The city of Los Angeles Transportation Department (LADOT) has finished striping some snazzy new bike lanes on Main Street in Venice. The Main Street bike lanes extend 0.8 miles from Windward Circle (the traffic circle at Grand Boulevard and Windward Avenue) all the way to the city limit border with Santa Monica, just northwest of Rose Avenue.
The Main Street bike lane project is a road diet. For most of this stretch, Main Street had two car lanes in each direction, with no center turn lane. LADOT removed one car lane in each direction, and added a new continuous center turn lane and new bike lanes. Road diets have been studied by all kinds of folks, including the Federal Highway Administration, and have been found to be safer for driving, walking, and, of course, bicycling. This configuration reduces car collisions, mostly because turning cars only need to cross one lane. Crossing two lanes is more dangerous due to the blind spot; a driver can see the next lane well enough, but when a car is stopped there, it can be difficult to spot oncoming traffic in the next lane over.
These lanes were debated a bit last year. Out of concern for keeping bicyclists even more out of the door zone, the Venice Neighborhood Council supported a design that gave bicyclist a little more than the bare minimum. Bike lanes next to parking are mandated to be at least five feet wide. (With no parking, next to curbs a bike lane can be four feet wide.) The Main Street lanes are 5.5 feet wide… which, frankly, is difficult to notice, unless you’re a stickler like me and you bring a measuring wheel with you. This extra half-foot does get cyclists just a bit more space that’s fully outside the door zone. It goes a little further than usual for cyclists’ safety. Wonderful!
Near Windward Circle, Main widens out and the configuration becomes very generous. Typically L.A.’s minimum would call for a 6.5-foot parking lane and a 5-foot bike lane. The three blocks between Westminster Avenue and the traffic circle have a 15-foot parking lane and a 6-foot bike lane. This means that drivers can lean a kayak perpendicular to their parked car and still not block the bike lane. It’s so spacious that I observed some cyclists riding in the parking lane buffer zone, instead of the actual bike lane.
I took a spin on the new lanes this morning. The striping looks like it’s 98% done. The bike lanes are done; there’s a handful of other street markings that are still just preliminary marks. I think the bike lanes were being finished this morning. There were plenty of cyclists using this stretch of roadway just a block from Venice Beach; some carry a surfboard under one arm.
The city of Santa Monica did bike lanes on their L.A.-adjacent stretch of Main Street a while back. It’s great that now L.A. and Santa Monica are seamlessly coordinated. The overall Main Street lanes extend from Colorado to Grand – about 2.2 miles total. It’s great that the two cities are coordinating and connecting bike infrastructure. With bike-friendly streets on both sides, now all we have is the Jonathan Borofsky Ballerina Clown to tell us that we’re entering Santa Monica.
For what it’s worth, the Main Street bike lanes were approved in the city’s 2010 Bike Plan approved in March 2011. They’re not in the city’s 5-Year Implementation Strategy; I think it looked like they were going to be implemented sooner than March 2011, so they were left out of that document (it shows on the city’s 5-Year maps as “existing and funded.”)
I think that this is a great project. In a few ways, these lanes go above and beyond the basics to make Main Street safer and friendlier for everyone. There are lots of L.A. streets that would benefit from a road diet like Main’s.
Kudos to LADOT, L.A. City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl (watch his video about these lanes!), the Venice Neighborhood Council, Bikeside, L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, and others who made these lanes a reality!