Thoughts on ThinkBike L.A.: 3 – South L.A.

On September 22-23 2011, Dutch bicycle facility designers came to L.A. and worked with Angelenos to create great designs. The ThinkBike event was covered at LADOT, and L.A. Streetsblog, but the coverage didn’t include too much in the way of sharing actual designs, like S.F. Streetsblog coverage of their ThinkBike did. I figured that I would do a series of three posts (1 – Downtown, 2 – Pacoima, 3 – South L.A.) showing off more of the great work. The designs are posted at LADOT, but they’re big pdfs, difficult to search, find, and share. I’ve broken them out into place-specific entries and tried to run a lot of images and text, to make this excellent work more findable. In addition, I’ve done a fourth blog post about the overall process, which I did find a bit disappointing.


The South L.A. ThinkBike team included folks from Bikes Belong, City Planning, CROW, LACBC, LADOT, SCI-Arc, TRUST South L.A., and USC. The pdf of their full slide show is on-line at LADOT.

Overview of the South L.A. ThinkBike Area Planned

The geographical focus for the team was the area that surrounds the USC Campus and Exposition Park, especially Jefferson Boulevard, Vermont Avenue, University Avenue and 36th Place. This area has the highest percentage of bicycle commuting for all of Los Angeles County, largely due to USC students and staff bicycling to campus. The near-campus neighborhoods also have large numbers of working class bicyclists, mostly black and Latino. 

Actual un-retouched 2011 photo of the intersection of Jefferson and Hoover

One of my favorite parts of the whole closing session were the designs that the South L.A. team came up with for Jefferson Boulevard, along the northern edge of USC. Here’s their map of existing conditions:

Jefferson Boulevard along USC, current conditions

Much of Jefferson Boulevard includes a landscaped median island which has no gaps at places where cyclists and pedestrians would like to cross. When folks bicycling south to USC cannot easily cross Jefferson,  they instead bike against traffic or bike on the sidewalk. This is especially true for cyclists heading south on Orchard Avenue.

Here’s a map of the solutions that the ThinkBike session produced:

ThinkBike solutions for Jefferson Boulevard along USC

ThinkBike called for basic bike lanes on Jefferson Blvd, from west of Vermont Avenue to east of Hoover Street. In addition, they smartly called for a two-way bike path on the north side of Jefferson between Orchard and McClintock Avenue – essentially supporting the existing “desire lines” that call for wrong-way and sidewalk riding behavior.

Rendering of two way bike-path along north side of Jefferson - from Orchard to McClintock

For the intersection of Hoover and Jefferson, shown in the photo above and already a pedestrian scramble intersection, ThinkBike proposed a speed table – which is basically a big wide speed bump.

Speed table planned for the intersection of Jefferson and Hoover

Further east at the intersection of Jefferson Blvd and Grand Avenue, ThinkBike proposed a bike box that would make left turns safer and easier for cyclists traveling north, toward Mercado La Paloma and toward Downtown L.A.

Bike box proposed for the intersection of Jefferson and Grand

For Vermont Avenue, along the west edge of Exposition Park, the street is relatively narrow, and includes a landscaped median. Unless automobile campacity is removed, it’s not possible to squeeze a bike lane into the existing street width. ThinkBike recommended adding a two-way bike path in the current frontage right-of-way along Exposition Park. This area currently includes a D.G. (decomposed granite) surface and two lines of trees:

Exposition Park frontage area along Jefferson Boulevard - existing conditions

ThinkBike proposed a bike path in between the lines of trees:

Rendering of bike path along Vermont Avenue edge of Exposition Park

I think that this bike path is a great idea. Those blocks of Vermont Avenue are uncomfortable to ride, even for experienced intrepid cyclists like yours truly. The bike path could serve as a connection to the Metro Expo Line light rail station at Vermont and Exposition Boulevard, as well as a recreational feature to enhance the park. One caveat: this land is not under city jurisdiction; the project would require approval from the California State Exposition Park Authority.

In addition to facilities along the larger thoroughfares, ThinkBike came up with this design for 36th Place (from Normandie Avenue to Vermont Avenue) as a Bicycle Boulevard:

ThinkBike design for Bicycle Boulevard on 36th Place

The bike boulevard on 36th Place is part of the city’s Bike Plan, where it’s designated a future “bike-friendly street.” The ThinkBike team shows chicanes, sharrows, crosswalk treatments at large intersections, and a bike corral that would serve the adjacent commercial center and public library.

Additionally, ThinkBike showed conversion of University Avenue (from 30th Street to Jefferson Boulevard) to include bike and ped features. Lastly ThinkBike proposed a European treatments for the Metro Expo Line rail to make it more difficult for bike wheels to get caught in the tracks.

See the full pdf of the Downtown L.A. ThinkBike presentation at LADOT website. See also the other ThinkBike posts: 1 – Downtown L.A., 2 – Pacoima, and 4 – Process.

One thought on “Thoughts on ThinkBike L.A.: 3 – South L.A.

  1. Pingback: Felony charges in SaMo road rage after all, and I nearly run down a seemingly semi-suicidal cyclist « BikingInLA

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