They want bike lanes.
With the support of Olympian road racer Tony Cruz and a crew of dedicated riders from Downey, the youth asked the city to fast track a program to add a few bicycle lanes to the city.
Sixteen-year-old Warren High School Junior Mario Lopez said it’s dangerous to ride in the street when motorists don’t expect to encounter a bike rider.
“I think bike lanes would make people more alert,” Lopez said. “People back out of their driveways and they don’t expect someone to be going by on a bike. Also, I think it would keep bicyclists off the sidewalk. Pedestrians could use the sidewalk, and bicyclists would be down on the street.”
The riders started at Furman Park and finished at City Hall, where they got a quick pep talk from the adults and then filled the City Council chambers.
Cruz, who lives in Long Beach, said his home city has launched an ambitious plan to create bike lanes throughout the city.
“We’ve added 80 miles of bike lanes during the last two years, and we have 50 more coming up,” he said.
Before the the youth walked into the Downey City Council meeting, Cruz told the 80 young men and women that the process of getting bike lanes can be a long one, but that city officials generally like the idea of creating a more-active society.
Downey resident Lars Clutterham has been working on the bike issue for years, and he said the staff at City Hall have been very warm to the idea of creating bike lanes. The city had an intern measure the width of streets all over the city and then provided Clutterham with the data.
“They’ve been great,” he said.
He said he hopes the city will eventually create a master plan for bicycle paths.
“I understand that right now there are a lot of problems with financing, and that the government doesn’t have the money,” he said.
Downey interim Community Services Director said the city could apply for a grant to create a master plan, but that the application process itself takes weeks of work to prepare.
The youth and their adult supporters were still optimistic they could work something out with the city.