LACBC Starts Save the 1st Street Bike Lane Campaign and Some Alternate Designs for the “LAPD Lane”

The "Watch the Road" sticker is a nice touch. Photo: Roger Rudick.

Last night, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition e-mailed an action alert to members, asking them to write LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Mayor Villaraigosa and others asking them to save the 1st Street Buffered Bike Lane that runs in front of LAPD Headquarters. The bike lane has become a de-facto parking lane for LAPD cruisers, as documented by Streetsblog contributor and author Roger Rudick. While complaints mounted, the LAPD responded with a request that the buffer be eliminated so that the lane run against a “car stopping” lane for the police.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition responded with an action alert for members asking city officials not to change the bike lane design. The LAPD officals confirm that emails are already starting to flow in, as cyclists take to the keyboard. A full copy of the action alert can be found at the end of the article.

For Rudick, the debate is about more than just one bike lane. “We have a new bike plan in place. It’s not an accident that a buffered bike lane was placed right in front of LAPD headquarters. It’s supposed to send a message to cops, every day, that bikes have all the rights of cars–and that they’re required to enforce the law. Many officers, as we know, have been highly supportive. But LAPD still has vestiges of the bad old days. The same cops who park on that bike lane, trust me, are the same ones who are going to look the other way when a car runs a cyclist off the road.”

Despite the assertations in the letter and earlier this week in Streetsblog. We don’t actually know what the LAPD’s complaint against the bike lane is. Advocates and journalists assume it has to do with access to the headquarters, but requests to LAPD for the exact cause of the complaint have yet to be answered.

For the sake of argument, the rest of this article assumes that access is the key problem identified by the LAPD. There are other solutions to the issue outside of removing the buffered bike lane completely.

A popular one, posited on Biking In L.A., is to remove most of the buffer to allow parking, but put the parking on the north side of the bike lane. Creating a fully protected bike lane may run afoul of official Caltrans policy, but recently altered state legislation has opened the door for more experimental bike planning.

But “experimental bike planning,” even when it’s a design that has been proven world wide, takes time and the LAPD need access to their station now. Rather than changing the design, bollards mixed with a painted curb that allows stopping in an emergency. “Emergency only,” or “LAPD use only” would limit the number of cars that used the lane for anything besides bicycling and a painted and properly marked curb could alert officers that the lane is not a parking zone.

For now, the who (LAPD) and where (1st Street) and what (changing of bike lane design) are known. But the “why” and “where” are still unknown. As Streetsblog learns more about the plans and complaint, we’ll let you know.

ACTION ITEM: Tell Chief Beck to Protect Bicyclists and Preserve the 1st Street Buffered Bike Lane

Photo: Roger Rudick, LA Streetsblog

 

It’s more than a rumor: Just as LAPD officers seem to have finally learned to not park in the bike lane, LAPD has asked LADOT to remove the buffer on the 1st Street bike lane in front of LAPD’s downtown headquarters so that their officers can park in front of the building.

 

Are these buffered bike lanes too good to last? LACBC doesn’t think so. We think police officers can walk less than one block from their parking garage to LAPD HQ. Chief Charlie Beck has otherwise led the way on bike safety, including ensuring that every LAPD officer is trained in bicycle awareness. We want to know whether Chief Beck’s words that that “bicyclists are particularly vulnerable and need our protection” and “protecting bicyclists is the law and the right thing to do” extend to providing a safe place to ride in front of LAPD HQ.

 

Please email or tweet Chief Beck (@LAPDChiefBeck) to ask him to keep the buffer on the 1st Street bike lane in front of LAPD HQ:
CC: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa <mayor@lacity.org>
LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger <earl.paysinger@lapd.lacity.org>
LADOT General Manager Jaime de la Vega <ladot@lacity.org>
LAPD Bike Liaison Officer Jeff Kievit <36898@lapd.lacity.org>
LACBC <info@la-bike.org>
Dear Chief Beck,
During Bike Week in May 2010, you said that “bicyclists are particularly vulnerable and need our protection.” Since then, LADOT has installed a network of buffered bike lanes downtown to protect bicyclists from moving vehicles and opening doors from parked cars. Your spokesman erroneously stated that buffered bike lanes are only installed in unusual cases. Actually, they are one of the most advanced tools LADOT has deployed to make our streets safer for bicyclists and are one of the main reasons the City of Los Angeles was recognized as a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community. Buffered bike lanes are preferred by all bicyclists, but are particularly important for inviting risk-averse people to also ride on our streets. LACBCbike counts showed that the proportion of women riding on Spring Street almost doubled after installing the buffered bike lane because it feels so much safer due to the separation from moving traffic.
I respectfully request that you honor your commitment to protecting bicyclists by withdrawing your request to remove the buffer from the 1st Street bike lane in front of LAPD headquarters.  There is plenty of parking less than one block away in the LAPD garage, yet too few miles of buffered bike lanes downtown. Please keep the 1st street buffered bike lane so that people of all ages and abilities will feel comfortable riding downtown.
Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]