expanding mobility options throughout the LA region with a safe, connected system of modality options is beyond a political process. It’s a scientific and community-building process. As taxpayers we invest in the professional expertise of DCP and LADOT personnel – to undermine their recommendations is to undermine that tax-payer investment and places an unfair and operationally unsustainable burden on city services.