Drivers and cyclists riding east on Strathmore in Westwood have experienced something new the last several weeks. The Strathmore bike lane has been painted green and just before the intersection at Westwood, the lane extends in front of the mixed use travel lane creating Los Angeles’ first green painted bike box.
A bike box, formally known as an advanced stop line, is an intersection safety design to prevent bicycle/car collisions, especially “right hooks” between drivers turning right and bicyclists going straight. It is a green box on the road with a white bicycle symbol inside.
Dave Karwaski, of UCLA’s Transportation division, explains that even though UCLA has to follow the same rules as everyone else when it comes to road design, that it controls the public roads that run through campus and can place down state approved engineering designs even if they aren’t already in LADOT’s tool kit. This isn’t the first time that UCLA has been making space for cyclists before LADOT, in 2008 Sharrows appeared on Westwood Boulevard on the UCLA campus nearly two and a half years before LADOT began its “pilot program.”
So, why Strathmore?
“You have the right of way to look at the roadway…to look at the canvas to reconfigure it. At Strathmore we could do that for bikes and still maintain the intersection for vehicle traffic,” explains Karwaski. “Many cyclists use Strathmore because it connects to West Village, where thousands of students live, and the center of campus.”
Karwaski credits not just UCLA administrators for the focus on bicycling and pedestrian safety on campus. While the campus has pushed the envelope in the past and plans more Sharrows and bike lanes in the near future; Karwaski gives some credit to the professors and researchers for creating a campus environment where such changes are possible. Public health professor Richard Jackson, who’s research ties together public health and transportation choices, is one example of the research at UCLA influencing the college’s physical space.
Usually, when a new roadway design appears, there are complaints from road users that the new designs are confusing. While Karwaski reports that the response is “generally positive,” UCLA’s “Be a Green Commuter” website offers a guide for novices on using the Bike Box. At Streetfilms, Clarence Eckerson shot a short series on Bike Boxes in New York City and Portland and the Portland Department of Transportation has their own brochure. The Streetfilms are both embedded after the jump.