Streetfilms: Contra-Flow Biking in Boulder

Here’s the first Streetfilm from Clarence Eckerson’s trip to Boulder, Colorado, recent winner of the League of American Bicyclists’ Platinum status designation. This vid shows off a three-block contra-flow bike lane, connecting the Pearl Street pedestrian mall to a greenway network.

Where in LA might contra-flow lanes be useful?

  • There is a block near USC where students always ride the wrong way b/c there is a median that prevents them from making a legal left turn. I think it’s on Jefferson and McClintock. Lots of tickets are given there, but people keep doing it because it’s easier.

    I think it’s super dangerous though and think these type of bike lanes encourage people to ride the wrong way, which is already a big problem in L.A. So, I’m torn

  • Bike Girl,

    Actually while I was in Boulder for an entire week, I think I saw a couple of cyclists ride the wrong way on the sidewalk – maybe three or four – and that was it as far as rule breakers. Almost everybody obeyed the law. I don’t think you should be torn, in the greatest cycling cities, communities are trying to placate cycling behavior when it makes sense.

    If the majority of cyclists are behaving incorrectly there, then perhaps that is a place the city needs to look into putting a contra flow lane in. I will not defend their behavior, but if the option for cyclists there brings them well out of their way to do the same movement legally, the city should take a look at it.

  • I would love to know more about the details of how this bike lane was funded and what sorts of bureaucratic hurdles stood in its way.

    In L.A., our city government is designed to be quite detached from the majority of the people’s self interests. Something as functional and attractive as this could only happen with political will and a sure-thing project area.

  • angle

    One might think that L.A. already had contra-flow bike lanes, judging by how many cyclists ride against traffic here.

    Generally speaking, I think it is a bad idea to create bicycle infrastructure that has cyclists traveling in a way that contradicts the basic rules of the road. Contra-flow lanes might be useful in a few specific places, but L.A. has very little space for dedicated bike lanes, and a vast area that needs to become more bike-accessible. I think it would be much more useful here to employ an extensive network of safe shared-lane streets that have consistent signage and markings, rather than a few short, limited-use special facilities.

    Also, I’m wondering how exactly a contra-flow lane is re-integrated with normal-flow traffic. I can’t imagine it’s pretty.

  • I don’t get it angle – did we watch the same short film (see above)?

    This contra flow lane is completely cut off from the flow of “normal” traffic, so what basic rules of the road is this violating?

    Also, regarding space for bike lanes – I’m not sure what your perception is based on. L.A. has an orgy of space in the right of way. Our minor streets are easily wider than most arterials in other parts of the country/world.

    It would appear, from the film above, that a properly designed contra flow lane can be a great success.

  • YES!

    As Brayj points out, and I certainly can’t put it any better than “L.A. has an orgy of space in the right of way”, any and all creative solutions when it comes to supporting cycling in Los Angeles should be explored and pushed for. Certainly I too have ridden against the flow of traffic and as Bike Girl points out there are already plenty of spaces where people do this already because it is easier (whether it is safer is debatable…)

    I believe that LA suffers from an extremely slow moving bureaucratic process that delays most of the bikeway improvements (not to mention all transit improvements), but one thing we certainly do NOT lack is space.
    There are lots of sunny wide boulevards out there, already being put to good use by cyclists every day.

    As for a road for contra flow in LA: How about some of the streets downtown? Figueroa, Hill, Main, Spring etc… perhaps a network of contra-flow lanes downtown would in fact, be in order!

    Thanks for another excellent Streetfilm Clarence!

  • Ingrid,

    You are welcome. And now some news: I will be coming to L.A. for at least three or four days right around Halloween, so I’ll be looking to shoot at least two quick Streetfilms. Hopefully I’ll get to meet a few of you!

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