Following Bicycle Lane Confusion in Northridge, Councilman Wants Cyclists and Neighorhood Councils to Work Together

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Photo by @sevenphoto via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
Following confusion about bicycle lanes that suddenly appeared along Wilbur Avenue in Northridge, Councilmember Greig Smith is taking action so people aren't taken off guard again.

"The City's present outreach process appears to be to implement new bike facilities and wait for community feedback, which is counterproductive and confusing to everyone," Smith wrote in a motion. "The City should prepare a transparent community outreach process that engages stakeholder in the development of new bike facility projects before they are implemented."

He wants the L.A. Department of Transportation to create a community outreach process that involves Neighborhood Councils, even to the point of them being required to provide a recommendation on proposed bicycle infrastructure before it's implemented.

"Why does Smith single out bicycling for a need for greater community outreach when LADOT has an abysmal reputation for public outreach when it comes to any of their 'road improvements?'" questioned Damien Newton at Streetsblog LA. "I expected bike advocates to be outraged, but instead they surprised me... Outside of their annoyance with Smith’s focus on bicycles most seemed supportive of forcing LADOT to engage local constituencies before moving on bike projects. Apparently, LADOT’s history of opaqueness is a much greater concern than anti-cycling members of Neighborhood Councils throughout the city."

Smith's proposal wouldn't actually work the way the city currently operates, but if he pushes right, there could be some deep-seeded change.

A LADOT bikeways transportation engineer told LAist last month that opportunities to install bicycle infrastructure, such as bike lanes, come with little notice and sometimes within a 30-day turnaround time, something a volunteer neighborhood council would be hard pressed to comment on. Resurfacing projects, unless in emergency situations, should not be a surprise. Planning and foresight needs to be instituted in order for this to work.

Background Reading: Confusion Surrounding Bike Lanes in Northridge Exemplifies LADOT's Need for Better Public Outreach