Could West Hollywood become another Amsterdam, where bicycles outnumber cars 20 to 1?
It might sound far-fetched in this car-loving region, but that was one of the dreams mentioned at a meeting of the new West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition. A dozen avid cyclists showed up for the group’s inaugural meeting Friday evening at Poinsettia Park.
Spearheaded by Kevin Burton and Tess Lotta, both members of the city’s Bicycle Task Force, the impetus behind the coalition was to create an advocate for West Hollywood's biking community.
“We need to be a voice for the biking community,” said Lotta. “A lot of coalitions start with nothing, but we’re in an awesome position thanks to the [Weho] Bicycle Task Force.”
Charged with finding ways to make West Hollywood more bicycle friendly, the Bicycle Task Force will make its .
Lotta explained that a community-based group is needed to push for implantation of those recommendations, thus the creation of the Weho Bicycle Coalition, which will be a chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.
According to Burton, recommendations for making Weho more bike friendly were made to the City Council in 2003, but there was not enough community support then.
“There weren’t enough people making noise,” said Burton. “It’s necessary to be encouraging, but also insistent.”
Attendees strategized ways for getting the City Council on the bikers' side, including taking the panel's members on a fun bike tour through the area.
There is already some support on the council. Abbe Land is a member of the Bicycle Task Force. Meanwhile, Mayor John Duran just started biking again after 30 years. from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Convincing businesses that bikers are good consumers and getting them to offer discounts to bikers was also discussed. If businesses get behind the task force’s recommendations, the City Council and residents might be more willing to adopt them.
Burton and Lotta also shared some of the , including a “road diet” for Fountain Avenue— making it a three-lane road (one lane in each direction and a center turn lane) and installing bike lanes at the curb.
Attendees were enthusiastic about that idea, many saying how Fountain can be a freeway, scary for even the most experienced biker.
The task force also intends to recommend swapping parking space for bike lanes along much of Santa Monica Boulevard.
Another goal for creating the bike coalition is to provide education and outreach to the biking community. Attendees spoke about sponsoring bike rides and social gatherings for bikers.
Although there may be a lot of bikers in Weho, nothing exists to bring them together, to help them meet one another, attendees said. Burton, who reports he has not owned a car in the last 25 years, summed it up: “Until now, I haven’t known enough cyclists in West Hollywood to form a bicycle coalition.”