Chalk on the Ground, Bike Lanes in the Gutter, Faster Cars: A Wilbur Ave. Update

When we last checked in on the embattled Wilbur Avenue Road Diet, Councilman Greig Smith had ordered asked the LADOT to move forward with a “compromise” proposal that would maintain continuous bike lanes along the 2.3 mile diet but would return the northern .3 miles of the old diet to a four lane road. The merge will occur just south of the lighted intersection at Devonshire where four lanes will go to three and the reduced diet will begin

Defying most standards, part of the Wilbur Avenue Bike Lanes have been pushed in to the gutter. Photo: Don Ward

At the time, we only had an engineering sketch of what the new configuration would look like. Today, the “undieted” area of Wilbur Avenue has been chalked for four lanes, with more permanent paint going on the ground any day now, and we can say with certainty this is one ugly piece of road.

The most obvious issue is with the bike lanes.  Not only is half of the new bike lane situated in the gutter, in conflict with federal safety guidelines for lane design, but much of that gutter is routinely covered in pine needles which could force some cyclists out of the lane and into traffic.  Because of the presence of the lane, cars wouldn’t expect cyclists to merge into “their” lane and conflicts could occur.

The second issue is one that is more apparent to residents of Wilbur Avenue than to visitors or even commuters.  Don Ward, a resident of Wilbur Avenue and author of the website Safe Streets Northridge, explains.

…the proposed solution to the back up problem at Devonshire is to create a 2 lane merge immediately south of Devonshire to shift the peak traffic backup. However, anyone and everyone who has looked at this plan can see the induced drag race scenario that will play out with every green light at Devonshire south as traffic crazed parents and commuters will suddenly find themselves having to compete for position right up to the Mayall intersection. Some drivers will be slowing to make a right turn while other drivers will just be settling into their merged position, while still others focused on their left side mirrors and traffic behind them will have less attention to pay to what’s in front of them.

More recently, Ward has posted a YouTube video showing how speeding cars are changing Wilbur for the worst as a result of the new merge.

With a City Council office that wants the Wilbur debate to be over and an LADOT who is weary of the pummeling its received over the diet, is there anything that can be done to fix this stretch of Wilbur Ave?  Some residents think a crosswalk may be the solution.

Despite the outcry for a faster Wilbur by some commuters, residents are still pushing for traffic calming measures to slow traffic on their residential street and near a school by signing a petition asking for a crosswalk at Mayall Avenue.   Whether their petition, already signed by well over a hundred residents, goes anywhere remains to be seen.  But we do know that a portion of the Wilbur Road Diet didn’t even last one year, it was striped a mere ten months ago.  Let’s hope this sideshow in the Valley doesn’t impact LADOT’s stated desire to calm traffic in other corners of the city.

  • Boy – let’s hope not “…sideshow in the Valley doesn’t impact LADOT’s stated desire to calm traffic in other corners of the city”.  Further evidence that we still have a long way to go to shift the focus from a car centric one to one that is people & community centric.

  • Glenn1947

    What are you STILL complaining about?????????? You got your freaking bike lanes all up and down the street, despite there being ALMOST NO bicyclists using it. Speeding always was and still is a crime. The “drag race” that Don Ward is terrified of, always was going on, by the way, everywhere in the west Valley, and the road is safer and slower now with the road diet. Don Ward can simply not accept the fact that merging traffic is a perfectly normal traffic activity. Also, what would make him and you happy? Single lane all the way so there’s no merge??? You do realize that Wilbur extends up for a couple miles, so unless it is going to one lane the entire length of it, there will be a merge somewhere. 
    Instead of complaining about it, why don’t you get some bicyclists to go down there and actually USE the bike lanes, otherwise they were put there for nothing. 

    GET OVER IT PEOPLE, it’s some paint on a 2 mile stretch of road. What they have done is a compromise that gives a little to the needs of all of the parties concerned – but guess what, that means that ALL of the parties concerned consider this to be a disaster. ALL of the different parties should be glad that they got anything out of this. 

    I drive Wilbur every day, and it is working just fine. 

  • Car lanes waste space

    When I ride my bike late at night on Wilber I see very few cars. In Glenn1947 porter ranch my kingdom for a horse logic we should remove all car lanes on Wilber.

  • I’m thoroughly convinced that the best way to kill transportational biking is to install orphaned bike lanes like these that suddenly dump riders out into aggressive traffic. Any newbie cyclist attempting to use this facility for a trip to the store is sure to have a harrowing experience and swear off biking on city streets forever.

    So there’s not much bike traffic on a neutered bike lane along a freeway-speed suburban thoroughfare? Color me shocked.

  • You might drive Wilbur everyday, but do you walk it?

    The issue is that the newly installed 45mph Mayall merge, makes it more difficult and at times impossible for pedestrians to cross the street at Mayall in residential/school area. In fact, having that 45mph rated merge encourages speeding as shown in the video. The road diet was proven to discourage speeding.

    Instead, if Greig Smith or Mitch Englander had cared about preserving the residential character of that block they would have rejected the 45mph Mayall merge and supported the residents’ request for a crosswalk at Mayall, a similar mid block option that matches the crosswalk placements at superior and prairie further south on the way to the CD12 office at Nordhoff and Wilbur.

    What would have made everyone happy, I believe, was the proposed
    alternate design (see image below) that called for 4 lanes south to Devonshire and would have
    preserved the 3 lane configuration south of Devonshire in it’s entirety adding a crosswalk at Mayall. The merge would have happened north of Devonshire along a walled off 1/4 mile of street ending at the Devonshire light with a right turn lane. I argued that ENDing the merge up to a light was safer than STARTING a merge at a light.

    Through 3
    meetings LADOT rejected the design saying that 4 lanes (with bike lanes
    and parking) were not possible between Chatsworth and Devonshire yet that is exactly what is now chalked out. In other words, the LADOT lied.

  • Make it a “right turn must turn right”.

    Merging problem solved.

  • Thegodofthor

    The only real answer here is to just bulldoze off of Wilbur Ave, and build a park in it’s place. It’s clear the nobody is smart enough to figure this crap out. I believe that Israel and Palestine conflict will end before the Wilbur Ave conflict ends. 

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