About the author: Tapatío Flores is an undocumented migrant student who resides in Pacoima and goes to Los Angeles Mission College. The Jalisco, Mexico, native graduated from San Fernando High School and is a part of the San Fernando Valley Dream Team. He captures community activism through his camera lens and plans on eventually pursuing a degree at CSUN in photojournalism with a minor in Spanish journalism. The original version of the article was published last winter on Tapatío’s blog.
Last winter, the cyclist community from Pacoima received a new bike lane as a holiday present.
The bike lane is located on Van Nuys Boulevard and it runs from Foothill Boulevard to San Fernando Road. Despite its short distance, it is something the community has needed for quite a while.
Bicycle enthusiasts did not hesitate to ride the new lanes as a form of recreation.
“We are happy about them and they should build as much as possible,” Ken Frederick said.
Frederick is project manager at Pacoima Beautiful, a nonprofit organization in Pacoima that promotes environmental education, advocacy and local leadership in order to foster a healthy and safe environment.
Community member Alexis Montoya expressed her feelings about the bike lanes, “I think they came late because people are already using their bikes in this community. But I think it is exciting to begin seeing people using them, and they can be safe at the same time.”
Historically, there has only been one well-known bike lane in the whole neighborhood, which begins at the end of Glenoaks and finishes at Van Nuys.
In addition, there are also two other bike routes that not everyone knows about. One of them is located on Osborne Street starting on San Fernando Road and continues all the way to Woodman Avenue, ending in Arleta.
The other bike lane is located on Paxton Street, and it also starts on San Fernando Road. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a sign that says where it ends. Also, it does not even show up on Google Maps or the Metro Bike Maps.
However, a few months ago when the city’s streets were under restoration, a new bike lane was also placed on Glenoaks Boulevard starting at Paxton Street and finishing on Brownell Street, a block before the San Fernando Swap Meet. And more recently, this bike lane was connected with the bike lane that ends on Van Nuys Boulevard.
Carlos Hernandez, a member of the collective Bikesan@s del Valle, mentioned, “It’s always better to have more bike lanes. People don’t feel the safest when riding on the streets, and the bike lanes help both the bike riders and drivers understand that there are bicyclists. Regardless of the bike lanes, people are going to ride out of necessity or out of pure fun, but the lanes are a positive step in making this a more accessible city for those who don’t have automobiles because they can’t afford them.”
Bikesan@s del Valle is a bicycling resource and social justice group that implements collective grassroots work in the northeast San Fernando Valley. This year, they will make an effort to establish a stronger presence to represent bicyclists of the area.
In Pacoima, the bicycle, other than being used for exercise, is also a form of transportation that spans generations. Residents use bicycles to move from one place to another because the public transportation system in the San Fernando Valley is not the most convenient.
Frederick also said that bike lanes are necessary for Pacoima because “…it is a…transit-dependent community, and biking helps with getting to transit and meeting local needs. Biking is fairly low cost.”
More bike lanes are needed, especially in the northeast San Fernando Valley. “Bikes are one of the main transportation modes being used here in the community,” Montoya added. “At least now, the community is catching up on becoming bicycle friendly.”
Words and photos by Tapatío Flores.