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Originally published Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 8:57 PM

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Officials in car-centric LA approve bike lane plan

Los Angeles officials approved a plan Tuesday that aims to get residents of the notoriously auto-centric city out of their cars and onto bicycles by linking its sprawling communities with an extensive network of bicycle lanes and trails.

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES —

Los Angeles officials approved a plan Tuesday that aims to get residents of the notoriously auto-centric city out of their cars and onto bicycles by linking its sprawling communities with an extensive network of bicycle lanes and trails.

The bicycle master plan unanimously approved by the City Council sets a long-term goal of some 1,680 miles of interconnected bikeways and calls for 200 miles of the new bike paths to be added every five years.

The city currently has fewer than 400 miles of bikeways in a patchwork of segments.

"We've always given the automobile the priority, and the bicycles were secondary," Councilman Ed Reyes said. "Now we're changing and we're having a cultural shift."

Bike enthusiasts had lobbied vigorously for the plan, arguing that sharing streets with cars, as most do now, is too dangerous.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also became a fierce advocate for designated bike lanes last year after he shattered an elbow in a bike accident with a taxi cab.

The mayor is expected to lead a Wednesday morning rally to celebrate the plan's passage with city officials, cycling activists, health advocates and others.

"We are investing in bicycling as a viable transportation option and in the process encouraging Angelenos to lead healthy, active lifestyles," Villaraigosa said in a statement after the Council vote. "Los Angeles is on the path to becoming a world-class city for bicycling."

Councilman Bill Rosendahl said Measure R, a transportation sales tax approved by county voters in 2008, could provide some $1.75 million each year for bike infrastructure, with additional funding coming from state and city transit agency sources.

Reyes said bike infrastructure improvements were a wise investment for the city's growing population.

"It's estimated that the population of the city will double in the next 10 to 15 years, and we don't have any more room for bigger cars," he said.

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