William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review


In 2015, the City of Los Angeles adopted the controversial Mobility Plan 2035. The Plan restructures city transportation planning by emphasizing alternatives to cars for the next twenty years. Predictably, bike lanes became its most polemic aspect. The Plan envisions dramatic increases in bike lanes throughout car-obsessed Los Angeles. This bike lane increase was challenged in court, with objectors claiming that eliminating car lanes would increase congestion and compromise air quality. These arguments are ironic, since environmental justifications typically motivate bike projects.

The Mobility Plan illustrates how law supports and challenges bike lane projects. This Article argues that although this bike lane fight regards inches and miles of road space, the fight is primarily centered on how Angelinos will live in the future. As bike advocates attain popular and policy successes, they must confront legal contests driven by car-centric interests. Los Angeles shows how city planning achievements open a path for bike lane opposition armed with city governance, environmental, transportation, and land use doctrines.