Mobility Plan's Westwood, Central bike lanes to get a hearing

FILE: A bike lane on Avenue 50 in Los Angeles, California.
FILE: A bike lane on Avenue 50 in Los Angeles, California. waltarrrrr/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

Debate over a controversial plan for the future of Los Angeles traffic will heat up again Thursday as the City Planning Commission considers several changes to the proposal.

The Mobility Plan 2035 is an update to the transportation portion of the city's General Plan, a blueprint to guide policy decisions over the coming decades. 

But the Mobility Plan has turned into a battleground, pitting competing visions for the transportation future of the city against each other: one with the car at its center, the other with more room for bikes, pedestrians and public transit.

The plan calls for adding hundreds of miles of new bike and bus-only lanes, in some cases by removing lanes for car traffic.

That has spurred two lawsuits and passionate arguments. Activists from both sides have routinely packed L.A. City Council meetings to offer public comment on the proposals.

The council passed the plan last August, then approved it again in November to fix a procedural mistake.

The organization Fix the City has led the charge against the plan, filing a lawsuit that claims an environmental review did not accurately account for the increase in traffic delays and greenhouse gas emissions that additional bike and bus lanes could cause by impeding car flow.

Many biking, walking and street safety advocates have supported the plan, which also includes adoption of the initiative known as Vision Zero to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by making safety the top priority in city planning.

At issue Thursday are several changes proposed by City Council members, notably the removal of planned bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard near UCLA and Central Avenue in South L.A.

The City Planning Commission will hear public comment at its 8:30 a.m. meeting at City Hall and then decide whether to make the proposed changes to the Mobility Plan. It then goes to the mayor for approval and back to City Council for votes on any amendments.

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