What the Heck Is Going on with Bike Plan Implementation?

##http://www.bikesidela.org/bike-progress-no-way-no-how/##Bikeside## is right, this "flow chart" explaining bike plan implementation needs to be retired.

Yesterday, the LADOT and City Planning made their quarterly update to the City Council on the progress of the implementation of the Bike Plan.  The Council’s Transportation Committee also moved a motion that would transfer $475,000 to LADOT’s overtime account.  Between the somewhat confounding report offered by the agencies and the revelation that bike projects have to be built on overtime, it’s no surprise that some advocates are anxious.

The funding motion addressed on Wednesday is a sort of good news/bad news motion.  The motion allows the transfer of $475,000 from LADOT project accounts to overtime accounts so that LADOT can install new bike lanes and Sharrows.  The good news is that these funds will see to the completion of eight bike lane projects totaling eight miles and nearly seventeen miles of Sharrowed Streets.

If implementation of these projects really does occur “in the next couple of weeks” it would be a great start for the city in the 2011 fiscal year.  The Mayor famously promised 40 miles of new bike infrastructure a year last March at the Bike Plan signing, a promise which has gotten off to a somewhat rocky start.  Knocking out 25 miles of that infrastructure in the first couple months of the year is a good sign.

But the “overtime” issue is a troubling one.

A couple of weeks ago I stood next to the Green Shared Lane in Long Beach talking with Long Beach’s Mobility Coordinator, Charlie Gandy.  I asked him how much it cost to paint a green lane on each side of a main drag through Downtown Los Angeles.  His answer?  “$5,000.”  When pressed, he admitted that he didn’t know the labor costs, because “those are fixed costs with the city.”  In other words, painting bike infrastructure is just part of the job in Long Beach, and that saves the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in project costs.

As Bikeside Chris put it, ” As LADOT continues to bill the City for overtime, scarce Measure R, Transportation Enhancements, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality and Transportation Development Act bike improvement funds quickly become depleted.”  As the city over bills for bike projects now, it means less projects later.

The second major issue is that the LADOT and City Planning issued a report to update the Council on all the new bike plan projects underway and spent more time in the report talking about the public meetings they hold, open to the public but attended by insiders, known as the Bike Plan Implementation Meetings, which they just announced will be held quarterly rather than monthly.

But the update has drawn criticism more for what isn’t in the document than what is.

“We would have liked to see some updates on how they’re trying to fund the program.  What Safe Routes to School grants did the city apply for?  What about the Metro call for projects?” asked the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition’s Alexis Lantz.

Bikeside’s critique is quite a bit harsher, as they point out that nowhere in the update does it actually say when projects are going to be completed, how long the projects are, or how much they cost.  If you poke around the Internet a little, you can find more answers on the LADOT Bike Program website.  At least the documents on that website tell the reader how long the projects are.

No, really...what the heck is this?

So what should an update look like?  Lantz suggests something akin to the quarterly updates of PlaNYC, which not only gives much more detailed project updates, but also discusses the challenges the Apple faces as it tries to move towards sustainability.

But as we wait to see if the City can interpret its Bike Plan updates for the City Council and for the public in general, the bigger question is whether the city is failing to live up to the Mayor’s promise, or whether some shoddy updates are clouding a brighter picture.

We’ll stay tuned.

  • Stella

    can’t zoom in on the images. they are currently illegible.

  • Click on the link in the first picture’s caption, It takes you to the report from which the flow chart came.

  • Dennis Hindman

    Why does it seem to take more time, energy and money to put in simple bike infrastructure here than anywhere else in the U.S.?

    Putting in the bike lanes could involve removing and replacing most of the other markings on the roadway to make room for the bike lanes. That would obviously take more time and money than if the street was recently paved and had no markings.

    Placing Sharrows markings would seem to simply involve measuring where the form is placed, spraying the thermoplastic onto it and sprinkling some glass beads to make it reflective. Since that is the majority of these projects and it doesn’t involve altering any other part of the roadway, how much money and manpower does that take? The answer would seem to be not much. It’s the measuring for placement every 250 feet that would differ from the green stripe in Long Beach, but you should be able to do many miles in a day after a little practice. It doesn’t involve extensive closing of the roadway to do each one and you don’t have to stripe the entire length of the road.

    Another point that I am concerned about is the potential extensive use of Sharrows to make sure that 40 miles per year of bikeways is created. Can’t possibly do 40 miles of bike lanes in a year, then put down a Sharrows symbol every 250 feet and create miles of cheap bikeways in one day. That would also make it easy to bypass the potential conflicts with trying to take roadway away from cars and no expensive enviornmental reports would have to be made. What’s that? You say that most potential bicyclists don’t want to ride on the road in mixed traffic and in front of speeding cars where the Sharrows are placed? We’ll, we are under pressure to fill out the map and we simply could not take any of the six lanes away to make room for the bike lane. Think that scenerio would not happen? Well it already did occur on Reseda Blvd around Sherman Way.

  • Click here, second page from the bottom.  http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2010/10-2385_rpt_plan_8-3-11.pdf

  • Mark Elliot

    That’s a great flowchart. Reminds me of my own internal processes. But I ditto the image link comment – the thumbnail links to the thumbnail itself and not the full-size image. 
    But also, the motion PDF crashes both Safari and Firefox on the Mac. Perhaps save it as a PDF locally and upload it while making the image correction?  

  • Just make sure Sharrows are used in thoughful and useful ways.  Even high-falutin’ infrastructure like The Wiggle in SF uses Sharrows on sections of its run between Market and the Haight.  When appropriately paired and mixed with other types of bicycle infrastructure and street treatments, Sharrows are extremely effective.

    I know we all want to make sure Sharrows don’t become a substitute for bike lanes when bike lanes are appropriate, but let’s simmer down on the Sharrows hate.

  • Just make sure Sharrows are used in thoughful and useful ways.  Even high-falutin’ infrastructure like The Wiggle in SF uses Sharrows on sections of its run between Market and the Haight.  When appropriately paired and mixed with other types of bicycle infrastructure and street treatments, Sharrows are extremely effective.

    I know we all want to make sure Sharrows don’t become a substitute for bike lanes when bike lanes are appropriate, but let’s simmer down on the Sharrows hate.

  • In response to Chris K: Though your overall point (sharrows can be useful in appropriate settings) is correct, you seem to categorize L.A. bike activists as “haters” and imply that LADOT sharrow use is “thoughtful and useful” – both of which I disagree with you on.

    I think it’s entirely appropriate for Dennis to express concerns over this sort of downgrade from approved lanes to just sharrows. This same sort of disappointing downgrade was part of the city of L.A.’s pilot sharrows on Reseda Boulevard – on a stretch approved for bike lanes. It was prevalent throughout the city’s proposed 5-year implementation plan. Before the bike plan had even been approved, the city was already downgrading 45 miles of planned bike lanes to bike routes (which didn’t even necessarily include sharrows – could have been less than sharrows – just signs.) Nearly a quarter (45 miles out of 200) of the initial draft of the implementation plan was slated for this sort of disappointing downgrade.Also, it frustrates me that you can’t affirm good infrastructure in other cities. Why do you call the SF Wiggle high-falutin’? It sounds to me like you think that good bike infrastructure is somehow putting on airs… or unexpected? or inappropriate? I think that the Wiggle treatments are appropriate, safe, thoughtful, right-sized, useful infrastructure. How is that high-falutin’? What makes you think that good appropriate infrastructure is high-falutin’? How is safety high-falutin’?What I think makes the San Francisco wiggle work (in addition to the geography of avoiding hills) is a mix of innovative treatments: bike-only turn lanes, green bike boxes, green lanes, route signage, bike only streets (none of that list exist in city of L.A.) In addition to the cool stuff are more standard bike lanes and sharrows. To hold up the wiggle as a way to justify sharrow use is sort of perverse. I am trying to thing of an analogy… It’s like saying that the novel The Color Purple is a great book because it has page numbers. Well, that’s are true, but citing it as the reason for the book’s greatness just lets people know that you’re ignoring what the book’s real strengths are. Due to appropriate pressure from the SF advocacy organizations, city of SF sharrow use has been confined to more appropriate locations. When sharrows were first approved, less-than-entirely-pro-bike forces in the SF DOT wanted to downgrade planned bikes into sharrowed streets. SFBC fought this and limited sharrow prevalence. But maybe you think that SFBC is/was full of “haters” and that SF DOT was just being “thoughtful”…

  • Joe

    No worries; they’re pretty illegible even when you see the full-size copy.

  • Joe

    No worries; they’re pretty illegible even when you see the full-size copy.

  • Christopher Kidd

    Joe – yeah, no.

    Let’s not get it twisted: I categorized Dennis as a “hater” on sharrows, not the bike community. And I was speaking of sharrows as a tool, and not the ways in which LADOT will or won’t use them.

    So … We’re not disagreeing. On anything.

    And, wow, getting wound up about “high falutin”? If you want to make something out of nothing, feel free. I’ll have no part of it.

    And I like the part where you brought the false “haters”/”thoughtful” construct full circle at the end. It’s almost like I actually said it …

  • Own your views, Mr. Kidd. You did say it! You criticized Dennis for “[s]harrows hate” – for a point that Dennis brought up and that others of us L.A. bike activists have brought up in the past – LADOT’s downgrading from lanes to sharrows. You compare this to the SF example… erroneously… because advocates fought a very similar fight there. 

  • Christopher Kidd

    Joe, if you want to put words in my mouth, you’re going to need to do a much better job of it.

  • Dennis Hindman

    First, I don’t hate Sharrows. But, compared to bike paths, mixed used paths, cycle tracks or bike lanes, Sharrows would be by far the most uncomfortable for most potential bike riders to use in most applications, as they would frequently have to ride in front of much faster and larger moving vehicles. Yet, to an engineer they would be the quickest, cheapest and easiest to install if you do not put the comfort of the bicyclist as a prime consideration, which frequently is the case in the U.S.. If comfort was very important, they sure as hell wouldn’t expect people to bicycle in front of speeding cars on a major arterial street like Reseda Blvd or Adams Blvd. Most of the people bicycling along Reseda Blvd won’t even get off the sidewalk and into the bike lane. So trying to convince people to ride in front of the cars there will attract only a fearless few. 

    Not including the behavior of people bicycling pre and post Sharrows installation was what I continue to dislike about the LADOT study. It was simply to see if it would be any safer to ride with Sharrows installed. If every type of street showed improvement in safety when Sharrows were installed, then the conclusion could very well be that Sharrows would be useful on any of these streets. When in fact the vast majority of people do not want to ride a bicycle in front of much larger vehicles moving at a much greater velocity than they are, which means you will end up attracting not much more ridership than you started with. That would be a waste of money and effort.

  • Dennis Hindman

    Back on December 9th of 2010, New York City’s Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan appeared before their city council transportation committee and she stated that the city spent a total of $8.8 million to build 200 miles of bike lanes with sources outside of the city government paying for 80% of it.. Comparing the costs of bike lane building in the big apple to the oranges of L.A., that $8.8 million total cost for 200 miles of bikeways would be about $1.76 million for the 40 miles per year that Los Angeles plans to build. We are going to spend $475,000 just for the construction labor cost to build the first 25 miles. If that rate per mile continues, then it will cost $760,000 in construction labor cost for the first 40 miles of what will be much simpler lanes than NYC built 
     

  • It now looks to me like Dennis’s concerns turned out to be true. I am SHOCKED. SHOCKED. See this analysis of the city’s recent sharrows list, largely planned for street designated for bike lanes: http://laecovillage.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/l-a-city-sharrows-list-a-few-things-that-bother-me/

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