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After Being Caught in a Lie (or just Disorganizational Chaos), LADOT Says New Bike Lane Will Come to Reseda Blvd.

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Photo by roland via Flickr

Photo by roland via Flickr
"I used to believe in conspiracy, then I discovered incompetency" ~Ruth Galanter, former LA City Councilmember (paraphrased)

Either way, it's feeling like the Los Angeles Department of Transportation is heading back to the days of General Manager Gloria Jeff when employee morale was low and the traffic engineers with real skills were caught up in a bureaucracy that dictated they serve cars, not people. Current General Manager Rita Robinson ran a tight and responsible ship at the Bureau of Sanitation before being appointed to LADOT, so why can't she control her own bikeways and district offices?

The latest in the concern over eliminating a bike lane on Reseda Blvd. changed significantly last night at a neighborhood council meeting. Apparently, LADOT changed their tune after the issue was "handled on the internet" with "trash talking about DOT," said Alan Willis, Principal Transportation Engineer for Valley Traffic Operations, according to Joe Linton at Streetsblog LA.

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Athough Linton meets the new bike mile of bike lane with some skepticism, he says "bike lane supporters and other livability advocates can take Willis' remark as a compliment. [Willis] seems to be saying that L.A. Streetsblog and many others have been effective at using the internet to foster greater communication, transparency, clarity, and participation. A truer compliment will be bike lane stripes on the ground next month." Ted Rogers at Biking in LA and the city's Bicycle Committee President Glenn Bailey also both deserve major credit in bringing the issue forth. In an e-mail, Linton also gives kudos to LADOT bikeways engineer Paul Meshkin.

The last few months have been marred with controversy when it comes to bicycle issues. And each time, the cycling community has come out with force in large numbers garnering long-deserved attention. And there's no indication that they're giving up. In fact, the community is getting smarter and stronger each day. Example: last night's victory.

Some good things have happened--like the new bicycle hitches and other bike rack programs--but much of the larger scale ideas like the bicycle master plan are not going so well.

Case in point over last week's confusion of the removal of bike lanes on Reseda Blvd. A public document that indicated that they could be removed for peak hour lanes got the attention of a neighborhood council in Northridge, which put the issue on its last meeting's agenda a couple weeks ago. 60 cyclists showed and the board voiced opposition over such changes to the artery.

Soon after, LADOT's spokesman Bruce Gilman said it was all a rumor. "It was all based on rumor, nothing that we had propagated," he said

"It's NOT just a rumor!" wrote an exasperated Linton, who is also a local waterways blogger, in the comments section of LAist in response to Gilman:

Cyclists responded to an earlier document from LADOT clearly states that they intended to implement the peak hour parking restrictions, and put the bike lane project on hold. From the LADOT bikeway engineer Paul Meshkin's August report to the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee - regarding the status of the Reseda lanes: "West Valley District does not concur with the project, cites peak hour lane usage in near future."

In follow up with Gilman regarding the document, he dodged it in a short statement that said "the information provided yesterday is accurate and still stands: the Department has no current plans to remove any portion of the bike lane or to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Boulevard."

Cyclist Gary Kavanagh called shenanigans in LAist's comment section when he found out about the document. "No pulling a fast one on the cycling community," he wrote. "LADOT credibility moves yet another notch lower."