Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Westwood Boulevard: UCLA claims its Great Street

Main Street UCLA: A Timeline

May 2008 In his inauguration speech UCLA Chancellor Gene Block outlines a plan to "transform the life of our campus" by building staff and faculty housing on and near the campus to "reduce traffic, cut commuting costs and bring a new vitality to Westwood."

June 2010 First elections held for the Westwood Neighborhood Council. A group called Westwoodbruins (Brozen, Freedman, Matute) does not receive enough votes. Since then the elected NC has aligned itself very closely with homeowner groups in the neighborhood and has repeatedly voted against any bicycle infrastructure on Westwood Boulevard. They say: "We support bicycles, but it is just not safe on Westwood Blvd."

March 2011 The 2010 Los Angels Bike Plan, adopted unanimously by all members of the LA City Council (including Koretz). The plan includes a backbone bike network along major arterial roads. The entire length of Westwood Blvd is designated as a Backbone Route and marked for priority implementation.

Feb 2013 Ryan Snyder of Ryan Snyder Associates prepares a number of road design options for the LACBC, including one which involves a flexible use of road-space (floating bike lanes) in some areas.

LADOT public hearing about planned bicycle infrastructure. It has been called "the single most unpleasant bike meeting". The convenience of drivers and the safety of cyclists collide head-on. Since then, the tone and level of understanding at such meetings has much improved.

May 2013 Calla Wiemer puts out the first of her studies on Bicycle Endangerment on Westwood Blvd. She also conducts an analysis of parking on Westwood Blvd which shows that on-street parking constitutes only a small percentage of overall parking supply on this street.

Nov 2013 After much agitation by homeowner groups, Koretz "kills" the study necessary to install bike facilities. Such direct intervention by a City Councilman with LADOT has been traditionally tolerated by the city council. Some familiar with administrative policies call this an undemocratic and ineffective procedure. Because strategic transportation decisions require a much wider vision than the limited scope characteristic of localized homeowner groups.

Autumn 2013 LACBC starts the Ride Westwood Campaign and organizes a series of meetings of the Bicycle Ambassador Program

Nov 2013 Connecting UCLA, a web-site produced by Mark Vanwenendal, highlights the barriers faced by cyclists trying to reach UCLA

Bicycle supporters speak at LA City Hall against Koretz's decision and demand a fair and honest study about implementing bicycle infrastructure on Westwood Blvd.

UCLA Bicycle Academy and Bicycle Coalition at UCLA meet Keith Watson, the Vice-Chancellor for Government and Community Relations, discussing the need for bike lanes for UCLA commuters.

Jan 2014 UCLA Bicycle Academy and Bicycle Coalition at UCLA meet with Jay Greenstein, Transportation Deputy for Koretz, at the office of the Chancellor for Government and Community Relations, again discussing the need for bike lanes for UCLA commuters.

Bicycle Coalition at UCLA conducts Bike Counts

Jan 2014 Letter by Prof David Eisenberg addressed to Chancellor Gene Block requests the establishment of a Healthy Campus Access Committee. The letter has been signed by two UCLA Nobel Prize winning scientists and about 100 additional faculty, staff and students.

Jan 2014 A Public Records request yields documents from Koretz office which throw some light on how the homeowner groups pressured the elected politician. The opposition is led by the leadership of the Westwood South of Santa Monica HOA, Comstock Hills HOA, Holmby Westwood Property Owners Association, the person elected to the UCLA Faculty / Staff seat on the Westwood NC, etc. Some notes on how the bike lane was killed have been presented here.

March 2014 Offer Grembek et al publish Safetrec Berkeley report A Comparative Analysis of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Around University Campuses. It includes data for Westwood collisions involving people on bikes for which no police reports were generated.

June 2014 Mayor Garcetti includes Westwood Blvd (between Wilshire and Le Conte) in his Great Streets Initiative, which represents a broader agenda to activate public spaces, provide economic revitalization, increase public safety, enhance local culture, and support great neighborhoods. Additional funding for Great Streets is made available.

Nov 2014 In response to Koretz' intervention against bike lanes, Ryan Snyder of Ryan Snyder Associates develops the "Remove Nothing Plan." This plan was not commissioned by a local agency. It was "donated" to the Westwood community and has since helped to overcome the absence of an official planning process, since Koretz stopped LADOT from proceeding.

Nov 2014 Deans of the UCLA medical school (Prof Eugene Washington, Prof Linda Sarna) co-publish letter in Huffington Post arguing in support healthy and sustainable modes in the vicinity of UCLA, especially on Westwood Blvd

Dec 2014 UCLA Bicycle Academy requests that the statement by the deans of the Medical School be discussed at a meeting of the Westwood Neighborhood Council. Report here.

Prof Linda Sarna, Dean of the School of Nursing, addressing Westwood NC 

Jan 2015 Westwood Community Council hosts a well organized meeting around Ryan Snyders proposal ("Remove Nothing Plan"). The meeting remains respectful and collaborative. Objections become more technical, focus on difficulty on how to mix bikes with buses, right turn movements etc

Feb 2015 Westwood BID holds two public meetings to hear from the community in the village. In each case, Ryan Snyder outlines the proposal, followed by questions and expressions of support. Jay Greenstein, transportation deputy for Councilmember Koretz, is present and expresses Koretz's interest in a equitable solution.

March 2015 UCLA Graduate Student Association and Undergraduate Students Association adopt unanimously a resolution calling for bike safe Westwood Blvd. The Sierra Club, West Los Angeles Group, adopts a resolution calling for a Bike Safe Westwood Boulevard 

Local Business which support bike lanes in Westwood:

(as of 5 March 2015)

"Bike lanes are very beneficial. It is less pollution than driving and bike lanes make it safer for our employees and for our customers. It is easier to park a bicycle. Also, five or six of our employees commute by bike - and they are always on time."
Michael Long, Manager, 800 Degrees Pizza, 10889 Lindbrook Dr 

"I think it would be a good thing because a lot of students ride their bikes and it would insure their safety going through traffic."
Arron James, Manager, Nekter Juice Bar, 10912 Lindbrook Dr

"I don't like to see Westwood Blvd narrowed, but I do like the idea of bike lanes."
Michael Newman, Dixon, Howell, Westmoreland & Newman, 924 Westwood Blvd

"It would be nice if we had bike lanes."
Jay, Chilly Ribbons, 1135 Westwood Blvd

"It would be much safer if there was a bike lane"
Rick Hartman, Owner, Westwood Sporting Goods, 1065 Gayley Ave

"Of course, we need more bike lanes, especially on the major boulevards, so people don't have to ride on the sidewalk. They also need to return all these bike-racks. All the trees and parking meters have bikes."
Paysa Fong, Designer, Gene Fong Associates, 1130 Westwood Blvd

Ferri Fathi, Executive Director of 
"I, personally, and Vintage Westwood and its parent company, Vintage Senior Living strongly believe in healthy and safe living alternatives.  Adding bike lanes on Westwood Blvd. would give everyone a safe alternative to driving a car and makes the side walks safer for pedestrians. Many of the seniors living at Vintage Westwood enjoy having the freedom to walk around the village and be able to run errands, go to doctors’ appointments, restaurants, and theaters and museums without having to depend on someone to drive them.  Safe side walks on Westwood Blvd. will make their walks around the village much safer and stress free." 
Vintage Westwood Retirement Community,  947 Tiverton Ave

Prof David Heber, Director, Nutritional Medicine and Obesity, founding director Risk Factor Obesity Weight-Loss Program, Weyburn Place
"I am very supportive of bike lanes. They are a proven health benefit. Physical activity on a daily basis is very important to stay healthy and avoid metabolic disease like diabetes."

Gizelle Strohkendl, Muriel Chastanet Jewelers, 1111 Glendon Ave "would like to endorse the marking and creating of bicycle lanes to and from this university town to help alleviate traffic and parking and to make our roads safer for all."

Matt Canale, Manager of Helen's Cycles Westwood, writes:

1. We deal with multiple car-bike related accidents every week.
2. Sales and repairs at our store are up significantly over the past two years. 
3. We work with Whole Foods employees and help them purchase and maintain their bikes. We also work with California Pizza Kitchen, the Sushi place at Gayley and Le Conte, Hotel Palomar to name a few. 
4. Helen's Cycles Westwood supports bike lanes on both Westwood and Gayley. 

"At the Hammer, we support healthy and alternative modes of transportation that make the museum even more accessible to local audiences. Many of our visitors and employees bike to the museum regularly, and we are interested in making this option both safe and appealing to those that want to pursue it."
Kathleen Shiroma, Associate Director, Hammer Museum

"I think bike lanes are always good to have. I don't see why there should be an issue."
Ben Keith, Manager, Urban Outfitters, Westwood Blvd

"We shall be very glad to have bike lanes everywhere."
Shoba Basabanag,  Manager, Ahhs, Westwood Blvd

"I think bike lanes in Westwood and in the city are a good idea. We have a new bike parking corral on Broxton and we encourage cycling."
Emmanuel Bautista, on site manager, Westwood Village Farmers Market

"I don't see why not."
Michelle Rhine, Managing Partner, California Pizza Kitchen. (CPK operates a bicycle delivery service in the village)

"We need bike lanes, yes, but I don't think Westwood Blvd is the best street for it. I think bike lanes are better on Gayley."
Fred Silver, Manager, Bel Air Camera

"A great idea."
Linda Goss, UCLA Blood & Platelet Center, Gayley Ave

"I just wish there was a bike lane."
Joe, Westwood Wireless

"One of our employees comes to work with a bike. He would be much safer with bike lanes."
Luis Benites, Radio Shack, Westwood Blvd

"I see the buses and the cars here and I have to say Westwood Blvd is not an ideal street for cyclists. It sees quite a bit of traffic. The side-roads are probably safer. But the cyclists are not going away, so we better make some bike lanes to make it safer for them"
Andrew Olson, Mayhem Smoke Shop, Westwood Blvd

"We would love any kind of help in Westwood. If it was safer to go down Westwood Blvd with a bike we would also profit from it."
Veronica Clarke, Owner, Capelli Lounge, Gayley Ave

Opinion and coverage in Daily Bruin by Nate Holmes (Walkable Street Culture), Julia McCathyDylan SmithSam Hoff (2013), Sonali Kohli (2010, "Lack of Bike Safety prompts Protests")

Additional Resources:
Daily Bruin Editorial - March 12, 2015
UCLA GSA Bike Safe Westwood Blvd Resolution
USAC Bike Safe Westwood Blvd Resolution
Sierra Club Resolution Calling for a Bike Safe Westwood Boulevard
Westside Today on Bicycle Mobility
Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
Velo Club La Grange
TIMS based collision data
Bike Counts:

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