“The community and its leaders knew that we had a choice to make. We could do nothing and deal with the community impacts of snarled car traffic. Or Culver City could become a public sector leader in the area of transportation mobility.” Mayor Alex Fisch spoke to an excited crowd at City Hall before cutting the ribbon on the MOVE Culver City project, changing the downtown corridor into a multi-lane bike, bus and car thoroughfare.
Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 was an auspicious day, not just for Culver City, but for Los Angeles County and even the state of California. The official opening of the MOVE Culver City project was an occasion for speeches and celebrations, with City Hall decorated with booths and balloons. The unique bus lane/bike lane project that was completed in only six weeks of construction changes the flow of traffic from the intersection of Culver Boulevard and Duquesne Avenue all the way down to Washington Boulevard and La Cienega Avenue. With automobile access now on one lane, the space created for bikes and buses will change the focus on transportation downtown.
Mayor Alex Fisch, who championed the project through every obstacle, was effusive. “We started a community discussion ten years ago about the economic growth that we anticipated and the worsening traffic that it would bring, as well as advancing technology that could help... We chose to be proactive and find solutions rather than watch gridlock overrun our community.”
Culver CityBus, an agency that has won both national and international awards for ‘Best Fleet’ has already launched the first electric bus, and has more on order. The conversation with the community over what changes could be most useful and how bus ridership could be expanded was an intensive three year process that began in 2015 and continued through to 2018.
Centering on the Metro Line/Expo Station and the designation of a ‘transit oriented district,’ Mayor Fisch noted “that [community conversation] process led directly into our Oct 2018 decision when the City Council approved a focus on mobility as one of our five strategic Council priorities.”
The launch of the ‘Next CC Bus’ app in 2019 has allowed Culver City bus riders to track every local transportation system was a part of the progress. Out of 150 bus stops in Culver City, 75 of them have electronic signs announcing real time arrivals.
What is perhaps the most important factor in the whole plan is CityRide, a brand new pilot minibus that is the first of its kind in the nation. “This is an electric minibus that will provide first and last mile transportation to and from buses and trains as well as help downtown and arts district visitors move throughout the corridor enhancing enjoyment of all the local businesses.”
Michelle Weiner, Chair of the Culver City Bicycle and Pedestrian Committtee noted how essential CityRide will be to the success of the project. “Culver City has needed first-last-mile infrastructure between the Expo line station and downtown Culver City, and now its finally here!”
The skills of city staff and council came through with another benefit, as Fisch offered “…we planned and built this project for just 20% of the estimated cost!”
Both State Senator Sydney Kamlager and Assembly member Issac Bryan were there to offer praise for the pilot project, with Bryan noting that during his recent trip to Glasgow for the COP26 Climate summit, he pointed out Culver City as a model. “People asking about the future, I said, just look at what Culver City is doing!”
Dylan Gottlieb of Bike Culver City, who posted a time lapse video on social media of his first-grader riding the route on a bike, was more than pleased. “The response has been really wonderful. It really shows that more of the community benefits from this [than] simply those advocating for it.”
It wasn’t just about the infrastructure – the ‘asphalt art’ of scenes from Ballona Creek has created the longest mural in Los Angeles through volunteer painters working through the final week before the launch.
With a dedicated lane for buses and another dedicated lane for bikes, with a minibus offering the crucial connection to transit hubs, and some gorgeous art all the way up the route, mobility is beginning a new chapter in downtown Culver City.
Photo credit – Karen Canady