LA City Council's decision on bike lanes disappoints advocates

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A plan to reimagine the future of Los Angeles streets had its final vote at the City Council last week after more than a year of controversy.

The Mobility Plan 2035 is a blueprint to guide policy decisions on transportation over the next three decades.

The proposal spurred multiple lawsuits, hours of public comment and more than a year's worth of back and forth at the City Council.

Adding bike lanes to busy streets, particularly on Westwood Boulevard near UCLA and Central Avenue in South Los Angeles, proved the plan's biggest controversy. Opponents complained the bike lanes would displace car traffic. 

On Wednesday, the council decided once and for all to strike the two controversial bike lanes from the busy arteries. Instead, the bike lanes have been moved to parallel streets, Gayley Avenue and Avalon Boulevard, which critics say won’t disrupt traffic as much.

The decision was a blow to bike advocates who showed up by the dozens at meetings on the proposed plan over the last year.

"It’s a disappointment for sure," said Brian Moller with the L.A. County Bike Coalition. "I think identifying alternatives is a good next step."

Laura Lake, a Westwood resident who had helped lead a lawsuit over the proposal with the organization, Fix the City, was happy with the decision.

"Substituting Gayley for Westwood Boulevard keeps the 60,000 daily bus riders moving on Westwood. Gayley is safer for cyclists.  It's a good compromise," she said.

Moller with the Bike Coalition is still hopeful Westwood Boulevard and Central Avenue can be added back into the plan in the future as politics in the city changes. He said the routes provide more direct, and in the case of Central Avenue, a safer alternative than the side streets.

Nothing in the plan will move forward until the council approves funding and takes further action.

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