Dozens of cyclists joined Montebello Mayor Christina Cortez on a bike ride around the city last week in hopes of drawing support for adding more bike lanes to city streets.
The Montebello Bicycle Coalition, a group dedicated to making the city bicycle-friendly, organized the “mayor’s bike ride” as a way to get more residents committed to attending future hearings on a bicycle lane feasibility study scheduled to go in front of the Traffic and Safety Commission in September.
The coalition led the four-mile bike ride around the city to give the mayor and other residents a chance to experience what it’s like to be a cyclist in the city.
Montebello currently has two marked bike paths along Montebello Boulevard and Gerhart Avenue.
Montebello Bicycle Coalition member Joel Montano told EGP that the group wants bicycle infrastructure in the city to be improved, whether it is with bike lanes or protected bike parking.
“We hope that through the mayor’s involvement we can show that bicycle lanes are a way to transport yourself throughout the city,” he said.
In February, the Montebello Planning and Community Development Department held a public meeting to hear concerns and suggestions from local residents and cyclists about the proposal to make the city more bike-friendly through infrastructure changes. The meeting was held in advance of the preparation of a feasibility study to determine if the city has the capacity for those changes.
Montebello’s Planning Manager Ariel Socarras told EGP that although the completion of the final draft has gone “well beyond the anticipated schedule” due to limited staffing dedicated to the project, staff is expected to submit the feasibility study to the commission in the coming weeks.
“Its definitely a priority on our end, it’s just the budget constraints that make it difficult,” he said. “The department thinks an alternative [form of] transportation is a benefit for the city.”
Once the commission receives the study, they can move forward with a recommendation to the city council.
While it is still to early to say what the city council will decide, according to Socarras, if they feel strongly on moving forward with a bicycle plan after reviewing the study and allocate the money needed for its implementation, the city could potentially see new bike lanes in 2014.
“This [study] is just step one in a number of steps that needs to take place,” he said. “The next step is getting the money.”
Mayor Cortez, who has worked with the group for over two years, told the crowd of riders that she hopes the momentum from the event will lead the city council to move forward with a plan to add on to existing bike lanes. She said there is growing support in the community and neighboring area for its implementation.
“A lot of people are beginning to ride bikes because they are becoming more health conscious and aware of the environment,” she said. “Maybe with some funds and additional resources we’ll be able to get some safe bike lanes within our city for riders.”
Montano told EGP that he hopes the feasibility study is released soon so the city can take the next step and start becoming involved in moving the project forward. He hopes residents who participated in the bike ride go beyond the event and become an active part in making the city bicycle-friendly.
“This is not just a one day thing, we hope that residents continue to participate,” Montano said.
The Montebello Bicycle Coalition meets the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Daily Brew, located at 137 N. Montebello Blvd. at 7 p.m.