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WWNC, NWWNC disagree about implementation of bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard

A fake bicycle lane was painted on Westwood Boulevard in May 2018. Calls for a bike lane on the street were renewed in December when the North Westwood Neighborhood Council voted to support a bicycle lane to complement a Los Angeles Metro subway line extension set to be completed by 2026. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Jackson Combe

Jan. 8, 2020 12:46 a.m.

Westwood’s two rivaling neighborhood councils are at an impasse over whether or not bike lanes should be implemented on Westwood Boulevard.

The North Westwood Neighborhood Council unanimously requested bike lanes be implemented on Westwood Boulevard and Gayley Avenue as part of the Los Angeles Metro’s First/Last Mile plan during the council’s December meeting. Metro’s plan aims to facilitate travel to and from the Metro stations such as the Purple Line’s new station which will be at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Westwood Boulevard, estimated to be completed in 2026.

The council additionally resolved to support the implementation of bicycle lanes running from the UCLA campus to the NWWNC’s southern boundary at Ohio Avenue as quickly as possible.

The Westwood Neighborhood Council, which represents areas south of and surrounding Westwood Village, responded to this resolution at its own meeting Dec. 11 by reiterating its long-held stance that until the effects of the Purple Line are better understood, Westwood Boulevard is ill-suited for bike lanes.

The NWWNC formed following a vote to subdivide Westwood and the jurisdiction of the WWNC in May 2018 because of a sentiment among some stakeholders that the WWNC had failed to address the concerns of business owners and UCLA students. The NWWNC now represents an area including UCLA’s campus, Westwood Village and the site of the future Metro station.

The NWWNC’s pro-bicycle lane resolution noted the potential bike lanes would fall outside the boundaries of the WWNC’s responsibility.

“The NWWNC is uniquely responsible for protecting the safety and welfare of the stakeholders of the UCLA, Westwood Village, and Persian Square communities which would benefit from safe bike lanes,” the resolution states.

Michael Skiles, president of the NWWNC, expressed frustration at the WWNC’s stance because he feels they are overextending influence beyond their boundaries.

“They have this mindset essentially denying that the subdivision ever happened,” Skiles said.

The WWNC’s motion in response to the proposed bike lanes stipulated that any proposal must be preceded by an analysis of roadway and traffic capacities.

“We don’t oppose bike lanes in any way, we just want them to be safe,” said WWNC President Lisa Chapman.

Chapman added that the abnormally high volume of bus and pedestrian traffic on Westwood Boulevard was a critical factor in the WWNC’s decision.

But Skiles said he thinks the WWNC is disingenuous in its stipulations.

“I think (the WWNC is) fundamentally misguided given that their response has been to prevent the safety studies that are meant to determine whether the bike lane is safe and feasible,” Skiles said.

Juan Matute, deputy director of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, raised the possibility of a third option that could create a bus-only lane.

“There is a very wide curb lane on Westwood Boulevard,” Matute said. “I actually think this is a good candidate for a bus-only lane on Westwood Boulevard. There is very heavy bus traffic, but it’s possible that bikes and buses could share that No. 2 lane.”

Matute said bus-only lanes in Downtown Los Angeles, called tactical transit lanes, succeeded in easing congestion and preventing cars from infringing on bus-only zones. This outcome could be a possible solution for the high-traffic area north of Wilshire Boulevard, he added.

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Jackson Combe
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