By Erick Huerta, Guest Blogger
As the number of Angelinos on two wheels increases, the City of Los Angeles is slowly, but surely recognizing the need for safer roads and more bike lanes. Last week, members of the bicycle community joined city leaders to inaugurate the first new bike lanes from the Los Angeles Bicycle Master Plan, a plan that will bring more than 1,600 miles of new bikeways to city streets, with several miles dedicated to Boyle Heights.
A small group of bicyclists met at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights Thursday morning and rode to the press conference at MacArthur Park where Los Angeles Councilmember Ed P. Reyes officially opened a 2.2-mile segment of bike lanes on 7th Street that runs from Catalina Street in Koreatown to Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) began striping the 7th Street corridor in August. Downtown is the next segment in a 5.4 mile stretch that will eventually run down 7th Street to Soto Street in Boyle Heights.
The 7th Street bike lanes were initially chosen as an addition to the original bike plan after advocacy efforts by community organizations, according to Boyle Heights resident and City of Lights Education Coordinator Andy Rodriguez. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and City of Lights gathered research and worked closely with the city on a route proposal that would focus on adding bike lanes in three of the most densely-populated neighborhoods in the city: Downtown, Westlake and Koreatown.
Although there is no word on when the 7th Street segment of Boyle Heights will get its lanes, another corridor was already started in the neighborhood. Earlier this month, 1.6 miles of new bike lanes were added along the 1st street corridor from Boyle Avenue to Lorena Street.
The new lanes were part of the Eastside Access Project, a collaborative effort between Metro and the City of Los Angeles to improve pedestrian and bicycle access around four Eastside Metro stations including Pico/Aliso, Mariachi Plaza, Soto Street and Indiana Street.
Metro officials say Boyle Heights residents can expect to see more projects develop, including sharrows (shared lane markings) on Mott St, Breed St, Boyle Ave and State St. and some pedestrian enhancements in the next few months.