WeHo City Council Says ‘No’ to Bike Lanes on Fountain

fountain avenue, bicycle path, west hollywood
Drivers can continue to “take Fountain” as the West Hollywood City Council indicated on Monday night that it has no plans to reduce that avenue from two lanes to one lane in each direction.

Part of a proposal to add bike lanes throughout the city included reducing the number of lanes on the popular east-west street, known for being especially speedy compared to others, and installing dedicated bike lanes. However, the Council members unanimously made it clear that was not a possibility now or anytime in the foreseeable future.

“[Reducing Fountain to one lane] would possibly bottleneck the only avenue that actually moves all the time in the city in West Hollywood,” said Councilmember John Duran. “If we tell people in the city we’re taking away a lane of traffic each way on Fountain, there will people here with pitchforks ready to go after our hides.”

Councilmember John Heilman agreed that residents would not stand for it and that it would mess up traffic throughout the city.

west hollywood bicycle coalition“What you’re talking about is completely undoable,” said Heilman, who lives near the Fountain-La Cienega intersection. “I know we’re supposed to be aspirational, but I live with that traffic coming down Fountain every day. If you were to narrow this to one lane, even at non-peak hours, that’s going to be a disaster.”

Mayor Lauren Meister noted that Fountain Avenue gets 39,000 car trips per day, just 2,000 fewer than the 41,000 car trips that Sunset Boulevard gets.

“A road diet [reduction of the number of lanes] is just not possible at this time,” Meister said. “We should look at Fountain in terms of what kind of improvements we can make to make traffic flow easier.”

During non-peak traffic times, parking is allowed on several narrow portions of Fountain, thereby reducing the number of lanes from two in each direction to one. The Council instructed city staffers to investigate eliminating parking in those narrow spots so the street can have two lanes in each direction around the clock.

Although Fountain Avenue is the northern border of the city from Fairfax to La Brea Avenue, the Los Angeles city limits begin at the sidewalk on the northern side of the street, meaning West Hollywood has complete control of the street and the parking.

Because Fountain Avenue is known for being the fastest east-west street in the perpetually congested area, the phrase “take Fountain” has taken on legendary status. The phrase originated in the 1980s when talk show host Johnny Carson asked actress Bette Davis about the best way for aspiring actresses to get ahead in Hollywood. Davis replied, “Take Fountain.”

The Council also instructed staffers to explore sidewalk improvements along Fountain, including widening sidewalks and replacing curbs at intersections with sidewalk ramps. Councilmember John D’Amico suggested putting power lines along Fountain underground so that the utility poles that sit in the middle of the narrow sidewalk could be removed.

Although the Council members did not approve the dedicated bike lanes on Fountain, they unanimously agreed to take measures to make cycling safer along Willoughby Avenue, an alternate east-west path, that connects  with the existing bike lanes that the City of Los Angeles already has on that street. In addition, the Council approved adding a bike lane and traffic calming measures along Almont Drive between Santa Monica Boulevard and Beverly Boulevard. They also okayed bike lanes along Vista/Gardner Street from Fountain to Willoughby.

The city already has bike lanes along the few blocks of Fairfax Avenue, which traverses the city, and along San Vicente Avenue from Beverly Boulevard to Santa Monica Boulevard and also along Santa Monica Boulevard from Almont Drive to Kings Road.

The Council briefly discussed extending the bike lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard eastward beyond Kings Road. However, Duran noted doing that would involve removing street parking in the Center City and Eastside. He pointed out that those areas have a perpetual shortage of parking, and businesses along that area would likely not stand for it.

The Council also agreed to crosswalk improvements along Santa Monica Boulevard, including pedestrian signal improvements along mid-block crosswalks west of La Cienega.


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George Hirst
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George Hirst

West Hollywood is not environmentally friendly. They want to make West Hollywood the new Las Vegas for gays. Shameful!

User-1
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User-1

I was on Fountain yesterday between Orange and Vista. Man there’s no room for bikes on Fountain there! Not where it’s two lanes. Also parts of Fountain is one lane each way already. How is Fountain going to diminish car capacity by eliminating a lane? It’s already reduced by being one lane each direction on parts of Fountain. All you are doing is making cars go slow-fast-slow and so forth. The only way I take this in the daytime, this was lunch time btw, is ride with a BRIGHT flashing rear light. Too many knuckleheads on Fountain. Part of it… Read more »

Randy
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Randy

Elaine and WeHoVaudivillian, I don’t know what the statistics say, but sometimes pedestrians do walk out into traffic while not looking. Sometimes they are distracted. Or intoxicated.

Elaine, even when that is the case, calling them “idiots” is so completely insensitive, unnecessary, rude and heartless. I see comments like these on articles after pedestrians get hit by cars and it infuriates me. Is it not bad enough that a person was injured or killed? You have to call them idiots, too? People who have lost loved ones have to read comments like this?

WeHoVaudivillian
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WeHoVaudivillian

“ElaineWed, May 03, 2017 at 8:15 pm There is no difference between the idiot pedestrian that just steps off the curb at a crosswalk without looking and expecting that cars instantly stop for them as the idiot biker that runs stop signs and lights expecting cars coming in the opposite direction to instantly stop for them. ” Quite. They’re are one and the same because they don’t exist at all, except in some deranged fantasy some auto users perpetuate to themselves. The idea that pedestrians and cyclists throw themselves with abandon into the path of innocent, law abiding automobiles is… Read more »

Creative One
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Creative One

@Mike Dolan
“Traffic calming” measures are meant for non-thoroughfares. Fountain, like it or not, is a thoroughfare. Also, people do not know how to use turn lanes properly.

Your call for left turn signals would greatly help in moving traffic.

Elaine
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Elaine

There is no difference between the idiot pedestrian that just steps off the curb at a crosswalk without looking and expecting that cars instantly stop for them as the idiot biker that runs stop signs and lights expecting cars coming in the opposite direction to instantly stop for them. Actually the biker is worse since they are an idiot AND actually breaking the law while a pedestrian is just an idiot for not looking before crossing, unless the pedestrian is walking across the street, against traffic on a red light (for the pedestrian) and then they are equal idiots.

Mike Dolan
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Mike Dolan

Romanticizing Fountain Ave. Holding progress based on sentimental memories and nostalgia does not serve to progress West Hollywood on the Eastside as a greater walkable area, safer and what was suggested, would only move traffic more efficiently. Dedicated central turn lane, at least from Crescent Heights to La Brea, would in fact decrease bottle necking while two dedicated through lane could consistently travel with less stopping and starting. Bike lanes and wider sidewalks are a win-win for biker’s and certainly pedestrians. It is sad there is still no discussion or a four-way left hand turn signal at Fountain Ave and… Read more »

Joyce H.
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Joyce H.

I spoke at the meeting and I thank the City Council for leaving Fountain Ave. as is with the addition of sidewalk improvements. While I understand the biker’s point of view, as the City Council aptly pointed out West Hollywood unlike Santa Monica is a pass through City so in addition to day time traffic there is an influx of night time traffic, and the reduction of traffic lanes on Fountain would bottle neck West Hollywood. The City Council has a difficult job of balancing the different needs of all the residents and the City. I thank them for their… Read more »

Dan W
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Dan W

Even with two lanes in each direction, Fountain still needs traffic calming. Motorists frequently speed through the area causing a hazzard for accidents with other cars, cyclists and pedestrians. The speed limit is 35 miles an hour and the Sheriff’s Department should enforce that speed limit for the safety of the neighborhood.

WeHoboy
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WeHoboy

Bikes and city traffic, never a good idea. I was hit twice walking. Shaken, not stirred I am glad to say. But hit while on a bike, not good!

Manny
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Manny

@weho adjacent homo…..

I agree that bicyclists should not ride in areas where it is unsafe for them. But unfortunately most bicyclists ride on the sideWALK whether there’s a bike lane or not…..and they ride recklessly.

Is it ok for motorcycles to use bike lanes because they feel safer doing so? I would suggest it’s not ok.

PEDESTRIANS FIRST

Tom Smart
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Tom Smart

Johnny Carson actually asked “What is the best way an aspiring actress can get into Hollywood?” —-Take Fountain!