Over the weekend, the L.A. Eco-Village blog wrote about new bike lanes appearing over a 1.6 mile stretch of Hoover Street in South L.A. between 98th and 120th street. A day later, the LADOT’s Bike Blog picked up its own story about the lanes, noting that Hoover doesn’t just have bike lanes, but underwent a road diet, narrowing the car travel lanes from four to two.
How often do we hear that LADOT is unwilling to remove car travel lanes in favor of bicycle or pedestrian lanes? Yet in this case they clearly have. You also have to tip your hat at the citizen journalism by Linton and Ramon Martinez, actually scooping LADOT on their own story. But making this story even more surprising, the Eco-Village blog notes that the Hoover Street project isn’t in the Bike Plan that the city is currently operating on. As a matter of fact, the city paints almost as many miles of bike lanes that are in the bike plan as those that aren’t.
According to my calculations
(with Ramon and Stephen Villavaso), as of January the city of Los
Angeles had striped 46 miles of bike lanes in the 14 years since the
1996 plan was approved. Of those 46 new miles, 24 miles were approved
in the plan; 22 miles were not. These unapproved lanes are a good thing
– they’re places where the city Transportation Department (LADOT)
decided that they had enough room. They’re kind of opportunistic
facilities – and if we didn’t get them, we’d have even fewer safe
convenient streets to bike on.
When I asked LADOT about the process of installing bike lanes that aren’t on the plan, I got a sort of vague response that 98th Street, where the current Hoover lanes end, is on the bike plan and will have lanes soon. Good to know.
So now for the bad. As mentioned above, these new bike lanes are supposed to connect to bike lanes on 98th Street. Yet, there are no lanes on 98th Street. There are signs, but no actual lanes. There’s no timetable on when these lines are going to be re-striped, but the LADOT Bike Blog assures us that it is the top priority.
Also, a quick look at the lanes shows that at least part of the lane is in the "door zone," that portion of the street where an open car door would be right in the path of an oncoming cyclist. Back in January, Enci Box wrote about the dangers of placing a bike lane in the door zone.
While it’s good to see the city investing in more bike infrastructure and this is the second road diet I’ve written about in city limits this month; we have another case of the city striping lanes that currently exist as a stand-alone project. Until the 98th Street Lanes are re-striped, we have a 1.6 mile bike lane existing in space on its own. So while Eco-Village and the Bike Blog are celebrating, I’m going to wait until the 98th Street lanes are back to uncork the champagne.