Cyclists riding South on Main Street in Santa Monica are “welcomed” to the City of Los Angeles by a bike lane that disappears at the city border. For no other reason than switching sides of a political boundary, cyclists who were riding in a bike lane in Santa Monica are moved in to the rest of traffic in Los Angeles. And, the two-lane Main Street doubles to a four-lane one as well. Welcome to Los Angeles!
All that might be about to change. Tonight, at the Venice Neighborhood Council Board Meeting, the LADOT and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition will present a plan to put Main Street on a diet by reducing its car travel lanes from four to two and a turn lane, and connect new bike lanes to the ones in Santa Monica. The meeting begins at 7:00 P.M. at Westminster Elementary School Auditorium, 1010 Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Get more details, here.
Providing bike lanes on Main Street from Navy to Windward Circle will create, in the words of the Bicycle Coalition, a “Complete Main Street”. The proposed bike lanes will rebalance the street and provide
more road safety for all road users whether they be on bicycle, foot, or in a car. Creating a “Complete Main Street” will require removing a travel lane in each direction in order to accommodate the bike lanes and a two-way left turn lane in the center of the road. All on-street parking will remain.
Both the Bike Coalition and the City are eager to “avoid another Wilbur Avenue,” a reference to the controversy created in the Valley when a road diet was placed on a portion of Wilbur Avenue before the community was notified.
One major difference between the case in Wilbur and the plans for Venice is the participation of the local Council Member. In the Valley, Council Member Greig Smith has been a critic of the Wilbur Avenue Road diet from the moment the paint went down. On the Westside, Council Member Rosendahl’s office actually brought the plan for Main Street to my attention for the first time when we were discussing a completely different issue.
Another difference is the outreach effort. While a handful of activists, including Streetsblog Board Member Joe Linton, Ayla Stern and Roadblock, walked the streets raising support for the Wilbur Avenue Diet, this time the effort is a little more widespread and organized. The LACBC and LADOT have already prepared a flier touting the benefits of road diets in general and the plan for Main Street in particular.. Some of those benefits include, “Businesses can benefit: increased customer access by bike and foot traffic, reduced demand for parking, calmer traffic allows more people to notice businesses” and “Improves visibility for motorists exiting driveways or turning onto Main Street.”
In short, the LADOT is clearly stating that road diets aren’t just good for cyclists and pedestrians, but for motorists, businesses and the community.
The LACBC will be going door to door in the community to create educate people about the project, but there’s no time like the present to make a good first impression. If you live in the area, or use Main Street as a place to shop, bike, walk or even drive, the Bike Coalition would like your help tonight and moving forward.