Eyes on the Street: The Spring Street Bypass Lane

Avid Streetsblog reader Simon Hartigan is tired of drivers driving down the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lanes. After catching drivers using the bike lane as bypass, he sent the video to Streetsblog. This raises the question of what should the city’s next step to protect the bike lane be? Is it time for grade separation, or would a little LAPD enforcement be the best effort?

A portion of Hartigan’s email that accompanied the above video is below. Added emphasis is mine:

Bike lane or bypass lane? I was filming before and caught many culprits using the Spring Street bike lane as a bypass lane. The average might be as high as 1 per minute or two. I even took a phone call before while on the lane just hanging out for a bit not blocking any bike traffic, and got yelled and screamed at by motorists for blocking their bypass lane, so the car drivers also feel entitled to it as their space. This happens every time there’s heavy traffic on Spring Street…

  • Cullen

    is it just a coincidence that most of the vehicles driving down the bike lane are luxury vehicles?

  • Rach

    Enforcement.  If drivers are so stupid that we have to physically separate them from bike lanes then there is no hope.  Where is LAPD when you need them?

  • Anonymous

    This is one of many good reasons to put the bike lane between the sidewalk and the parking lane. NO ONE should be shocked this is happening — but certainly we can be upset.

  • J

    Easy, just swap the positions of the parking and the bike lane. I’m not sure why they didn’t do this in the first place.

  • Mojapan

    There’s a cop in frame 1:27. Can’t see what department, but clearly a black and white. Can someone clarify the rules for this lane?

  • Peter Jacobs

    Should have been a protected bike lane from the beginning. Cars are standing in it all the time as well waiting to pick people up. Some enforcement would be nice and hopefully reposition the lane to the other side of the parked cars where it should be. 

  • DowntownRick

    If LAPD steps up and does some agressive directed patrol to enforce the bike lane a few one or two days a week for a few months, there would be a big difference.  Of course, moving the lane to a protected position would help cyclists but I understand the fear of cyclists endangering folks getting in and out of their car.

  • Geraldo’s Mustache

    To be fair that used to be a travel lane for cars.  As they say the city taketh away, free will givith back.  Good luck on the enforcement.

  • Be careful what you wish for. At the last L.A. City Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting, the LAPD reported that they had done a couple of enforcement actions on the Spring Street Bike Lane – and they equally enforced all modes – and I forget the exact numbers (so I am making this up from memory) but it was something like 100 tickets for bikes (mostly violations of the no brakes law), 150 tickets for cars, and like 25 tickets for peds.

  • Looks like people are using it to bypass long vehicle queues on their way to the right-turn-only lane. I actually don’t mind people bending the rules this way when no bikes are present, as you need to cross the bike lane eventually anyway in order to get to the RTOL, but harassing cyclists who happen to be there, whether stopped or moving, is 100% not cool.

    As others have mentioned, the best solution would be a protected cycletrack…

  • Dennis Hindman

    A green colored bike lane with a buffer is about as good as you can get for a unprotected bike lane. I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of having enough bike lane width for a vehicle to travel down it. That creates a temptation to use it as a motor vehicle travel lane.

    It’s my understanding that New York City was the first U.S. city to put in a protected bike lane and that was installed mainly due to vehicles obstructing the unprotected bike lanes.

    There has only been about 25 protected bike lanes created throughout the U.S since then. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has made a promise to put in 25 miles of protected bike lanes every year over the course of four years. That could be a game changer for other cities in the U.S.

    When I stood at Spring St and Sixth St for two hours at peak travel time to observe if there were any violators of the green bike lane for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, I found the most flagrant violators were when the traffic backed up about a block, as seems to be the case in the video above This happened a handful of times and there was only a Metro bus and car that used the bike lane to bypass traffic.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks again to the CBC and all the in-state John Forester disciples for making sure that this is the only form of bicycle infrastructure that can be built in California for the coming decade!  Dutch-style cycletracks never have this abuse, but since John Forester has never been to post-1940 Holland, we can’t ever do that sort of thing here, right?

  • Anonymous

    You know, bike infrastructure like this?

  • Looked like several of the cars are signalling are right turn. It is a part of the American design that right turning cars will use the cycle lane. So the bike lane works as designed. Where’s the problem?

  • Dennis Hindman

    LADOT follows the Caltrans highway manual which states you do not put a bike lane between parked cars and the curb. This is not required for cities to follow, but Los Angeles chooses to do so.

  • Eric Weinstein

    Just needs more cyclists. If we don’t occupy the space with bikes, it will be filled with cars. They would drive on the sidewalk if they could fit you know…

  • Anonymous

    You’re not accounting for the inevitable back log of cars who are then blocking the bike lane because of this maneuver. So this is not acceptable either. With your same argument, cars should be able to enter an intersection if their intention is to get through it. You can’t occupy the space if you’ll be blocking bike traffic.

  • Anonymous

    You’re assuming the cars won’t just sit in the bike lane. Yes most of them were trying to get into the right turn lane, but if you’ve ever riden on this stretch of bike lane, you’ll know that cars frequently block the lane as their waiting in line to make a right. A car is not allowed to do anything other than cross over a bike lane and only that is allowed if they’re not going to block it. If they’ll block it, they must wait. They certainly can’t drive in it.

  • Perhaps you misunderstood me. I was speaking from my own perspective as a person who sometimes rides a bike on Spring Street, and never intended to make a broader statement about motorist behavior beyond this particular situation. If someone enters the bike lane a little early (i.e., more than 200 feet before the intersection) to bypass a long queue in the through lanes on their way to an empty RTOL, and can do it without creating a hazard for me or anyone else, then I’m personally OK with it. It’s not technically allowed under the rules, but it’s not, in my opinion, the most egregious of violations. Obviously, it’s another matter entirely if there’s a cyclist in the bike lane when a motorist pulls this maneuver, or if they end up blocking the bike lane when they get to the RTOL. You absolutely shouldn’t do this unless it’s clear that you can get over into the right-turn pocket without blocking bike traffic.

    I guess if there’s any broader principle I would apply here, it’d be that I’m willing to accept less-than-perfect adherence to the rules as long as you’re using common sense and not violating someone else’s right-of-way or otherwise creating a hazard. Entering the bike lane a little earlier than technically allowed? Meh, let it slide. Blocking the bike lane or cutting off a cyclist? Ticket.

    We can apply the same logic to bikes as well. Slow roll through a deserted 4-way stop? Whatever. Failing to yield to cross traffic and almost knocking over an old lady in the crosswalk? Bam, ticket.

  • Sgt. David Krumer

    We did one sting on Spring Street about 2 months ago…perhaps its time to do one more. I will forward this to Central Traffic and see if we can get something going.

  • Anonymous

    No, no, no!  We cannot do this here.  The CBC has ordained it.


  • Thanks for the reference, TAP. But be careful not to confuse the CBC with CABO. Different organizations with completely different approaches to biking infrastructure.

  • Anonymous

    It is not a Right Turn lane at this point.


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