Lead Story West Edition

Activists say Price eliminated bike lanes from Central Avenue

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Several dozen activists gathered here Feb. 9 to protest Councilman Curren Price’s proposal to scrap planned bike lanes along Central Avenue.

The protesters, who are part of the nonprofit TRUST South Los Angeles, said Central Avenue is a well-traveled commercial street that is used each day by hundreds of bicyclists who need to do their shopping in the area.

The bike lanes were included in an “enhanced bicycle network” that was part of the Mobility Plan 2035 adopted recently by the city, but Price introduced a motion last August to take Central Avenue out of the network, saying the street is too narrow to safely accommodate the lanes.

Protesters said that without bike lanes along Central Avenue, cyclists must compete with trucks, police vehicles and cars.

The street “averages 60 bicycle riders an hour, the highest number in the city,” with the majority “using bicycles out of necessity not recreationally,” said Estuardo Mazariegos, lead organizer with TRUST South Los Angeles.

“Central Avenue is a critical corridor that connects downtown Los Angeles to South Central Los Angeles,” he said. “To deny the community a bicycle lane would further segregate the hardest working community in the city.”

In the span of nearly 10 years, from 2002 to 2011, Central Avenue was the site of 180 pedestrian and 103 bicycle accidents, resulting in 17 deaths, according to the protesters. Mazariegos said a “ghost bike” was recently erected on the street as a memorial to the deaths.

Price said in a statement that Central Avenue is too narrow and therefore unsafe for bike lanes. It has no “pocket lane for left-hand turns,” and would create traffic on side streets throughout the day, he said.

“As a grandfather of small children, I would feel uneasy riding our bikes along this busy thoroughfare knowing the dangerous implications,” he said.

“I wholeheartedly feel removing Central Avenue from the Mobility Plan’s Bicycle Enhanced Network is the safe and right thing to do,” he said.

Price said he wants to propose alternative streets for the bike lanes, such as Avalon Avenue, “a wider street with less traffic, which would allow for us to implement a better protected bike lane.”

It is also connected to existing bike lanes on San Pedro and near three parks and a middle school, he said.