Over a dozen bicyclists and concerned Montebello residents on Monday shared their ideas with city planners looking at ways to make the city more bicycle-friendly.
Montebello’s Planning and Community Development Department hosted the meeting that kicked-off the preparation phase for a Bicycle Lane Feasibility Study, which would help the city determine whether it is capable of creating more bike lanes throughout the city.
The city currently has two marked bike paths, one located on Montebello Boulevard near the Shops at Montebello and the other on Gerhart Avenue off the 60 Freeway near the Gold Line Station.
Montebello Planning Manager Ariel Socarras told the small crowd, several of them members of Montebello Bicycle Coalition, that the study would identify streets with the capacity to include bike paths.
“This is step one,” he said. “It’s going to take a voice and some money to make it happen.”
Some of the suggestions provided by the attendees included adding a bike path on Beverly Boulevard due to its proximity to the Rio Hondo River, and some residents asked the city to consider converting some street lanes into bike lanes.
Other suggested streets included Whittier Boulevard and Pomona Boulevard, which would be accessible to those riding the Gold Line.
Montebello business owner Steve Manookian told EGP that although he disagreed with some of the suggestions at the meeting, he has known people who have gotten hurt ridding their bikes and believes Montebello would benefit from more bike lanes.
“There’s a big picture of our city and the bike path is a part of that,” Manookian said. “Its safer for everyone to have lanes.”
In addition to recommendations for where bike lanes should be placed, a few people also said it’s important to consider the placement of bike lockers, signs for bicyclists, bike parking and reflective lanes for night riders.
Although Jaime Rangel lives in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Lincoln Heights, he said his daily commute to his job in Montebello and past close encounters with motorists brought him to the meeting to advocate for more bicycle lanes in the city.
He told EGP that some of the suggestions provided by residents were ambitious, but he hopes that something will eventually be done to address the interest in citywide bike lanes.
Socarras told EGP that he was happy with the turnout and the feedback provided by community members.
“A lot of routes were suggested, a lot of ideas were provided,” Socarras said. “We’ll take all the feedback and we’ll start the evaluation process.”
Montebello Bicycle Coalition member Manuel Zavala told EGP that he and other members of his advocacy group were grateful to be able to provide their ideas on an issue they have been pressing the city council about for some time.
“It gave us the opportunity to express our concerns with the city, with the way it is now and what we would like to see in the future,” Zavalas said.
During the meeting, Michael Huntley, the city’s director of planning and community development, pointed out that trail linkages in four different areas of Montebello have been completed. The city has also applied for a grant through MTA to further extend the existing bike lanes, he said.
As EGP previously reported, the city council approved a $7,000 contract with Willdan Engineering to study the feasibility of bike lanes in Montebello. Measure R voter-approved transportation funds will be used to fund the study.
It’s not a high tech study, it’s just some fact-finding and a summary of the findings, said Willdan Engineering consultant Lew Gluesing
According to the priorities outlined at the meeting, the project hopes to link existing paths to those outside of the city’s jurisdiction as well as provide paths that connect to public transportation.
Zavala said he hopes it is possible for bike lanes to coexist with drivers in the city of Montebello.
“We don’t want to get rid of cars, we just want to make it safer for everyone.”