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.


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

  2. 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 is that no traffic calming is applied. Part of that is to have the cars moving at a steady pace. Not slow-fast-slow.

    Council members you need to rethink your strategy here, or are you building a race track?

  3. 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?

  4. “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 offensive and a concept that is not borne out by statistics or collision data.

    Vast majority of collisions between automobiles and cyclists/pedestrians are the proximate fault of the driver of the car/truck.

  5. @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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 La Brea Ave yet there was mention to the number of accidents and deaths from cars hitting bikers and pedestrians in a vehicle’s rush to go-through or turn on yellow and red lights. So the city has this data but still years later, no four-way left hand turn signal.

    Fountain should be a priority and not place as long-range plan for solutions.

    As a resident, on Fountain Ave Eastside, low level usage and fear of bottlenecking the entire City are not base on in fact, studies or survey’s. Every day, Fountain Ave. is bumper to bumper for hours during morning and evening rush hours and always Friday and Saturday’s.
    It is clear that Fountain Ave. is and should be a priority. I too was shocked to in learning that the number of cars on Sunset Blvd. are almost the same as Fountain Ave. This is a calming project that need to be green-lighted.

    Fountain Ave. is not the Avenue of yesteryear but a major thoroughfare of today and urgently need to be addressed now.

  8. 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 hard work and thoughtful decisions.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. @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

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

  13. weho adjacent homo – I guess all the signs that are posted all up and down SM Blvd, where there are bike lanes that say no bikes on the sideWALK do not apply to special entitled people? It is called a sideWALK for a reason. It is not for people to ride their bike and expect pedestrians to get out of their way. And where there are no bike lanes, the signs say bikes must yield to pedestrians. I am guessing that you are one of the 99% that don’t feel it necessary to stop for stop signs or red lights when there are no cars coming. Maybe you should since that also might reduce your chances of dying. If you are not one of the 99% that I see daily breaking the laws, I apologize.

    West Hollywood:
    West Hollywood (Sec. 15.53.010). You can ride your bike on the sidewalk, but there are several caveats. Sidewalk riding is only allowed where no bike lane is provided and you must ride with traffic. Yielding to all pedestrians is also required.

    It is unlawful for any person to ride or operate a bicycle on or over any sidewalk or part of a sidewalk in the city when there is a designated bicycle lane in the adjoining street. Where there is no designated bicycle lane in the street, bicycle riders riding or operating a bicycle on the sidewalk shall travel in the same direction as traffic in the adjoining lane of traffic, shall yield to pedestrians and shall not ride in a wanton or reckless manner as to endanger any person or property.

    bicyclists have the same duties and responsibilities as vehicle drivers. Thus stop at stop signs and red lights just like all other vehicles (CVC 21200).

  14. @Sam It is totally legal for a cyclist to bike on the sidewalk if they aren’t being reckless. I don’t trust some stretches of the road here and choose to ride on the sidewalk so I don’t die.

    Thanks!

  15. The only confusion I have is that Council is directing staff to look into eliminating parking on Fountain so it’s 2 lanes in each direction each way, but that to eliminate parking on Santa Monica Blvd would be a bad idea as it would reduce parking. I agree in part, as the bottlenecks on Fountain are always treacherous (there was a horrible accident on Fountain and Gardner last year where it narrowed down a lane, a car got clipped, one of the passengers wasn’t wearing her seat belt, she was thrown from the car & was killed…what a tragedy) but to say it’s alright to reduce parking in one part of West Hollywood but not the other? I’m just a say’n…..

  16. Fountain has been one of the greatest east-west transit streets since I moved to this part of town over thirty years ago. Great move on CC part. On trash day some parts are difficult to navigate – as people don’t understand – or care – that runners & joggers are out in force.

    Burying the utility lines is also a great idea.

    They recently wrapped the stop signs in my neighborhood – I assume that they did this everywhere. It certainly improves sight lines and is preferable to over-pruning the vegetation.
    I have a neighbor who shears the hell out of their trees. Since this seems like an annual cleanup, I assume it’s not the roots that are an issue. I can’t imagine why they want less shade and less privacy.

    Anybody have two cents to contribute to why this aggressive tree trimming?
    Thank you,

  17. Kudos to the city council for the common sense answer.

    Strongly agree on the suggestion to bury the utility lines. Safer and improves sight lines. This was supposed to be happening on Robertson from SMB to Melrose, but no work on that recently.

  18. Pedestrian Consciousness, I agree that pedestrians are most vulnerable, but that is different than saying “first,” as though everything has to be catered to them. All three modes of transportation should be able to co-exist. And I completely agree with you about the need to get pedestrians to pay better attention, which is why I support the efforts the city has made to make them pay better attention at crosswalks. For example, the controlled crosswalk installed at Ogden and SMB. No more just hitting a button and stepping out onto the street. They have to wait for a light to change.

    We live in a distracted society. Every effort should be made to get everyone to pay better attention, including pedestrians, cyclists *and* motorists.

  19. And for a city that prides itself in being creative and progressive, this is a regressive and uncreative use that is more reminiscent of a suburbs in the middle of nowhere than anninner city urban city it oils supposed to take pride in.

  20. This is BS. I live on Fountain and the reduction would have benefited not just bikers but pedestrians and motorists. As it stands, motorists speed there and make dangerous left turns all the time. Reducing the lanes from two to one in each direction would have made it a lot more eligible and safer for everyone. Right now it’s a pseudo freeway that only lets motorists that do not even live here pass through. That’s BS.

  21. One thing about bicyclists is 99% of them don’t think they need to obey traffic laws and then get mad when they are expected to. I can’t remember the last time I saw a bicyclist actually stop at a stop sign. I see them running red lights, riding on the sidewalk (when there is a bike lane) and get made when the pedestrian doesn’t move out of their way. There is no difference between an entitled bicyclist not stopping at every stop sign when riding down Willoughby as a car running every stop sign. WeHo could make so much money if they actively ticketed bicyclists that blew through stop signs and red lights. As with everything in life, if you want respect then you must respect others. Pedestrians usually have the right away and bikes and cars are EQUAL when it comes to traffic laws. Bikes do not always have the right away over pedestrians and cars as most bicyclists believe.

  22. Thank you City Council! I have never understood why the bottlenecks and dangerous conditions were allowed to exist on Fountain just to accommodate a dozen or so parking spaces. This is going to make a huge difference in mobility and will actually make things safer on Fountain as there will not be all of the dangerous lane changes and lane weaving that we see now. For those that complain about the lack of parking, please consider two things. It is not up to the City to provide parking for your home or apartment. Plus, the City has already made all of the surrounding streets permit parking so they are limited to residents. Finally, few cities have done as much to create new parking as WeHo. This includes the huge garage at the library, the new Robo Garage and the parking lot on Sunset (that used to be the parking lot for Tower and was a retirement home before that).

  23. Randy: Manny is right. Pedestrians are most vulnerable of all on foot. What would be remarkable would be responsible pedestrian behavior and wrap up the “Me First” concept so they can cross a street at their leisure. Especially the pedestrians that give you the long defensive look as one is turning off say SMB or Sunset on to a side street, with their nose in their phone or the ones that never look up assuming you will just wait until they cross. These folks show a lack of respect for others and lack of consciousness for their own safety. Get into eye contact folks. Don’t assume you are safe in your own little pod.

  24. To answer Matt’s question as to why parking is necessary, Fountain is a residential street, it is not a highway. And while I agree that everything should be done to make the traffic flow more smoothly on Fountain, that does not mean faster: that is the last thing wanted. Speed kills, and faster traffic would almost certainly make it fatally dangerous for both pedestrians and cyclists.
    There should be a creative solution to the bottlenecks without removing all the street parking that is so necessary for residents. It is curious that whenever West Hollywood attempts to improve traffic matters, they invariably remove parking spots, and thus make parking even more difficult in this already congested city, when every improvement should entail making it easier!

  25. As a cyclist, I have to agree that Fountain bike lanes are just a bad idea. It will create gridlock, and the vehicles move very fast on that street. It is not wide enough for a bicycle lane, and going down to one lane makes no sense, considering the volume of cars vs. bicycles on the road. I’m happy to take SMB or Willoughby when traveling east to west (or vice versa).

    Manny, you always chime in with “PEDESTRIANS FIRST.” How about “PEDESTRIANS, CYCLISTS AND MOTORISTS CO-EXIST?” I’m tired of being treated like a third-class citizen. People not wanting me on the street. People not wanting me on the sidewalk. I agree that Fountain is a bad idea, but your attitude always seems to be anti-cyclist.

    And I’m guessing that there is a huge overlap of anti-bicycle people who also complain relentlessly about gridlock and traffic. The irony. Bicycles take vehicles off the road. This Fountain idea is an exception to that (because it would create gridlock), but generally speaking, cyclists reduce traffic congestion in this city.

  26. Then why allow parking on Fountain at all? It would move much faster if you had access to both lanes at all times.

  27. It was nice to see all of the members of council agree (and acknowledge the resident’s wishes) on the need to address the sidewalks on Fountain, from La Cienega to La Brea. Thank you.

    I was surprised — no, shocked to discover the daily number of vehicles using this artery was almost the same as Sunset Blvd. Knowing this, in addition to the important infrastructure needs, perhaps we can realize the value in making it a more attractive thoroughfare as well.

    And, as one who often rides a bike in the City, I would love nothing more than more bike lanes… But extended lanes on Fountain, as proposed by this mobility plan, seems beyond impractical.

  28. I live off Fountain and yes there should be no parking on either side from Crescent Heights to La Brea…especially between Crescent Heights and Fairfax where it bottlenecks.

  29. The council made the smart and (obvious) decision to do nothing with Fountain.

    …..and thank you to Council Member Horvath for supporting safe sidewalks.

    PEDESTRIANS FIRST

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