Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane on the Way!

Spring Street between 6th and 7th in Downtown Los Angeles. The two right/west lane markings have been scraped away in order to re-stripe with a brand new green buffered bike lane.

I noticed yesterday that the city has “erased” some of old lane markings on Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. The two right-side (west-side) lane markings have been scraped off… in preparation for an awesome new buffered bike lane. 

Here’s what Spring Street will look like very soon:

Rendering of what Spring Street will look like by December. Image created by Valerie Watson, Boardmember of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council

The city of L.A. Transportation Department (LADOT) is moving fast on this one! It’s been covered at LACBC, Streetsblog, Downtown News, Curbed, Brigham Yen, and BlogDowntown, but I’ll toss my summary into the blogosphere, too.

The word is that city officials, including Mayor Villaraigosa, were inspired by the designs from the recent ThinkBike event. They pressed LADOT and asked what could happen right away. DOT had crunched the traffic numbers on Spring and determined that a car lane could be removed without significantly snarling Spring Street traffic… so the project got the go-ahead.

These are called “buffered” bike lanes, because there’s a striped buffer between the bike lane and the first lane of through traffic.

I have to admit that I was skeptical of this project when I first saw the image… but I’ve thought about it a bunch, and, now, I really like it! Generally I think that one-way bike lanes on one-way streets are better on the left side of the street. That’s where San Francisco and New York City generally put them. There are a few reasons why this is preferred:

  • Less car-door conflict: A one way lane on the left is on the passenger door side of parked cars. On the right, it’s on the driver side of parked cars. Given that most cars in L.A. only carry one person – the driver, it’s better to be in the passenger “door zone.”
  • Less transit conflict: Busses and shuttles pick up passengers on the right, so placing the lane on the left minimizes interactions/conflicts between transit and cyclists.
The trick with this facility on Spring Street is that it will merge onto Main Street at 9th Street. Below 9th, Main is a two-way street, so the city plans to implement conventional right-side bike lanes there… and it’s not trivial to switch sides from right to left (though San Francisco’s wiggle does it, on a smaller street, with a bike box.) There’s also a northbound bus counterflow lane on Spring (between 1st and Cesar Chavez) which I think could be compatible with left-side one-way bike lanes… but does present some issues.
So, right side it is… correctly here, I think… but, in my opinion, this shouldn’t set a firm precedent for all one-way bike lanes to come in Los Angeles. (Additional one-way bike lanes have already been approved for Figueroa and Flower – in the city’s 2009 Downtown Street Standards.)
So… I am excited that Spring Street will very soon have right-side buffered green bike lanes. Maybe they’ll be installed this weekend? Probably not, due to the rain… but they’ll be there soooon!
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13 thoughts on “Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane on the Way!

  1. Pingback: Streetsblog Los Angeles » Today’s Headlines

  2. I don’t like placing bike lanes on 1 way streets on the left. If the bike lane will be protected, it can definitely be designed on the right side so that conflict is reduced and almost completely avoided with buses

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2011/10/bus-stops-which-dont-cause-problems-for.html

    And for sake of consistency, I would prefer that bicycle facilities be on the right all the time rather than ‘mostly right and for 1 way streets we’ll flip it to the left side’. To me, placing bicyclists on the left is compensating for lack of willingness to provide safe facilities on the right and if the left is a compromise so that the city has to do less, chances are that those facilities won’t be as inviting to the majority of people to scared to ride bikes. Also, if parking is allowed on the left side and the bike lane is protected then bicyclists are still going to encountering negotiation with car doors opening.

    If there is any hope of restoring 1 way streets to 2 way traffic bike lanes will have to be on the right anyway.

    But mostly, for me, it’s a lack of consistency thing that bugs me…

  3. Though I think there’s room for discussion, I don’t think that consistency is better than safety. Our streets in L.A. today are consistent… but they consistently suck! and are consistently unsafe for cyclists, peds, drivers. Maybe inconsistency (sometimes called “context-sensitive solutions”) is needed. I think, at least in the U.S., protected bike facilities are still in their infancy… so we should discuss and test and see what emerges as most workable.

    I personally rode these left-side lanes in San Francisco, NYC, and Long Beach and have found that they made a lot of sense.

    For protected bike lanes, there’s actually an additional signalization factor that argues for them being located on the left. The two U.S. examples of protected lanes where I’ve ridden, New York City and Long Beach both place their one-way-street one-way protected bike lanes on the left. These facilities include a bike signal phase – ie: cars get a left turn signal while the bike signal is red, then left-turning cars get a red light while cyclists get our green. If the bike lane is on the right, then there’s a conflict with cars turning right on red lights. There’s ways around this (ie: restrict right turns to only cars’ green phase) but they’re not necessarily popular with drivers.

  4. Left lanes are so much better

    1) Drivers side. So if theres no buffer, there arent instances of being hit by a mirror. drivers know exactly where their left side is, not so much with their right.

    2) No bus conflict

    3) Less door issues

  5. Pingback: Green Bike Lane Preliminary Markings on First Street « L.A. Eco-Village Blog

  6. Is the original design for Spring Street from Thinkbike available online anywhere? If I remember correctly, the original design that got everyone excited called for wider sidewalks, protected cycle tracks, and bus stops in their own lanes. I’m excited about the green conflict paint, but why not focus on getting rid of the conflicts, rather than just color coding them. I am told this project is in it’s initial phase, with more developments to come, but I am pretty disappointed that the features with the most significance (for making bicycling safer and attractive to ALL people) are absent from the first phase. Please tell me I am wrong.

  7. Pingback: Streetsblog Los Angeles » Today’s Headlines

  8. Pingback: Update: Greening Spring and First Street « LADOT Bike Blog

  9. Just as motorists have simple, (too simple given they operate machines that kill thousands!) consistent roads I’d like the same for bicyclists, being able to ride easily and without fear. Consistently safe, easy to use facilities is what we need.

    By placing protected bike lanes on the right(as the thinkbike workshop recommended) we can potentially create the kind of infrastructure found in the Netherlands– easy, safe right turns in red lights that are completely free of conflict with motorists.

    And the left side only works for one-way streets– surely we’ll need protected bike lanes on two-way streets as well and then we will have to restrict motorists right turns for safety reasons.

    I think placing the bike lanes on the right, and restricting motorists from right turns on red, like the dutch, should be the way to go. Sure we can experiment but the dutch solutions (which have been perfected over the course of 40 years) shouldn’t be unique to the netherlands– they have wide streets, they have narrow streets, just like us. I’m not doubting that the left-side placement, I’m sure it does work, but how great would it be to come closer and closer to what the Dutch (and Danish) enjoy on a daily basis?

    I suppose I’m being a bit of a devil’s advocate but I do think we should eventually see 2 way traffic on Spring St and we should eventually be able to implement the infrastructure that provides the safest, most convenient riding for cyclists which is enjoyed by our Dutch friends.

  10. Pingback: Beautiful New Buffered Green Bike Lane on Spring Street « L.A. Eco-Village Blog

  11. Pingback: Some Recommended 2011 Pieces « THE PERIODIC FABLE

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