To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, February 22, 2013

Eagle Rock Business Owners Representative of Bike Lane Debate

The hopes and concerns of business owners surrounding possible bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard are representative of the larger bike lane debate in Northeast Los Angeles 


By David Fonseca, February 19, 2013

Ask business owners along Eagle Rock's Colorado Boulevard how they feel about the potential installation of bike lanes on their street, and you will hear a diversity of opinion.

Patricia Neale Vuagniaux, owner of Swork Coffee, is a cyclist herself. She enjoys pedaling to the beach for exercise, and thinks the installation of bike lanes would be beneficial to the health and safety of Eagle Rock riders.

However, when asked how the bike lanes proposed through the 2010 Los Angeles Master Bike Plan would affect her business, she's still unsure.

"As a biker, we don't tend to stop very often. We bike through," she said. "When I'm exercising, and biking very hard, the last thing I want to do is stop and load up on carbs."

A few doors down, at Dave's Chillin & Grillin, owner Dave Evans observes that it's the motorists who don't tend to stop very often.

Evans said he'd like to see both bike lanes and some more crosswalks on the boulevard, both of which might force drivers to slow down and smell the cheesesteak.

"The drivers just blow right by sometimes," he said.

Thus is the dichotomy that has played out in both Eagle Rock and nearby Highland Park over the proposed bike lanes on North Figueroa Street and Colorado Boulevard.

A traffic study of the proposed bike lanes predicts that stop times at intersections along both streets would be increased by about three minutes as a result of the bike lanes.

Whether or not that is a good thing for local business is all a matter of perspective.

Charles Fisher, a local historian in Highland Park, said that while the bike lanes may be a boon for small, locally owned shops, they seem to be hurting larger stores where customers load up in bulk.

"John Neese, owner of Galco's, has lost business. McDonald's is down too" Fisher said.
Ruben Perez, co-owner of Organix on Colorado Boulevard, doesn't foresee bike lanes impacting his business very much.

"We've already got three car lanes, I don't see how only having two would be such a problem. It will probably slow down between 7:30 - 9 a.m. and then again when school gets out," he said.

Perez is in a unique situation, though. As the owner of an all organic and vegan grocery store, he said he caters to a customer base that is more likely to hop on a bicycle and ride to his store.

"We raffled off a mountain bike at our grand opening," Perez said. "I think riding is good for the environment and good for the health of the community."

But what about the health of those businesses that are less likely to attract ycling inclined customers?
"I can understand the fight from businesses that depend on vehicles," he said.

(I am not wild about bike lanes on Colorado Blvd. I travel along this route often and it already takes me long enough to make a left turn into the Trader Joe's parking lot that if I have to wait for or avoid bicycles when doing this I probably won't shop there anymore. Also, there is a section of Colorado Blvd. where two lanes are consolidated and the only way to put in a bike lane is to not allow parking in front of the businesses located there. It will be interesting to see all the new bike lanes in Los Angeles will divert traffic and business to streets without bike lanes.)