A sweeping plan to encourage bicycle and pedestrian-friendly transportation options in Los Angeles was approved by Los Angeles City Council Tuesday.
The 12-2 vote approved the Mobility 2035 plan, which envisions adding 300 miles of protected bike lanes, improving safety for pedestrians to encourage more walking, and increasing use of public transit over the next 20 years.
The approved transportation framework represents an enormous transformation in thinking from the last plan approved in the 1990's, which kept the car as king and stressed ways to handle increasing volumes of auto traffic. Under the new plan, the number of auto lanes would be reduced on as many as 10 percent of the city's major roadways, which has raised some concerns.
Backers say the measure of success is moving more people, not necessarily more cars.
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It also plans to connect neighborhoods with a Complete Streets approach to safety improvements, which focuses on making streets safe and convenient for all modes of transportation, according to Councilman Mike Bonin and Councilman José Huizar, who led the efforts for the plan.
"While the automobile remains a vital part of our transportation future, so too is our goal to make our roads safer, more efficient and accessible with increased public transportation, pedestrian and bike-focused options," said Councilman Huizar. "Mobility 2035 does just that."
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who referenced his own two-hour commute with public transit from San Pedro to City Hall in downtown Los Angeles, said, "We need a plan moving forward."
Nearly 50 percent of trips taken in Los Angeles are less than three miles, yet 84 percent of those short trips are taken by car, according to Bonin and Huizar.
"This plan is about giving people safe and convenient transportation options so they aren't forced to use their cars for every trip they take," Bonin said. "The more options we give people beyond their cars, the less traffic we are going to have in our neighborhoods."
Yet, other council members, including Gil Cedillo, expressed concern that not enough public input had been gathered before the plan was presented to the city council.
Some community groups have also opposed taking auto lanes from such major and crowded thoroughfares as Westwood Boulevard. Under the plan, Westwood Boulevard would be the route for a bicycle path to UCLA. While favoring a bicycle path, Councilman Paul Koretz argued it would be better located on another north-south street, and said he will continue seeking that change.
"This is progress," said Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, "It may not be perfect ... but it's moving us in a direction that we need to move as a city."