Sunday, January 19

Editorial: Westwood bike lanes would create path to more affordable, cleaner transportation



This post was updated Jan. 13 at 3:10 p.m.

Bicycle lanes in Westwood have hit a roadblock – and feuding neighborhood councils are partially to blame.

The Westwood Neighborhood Council opposed the North Westwood Neighborhood Council’s request to implement bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard and Gayley Avenue, despite the roads falling under the NWWNC’s jurisdiction instead of its own.

The proposal was shot down in early December, when the WWNC cited safety concerns and the Metro’s upcoming Purple Line station in Westwood. They insisted on a traffic analysis to determine feasibility despite Westwood residents showing interest in the project for years.

But plans for a safety study have yet to materialize.

Rather than conduct the research, the WWNC has decided to reject bike lines wholesale. But if the council is intent on its unpopular stance, it must at least produce evidence for its argument. Bike lanes would promote affordable and sustainable commuter practices, give students more avenues to explore local businesses and help keep e-scooters in their place.

Not only is the WWNC rejecting bikes – they seem to be rejecting the science.

A 2019 study from the University of Colorado Denver found that biking infrastructure is associated with lower fatality rates in cities with frequent cyclists. And with piles of motorized scooters populating the sidewalks of Westwood, bikers wouldn’t be the only ones to benefit from clearer streams of traffic.

Los Angeles has one of the highest populations of electric scooters and bikes in the country, and pedestrian safety has been a constant debate since their rise. But Westwood is falling behind the times, with those in charge arguing against an infrastructure upgrade that benefits cyclists and drivers alike everywhere else in the world.

The WWNC’s current proposal will only serve to deter cyclists from a cleaner, healthier and cheaper alternative to cars.

It’s safe to say the creation of cycling lanes would encourage bike usage, which would decrease the dependence on other modes of transportation – fewer cars means less carbon dioxide emission into an already polluted atmosphere.

And beyond the environmental impact lies accessibility for UCLA’s commuter students.

Bikes are far more affordable for Bruins than automobiles. With a large population of college students known for using ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber to go short distances, adding another option for quick travel could also cut down on expenses for many – especially those who already can’t afford to live in the increasingly pricey Village.

A safety study can’t hurt, but the WWNC should take initiative and ask the city to complete it. Instead, the council prefers to hinder the NWWNC from making changes it deems best for the region it represents.

Even in the unlikely event that a study proved bike lanes were unsafe, they remain relatively safer than a collection of roads shared between cars and riders. The NWWNC is backed by science as well as its residents – including one who went as far as to paint their own bike lanes on the street – and the WWNC is unjustified in hanging onto a thinly veiled argument.

The WWNC seems intent on waiting for safety analyses, which they decline to conduct.

So in the meantime, bike lanes might be nothing more than some spray paint in the hands of frustrated residents.

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  • Lisa Chapman

    Please don’t write these articles until you have real facts. The WWNC has ALWAYS supported bike lanes, and LONG before the NWWNC was even in existence! We just don’t approve of them on Westwood Blvd. We have always advocated having them on Gayley Ave., just one block over. There they are safer, not only for bicyclists, butr also for vehicles and pedestrians. There are 940 bus trips down WW blvd in a day, more than any other stretch of roadway in Los Angeles, these buses sometimes take more than one lane. Research such as this has already been done. Go and sit at the intersection of WW and LeConte one day, and observe the traffic patterns. I think you’ll come away from that with a different perspective. But you won’t, because you will continue to bash our council, tell outright lies, and respond with substandard journalism because you haven’t done your own research on this topic. This is becoming a joke, DB, becuase you aren’t even reading your own articles on this subject.

    • Alex

      Why not have the city study it again then? How are you qualified to determine no bike lane should exist on Westwood?

      The entire neighborhood council system is a complete joke.

      • Lisa Chapman

        They can study it all they want, but it should be done according to the standards of what the purple line would have to do to mitigate traffic, such as all the no turn signals, etc.from Wilshire. To study it without that would be ridiculous, and would just give false information. We have never blocked any study, but all studies should encompass what happens when the subway is built and functional, not what WW Blvd is now. Your last line? Silly, inflammatory, and simply your opinion. The point is that the Daily Bruin doesn’t even read their own material on this subject, as was done with this editorial. They must stop printing false information. Period.

    • Matt

      Westwood Boulevard between Wilshire and UCLA is generally 80′ wide. There are existing bike lanes on Westwood south of Wilshire, from Wellworth, south to Santa Monica. A class III bike route continues further south to the Expo line and adjacent Class IV bike path. There are also bike lanes on Westwood north of Le Conte towards UCLA campus. Why not connect this less than half mile gap?

      Bike lanes on Gayley? Sure, why not? College campuses should have a complete network of bike lanes to facilitate students traveling outside of automobiles. However, Gayley doesn’t make sense as the primary street to have bike lanes. It is narrower than Westwood, at 70′ and down to 50′ in some stretches, with the same number of vehicle lanes as Westwood.

      Students and community members deserve to ride around Westwood safely. There is space to develop safe bike infrastructure here. Stop fighting it, Westwood Neighborhood Council!

      • Lisa Chapman

        We are not fighting bike lanes, please read, and not just talk. There are turn lanes involved on Wilshire and Westwood, And WW Blvd is MUCH busier than Gayley, and 940 bus trips each day on WW. No street in LA can boast that. We want bike lane streets to be safe for ALL…bikers, cars, and pedestrians. Not to mention all the scooters and escooters.

        • Matt

          My request was to stop fighting bike lanes on Westwood Blvd. I did read your message.

          Yes, there are engineering and policy challenges to building bike lanes on Westwood Blvd. But we’ve got a campus full of brilliant students that are moving into the workforce where they are developing successful projects all around the world. I would be happy to point you to dozens of former UCLA grads who would be happy to put their minds toward this project (myself included).

          • Lisa Chapman

            Matt,

            Happy for all the brilliant students at UCLA to work on this project. Over the past 10 years, none of these groups have in any meaningful way. We are not stopping them. We are just stakeholders in Westwood and the Village as well. They would need to include in their project all the metro plans, the turn signals which would have to be removed from Wilshire, all the current bus trips down this stretch of road (940 trips daily) and the current ridership of car trips daily, which is over 34K, and the amount of space in lanes that buses who are waiting for other buses take up in stalled traffic conditions. I would applaud any real analysis of all of this while also taking into consideration the pedestrian traffic, scooter traffic, and pedestrian crosswalk across Westwood Blvd. Now, this will have to include not removing existing parking on WW Blvd, as there is not enough parking in Westwood as it is now. Then they should also study gayley, and Tiverton as possible direct routes as well. Have at it! We will look forward to the detailed study and report.

          • Matt

            I appreciate your concerns. Any project that improves any non-auto mode (walking, biking, scootering, taking the bus) will usually decrease the convenience of driving to some degree. Fortunately the Purple Line and Sepulveda Pass Line will make accessing UCLA significantly easier for those who currently drive. I don’t appreciate your unreasonable demand that zero parking be removed. Every project is a give and take. There is currently zero bicycle infrastructure on this stretch of Westwood and there is ample parking. Yes, some stakeholders prefer to leave in its current state, the result of a century of increased auto use in Los Angeles. Many others wish that the City will let the street evolve, both accommodating and encourage alternative modes of transportation.

          • Lisa Chapman

            Matt,

            Unfortunately parking is extremely valuable to Westwood, as the free lot on Broxton is near capacity. one of the reasons parking is so important to Westwood is that the medical buildings are also at capacity, and people come from all over to park on the Village streets , especially as UCLA charges for handicapped parking now at the medical garages. They can park for free at the meters, and do….go and see what it is like on any given day with handicapped placards in WW Village. so I think it will hurt businesses in the Village, which have already suffered so much. it is almost impossible to find parking in Westwood on the streets.

          • Matt

            Developers can build more off-street parking lots if they expect parking demand to continue to rise. More likely, more people will choose to use alternate modes that do not require a parking space. While at UCLA, I did a parking study and observed # of cars with HC placards over time on Broxton. The number is indeed high, and reform should be pushed through that require HC placards to pay for parking. Businesses in Westwood definitely appreciate safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure because walking and bicycling is how most UCLA students (largest population in Westwood) access those businesses. Businesses adjacent to a major university should not be suffering. Other reforms should be put in place to ensure business success in what could and should be a vibrant pedestrian focused neighborhood.

          • Lisa Chapman

            Matt,

            There is no off site parking that can be built, there is no land here anymore. The handicapped placard mis-use is being pushed through by several groups, it is a very long, and arduous project, however. The Village used to be a vibrant area, but we have not had the marketing, nor work by the BID to bring in new and student and neighbor-friendly places. There has to be a marketing plan, similar to what most malls and communities have, incl SM and Culver City. The high rent being charged by ultra rich landlords in Westwood don’t help either.

          • Rude Torpedo

            Lisa, although you are apparently incapable of citing any source supportive of your position against bike lanes on WW, not all of us are so flaccid. To wit, consider the following as a counterpoint to your argument for the “extremely valuable” parking on WW: The High Cost of Free Parking by distinguished UCLA professor Donald Shoup.

          • Lisa Chapman

            Actually RUDE, that is not what I said, I did say I was not going to re-visit every past aspect of this controversy, I simply asked you to do your own homework, which you seem incapable of doing, and instead want to complain and try to start fights anonymously on public sites. We are way past this point. Oh, I’ve read prof Shoup’s stuff. Um, and you said flaccid. Not the word I would have chosen, but go with what works.

          • Rude Torpedo

            Flaccid: lacking force or effectiveness. “Lisa’s flaccid arguments were proven up by her failure to explain her reasoning or cite any sources in support thereof.”

          • Lisa Chapman

            yes, I was going for the more medical term. And you still haven’t done your homework, so buckle down.

          • Matt

            I’m with you on the increase in rideshare use. Westwood Boulevard would benefit from a reallocation in curb space from storing cars to loading and unloading passengers.

            Westwood Boulevard bike lanes will create a smooth and safe ride for UCLA students from campus to the village. A few more connections to the west and east will create better connections for more Westwood residents to access the village by bicycle. No Westwood resident should feel forced to hop into a car for a mile commute to the village due to a lack of comfortable bicycle infrastructure.

    • Rude Torpedo

      “This is becoming a joke, DB, becuase you aren’t even reading your own articles on this subject.”

      What DB articles are you referring to here?

      • Lisa Chapman

        No. Please study up on this subject.

        • Rude Torpedo

          You’re taking a position that bike lanes are inappropriate. You cite frequency of bus trips and traffic patterns without providing any evidence or even explaining how these matters support your position. Then when asked to expound, you fail to do so, suggesting that others should “study up”. Your unsupported argument fails.

          • Lisa Chapman

            No, that is not our position. It is for the roadway on Westwood. We have always advocated for safe bike lines, we just don’t agree that should be WW Blvd. So obviously you have not studied this subject or what we have advocated for, or you wouldn’t be asking these questions. I am asking that you study up on this, because you are speaking in half truths. You obviously want to keep some argument going, and I am not interested in that.My LOL is to the DB editorial staff who does not even read their own articles on this subject.

          • Rude Torpedo

            Who is this “we” you keep referring to? Have you been authorized to speak on behalf of the WWNC? If not, perhaps you should be clear that the opinions expressed are your own.

            I am trying to understand the issue. You have taken a position but failed to explain the rationale behind that position. If you won’t take responsibility to support your position with anything more than conclusory statements and accusations of others’ ignorance, you’re not going to change many minds.

            You keep bashing the DB editorial staff, saying that they haven’t read their own articles on the subject; could you kindly direct the rest of us to the articles to which you’re referring so we can all “study up” as you suggest?

          • Lisa Chapman

            I am not going to give you a 10 year synopsis on the history of bike lanes and traffic in Westwood. You’ll have to do the catch up studying on your own. there is a lot of public documentation out there, so please take a look. And yes, the WWNC has taken this position officially, and that is who I am referring to. I didn’t cite anyone else’s ignorance except yours, because you are looking for a fight and hiding behind an anonymous name, I am not going to engage with you. Feel free to read the DB articles over the many years on this same subject, including one done 2 weeks ago.

  • Rude Torpedo

    Cars are a nuisance. Shut down WW to all vehicular traffic and make it a public park. Now wouldn’t that be lovely!