Yesterday, I had the disappointment of spotting the Los Angeles City Transportation Department’s (LADOT’s) preliminary X markings for placement of sharrows on Fountain Avenue, Vine Street, and Yucca Street. It frankly made me feel frustrated and irritated.
To me, these markings are the first clear on-the-ground indications that neither the LADOT nor Mayor Villaraigosa are committed to implementing the city’s Bike Plan.
I am not going to re-state the entire saga (more detailed rant here), but here’s an outline: On March 1st 2011 (less than 7 months ago) L.A. City approved its Bike Plan which includes what bike facilities get implemented where and when. The approved Bike Plan Five Year Implementation Strategy specifies implementation of 40 miles per year of bike facilities. Mayor Villaraigosa pledged implementation of 40 miles of bikeway per year; same as in the plan. Then, in late August, the LADOT stated, instead of the approved 40 miles of bike lanes and bike boulevards in the plan, we’re implementing something different: 20 miles of sharrows. Sharrows are the cheapest crappiest bike facility, and studies are clear that sharrows shouldn’t be used where there’s space for bike lanes. Many of the announced sharrow streets are wide enough for bike lanes, and many have bike lanes approved in the Bike Plan, but the city is instead plopping down ill-considered, inappropriate sharrows. (The overall quantity of 20 miles of sharrows in a year is way more than what was approved; the bike plan states only 7.7 miles of sharrows in the first six years of plan implementation.) Summarizing: focusing on sharrows, LADOT is downgrading and delaying the approved Bike Plan, skipping analysis of what facilities are appropriate and safe, and implementing the cheapest and least effective measures to meet the letter of the mayor’s pledged 40 miles.
Despite plenty of feedback from exasperated cyclists, including me, the city is bluntly moving forward with inappropriate sharrows. The city has painted preliminary “X” markings where their inappropriate new sharrows will go. Continue reading