Grand Opening for New Virgil Avenue Bike Lanes This Saturday

At one point in the protracted Bike Plan processes, the city of Los Angeles labeled the Virgil Avenue bike lanes as “infeasible.” Thanks to persistence from local cyclists, including Eco-Villagers, and leadership from then-Councilmember now-Mayor Eric Garcetti (special thanks to Garcetti’s deputy Marcel Porras), the city is now striping new bike lanes on Virgil Avenue from Santa Monica Boulevard to Melrose Avenue – just northeast of L.A. Eco-Village.

The new Virgil Avenue bike lanes connect to these recent bike lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard in East Hollywood

The new Virgil Avenue bike lanes connect to these recent bike lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard in East Hollywood

The new bike lanes are a road diet – reducing four car lanes to three – adding bike lanes and making the street safer for driving, walking and bicycling. They are beginning to build the East Hollywood portion of the city’s bicycle network by connecting to recent bike lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard and are very close to bike lanes on Myra and Sunset. You can ride the new Virgil lanes nearly from the Bicycle District to the new home of the Bicycle Kitchen. Woooot! Woooooooot!

Join now-Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell in celebrating the new bike lanes at their grand opening this Saturday January 18th at 9am at Sqirl, 720 N. Virgil.

Here’s the official announcement from City Councilmember O’Farrel’s office:

Please join Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell as we celebrate the newest bike lane project in the City of Los Angeles! Continue reading

Main Street Bike Lanes Coming to Downtown L.A.

Former striping has been cleared from Downtown L.A.'s Main Street - in anticipation of bike lanes to be added this weekend

In anticipation of new bike lanes, the old lane markings have been scraped away from Main Street in Downtown Los  Angeles. It’s the second Main Street that the city is adding bike lanes to – after Main Street in Venice a couple weeks ago. This project extends the recent Spring Street bike lanes southward 0.7 miles – from 9th Street (where Spring merges onto Main) all the way to Venice Boulevard – through Downtown L.A.’s Fashion District. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

New Bike Lanes on Washington Place

New bike lanes on Washington Place in Mar Vista

Thanks, Vicki Karlan, for taking some great photos of folks riding the new Washington Place bike lanes. The lanes, which were explained in detail at this earlier post, were striped by the Los Angeles Transportation Department (LADOT) last weekend, Saturday December 10th 2011. They extend 0.77 miles – from Albright Avenue to Grand View Boulevard – in L.A.’s Mar Vista neighborhood, adjacent to Culver City.  Continue reading

Some Good Bicycle News – from Culver City and Mar Vista

New bike lanes on Washington Place in Culver City - alongside Tito's Tacos on Washington Place just west of Sepulveda

I was on the Westside yesterday for L.A. Streetsblog‘s end-of-the-year party (at the wonderful, yummy Earl’s Gourmet Grub on Venice Blvd), so I got the opportunity to ride on Culver City’s new bike lanes on Washington Place and Bentley Avenue. Apologies that it was late at night, hence the really poor photos.  Continue reading

Green Bike Lane Preliminary Markings on First Street

The squares in the foreground will soon be green - one of Los Angeles' first green pavement bike lanes. First Street at State Street in Boyle Heights.

This seems to be the week for announcing the preliminaries appearing on the streets for some good green bike facilities in Los Angeles. Earlier, we showed off the preliminaries on the new green buffered bike lanes on Spring Street downtown. Today it’s the green… well almost green (think Bruce Banner) …preliminaries painted onto First Street in Boyle Heights.  Continue reading

First Bike Lanes Reach Hollywood

Biking the new Cahuenga Boulevard bike lanes

The population-dense central neighborhoods of Los Angeles, though relatively popular for bicycling, lack bicycle facilities. In general, citywide, bicycling has been a very low priority for the City of Los Angeles’ Transportation Department (LADOT), but LADOT, under pressure from L.A.’s cycling communities, is beginning to implement a few long-overdue facilities in central L.A.

LAEV recently reported on the new First Street lanes (first bike lanes in Boyle Heights) and the new Seventh Street bike lanes (first bike lanes in Koreatown, Westlake and Downtown L.A.) Today, I got a chance to ride the new bike lanes on Cahuenga Boulevard. These are the first bike lanes in Hollywood.  Continue reading

Sharrow Study: Sharrows No Substitute for Bike Lanes

When you're the LADOT and you don't really want to implement approved Bike Plan facilities, do sharrows on streets wide enough for bike lanes instead. Grrrr.

Thanks to reader-commenter Marcotico for referring me to bicycle expert Mia Birk’s blog post which lead me to this San Francisco study on sharrows. Thanks to Birk for pointing out that: (p17)

This study … does not recommend that shared lane markings [ie: sharrows] be used as a substitute for bicycle lanes where they are a feasible option.

Even the folks who like sharrows aren’t doing them where bike lanes are easily feasible. Unfortunately, this is exactly what LADOT says that they’ll do “by year’s end” on nearly a dozen street segments in its we’re-doing-sharrows-instead-of-the-bike-plan list.

In the comments at her blog, Mia Birk specifically mentions that 44-foot roadway as a place for bike lanes, not sharrows. LADOT includes quite a few 44-foot-wide roadways on its list: McConnell Avenue, Fountain Avenue, 51st Street and possibly more. LADOT calls these “too narrow for bicycle lanes” and “streets that cannot easily accommodate bike lanes” but it’s just not true.  Continue reading

More Analysis Details on LADOT’s Sharrows List

Where do sharrows work best for L.A.?

This article features even more analysis of the L.A. City Transportation Department (LADOT) listing of streets where they’re going to put sharrows. I’ve spent time looking into the specifics of the list, because it seems urgent, so I am not going to dwell too much on the big picture frustration: LADOT shouldn’t be prioritizing sharrows, which are cheap and inferior to the bike lanes and bike boulevards specified in the city Bike Plan.

Instead, here I am focusing on the details of the sharrows list, hoping to head off LADOT inappropriately slapping down sharrows in the wrong places by year’s end.

The story thus far: A week ago, LADOT published a list of 20 miles of streets where they will put sharrows “by year’s end” on “streets that cannot easily accommodate bike lanes.” I responded to LADOT’s list by posting a long preliminary critique here. My sense is that LADOT is attempting to fulfill a mayor Villaraigosa’s 40-miles per year bike plan implementation pledge by implementing the cheapest easiest facilities, instead of those specified in the city Bike Plan. This was pretty much confirmed by LADOT at L.A. Streetsblog, where LADOT is quoted stating:

Some streets that receive the sharrow treatment are too narrow for bicycle lanes such as Fountain [Avenue] and Arden Bl.

So… I figured it made sense to pack my measuring wheel, round up a friend (thanks, Julia!), and bike out to some of these streets and check to see if they are actually “too narrow for bicycle lanes”.  Continue reading

Some Good Bicycle News – from Boyle Heights

Boyle Heights new bike lanes on First Street from Boyle Avenue to Lorena Street

Within the past day or two, city of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) crews striped new bike lanes on First Street in Boyle Heights. The bike lanes are 1.6 miles long, extending from Boyle Avenue to Lorena Street. The actually connect two landmarks: Mariachi Plaza (1st and Boyle) and Evergreen Cemetery (bounded by Lorena, 1st, Evergreen, and Chavez.) The lanes connect with the Metro Gold Line stations at Soto and at Mariachi Plaza.

Here’s a map showing the location of the new lanes:

Continue reading

L.A. City Sharrows List: A Few Things That Bother Me

LADOT says sharrows are coming into the ground on a street near you

Earlier this week, the city of Los Angeles’ Department of Transportation (LADOT) did a really awesome thing! They finished striping the first 2.2 miles of the 7th Street bike lanes. I figured it would be a good week, a week to celebrate bike facility progress in L.A. … but then LADOT published an article called Sharrows are good. So lets [sic] do them. It includes a list of 20 miles of L.A. streets where sharrows “will be going into [sic] the ground before the year’s end.”

I haven’t had the time to do a thorough analysis of the list. In the LADOT list, in addition to the grammatical errors (and LADOT publish and defend attitude – paraphrased as “we’re doing this by the end of the year, let us know what you think”), there are lots of things that bother me about the content of the list. Though I think that a few of these may be worthwhile projects, the majority of them are troubling for a few different reasons.  Continue reading

First Bike Lanes Reach Downtown L.A.

Bike lanes on 7th Street at Figueroa Street in Downtown L.A.

For the first time ever, Downtown Los Angeles actually has a bike lane! Over the past weekend, LADOT completed the installation of the first phase of bike lanes on 7th Street. The 7th Street bike lanes currently extend 2.2 miles from Catalina Avenue to Figueroa Street. At some point soon, the 7th Street bike lanes will be extended an additional 2.9 miles approved through downtown and all the way to Soto Street in Boyle Heights.  Continue reading

Correcting L.A.’s Stated Bikeway Mileage

Here’s a very long post analyzing some of the bikeway mileage numbers reported by the city of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT.) Here are some quick summaries:

  1. LADOT reported that it installed 54.86 miles of bike lane since July 2005, but their total is wrong. According to my review, the actual total is 34.93 miles (5.8 miles of bike lane per year on average over the past 6 years.)
  2. LADOT also reported that it installed 28.51 miles of bikeway in Fiscal Year 2010-2011 (July 1st 2010 through June 30th 2011), but their total is wrong. According to my review, the actual total is 22.36 miles.
  3. LADOT reported that it installed 17.58 miles of bike lane in FY2010-11, but their total is wrong. According to my review, the actual total is 13.50 miles.

While the 13.5 miles of bike lane implemented in FY2010-11 wasn’t as high as reported, it does represent a significant step in the right direction. It’s actually triple what the city’s annual average had been for the prior 5 years. Using the figures above, the average from 2005-2010 was 4.3 miles/year = (34.93mi – 13.5mi) / 5yrs.

The gory tldr details follow…  Continue reading

New Bike Lanes on Seventh Street

Just six blocks from Eco-Village, Seventh Street is a route that a lot of us Eco-Village residents ride to get to downtown Los Angeles. Over the past weekend, the city began installing new bike lanes on 2.2 miles of Seventh Street. The initial phase of Seventh Street bike lanes will extend from Catalina to Figueroa. The city has currently finished the lanes 0.7 miles (Catalina to Rampart), with the remaining 1.5 miles (Rampart to Figueroa) to be completed within a couple weeks. An additional 2.8 miles, from Figueroa to Soto, have been approved but with no timeline for implementation.

Though a portion of these lanes downtown were approved as part of the city’s Downtown Street Standards, as recently as 2009 in an early draft of the L.A. City Bike Plan, the Seventh Street bike lanes were declared “unfeasible.” Due to pressure from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and other bike activists, the lanes were re-examined… and are now painted on the ground!

Bicyclists are definitely using the new lanes, though they’re not quite completed yet:

New bike lanes on 7th Street

Continue reading

Visiting Some Great San Francisco Bike Facilities

Green bike lane and bike box on San Francisco's Market Street

I got a chance to vacation in San Francisco earlier this month. I took my bike up on the Amtrak Coast Starlight, did a lot of sketching, rode Sunday Streets, and had fun exploring SF’s bike facilities. It’s no surprise that San Francisco is way ahead of Los Angeles in terms of implementing lanes and other bike facilities… but that’s a low standard… L.A. is, frankly, way behind the times with very few bike lanes, no bike lanes in the city’s core, and no experimentation with facilities not yet streamlined by the car-centric MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices – the big official book that tells engineers how to give lots of space to cars everywhere all the time.)

My first morning in the city I biked down to the offices of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and bought a copy of the city bike/ped map… which is excellent, very useful, but I think from 2009 and already somewhat out-of-date! A good sign that new facilities are being implemented frequently.

Overall, I really enjoyed riding in S.F. When I pulled up to a stop, I would frequently be joined by 2, 3, 4+ cyclists. It felt like a group ride… but it’s just the way people get around. Cyclists tended toward very practical bikes – lots of racks, panniers, no lycra, and fewer fixed gears than L.A. (probably that’s due to all the hills there.) Riders I saw were young, old, rich, poor, skinny, fat, all races, female and male.

Continue reading

South L.A. Bike News: MLK and Expo Lanes

New bike lanes on Exposition Boulevard

The L.A. Eco-Village blog has reported on South L.A. bike lanes recently striped on Hoover Street and on San Pedro Street. Today’s South L.A. double feature includes two streets with new bike lanes: Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Exposition Boulevard. The new MLK lanes are done, and the Expo lanes are nearly done, too. Happy Bike Week! Continue reading

Some Good Bike News from Northeast L.A.

Riders in the new York Boulevard bike lanes

Los Angeles’ York Boulevard gained 1.3 miles of brand new bike lanes last week. The eastern end of of the lanes is in Highland Park; the western end is in Eagle Rock. Both of those are communities in the city of Los Angeles, in the Northeast Los Angeles area, just south of Occidental College. The week also included the opening of the newest stretch of the L.A. River Bike Path, also in NELA, in the Elysian Valley community.

York Boulevard is a former streetcar right-of-way, with Main-Street-type zero-lot-line walkability. The city approved a bike corral for York Boulevard at Avenue 50 (in front of Cafe de Leche), but the project hasn’t been implemented yet. York Boulevard bike lanes are one of the “Four Corners” bike lanes that are part of the C.I.C.L.E. NELA campaign which pushed for lanes on York, Eagle Rock, Colorado, and Figueroa. The campaign is more-or-less inactive right now – but if you’re interested in more bike facilities in NELA, I suggest signing up for the google group. Continue reading

Responding to Police vs. Bicyclist Brutality

I wasn’t on last Friday’s Critical Mass ride where this video captured a Los Angeles Police Department officers kicking a bicyclist and taking down another (the person filming) with what appears to me to be excessive force.

The incident has already been editorialized at Bikeside, LACBC, Soapbox LA, Streetsblog, and elsewhere… but I, too, want to weigh in on the question of what should be done.

Continue reading