Whenever someone proposes adding bicycle lanes to a busy Los Angeles street, controversy is likely to follow. That is the case in Westwood, where the city councilman is among those fighting to stop the addition of bike lanes one of the neighborhood’s main roads. Interestingly, both sides believe their position is safer for bicyclists.
Part of L.A.’s proposed Mobility Plan 2035 is to add bicycle lanes to Westwood Boulevard, a road that runs south from the campus of UCLA and is used by an estimated 800 students every day to commute to class by bike. The proposed lanes are supported by many students, environmentalists, public health professionals, and the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Having bikes riding so close to vehicles has led to numerous accidents. The California Highway Patrol has records of 52 bicycle accidents on one portion of Westwood Boulevard alone from 2002 to 2013, with at least 35 of them caused by motorists.
However, City Councilman Paul Koretz opposes adding bike lanes to Westwood Boulevard. He believes it would be bad for business, and claims that cyclists will actually be put in more danger due to congestion. A traffic consultant hired by the bicycle coalition said that it is possible to add bike lanes without eliminating traffic lanes or parking spaces.
At a planning commission meeting in May, Koretz tried to get the proposed lanes removed from Mobility Plan 2035. However, he is expected to renew his effort in September, when the plan is expected to go before the city council’s transportation and planning committees.
Bike lanes are commonly thought to reduce accidents, sometimes by as much as 50 percent.