2010: A Sharrows Odyssey

6 5 09 cicle_1.jpgImage: C.I.C.L.E.

Yesterday’s e-blast from the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition contained the sad news that the city’s ongoing study to think about installing Sharrows is going to be delayed yet again.  The LACBC tried to put a happy face on the announcement by focusing on their progress; but with cyclists already riled up by the Bike Master Plan maps it’s hard to imagine that the LADOT’s excuse for delay is going to go over well

In
addition to working with Garcetti’s office and LADOT we have begun to
have constructive conversations with the Mayor’s Office, SCAG, and
Metro to discuss moving forward with the project.

At a
meeting, held last week, the pilot project timeline was reevaluated and
due in part to LADOT and Alta Planning’s priority to finish the Bike
Plan, the Sharrow Project prioritization won’t begin until September.
We were hoping to see paint on the ground before the end of 2009, but
unfortunately it looks like we will not see paint until early 2010.

We
do, however, have a preliminary list of 9 streets that are allocated
for Sharrow implementation and we will be reviewing them in the next
two weeks before they become finalized.

That the LADOT is busy with the BMP, a document they early in the week claimed was being done by Planning and that they had no control over, is the most recent in a series of weird excuses.  My personal favorite was that they were delaying so they could research what kind of paint to use that wouldn’t be slippery when it got wet, a process that should have taken about ten seconds.  But seriously, Alta Planning has proven themselves to be a top flight planning group around the country, but if they couldn’t do the Sharrows Study at the same time as the BMP, couldn’t we have found someone else?  It’s not like we don’t have some top-flight planning groups here in L.A. as well.

  • Peter Smith

    i’m curious what everyone thinks of sharrows. i think they’re somewhat useful/mostly useless.

    but i agree — get it done at the same time.

  • Alta Planning is off and running with their new best friend, the LACounty Bikeways Department.

    The LACounty Bike Master Plan Update kicked off this past week.

    The LACounty Bikeways Department has plans for Sharrows and at the rate things are going, it will be interesting to see who gets them on the road first.

    As for Alta, well it must be hard to hear the news like this but…ah…they’ve found someone else. Another Bikeways Department, one committed to moving forward.

    Seriously LACity Bikeways, it’s not them, it’s you!

  • That’s sad… though I think that we advocates need to bang on that timeline – not just accept these delays.

  • Is there nobody in the Planning Department itching to hire new planners? If we can coordinate the closing of the LADOT’s bikeways people with the opening of a Planning Dept. bike coordinator/bike planner/grant writers … wow, we might actually have some real planning being done with respect to bikes.

  • At this rate we might have a subway to the sea and a bullet train across the state before we have painted stencils on Vermont. More and more I am picturing in my head a full on revolt of the cyclists of Los Angeles. Every critical mass, every social ride rolled into one giant sweeping protest across LA, demanding change, maybe throw in some Crimanimalz into the mix and take over the freeway system too.

  • Gary,

    Be careful what you ask for!

    Erik and Joe want SWIM LANES! They’ll show up at the revolution in Speedos and steal your mojo!

  • A huge, traffic light obeying, ride down Wilshire from Santa Monica to City Hall? Put so many bikes on the street that we just flood that one road and have a rally on the South Lawn demanding the mayor and planning department wake the hell up with respect to bikes.

    It is not just our interests that would be served, a massive amount of health problems would be prevented by the City of LA helping citizens to take up more active transportation.

  • Funny you should mention that, ubrayj. I made the same suggestion to Alex awhile back. I’ve long fantasized about a thousand cyclists starting at Santa Monica city hall, riding straight down Wilshire — with a stop at bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills — and on to L.A. city hall. Then refuse to leave until the mayor comes out to meet with us (like that would happen).

    It would have to be during working hours on a weekday, though, in order to get the most attention and make the evening news. And we’d obey every single law and stop for every single traffic light, so the police couldn’t do anything about it — and they’d see just how disruptive a strictly legal ride can be.

    Maybe then they might start taking us seriously.

  • Peter, I think the advantage of sharrows is a) they provide a route less experience cyclists, or riders unfamiliar with the area, can follow, and b) they clearly show drivers that we have a right to be there and to ride within the lane.

  • Marcotico

    Bikinginla, But if you make it on a weekend, more people could attend. I guess you couldn’t demand the Mayor come out, but it would equally visible, and disruptive. Everyone would have to be schooled in the rules. Take a lane, but don’t block the whole road way. Ride slow, but not obviously so. Be friendly to buses, and don’t react aggressively to any antagonism from car-jerks. And definitely stop for every light, even if it means regrouping a few times.

  • angle

    Given that more than one out of every ten people are currently unemployed, it may not be such a problem to get a lot of people out on a weekday.

    If a mass rally also addressed concerns about pedestrian safety and community redevelopment around “complete streets” ideas as well bicycle transportation issues, we might have something.

  • Marcotico, you’re absolutely right, more people could undoubtedly attend on a weekend. However, fewer people are on the roads and news viewership is at minimal levels on the weekends, so far fewer people would ever hear about it. Sort like the old “if a tree falls in the woods…” problem.

    Personally, I say we encourage everyone we know to take the day off or call in sick, and schedule it at least a month in advance so they can make arrangements. After all, if making the streets safer isn’t worth losing a day’s pay, I don’t know what is.

    Otherwise, I agree completely with your comments, as well as angle’s.

    One other thought. A lot of people wouldn’t be able to make it to Santa Monica to join the ride from there. But wouldn’t it be cool if we had rides starting from multiple points such as Pasadena, South L.A., etc., that all converged on city hall?

  • angle

    The Midnight Ridazz “All-City Toy Ride” works really well using multiple start points and routes that converge. For a “Complete Streets LA” rally, routes could be included that combine public transportation and walking.

    Also, there should be a big picnic for the finale.

  • This is a good Friday activity, considering that thousands of workers will now be twiddling their thumbs every other Friday with the city’s budget cuts.

    By the way, the County Bikeway Unit does more with less people than LADOT’s bike people. County bikeways has 2 1/3 people – the bikeway unit head also has to juggle coordinating with Caltrans, write and review legislative impact analysis, and coordinate with MTA – while LADOT has about triple that number. If you are going to be ineffectual with your bicycle program, at least save the taxpayer’s money while doing so.

  • Peter Smith

    bikinginla, i hear what you’re saying, and i do agree that sharrows offer something, but i’m ready for something a little more. i may want a new type of bike facility — i at least want to try to interest someone in it.

    http://www.bikeblogs.org/images/take_the_lane_bike_lane_Suggestivstreifen_wide_solid.png

    i just don’t feel like sharrows, and waiting around for full bike lanes that are fully segregated from moving auto traffic, are going to get us where we want to go quickly enough.

    we need more options for dealing with road space. having more-fully-marked, more-clearly-marked _on street_ bike lanes — lined up with where sharrows are traditionally placed — in front of/impeding auto traffic — is where these new lanes would go.

    bike_lanes + sharrows_placement ==> whoa_a_whole_new_option

    i mean, if you can approve sharrows, why not these new sharrows++ lanes? could they be any more dangerous than sharrows? unlike sharrows, drivers would actually be aware of these — really aware.

    in general, i like this idea. but can’t get anyone to buy in. hmmm.

  • “The Midnight Ridazz “All-City Toy Ride” works really well using multiple start points and routes that converge. For a “Complete Streets LA” rally, routes could be included that combine public transportation and walking.”

    Think we are getting closer to something awesome, and thinking involving transit and pedestrian interests is the way to build a stronger movement. But I would especially like to see a large sum of the bikes converge on Beverly Hills for some special bike love. Beverly Hills does nothing for bikes, zero bike routes, zero, creating a giant black whole where other bike routes go to die and rendering either side far less useful as consequence. Beverly Hills sits right in the middle of the route to my girlfriend, so I know all about how much it sucks for cycling. I would love it so much if we could basically shut down the city of Beverly Hills all together, even if only briefly. They are the worst of the worst when it comes to planning for bikes. LA sucks, but it’s got some bread crumbs laying around for us. Beverly Hills offers not even that, and to lay salt in an open wound, makes sure that stretch of Santa Monica Blvd where the bike lane disappears within their city, is as terrible as possible. Down with Beverly Hills, revolution!

  • Alek F

    @ Peter Smith:
    I totally agree with you!
    Sharrows is a less-than-mediocre bicycle “facility”, which offers almost no solution and adds almost no safety…
    Sharrows – is just a laughable “half-solution” comparing to the much-more efficient Class II bike lane or Class I bike path.
    People from Amsterdam (or Copenhagen), I’m sure, will have a good laugh at our sharrows and will avoid biking on them at all costs!

  • Couldn’t agree more about Beverly Hills. Living just west of B.H., their complete and total lack of cycling infrastructure ticks me off royally every time I try to ride east — which is one reason I usually find it easier to head west, instead.

    And as angry I’ve been about the Santa Monica Blvd. bike lanes that end without warning in Century City, I realize now that they come to such an abrupt stop simply because they hit the Beverly Hills city limits. One of these days, someone will be killed there trying to merge from the bike lane into unforgiving traffic, and Beverly Hills will be responsible.

  • Iain Marjoribanks

    what continues to dumbfound me is the complete lack of training given to the LAPD. good luck trying to do a legal bike ride to city hall. the LAPD will be quick to issue mass citations for not riding in the door zone, not having a bike license or for failing to ride against traffic.

    i was warned for not riding against traffic not two weeks ago and have been cited twice for riding in the lane. so while we’re studying paint dry, why the fuck can’t the LAPD spend ten minutes during roll call to show the training video that LADOT paid for and distributed?

    because they threw it in the trash. it’s clear to me that the police just don’t think our rights are relevant to their daily operations.

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