Some Easy Bike Lane Projects L.A. Can Do Right Away

I’ve been pretty critical of the city of Los Angeles Transportation Department’s (LADOT’s) August 2011 announcement to implement lots of sharrows instead of actually implementing the bike plan the city approved in March 2011. Sharrows are wimpy. Bike lanes are proven effective.

The city should be fulfilling its pledge with 40 miles of bike lanes - like these lanes recently added to Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard

Some folks have said: “OK, Joe, you don’t like the city’s sharrows – but what should they be doing?” Generally my answer is: BIKE LANES!

This blog post is a more long-winded response to the question of what projects I think L.A. should be implementing right now. Below I list bikeway projects that I think are good – and that I think that the city of L.A. could move forward with quickly.

I tend to favor easy “low-hanging fruit” projects. I’d love to see protected bike lanes, bike boulevards, road diets… but I think that these will take a relatively long time. Under current city biases, these ambitious projects can take years; so I tend to favor the easier bike lane projects. The good news is that the city is already doing quite a few of these easy projects – for example, recent lanes on Vermont Avenue and Washington Place.

My list below (sorry the framing is getting long, and it’s not over yet) are all EASY bike lane projects – aka low-hanging fruit – specifically:

  • Bike LANES – not sharrows, not bike routes, not “bike-friendly streets.”
  • NO CAR LANE REMOVAL – Bike lanes that can be implemented in the existing roadway without impacting through-traffic-capacity.

The list below are the cheap, easy, quick projects that can get the city to its pledged 40 miles this fiscal year. My sense is that if the city can actually complete more easy painless bike lane projects, L.A. drivers will see more bike lanes and will come to expect them. Soon, with greater public acceptance, the city can move on to doing additional and more ambitious projects.

I’ve broken my list into three categories. There’s a tiny bit of overlap, but this is how I thought these through, so I’ve kept them in the different groups. Again these are all easy bike lane projects that can be done with no removal of car lane capcity:

  1. Easy Bike Lane projects in the city 5-year plan (7.8 miles)
  2. Easy Bike Lane projects on LADOT sharrows list (5.1 miles)
  3. Easy Bike Lane project LADOT approved but not done (0.8 mile)

1. Easy Bike Lane projects in the Five-Year Implementation Strategy document

These are all easy, no-through-lane removal bike lane projects – all already approved in the city’s 5-Year Implementation Strategy document.

  • Avenue 18 28 – from Pepper to Figueroa 0.48miles (Cypress Park)
  • Bellevue Avenue – from Echo Park to Marion 0.50miles (Angelino Hts)
  • Burton Way – from San Vicente to Doheny 0.70miles (Beverly Hills adjacent)
  • Colorado Blvd – from Ave 64 to Figueroa 0.50 miles (Eagle Rock)
  • Cypress Avenue – from Gay to Figueroa 0.28miles (Cypress Park)
  • Eagle Rock Blvd – from Westdale to Colorado 0.70 miles (Eagle Rock)
  • Huntington Drive – from Kendall to Collis 1.98miles (El Sereno)
  • Marion Avenue – from Sunset to Bellevue 0.10miles (Angelino Hts – contiguous with Bellevue above)
  • Rampart Blvd – from Beverly to 6th 0.60miles (Westlake)
  • Riverside Drive – from Van Nuys to Tyrone 0.26 (Sherman Oaks)
  • San Vicente Blvd – from La Cienega to Wilshire 0.60 (Beverly Hills adjacent – contiguous with Burton Way above)
  • Tuxford Street – from Glenoaks to Sunland 0.25miles (Sunland) [listed as Tuxford Street in 5-Year plan, but 5-year map shows this to include part of Tuxford Street and part of La Tuna Canyon Road)
  • Washington Place – from Zanja to Centinela 0.40miles (Mar Vista – working with Culver City to extend recently-striped Washington Place lanes in L.A. and in Culver City)
  • Westwood Boulevard – from Wellworth to Le Conte 0.50miles (Westwood)
  • TOTAL 7.85miles

2. Easy Bike Lane projects on the August 2011 LADOT sharrows list

These locations are all on the ill-considered city sharrows listwhich LADOT described as streets “too narrow for bicycle lanes” but actually contained many excellent examples of locations where bike lanes can be added without impacting through-traffic capacity.

  • 51st Street – from Hooper to Long Beach Avenue 0.5miles (South L.A.)
  • Arden Place - from Arden Blvd to Rossmore 0.05miles (Hancock Park)
  • Colden Avenue – from Avalon to Clovis 0.5miles (South L.A.)
  • Fountain Avenue – from La Brea to Highland 0.3miles (Hollywood)
  • Fountain Avenue – from Vine to Bronson 0.5miles (Hollywood)
  • Fountain Avenue – from Western to St. Andrews 0.1miles (Hollywood)
  • Laurel Canyon Blvd – from Hamlin St. Oxnard St. 0.6miles (North Hollywood)
  • McConnell Avenue – from Culver to Ballona Creek 0.3miles (Mar Vista)

    McConnell Avenue is 44 feet wide, easy street to add bike lanes without removing any car lanes

  • Redondo Blvd – from La Brea to Jefferson 2.3miles (Mid City)
  • TOTAL 5.15 miles

3. Bike Lane project LADOT already approved but that hasn’t been implemented yet

This project is listed on the LADOT website as having been “signed” (approved) in June 2009, but is still awaiting implementation.

  • Anaheim Street – from Gaffey to Figueroa 0.8miles (Harbor City)
  • TOTAL 0.8miles
The overall total of these three categories is 13.8 miles of new bike lanes.
So far this fiscal year (since July 1st 2011), the city has added 12.4 miles of new bike lanes:
From various LADOT sources, the following bike lane projects are anticipated in early 2012:
  • Aviation Blvd – from Imperial Hwy to Century 0.98mile (LAX – source Bike Plan Qrtly Report)
  • Devonshire Street – from Reseda to Hayvenhurst 2.49miles (Northridge source – Bike Plan Qrtly Report)
  • Foothill Blvd – from Wheatland to Wentworth 1.5miles (Lake View Terrace – source Bike Plan Qrtly Report)
  • Main Street – from Grand Blvd to city of Santa Monica 0.9miles (Venice – source Bike Plan Qrtly Report)
  • Main Street – from 9th to 16th 0.7miles (Downtown – source DLANC website)
  • Porter Ranch Drive – from Rinaldi to Corbin 0.5miles (Porter Ranch – source LADOT website)
  • Rose Avenue – from Lincoln to 4th 0.47miles (Venice – source Bike Plan Qrtly Report)
  • Vermont Avenue – from I105 to 88th Street 2.1miles (South L.A. – source Bike Plan Qrtly Report)
  • York Blvd Avenue – from Avenue 55 to Figueroa 0.9miles (Highland Park – source Bike Plan Qrtly Report)
  • TOTAL 10.54miles
So… for the wonks out there still reading, looks like this total-wise for bike lanes:
  • 12.46 miles – completed since July 2011
  • 10.54 miles – on LADOT’s lists as coming within a few months
  • 13.8 miles – on Joe’s lists of easy bike lane projects
  • TOTAL: 36.8 miles
So, the way I see it, with easy projects, the city may well get to the mayor’s pledged total of 40 miles this fiscal year.
Note that I don’t think that any of my lists are exhaustive… I am one bicyclist working with some friends, and I can’t get out and measure and analyze all the potential bike lane streets in Los Angeles. As I live in Koreatown, the places where I ride and measure tend to more toward the center of L.A., so I expect that cyclists and the LADOT can find additional streets with sufficient width to easily add new bike lanes.

(Big thanks to Julia Lippe-Klein and Charlie Peel for working on this. For anyone interested in double-checking my work, here’s my spreadsheet where I’ve tracked and totaled bike lanes implemented each year, and my recommended projects.)

25 thoughts on “Some Easy Bike Lane Projects L.A. Can Do Right Away

  1. Eeeee! It’s called York Boulevard, not Avenue! The only other person I know who made that mistake was Chris K when writing as ladotbikeblog (and you corrected him)! Hehe, anyway… well, I’m impressed with that list, and there are streets (not in bike plan) that are wide enough for bike lanes without lane reduction. Let’s get started– with Eagle Rock Boulevard and York Boulevard!

  2. Right – Severin /Walkeaglerock – it’s York Blvd – I’ve corrected it now.

    There are a lot of good easy projects in NELA – Colorado, Eagle Rock Blvd, York (where it shouldn’t be difficult to extend the approved lane reduction all the way to South Pasadena – I didn’t include that because it’s a reduction in car capacity.)

  3. What an amazing list. I feel like this could be divided between volunteers to get the word out. THANK YOU Joe for your effort and dedication.

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  5. Wow. I don’t want to think about how much time and effort went into this. Thanks for laying this out for all of us. Low hanging fruit – in the middle of Winter! Only in L.A.

  6. Roadblock – yes – my thought is to get folks (cyclists, neighborhood councils, schools, businesses) to write letters of support for these projects. I think that, even for the easier already-approved projects, we need to generate awareness and support to make sure they move forward.

    I’ve been starting this, just barely, with folks starting to work on Avenue 18, Cypress Avenue, and Rampart Blvd. If anyone out there wants to volunteer to campaign for implementation of any easy, low-hanging fruit facilities, let me know and I can help. Easy first steps might include generating emails and letters to council offices.

  7. As I said before, why would you want to shunt cyclists to the side on McConnell Blvd? Your picture shows them riding freely in the middle of the street. Why force cyclists to use a small bicycle lane on the side of the street?

  8. @Greg – what the bike lane does is position the cars there closer to the middle of the street. Research ( http://www2.cambridgema.gov/cdd/et/bike/bike_hamp_study.pdf ) shows that bike lanes result in safer positioning of both cars and bicycles. Additionally, bike lanes would visually narrow the street, arguably psychologically resulting in slower car speeds. The lanes would also serve to visually legitimize bicycling as a valid important use of the road. It’s my opinion that bike lanes would make sense on McConnell – and would make it safer and better for bicycling, walking and driving.

  9. In contrast, I’ve seen preliminary markings for new bike lanes in Santa Monica, some of which were listed in the bike action plan, which is in final draft stage. I’ve been told that these new lanes are going to be put in now because all they require are paint on the ground and no moving of existing lanes–exactly the reasoning used above.

    Listening, LADOT?

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  11. Thanks for the post. The key is to default to bike lanes and downgrade to sharrows only if absolutely necessary. That action should come though a process where alternatives are reviewed and documented, and if the conclusion is sharrows, then supported as such. Now it’s ad-hoc. Worse, it defaults to sharrows. They’re cheap.

    In Beverly Hills we’ve been pressing for (so-called) progressive treatments for four chosen ‘pilot’ routes. In November, the city’s consultant came back with options for them, but in nearly every route segment (indeed those that cry for separated modes) the recommendation was more of the same: ‘share the lane.’

    Why? Our Traffic & Parking Commissioners hamstrung the consultant by saying “no change to traffic patterns” and “no removal of parking.” C’mon, guys, use some imagination, we said.
    Were the default the bike lane, then recommended sharrows would need to be supported as the only possible option. “Here’s why we can’t remove parking….” Or, “A road diet is impractical BECAUSE….”
    Read more about our process, such as it is:
    http://betterbike.org/2012/01/a-sobering-recap-of-beverly-hills-bike-planning/

  12. For parts of Eagle Rock Boulevard where there is presently a bike lane we could install separated bike lanes without reducing the number of motor vehicle lanes or parking– about 5 feet adjacent to the media is just painted yellow stripes. Damn, we have low hanging fruit and can install our first separated bike lane without removing ANY motor vehicle lanes!

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  14. Hi Joe,

    I briefly looked at your reference for bike lanes. I’m curious to understand more of your opinion. I had always learned that bike lanes have a number of disadvantages. Motorists pass significantly closer when you are in a bike lane in contrast to sharrows where you are given a wide berth. You are also more likely to get into a collision at an intersection because of decreased visibility from sidestreets and an inability to maneuver around motorists cutting into the main street you are riding on. And my opinion is that distracted motorists texting are significantly more likely to rear-end you because you are not in front of them, but at the edge of their peripheral vision. In addition, some motorists get upset when you don’t stay in your bike lane, say when you are going around a parked car, avoiding a car door, or going around other obstructions. Right hooks also seem more frequent with bike lanes. Bike lanes also have a number of advantages such as filtering by heavy traffic when done cautiously, as well as narrowing car lanes so vehicles drive more carefully. But filtering can also be achieved by lane splitting.

    I agree with you that bike lanes are a positive step forward, but I’m not completely convinced they are better than sharrows. But I agree with many people here that you do great work.

    Respectfully,
    John

  15. Another note is that bike lanes are very dangerous on downhills, as well as because many are in the door zone. For example, on Motor Avenue, the sharrows allow me to use the full lane on the descent. I ignore the bike lanes on Motor Avenue because it is dangerous to use them when riding 25 mph downhill and trying to avoid cars cutting into the main street.

    On the other hand, an example of a bike lane that is really useful in Santa Monica Blvd. But a friend of mine rides it at night, and she says the motorists sometimes pass very closely because of the narrow car lanes.

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  17. The Redondo Blvd bike lane is a bit of a disaster. It’s impossible to leagally drive down that street now. Your either forced to drive in the bike lane or drive in transition lanes and over double solid lines.

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  21. Stumbled upon this post while doing some research on LA bike lanes. Interesting that here we are two years later, and most of these have been implemented. Some have not, but others have gone way beyond the low-hanging-fruit concept. Progress.

    Maybe a 2014 low-hanging-fruit post is called for! :)

  22. @Rich – There’s a lot of water under the proverbial bridge since I did this list. LADOT has striped something around 150-200 miles of new bike lanes, the vast majority being low-hanging fruit – but there’s still low-hanging fruit remaining. I was bicycling in South L.A. yesterday and saw plenty of width on streets including 12th Avenue.

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