File photo of the Metro Blue Line. Photo by John Schreiber.
File photo of the Metro Blue Line. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles City Council approved a sweeping, 20-year mobility plan Tuesday that encourages residents to get out of their cars and start using bicycles, public transit and pedestrian-friendly transportation options.

But the effort was not without controversy, as some residents warned of unintended consequences that could worsen vehicle traffic in the city.

The council voted 12-2 to approve the plan — dubbed Mobility Plan 2035 — to add 300 miles of protected bike lanes and increase other non-car transportation options.

Unhappy residents objected to the plan, saying it could worsen traffic congestion and hinder emergency response times due to some streets potentially losing car lanes to accommodate bicycles or other types of transportation.

In addition to calling for more bike lanes, the plan identifies ideal streets for improving or increasing public transit options and points to 800 miles of roads where traffic could be reduced or slowed down.

The plan also sets overall goals for eliminating traffic-related fatalities, making streets safer for young people and women, improving the reliability and frequency of buses, putting more non-car options near more residents and upgrading rail stations.

Councilman Mike Bonin, who championed the plan, called it a “groundbreaking” document that updates the city’s planning guidelines from a “1950s mentality” to a more modern approach to transportation that includes more options for bicyclists, public transportation and pedestrians.

Councilman Jose Huizar, another proponent, said the plan will “acknowledge those number of people who walk, those number of people who take bikes and other forms of transportation and say you too, we shall build an infrastructure for you as well,” as well as the growing number of people who are looking for other forms of transportation.”

Councilman Joe Buscaino, citing his own two-hour public transit commute from San Pedro to City Hall downtown, said “we need a plan moving forward.”

Councilman Felipe Fuentes said the mobility plan needs to be in place so that the city can take advantage of public dollars that the state and federal government are expected to begin offering soon.

Councilman Bob Blumenfield said: “This is progress. It may not be perfect … but it’s moving us in a direction that we need to move as a city. Collectively it changes the process.”

Praise was not unanimous, however. Some council members, including Gil Cedillo, expressed concern that not enough public input was gathered before the plan was presented to the City Council.

Cedillo and several other council members proposed amending the plan to eliminate some streets that were earmarked for bicycle enhancements, but those changes were not considered Tuesday and were instead assigned to committee for future discussion.

— Wire reports 

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