Venice Neighborhood Council Will Discuss Main Street Road Diet/Bike Lanes Tomorrow

The LACBC prepared this graphic to show the road configuration and potential changes.

Tomorrow night, the Venice Neighborhood Council will debate, and possibly approve or reject a proposal by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to remove travel lanes on Main Street in Venice in an effort to calm traffic and create space for bike lanes.

The LADOT’s plan for the area would basically match the layout of Main Street in Santa Monica which already is a three-lane road with bike lanes and street parking.  However, if you’re riding south on Main Street in Santa Monica, the road loses its bike lane at the border with Los Angeles.  If LADOT gets their way, and they won’t without the support of the Venice Neighborhood Council, Main Street in Los Angeles would go from four lanes to two with a turning lane in the middle.  Car parking would remain, and a pair of 5 foot bike lanes would appear on the street.

Colin Bogart has been working on the Main Street Road Diet project for the LACBC now that he’s not full-time in Glendale believes the Road Diet is a natural extension of the road configuration already on the ground North of Venice in Santa Monica.

“Main Street is great for cyclists and pedestrians in Santa Monica. We see extending the same road configuration to Windward Circle as continuing an already successful complete street that encourages healthy, active lifestyles and is simultaneously good for business and safer for everyone.”

Not that the plan doesn’t have critics.  When the diet was first discussed, some members of the Neighborhood Council expressed concern that the new configuration would create more car congestion on local streets while others worried that the street would actually be less safe for cyclists.

The proposed bike lanes run adjacent to the car parking with little to no buffer between the cars and the bikes.  The bike lanes are only 5 feet wide and some cyclists, notably Bikeside President Alex Thomspon, worry that the “door zone bike lanes” create a hazard for cyclists.

“I’m unimpressed with the road diet plan,” Thompson, who also is an elected member of the neighboring Mar Vista Neighborhood Council, writes.  ”This is all LADOT can come up with to address the issue?  Herbie Huff wrote that 5 foot bike lanes next to 7 foot parking are not a big deal because the door zone on 85% of vehicles is inside of 9.5 feet (the dead center of a 5 foot bike lane next to 7 foot parking.)  Another way of saying that is that 1 in 7 doors covers more than half the bike lane.  How many parked cars do you ride past?”

The post diet car travel lanes are 11 feet wide each, prompting Thomspon to argue that the car lanes should be shrunk to 10 feet so the bike lanes could be widened to six or so that a foot buffer could be placed between the cars and bike lanes.  This would push a larger portion of the lanes out of the door zone.  LADOT staff responds that the street is used by buses and that a 10 foot lane would be too small for the buses to maneuver.  SM Spoke’s Gary Kavanagh recommended back in January that the LADOT consider a road diet and Sharrows over the bike lanes.

Earlier this year, LADOT conducted a bike count on Main Street in Venice and counted  730 cyclists in a 6 hour period. Yet, one Venice Neighborhood Council Committee still rejected the LADOT’s proposal because of concerns the diet would create cut through traffic congestion on other local streets.

Kent Strumpell, the appointed representative of Bill Rosendahl to the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, has been a long time supporter of the diet and argues that traffic is already so bad in Venice that cut through traffic won’t be more of a problem under the new plan.

“One of the concerns we’ve heard is that the project will cause cut-through traffic on adjacent streets,” Strumpell adds.  ”But when traffic is bad in Venice, those nearby streets already get saturated with congestion.  Making Main Street more inviting for cyclists will give frustrated locals a great way to get around town without getting stuck in their cars.”

Note:

WHO:  Venice Neighborhood Council Board of Directors monthly meeting
WHEN:  Tuesday, Sept. 20th, 2011, 7:00PM
WHERE:  Westminster Elementary, 1010 Abbot Kinney (just south of Main), Venice.

If you can’t make the meeting and wish to comment, email board@venicenc.org