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

Analyzing and Mapping L.A.’s 5-Year Plan for Bikeway Implementation

In March 2011, the city of Los Angeles approved its new Bike Plan. Overall the bike plan has 1600 miles of bikeways that will take, oh, the rest of my lifetime or so, to implement… if we’re lucky. Approved with the plan is what’s called the “Five Year Implementation Strategy” which I will call just the “5-Year Plan.”

Below I’ve explained the 5-Year Plan, posted my corrected version of it, and posted maps of the bike lane facilities planned.

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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

How Long Does It Take LADOT to Install a Sharrow?

Sharrows on Fountain Avenue. What happens to a bike facility deferred? Do they dry up, fester, or explode? apologies to Langston Hughes

The city of Los Angeles’ Transportation Department (LADOT) seems to operate at two speeds. Both unhealthy. The difference in how long it takes LADOT to implement sharrows is instructive. Just how long does it take LADOT to install a sharrow?

Let’s say that a bunch of bicyclists push for implementation of sharrows. Well… then it takes LADOT about five years to paint their first sharrow.

Let’s say that a bunch of councilmembers, planning commissioners, city departments, a mayor, and a bunch of bicyclists agree to a bike plan for implementing bike lanes instead of sharrows – and LADOT figures it can hoodwink them all by doing sharrows instead of what’s actually in the approved bike plan. Well… then sharrows are done in just 34 days.

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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.

THINKBIKE 3 of 4 – SOUTH LOS ANGELES

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.  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

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 Sharrows on Fountain Today

  

seeing is believing - a sharrow on Fountain Avenue in East Hollywood

The city of Los Angeles has finally striped its first set of sharrows. Sharrows – a contraction of “share arrows” – are a standard road marking for lanes that bicycles and cars share. Sharrows show bicyclists where to position ourselves in the lane, and let car drivers know to expect us in the road. 

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Some Good Bicycle News – From Northridge

(My apologies to any L.A. Eco-Village blog readers that don’t yet find themselves way into bicycles. It’s definitely a huge part of our culture here at LAEV. This article is more about an eco-villager bicycling and engaging in bike activism in L.A., than it is about eco-village itself. More eco-village specific articles coming soon!)

City Steamroller Truck Making the New Bike Lanes Nice and Flat

City Steamroller Truck Making the New Bike Lanes Nice and Flat

I had the good fortune of being the first person to ride a new bike lane in my city yesterday. Here’s my overly-long drawn-out first person account, with plenty of blurry cell phone photos, and even talk of what I was reading and eating that day. You can get all the details after the jump. For short version go here.

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