Analyzing and Mapping L.A.’s 5-Year Plan for Bikeway Implementation

In March 2011, the city of Los Angeles approved its new Bike Plan. Overall the bike plan has 1600 miles of bikeways that will take, oh, the rest of my lifetime or so, to implement… if we’re lucky. Approved with the plan is what’s called the “Five Year Implementation Strategy” which I will call just the “5-Year Plan.”

Below I’ve explained the 5-Year Plan, posted my corrected version of it, and posted maps of the bike lane facilities planned.

When the initial draft of the 5-Year Plan came out in mid-2010, I wrote this L.A. Streetsblog article analyzing it a bit. Much of that article is still valid, though the document itself underwent some changes. My conclusion at the time was that it represented “a big improvement compared to past performance.” From 1996 through 2009, L.A. implemented an average of about 5 miles per year of bike lane (67 miles in 13 years.) The 5-Year Plan was showing 40 miles per year for six* years. (*Though it’s a “5-Year” it includes year zero through year five – so it’s actually six years.)

The approved final version of the five-year plan states the following totals:

Total mileage from the city of L.A. Five-Year Implementation Strategy

Overall that’s:

  • 183.5 miles of Bike Lanes  (72.5%)
  • 7.7 miles of Bike Routes  (3.0%)
  • 62 miles of Bicycle Friendly Streets (more often called Bicycle Boulevards – smallish streets that prioritize walking/biking) (24.5%)

These three add up to 253.2 total miles in six years, or just over 40 miles per year of the six years. This appears to be where Mayor Villaraigosa got the 40 miles per year that he pledged to installlater clarified to be installed beginning fiscal year 2011-2012 – which is July 1st 2011 through June 30th 2012. Almost immediately, LADOT (in my opinion inappropriately) started painting sharrows, pretty much wholesale disregard for the 5-Year Plan.

Recently, the city requested input from cyclists regarding prioritization of the facilities in the 5-Year Plan (to see and respond to the survey go to the LADOT website here.)

The 5-Year Plan is posted online as one of those unfriendly pdf scans that one can’t actually copy text from. If that wasn’t difficult enough, the scan is masterfully arranged so that, for the tables listing the facilities, the text goes to the right on one page and to the left on the next.

To analyze the 5-Year Plan, I created a spreadsheet, which I’ve posted here. Click here for the overall spreadsheet – which includes four pages (those tabs at the bottom):

  1. Raw Copy – directly transcribing the actual city document
  2. Corrected Raw – correcting errors and inconsistencies, making unclear stuff clearer
  3. Sorted by Type – sorting the overall spreadsheet into the types of bike facilities (bike lanes, routes, and bike boulevards)
  4. Bike Lanes Only – sorting the bike lanes alphabetically by street, combining segments that are contiguous into a single entry

More details follow on each page:

Page 1. Raw Copy

The raw copy is pretty straightforward – it’s just a excel file that directly transcribes the city’s document. It’s minor, but I couldn’t quite get my transcription to match the city’s totals. The city document states 253.2 miles, and I got 253.4 miles. It’s a very tiny discrepancy (especially compared to larger discrepancies in other LADOT documents), but I went over it line by line and wasn’t quite able to get their total from their listing.

Page 2. Corrected Raw

There’s quite a few relatively small things that I don’t think make much sense in the document as approved – so I’ve made a lot of corrections. On the spreadsheet, I color-coded the corrections. BLUE highlighted changes are basically inconsequential things that I thought made better sense another way (ie: spelling errors, clarifications, conventions, etc.)  YELLOW highlighted changes are things that I found to be in error that I fixed.

Some examples of the inconsequential changes (highlighted in blue on page 2 of the spreadsheet):

  • Typos: Edgewood is listed as “Edgewodo,” Muirfield as “Murfield,” etc.
  • Clarifying segments that are clear, but incorrect: The document lists bike lanes on “Silverlake” from “Sunset” to Beverly. The actual street is “Silver Lake”, which doesn’t actually intersect Sunset (but goes under Sunset at Parkman), so I’ve correct it to “Silver Lake” from “Parkman” to Beverly.
  • Combining duplicate segments: For segments of streets that are the dividing line between two council districts, the city document lists the segment twice, each time with half of the actual mileage. This is just a convention, not an error, but I initially found it confusing. When measuring these, I only listed the total mileage once.
  • Minor mileage discrepancies: Where I checked the distance (using Google maps) and my measure differed less than 0.1 mile from the city document, I used my measurement… but I figure that it’s not a significant difference.
  • Substituting actual streets for city limits: There are quite a few segment end points listed only as “city limit”, which Google maps doesn’t quite recognize. I looked up the boundary and put in actual street names. For example, the city document lists “Washington” from “city limits” to “city limits.” Though that text isn’t really clear, based on mileage and maps, it’s possible to figure out where it actually is. I’ve updated that segment to “Washington Place” from “Grand View” to “Albright.”

Some examples of the errors I’ve fixed (highlighted in yellow on page 2 of the spreadsheet):

  • Mileage discrepancies: In some cases the city distance is significantly greater than or less than the actual mileage. Examples: York from Eagle Rock to Figueroa is shown on the city document as 1.4 miles, but the actual distance is greater: 2.2 miles. Sherman Way from Hazeltine to Balboa is shown on the city document as 4.0 miles, but the actual distance is less: 3.5 miles.
  • Correcting end point errors: The listing contains some segments that that don’t actually exist. Examples: The city document lists Redondo from Olympic to San Vicente, but Redondo and Olympic don’t actually intersect (they come close – about a quarter block off), so I corrected this one to Redondo from La Brea to San Vicente.
  • Bike lane on Zoo Drive in Griffith Park, November 2010

  • Existing facilities: The city document contains some bike lanes that already exist. For example, the document lists bike lanes on Zoo Drive and Western Heritage Way in Griffith Park. I zeroed out the mileage for these because re-doing existing lanes doesn’t create any new mileage.
  • Duplicates: The city document includes some duplicates. Examples: Abbott Kinney from Venice to Washington is listed twice, exactly the same extent. 2nd Street is listed from Hill to Main and from Spring to Main, which is included entirely in the former extent. I zeroed out the mileage on all duplicates.
  • Miscellaneous other corrections:  “Avenue 64″ is listed as “Avenue 46″, etc., etc., etc.

Though I corrected a lot of mileage numbers, some increased and some decreased, cancelling each other out.   The initial document showed a total of 253.4 miles; my corrected document shows to 245.5 miles. The overall mileage total went down just a bit: 7.9 fewer miles – 3% of the total.

Page 3. Sort by Type

I took the corrected version and sorted it into bike lanes, bike routes, and bike boulevards.

Page 4. Bike Lanes Only

I tend to focused primarily on bike lane projects. In my opinion, bike routes are generally meaningless, and bike boulevards seem pretty difficult for today’s LADOT to do well – for example, see my account of LADOT’s recent difficulties in doing meaningful changes on Fourth Street. I think that we’ll be able to do some great bike boulevard projects… some day… but for now, I’m not expecting much.

So, for this page of the spreadsheet, I sorted the bike lane projects alphabetically by street name. Where the 5-Year Plan shows multiple contiguous listings for a bike lane facility, I clumped them all into a single listing. (Mostly the city 5-Year Plan document splits segments out based on council district jurisdictions; though sometimes they’re split up for no apparent reason.)

With the multiple listings clumped and the bike lanes listed in alphabetical order, the document becomes more readable… and from there, I mapped all the bike lanes on seven bike maps:

  1. Central Los Angeles – bounded by La Cienega, the 10 Freeway, the L.A. River, and the Santa Monica Mountains – includes Downtown, Hollywood, Koreatown, etc.
  2. East Side – east of the L.A. River, east of the Arroyo Seco – includes Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, etc.
  3. Harbor – south of the 91 Freeway, includes Wilmington, San Pedro, etc.
  4. North East Los Angeles – East of the L.A. River, West of the Arroyo Seco – includes Cypress Park, Atwater Village, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, etc.
  5. San Fernando Valley – north of the Santa Monica Mountains – includes Reseda, Sherman Oaks, Sunland, Canoga Park, etc.
  6. South Los Angeles – south of the 10 Freeway and north of the 91 Freeway – includes Watts, Leimert Park, etc.
  7. West Los Angeles – west of La Cienega – includes Mar Vista, Venice, Westwood, etc.
Here are maps embedded:
Central
East Side
Harbor
NELA
San Fernando Valley
South Los Angeles
West Los Angeles

A couple notes about these maps: They include only the bike lane facilities listed in the city’s 5-Year Plan. Most of the bike lane projects are shown in green. The city has now completed some of these projects, so I’ve mapped facilities that are entirely complete in yellow. What’s not shown that would be helpful is existing facilities… I think I may go back in and show those (probably in blue.) This will include some facilities that are partially complete (including 7th Street) which I am not sure yet how to show. So the maps may well be updated over time…

From here, I am interested in looking further into which facilities are most easily implemented right away – ie: the low hanging fruit. Keep your rss tuned to this blog for further developments.

(Huge huge huuuuuge thanks to Julia Lippe-Klein for contributing a lot to the analysis and mapping for this article. Anyone out there want to help us with mapping and/or measuring some of these streets? Leave a comment or email linton.joe [at] gmail.com)

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9 thoughts on “Analyzing and Mapping L.A.’s 5-Year Plan for Bikeway Implementation

  1. Thanks for the analysis, Joe – the post is very helpful to understanding where things stand relative to DOT’s stated intent. I’ll be curious to read your subjective take on the material… say, your impressions of the quality of the DOT work so far, or whether you see the dept. proceeding wisely (i.e., picking low-hanging fruit or reaching for the stars).
    I’ll also be curious whether you feel that additional work with the bike folks might have produced a better (or more accurate) implementation program, and if so, whether it could have made a difference in the longer run.

    Here in Beverly Hills, it’s been utterly laughable:

    -Our only bike-related deliverable to date has been a map of our 24 or so bike racks, and that map was too inaccurate to be of value. I mean, we were promised the map for months! I created an improved version from scratch and it took about three hours all told. Neither map is posted online yet. After a year.
    -Our city routinely posts online agendas for public meetings in a PDF format that reads as gibberish to Mac users without an adobe-branded plugin. No readable text at all. I’ve complained about it for a year-and-a-half. Their response? They’re not legally required to post online.
    -We routinely held public meetings for one of our committees behind locked doors in a totally unmarked building. When I complained, they stopped making that meeting public. By invitation and escort now – but I’m invited at least.

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