Happy Bike Month South L.A.: Trio of New Bike Lanes Appear, More on the Way

Cyclist turns on to new Main Street Bike Lane and Road Diet. Photo:##http://ladotbikeblog.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/new-lanes-take-l-a-s-total-bike-lane-mileage-over-200/##LADOT Bike Blog##

South Los Angeles has three new bike lanes. Maybe it’s the celebrations of bike week. Maybe it’s the push to meet the mayoral directive for 40 new miles of bikeway by June 30th 2012. Maybe Mayor Villaraigosa, City Councilmembers Bernard Parks and Joe Buscaino pushed hard enough. Maybe it’s just good livable streets attitudes taking hold.

Whatever the reason, The city’s Department of Transportation (LADOT) crews have been working weekends to stripe new bike lanes.

As reported by the LADOT Bike Blog and Bikas, there are three new bike lane projects implemented on South L.A. streets since mid-April.

The new Vermont Avenue northbound bike lane goes 2.1 miles from the Metro Green Line to 88th Street. According to the LADOT Bike Blog, an additional 2.2 miles of northbound Vermont Avenue bike lane are “in the works.” That near-future mileage will extend from Redondo Beach Boulevard to 120th Street. This project is only on the east side of Vermont Avenue because that side of the street is in L.A. City; the other side is in unicorporated L.A. County. Bikas explains,

[L.A. County] insisted on even worse suburban lane-width standards, effectively blocking the project until the street is widened. The county’s anti-bike lane stance allowed the city to do no work on the ground to implement these lanes for the following three years.

The new 120th Street bike lanes go 0.5 mile from Main Street to Avalon Boulevard. In its review fo the lanes Bikas noted they were already in good use, even if some cyclists were confused where to bike,

There were plenty of cyclists out riding there … In addition to folks using the new lanes safely as intended, some cyclists were riding the wrong way in the new lane… and some were still riding on the sidewalk.

The new Main Street bike lanes go 1.0 mile from 108th Street to 92nd Street. This project goes beyond just adding bike lanes.  Bikas reports that there was also a one-mile road diet.

[The Main Street bike lanes] project is a road diet. The roadway formerly was striped with 4 lanes – 2 in each direction, with no turn lane. One lane was eliminated, resulting in 3 lanes – 1 lane in each direction, plus an added central turn lane, plus new bike lanes.

With three new lanes on the street, and at least one more on the way, do you think LADOT is making a commitment to South L.A., or does it need to do more?  Where would you like to see bike lanes arrive next?

(Note: Joe Linton, founder and organizer at Bikas and president of L.A. Streetsblog’s board of directors, contributed to this story.)

  • South L.A. is a big place – depending on where lines are drawn, arguably about 10miles by 10 miles – which would make it bigger than all of San Francisco. These new bike lanes are great, really great!! but, so far, they’re just in the southern part of South Los Angeles. The city’s 5-year bike plan implementation document commits the city to implementing quite a few longer bikeways that go all the way across South L.A.: bike lanes on Central, MLK, Manchester – and more on Vermont. Looking forward to the South L.A. bike network emerging!

  • Anonymous

    10,000 miles to go…

  • Alex Thompson

    It turns my stomach to see veteran activists uncritically reporting on fractions of a mile of facility, fractions of a fraction there.

  • I personally think it’s worthwhile to report positively on a mile of new bike facility. I think each mile is a step in the right direction. Steps forward should be acknowledged and celebrated! I think reporting on fractions can be one strategy in activism that pushes things to go from a fraction to a network. 

    I don’t think that all the posts referenced in the article above are entirely “uncritical.” The posts referenced take the county and city to task for lack of coordination, and for delays on the Vermont Avenue bikeway. So far, the city has done less than half of its portion of the Vermont project (and the County none) that was designed and ready in 2009.

  • Dennis Hindman

    A fraction of a mile here, a fraction of a mile there and pretty soon you’ve got a whole mile, or a improper fraction of a mile, depending on how you look at it.

    LADOT bikeways has a goal of installing 50 miles of bike lanes before the new fiscal year starts on July 1st. They have completed 34.9 miles according to the LADOTBLOG website. Odds are that the final total is a mixed number and not a whole number like 50 miles.

  • Alex Thompson

     Looking over what Bikeways has done so far just goes to my point.  The 6 shortest segments they striped this year are .25, .26, .28, .3, .3, and .3 miles.  Are you kidding me?  What is the value in that.  Only 12 segments are longer than a mile, and not one segment would carry a cyclist for more than 10 minutes.

    For sharrows it’s worse – segments of .04, .05, .07, .12, .13, and .17????  .04 miles is 200 feet.

    All this energy invested in tiny tiny projects that leave a disorganized and confusing mess of chopped spaghetti bike facilities around the city.

  • I think a quarter mile of bike lane is worthwhile. Yah, of course, it doesn’t go far enough… but it’s not the end of the story. I don’t think that the LADOT implementation has been any portrait in courage or leadership (a la Janette Sadik-Khan), but I’d personally rather have ~40 miles of new disconnected segments (some as short as a quarter mile, all of which we can continue to build on) in a year – compared to ~5 miles of new disconnected segments (which is what we got on average prior to 2011.) Praising the small progress we’re seeing doesn’t mean I can’t continue to be critical and to push for a lot more.

    I prefer 40 ounces of chopped spaghetti than 5 ounces of chopped spaghetti!

  • To beat a dead horse two more times:

    – A couple weeks ago, I was talking with someone who’s followed some of my bike lane implementation articles via my fb posts. His impression was that city bike lane implementation was going really well… because it seemed like I was always posting positive reviews of new lanes. I set the record straight for him that, despite the city implementing more mileage than in the past, I was still disappointed with having to push hard for so little – and that L.A. remains heavily car-centric. So, Alex Thompson has a good point that it’s irresponsible for multiple “good news new bike lane” posts to give the impression that everything is coming up roses for L.A. cyclists.

    – Length isn’t necessarily a good correlation with usefulness. The 0.25miles new bike lane on Riverside Drive in the Valley is a fairly worthwhile gap closure. The 1.2miles new bike lane on Via Marisol is steep and suburban and, in my opinion, perhaps not quite worthless, but fairly close.

  • Dennis Hindman

    Frankly Alex most of this implementation of the bike plan looks like spaghetti to me. There is 2,600 centerline miles of non-residential streets in L.A. and at a pace of about 40 miles per year of bike lane implementation, this will at most, get bike lanes on 15% of those centerline miles. The trouble is that the plan is to put bike lanes in all 15 of the council districts at once, which dilutes the potential for increased bicycling in the short term. It’s sort of like getting on your horse and riding off in all directions at once, which seems like you are going somewhere, but in reality you are not. The upside is that Portland has bike lanes on about 15% of their primary streets, so that ain’t a bad pace of implementation to reach the ratio of bike lanes to primary streets that Portland now has within four more years.

    Some of those small fraction of a bike lane mile are to connect bike lanes. The .54 and .25 of a mile Riverside Dr bike lanes are an example of that. La Tuna Canyon Rd at .26 of a mile and .58 of a mile Tuxford St. are another example that filled in a gap between two disconnected bike lanes.

    But your right, many of the small fraction of a mile bike lanes don’t connect to anything else. It’s as if someone looked at a map and picked the easiest to implement street segments. I’d prefer to focus on putting the most effort in putting bike lanes in where there is the greatest potential for immediate growth in bicycling, such as the westside and towards downtown, but not the valley. I’ve said that since before the 2010 bike plan was finalized and I have been repeatedly rebuffed for that idea.

  •  Are you sure that the City Of LA portion of South LA is 10 x 10 miles?  That seems rather large for an area that is split up with many encroaching municipalities like Inglewood, Compton, Gardena, Hawthorne and many unincorporated areas.  If we are speaking metro areas then the metro area of SF/SJ is surely much larger than 10 x 10 miles.

  • The 10×10 is a rough estimate number includes non-L.A. City jurisdictions: Compton, Inglewood, unincorporated county, etc. 

    The city of L.A. portion of South L.A. is more like 8 miles x 5 miles. (8 miles from Washington to 120th on Vermont Avenue. 5 miles from Crenshaw to Long Beach Blvd. That makes L.A.City’s South L.A. about ~40 square miles – 80% of San Francisco’s ~49 square miles. 

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