Last night, the Venice Neighborhood Council agreed to the Main Street Road Diet/Bike Lanes plan proposed by LADOT. The new road striping ought to be on the ground “in the next couple of weeks.” Despite its approval, the Neighborhood Council had some concerns with the project and wanted LADOT to return with more safety measures to protect cyclists and calm traffic. The Road Diet will run on Main Street from Navy St. to Windward Circle, and will extend the Santa Monica bike lanes and road diet into Venice.
There was a minor change from the original plan. Currently, Main Street has four eleven foot through travel lanes with seven feet on each side of the street for car parking. The original road diet changed the configuration to two eleven foot travel lanes, one eleven foot turn lane, two 5 foot bike lanes and two seven foot car parking areas. Some cyclists, notably Alex Thompson at Bikeside, complained the new configuration had cyclists planted squarely in the door zone, especially since many vehicles in today’s world are larger than seven feet wide.
LADOT responded that eleven feet was the minimum for the car travel lanes because Main Street is a regularly traveled route for both the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus and Metro buses. However, the new design does take a foot out of the turning lane to make the bike lanes five and a half feet larger. This 10% increase will give cyclists more room to maneuver when car doors are (illegally) opened in their path, but doesn’t completely solve the problem of door zone bicycle lanes.
As we saw back in January, the debate over the plan was because members of the Neighborhood Council wanted a more progressive plan for Main Street than LADOT was willing to provide. Questions about extending the lanes all the way south to the Venice Street Bike Lane or separating the lanes as they did on 3rd Street and Broadway in Long Beach and in Portland were dismissed. The Main Street Road Diet is designed to link up with the three lane with bike lanes configuration of the road north on Main Street.
As Santa Monica Spoke’s Gary Kavanagh points out on Gary Rides Bikes, Santa Monica’s Bike Plan calls for reconfiguring its portion of Main Street to separate the bike lanes from the through traffic. When that configuration is completed, riders heading south on Main Street will have to adjust their riding from the separated lanes to the traditional bike lanes in L.A.
However, the good news from the day is that LADOT is removing car lanes for bike lanes, and doing it with the blessing of the Neighborhood Council. Given the struggles on 4th Street and especially on Wilbur Ave. in the Valley, that’s some good news in and of itself.
(Note: I made a bit of a journalism snafu in an article earlier this week where I quoted Gary Kavanagh as opposed to the diet from comments he made nine months ago. He has since changed his mind although he still has some concerns with LADOT’s plans, notably the bike lane width and that LADOT should have gotten ahead of the game. I should have followed up with him before posting. Sorry, Gary.)