A bicyclist rides westbound on Aviation Boulevard approaching Pacific Coast Highway. Photo by Ed Pilolla.
The Hermosa Beach City Council voted 3-2 on Thursday to reject a proposal that would pursue installing a bicycle lane on Aviation Boulevard.
The preliminary report on the bike lane came from the Blue Zones Project, a health initiative partnered with the public health organization Vitality City. Blue Zone representatives last week made their pitch for the Aviation Boulevard bike lane to the Manhattan Beach City Council, which received and filed the report after approval. Next week, Blue Zone representatives will approach the Redondo Beach City Council.
Proponents of the bike lane are looking for approval from the city councils in the Beach Cities in order to apply for grants to complete the next engineering stage of the study.
Hermosa Beach officials said they were concerned that the project would require too much time of city staff in the small public works department, estimated at 10-20 hours a month.
“Ten to twenty hours a month doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s an eternity here,” Council member Peter Tucker said.
City officials were also skeptical of funneling bicycle traffic down Aviation Boulevard across Pacific Coast Highway, with Tucker calling the intersection “a meat grinder” for bicyclists.
Katie McClure of the Blue Zones Project said the additional funding they are seeking would finalize the study and explore alternative routes, including bike traffic along Prospect. A petition of 1,000 signatures supporting an Aviation Boulevard bike lane was presented, and McClure invited city officials to make a list of concerns that would be addressed in a final study.
The preliminary report indicated that some parking spaces at Aviation and Pacific Coast Highway may need to be removed for the bike lane.
Although McClure said Blue Zones would perform the grant-writing, a majority of the City Council said it couldn’t give the go-ahead for the project before addressing other, more pressing needs in the city, such as street paving.
Council member Mike DiVirgilio said street repairs in the city have been on hold for more than a year. DiVirgilio said he was “pro-bicycle,” but the 2-3 people in the public works department have more pressing issues to focus on, he said.
“Once we pave our streets, let’s talk about bikes,” Mayor Pro Tem Kit Bobko said.
Council member Howard Fishman said approving the continuation of the bike lane project would continue the city’s greening efforts.
“Yeah, we have pressing needs and we’ll get to them,” Fishman said. “It’s not a huge amount of staff time.”
Mayor Jeff Duclos said seven municipalities coming together to approve a bicycle master plan was an ambitious project, and that installing bicycle lanes through multiple municipalities must be a collaborative effort. Duclos said it was “patently unfair to make either-or propositions” as far as choosing between street repairs or approving additional study for a bike lane.
On Friday, McClure said she remains hopeful that the Hermosa Beach City Council would reverse its decision at a future time. She said it was unfortunate that the council seemed to reverse its position on the bike lane after adopting the South Bay Master Bicycle Plan and Vitality City Livability Plan within the last year.
“They raised some new concerns and this time, unfortunately, they did not lay over their decision to allow us and their staff time to prepare a thoughtful solution. Clearly, we’re working to get a full understanding of their issues,” McClure said. “Much of what we heard we believe could be mitigated with good project and resource planning.”
McClure believes her organization remains a good candidate for the $35,000-$50,000 in state, local and private grants it is seeking despite Thursday’s vote in Hermosa Beach. She said she will make a presentation to the Redondo Beach City Council next week.